Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Get Yer Conflicts Right Here!

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 at 6:55 PM

6fb3/1245196982-shitake_dogs_2.jpgConflicts of interest be damned, two cool projects by Flyer contributors merit mention.

Andria Lisle, a freelance writer, has started “Our Summer of Magical Eating,” a weekly potluck dinner using local ingredients.

Justin Fox Burks, a photographer and “The Chubby Vegetarian,” will be teaching a vegetarian grilling class through the University of Memphis’ continuing ed program July 12th.

According to Lisle, who describes herself as an okay cook, she came up with the idea for Our Summer of Magical Eating (OSOME, for short) while reporting on area farmers. Her goal was two-fold: to learn how to prepare the goods she got at the farmers market and to socialize.

She came up with a list of 20 or so likeminded friends — musicians, artists, and writers, mostly — and set up a standard set of rules. She’d host the potluck in her backyard each week from May to August, with attendees (no RSVP needed) required only to bring a dish that used at least one local ingredient.

In the month or so since the potlucks began, guests have feasted on dishes made with the early season’s shiitake mushrooms, snap peas, and radishes. One week, Lisle made sliders with Neola beef. Burks, a member along with his wife Amy Lawrence (another Flyer contributor), brought sausages made with shiitake mushrooms (pictured above). One time-pressed member added to the fare a bottle of Pritchard’s Rum (made in Tennessee) and Pancho’s Cheese Dip. “It was perfect,” says Lisle of the rum and dip, adding she'd be more than thrilled if one week everybody brought homemade ice cream.

OSOMEs are now planning field trips, and Lisle hopes that they inspire other locally minded potlucks.

“I love it,” Lisle says, “because I can’t get out of it!” Plus, as host, she admits, there is an added bonus of a refrigerator full of leftovers.

5914/1245197189-justin.jpgAs regular readers of The Chubby Vegetarian blog know, Burks (pictured at left) ups the ante on vegetarian cooking. His dishes are not only creative but beautiful.

Earlier this spring, Burks taught a sold-out vegetarian cooking class through continuing ed. He followed that up with a capacity-crowd class on sliders a couple months later at Whole Foods.

Of this latest continuing ed class to be held at Memphis Botanic Garden, Burks says, “I’ll teach people who don’t eat meat how to have fun on the barbecue grill.”

Among the dishes he’ll be preparing are barbecue tofu sandwiches with purple cabbage slaw and seitan skewers on apple and mint couscous. What he calls the “wow” dish is a Puttanesca pizza with a grilled flatbread crust.

“It’s not at all basic,” Burks says. “It’s for people who like to cook.”

A note for those planning to register for Burks’ class: Do so now. His last class sold out, and half the slots for the grilling class have already been taken. Cost for the class is $49. — Susan Ellis

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