Month of April: “Salt Fat Acid Heat” Recipe: Buttermilk Chicken

“My dear Silvaney…for all of a sudden when I saw those lights, I said to myself, Ivy, this is your life, this is your real life, and you are living it. Your life is not going to start later. This is it, it is now. It’s funny how a person can be so busy living that they forget this is it.” Lee Smith

Fair and Tender Ladies is a fictional novel that Abby and I loved. It’s a story about Ivy Rowe, a Virginia mountain girl later turned woman and mother who is drawn to the beauty and rhythms of her natural world. The places she lives have names like Sugar Fork, Blue Star Mountain and Majestic. She has a calling and a talent to write but little opportunity mixed with expected family obligations keep her from discovering her true independence and a world at large. The book is written in the form of letters to the various characters in her life. Silvaney, her sister is the one most closest to her. We gather as a reader that she is developmentally disabled. Yet she is Ivy’s heart and soul and closest confidante in writing. The story takes us through Ivy’s entire life and all she learns by her hard earned experiences along the way.

It’s a beautiful read and now for me a small but lasting memory. I recently revisited this book a few months ago and cried many times for Ivy and her identifiable struggles. I cried for myself. There was so much of me, so much of Abby in those pages. We were both Ivy, both Silvaney to each other. And now here I am. This is my life. Abby is gone and a pandemic has arrived. I have normalized concepts such as sheltering in place, flattening the curve and social distancing. I have put a pause on my life uncertain of what comes next. The world has become much more frightening. Today I read the leading coronavirus doctor said people may never want to shake hands in public again. Wait, what?!! It’s such a crazy time on so many levels for all of us, not just this public health crisis. Right now my emotional body is very heavy and I feel the need to move this energy out. Today I really miss my friend. It is hanging over my heart and chest like a storm cloud making it hard to breathe. I need a good cry. A good hard rain to let the tears come and wash away the helplessness and the fear and the loss. This is my life. This is it.

Here is a delicious recipe for learning the salt lesson of seasoning from within. A salty buttermilk marinade breaks down the proteins of the chicken to produce a tender moist roasted chicken. Take 4 teaspoons of sea salt mixed with 2 cups of buttermilk and add to a gallon plastic bag along with the chicken pieces of your heart’s desire. Marinate for 24 hours. The following day remove the chicken, scrape off the marinade and roast at 425F for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 400F and continue for another 20-30 minutes more depending on your size. Chicken should be brown with clear juices.

6 Replies to “Month of April: “Salt Fat Acid Heat” Recipe: Buttermilk Chicken”

  1. So, I don’t know why my sheltered-in-place search for Tassajara cinnamon rolls pulled your post, and blog, to the top of my results list, but I am grateful. I am Virginia born, and removed by one connection to Lee Smith herself. Read Fair and Tender Ladies during a year in a mountain cabin in the Shenandoah. Love the buttermilk chicken recipe a la 2019-home-raising-babies era of my life. I am truly and deeply sorry for your loss. I think unpacking grief in a quiet kitchen shows sense and respect of yourself and your relationships that this world needs more of. Thank you ❤️


    1. OMG what a coincidence!! What are the chances that you were looking for a cinnamon roll recipe and not only does my ‘nobody knows about blog’ show up on your first page of a search engine site but that my last post was about Fair and Tender Ladies? And not only have you read the book but you are related to Lee Smith! What are the chances?? My mind is blown. Thank you for your kind words and for reaching out. This has really touched me.


      1. ❤️ This world is crazy. But you have all the good stuff right here, and the fact that you have it, and I know about it, well… must mean there is more of us out there? I am up to my eyeballs in raising boys, working through life with my husband, dishes, laundry, repeat. To imagine the room of your own, the time to contemplate, the honor you have given your friendship…cooking thoughtfully! Well, it gives me hope. Please say hello to east coast spring for me. The snow is still melting up here in Alaska, but the sun came out yesterday and I found a crocus. So yes, there really is hope


      2. Thank you so much for your kindness. Alaska!! Never been. I think the long winters scare me! lol Yes, those first first flowers and tender buds are always a real joy, aren’t they??


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