Monday, August 17, 2009

Gettin' Pickled

I'm not sure where the expression came from that associates intoxication with pickling but it is easy to see the broader picture. Cool, crisp, unassuming little cucumbers are sitting there minding their own business when some scalding hot vinegar, infused with spices washes over them to begin the process of transformation. Those little cukes marinate in the magical vinegar concoction like the days troubles on ice in a bath of Tennessee whiskey.

Recently we were fortunate enough to come into a few cucumbers from our good friends at Jones Valley Urban Farm. Those little beauties found their way into the mystical brew of vinegar and spices. Well, after enough marination they ended up at Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN no longer cucumbers but homegrown Alabama pickles. Like all good things, how the pickles were made and why they ended up at Blackberry are largely irrelevant to the fact that they showed up in the right place at the right time. In other words, cool as cucumbers, they were there for the party.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Keepin' It Real

Well the time is rapidly approaching for the little circus we call Jim 'N Nick's to hit the road again and move on down the road to complete our 2009 coast to coast summer tour. This time a new honor has been bestowed upon us by way of an invitation to participate in the Eat Real Festival in Oakland, CA ( This street fair will turn cooks like us into roadside attractions with offerings rich and diverse that form a culinary tapestry made up of sustainable and local ingredients testifying to what real food is all about.
Keep your eyes, ears and gullet tuned in for updates from the road as we go forth with a vagabond spirit and a hunger that will only be satisfied by the gastronomical jewels strung out along the great American highway.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cool As A Cucumber

"Cool as a cucumber, cool as a cucumber...who knows why cucumbers are cool"? This was the question Chef Michelle posed to our young culinary class and the answer that I gave him was that cucumbers are generally 20 degrees cooler internally than their external temperature. Once he realized that I had the answer because of a friend in a previous class he deemed me as sneaky. He also said that might be a quality that would be advantageous to me later in my career.

Regardless of the Frenchman's commentary on my means of satisfying his curiosity, the humble cucumber has been a favorite vegetable of mine since that exchange. We enjoy them now at Jim 'N Nick's in salads and also have a particularly satisfying salad of cucumber, tomato and red onion marinated in our vinaigrette that is a favorite of our summer time offerings.

The snapshot attachesd is of a myriad variety of cucumbers harvested from Jones Valley Urban Farm. These beauties are on their way to becoming bread and butter slices that will crown a feast of whole hog barbecue. They are crisp and refreshing but at the same time a perfect canvass for sweetness and acidity to cut right through rich, meaty, whole hog barbeuce. The bonus that they are local and from our friends at Jones Valley just adds to why they are so special and why we should appreciate their summer time offering.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Local Yokels

This post is a little late but recently I had the opportunity to enjoy some tomatoes from the Mt. Laurel outpost of the Jones Valley Urban Farm. Heirloom tomatoes for me are representative of all that is good about local, sustainable food that has a history. When the summer sun is at its fiery peak and the rain is lacking just enough you take the rich soil of Alabama's black belt and get some tomatoes that are so sweet, so meaty and have this acidity that is so perfect you don't want anything to eat but tomatoes. They are the crown jewel of the season that gives us our best produce of the whole year.
I can't finish this post without again giving note to Jones Valley Urban Farm. The work being done there by Edwin Marty may prove to be one of the most dynamic and influencing factors in the food culture of Birmingham and the South that has come about to date. I don't doubt that the good work done there will soon impact the whole nation. Check them out at