“Well, Shut My Mouth!” Buttermilk Fried Chicken Made Gluten Free

Sweet Potatoes restaurant chef Stephanie L. Tyson thinks  you should fry a chicken, at least on Sundays.

Why? “Tradition,” she says. “…sitting on the porch on a Sunday afternoon following church, saying “Yes, ma’am” and “Yes, sir” to anybody older than you, and frying chicken for supper—those types of traditions we need.”

So what happens when a southern girl is told she can’t enjoy that crumbly, crispy, breaded tradition because of a gluten intolerance? She gets resourceful.

I might not be able to chow down on some buttermilk fried chicken at Sweet Potatoes, but I can sure make my own gluten-free version based on the recipe in Stephanie’s cookbook, Well, Shut My Mouth! The Sweet Pototoes Restaurant Cookbook. So to the rest of you Celiacs out there who have been avoiding fried chicken: Welcome home!

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Serves 4.

  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 2- to 3-pound chicken, cut up and cleaned
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (or a mix of gluten-free flours)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons Chicken and Seafood Seasoning (see page 159 in Well, Shut My Mouth! )

Combine the buttermilk, salt, garlic, thyme, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

Heat the oil in a large skillet or a cast-iron pan. Combine the flour, cornstarch, and Chicken and Seafood Seasoning in a bowl. For a gluten-free version, use a mixture of rice flour, millet flour, and cornmeal instead of regular flour (or try your own mix–tapioca, potato, whatever you’ve got on hand) instead of wheat flour.  

Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, coating it well.

Add the chicken to the oil and brown on 1 side for about 10 minutes. Turn the chicken over and continue to fry. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 170 degrees.

Since our plans for the weekend changed and I needed to cook this chicken in the morning (leaving chicken in buttermilk for more than a day will break down the meat and make it mushy), we paired it with homemade waffles and a tall glass of iced tea. Yum!


Sweet Potatoes chef Stephanie Tyson and Vivian Joiner rocked their launch party

Last week we posted a lot on Facebook and Twitter about the book launch for Well, Shut My Mouth! The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook, by Stephanie L. Tyson. And it must have worked–we stopped counting guests at the event after we hit 170. Stephanie and her partner Vivian Joiner must have signed books for a solid two hours. If they didn’t have carpal tunnel before, they must be feeling it now.

But that didn’t keep them from getting back to work at Sweet Potatoes the next day or talking to NPR’s All Things Considered this week. You can catch Stephanie and Vivian discussing what it’s like running their restaurant in today’s economy here.

A big thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate with us. If you missed it, books are still available at your local bookstore, through online booksellers, at Sweet Potatoes restaurant, and at blairpub.com.

All photos courtesy of Sheri Clawson.

Biking the western North Carolina backroads with Blair Publisher

If you’ve ever called our offices or ordered a book from us, chances are you’ve worked with this guy:


That’s Artie. He manages orders and customer service at Blair. And when he’s not here, he’s usually out biking. So when Artie headed out to the mountains this past weekend with the new edition of Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads, we asked him to share his cycling adventures with us. Enjoy!


Long before I started working at Blair, I loved using Blair guide books to find scenic places for bike rides. In terms of cost vs. hours of pleasure provided, they’re one of the best entertainment/recreation bargains around, even better than Netflix on Demand.

When Carolyn Sakowski’s new edition of Touring Western North Carolina Backroads came out, I couldn’t wait to try some of the tours on my Trek bike. Besides, I really needed a break from the sweltering summer heat of the flatlands.

I picked the Old Buffalo Trail Tour, mostly because it’s close to my in-laws’ house in Watauga County. I didn’t attempt all 126 miles of the tour on a bike. I’m no Superman and I gave up attempting feats of endurance when I turned 40. I picked 20 miles of the tour, enough to give me a good workout without too much of a strain. I started at Elk Knob State Park and finished at Cove Creek School. Honestly, it was the best ride I’ve done since exploring Monterey Bay on a bike a few years ago. Great scenery and I encountered fewer cars during the entire ride than I do during the first five minutes of my daily commute.

I suspect this is what John Prine had in mind when he wrote that song about blowing up your TV and moving to the country.

In addition to directions, Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads provides the history of the area you’re exploring, so you get a real feel for the place. I never knew that Old HWY 421 was the original route used by settlers heading west, but I should have suspected it since it’s one of the flattest stretches of road that you’ll encounter in the mountains.

If you’re new to cycling in the N.C. mountains, here are a few tips to get the most out of your ride:

  • If you see big grins on the faces of cyclists approaching you from the other direction it might mean that they’ve just completed a particularly exhilarating descent. Prepare yourself for a grueling climb.
  • Wave when you see strangers. This is the opposite of the rule about never making eye contact on a New York subway. You’re allowed to ignore this rule if you’re on a stretch of road where you need to keep both hands on the handlebars to maintain control, but at least nod your head.
  • Bring a few dollars in cash so you can enjoy a refreshing beverage and rest on the comfortable benches of gas stations along the route.
  • Bring a map, in case you decide to alter your route.
  • Water-resistant jerseys look dorky but are infinitely more comfortable than traditional cotton shirts. Same goes for padded shorts.
  • Read a comprehensive list of riding tips from an actual expert  in Road Cycling the Blue Ridge High Country by Tim Murphy.

There are 4,000 miles of roads and 21 tours in the new edition of Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads. To find your adventure, pick up a copy from your favorite bookseller. Happy Trails!

You’re invited! Lauch party for Sweet Potatoes restaurant cookbook

The downtown Winston-Salem scene has been buzzing with the news: Stephanie L. Tyson, chef and co-owner of Sweet Potatoes restaurant at 529 North Trade Street has released Well, Shut My Mouth! The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook.

Now here’s the exciting part for you: you’re invited to the launch party tomorrow evening! If you’ve ever eaten at Sweet Potatoes–or have just heard the legends of its sweet potato biscuits and fried catfish–you don’t want to miss this. Please join the entire Blair staff and meet the author and co-owner Vivian Joiner, purchase a book to be signed, and mingle with Winston-Salem’s finest. Light appetizers will be served.

Thursday, August 11, 2011
5:30 to 7 p.m.
Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts
251 N. Spruce Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Stephanie Tyson and Vivian Joiner, co-owners of Sweet Potatoes restaurant in Winston-Salem

We’ll see you there!

Summer reading picks from an indie publisher: Part 3

In the sweltering heat of the summer months, I like to read books that take me to another time or place, or at the very least, distract me enough to forget how hot it is outside. I just finished Doc from my summer reading list (below), and it is in direct competition with Ann Patchett’s fabulous new book, State of Wonder, for being named the Best Book I’ve Read All Year. I can’t wait to read the rest!

Angela's Summer Reading List

Sister by Rosamund Lupton
Initially intrigued by the starred review in Booklist, that describes British writer Rosamund Lupton’s novel as a remarkable debut that “. . . is a masterful, superlative-inspiring success that will hook readers (and keep them guessing) from page one,” I was further enamored when I heard Lupton on the Diane Rehm show. (You can listen to this broadcast and read a free excerpt from Sister here). The novel unfolds in the form of a long letter from Beatrice to her adored, and recently murdered, younger sister—juicy mystery meets sisterly love and loyalty. 

Doc by Mary Doria Russell
I’ve read everything published by Mary Doria Russell—my favorites include The Sparrow and A Thread of Grace—and I am always amazed by the broad range of subjects and genres Russell covers in her books. Russell surprises us again with her newest novel, Doc, “. . . this terrific bio-epic set in a revisionist version of the Old West . . .” (Kirkus, starred review), where she retells the story of the O.K. Corral and Doc Holliday. The Washington Post is “. . . in awe of how confidently Russell rides through this familiar territory and remakes all its rich heroism and tragedy.” Read an excerpt from Doc at Mary Doria Russell’s website.

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø
Translated from the Swedish, The Snowman follows Detective Inspector Harry Hole as he tries to capture a serial killer who is leaving snowmen in his victim’s front lawns. Jo Nesbø is repeatedly described by reviewers as the next Stieg Larsson. I’m anxious to find out if the shoe fits— although the awards the novel has won helps convince me. The Snowman was awarded the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize 2007 for Best Novel of the Year and received the Norwegian Book Club Prize (Den norske leserprisen) 2007 for Best Novel of the Year.

Zeroville by Steve Erikson
The kind man at the Europa booth at BEA this year gave me a copy of Zeroville by Steve Erickson, after we discussed some of my favorite past Europa reads. He promised I wouldn’t be disappointed. The cover copy describes Zeroville best: “On the same August day in 1969 that a crazed hippie ‘family’ led by Charles Manson commits five savage murders in the canyons above Los Angeles, a young ex-communicated seminarian arrives with the images of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift — ‘the two most beautiful people in the history of the movies’—tattooed on his head. At once childlike and violent, Vikar is not a cinéaste but ‘cineautistic,’ sleeping at night in the Roosevelt Hotel where he’s haunted by the ghost of D. W. Griffith. Vikar has stepped into the vortex of a culture in upheaval: strange drugs that frighten him, a strange sexuality that consumes him, a strange music he doesn’t understand. Over the course of the Seventies and into the Eighties, he pursues his obsession with film from one screening to the next and through a series of cinema-besotted conversations and encounters with starlets, burglars, guerrillas, escorts, teenage punks and veteran film editors, only to discover a secret whose clues lie in every film ever made, and only to find that we don’t dream the Movies but rather they dream us.”