Friday, March 23, 2012

Smothered Pork Chops inspired by Gene Hovis

         My dear friend Yvonne introduced me to Gene Hovis.  Not that I ever met him in person.  Yvonne, who knows everyone, and I do mean everyone, introduced me to Gene via his wonderful Cookbook cum memoir, ‘Uptown Down Home’ which was published in 1987.  Gene was an extraordinary fellow.  As a young boy growing up in Salisbury NC, he was sent each summer to visit an aunt in New York City.  According to his friend David Columbia, one of Gene’s earliest recollections was asking his mother what the difference was between the public drinking fountains that were “For Whites Only” and those that he had to use.  When his mother told him that there was no difference but that those were the rules, Gene announced he wanted to live in New York when he grew up because everybody drank from the same fountain.  And that’s exactly what he did.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sotanghon with Chicken and Wood Ear Mushrooms

         One of the great joys of cooking has to be the amazing things you learn when you use an ingredient that is new to you.  In this case, our dear friend Richard arrived from Hong Kong recently and presented us with a sealed plastic bag of Wood Ear or Tree Ear dried mushrooms.  He brought us so many, he could have used the bag as a neck pillow on his long flight from China.  They were intriguing--almost white on one side and then practically black on the other.   While I marveled at the sight of them, I couldn’t help wonder why Richard had appeared with this very bulky gift.  Turns out, Richard, an avid Chewing the Fat reader, remembered something I wrote in November 2010 in a post about Shun Lee West, our neighborhood Chinese restaurant. is where you’ll find the post.  But what was missing from the recipe for Shun Lee’s Sichuan Shrimp were, you guessed it, Wood Ear or Tree Tea mushrooms.