Jonathan, Jenny, and Tricia at their very first show, July 2009.

Jonathan, Jenny, and Tricia at their very first show, July 2009.

After six years and nearly seventy shows, Jenny and I have decided to bring our time hosting What’s Cookin’ Now! to a close. The show we just did on Wednesday night will be our last.

Back in 2009, when Tricia and Jenny and I started talking about taking over WCN! as a trio, I don’t think we realized what a big part of our lives it would become. Thanks to this show we’ve met tons of fascinating people, been to some great places, and had countless delicious dishes and drinks, and being able to share all of that with our friends and our audience has made it that much more meaningful for us.

So why hang it up? We feel like we’ve done an awful lot with the format of a live radio cooking show, and we hate to start repeating ourselves or let the energy completely run out. We’re also both excited about doing some new and different things that we’ll be filling you in on very soon–in fact, this will probably mean you’ll hear more from us instead of less.

We have so many people to thank for making this crazy show possible. There’s Tricia, who kicked this thing off with us and left a void we knew we’d never be able to fill. There’s Tamara, our Production Manager, who inspired us from the start and who so often held us on the rails when it would have been so easy to go off. There’s Les, our Paparazzo, whose pictures always made us look better than we were. There are the Kitchen Angels, whose energy and enthusiasm helped drive some of our favorite episodes. There’s everybody who ever came out to join the Tasting/Dishwashing Panel, especially the ones who took that second part seriously. There’s everybody who ever gave us press credentials, sent us cookbooks to review, or agreed to an interview. And there’s everybody who ever tuned in and listened, or even just smiled a little bit at the idea of a live radio cooking show.

And of course, there’s everybody at WMMT, the best damn radio station in the universe. We didn’t create the WCN! format, but they let us run hard with it, and believed in us enough to give us that hour of radio time every month and not even complain too much about the state of the kitchen carpet afterwards.

The blog will still be here (if not updated), and I’m sure the archives at WMMT aren’t going anywhere. We’ll keep the Facebook and Twitter feeds alive so we can announce our various new ventures there.

Don’t be sad–we’re not! We’re excited about what comes next, and we hope you will be too. Whatever it is will be delicious. And until it comes, remember: feed the ones you love, and love the ones you feed.

Edited to add: Jon Stewart also signed off this week, and as usual, said what I should have said: “An artist I really admire once said that he thinks of his career as a long conversation with the audience, a dialog. Nothing ends, it’s a pause in the conversation. So rather than saying goodbye or goodnight, I’m just going say I’m going to go get a drink. And I’m sure I’ll see you guys before I leave.”

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Foods from the Midsummer Market.

Foods from the Midsummer Market.

It’s August, and one of the few consolations in the punishing heat is that the Farmers Markets are really hitting their stride. Green beans, corn, the first truly great tomatoes, melons…it’s the time of year when you can have your whole dinner without ever setting foot in the grocery store.

Wednesday on The World’s Only Live Radio Cooking Show (That We Know Of), we’ll show you how! For instance, did you know that green beans don’t have to be boiled or pressure cooked? Or that grits don’t have to be hominy? We’ll be giving you some creative takes on the stuff you’ll find flooding the market right now.

That’s Wednesday, August 5, 6-7PM on 88.7 WMMT-FM in Whitesburg, KY! You can stream it here! Or better yet, you can come by the Appalshop and join our Tasting/Dishwashing Panel!

Don’t miss it!

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Bonfire at the Ukulele World Congress, 6/5/15. Photo by JP.

Bonfire at the Ukulele World Congress, 6/5/15. Photo by JP.

Summer is here, and if you’re living right the odds are pretty good that you’re going to end up around a campfire in the near future. The hot dogs and the marshmallows and the roasting sticks will come out, and I want to emphasize that there is NOTHING wrong with any of that. But what if you want to take your fire cookery to the next level and be the envy of your Girl Scout troop?

This week on an all-new episode of the World’s Only Live Radio Cooking Show (That We Know Of), Jonathan and Jenny will be joined by the kids from the Pathfinders Adventure Camp to show you how to light a fire under your fire cookery. We’ll pull the microphones out into the Appalshop parking lot, get the fire burning, and talk upscale hobo packets, hot rock cookery, improving the s’more, and desserts that go beyond the s’more.

That’s Wednesday, July 1, 6-7PM on 88.7 WMMT-FM, streamed live at wmmtfm.org. And if you’re in town, drop by and join our Tasting/Dishwashing Panel!

Don’t miss it!

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Kale saute with bacon and apples! Photo by Hayley Minogue from WYMT, via Twitter.

Kale saute with bacon and apples! Photo by the awesome Hayley Minogue from WYMT, via Twitter.

(Thanks to everybody who came out for our demos at the Perry County Farmers Market on Saturday! We’re so excited about what they’re doing with the market this year!  Jenny has written a whole post about the okonomiyaki she did in her demo, so go read that now and make those ASAP because they’re awesome. Here are the kale dishes that I did in mine. We’ll be back to do some more demos later in the summer! -JP)

I’m afraid we’re in the middle of a kale backlash. This humble green has become shorthand for snooty rabbit food, an ingredient in improbable smoothies sipped by people who post cryptic recaps of their Crossfit workouts on Facebook. Even Whole Foods, our temple of trendy produce, is trying to capitalize on kale’s slide from Hot to Not, with signs declaring that “Collards Are the New Kale”. (Actually, I’m pretty sure collards were the old kale, but whatever, Whole Foods.)

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Sample cup at Asheville's Ale Share festival, 2014. Photo by Les Roll.

Sample cup at Asheville’s Ale Share festival, 2014. Photo by Les Roll.

Do you love beer? Are you or can you be near Lexington this weekend? Do you want to strike a blow back against Anheuser-Busch and their reprehensible campaign against those of us who enjoy seeking out new and interesting beers?

Then get yourself to the Lexington Convention Center on Saturday for Alltech’s 2nd Annual Craft Brews and Food Fest, featuring 175 beers from 50 breweries, both local and far-flung. $30 ($35 at the door) gets you 20 beer samples, three food samples, five bands, and a commemorative glass.

If you’ve never been to a big beer festival like this one, it goes something like this: they give you a nice little tasting glass. You go to the nice people at the booths, chat about their products, and they pour you a sample. You drink it. Repeat. If that sounds like a great afternoon to you, we should definitely hang out sometime.

But like Othello, Texas Hold-Em, and Craigslist hookups, the beer festival game takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master. Here is some wisdom I’ve gleaned from doing more than a few of these over the years:

Eat something. You’ve got a long afternoon in front of you, buddy. Yes, there will be food there, but you don’t know how big the portions will be and the lines may be long, plus you’re going to be all “Woohoo! Beer!”. Don’t take the chance. If you’re planning to hit the doors at noon, you should brunch hard beforehand (I’m partial to Winchell’s).

Should you drink any at said brunch? (Certain co-hosts of mine have suggested that it’s not really brunch if there’s no booze–it’s just a late breakfast.) I say go for it, but not so hard that you won’t be back to zero when the festival starts. Consider that bloody mary a warmup for your liver.

There will come a time a few hours and many samples into the festival at which you will become ravenous and will want to totally crush the available food options. You should definitely go for it–not that your body needs food at that point, but your soul does, and the satisfaction it will bring will be like few you’ve experienced. Yes, this is shaping up to be a fairly caloric undertaking, which is why you shouldn’t do this every weekend.

Make a plan and hit the good stuff first. For one thing, they might run out of it. For another, the combination of heavily-flavored beers and the alcohol therein means that after the first five or six samples your ability to fully appreciate or objectively evaluate each beer starts to diminish–indeed, after that point, they’re all pretty good, because…

All that beer adds up fast. “But Jonathan,” you’re saying, “you sexy beast, we’re talking about 2 oz. samples of beer here. How tipsy can I get off that?” Pretty darn tipsy, it turns out. When it comes to boozing it up, slow and steady wins the race, if the finish line of the race is waking up in your hotel room having somehow left your pants at a Denny’s.

Even the initially allotted 20 samples adds up to several beers. And we’re not talking about Michelob Ultra here–in the world of the beer festival, 5-6% is practically “lite”. All I’m saying here is to take a cab. Lyft works particularly well in Lexington, in my experience. And keep in mind that…

You’re not obligated to finish every sample. I know, I know–it’s a sin to pour out good beer. But for the above reasons, you only have so much “beer space” for the day, so with such a bounty available, why waste any of it on a beer that isn’t blowing your skirt up? There are always dump buckets available. I think it’s generally polite not to dump out a beer in front of its purveyor, though; just wait until you’re at the next stop and casually toss it as you’re introducing yourself.

If you’re with people you don’t mind swapping a little spit with, don’t overlap samples and pass them around. If there’s something you really want more of, you can go back and get one.

Keep good notes. “Oh, I’ll totally remember that one beer I really loved.” No. No, you won’t. You’ll go searching in vain for it later and you’ll never have that moment of magic again.

Hydrate. At least a 1-1 ratio of beer to water. You’ll spend more time in line for the bathroom, but you’ll thank me.

Your hosts, modeling pretzel necklaces and tiny tasting mugs, Cincy Winter Beerfest 2013.

Your hosts, modeling pretzel necklaces and tiny tasting mugs, Cincy Winter Beerfest 2013.

The pretzel necklace! There is some debate among beerfest goers as to whether the pretzel necklace is a smart and useful accessory sported by those in the know or a reliable indicator that one is a tool. I say screw the haters. Pretzels help cleanse the palate between samples, provide salt to keep you a little thirsty and to help wake up the taste buds, and can be surprisingly fashionable when taken to Mr. T levels of excess.

pretzelnecklace

Almost makes up for a face tattoo. OK, not really.

Don’t make big plans later. Even if you manage not to get truly crunk, a beer fest can be a fairly punishing afternoon or early evening. A light dinner and some Netflix is probably about right.

Heed these words well and your Saturday afternoon should be a blast! And when you’re making that list of beers to hit first, here are a few I’d suggest:

  • Kentucky Old Fashioned Barrel Ale. Alltech is using its own festival to roll out this ale brewed with orange peel and aged in bourbon barrels and bitters barrels with tart cherry juice, which sounds delicious.
  • Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout. Because you should drink this whenever it’s available.
  • Country Boy’s Warehouse Experiment 3. Whatever those guys are doing is usually worth checking out.
  • Against the Grain 70K. AtG always swings for the fences, and they usually connect. The 70K is an imperial stout aged in Angel’s Envy barrels, which has to be delicious, though at a whopping 13.6% you might want to split a sample with someone. Also check out their Wowzer Snake, a pale ale with a hop profile you won’t find anywhere else.
  • Ethereal Brewing No Talent Ass Clown Brett APA. I’m sure it’s going to be great, but I admit I’m putting it here for the name.
  • Cigar City Cider and Mead. Not many cider offerings at this fest, but these folks from Tampa will have their flagship Hard Cider, a Fight the Power Sour, and Cowboy Dan’s Holiday Extravaganza, a caramel apple cider.
  • Sierra Nevada’s Barrel Aged Bigfoot. The king of the craft breweries gets in on the barrel aging trend by giving its classic Bigfoot Barleywine some time on the oak. This one will go fast, so don’t wait.

See you there!

The author samples at Ale Share 2014. Photo by Les Roll.

The author samples at Ale Share 2014. Photo by Les Roll.


Follow What’s Cookin’ Now! on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you’d like to support WCN! and other great shows like it, visit wmmtfm.org and click on the big green DONATE button.

 

Jenny and Jonathan, doing what they do. Photo by Les Roll.

As powerhouses in the world of Appalachian food media, you probably think Jonathan and Jenny are stacking paper to the ceiling and rolling on 24-inch chrome. And in a perfect world, you’d be right. But here in this cold and unfair existence we instead have to come to you twice a year to ask for your support for this mildly insane cooking show, and for the slightly less mildly insane radio station that airs it every month. When it happens in the spring we call it the Spring Fund Drive on 88.7 WMMT-FM, and it’s happening May 4-14!

So that’s why Wednesday (5/6) on the World’s Only LIVE Radio Cooking Show (That We Know Of), Jonathan will take off his apron and sit down at the microphone to play some of his favorite clips from the show and take your calls (633-1208, or 1-888-396-1208) to pledge to the show! He’ll also talk a bit about his recent travels and he’ll take your questions about cooking, about the show, or about anything at all!

And what do you get for your pledge, besides the knowledge that you’re supporting Real Food Radio?

  • Every single donor during the show gets an official WCN! Can Koozie!
  • For a $25 donation you can get an official Kitchen Angels t-shirt (while they last), designed by Bailey Richards and modeled here by Allison Tse:

AlisonKAshirt

  • For a $100 donation, we’ll do a custom show just for you! Tell us what you like, we’ll plan a show around it, and you and three friends can join us as VIP guests while we cook it up live on the air! (Only one available!)

Big, little, or in the middle, it’s your support that keeps this tub afloat. So call us (633-1208 or 888-396-1208) or go to wmmtfm.org and hit that big green DONATE button, and tell ’em WCN! sent you!

And tune in tomorrow, 6-7PM, on 88.7 WMMT-FM, or stream it online at wmmtfm.org. Don’t miss it, and don’t miss your chance to support Real People Radio in the Mountains!

Follow What’s Cookin’ Now! on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you’d like to support WCN! and other great shows like it, visit wmmtfm.org and click on the big green DONATE button.

 

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Since it’s National Poetry Month, we wanted to share this lovely chickpea poem with you…

chickpeas

A Chickpea Leaps

by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

A chickpea leaps almost over the rim of the pot
where it’s being boiled

“Why are you doing this to me?”

The cook knocks it down with the ladle.

“Don’t you try to jump out.
You think I’m torturing you,
I’m giving you flavor,
so you can mix with spices and rice
and be the lovely vitality of a human being.

Remember when you drank rain in the garden.
That was for this.”

Grace first. Sexual pleasure,
then a boiling new life begins,
and the Friend has something good to eat.

Special thanks to friend of the show Robert Donnan for sharing this poem with us.

 
Lundy-Ronni-credit-Martha-Wilson-Vozos-506x900

Photo by Martha Wilson Vozos.

Of all the good things that have come out (and continue to come out) of last year’s Appalachian Food Summit, one of my personal favorites has been getting to know Ronni Lundy. She’s the author of eight books including Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes, and Honest Fried Chicken and Cornbread Nation 3: Foods of the Mountain South, she’s contributed to nearly every food publication worth reading, and she’s one of the leading voices in the definition, dissemination, and continual discovery of Appalachian cuisine.

She’s back with a new book called Sorghum’s Savor, which tells the story of the beloved sweetener through anecdotes, biographies, and recipes. We had a chance to chat with Ronni about sorghum–what it is, why we love it, and how we use it–and about what exactly we mean by Appalachian cuisine. Here is the version of the interview we aired on our 4/1/15 episode.

And in this Web Exclusive, we talk about whether Appalachian cuisine is having a moment, the “Asheville effect”, and shishito peppers, among other things.

Thanks so much to Ronni for the interview! Now go buy her book!


Follow What’s Cookin’ Now! on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you’d like to support WCN! and other great shows like it, visit wmmtfm.org and click on the big green DONATE button.

 

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sweetsorghumsyrup

Photo via Garden and Gun.

 

Is there anything quite like sorghum? Rich, earthy, and funky, it’s like molasses with a deep, dark secret. Chefs and home cooks everywhere are figuring out what those of us in the South have always known–sweet sorghum syrup is a great way to add depth, umami, and character to anything that needs sweetened up.

We here at The World’s Only Live Radio Cooking Show (That We Know Of) know that there’s no better application for sorghum than drizzled over a hot biscuit, but on this month’s show we’re going to show you some new ways to incorporate it into your cooking routine. We’ll be talking with Appalachian food afficionado Ronni Lundy about her new book Sorghum’s Savor, and hopefully we’ll have a sorghum maker in the studio to tell us how it’s done.

That’s Wednesday, April 1, 6-7 PM on 88.7 WMMT-FM. Stream it live here; archived version will be up eventually. And if you’re in or near Whitesburg, come on over and join the Tasting/Dishwashing Panel!

Don’t miss it!

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I think I speak for the vast majority of us when I say that this winter bullsh*t is getting old. Don’t get me wrong–I appreciate the fact that we get all four seasons here in Kentucky, sometimes in the same week. But when it’s almost time to Spring Forward and I’m looking at big dirty piles of snow from the week before last and plumber bills from the frozen pipes, I’m ready to set my wool coat on fire and head someplace where I could wear shorts to Christmas dinner.

That’s why The World’s Only Live Radio Cooking Show (That We Know Of) is making like the smarter varieties of bird and flying south for the rest of the winter. We’ll be cooking a couple of stews from warmer climates that have enough substance to keep us warm in the frigid temps but can transport our minds and our souls to places that don’t even have words for snow.

And speaking of keeping warm, Jonathan will be talking about his trek to Louisville for the Bourbon Classic, where he spent several days trying to keep warm Kentucky-style. And like one always does when flying south, he’ll stop in Atlanta for a Georgia-inspired cocktail that won his heart at the Bourbon Classic Cocktail Competition.

That’s Wednesday, March 4, 6-7PM, on 88.7 WMMT-FM in Whitesburg–you can stream it live here. And if you happen to be nearby, we’d love to have you on our Tasting/Dishwashing Panel, so come on by the opulent kitchen studio of the Appalshop!

Don’t miss it!

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