Morgan Murphy - Author and Food Critic (Transcript)

Season 1 / Thanksgiving Episode

November 14, 2018

Transcript - Morgan Murphy - Author & Food Critic

Nicole:                                       00:00:01              Aloha friends and foodies. First of all, happy Thanksgiving if you're listening to this on Thanksgiving.

                                                                                          Today, I get to interview author, traveler, and amazing storyteller Morgan Murphy. His most recent book, On the Road Again, immediately hit number on Publisher Weekly's list when it was released, and his book, Bourbon and Bacon, also launched at number one in Wine & Spirits. His other books, Off the Eaten Path and Second Helps, have helped to make him one of the culinary world's best known food critics.

                                                                                          You may have seen him on the Travel Channel or read his work in Southern Living, but in short, Morgan is everywhere. And by the way, he's one of my dear friends, so I'm really excited to have him on the show.

                                                                                          Hey Morgan. Welcome to the show.

Morgan:                                    00:00:49             Nicole. Aloha.

Nicole:                                       00:00:53             Thank you friend for coming on. This is gonna be fun. I can tell you I have been counting down to Thanksgiving since September 1st. Is that weird?

Morgan:                                    00:01:02              No. I love Thanksgiving. I mean, it's just one of my favorite holidays of the year.

Nicole:                                       00:01:08              Same. Same. It's like my Superbowl.

Morgan:                                    00:01:12                It's a pretty big deal, especially here in America.

Nicole:                                       00:01:14                Yeah, I think so. So Morgan, I'm gonna start the show with my three questions, but they're gonna be a little bit different than what people are used to hearing. So you ready friend?

Morgan:                                    00:01:25               I'm ready.

Nicole:                                       00:01:26               Alright, so what is your favorite Thanksgiving dish and why?

Morgan:                                    00:01:32               Oh, gosh. Well, that's actually an easy one for me, and it actually goes back to the time we were together. We were in Afghanistan together in 2010, 2011. When you are stationed in a warzone with the United States military ... In their wisdom, they don't let soldiers and sailors drink. I mean, that makes sense being around lots of weapons. We couldn't have bacon, and there was no, what I call, grunt folks' relations. So pretty much all that a man-soul desires.

                                                                                          But we had a shipmate, and I'm sure you remember this, Jocelyn Knight, whose father was from Louisiana, and he made a amazing pecan pie that he sent in the mail to us, to Afghanistan, and it was laced with bourbon. I remember just receiving that pie in the mail and the nuttiness of the pecans and just the deep molasses chew of that pie and its perfect crust. Even after it had gone through the United States Postal Service for Lord knows how long, but it got to us. I remember opening the box, and you could just smell the vanilla tones of that bourbon and its oaky cask flavor, even though it just has a little touch of bourbon in it.

                                                                                          So I begged. I begged Mr. Knight to give me that recipe, and he reluctantly agreed. He'd never given that recipe out before. But I make that pie every Thanksgiving now, and it always reminds me of the glory of America and the comfort of Southern cooking. That's really my favorite Thanksgiving recipe to do, and it's quite easy actually.

Nicole:                                       00:03:27              That sounds amazing, and did I get a piece of that pie?

Morgan:                                    00:03:29              You inhaled a piece of pecan pie. I can't believe you don't remember it.

Nicole:                                       00:03:35              I remember I was getting jealous because I'm like wait a minute.

Morgan:                                    00:03:39              Wait a minute [inaudible 00:03:43] recipe here.

Nicole:                                       00:03:43              I've eaten a lot of pie in my life, and I'm sure I, not only inhaled it, wanted another piece, was not given another piece, probably had a tantrum about it, and stormed off.

Morgan:                                    00:03:55              Well, I love making it. People can taste ... Of course, all the alcohol cooks out of it. It's only got a quarter cup of bourbon in it. I recommend having a quarter cup of bourbon while you make it, but it's only got a quarter cup of bourbon in it.

                                                                                          Invariably, when I make it, I have a lot of distant relatives and things who ... little old ladies who take a slice of it, and they get all twitterpated over, "Ooh, I can taste the bourbon." The bourbon does really come through, and it matches so well with pecans. The oakyness of a good bourbon really brings out the sweet nuttiness of a pecan pie.

                                                                                          It's interesting, Mr. Knight said ... I asked him, I said, "Oh, you know, a lot of people like doing a bourbon chocolate pecan pie." And he said, "Oh, no, no, no, no. The chocolate completely overwhelms the bourbon and the pecan." And he's right. I've tried it both ways, and his recipe is truly the best, which is why I put it in my book, Bourbon and Bacon. It's one of the favorite recipes in the book.

Nicole:                                       00:05:03             Oh my goodness. That sounds so good. Now I'm gonna have to try that pie, 'cause I do love a good pecan pie.

Morgan:                                    00:05:07              I love it 'cause you can make it ahead. For Thanksgiving, people are rushing around the day. You can whip up this pie pretty quickly. Hands-on it's only about a 20 minute recipe. It takes three hours, almost four hours, to make it properly with all the waiting times, but hands-on it's just twenty minutes. But I like making it a few days ahead, and then I'm not rushing around making it.

                                                                                          It's also a good Christmas pie if you want to get a jump on Christmas.

Nicole:                                       00:05:38              That's a great dish, and I love the memory behind it. I can remember us being in Afghanistan, and anytime you got anything that was homemade. Oh my goodness, if people only knew. I loved homemade stuff that people sent, so what a wonderful memory.

Morgan:                                    00:05:55              Yeah, it's kind of a big deal. I was in New York talking about this pie. Thank you for saying puh-kahn because the interviewer asked me and said, "Oh, what's your secrets behind this pee-can pie." I said, "Look man, it's not a urinary vessel. It's a puh-kahn."

Nicole:                                       00:06:17               Hey, I've spent enough time with you to know, you better not say pee-can.

Morgan:                                    00:06:21               No, no, no, no. Puh-kahn.

Nicole:                                       00:06:22              Yeah. Pecan is where it's at. You're gonna get a thousand emails all angry like, "It's pee-cans." Like no. I'm sure it is for you honey. It's pecan for us.

Morgan:                                    00:06:34              Yes, indeed.

Nicole:                                       00:06:38              Alright, well, I want to know about a Thanksgiving memory from your childhood.

Morgan:                                    00:06:45              Oh, gosh. I think everybody who when they start thinking about the South and Southern grandmothers, imagine that all grandmothers can bake biscuits that are perfect, light, and fluffy, and that they all have a secret pie recipe, and they make meringues and turkeys and chicken dinners and dumplings and all those things that the South is famous for.

                                                                                          My grandmother, [Edwina 00:07:17], could not cook at all. Literally, she burned toast every morning and would scrape the ... Every morning! And would scrape the burned bits, the [inaudible 00:07:26], into her plants and say, "It's good for 'em."

Nicole:                                       00:07:27               No.

Morgan:                                    00:07:30              She made orange juice by the glass. She would get the frozen concentrate out of the freezer and take her spoon in there and scoop out some for the orange juice. It was really she was a horrible cook, and she knew she was a horrible cook.

                                                                                          In fact, when I got married, my sister-in-law sent ... I guess, everybody in the family like, "Send us your favorite recipes." That's a thing here in the South. I don't know whether they do it in the rest of the country. But send us your favorite recipes, and she put together a book of aunt Suzy's deviled eggs and aunt Gladys' spaghetti lasagna and all those family recipes. Which is a sweet thing for her to do, but she wrote my grandmother and said, "Send me your favorite recipe." And grandmother's recipe was call the country club, eat in, or takeout. [crosstalk 00:08:22].

                                                                                          At grandmother's house in Thanksgivings when I was growing up, she would coordinate Thanksgiving. She would have her housekeeper would make the turkey, and my aunt Pat would bring the green beans, and aunt Maryanne was in charge of the salad, and so forth. But it was always like a black hole of food, 'cause no matter how hard you work on your dish to prepare it, it was truly just wretched when it came to Thanksgiving.

                                                                                          We would all go to grandmother's house, have a horrible meal at Thanksgiving. We would tell her how great it was. We would lie of course, and then we would all go to the Martin Theater in Andalusia, Alabama, which always showed a double feature on Thanksgiving night. And so we would go watch whatever movie was coming out and eat a lot of popcorn.

                                                                                          That was my Thanksgiving memories at grandmother's house. I told my ... now ex-wife, but she was from ... I could say that she was Southern impaired. She was from New York. And she just didn't believe me. She thought, "Well, Thanksgiving is wonderful." She grew up with New England Thanksgivings. They look like Norman Rockwell perfection, big turkey on the table. And she loved stuffing, so she made her family's famous stuffing, which took ... It was a million dollar recipe, 'cause I think it used Pepperidge Farm stuffing, which was really expensive. So she spent all day cooking this stuffing, and then she cooked it halfway, and then we drove down to Andalusia, Alabama, which was about three hours from my home in Birmingham.

                                                                                          And we drove down there, and she planned on cooking it the rest of the way. I tried to prep her and say, "You know, it's gonna be terrible. I know it's a great recipe, but it's just not gonna work out. My grandmother's kitchen is a black hole." And she didn't believe me. So we got about 30 minutes out, and I called my father, and I said, "Dad, we just need the oven for 30 minutes. How's Thanksgiving going?" He said, "Oh god, it's terrible."

                                                                                          I said, "What's going on?" He said, "Well, your aunt Pat was supposed to bring the bird, but she forgot, and so we went to go get a turkey here this afternoon at the last minute." The only thing open on Thanksgiving in Andalusia, Alabama was the Tom Thumb [gasateria 00:10:55], and the only bird left in the Tom Thumb was like a pigeon. It was this sad little bird. They had gotten two of these little, tiny turkeys.

                                                                                          I guess they set my grandmother's oven to clean or something to try to finish the bird in an hour and a half, so we couldn't use the oven. My other grandfather was supposed to bring the rolls. He had forgotten the rolls, so they had taken hotdog buns and cut them up and buttered them.

Nicole:                                       00:11:32                Are you kidding?

Morgan:                                    00:11:32                No.

Nicole:                                       00:11:32                Oh my god.

Morgan:                                    00:11:32                My dad was taking the buns out of the oven. My grandmother hadn't replaced her kitchen utensils since 1950s, so the Eisenhower administration, so her potholders had all thickness of like a pair of pantyhose. He puts on the potholders, pulls the tray out of the oven, and of course, burns himself, and flings half of the hotdog buns, which are now our only bread for the evening, into dirty dishwater.

                                                                                          I mean, this is just how ... And so we ate half-done stuffing and hotdog buns and two pigeons. Was that Thanksgiving. But the important part of Thanksgiving for us was storytelling, being around each other. The food was actually just a conduit for that.

                                                                                          But those are my favorite kinda Thanksgiving memories, and it doesn't really matter ... It should make anyone listening in the sound of my voice. It doesn't really matter how great the dish is, just so long as it's made with love, and you enjoy each other's company.

Nicole:                                       00:12:30               Oh, that is so sweet. Also, I'm imagining someone like, "We're just gonna take hotdog buns and butter 'em. It'll be okay." Even that is just a disaster.

Morgan:                                    00:12:46               Oh, that wasn't a disaster. We call that doctoring it up. Do you use that expression out in Hawaii? Doctoring it up?

Nicole:                                       00:12:49               Yeah. We do. Well, you gotta remember I wasn't always here in Hawaii. I spent my Thanksgiving formative years ... I guess, kind of all over, 'cause I was an army brat. I was in New Jersey, but my family, my grandma, came from the South. She was from North Carolina.

Morgan:                                    00:13:12                Might be somewhere along the way talked to you doctoring it up, which is so important with any dish really. I notice when chefs cook, as you imagine, they don't just follow a recipe. Chefs are always tasting what they're making. They never serve something without tasting it. That's probably the biggest mistake I see people make in their own kitchens is they just blindly follow a recipe and then serve it. Taste it along the way. Doctor it up.

Nicole:                                       00:13:45               You're right. My mom used to do that. I wanna premise this by saying I thought my mom was a great cook, and she's a good cook. She didn't like to cook. To her, it was chore because she was working. I'm a child of the 80s, so she was always working. [inaudible 00:14:06] kid. She cooked for us, but it was not ... People were not into cooking in the 80s I think like they are now. I think the generation now is just they're very much into where their food come from, what they're making, and recipes. But this was not a thing in the 80s, and my mom just made food to make it.

                                                                                          When she did make stuff, she would buy something, and if it didn't taste good, you were right, she'd doctor it up to make it taste good. I remember she bought this chicken sandwich for me. I was actually heading back to the naval academy. She found these chicken sandwiches. Just by themselves, they weren't that good, but she's like, "Oh, just doctor it up." I remember she's making a spicy mayo, and she put lettuce and tomato on it.

                                                                                          I was too snooty to take it, and she was like, "You're gonna wish you had this sandwich when you're starving in about 38 hours." And she was right. So yeah. I thought we were the only family that used that honestly. So doctor it up.

                                                                                          Y'all heard it. Doctor your Thanksgiving meal up. Don't just follow a recipe. And you're right, I used to just follow a recipe blindly when I first started cooking. 'Cause I didn't know any better.

                                                                                          It wasn't until actually a chef told me, "No, you have to taste everything as you go. How do you know it tastes good?" Actually, someone told me it's actually rude to serve food to people that you haven't tasted yourself because-

Morgan:                                    00:15:45               Oh, yeah.

Nicole:                                       00:15:45               Yeah, so you're-

Morgan:                                    00:15:45               And that's the important thing about that. I mean, Thanksgiving is such a sentimental holiday. We're so emotionally tied to recipes from our childhood. You'd think I'd be more tied to hotdog buns given ... But we're so tied to those recipes that sometime we get out our mother's or our grandmother's little worn index cards, and we follow those recipes religiously. Sometimes those recipes are delicious, and sometimes they need a little freshening.

                                                                                          If you're still ... This is gonna set off a ton of emails, but if you're [crosstalk 00:16:26]-

Nicole:                                       00:15:45               That's alright. A thousand people are gonna scream in your car.

Morgan:                                    00:16:26               If you're still serving can-shaped cranberry sauce, you are living in your grandmother's 1950s kitchen. I daresay I bet your grandmother would probably update her cranberry sauce today to something a little more inventive. It's okay to modify those recipes. Taste 'em, try 'em, tweak 'em a little bit, put a twist on 'em.

                                                                                          I was in the magazine business forever, and we always ran a white cake at Christmas at Southern Living and a turkey at Thanksgiving. There're just only so many turkey recipes you can run without them becoming redundant, so we would always put a little twist on 'em. Readers came to love that little twist and see how we would doctor up the white cake this year. How we would change around our turkey recipes and make them more interesting.

                                                                                          So experiment at home. It's America's biggest cooking day, and it's a fun day to kind of play around.

Nicole:                                       00:17:23                Oh, I did it. I broke tradition. The first Thanksgiving I ever made. I mean, I used all of my mother's recipes. I was still using Stove Top stuffing to make stuffing, the little packet. I didn't know how to make stuffing without that little packet that comes in Stove Top stuffing.

Morgan:                                    00:17:47                There's a lot of R&D that goes into that packet.

Nicole:                                       00:17:51                 It does. I daresay I don't need the packet anymore. Once I really started to learn to cook and invested in learning to cook and really put my time into it, I broke away. I'm happy to report, Morgan, that I broke away from the box of Stove Top stuffing.

Morgan:                                    00:18:13                Nicole, you were ahead of me. When I first moved to New York and worked as an intern for Vanity Fair, my salary was 12,000 dollars a year, and my rent in New York City was 12,000 dollars a year. So you can imagine. I dropped down to 157 pounds. I'm 6' 2”. So that was not a good look on me.

                                                                                          But one of my ... She's the head of the test kitchen for Southern Living. An old, dear friend of mine, Judy Feagin, asked me, I guess when I was home visiting, "What are you eating?" Probably kindly remarking on how gaunt I was. I said, "Well, what I really liked to do ... " I ate a lot of peanut butter, but what I really liked to do is get a can of tuna fish and rip up some wheat bread, 'cause I thought that made it healthy, and squeeze lemon on it, and that's dinner.

                                                                                          Judy just clutched her pearls and sent me immediately the Southern Living cookbook of the year. It was pretty much a comprehensive how-to-cook everything book. That's when I first started learning to cook. We all have to start somewhere. Some of us start with shredded tuna fish out of a can, and some of us start with Stove Top stuffing. None of us were born with just wunderkinds in the kitchen. We all have to begin someplace.

Nicole:                                       00:19:36               I agree. I always refer to my summer of Little Ceasers Pizza. When I was growing up, my mom worked, and the dear that she was, she worked double shifts, 'cause she was trying to ... My dad had got stationed at a place that she didn't want us to be at. Just because of the school. She just was worried about me and schools, and she wanted me to be stable for high school, so she moved us back to New Jersey, 'cause she knew they had good schools there.

                                                                                          Anyway, she worked double shifts, and I had to have food to eat. Well, me and my sister. She didn't want us to use the stove, 'cause she was scared we'd burn down the house. Anything that we could make had to be made in a microwave.

Morgan:                                    00:20:26              [inaudible 00:20:26].

Nicole:                                       00:20:26              Oh, yes. Every Sunday, she would get us a Little Ceasers' pizza. Again, this was the 90s, nobody judged you for getting a frozen pizza every day. It was that foot long Little Ceasers. I don't know if you remember it. It was like-

Morgan:                                    00:20:26              Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Nicole:                                       00:20:39              Yeah. Remember that? It was like a square. We would eat that. I think after the summer, I was like, "I am tired of eating this." And she was tired of me complaining, and she's like, "You wanna eat something else? Learn how to cook." I took that challenge, and I got a Betty Crocker's cookbook. The first thing I ever made was this meatloaf mashed potatoes. And Morgan, I am telling you, this can go in the history books as the worst meal I've-

PART 1 OF 3 ENDS [00:21:04]

Nicole:                                       00:21:00              This can go into history books as the worst meal, I think, ever made. I didn't salt that meat, I didn't put any seasoning in it. Those potatoes, Betty said use real potatoes, and I didn't have real potatoes so I thought, "I'm just going to use these potato flakes." Those potatoes were so dang stiff and lumpy and terrible, and God bless my mother. To my dying day, I will thank her for this. She ate it.

Morgan:                                    00:21:30               Oh, bless her.

Nicole:                                       00:21:31                I mean, she poured a ton of ketchup on it, but she ate it, and I think, if she hadn't of eaten it, I think if she had ridiculed me or done any number of things that she could of did, I don't know that I would have been so passionate about cooking, but the fact that she ate my food, there's something awakened inside of me. Like, it made me feel proud, she raved over how good I did and she gave me gentle pointers, but she was raving about the fact that I made food for her, and she really awakened that sense and that desire to feed people.

                                                                                          And so, I love how you talk about that it's not really about the meal. It's about love and the kindness behind the meal, and my mother's love is what encouraged me to continue to pursue my love of cooking and cooking for others, and through high school and all the way through. My military career's been shaped a lot about my stomach. I'm always like, "Is there free food? Okay, I'm down. Let's do this." It has always been about the love behind making the meal, so I love that you point that out.

Morgan:                                    00:22:42              Well, I've been the beneficiary of that. It was Christmas, Christmas morning, 2010, I will never forget it, and it's hard to be away from all your traditions and your family, and it's a little worse, I think, in this day and age because, when we were deployed, could see everything going on at home. The social media, you could see people gathering around the Christmas tree or pictures of barbecues or Thanksgiving and so you are very viscerally aware of everything that you're missing out on when you're deployed and the age we live in today.

                                                                                          It's a weird disconnected feeling, but I'll never forget walking into the office on Christmas morning, which the war is 24 x 7. So, I was walking into the office and Kabul, Afghanistan and Nicole Schwegman had made waffles. I don't know how you got a waffle maker, I don't know how you got the waffle mix, and those were the best waffles, and one of my most cherished Christmas memories actually. Normally, my Christmas' look like right out of Charles Dickens with an old gothic church and big family dinners and dressing up and this was a completely different Christmas morning, but one of the ones I'll never forget. It's been eight years now and it's still just as fresh as it was back then.

Nicole:                                       00:24:12               Well, thank you, Morgan. I'll tell you, I had my mom ship me, I had that plan when I was ... It was around, gosh, maybe right before Halloween. I got this idea in my head, I wanted to do something for everybody for Christmas because it does. I've been away for more ... The funny thing is, I love Thanksgiving, but I think part of the reason is, because I've been deployed for more Thanksgivings than I have been home, and so when I am home for Thanksgiving, it's doubly special for me and the same for Christmas because I've been on the water or in Afghanistan for it, but I thought about wanting to do that for a while so my mother actually helped me.

                                                                                          I told her my plan and she shipped me a waffle maker and I got it and I was so worried. I kept checking the mail thinking, "Oh, it's not going to make it in time." And it did and I had some very special helpers from the mess, the mess in Afghanistan, provide me some pancake mix and butter. I mean, they were wonderful, and whipped cream. I couldn't believe and I think we went over to the embassy store and I found whipped cream and jelly and my mom sent extra and so shout out to Debra, my mother, who was able to make that Christmas morning so incredibly special in Afghanistan.

Morgan:                                    00:25:53              Thank God, Debra, still haven't forgotten it.

Nicole:                                       00:25:54              Yeah, she was wonderful.  She's such a great mom and I truly appreciate all that she's done for me. She's really been instrumental in my cooking life, and the fun thing is that, even though she ... And now, in her retired life, she likes to cook because she doesn't have to work, but she's always been just such an encourager to me. Morgan, see, this is why it's fun to talk to you.

                                                                                          I want to ask you about ingredients for Thanksgiving. What's an ingredient that, if you don't have it, you can't have Thanksgiving. Now, maybe yours is hotdog buns and I'm hashtag, no judge, but now that you're grown, and I know you're a great cook, what's an ingredient that you need when you're cooking Thanksgiving dinner?

Morgan:                                    00:26:44              Well, I always cook with the aforementioned bourbon, so that goes in my pie and I usually find a way to sneak it into something else. And the other favorite ingredient, and this won't be a surprise to anyone whose read one of my books, is bacon. Bacon is that magic food that makes almost everything taste better. We put bacon, southerners put bacon in a lot of stuff, so we'll put bacon in our lima beans and cook them all day with bacon. If you don't have fatback to put in there, that's what we put in. We put in bacon. I'll wrap, sometimes, turkey in bacon because turkey can be a little dry, especially if you only cook it once a year.

                                                                                          So, as a way to make turkey taste a little better, some bacon sure helps, especially if you get hickory smoked bacon. That's the key is to get a little smoke on that bacon because smoke, that's the secret, that's what makes bourbon brown, is smoke, and it also gives bacon that incredible cured taste. So, those are my two secret ingredients for a good fall Thanksgiving meal, or any meal actually, especially over the winter time. They just seem to fit.

Nicole:                                       00:27:53               Oh, that sounds so good. I'll tell you, this year, I plan to ... So, here in Hawaii, it's not cold, but there is a fall here, everybody. Like, it does turn to fall. It's just very subtle. You'll go, on Thanksgiving day, and you'll walk to the beach and everyone's like, "We get it. You live in Hawaii." But, when I go to the beach for Thanksgiving day, it's just a tradition now, we do it. I go and I see people in the water, I'm like, "Look are those crazy people in the water. Don't they know it's freezing out here?" Because the wind's blowing and it's just not like a norm. It wouldn't be like what you think a Hawaii day would be like.

                                                                                          The wind's very, kicks up, and the oceans really choppy. It almost looks like, if you blink for a minute, you'd almost think you're at a New England coast because that's how the water looks when it's here in the winter, but anyway, I mention that, is because my thought is, before we have Thanksgiving dinner, is to bring a flask of bourbon with me to the beach with my husband and just have a little Thanksgiving cocktail before we go and enjoy the meal.

                                                                                          And I live next door to a southerner and she always brings the best cocktails and she's a big bourbon drinker herself, so I am sure she oblige us this year. Because we live here, no one comes to see us for Thanksgiving, so we have to make a Friendsgiving and we have these two wonderful neighbors and they come over. They came over last year and we had cocktails and a cheese tray and chatted and laughed and shared memories and, I think, this year, maybe we'll have a little cocktail at the beach. You've inspired me with bourbon.

Morgan:                                    00:29:41               Well, good, because the cocktails, I, of course, have a ton of cocktail recipes in my book, Bourbon and Bacon, that you can take and a lot of them are make ahead. I had a dinner party the other night and knew I wanted to serve cocktails beforehand, but it was just me serving, so I didn't have time to make everybody an individual cocktail so I made Manhattans, and my Manhattans are pretty simple. I just do one part vermouth to two parts bourbon and then put a nice little two or three dashes of bitters and I like to cut out a little orange peel and put it on the side of the glass just to dress it up, but everything can be done ahead and so it was very easy to just pour those cocktails out of a pitcher.

Nicole:                                       00:30:33              Oh, that sounds delightful. That sounds delightful. Hey, because you mentioned your book, Bourbon and Bacon, can you give me another cocktail that you think people should check out?

Morgan:                                    00:30:45              Out of Bourbon and Bacon?

Nicole:                                       00:30:47              Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Morgan:                                    00:30:50             Well, I gave you the Manhattan, and the other classic cocktail, and classic cocktails are back with a vengeance, is an Old Fashioned, and my Old Fashioned recipe in Bourbon and Bacon came from Julian Van Winkle the Third and, if you know anything about bourbon, you've probably heard of Julian Van Winkle and his bourbon, Pappy Van Winkle, which is the hardest, hardest bourbon to get. It's going for thousands of dollars a bottle and is unobtainable to most people because, he ages some of that 21 years.

                                                                                          Now, think about that. If I wanted to come out with a new line of vodka, I could get a distillery to make it and have it ready, probably, next week, but if Julian Van Winkle needs to up his production of 21 year old Pappy Van Winkle, he should have started 21 years ago. So, it's difficult to time that kind of thing, but his Old Fashioned recipe, he gave to me and it really is, I think, pretty amazing. He uses two brown sugar cubes, three drops of orange bitters, three drops of angostura bitters, a fresh orange slice, and then about 2 ounces of bourbon, and it makes a really, really fine Old Fashioned.

Nicole:                                       00:32:22              Oh, that sounds ... Old Fashions are one of my favorite cocktails. That sounds amazing.

Morgan:                                    00:32:28              Peachy. And I love that thing. I mean, there a lot of new recipes that I really enjoy, but the old ones are pretty great.

Nicole:                                       00:32:40              Yeah, yeah, they're classic. In the very first episode, I talked to a gentleman. His name is Ben Meier and he runs a blog called, Ramshackle Pantry, and he does a whole deep dive into where different cocktails come from, but we were talking about Sazeracs, which is whiskey.

Morgan:                                    00:33:02              Whiskey, yeah.

Nicole:                                       00:33:04              Yeah. One of my favorites and then Old Fashions. My husbands always like, "Why do you like old man drinks?" 

Morgan:                                    00:33:11                They're delicious.

Nicole:                                       00:33:12               They're like classics for a reason. 

Morgan:                                    00:33:16               Yeah. And that's a good point. A lot of women say to me, "Oh, I don't know. I'm not such a bourbon drinker." And, if you're not a bourbon drinker, as I say, the skinny rich woman's drink is a vodka soda, right?

Nicole:                                       00:33:16               Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Morgan:                                    00:33:34              So, if you want to branch out to a more flavorful drink because, after all, vodka is flavorless, it's odorless, it's colorless, and if you're a foodie, what fun is that? What's interesting about bourbon is that each bourbon is different and you can really taste the difference. Some bourbon is made with more corn, all bourbon has to be made with 51% corn on the mash bill, but some has more rye in it and, if you've ever eaten a piece of rye toast, you know rye has a kind of peppery taste to it. Some is made with more wheat to it, so each bourbon is different and, if you're a foodie and you like to taste things, if you try different bourbons, you'll notice a distinct flavor difference, but if you haven't experimented with some bourbon cocktails, and you're a little afraid of bourbon, there's one I really like and I serve it to friends who may not like bourbon, and they seem to really like it.

                                                                                          It's called the National Tonic and the National Tonic has about a half a cup of bourbon, so you know it starts off well, but it then has two tablespoons of spicy ginger ale and, when I say spicy ginger ale, I'm not talking about like Schweppes or Canada Dry. That is just weak ginger ale. I mean some spicy ginger ale like Blenheim's ginger ale or Buffalo Rock. Blenheim's, you can get in North Carolina. I think you can order it online. Buffalo Rock, you get here out of Alabama. I think it's also available online.

                                                                                          So, two tablespoons, or more, of that, and then the secret weapon is a third of a cup of fresh grapefruit juice and it just makes a really light and refreshing drink that people just adore when they try it and, even folks who aren't bourbon drinkers, think it's just a marvelous time.

Nicole:                                       00:35:29              Oh, that sounds so delightful and what a great entry into bourbon if you're aren't quite sure that you want to try it. That's a great point, especially about the fact that bourbon such unique, every one has such unique quality and you can taste the flavoring and the difference. I think that's probably why I was drawn to bourbon because there's so many different flavors of bourbon and types and the way that each distiller decides to make their bourbon really shines through in the alcohol once you have it. So, you're right. So, I'm going to definitely have some type of bourbon cocktail, and I normally don't even drink that much anymore, but for Thanksgiving, you've got to have a cocktail.

Morgan:                                    00:36:21               Yeah.

Nicole:                                       00:36:21               You've got to have one at the beach. So, that's perfect, thank you for sharing that.

Morgan:                                    00:36:25              Just remember what Mark Twain said and that is, "Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough."

Nicole:                                       00:36:36              I love that.

Morgan:                                    00:36:36              I always thought that.

Nicole:                                       00:36:41               Oh, goodness. Oh, goodness. Well, I want to talk to you real quick about, what are you going to do this year with your son? It's just, I love hearing you talk about him. He's so delightful and I know that you are being such a great cook yourself. What traditions and things are you passing on to him? And, for those people out there who are going to be making Thanksgiving dinner and they have their kids around and they also want to share this experience with them, what are some things that you do and that you recommend for smaller children for Thanksgiving?

Morgan:                                    00:37:17                Well, Wells is now four and he is really helpful in the kitchen and it's something that I strongly believe in that is very good for children, is to get them to help in some way, get them to set the table. If they do it wrong, that's okay. Ask them to mix up the flour and the sugar for your pie crust, if you're going to make a pie, or ask them to help you mush the potatoes, anything to get them involved because, what I've seen with Wells is, over his little life, is if he makes something, or if he helps me make it, he takes ownership in it and he says that's his. "How do you like my mashed potatoes, daddy?" Or, "How do you like my pie crust?" Right?

                                                                                          Even if he's done just a small part of the job, just cracking the eggs, it's so important to let, I think, children make a mess. A mess in the kitchen is kind of the best sort of mess that's easy to clean up, but it will make you giggle, it'll make you smile when they get flour all over themselves and you and the dog, and just, it's a time to really explore as a child and that sense of exploration and how things taste and where food comes from. Last night, Wells and I made french fries and I just started with two potatoes. Right? So, I just cut up two potatoes into french fries and then I double fried them in duck fat. Duck fat's my secret for french fries.

Nicole:                                       00:39:04              Oh my gosh.

Morgan:                                    00:39:05              But he wanted to see every part of that experience. Right? So, I said ... And then, afterwards, we talked about it. Like, where do fries come from? What did we start with tonight? A potato. Right? And then what did we do with it? We fried it. And then what did we do to it? We dumped a bunch of salt on it. And then, children really like that exploration.

                                                                                          Now, like anybody's child, my son loves to watch the iPad. He's obsessed with the technological age that we live in, like most children, but he and I have special time at night. I let him watch the iPad sometimes at breakfast, but at night, there's no electronics at dinner. I don't let him watch the iPad, I don't look at my phone. We spend time together, making dinner, and then we spend time together eating dinner and talking about how we made it and, to me, that's what Thanksgiving is about and that's what I'd encourage folks to do with their children, is put down your phone, make them put down their electronic devices, and really have a good time getting your hands dirty in some great recipes.

Nicole:                                       00:40:20             Oh, that is so nice, and what such good advice. I don't have children, but I think that involving young kids in the kitchen is important. I always try to encourage my friends who have children to do that and, when I have little kids who come over to my house, I want them to get involved in what I'm making because I think it's fun. I liked it, when I was a kid. My mother used to do that for me, where she would make a cake, it was a Duncan Hines cake, but I thought that was the chefiest thing you ever saw.

Morgan:                                    00:40:58              Oh, yeah.

Nicole:                                       00:40:59              As a kid, you don't know. You don't care. And she would make a Duncan Hines cake and she would let me and my sister help. We would get to hold, she would hold our little hands while we'd hold the mixer. She would let us help try to pour it into the pan, even though we'd make a mess. She just let us be a part of it and, again, I think all of these little data points were adding up to me having a life long love of cooking and sharing my food with others. So, I love that you're doing that with Wells.

Morgan:                                    00:41:36               Wall, people often ask me "Well, gosh he has such a good pallet." Because he eats olives and he eats fish and he eats, he'll try just about anything. He loves asparagus and he's a very good eater and they ask me like how that happened. Was he born with that? I said, "No." We just try things and he's involved in making them. They're more likely, children are more likely to try something if they have some sense ...

PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:42:04]

Morgan:                                    00:42:00             I think children are more likely to try something, if they have some sense of ownership and making it. And that's where … I mean, as a busy parent, it's just easier to make dinner without him. It's faster, it's more efficient, I can whip around the kitchen faster without trying to involve a four year old, because he's gonna make a mess and spill stuff. But it's so important, I have to remind myself every now and then to slow down to involve him so that he feels like he's a part of the meal too. It something that I'm really passionate about children and how we feed them in this country, because as a food critic, and been to thousands of restaurants, and I'm often paying attention to the adult menu, right?

                                                                                          But now as the father of a four year old, I've been eyeballing the children's menus and I can tell you that really, no matter where you are and no matter what the price point of the restaurant is, the menu for children is pretty much the same, it's chicken fingers, it's macaroni and cheese, it's a grilled cheese. It's a PB and J, French fries, and maybe if they're trying to be super healthy they'll add some carrot sticks or apple sauce to the mix. But that's it. That's really about the maybe a pizza sometimes, that's about the robustness of our children's menus today.

                                                                                          And to me at what point do you say, "Okay, well now I'm going to feed you like an adult." A lot of times that never occurs. I know grown men and women who were in their late twenties who still eat chicken fingers with ranch at nice restaurants because they don't … they've never developed their palate. And so what my message is to restaurants around the US is, let's expand … let have one option at least that expands children's palates a little.

Nicole:                                       00:44:02              That's great. That's really great advice, I love that. And I think that, it's so important. Gosh, eating a wide variety of foods, so important to children. And some people will say, "My kid is only going to eat French fries." And no one is judging you. Okay. No, no, no judgment here. I always say, "People have the right to feed their bodies in the way that they choose." But I think … What you're talking about is something that parents can try and can take that on. And yeah, it's gonna take time when you let a four year old into the kitchen to cook. I could just see my mom, she'd worked a night shift and she's making a cake for us, and she could have just been like, "Out," but she didn't. She let me try to help.

Morgan:                                    00:44:52              [inaudible 00:44:52] only eats French fries. I mean, to your point, that's okay, but if your child only eats French fries, we'll do what I did last night, make some with your son or daughter. Maybe this week you fry them in duck fat and maybe next week you fry them in that Bacon Grease you've saved, and maybe you fry them in grapeseed oil the following week and ask your child about it, "Can you taste the difference between this and the fries we made last week? Do you have a favorite?" Maybe you start making catch up together. It's incrementally, you don't have to start them off on [inaudible 00:45:27]. You can start them off on French fries, that's perfectly fine, but start talking about the food and exploring the food, and it will become fun, and I guarantee that they'll try new things.

Nicole:                                       00:45:41               That's good advice. Yeah, I like that. All right Morgan, I got asked you, and you know, this is something I ask everybody. What is that one tip that you can give to a home cook today, that's going to make their Thanksgiving meal better?

Morgan:                                    00:45:59              Oh Gosh, that one tip. Well, I'm not going to give you a cooking tip, Nicole. I'll give you an eating tip, because not everybody participates in making Thanksgiving dinner, but almost everybody wants to eat it. And the conversation, I get a lot around Thanksgiving, what I hear a lot is, "Oh, I ate too much." Or "Oh no, my plate is so full." And people weren't embarrassed about eating a lot on Thanksgiving. And people often ask me ... I usually get asked three questions on the road. My interns used to joke. They'd say, "Morgan, you get asked the same questions everywhere you go." Thankfully, Nicole, you've not asked me any of the three. But the three usually are; One, "What's your favorite restaurant?" And I often answered that that's like picking your favorite child, it just depends. Two, "How do I get your job? Because you're doing a great job." On the third question I get is, "Why aren't you fat?" Or usually some-

Nicole:                                       00:47:04              I'm sorry. "Why aren't you fat?"

Morgan:                                    00:47:10               Why aren't you fat? Or some politer version of it is, "How do you stay thin?" Because they can't believe that a lot of times, I'll have to eat five dinners in an evening, as I go around town tasting different restaurants. And how in the world do you stay stand? And I'd usually make a joke, and the joke is like, "I run, like the Taliban is behind me in this [inaudible 00:47:36] is in front of me.

Nicole:                                       00:47:36               Oh, I'm sorry.

Morgan:                                    00:47:43               Not that the truth. The truth is that it's rarely, and I'm gonna say this slowly, because it is sort of a secret. Is rarely the big meals that add the pounds. So, it's not the special days like Thanksgiving where you just blow it out, that tip the scales, because a lot of times I'd come back from a food … we used to call them food funds. So, I'd go on these big adventures in a hog for three days and it would rarely move the needle a lot on the scale. But what I've found is, when I got back from these trips, I was ravenous and I wanted to eat everything in sight. And that's because what we do on Thanksgiving or other big holidays as we stretch our stomachs, so we eat a ton.

                                                                                          So, it's not Thanksgiving that adds the pounds. It's the day after Thanksgiving and the day after that, and the week after that, where your stomach is still in large from Thanksgiving and you say, "Oh, that turkey sandwich with extra gravy on it, looks really good." So, that's my Thanksgiving tip, is don't, don't skimp. Don't cheat yourself on Thanksgiving. Go whole hog or whole turkey as the case may be and eat what you want, but be careful the next few days, and you won't put on weight this holiday season.

Nicole:                                       00:49:08              I'm speechless. On my end that is a great tip. I didn't think about that. You're right, because I always ... So here's what happens the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Day, I stuff myself. Then the next day I'm like, "Well, I got all this food here. I got to make a sandwich."

Morgan:                                    00:49:27               [inaudible 00:49:27] looking at me.

Nicole:                                       00:49:29              Well, I can't. I'm not going to let that get away. So, I make a huge sandwich and sit on the couch on Black Friday and watch replays of a Christmas story and all the other Christmas movies that they're going to play on TNT. So, you're right. And maybe the next day I'll have a turkey salad or I'll just go back to eating the way I normally eat. Well, that's a great tip. What should I do it all those leftovers? Should I donate?

Morgan:                                    00:49:59              Oh, I mean, you can give them away or freeze them and use them for another big special night. But when I go … I eat, like I joke that you'll gain 30 pounds just reading my cookbook. I mean it, I do not do low fat, no fat anything. I mean my cookbooks use full fat, butter, salt, the whole Bourbon, bacon, all this stuff. And I've eaten each of these recipes in my books in 20, 30 times. What you won't find is artificial preservatives, anything coloring or anything like that.

                                                                                          And I don't think the full fat big meals hurt you. I'm not a doctor, but my advice is, if you have a blowout meal, the next nine meals need to be good ones. They need to be healthy ones. So, if you have a giant turkey dinner, with the stuffing that's wrapped in bacon and the deviled eggs, and the four pieces of pie because you just couldn't stop. Then the next nine meals need to be really clean eating.

                                                                                          So it might be good when you're out shopping to your point, Nicole, for Thanksgiving and you've gotten all of your ingredients, think about that next day. What do I need to put in my refrigerator? For me, if it's in the house, if there's an Oreo in the house, I'm going to eat it, so I have to get rid of it and then open the fridge and be presented with healthy options.

Nicole:                                       00:51:35               No, that's a good point. And I think my strategy will be ... I talked about having a Friendsgiving, maybe instead of making all of the food everybody brings a dish and that way I'm not tempted to eat the entire pan of stuffing, because I also love stuffing. [crosstalk 00:51:53] That is my weakness on Thanksgiving. Oh my gosh, I love some stuffing. And macaroni and cheese and macaroni and cheese and stuffing, I don't need a turkey, that's all I need. I love it. So that's a good point. And I'm gonna employ that strategy this year, because I usually, will eat Thanksgiving leftovers until they're are gone, and that's probably where I'm going wrong. So I am going to employ your strategy this year. Morgan you're a gentleman and a scholar. Where can people find you on the Internet?

Morgan:                                    00:52:28              Well, you can find my books anywhere fine books are sold. I like to say on all the usual spots like Barnes and Noble on Amazon. Or if you want a signed copy of my book, you can go to my website, morganmurphy.co, and we'll ship you a signed copy of the book. And this holiday season I'm coming out with a new line of Bacon, and you can order that bacon there too. We'll ship it directly to you.

Nicole:                                       00:52:55              Fantastic. And of course I'm going to put all of that in the show notes as well, so people can click directly to that. Well, my friend, you have been just wonderful. Thank you so much. I hope you and your wonderful family, which I just love hearing about. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I'll see you out there. Okay.

Morgan:                                    00:53:17                You too. Have a cocktail for me on the beach, this Thanksgiving.

Nicole:                                       00:53:20              I absolutely will, take care Morgan. Good bye.

Morgan:                                    00:53:20              Bye.

Nicole:                                       00:53:28              All right, so you've just finished hearing me talk with Morgan Murphy, who is probably one of the funniest and most interesting people that I know. He's just so full of great stories and clever insights, and I always love talking with him, we laugh a lot. So Morgan talks about a lot of delicious things, but I do want to talk about one thing that he mentioned. He talks about Bourbon, and specifically Bourbon that is made by a guy named Pappy Van Winkle. If you Google Pappy Van Winkle, he's not kidding around that Bourbon is seriously expensive. So, like I said, I went online after we chatted, because I wanted to see just how much it was, because come on, we all know I'm willing to spend quite lavishly, to eat well. But even my breath was kind of like take it in a little bit, when I saw the cost of just one bottle.

                                                                                          So if you could find it, the average price appears to be around $250 to $300 a bottle, which is that's very expensive for a bottle of alcohol. And that's if you can get your hands on like the current batch that they're selling. But I can't seem to find any place online that you can buy it for four or less than $900, and I'm kind of suspicious that it might not even be the real thing. So, I went on Ebay to look, and there was a guy selling a bottle, like when it was an empty bottle, you can buy … like they sell empty bottles for $100. And then he had another bottle that had a symbol of Bourbon in it and that was the $150. And I'm thinking to myself, "That's probably not the real thing. He probably took some bourbon and then that was not Pappy Van Winkle go put it in there and there's some poor soul is going to buy it and think he's drinking Pappy Van Winkle.

                                                                                          So the best way to do it, is to just buy it from a local store that is known for selling a high-end liquor. And you can go and find those places on the Pappy Van Winkle website. And actually right now is the perfect time to try and find a bottle, although you're going to have to get ready for a treasure hunt in some places. So, if you're in a fine Bourbon and you love a good chase, you love being able to talk about how you had to go source this bottle, find it, wait in line. This is a bourbon worth pursuing.  I can tell you right now, I don't see anywhere in Hawaii that sells it.

                                                                                          I'm still going to go ask. there's a local, wine purveyor here, who also I think does a spirits. I'm going to see if they have a bottle, and if I find it, I will snap a picture of it on Instagram. I'm not sure that I would buy it. I think my husband would kill me, if I bought a $300 bottle of Bourbon. We would only sip it once a year. It would be the most revered thing in our house. But some people listening maybe like that's, that's my jam. And so you should definitely go, find it. I will link to the Pappy Van Winkle website in the show notes so that you yourself can go investigate more about this bourbon.

                                                                                          And so, I've also been inspired by Morgan to go ahead and eat as much as I want. And Thanksgiving, no guilt, no feeling bad about it, but I'm going to try and go right back to my normal eating habits the next day. So yes, that means I'm going to forego the traditional leftover sandwich and which I pile turkey dressing, grading and cranberry sauce, onto two pieces of hearty bread. And I made myself an epic sandwich. I even normally with that sandwich, I even buy chips, just salted chips because to me, it's a crime if you have a sandwich and you don't have chips. That's just how I feel about it. I'm sure there's a thousand people screaming right now about that.

                                                                                          So, but I'm not going to have that epic sandwich this year. No, I'm going to go right back to just eating normally, and usually that involves some type of Taco and shrimp. So maybe that's not so bad after all. And I don't know, maybe I still will have that one sandwich, because it's just such a tradition to have a sandwich afterwards for me, but that's it. I'm not going to continue to eat leftovers for the next like five days or whatever, how long they last.

                                                                                          And I've read several of Morgan's cookbooks searching subjects and they're really fun, and they give such good recipes. We didn't go into it as much during the interview, but Morgan's books On The Road and Second Helpings are collection of recipes that he sweet talked out of some of the south's greatest and most beloved restaurants. And I don't know how he does it, but Morgan has this ability to get anyone that he talks to, to part with their secrets in the kitchen. And he's just nice enough to share them with all of us in that book, and both of those books.

                                                                                          I'll tell you, every time I talked to him, I leave with another valuable nugget of knowledge in the kitchen. He's such a, just such a great share of knowledge and really generous. So you should check out Morgan on his website. I have a link in the show notes and you should check out his books on Amazon. And I'll be linking to all three of that as well.

                                                                                          I want to tell you also that there's going to be a special show next week. I'll be doing a top 10 items that you should buy on Black Friday for the kitchen. I've been scouring the deals and they're all out now and you could actually buy a lot of these deals right now. and I want to share kind of what I find and talk about why I think, these particular gifts are great buy. So don't forget to look out for that episode, I'll be posting it on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

                                                                                          And now you should also check out the Facebook group. It's called, BFF with the Chef on Facebook. And I love it if you joined. It's an easy place for us to connect. I do talk to anyone who comes into the group and I try to share all the neat and cool chefy tips that I find. Some of the guests who I've interviewed are also a part of the group, so you can ask questions and get their opinion and advice. These are all people who love food and they love talking about it. So if you ask us a question, we're going to talk your ear off.

                                                                                          Finally, if you like the show, please consider giving us a five star review. Those reviews are like gold to me and they help other fellow through levers find us. And finally, this is a BFF with the Chef, wishing you a happy Thanksgiving, a glorious week with your friends and family and hoping that wherever you're having your meal, whether it's that huge family dinner or it's a turkey MRE, you know what your fellow service members, who I want to say, by the way, thank you for your service. Shout out to all of my fellow service members. I hope that you get to go out and eat something delicious this holiday season. Goodbye.

 

Nicole:                                       00:00:01              Aloha friends and foodies. First of all, happy Thanksgiving if you're listening to this on Thanksgiving.

                                                                                          Today, I get to interview author, traveler, and amazing storyteller Morgan Murphy. His most recent book, On the Road Again, immediately hit number on Publisher Weekly's list when it was released, and his book, Bourbon and Bacon, also launched at number one in Wine & Spirits. His other books, Off the Eaten Path and Second Helps, have helped to make him one of the culinary world's best known food critics.

                                                                                          You may have seen him on the Travel Channel or read his work in Southern Living, but in short, Morgan is everywhere. And by the way, he's one of my dear friends, so I'm really excited to have him on the show.

                                                                                          Hey Morgan. Welcome to the show.

Morgan:                                    00:00:49             Nicole. Aloha.

Nicole:                                       00:00:53             Thank you friend for coming on. This is gonna be fun. I can tell you I have been counting down to Thanksgiving since September 1st. Is that weird?

Morgan:                                    00:01:02              No. I love Thanksgiving. I mean, it's just one of my favorite holidays of the year.

Nicole:                                       00:01:08              Same. Same. It's like my Superbowl.

Morgan:                                    00:01:12                It's a pretty big deal, especially here in America.

Nicole:                                       00:01:14                Yeah, I think so. So Morgan, I'm gonna start the show with my three questions, but they're gonna be a little bit different than what people are used to hearing. So you ready friend?

Morgan:                                    00:01:25               I'm ready.

Nicole:                                       00:01:26               Alright, so what is your favorite Thanksgiving dish and why?

Morgan:                                    00:01:32               Oh, gosh. Well, that's actually an easy one for me, and it actually goes back to the time we were together. We were in Afghanistan together in 2010, 2011. When you are stationed in a warzone with the United States military ... In their wisdom, they don't let soldiers and sailors drink. I mean, that makes sense being around lots of weapons. We couldn't have bacon, and there was no, what I call, grunt folks' relations. So pretty much all that a man-soul desires.

                                                                                          But we had a shipmate, and I'm sure you remember this, Jocelyn Knight, whose father was from Louisiana, and he made a amazing pecan pie that he sent in the mail to us, to Afghanistan, and it was laced with bourbon. I remember just receiving that pie in the mail and the nuttiness of the pecans and just the deep molasses chew of that pie and its perfect crust. Even after it had gone through the United States Postal Service for Lord knows how long, but it got to us. I remember opening the box, and you could just smell the vanilla tones of that bourbon and its oaky cask flavor, even though it just has a little touch of bourbon in it.

                                                                                          So I begged. I begged Mr. Knight to give me that recipe, and he reluctantly agreed. He'd never given that recipe out before. But I make that pie every Thanksgiving now, and it always reminds me of the glory of America and the comfort of Southern cooking. That's really my favorite Thanksgiving recipe to do, and it's quite easy actually.

Nicole:                                       00:03:27              That sounds amazing, and did I get a piece of that pie?

Morgan:                                    00:03:29              You inhaled a piece of pecan pie. I can't believe you don't remember it.

Nicole:                                       00:03:35              I remember I was getting jealous because I'm like wait a minute.

Morgan:                                    00:03:39              Wait a minute [inaudible 00:03:43] recipe here.

Nicole:                                       00:03:43              I've eaten a lot of pie in my life, and I'm sure I, not only inhaled it, wanted another piece, was not given another piece, probably had a tantrum about it, and stormed off.

Morgan:                                    00:03:55              Well, I love making it. People can taste ... Of course, all the alcohol cooks out of it. It's only got a quarter cup of bourbon in it. I recommend having a quarter cup of bourbon while you make it, but it's only got a quarter cup of bourbon in it.

                                                                                          Invariably, when I make it, I have a lot of distant relatives and things who ... little old ladies who take a slice of it, and they get all twitterpated over, "Ooh, I can taste the bourbon." The bourbon does really come through, and it matches so well with pecans. The oakyness of a good bourbon really brings out the sweet nuttiness of a pecan pie.

                                                                                          It's interesting, Mr. Knight said ... I asked him, I said, "Oh, you know, a lot of people like doing a bourbon chocolate pecan pie." And he said, "Oh, no, no, no, no. The chocolate completely overwhelms the bourbon and the pecan." And he's right. I've tried it both ways, and his recipe is truly the best, which is why I put it in my book, Bourbon and Bacon. It's one of the favorite recipes in the book.

Nicole:                                       00:05:03             Oh my goodness. That sounds so good. Now I'm gonna have to try that pie, 'cause I do love a good pecan pie.

Morgan:                                    00:05:07              I love it 'cause you can make it ahead. For Thanksgiving, people are rushing around the day. You can whip up this pie pretty quickly. Hands-on it's only about a 20 minute recipe. It takes three hours, almost four hours, to make it properly with all the waiting times, but hands-on it's just twenty minutes. But I like making it a few days ahead, and then I'm not rushing around making it.

                                                                                          It's also a good Christmas pie if you want to get a jump on Christmas.

Nicole:                                       00:05:38              That's a great dish, and I love the memory behind it. I can remember us being in Afghanistan, and anytime you got anything that was homemade. Oh my goodness, if people only knew. I loved homemade stuff that people sent, so what a wonderful memory.

Morgan:                                    00:05:55              Yeah, it's kind of a big deal. I was in New York talking about this pie. Thank you for saying puh-kahn because the interviewer asked me and said, "Oh, what's your secrets behind this pee-can pie." I said, "Look man, it's not a urinary vessel. It's a puh-kahn."

Nicole:                                       00:06:17               Hey, I've spent enough time with you to know, you better not say pee-can.

Morgan:                                    00:06:21               No, no, no, no. Puh-kahn.

Nicole:                                       00:06:22              Yeah. Pecan is where it's at. You're gonna get a thousand emails all angry like, "It's pee-cans." Like no. I'm sure it is for you honey. It's pecan for us.

Morgan:                                    00:06:34              Yes, indeed.

Nicole:                                       00:06:38              Alright, well, I want to know about a Thanksgiving memory from your childhood.

Morgan:                                    00:06:45              Oh, gosh. I think everybody who when they start thinking about the South and Southern grandmothers, imagine that all grandmothers can bake biscuits that are perfect, light, and fluffy, and that they all have a secret pie recipe, and they make meringues and turkeys and chicken dinners and dumplings and all those things that the South is famous for.

                                                                                          My grandmother, [Edwina 00:07:17], could not cook at all. Literally, she burned toast every morning and would scrape the ... Every morning! And would scrape the burned bits, the [inaudible 00:07:26], into her plants and say, "It's good for 'em."

Nicole:                                       00:07:27               No.

Morgan:                                    00:07:30              She made orange juice by the glass. She would get the frozen concentrate out of the freezer and take her spoon in there and scoop out some for the orange juice. It was really she was a horrible cook, and she knew she was a horrible cook.

                                                                                          In fact, when I got married, my sister-in-law sent ... I guess, everybody in the family like, "Send us your favorite recipes." That's a thing here in the South. I don't know whether they do it in the rest of the country. But send us your favorite recipes, and she put together a book of aunt Suzy's deviled eggs and aunt Gladys' spaghetti lasagna and all those family recipes. Which is a sweet thing for her to do, but she wrote my grandmother and said, "Send me your favorite recipe." And grandmother's recipe was call the country club, eat in, or takeout. [crosstalk 00:08:22].

                                                                                          At grandmother's house in Thanksgivings when I was growing up, she would coordinate Thanksgiving. She would have her housekeeper would make the turkey, and my aunt Pat would bring the green beans, and aunt Maryanne was in charge of the salad, and so forth. But it was always like a black hole of food, 'cause no matter how hard you work on your dish to prepare it, it was truly just wretched when it came to Thanksgiving.

                                                                                          We would all go to grandmother's house, have a horrible meal at Thanksgiving. We would tell her how great it was. We would lie of course, and then we would all go to the Martin Theater in Andalusia, Alabama, which always showed a double feature on Thanksgiving night. And so we would go watch whatever movie was coming out and eat a lot of popcorn.

                                                                                          That was my Thanksgiving memories at grandmother's house. I told my ... now ex-wife, but she was from ... I could say that she was Southern impaired. She was from New York. And she just didn't believe me. She thought, "Well, Thanksgiving is wonderful." She grew up with New England Thanksgivings. They look like Norman Rockwell perfection, big turkey on the table. And she loved stuffing, so she made her family's famous stuffing, which took ... It was a million dollar recipe, 'cause I think it used Pepperidge Farm stuffing, which was really expensive. So she spent all day cooking this stuffing, and then she cooked it halfway, and then we drove down to Andalusia, Alabama, which was about three hours from my home in Birmingham.

                                                                                          And we drove down there, and she planned on cooking it the rest of the way. I tried to prep her and say, "You know, it's gonna be terrible. I know it's a great recipe, but it's just not gonna work out. My grandmother's kitchen is a black hole." And she didn't believe me. So we got about 30 minutes out, and I called my father, and I said, "Dad, we just need the oven for 30 minutes. How's Thanksgiving going?" He said, "Oh god, it's terrible."

                                                                                          I said, "What's going on?" He said, "Well, your aunt Pat was supposed to bring the bird, but she forgot, and so we went to go get a turkey here this afternoon at the last minute." The only thing open on Thanksgiving in Andalusia, Alabama was the Tom Thumb [gasateria 00:10:55], and the only bird left in the Tom Thumb was like a pigeon. It was this sad little bird. They had gotten two of these little, tiny turkeys.

                                                                                          I guess they set my grandmother's oven to clean or something to try to finish the bird in an hour and a half, so we couldn't use the oven. My other grandfather was supposed to bring the rolls. He had forgotten the rolls, so they had taken hotdog buns and cut them up and buttered them.

Nicole:                                       00:11:32                Are you kidding?

Morgan:                                    00:11:32                No.

Nicole:                                       00:11:32                Oh my god.

Morgan:                                    00:11:32                My dad was taking the buns out of the oven. My grandmother hadn't replaced her kitchen utensils since 1950s, so the Eisenhower administration, so her potholders had all thickness of like a pair of pantyhose. He puts on the potholders, pulls the tray out of the oven, and of course, burns himself, and flings half of the hotdog buns, which are now our only bread for the evening, into dirty dishwater.

                                                                                          I mean, this is just how ... And so we ate half-done stuffing and hotdog buns and two pigeons. Was that Thanksgiving. But the important part of Thanksgiving for us was storytelling, being around each other. The food was actually just a conduit for that.

                                                                                          But those are my favorite kinda Thanksgiving memories, and it doesn't really matter ... It should make anyone listening in the sound of my voice. It doesn't really matter how great the dish is, just so long as it's made with love, and you enjoy each other's company.

Nicole:                                       00:12:30               Oh, that is so sweet. Also, I'm imagining someone like, "We're just gonna take hotdog buns and butter 'em. It'll be okay." Even that is just a disaster.

Morgan:                                    00:12:46               Oh, that wasn't a disaster. We call that doctoring it up. Do you use that expression out in Hawaii? Doctoring it up?

Nicole:                                       00:12:49               Yeah. We do. Well, you gotta remember I wasn't always here in Hawaii. I spent my Thanksgiving formative years ... I guess, kind of all over, 'cause I was an army brat. I was in New Jersey, but my family, my grandma, came from the South. She was from North Carolina.

Morgan:                                    00:13:12                Might be somewhere along the way talked to you doctoring it up, which is so important with any dish really. I notice when chefs cook, as you imagine, they don't just follow a recipe. Chefs are always tasting what they're making. They never serve something without tasting it. That's probably the biggest mistake I see people make in their own kitchens is they just blindly follow a recipe and then serve it. Taste it along the way. Doctor it up.

Nicole:                                       00:13:45               You're right. My mom used to do that. I wanna premise this by saying I thought my mom was a great cook, and she's a good cook. She didn't like to cook. To her, it was chore because she was working. I'm a child of the 80s, so she was always working. [inaudible 00:14:06] kid. She cooked for us, but it was not ... People were not into cooking in the 80s I think like they are now. I think the generation now is just they're very much into where their food come from, what they're making, and recipes. But this was not a thing in the 80s, and my mom just made food to make it.

                                                                                          When she did make stuff, she would buy something, and if it didn't taste good, you were right, she'd doctor it up to make it taste good. I remember she bought this chicken sandwich for me. I was actually heading back to the naval academy. She found these chicken sandwiches. Just by themselves, they weren't that good, but she's like, "Oh, just doctor it up." I remember she's making a spicy mayo, and she put lettuce and tomato on it.

                                                                                          I was too snooty to take it, and she was like, "You're gonna wish you had this sandwich when you're starving in about 38 hours." And she was right. So yeah. I thought we were the only family that used that honestly. So doctor it up.

                                                                                          Y'all heard it. Doctor your Thanksgiving meal up. Don't just follow a recipe. And you're right, I used to just follow a recipe blindly when I first started cooking. 'Cause I didn't know any better.

                                                                                          It wasn't until actually a chef told me, "No, you have to taste everything as you go. How do you know it tastes good?" Actually, someone told me it's actually rude to serve food to people that you haven't tasted yourself because-

Morgan:                                    00:15:45               Oh, yeah.

Nicole:                                       00:15:45               Yeah, so you're-

Morgan:                                    00:15:45               And that's the important thing about that. I mean, Thanksgiving is such a sentimental holiday. We're so emotionally tied to recipes from our childhood. You'd think I'd be more tied to hotdog buns given ... But we're so tied to those recipes that sometime we get out our mother's or our grandmother's little worn index cards, and we follow those recipes religiously. Sometimes those recipes are delicious, and sometimes they need a little freshening.

                                                                                          If you're still ... This is gonna set off a ton of emails, but if you're [crosstalk 00:16:26]-

Nicole:                                       00:15:45               That's alright. A thousand people are gonna scream in your car.

Morgan:                                    00:16:26               If you're still serving can-shaped cranberry sauce, you are living in your grandmother's 1950s kitchen. I daresay I bet your grandmother would probably update her cranberry sauce today to something a little more inventive. It's okay to modify those recipes. Taste 'em, try 'em, tweak 'em a little bit, put a twist on 'em.

                                                                                          I was in the magazine business forever, and we always ran a white cake at Christmas at Southern Living and a turkey at Thanksgiving. There're just only so many turkey recipes you can run without them becoming redundant, so we would always put a little twist on 'em. Readers came to love that little twist and see how we would doctor up the white cake this year. How we would change around our turkey recipes and make them more interesting.

                                                                                          So experiment at home. It's America's biggest cooking day, and it's a fun day to kind of play around.

Nicole:                                       00:17:23                Oh, I did it. I broke tradition. The first Thanksgiving I ever made. I mean, I used all of my mother's recipes. I was still using Stove Top stuffing to make stuffing, the little packet. I didn't know how to make stuffing without that little packet that comes in Stove Top stuffing.

Morgan:                                    00:17:47                There's a lot of R&D that goes into that packet.

Nicole:                                       00:17:51                 It does. I daresay I don't need the packet anymore. Once I really started to learn to cook and invested in learning to cook and really put my time into it, I broke away. I'm happy to report, Morgan, that I broke away from the box of Stove Top stuffing.

Morgan:                                    00:18:13                Nicole, you were ahead of me. When I first moved to New York and worked as an intern for Vanity Fair, my salary was 12,000 dollars a year, and my rent in New York City was 12,000 dollars a year. So you can imagine. I dropped down to 157 pounds. I'm 6' 2”. So that was not a good look on me.

                                                                                          But one of my ... She's the head of the test kitchen for Southern Living. An old, dear friend of mine, Judy Feagin, asked me, I guess when I was home visiting, "What are you eating?" Probably kindly remarking on how gaunt I was. I said, "Well, what I really liked to do ... " I ate a lot of peanut butter, but what I really liked to do is get a can of tuna fish and rip up some wheat bread, 'cause I thought that made it healthy, and squeeze lemon on it, and that's dinner.

                                                                                          Judy just clutched her pearls and sent me immediately the Southern Living cookbook of the year. It was pretty much a comprehensive how-to-cook everything book. That's when I first started learning to cook. We all have to start somewhere. Some of us start with shredded tuna fish out of a can, and some of us start with Stove Top stuffing. None of us were born with just wunderkinds in the kitchen. We all have to begin someplace.

Nicole:                                       00:19:36               I agree. I always refer to my summer of Little Ceasers Pizza. When I was growing up, my mom worked, and the dear that she was, she worked double shifts, 'cause she was trying to ... My dad had got stationed at a place that she didn't want us to be at. Just because of the school. She just was worried about me and schools, and she wanted me to be stable for high school, so she moved us back to New Jersey, 'cause she knew they had good schools there.

                                                                                          Anyway, she worked double shifts, and I had to have food to eat. Well, me and my sister. She didn't want us to use the stove, 'cause she was scared we'd burn down the house. Anything that we could make had to be made in a microwave.

Morgan:                                    00:20:26              [inaudible 00:20:26].

Nicole:                                       00:20:26              Oh, yes. Every Sunday, she would get us a Little Ceasers' pizza. Again, this was the 90s, nobody judged you for getting a frozen pizza every day. It was that foot long Little Ceasers. I don't know if you remember it. It was like-

Morgan:                                    00:20:26              Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Nicole:                                       00:20:39              Yeah. Remember that? It was like a square. We would eat that. I think after the summer, I was like, "I am tired of eating this." And she was tired of me complaining, and she's like, "You wanna eat something else? Learn how to cook." I took that challenge, and I got a Betty Crocker's cookbook. The first thing I ever made was this meatloaf mashed potatoes. And Morgan, I am telling you, this can go in the history books as the worst meal I've-

PART 1 OF 3 ENDS [00:21:04]

Nicole:                                       00:21:00              This can go into history books as the worst meal, I think, ever made. I didn't salt that meat, I didn't put any seasoning in it. Those potatoes, Betty said use real potatoes, and I didn't have real potatoes so I thought, "I'm just going to use these potato flakes." Those potatoes were so dang stiff and lumpy and terrible, and God bless my mother. To my dying day, I will thank her for this. She ate it.

Morgan:                                    00:21:30               Oh, bless her.

Nicole:                                       00:21:31                I mean, she poured a ton of ketchup on it, but she ate it, and I think, if she hadn't of eaten it, I think if she had ridiculed me or done any number of things that she could of did, I don't know that I would have been so passionate about cooking, but the fact that she ate my food, there's something awakened inside of me. Like, it made me feel proud, she raved over how good I did and she gave me gentle pointers, but she was raving about the fact that I made food for her, and she really awakened that sense and that desire to feed people.

                                                                                          And so, I love how you talk about that it's not really about the meal. It's about love and the kindness behind the meal, and my mother's love is what encouraged me to continue to pursue my love of cooking and cooking for others, and through high school and all the way through. My military career's been shaped a lot about my stomach. I'm always like, "Is there free food? Okay, I'm down. Let's do this." It has always been about the love behind making the meal, so I love that you point that out.

Morgan:                                    00:22:42              Well, I've been the beneficiary of that. It was Christmas, Christmas morning, 2010, I will never forget it, and it's hard to be away from all your traditions and your family, and it's a little worse, I think, in this day and age because, when we were deployed, could see everything going on at home. The social media, you could see people gathering around the Christmas tree or pictures of barbecues or Thanksgiving and so you are very viscerally aware of everything that you're missing out on when you're deployed and the age we live in today.

                                                                                          It's a weird disconnected feeling, but I'll never forget walking into the office on Christmas morning, which the war is 24 x 7. So, I was walking into the office and Kabul, Afghanistan and Nicole Schwegman had made waffles. I don't know how you got a waffle maker, I don't know how you got the waffle mix, and those were the best waffles, and one of my most cherished Christmas memories actually. Normally, my Christmas' look like right out of Charles Dickens with an old gothic church and big family dinners and dressing up and this was a completely different Christmas morning, but one of the ones I'll never forget. It's been eight years now and it's still just as fresh as it was back then.

Nicole:                                       00:24:12               Well, thank you, Morgan. I'll tell you, I had my mom ship me, I had that plan when I was ... It was around, gosh, maybe right before Halloween. I got this idea in my head, I wanted to do something for everybody for Christmas because it does. I've been away for more ... The funny thing is, I love Thanksgiving, but I think part of the reason is, because I've been deployed for more Thanksgivings than I have been home, and so when I am home for Thanksgiving, it's doubly special for me and the same for Christmas because I've been on the water or in Afghanistan for it, but I thought about wanting to do that for a while so my mother actually helped me.

                                                                                          I told her my plan and she shipped me a waffle maker and I got it and I was so worried. I kept checking the mail thinking, "Oh, it's not going to make it in time." And it did and I had some very special helpers from the mess, the mess in Afghanistan, provide me some pancake mix and butter. I mean, they were wonderful, and whipped cream. I couldn't believe and I think we went over to the embassy store and I found whipped cream and jelly and my mom sent extra and so shout out to Debra, my mother, who was able to make that Christmas morning so incredibly special in Afghanistan.

Morgan:                                    00:25:53              Thank God, Debra, still haven't forgotten it.

Nicole:                                       00:25:54              Yeah, she was wonderful.  She's such a great mom and I truly appreciate all that she's done for me. She's really been instrumental in my cooking life, and the fun thing is that, even though she ... And now, in her retired life, she likes to cook because she doesn't have to work, but she's always been just such an encourager to me. Morgan, see, this is why it's fun to talk to you.

                                                                                          I want to ask you about ingredients for Thanksgiving. What's an ingredient that, if you don't have it, you can't have Thanksgiving. Now, maybe yours is hotdog buns and I'm hashtag, no judge, but now that you're grown, and I know you're a great cook, what's an ingredient that you need when you're cooking Thanksgiving dinner?

Morgan:                                    00:26:44              Well, I always cook with the aforementioned bourbon, so that goes in my pie and I usually find a way to sneak it into something else. And the other favorite ingredient, and this won't be a surprise to anyone whose read one of my books, is bacon. Bacon is that magic food that makes almost everything taste better. We put bacon, southerners put bacon in a lot of stuff, so we'll put bacon in our lima beans and cook them all day with bacon. If you don't have fatback to put in there, that's what we put in. We put in bacon. I'll wrap, sometimes, turkey in bacon because turkey can be a little dry, especially if you only cook it once a year.

                                                                                          So, as a way to make turkey taste a little better, some bacon sure helps, especially if you get hickory smoked bacon. That's the key is to get a little smoke on that bacon because smoke, that's the secret, that's what makes bourbon brown, is smoke, and it also gives bacon that incredible cured taste. So, those are my two secret ingredients for a good fall Thanksgiving meal, or any meal actually, especially over the winter time. They just seem to fit.

Nicole:                                       00:27:53               Oh, that sounds so good. I'll tell you, this year, I plan to ... So, here in Hawaii, it's not cold, but there is a fall here, everybody. Like, it does turn to fall. It's just very subtle. You'll go, on Thanksgiving day, and you'll walk to the beach and everyone's like, "We get it. You live in Hawaii." But, when I go to the beach for Thanksgiving day, it's just a tradition now, we do it. I go and I see people in the water, I'm like, "Look are those crazy people in the water. Don't they know it's freezing out here?" Because the wind's blowing and it's just not like a norm. It wouldn't be like what you think a Hawaii day would be like.

                                                                                          The wind's very, kicks up, and the oceans really choppy. It almost looks like, if you blink for a minute, you'd almost think you're at a New England coast because that's how the water looks when it's here in the winter, but anyway, I mention that, is because my thought is, before we have Thanksgiving dinner, is to bring a flask of bourbon with me to the beach with my husband and just have a little Thanksgiving cocktail before we go and enjoy the meal.

                                                                                          And I live next door to a southerner and she always brings the best cocktails and she's a big bourbon drinker herself, so I am sure she oblige us this year. Because we live here, no one comes to see us for Thanksgiving, so we have to make a Friendsgiving and we have these two wonderful neighbors and they come over. They came over last year and we had cocktails and a cheese tray and chatted and laughed and shared memories and, I think, this year, maybe we'll have a little cocktail at the beach. You've inspired me with bourbon.

Morgan:                                    00:29:41               Well, good, because the cocktails, I, of course, have a ton of cocktail recipes in my book, Bourbon and Bacon, that you can take and a lot of them are make ahead. I had a dinner party the other night and knew I wanted to serve cocktails beforehand, but it was just me serving, so I didn't have time to make everybody an individual cocktail so I made Manhattans, and my Manhattans are pretty simple. I just do one part vermouth to two parts bourbon and then put a nice little two or three dashes of bitters and I like to cut out a little orange peel and put it on the side of the glass just to dress it up, but everything can be done ahead and so it was very easy to just pour those cocktails out of a pitcher.

Nicole:                                       00:30:33              Oh, that sounds delightful. That sounds delightful. Hey, because you mentioned your book, Bourbon and Bacon, can you give me another cocktail that you think people should check out?

Morgan:                                    00:30:45              Out of Bourbon and Bacon?

Nicole:                                       00:30:47              Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Morgan:                                    00:30:50             Well, I gave you the Manhattan, and the other classic cocktail, and classic cocktails are back with a vengeance, is an Old Fashioned, and my Old Fashioned recipe in Bourbon and Bacon came from Julian Van Winkle the Third and, if you know anything about bourbon, you've probably heard of Julian Van Winkle and his bourbon, Pappy Van Winkle, which is the hardest, hardest bourbon to get. It's going for thousands of dollars a bottle and is unobtainable to most people because, he ages some of that 21 years.

                                                                                          Now, think about that. If I wanted to come out with a new line of vodka, I could get a distillery to make it and have it ready, probably, next week, but if Julian Van Winkle needs to up his production of 21 year old Pappy Van Winkle, he should have started 21 years ago. So, it's difficult to time that kind of thing, but his Old Fashioned recipe, he gave to me and it really is, I think, pretty amazing. He uses two brown sugar cubes, three drops of orange bitters, three drops of angostura bitters, a fresh orange slice, and then about 2 ounces of bourbon, and it makes a really, really fine Old Fashioned.

Nicole:                                       00:32:22              Oh, that sounds ... Old Fashions are one of my favorite cocktails. That sounds amazing.

Morgan:                                    00:32:28              Peachy. And I love that thing. I mean, there a lot of new recipes that I really enjoy, but the old ones are pretty great.

Nicole:                                       00:32:40              Yeah, yeah, they're classic. In the very first episode, I talked to a gentleman. His name is Ben Meier and he runs a blog called, Ramshackle Pantry, and he does a whole deep dive into where different cocktails come from, but we were talking about Sazeracs, which is whiskey.

Morgan:                                    00:33:02              Whiskey, yeah.

Nicole:                                       00:33:04              Yeah. One of my favorites and then Old Fashions. My husbands always like, "Why do you like old man drinks?" 

Morgan:                                    00:33:11                They're delicious.

Nicole:                                       00:33:12               They're like classics for a reason. 

Morgan:                                    00:33:16               Yeah. And that's a good point. A lot of women say to me, "Oh, I don't know. I'm not such a bourbon drinker." And, if you're not a bourbon drinker, as I say, the skinny rich woman's drink is a vodka soda, right?

Nicole:                                       00:33:16               Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Morgan:                                    00:33:34              So, if you want to branch out to a more flavorful drink because, after all, vodka is flavorless, it's odorless, it's colorless, and if you're a foodie, what fun is that? What's interesting about bourbon is that each bourbon is different and you can really taste the difference. Some bourbon is made with more corn, all bourbon has to be made with 51% corn on the mash bill, but some has more rye in it and, if you've ever eaten a piece of rye toast, you know rye has a kind of peppery taste to it. Some is made with more wheat to it, so each bourbon is different and, if you're a foodie and you like to taste things, if you try different bourbons, you'll notice a distinct flavor difference, but if you haven't experimented with some bourbon cocktails, and you're a little afraid of bourbon, there's one I really like and I serve it to friends who may not like bourbon, and they seem to really like it.

                                                                                          It's called the National Tonic and the National Tonic has about a half a cup of bourbon, so you know it starts off well, but it then has two tablespoons of spicy ginger ale and, when I say spicy ginger ale, I'm not talking about like Schweppes or Canada Dry. That is just weak ginger ale. I mean some spicy ginger ale like Blenheim's ginger ale or Buffalo Rock. Blenheim's, you can get in North Carolina. I think you can order it online. Buffalo Rock, you get here out of Alabama. I think it's also available online.

                                                                                          So, two tablespoons, or more, of that, and then the secret weapon is a third of a cup of fresh grapefruit juice and it just makes a really light and refreshing drink that people just adore when they try it and, even folks who aren't bourbon drinkers, think it's just a marvelous time.

Nicole:                                       00:35:29              Oh, that sounds so delightful and what a great entry into bourbon if you're aren't quite sure that you want to try it. That's a great point, especially about the fact that bourbon such unique, every one has such unique quality and you can taste the flavoring and the difference. I think that's probably why I was drawn to bourbon because there's so many different flavors of bourbon and types and the way that each distiller decides to make their bourbon really shines through in the alcohol once you have it. So, you're right. So, I'm going to definitely have some type of bourbon cocktail, and I normally don't even drink that much anymore, but for Thanksgiving, you've got to have a cocktail.

Morgan:                                    00:36:21               Yeah.

Nicole:                                       00:36:21               You've got to have one at the beach. So, that's perfect, thank you for sharing that.

Morgan:                                    00:36:25              Just remember what Mark Twain said and that is, "Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough."

Nicole:                                       00:36:36              I love that.

Morgan:                                    00:36:36              I always thought that.

Nicole:                                       00:36:41               Oh, goodness. Oh, goodness. Well, I want to talk to you real quick about, what are you going to do this year with your son? It's just, I love hearing you talk about him. He's so delightful and I know that you are being such a great cook yourself. What traditions and things are you passing on to him? And, for those people out there who are going to be making Thanksgiving dinner and they have their kids around and they also want to share this experience with them, what are some things that you do and that you recommend for smaller children for Thanksgiving?

Morgan:                                    00:37:17                Well, Wells is now four and he is really helpful in the kitchen and it's something that I strongly believe in that is very good for children, is to get them to help in some way, get them to set the table. If they do it wrong, that's okay. Ask them to mix up the flour and the sugar for your pie crust, if you're going to make a pie, or ask them to help you mush the potatoes, anything to get them involved because, what I've seen with Wells is, over his little life, is if he makes something, or if he helps me make it, he takes ownership in it and he says that's his. "How do you like my mashed potatoes, daddy?" Or, "How do you like my pie crust?" Right?

                                                                                          Even if he's done just a small part of the job, just cracking the eggs, it's so important to let, I think, children make a mess. A mess in the kitchen is kind of the best sort of mess that's easy to clean up, but it will make you giggle, it'll make you smile when they get flour all over themselves and you and the dog, and just, it's a time to really explore as a child and that sense of exploration and how things taste and where food comes from. Last night, Wells and I made french fries and I just started with two potatoes. Right? So, I just cut up two potatoes into french fries and then I double fried them in duck fat. Duck fat's my secret for french fries.

Nicole:                                       00:39:04              Oh my gosh.

Morgan:                                    00:39:05              But he wanted to see every part of that experience. Right? So, I said ... And then, afterwards, we talked about it. Like, where do fries come from? What did we start with tonight? A potato. Right? And then what did we do with it? We fried it. And then what did we do to it? We dumped a bunch of salt on it. And then, children really like that exploration.

                                                                                          Now, like anybody's child, my son loves to watch the iPad. He's obsessed with the technological age that we live in, like most children, but he and I have special time at night. I let him watch the iPad sometimes at breakfast, but at night, there's no electronics at dinner. I don't let him watch the iPad, I don't look at my phone. We spend time together, making dinner, and then we spend time together eating dinner and talking about how we made it and, to me, that's what Thanksgiving is about and that's what I'd encourage folks to do with their children, is put down your phone, make them put down their electronic devices, and really have a good time getting your hands dirty in some great recipes.

Nicole:                                       00:40:20             Oh, that is so nice, and what such good advice. I don't have children, but I think that involving young kids in the kitchen is important. I always try to encourage my friends who have children to do that and, when I have little kids who come over to my house, I want them to get involved in what I'm making because I think it's fun. I liked it, when I was a kid. My mother used to do that for me, where she would make a cake, it was a Duncan Hines cake, but I thought that was the chefiest thing you ever saw.

Morgan:                                    00:40:58              Oh, yeah.

Nicole:                                       00:40:59              As a kid, you don't know. You don't care. And she would make a Duncan Hines cake and she would let me and my sister help. We would get to hold, she would hold our little hands while we'd hold the mixer. She would let us help try to pour it into the pan, even though we'd make a mess. She just let us be a part of it and, again, I think all of these little data points were adding up to me having a life long love of cooking and sharing my food with others. So, I love that you're doing that with Wells.

Morgan:                                    00:41:36               Wall, people often ask me "Well, gosh he has such a good pallet." Because he eats olives and he eats fish and he eats, he'll try just about anything. He loves asparagus and he's a very good eater and they ask me like how that happened. Was he born with that? I said, "No." We just try things and he's involved in making them. They're more likely, children are more likely to try something if they have some sense ...

PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:42:04]

Morgan:                                    00:42:00             I think children are more likely to try something, if they have some sense of ownership and making it. And that's where … I mean, as a busy parent, it's just easier to make dinner without him. It's faster, it's more efficient, I can whip around the kitchen faster without trying to involve a four year old, because he's gonna make a mess and spill stuff. But it's so important, I have to remind myself every now and then to slow down to involve him so that he feels like he's a part of the meal too. It something that I'm really passionate about children and how we feed them in this country, because as a food critic, and been to thousands of restaurants, and I'm often paying attention to the adult menu, right?

                                                                                          But now as the father of a four year old, I've been eyeballing the children's menus and I can tell you that really, no matter where you are and no matter what the price point of the restaurant is, the menu for children is pretty much the same, it's chicken fingers, it's macaroni and cheese, it's a grilled cheese. It's a PB and J, French fries, and maybe if they're trying to be super healthy they'll add some carrot sticks or apple sauce to the mix. But that's it. That's really about the maybe a pizza sometimes, that's about the robustness of our children's menus today.

                                                                                          And to me at what point do you say, "Okay, well now I'm going to feed you like an adult." A lot of times that never occurs. I know grown men and women who were in their late twenties who still eat chicken fingers with ranch at nice restaurants because they don't … they've never developed their palate. And so what my message is to restaurants around the US is, let's expand … let have one option at least that expands children's palates a little.

Nicole:                                       00:44:02              That's great. That's really great advice, I love that. And I think that, it's so important. Gosh, eating a wide variety of foods, so important to children. And some people will say, "My kid is only going to eat French fries." And no one is judging you. Okay. No, no, no judgment here. I always say, "People have the right to feed their bodies in the way that they choose." But I think … What you're talking about is something that parents can try and can take that on. And yeah, it's gonna take time when you let a four year old into the kitchen to cook. I could just see my mom, she'd worked a night shift and she's making a cake for us, and she could have just been like, "Out," but she didn't. She let me try to help.

Morgan:                                    00:44:52              [inaudible 00:44:52] only eats French fries. I mean, to your point, that's okay, but if your child only eats French fries, we'll do what I did last night, make some with your son or daughter. Maybe this week you fry them in duck fat and maybe next week you fry them in that Bacon Grease you've saved, and maybe you fry them in grapeseed oil the following week and ask your child about it, "Can you taste the difference between this and the fries we made last week? Do you have a favorite?" Maybe you start making catch up together. It's incrementally, you don't have to start them off on [inaudible 00:45:27]. You can start them off on French fries, that's perfectly fine, but start talking about the food and exploring the food, and it will become fun, and I guarantee that they'll try new things.

Nicole:                                       00:45:41               That's good advice. Yeah, I like that. All right Morgan, I got asked you, and you know, this is something I ask everybody. What is that one tip that you can give to a home cook today, that's going to make their Thanksgiving meal better?

Morgan:                                    00:45:59              Oh Gosh, that one tip. Well, I'm not going to give you a cooking tip, Nicole. I'll give you an eating tip, because not everybody participates in making Thanksgiving dinner, but almost everybody wants to eat it. And the conversation, I get a lot around Thanksgiving, what I hear a lot is, "Oh, I ate too much." Or "Oh no, my plate is so full." And people weren't embarrassed about eating a lot on Thanksgiving. And people often ask me ... I usually get asked three questions on the road. My interns used to joke. They'd say, "Morgan, you get asked the same questions everywhere you go." Thankfully, Nicole, you've not asked me any of the three. But the three usually are; One, "What's your favorite restaurant?" And I often answered that that's like picking your favorite child, it just depends. Two, "How do I get your job? Because you're doing a great job." On the third question I get is, "Why aren't you fat?" Or usually some-

Nicole:                                       00:47:04              I'm sorry. "Why aren't you fat?"

Morgan:                                    00:47:10               Why aren't you fat? Or some politer version of it is, "How do you stay thin?" Because they can't believe that a lot of times, I'll have to eat five dinners in an evening, as I go around town tasting different restaurants. And how in the world do you stay stand? And I'd usually make a joke, and the joke is like, "I run, like the Taliban is behind me in this [inaudible 00:47:36] is in front of me.

Nicole:                                       00:47:36               Oh, I'm sorry.

Morgan:                                    00:47:43               Not that the truth. The truth is that it's rarely, and I'm gonna say this slowly, because it is sort of a secret. Is rarely the big meals that add the pounds. So, it's not the special days like Thanksgiving where you just blow it out, that tip the scales, because a lot of times I'd come back from a food … we used to call them food funds. So, I'd go on these big adventures in a hog for three days and it would rarely move the needle a lot on the scale. But what I've found is, when I got back from these trips, I was ravenous and I wanted to eat everything in sight. And that's because what we do on Thanksgiving or other big holidays as we stretch our stomachs, so we eat a ton.

                                                                                          So, it's not Thanksgiving that adds the pounds. It's the day after Thanksgiving and the day after that, and the week after that, where your stomach is still in large from Thanksgiving and you say, "Oh, that turkey sandwich with extra gravy on it, looks really good." So, that's my Thanksgiving tip, is don't, don't skimp. Don't cheat yourself on Thanksgiving. Go whole hog or whole turkey as the case may be and eat what you want, but be careful the next few days, and you won't put on weight this holiday season.

Nicole:                                       00:49:08              I'm speechless. On my end that is a great tip. I didn't think about that. You're right, because I always ... So here's what happens the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Day, I stuff myself. Then the next day I'm like, "Well, I got all this food here. I got to make a sandwich."

Morgan:                                    00:49:27               [inaudible 00:49:27] looking at me.

Nicole:                                       00:49:29              Well, I can't. I'm not going to let that get away. So, I make a huge sandwich and sit on the couch on Black Friday and watch replays of a Christmas story and all the other Christmas movies that they're going to play on TNT. So, you're right. And maybe the next day I'll have a turkey salad or I'll just go back to eating the way I normally eat. Well, that's a great tip. What should I do it all those leftovers? Should I donate?

Morgan:                                    00:49:59              Oh, I mean, you can give them away or freeze them and use them for another big special night. But when I go … I eat, like I joke that you'll gain 30 pounds just reading my cookbook. I mean it, I do not do low fat, no fat anything. I mean my cookbooks use full fat, butter, salt, the whole Bourbon, bacon, all this stuff. And I've eaten each of these recipes in my books in 20, 30 times. What you won't find is artificial preservatives, anything coloring or anything like that.

                                                                                          And I don't think the full fat big meals hurt you. I'm not a doctor, but my advice is, if you have a blowout meal, the next nine meals need to be good ones. They need to be healthy ones. So, if you have a giant turkey dinner, with the stuffing that's wrapped in bacon and the deviled eggs, and the four pieces of pie because you just couldn't stop. Then the next nine meals need to be really clean eating.

                                                                                          So it might be good when you're out shopping to your point, Nicole, for Thanksgiving and you've gotten all of your ingredients, think about that next day. What do I need to put in my refrigerator? For me, if it's in the house, if there's an Oreo in the house, I'm going to eat it, so I have to get rid of it and then open the fridge and be presented with healthy options.

Nicole:                                       00:51:35               No, that's a good point. And I think my strategy will be ... I talked about having a Friendsgiving, maybe instead of making all of the food everybody brings a dish and that way I'm not tempted to eat the entire pan of stuffing, because I also love stuffing. [crosstalk 00:51:53] That is my weakness on Thanksgiving. Oh my gosh, I love some stuffing. And macaroni and cheese and macaroni and cheese and stuffing, I don't need a turkey, that's all I need. I love it. So that's a good point. And I'm gonna employ that strategy this year, because I usually, will eat Thanksgiving leftovers until they're are gone, and that's probably where I'm going wrong. So I am going to employ your strategy this year. Morgan you're a gentleman and a scholar. Where can people find you on the Internet?

Morgan:                                    00:52:28              Well, you can find my books anywhere fine books are sold. I like to say on all the usual spots like Barnes and Noble on Amazon. Or if you want a signed copy of my book, you can go to my website, morganmurphy.co, and we'll ship you a signed copy of the book. And this holiday season I'm coming out with a new line of Bacon, and you can order that bacon there too. We'll ship it directly to you.

Nicole:                                       00:52:55              Fantastic. And of course I'm going to put all of that in the show notes as well, so people can click directly to that. Well, my friend, you have been just wonderful. Thank you so much. I hope you and your wonderful family, which I just love hearing about. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I'll see you out there. Okay.

Morgan:                                    00:53:17                You too. Have a cocktail for me on the beach, this Thanksgiving.

Nicole:                                       00:53:20              I absolutely will, take care Morgan. Good bye.

Morgan:                                    00:53:20              Bye.

Nicole:                                       00:53:28              All right, so you've just finished hearing me talk with Morgan Murphy, who is probably one of the funniest and most interesting people that I know. He's just so full of great stories and clever insights, and I always love talking with him, we laugh a lot. So Morgan talks about a lot of delicious things, but I do want to talk about one thing that he mentioned. He talks about Bourbon, and specifically Bourbon that is made by a guy named Pappy Van Winkle. If you Google Pappy Van Winkle, he's not kidding around that Bourbon is seriously expensive. So, like I said, I went online after we chatted, because I wanted to see just how much it was, because come on, we all know I'm willing to spend quite lavishly, to eat well. But even my breath was kind of like take it in a little bit, when I saw the cost of just one bottle.

                                                                                          So if you could find it, the average price appears to be around $250 to $300 a bottle, which is that's very expensive for a bottle of alcohol. And that's if you can get your hands on like the current batch that they're selling. But I can't seem to find any place online that you can buy it for four or less than $900, and I'm kind of suspicious that it might not even be the real thing. So, I went on Ebay to look, and there was a guy selling a bottle, like when it was an empty bottle, you can buy … like they sell empty bottles for $100. And then he had another bottle that had a symbol of Bourbon in it and that was the $150. And I'm thinking to myself, "That's probably not the real thing. He probably took some bourbon and then that was not Pappy Van Winkle go put it in there and there's some poor soul is going to buy it and think he's drinking Pappy Van Winkle.

                                                                                          So the best way to do it, is to just buy it from a local store that is known for selling a high-end liquor. And you can go and find those places on the Pappy Van Winkle website. And actually right now is the perfect time to try and find a bottle, although you're going to have to get ready for a treasure hunt in some places. So, if you're in a fine Bourbon and you love a good chase, you love being able to talk about how you had to go source this bottle, find it, wait in line. This is a bourbon worth pursuing.  I can tell you right now, I don't see anywhere in Hawaii that sells it.

                                                                                          I'm still going to go ask. there's a local, wine purveyor here, who also I think does a spirits. I'm going to see if they have a bottle, and if I find it, I will snap a picture of it on Instagram. I'm not sure that I would buy it. I think my husband would kill me, if I bought a $300 bottle of Bourbon. We would only sip it once a year. It would be the most revered thing in our house. But some people listening maybe like that's, that's my jam. And so you should definitely go, find it. I will link to the Pappy Van Winkle website in the show notes so that you yourself can go investigate more about this bourbon.

                                                                                          And so, I've also been inspired by Morgan to go ahead and eat as much as I want. And Thanksgiving, no guilt, no feeling bad about it, but I'm going to try and go right back to my normal eating habits the next day. So yes, that means I'm going to forego the traditional leftover sandwich and which I pile turkey dressing, grading and cranberry sauce, onto two pieces of hearty bread. And I made myself an epic sandwich. I even normally with that sandwich, I even buy chips, just salted chips because to me, it's a crime if you have a sandwich and you don't have chips. That's just how I feel about it. I'm sure there's a thousand people screaming right now about that.

                                                                                          So, but I'm not going to have that epic sandwich this year. No, I'm going to go right back to just eating normally, and usually that involves some type of Taco and shrimp. So maybe that's not so bad after all. And I don't know, maybe I still will have that one sandwich, because it's just such a tradition to have a sandwich afterwards for me, but that's it. I'm not going to continue to eat leftovers for the next like five days or whatever, how long they last.

                                                                                          And I've read several of Morgan's cookbooks searching subjects and they're really fun, and they give such good recipes. We didn't go into it as much during the interview, but Morgan's books On The Road and Second Helpings are collection of recipes that he sweet talked out of some of the south's greatest and most beloved restaurants. And I don't know how he does it, but Morgan has this ability to get anyone that he talks to, to part with their secrets in the kitchen. And he's just nice enough to share them with all of us in that book, and both of those books.

                                                                                          I'll tell you, every time I talked to him, I leave with another valuable nugget of knowledge in the kitchen. He's such a, just such a great share of knowledge and really generous. So you should check out Morgan on his website. I have a link in the show notes and you should check out his books on Amazon. And I'll be linking to all three of that as well.

                                                                                          I want to tell you also that there's going to be a special show next week. I'll be doing a top 10 items that you should buy on Black Friday for the kitchen. I've been scouring the deals and they're all out now and you could actually buy a lot of these deals right now. and I want to share kind of what I find and talk about why I think, these particular gifts are great buy. So don't forget to look out for that episode, I'll be posting it on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

                                                                                          And now you should also check out the Facebook group. It's called, BFF with the Chef on Facebook. And I love it if you joined. It's an easy place for us to connect. I do talk to anyone who comes into the group and I try to share all the neat and cool chefy tips that I find. Some of the guests who I've interviewed are also a part of the group, so you can ask questions and get their opinion and advice. These are all people who love food and they love talking about it. So if you ask us a question, we're going to talk your ear off.

                                                                                          Finally, if you like the show, please consider giving us a five star review. Those reviews are like gold to me and they help other fellow through levers find us. And finally, this is a BFF with the Chef, wishing you a happy Thanksgiving, a glorious week with your friends and family and hoping that wherever you're having your meal, whether it's that huge family dinner or it's a turkey MRE, you know what your fellow service members, who I want to say, by the way, thank you for your service. Shout out to all of my fellow service members. I hope that you get to go out and eat something delicious this holiday season. Goodbye.