Black Fig Food

My Arugula Pesto Addiction

By July 7, 2017 Food

Hi. I’m Ruthie and I’m sort of addicted to arugula.  Lately, I have been mixing all sorts of green herbs and lettuce varieties together into salads; fresh basil, mint, thyme, parsley, tarragon tossed into spring mix, spinach or straight up arugula.  The peppery taste of arugula is fantastic with just about anything.

Basil is usually the herb I use when making pesto but, I have recently decided that in order to make enough pesto for pizzas, I would pretty much have to turn a few tricks to afford all the basil needed to do so.  Not happening.  I suppose I could grow some but, I would kill it.  I would kill it fast.  I am good to keep my own children alive, I don’t need the stress of keeping herbs from dying.  I COULD also go for the jarred variety but, I want to know exactly what is going into my pesto.  Alas, I discovered I can use parsley or arugula alone to take basil’s place and spend a fraction of the cost!  This arugula pesto recipe is tasty served on top of fried eggs, rubbed on portobellos before grilling, spread in sandwiches or hummus pitas, mixed into tomato soup, or used as a pizza sauce.  The recipe makes about 2 cups and can be stored in your fridge for up to a week.,,,but I doubt it will last that long.

Arugula Pesto

1- 5 oz container of fresh arugula

1- 2.25 package of pine nuts

4 cloves fresh garlic

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

Place arugula, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper into a food processor.  Lock on lid and process while pouring olive oil into the feeder tube hole.  Process until arugula mixer almost forms a paste.  Add more olive oil if needed.

*For lacto-vegetarians, add 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan before processing mixture.

For Pizza

Spread pesto over raw pizza dough.  Top with favorite toppings and bake until crust is crispy.

Arugula Pesto Tomato Soup

1- 29 oz can tomato sauce

1- 13.66 oz can organic coconut milk, milk solid only (reserve coconut water for other use)

1/2 cup Arugula Pesto recipe

fresh thyme and oregano, roughly chopped

dash of cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  With a wooden spoon, stir sauce to incorporate all ingredients.  Cover with lid and let simmer for 15 minutes.  Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches.

 

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Four Salads for the Fourth of July

By July 3, 2017 Food

Take any one of these salads to the July 4th cookout you were invited to, and the back yard will get sexy the second you walk in….

The first one is a new recipe I serve for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and the other three are tried and true dishes I make time and time again.  They are simple, refreshing, and perfect ideas for that last minute “what am I going to bring!?”  Make one or make them all!

Tomato and Avocado Salad with Za’atar Dressing

3 ripe avocados, cut in half, scored into small cubes, and scooped out

2 cups fresh mini heirloom tomatoes, sliced in half

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 bunch fresh arugula

juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp za’atar

1 tbsp local honey

1 tbsp olive oil

kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Serve the first four ingredients onto a large platter.

Combine lime juice, za’atar, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until thickened.  If it is too thick, you can add a small amount of water to thin the dressing.

Drizzle za’atar dressing over salad and serve.

  Watermelon Salad

This delicious salad is super easy to prepare and can be put together once you arrive to the party.  I would take a pretty platter to display the beautiful cut outs of watermelon.  If you are in a hurry, you can also just cube the watermelon and serve it in a bowl with the other ingredients sprinkled and drizzled on top.

Sweet Cantaloupe and Cucumber Salad

Another great summer salad, the sweet cantaloupe mixed with the salty feta and crunchy pecans will be a fast favorite!  It can be presented on a platter (just like the watermelon salad) or tossed into a bowl.

Bloody Mary Shrimp Ceviche

This is one of my ol’ catering go-to’s I would serve to larger crowds and parties.  It makes a hefty amount and is so damned tasty!  You can A) omit the vodka if your party is kid friendly OR you can B) leave it in and serve it only to the adults.  I would go with plan B…. in which case, you will want to up the 1 to 2 shots of vodka to about 1/2 cup…tee hee.  Be sure to serve it in a smaller bowl inserted into a larger bowl with crushed ice in between them.  This will keep the salad cold and prevent food poisoning.  Gotta keep that shrimp on ice!

 

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Indoor Breakfast Picnic With Izzy: Spring Onion Pastry and Fried Eggs with Mexican Chorizo

By July 1, 2017 Food

Being a mom is fucking rad.  I just love my three little humans who are so different from each other.  They keep MY life interesting in that I get to spoil them each in creative and various ways.  When I am back home in Texas for a week or so, I do my best to carve out a little “one on one” time with each kiddo so they don’t suspect I have a favorite among them….because, I don’t.  My seventeen year old, Bennie, is elated if she and I spend an entire day on the couch with ice cream and popcorn, binge watching Netflix.  My thirteen year old son, Max, is perfectly happy with a hug/slap on the “back of the head” combo and a trip to the convenient store for lime chips, a big ass coke, and witty conversation.   Izzy, my eleven year old, is usually wide awake at 6 am; always the early riser, always the early bird. Yesterday, we got to enjoy a delightful little breakfast picnic on our living room floor while the other two were sawing logs until their growling tummies woke them for lunchtime.  Our feast of fried eggs topped with Mexican chorizo and a simple Spring onion pastry set the tone for a pretty awesome day.

Spring Onion Pastry with Herbs and Za’atar Dressing

serves 4

The fried eggs and Mexican chorizo are pretty simple to prepare.  I cook the chorizo in a small saute pan, covered with a lid, for a few minutes, then set aside until my eggs are fried and ready to plate.  This way, I can keep the chorizo separate from the eggs for a vegetarian-friendly breakfast.  Puff pastry is perfectly fine for vegans as it does not contain eggs or dairy.  Serve with sliced oranges or your favorite fruit and everyone will be happy!

1 sheet Pepperidge Farm puff pastry (vegan friendly)

2 to 3 spring onions, washed and patted dry

a few sprigs of fresh dill and thyme

1 tsp dried Italian seasoning (I use Penzey’s)

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Olive oil for drizzle

2 tbsp za’atar

1 tbsp local honey

2 tbsp olive oil

juice of 1/2 lime

kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Unfold thawed pastry sheet onto a baking stone.  Slice spring onion in half length-wise and gently place on top of pastry along with dill, thyme, and seasoning.  Drizzle with olive oil then add a pinch of salt and pepper.  Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Meanwhile, add za’atar, honey, oil, lime, salt and pepper into a small mixing bowl.  Whisk ingredients together.  Set aside.

Remove pastry from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.  Drizzle with za’atar dressing and serve.

 

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Dream Tacos

By June 25, 2017 Food

My dreams are always either about food (a new recipe idea that will make me the most brilliant person alive) or murder (MY murder) at which point, I either wake up googling said idea to see if it has been done before or I wake from having a panic attack.  What in the hell do our dreams even mean?!?!?!

A few days ago, I had a dream of making the most simplest vegan tacos for my mother and brother.  Long story short, my mother has been deceased for over 18 years and my brother has not been able to walk, chew, or swallow since the day he had a near fatal stroke in his brain stem eight years ago.  But, in my dream, my mother was radiantly alive, and my brother was just as he was before he had the stroke.  Grilled sweet corn, garlic-y guacamole, sliced blackberries, pomegranate seeds, and fresh tomato salsa stacked into corn tortillas….all for two people who could not eat it.  The simplicity of the tacos was absurd yet, I was so afraid to present them to my loved ones.  Did I dream of making these tacos for them because I knew, in reality, they could not tell me truthfully if they were awesome or shitty?  Do I have a fear of failing to please others?  Do I need to plan a trip to see my brother?  Geeeeeeeees…..someone TELL ME!!!!!

Meanwhile….back in the kitchen, I tried out these crazy tacos and uhmmmmm….they are pretty fucking delicious!  Thanks, dream??

Dream Tacos

serves 4

5 fresh tomatoes on the vine

1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped

2 jalapenos, if you would like it spicy

1 heaping tbsp ground cumin

2 tsp kosher salt

juice of 1 lime

1 bunch fresh cilantro

4 ears fresh corn, husks removed

chili powder for dusting

2 tbsp olive oil

4 avocados, peeled, seed removed, then smashed

1/2 tsp garlic salt

juice of 1 lime

fresh cracked pepper

fresh blackberries. sliced into small rounds

pomegranate seeds

chopped cilantro for garnish

8 corn tortillas

Broil tomatoes, onion, and jalapenos on a baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes or until tomatoes are charred.  Remove from oven and transfer into food processor along with cumin, salt, lime juice, and cilantro.  Process to your desired consistency.

Rub corn ears with olive oil and chili powder.  Grill until charred.

Combine smashed avocados with garlic salt, lime juice, and pepper.

Using a large knife, carefully cut kernels from cob.  Heat tortillas over open flame.  Place corn into each tortilla then top with guacamole, salsa, blackberries, and pomegranate seeds.  Serves 4

 

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Things I Love and Loathe

By June 22, 2017 My World

Every month, I see other bloggers posting about their “Favorite Things”, “Favourite Things” (from my UK gals) or “Currently Crushing On…” and I’m just like….  “Bitch, don’t you just loathe SOMETHING?  ANYTHING?”

I see, taste, and do things on the reg that absolutely have me saying “OMG, that is awesome!”  But, I am not gonna lie.  I also experience some things that just down right make me wanna hurl or roll my eyes.  Let’s be honest.  Not everything is amazzzzzziiiiinnnnnnngah.  So here it goes…

Although it is humid AF right now in Georgia, I LOVE being surrounded by beautiful shades of green and quenched wild mushrooms growing around mi casa.  With such gorgeous surroundings, there is a bit of uncomfortable sweating that happens.  I’m not talking about a light perspiration (as most women should experience),  I’m talking about full-on sweat!

I LOATHE boob sweat.  And stay calm, these are not my boobs.  You would know they were mine if they resembled two 18th Century leather gunpowder sacks hanging from an old nail in your great great great grandpa’s shed.  As fabulous as this looks, it is not my favorite thing to deal with.  I avoid it at all costs.  I don’t exercise.  I don’t go to the lake with friends.  I don’t even like walking into Walmart on a Sunday because of that “swamp cooler/lake sweat” odor billowing off of everyone around me.  Yes, I LOATHE summer.  So, dear Autumn,  please get here quickly?! Thanks.

Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia Non-Dairy Ice Cream…can I just take a moment to express my love for it?  I LOVE it so much that I bend my spoon every time I go into it way too hard.  It is the closest thing to real ice cream, in my opinion.  Who doesn’t love cherries and chunks of dark chocolate mixed in with frozen almond milk?  I am addicted, ya’ll.  With the amount of money I have spent on pint after pint after pint of this delicious sorcery, I could have bought myself a more sturdy set of silverware.  I LOATHE my cheap ass silverware…but, you know, I gotta pick my battles.  And, ice cream wins every time.

I LOVE this installation by artist Lucy Sparrow!  An entire convenient store full of your favorite treats and snacks are all handmade felt products.  I have got to get a can of Spam!  You can find her Sew Your Soul shop here.

I LOATHE removing wallpaper.  I have only had to do it twice in my life and that is fucking enough!  Having endured this hideous Ivy print on my kitchen walls for over five years, I have always thought it ranked right up there with country blue hearts and roosters.  It finally had to go but, I am pretty sure my damn patience left as well.  Your battles, Ruthie…your battles….

So, until I figure out how to get paid to LOVE products and blog about them, I might as well share everything I genuinely LOVE and LOATHE.  I am all about YIN and YANG, Ebb and Flow, errrrrr whatever….

 

 

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Gen-X’er Like An MF’er

By June 18, 2017 My World

Over Memorial holiday weekend, Brandon and I dug through stacked boxes in our garage to locate my old VHS tapes.  I was on a mission to find three magical tapes marked 120 Minutes.  That’s right.  Those three tapes were hours and hours of the coolest alternative music videos from MTV’s Friday night show which aired between 1986-2000.  Instead of going out on Friday nights only to be crammed into the backseat of a car, drinking Mad Dog 20/20 bought by someone’s big brother, and cruising Polk street downtown, I chose to stay home and watch all of the newest and coolest videos…..because, clearly, I was the epitome of cool.  I didn’t need to (as my own daughter calls it, today) live that “teenage life”….I had a date with Crockett and Tubbs THEN 120 Minutes.

There they were…intermingled with my mother’s collection of Master Classic Disney movies.  I remember her telling me, “One day these Disney movies will be worth a lot of money.”  Could that have been true?  My brother must have been hip to that idea too by taking and pawning them back in the mid 90’s for extra cash.  My mother and other brother combed every pawn shop in town one Saturday afternoon to retrieve them.  What were they, the equivalence of the fucking Hope Diamond?  Understanding their importance to her, I kept the tapes under lock and key all these years, fearing she would haunt me if I threw them away.  No thanks to my storing skills or lack thereof, they withered  with time.  After seeing the cracked and dusty cases, I knew there was no way in hell I could sell them on E Bay for $15,000 each.  Plus, what kind of a douche bag would I BE to sell them, knowing how much they meant to my mom?  So, I shrugged my shoulders, grabbed my VHS tapes, whispered ‘sweet sorry’ to Disney and closed the bucket.

That afternoon, Brandon and I watched over 4 hours of  recorded videos.  The tape lagged in places and the wave of sound was as if it were ducking in and out of water but, I didn’t care.  I let out a squeal at every other video, “OMG, I haven’t heard this song since junior high!”  I am grateful for YouTube and Spotify to have access to all of my favorite music from my generation but, on that particular day, the sights and sounds of Peter Murphy, Xymox, The Cocteau Twins, and The Jesus and Mary Chain were not blaring from a YouTube app on my phone.  They were on my fucking TV screen once more after all these years.  A slew of memories came rushing into my mind and, just like that, I was proud all over again to be a Generation X’er.

The go-to playlist I listen to while I am in the kitchen cooking on any given day is this one right here.  My Catch-All-Coolness Spotify Playlist is almost 19 hours of kick ass songs (some you’ll know and some you won’t) I want to share with you.  If you don’t have a Spotify account, well, it sucks to be you.  If you do, hopefully, these tunes will take YOU back somewhere familiar and nostalgic.  Have at it!

Now….shall we watch some John Hughes films today?

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Mastering the Art of Starting Over: Julia Child’s Chocolate Souffle

By May 21, 2017 Food, My World

There is something about the rain that transforms me completely.  For some reason, it has always been a signal from mother nature for me to stop, smell, breathe in, and listen.  I admire it as a symbol of self-renewal.  The other day as rain began to pour down,  I stopped what I was doing, stepped outside holding my morning java, and sat on the porch.  Well…yeah, I first set my phone camera to a ten second delay….duh.

I was greeted by a small lizard who scampered off the second he detected my presence.  I pretty much didn’t wanna hang out with him either so…off he went.  The rain came down hard in sheets of warm water, destroying any and all web work of spiders from the day before.  I wondered if that pissed them off.  That whole feeling of having to start over resonated with me too.  But, isn’t that what the rain does?  It washes away the old and gives one the chance to feel renewed?  I, then, thought about all of my ‘having to start overs’ and smiled.  Like…having to bake a souffle over and again until the bitch rose properly (Julia Child, YOU piss me off), having to rewash a load of laundry because it sat for two days in the washing machine drum due to my pure laziness, or, having to go cold turkey again after wrecking a five week stretch on a no-sugar diet by making out with three Snickers bars…okay, that actually happened.  You get my point.  Our little set backs are a good thing.  We feel frustration.  We feel defeat.  We become reacquainted with that word ‘patience’.  We feel determination.  We start all over….except for the whole cold turkey thing… I have to eat this chocolate souffle first.

*I used almond extract instead of vanilla and added a dust of Matcha Green Tea powder along with the powdered sugar. 

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Some Girls’ Mothers Are Bigger Than Other Girls’ Mothers

By May 12, 2017 Food, My World

Why yes….I AM referring to The Smiths song about the realization of all the various contours of  women.  But, I am also proclaiming that my mother was indeed huge.  I don’t mean huge as in large or heavy..I mean, she was a big deal.  She was strong.  She was beautiful.  She was a survivor.  She was my hero.

      Irene loved hitting the farmers market and garage sales early on Saturday mornings.  She would wrap up her outing by having lunch with a friend and then show up at my doorstep with a bag of fresh vegetables.  She would step inside of my home, sit in her favorite chair of mine, and show me her treasures she had found that day.

One particular Saturday, she had a sack full of the most beautiful tomatoes and an LP under her arm.  I was never a fan of tomatoes but the album she carried totally made up for my slight disappointment.  I immediately noticed the orange cover and knew right away it was Louder Than Bombs by The Smiths.  Only my mother could have known how much I loved that band.  I was completely impressed by her thoughtfulness and remember thinking, “you fucking rule, mom”.  For years, I dismissed her quirky actions as nonsense only to miss them now that she is gone.  Every one of my annoyances has flourished into a cherished memory….

“Like, how many times do I have to chase rolling oranges under cars because you keep falling in the grocery store parking lot, mom?  What?…..you got kicked out of a garage sale because you were arguing too much about the price of a straw basket?  You told the telemarketer you weren’t ‘interesting’?!?!?!  It’s INTERESTED, MOM.  You called my boyfriend ‘Government Cheese’ just because he has knee holes in his jeans…Mommmmm!  Oh…you invited me to breakfast but you conveniently forgot your checkbook?  What……you have diabetes?  I have to wake at 6:00 am to cook your breakfast because you don’t trust you will prepare what the dietitian told you to eat?  You want me to take my lunch hour to drive you to your friend’s house because you can’t remember her phone number?  You have a what…a brain tumor?  You want WHAT for lunch…BBQ RIBS and potato salad?  You can’t have that, mom…yes, I know you’re dying…okay.  You want coleslaw too?  Guess what, mom.  I’m pregnant! You want me to name my baby after you?  Uhhmmmm…no, mom…I just can’t.  You’re what….you’re afraid to leave us?  Don’t be, mom.  We will be alright.”

Do me a favor, cherish your mother and eat her tomatoes before she is no longer there to give them to you.  Happy Mother’s Day! – 

Left to right:  Max, our dog, Lil’ Rog, Brandon, Izabella, Me, and Bennie Irene

Roasted Tomato Galette with Fig Jam

1 bunch fresh tomatoes on the vine

1 tbsp olive oil

kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

1 jar fig jam

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

3-4 thyme sprigs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over tomatoes.  Roll out puff pastry to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Place pastry on a baking stone or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Spread fig jam in the center of the pastry and place tomatoes and thyme sprigs on top of the jam.  Gather edges of the pastry and shape it around the tomatoes and jam.  Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to pop and the pastry has risen and baked to a golden brown.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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Favorite Things: Cauliflower Cake and Incense

By April 30, 2017 My World

Yesterday, instead of venturing out to the annual Thomasville Rose Show Festival, I decided to stay in the kitchen a bit longer and try a new recipe from one of my favorite Yotam Ottolenghi cookbooks, Plenty More.  I stopped at the glance of the word ‘cake’.  I thought, “I LOVE cake….wait…this has cauliflower in it…I like cauliflower!  I can totally eat this!”  A savory cake was just what I needed to get me out of a minor funk I had been in all morning.  So, I fired up the incense my husband packed for me to take back to Georgia, put on my headphones, and made Cauliflower Cake.   The scents of cumin, caramelizing red onion, rosemary, basil, and turmeric combined took me to another place for just a few moments.  That place, familiar but pleasantly foreign at the same time, rescued me from the alternative choice of roses, crowds, and noise.  This single recipe turned out to be incredibly therapeutic for me in that I had my dude nearby (the incense), something new to look forward to trying, and a mini mental vacation to a spice market in another country.  With a little slice and a dopple of Greek yogurt, my gloom was gone. Thank you, Yotam.

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Mallory Mathison: Big Little Design Dreams and Momma Monteigne’s Artichoke and Olive Chicken Salad

By April 23, 2017 Black Fig Society, Food

In 1976, a 5 year old little girl, with messy hair, wearing a nightgown that bordered on mu mu status, and sleep in her eye, woke early on weekends to play with her make-shift Barbie village in a cold garage.  Her upper lip was stained by a Kool-Aid binge from the night before but, she did not care.  She had a feast to prepare for her dolls.  After watching Young and the Restless day in and day out with her mother before afternoon kindergarten class, she learned and understood certain things beyond her years.   Consequently, her Barbie village had been plagued with a strain of adultery.  The “blow-up” scene would take place over a dinner party that evening.  Out came the containers of Play-Doh used to shape teeny bottles of wine, peas and pearl onions, carrots and potatoes, and roasted turkey with frill booties for the grand feast.

Fast forward fifteen years…. an 11 year old girl, with an old square dancing skirt worn underneath another skirt for volume and a baby bonnet (Little House On The Prairie style) on her head, skipped to her mailbox to retrieve love letters from her civil war beau who was off at war.  With an imagination as big as the sky, she proudly hand-crafted those letters herself in a very unique way.  She poured milk over the paper and ironed them to give them an old, crinkled, and yellow appearance.  Two wing chairs placed together served as her carriage ride out to the mailbox on some days.  Unlike the first little girl, THIS little girl had a mother who did not let her watch regular TV and all of the smutty soap operas.  Instead, she rented videos like Hello Dolly, The Sound of Music, Meet Me in St. Louis, My Fair Lady, and many other musicals which, in turn, led to the girl’s love for amazing interiors and historical sets.  She was completely sucked in by design.

What did these two little girls have in common besides both being from “crazy town?” hahaha… well…they were just two girls, in a sea of many other young girls throughout time, with growing passions that would cultivate into magic within their careers.  One grew up, became a renown interior designer in Atlanta, and was featured in magazines such as, Domino, House beautiful, Southern Living, and Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles.  The other followed her love of food into the world of culinary artistry and started a food blog.  Today, their paths would cross in a mutual work environment and voila….the foodie would snatch up the chance to interview the designer.

I saw what she could do…I really wanted to know why she did it.

Meet Mallory Mathison.  She is young, vivacious, successful, and exudes a positive force that could rival Wonder Woman on her best day.  I met this divine lady through my employer, Sheree, who was Mallory’s client.  One of the first times I was in her presence, I noticed her insane work ethic and passion for her career.  I thought “Okay….I can dig it…she loves what she does, just like me! And, when she’s in her element, she runs around very much like the squirrels outside…just like me!”  I was immediately intrigued and had to interview her.

Some would argue Interior Design is not art.  I believe it is.  It is livable art.  I have seen first hand what this woman does that touches her clients on a daily basis.  Her ability to research and arrange products, in perfect balance, in a room definitely tells the story of said clients.  Just like a fabulous painting can move us, so can her design.

Born in Mobile, Alabama.  She was an only child of a Methodist minister and his wife and was introduced to the world of miniatures by a gentleman within her church who had built her a doll house.  She would make curtains from handkerchiefs, wallpaper from drawer liners, and rugs cut from paper doilies.  To put it quite simply, she became obsessed with designing her own miniature home.  Her mother, Monteigne, bought books on miniatures for Mallory at the peek of her interest.

She excitedly explains, “Growing up in Mobile, there were lots of historical homes for me to admire.  My mother and I would tour the homes and then, I would cut out pictures from magazines, glue them onto poster board, and put together a vision of my own home.”  By the 6th grade, she had become obsessed with American Girl dolls and fictional tween history.  “I would write stories about a girl who traveled from Europe to America… moving to a big beautiful house with a grand stairway and marble floors.  When friends would come over to play, I would take out my old doll houses from the attic and put them together for hours of playtime. When dad had a work conference in Asheville, NC, every summer, mom and I would spend hours touring the Biltmore Estate.  Totally obsessed with Cornelia Vanderbilt…I pretended to be Cornelia (as she was also an only child) playing on the Biltmore lawn with paper dolls.”  She was an extremely imaginative child but, there comes a point in time when we all begin to grow up.  She jokes about how she literally went from playing with doll houses to sneaking out late to drink beer at the playground.  Ha!…we all have those stories.  Mallory was simply just growing up!  However, her love of design did not fade.  Her passion for all things design landed her in college in Alabama majoring in Interior Design.  After college, she went on to do internships in Charleston, for Alexa Hampton in New York, and Dan Carithers in Atlanta.  “When I moved to New York in 2004-2005, I went to Parsons School of Design.  I, then, went on to work for Alexa to begin building a career in the Big Apple.  In New York, it takes a long time for a designer to cut teeth…build relationships with vendors and make a name for yourself than in other cities.  It was really tough.  I mean, come on…trying to transport lampshades on a subway, in a blizzard…like they would roll into the gutter.  The getting around was tough too.”  That all lent to her decision to head to Georgia.  There, she runs her design business in an office space shared with architectural designer extraordinaire, Brandon Ingram.  “He is like the brother I never had…like, we have so much in common.  We both have twins.  We both love design….”  Although they do not mesh their businesses together, they do work on projects together.  “My business is sourcing, ordering, estimating, and selling product…his is intellectual time, design, and service.”   I can say, their ideas combined have made my ‘work space’ the most incredible kitchen I have ever had the pleasure of working in.

In admiring her mind at work, I stood over swatches and other elements of her ideas one day before preparing lunch.  I couldn’t help noticing a paralleling between her work on the floor and mine as ingredients laid out on the kitchen counter.  Except for me, at times, I blankly stare at those ingredients and ask “now, what the hell am I making?”  I had to know where her creative process and source of inspiration came from.  Mallory proclaims it all comes from her clients.  “I sit down with them and we talk about how they live.  How do they entertain? Do they have elaborate dinner parties or do they host casual cookouts?  What are their daily routines?  How do they write bills, eat breakfast, prepare for bedtime….then it comes down to….do they have kids, pets, family heirlooms, collections, porcelain or trophies from travel that are needing to be showcased in their homes?  As far as a daily ritual to get me centered to go out there to create…I take an Aleve and a Zoloft and I’m out the door…hahaha.”  High five, Mallory….high five!

BUT, what is the best part of her craft that makes her proud to do what she does?  She explains, “Hands down, when a project is finished..it is seeing the happiness on my clients’ faces.  When their home becomes ‘THEM’…completely.  Hearing them say they are proud of their home is the very best part for me.”  Although she runs a successful business with a major payoff in happy clients, there is a small part of her that wonders if she is at home enough for her twin boys and hubs.  What other working mom doesn’t think about that sort of thing?  I gotta tell ya, those two boys are the cutest things ever!  They happen to be fans of my strawberry cookies so, we are basically besties…. hahaha.  All jokes aside, I can see the strong bond within her family through photos and stories.  She need not worry about that at all!  Like my own family, Mallory’s has been a huge support system in everything she does.  Between her husband, children, mother, and work friends, she is indeed rich with support and love.

Speaking of love…food always makes me feel better.  As I have grown in MY craft, it has become a ritual, if you will, each time I sit down to eat.  I not only do it because I love to cook, I do it to bring my family together every night…at the dinner table.  I give them love through nourishment and they, in turn, are thankful.  Because they support me, I want to give back in return…I do it through a good meal with the people I love.  For Mallory, food has been an interesting component growing up.  She grew up eating Cream of Wheat for breakfast, cheese and mayonnaise sandwiches for lunch that her mom would make, and the occasional bowl of cereal for dinner.  “Growing up in Mobile, our traditional family meal was lunch on Saturday.  Our family would come together and cook fresh seafood.  We had fresh oysters, seafood gumbo, and fried shrimp.  Our food was simple at times too.  When friends would come over, mom would serve shrimp on a lettuce leaf with lemon juice squeezed on top.  This is going to sound bratty but, some mornings, she spoiled me by bringing me breakfast in bed.”  Presentation was the special touch Mallory appreciated so very much;  a tray, starched linen napkin, pitcher of milk, bowl of cheerios, bowl of berries and sterling silver… I swoon just imagining what that might have been like….

One of her biggest food memories is that of her grandmother’s homemade buttermilk biscuits in a skillet.  “D & D biscuits were what they were called.  David and Daniel were two brothers who lived down the street from my dad’s house.  My dad was always over there eating these incredible biscuits at their house.  One day, my grandmother wondered why he had spent so much time over there so…. she had to know why.  She got the recipe from their mother and the rest is history.”  Although Mallory never ate them much, she remembers them always being on the stove in a skillet, cooled off from that morning’s breakfast.  A true comfort came from her mother’s artichoke and green olive chicken salad.  It is a recipe she grew up eating and requests it to this day when visiting home.  And, that comfort is what she is graciously sharing with all of us.  Thank you, Mallory and Sheree for the laughs, wine, and great food.  And, thank you, Monteigne, for the fabulous chicken salad!  To find more of Mallory’s beautiful work, you can follow her on Instagram @mallorymathisoninc!

*Photo Credits of Mallory and bedroom space: Laura Negri

Artichoke and Green Olive Chicken Salad

This recipe is, in true form, a family gem in that there are no measurements really…I could have taken the time to figure it out but I did not want to take away from the aesthetic in its taste, tradition, and composition.  You get the ingredients, and you get to play….just as I did with my Barbies and Mallory did with her miniatures…with pure imagination.

Ingredients

Chicken breasts

fresh rosemary

1 jar green olives with pimento

1 jar artichoke hearts in water, not marinade

2-3 spoonfuls of Duke’s Mayonnaise

1-2 spoonfuls of sour cream

juice of about 1 lemon

2-4 ‘shakes’ of  Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

salt and pepper to taste 

Boil chicken with rosemary until cooked

Process in a blender or food processor along with artichokes and olives

Scoop out into a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients in amounts to your taste and serve!

Mallory (right) and our gracious host, Sheree

Artichoke and Green Olive Chicken Salad Pizza 

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