This year, the Southern Foodways Alliance celebrates women, work, and food. Today's subject is Karen Barker, who was happily co-proprietor and pastry chef of the Magnolia Grill in Durham, North Carolina (1986–2012). Now, happily, she is not.
I grew up in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, where there was a very strong corner-bakery culture but little actual home baking. People tended to purchase their breads and desserts rather than produce them out of cramped urban kitchens.
I was lucky that my maternal grandmother, an exception to this rule, lived upstairs. She was a Russian immigrant who barely spoke English, had no written recipes, and never used standardized measures. Bubby Fanny turned out an amazing array of Eastern European specialties and taught me that homemade sweets were a tribute to one's family and always included the ingredients of time and love.
Beth Howard pulled up to Newtown in her 24-foot-long camper, loaded with 240 apple pies.
She dished out pie to kids from Sandy Hook Elementary School, grieving parents and anyone who asked.
She describes herself as an attaché for grief, with her greatest gift being pie “made from love.” Most people simply call her "the pie lady."
“Pie is meant to be shared,” she said. “It’s meant to be given away.”
The smoky aroma of chicken and sausage gumbo fills the air inside Café Reconcile. A moist, tender pot roast emerges from the oven while the timid hands of novice knife holders chop onions and peppers.
It’s two hours before lunch time inside Café Reconcile and Chef Joe Smith sounds like an old-gospel preacher filled with the Holy Spirit teaching a small group of young men and women how to bring New Orleans-style food to life.
“It’s called soul food because there was no measuring, they just knew how they felt,” Chef Joe tells his captivated audience as they prepare the day’s lunch menu. “I feel it!”
But this isn’t your ordinary New Orleans kitchen. Chef Joe isn’t just teaching the mechanics of cooking. This is the kitchen of life.
Knoxville, Tennessee (CNN) - Helen Ashe experienced many hardships growing up in Abbeville, South Carolina, during the 1930s and '40s. Her family's first house had no lights or running water.
But even during tough times, she and her twin sister, Ellen, were taught to be selfless.
"My daddy taught us not to take the last piece of bread from the table; somebody may come by that's hungry," Ashe remembered.
Since 1986, Ashe has been leaving a whole lot more than bread on the table.
As the founder of the Love Kitchen in Knoxville, Tennessee, she has helped serve more than 1 million free meals to those in need.
FULL STORY: 'Love Kitchen' delivers for Knoxville needy
In the shadows of Disneyland, often referred to as the "happiest place on Earth," many children are living a reality that's far from carefree.
They are living in cheap motels more commonly associated with drug dealers, prostitutes and illicit affairs.
It's the only option for many families that are struggling financially and can't scrape together a deposit for an apartment. By living week to week in these cramped quarters, they stay one step ahead of homelessness.
"Some people are stuck, they have no money. They need to live in that room," said Bruno Serato, a local chef and restaurateur. "They've lost everything they have. They have no other chance. No choice."
While "motel kids" are found across the United States, the situation is very common in Orange County, California, a wealthy community with high rents and a large number of old motels. In 2009, local authorities estimated that more than 1,000 families lived in these conditions.
When Serato learned that these children often go hungry, he began serving up assistance, one plate at a time. To date, he's served more than 270,000 pasta dinners - for free - to those in need.
We get food crushes sometimes. It might be a chef whose stracciatella makes our hearts sing (that'd be you, Missy Robbins), a winemaker with a barrel-sized brain and wit to match (cheers, Randall Graham), or a writer out of whom we'd just like to hug the stuffing (we're coming for you, Francis Lam).
This go 'round is Addie Broyles, food writer for the Austin-American Statesman. We had a chance to swing into her orbit during our trip to Austin for our SXSW-centric Secret Supper, and while we'd long been impressed by her mastery of the Austin food scene (the Austin Chronicle named her the city's top "food celebrity") and feminist take on food culture, one more thing quickly became evident.
Sometimes you find things on the Internet; other times, things find you.
Poking around online last night, I wasn't even thinking about food – which, granted, is fairly unusual for me. Somehow, I managed to surf my way over a list of products still made in the USA, mostly clothes and accessories.
I was vaguely hoping to find myself a new duffel bag, something old-school and sturdy. But there, at the bottom of the page – below Johnson Woolen Mills of Johnson, Vermont, and Utility Canvas of Gardiner, New York – was, remarkably, a listing for a "Steam Cheese Burger Chest – Meriden, Connecticut."
Celebrating America's regional sandwiches, one bite at a time.
Hometown: Buffalo, New York, and surrounding area
Specs: Freshly sliced roast beef on salt and caraway-covered roll. The top of the roll is dipped in the beef jus, and a pot of strong horseradish is served alongside.
Backstory: The soul of Buffalo's favorite sandwich is the bread: a round Kaiser-style roll with caraway seeds and coarse pretzel salt baked onto the top. The roll, called a kümmelweck, is the source of the sandwich's name, was brought to western New York state by German immigrants, probably at the beginning of the 20th century. The origin story gets a little murky after that, but the most accepted version is that a bar owner was hoping to sell more beer and added the salty, thirst-inducing sandwich to his lunchtime buffet table.
The stadium lights are on, the outfield is mowed, and the beer taps are primed for their first pour. The Major League Baseball regular season is about to begin.
It's so close, you can taste it - and it's not all peanuts and Cracker Jacks.
Each of the 30 teams in the league has a clubhouse chef fueling the players, preparing meals for the home and away teams during the season.
Jeremy Bryant, 37, who describes himself as a die-hard Seattle Mariners fan and "the one starting the wave," is the clubhouse chef for the Mariners. But the way he got the gig required a few extra practice swings.