Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer fruit and happy barefoot baking


I love Summertime! Totally blowing off painting the windows and satisfied from a lovely Sunday breakfast at Huey's on the river. I always get the eggs benadict because it's perfect! We drove off over the bridges to catch some breeze on the islands in Savannah. We had no destination really just a few more minutes of goofing off before we returned home. I was trying to find my fave house on Wilmington Island to show what I meant when we discussed traditional colonial architecture. Of course it was covered by all the giant trees and kudzu so alas it will remain a mystery until Fall. Nothing is more beautiful than a simple grand river house with a red metal roof. Yes- I have many opinions. This one will not waver. Some things should not be messed with.

Somehow we ended up at the "home of the killer tomato." I hit my husband up for cash and he had exactly five dollars. The sign for fresh peaches inspired me and I was wanting quite badly to buy some and transform them. I was not disappointed. One dollar a peach is pretty stiff , but they were perfect and I loaded them up with plans for a nice cobbler for dinner. I love the farm stand on the way to Tybee. When my daughter was little she always came with me and they always gave her a banana or a plum to munch on so I could look around and plunder in peace. I wasn't worried about them rolling around in the trunk and figured that the heat would juice them more for my dark plans later. lol. I almost wanted us to hurry up, just to feel them in my hands as I gave them a cool bath and pulled out my blue pie dish while I blasted Blondie on my I heart radio.

Peach Cobbler for six

1 deep dish pie plate ( glass is best for this )
5 big fresh peaches acquired on a long drive
1/4 c butter
2 dashes good salt (pink himalayan was my choice )
1 T flour
1/2 c+ 1/2 c natural sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 C of Southern Biscuit Formula L mix
3/4 C whole milk
vanilla ice cream

preheat oven to 350- use the convection option if you have one. Rinse peaches in cool water peel and slice in long strips about the size of cling peaches. place them in a small mixing bowl and gently combine with 1/2 c of sugar, cinnamon and flour and salt. Use a fork to keep from bruising the peaches. Microwave the butter right on the pie plate about 20 seconds covered with a paper towel until its melted. place the peaches in the dish right on top of the butter. In a small bowl mix the dry biscuit mix, the other 1/2 cup of sugar and the milk until it is combined. Use a rubber spatula to spoon out over the peaches covering them completely . If a few are poking out that is OK! sprinkle a little raw sugar on the top to give it a sparkle. bake approx 25 to 30 minutes until it bubbles and the edges are browned. Set out to cool on the counter and serve hot with ice cream.

YUM!

Summer is all about getting back to the simple things. In our hearts, we all wish for those lazy days and a swing with no end in sight from the heat. Take the bounty you have in your life and on the vine and celebrate. Good things are something I will always seek and I smile as I think of all the wonderful times I enjoyed as a child just wandering the garden, eating pole beans in my bare feet. I try every day to take something small and make it make the hard things and the cruel things run back to the shadows. I was thinking the other day. If I died right now at this moment. What would people say about me? Probably a few things I can't print, but I hope they would also say she was soulful and creative and loved to nurture her family and loved the Earth and the things the grew on it and the sweetness of a blueberry stolen off the bushes out back. I am fortunate in so many ways and i am grateful every day for the good things. Love, friendship, family and the pursuit of fresh fruit for my table. Until next time-take life in small bites and love like there's no limit

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lazy Q and GPS sport watches......

Ok – so yeah it’s been forever. Don’t hate on me – I am here now! LOL.

Last night I worked my least favorite shift ( the late one ) at work and I am so incredibly tired of pizza and salad on Wednesday nights. I had a total blast on my morning off with my new GPS sport watch for mother’s day run/swim/cycle. Isn’t my family the coolest? They appreciate me and help me stay healthy too. Did you really think I could eat like this and not exercise?  But alas, after working out for one and a half hours it was time to come home and get ready for work. Thanks to ZZ top and Lindsey Stirling I had an awesome power mix to keep me going.

I had already decided to make Carolina style bbq in the crock pot so I could easily work and feed my family. Lower stress…doesn’t that sound awesome??? I went online and there are literally thousands of recipes- pit smoked of course is the authentic way- not real handy for a working mom though. Honestly this isn’t authentic at all, but it’s really good. I found a few church cookbooks in North Carolina that seem to have busy mom’s like me and this is what I ended up with-I adjusted this a bit as it was a tad too tart for us last night. Barbecue is a great American tradition that every place has its own version of what is right or wrong. I love that people are so fiercely proud of something so simple as this. This isn’t just a meal, it’s a way of life and pride in the South and I love trying it anywhere, so  I can to see how they do it.


Cook time-is approximate
4 hrs. on high then / 2 or more on low if you are home.
8 on low if you will be gone.

Lazy Q-
Large crock pot with cover
1 ½ lbs. bone in pork chops
1 t roasted dried garlic powder
10 dashes of red tabasco
½ t paprika
½ minced Vidalia onion ( sweet ) it is better if it’s from Georgia…lol
1 T of brown sugar
¼ t of sea salt
1 T of hickory liquid smoke
¼ t of fresh ground white and black pepper mix
1 C white vinegar
½ C apple cider vinegar  

Turn crock pot on high- add the onion and all spices except the paprika. Add the raw pork chops on top on the onions. Pour the vinegar over the meat. Sprinkle it with the paprika. Use high heat for at least 4 hrs. then turn it on  low for another two at least. Every hour or so stir and turn the meat and be sure its covered in juice using a large spoon. Please note-*** if you will be gone a few hours just start it on low and cook for approx. 8 to 9 hrs.- You will know it’s done as the meat will literally fall off the bone. No need to shred as it naturally will fall apart. Place a large heat resistant bowl in the sink  and place a large colander over it. Pour all ingredients from crock pot carefully into colander. Use two forks to pull bones out of meat and discard. It will be very hot – so do not use your bare hands.  You can feel the bones as the forks will clink against them. Place meat and juice back into the crockpot cover and keep on low until you are ready to serve with a slotted spoon to drain off the juice.  

This will produce approximately 8 large sandwiches so adjust accordingly to your needs.

Soft white Buns ( no exceptions! )  , Kosher Dills, a side of Sweet Baby Rays  and some homemade coleslaw with some pineapple and walnuts in it – YUM

Since I have leftovers tonight I am planning on making pork nachos with Monterrey jack and green onions, but if you have a few men or hungry kids around I doubt you will need this idea. J wonderful rainy or busy day meal that will make your family very happy. The most important thing about this recipe is that it gives you a little time back for yourself and tastes delicious. Being a working mom has taught me a lot about using my time well. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. In the future, I promise to not be such a stranger. Until next time-take life in small bites and love like there's no limit

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Rambling down Highway 17....


It is such absolute pleasure to drive on old highway 17 with my wonderful husband who is also my best friend yesterday. We stopped at one of the coolest places I found years ago, the Old Sheldon Church ruins and I took some photos that I plan on editing and choosing the best to frame in the house.  http://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/beaufort-county/old-sheldon-church.html I have been there so many times now through the years and every time I feel like I discover a place that time does not touch. I wonder about the people who rebuilt this church and their descendants who gather every year to celebrate their history here in the low country. One of my greatest pleasures of visiting the ruins is also knowing that I am closer to Charleston. I chose years ago to be here in Savannah and I wonder sometimes if everything would have been different , had I gone North rather than South during the fateful choices I made. I am so glad I made the right choice!

Last night we dined at Mccrady's in Charleston and I was incredibly excited. Every since I saw the write up about Chef Brock's creativity and passion I have wanted a date night worthy of his restaurant  to know about how he runs his experience. The ambience was incredible and the cool drizzle of rain truly just enhanced the experience of walking into an alley and a single gas lamp heralding the entry. I had hoped for it to drop below fifty degrees as that was the number established for me to wear my vintage fur pom pom necklace. I switched gears and carried my heirloom mink stole instead. The bar was Charleston cool with gas lamps and wavy mirrors and a mixed drink menu to rival any place I have ever been. My escort was dashing in his Italian wool trousers and his Southern gentleman ways and I felt like I was on a set of James Bond as I ordered my Bijoux and it was amazing/deadly  and served in a champagne glass with a twist of lemon and a real Italian maraschino cherry. We perused the wine list and it was broken down by country and then valley. I was a HAPPY girl! The four course tasting menu was what we decided on a white wine from the Pfalz region.

So Insanely good were the scallops my husband ordered. The chervil reduction on the plate absolutely made my brain go numb with delight. Wow! As the night unfolded ( almost 3 hours! ) of small plates and incredible service and wonderful company, I felt like I had just been blasted to the moon. I have never in all of my life seen such passion and flair in a restaurant as I did here. I also try to use local ingredients and believe it is important to use good raw materials and fresh organic food. I went to such a state of bliss I could hardly believe we even had the chance to eat here at all. I am so full of great ideas now and am astounded at the artistry we enjoyed.

I cannot even hope to compare myself to his skill, but I did have an epiphany the other night on how to use some of our extensive Thanksgiving leftovers. My beautiful daughter was having her first Winter concert and I knew we would not have dinner until much later than normal. So I took what I had and made it new to stave off the pirates..YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!

Turkey Buffalo Dip

I cup of shredded cooked turkey ( preferably from a slow roasted one )
1/2 cup of Dukes Mayo
1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese shredded
1 T of Franks red hot hot sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp of fresh ground black pepper
1 small finely diced green onion
blue corn tortilla chips

Combine all except the green onion in a microwavable or oven dish- Microwave covered for approx 2 minutes and stir. If its bubbly and melted together it is ready. The red hot is to taste, I used quite a bit more but you do not want to overwhelm it with too much heat. If you prefer run under the broiler for approx 5 minutes until bubble and browned. Garnish with the green onion and serve immediately. Awesome!

I am so fortunate and lucky to be in the place I am right now. I'm afraid to say it but 45 is almost here and I looked this morning peering at my reflection awaiting the marks of times and age.  I learn something new every day about myself, life and love. The past twenty four hours has been so incredible and I know that I am so fortunate to be in this place right now. I believe that we all need to have the kind of passion I have been so lucky to experience lately and it teaches a lesson for us all to be true to who we are. I am inspired and renewed. Until next time-take life in small bites and love like there's no limit

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Summer dreaming

I was thinking today that home cooking is such a lost art. Sure you can watch a t.v. show all day long about how to prepare exotic foods or see people compete and win prizes. What I mean  is the kind that brings people together. My kitchen, isn't fancy and needs renovation badly. What it does have though is heart and soul. It has a small table that also has massive gouges in it from lots of children using butter knives to make art out of clay. I must be the last person on Earth who has tablecloths on my kitchen table? and its filled with little trinkets from happy trips. A few days ago Bella, Katnip and I made a giant mess after work and prepared South African Miktert together for International day at school. I was exhausted from work and had a headache. Eventually though the smell of vanilla and cinnamon and the girls in aprons laughing and chatting loosened me up and I enjoyed the whole process. I wonder sometimes if they will cook for their families? Remembering all of the hours we have spent together slicing, whipping , etc? I hope so. I think of my grandmother's so much when I use my hands and create meals to dine on while I listen to the girls stories about life as a teen in the US. Things have sped up and what 11 and 12 year olds talk about totally embarrassed me at 15. I am amazed sometimes by how fast time flies by. Life can be slow as molasses or run at the speed of light.  Sometimes Summer is that way too. My absolute favourite time of year. Lemons are everywhere and one of my go to dishes is Chicken Picatta. I am not sure how authentic mine is , but its what I know and my family loves it.

Chicken Picatta

1 pound of skinless/boneless chicken breasts

4 fresh lemons
salt
1 small bottle of capers
fresh ground pepper
1 bunch of Italian parsley
3 tsp garlic powder or fresh garlic* use the remainder as you cook the chicken in the second round
1 cup of good chicken broth
butter
olive oil
rice or risotto
a large platter with sides that's oven proof
a nice bottle of wine ( I prefer valpolicella or reisling ) for this dish

Place approx 1 T of olive o
il and 2 T of butter in a skillet and warm garlic. Thinly fillet chicken breasts about one inch thick on a cutting board. I usually get three out of one breast. Lightly saute on medium heat until nicely browned and cooked through on both sides. It usually takes two or three rounds to brown the chicken. I like to grate my pepper over them as I cook. In the meantime, start your rice or risotto so its ready when the chicken is done. Heat oven to 200 f and place patter on the middle rack to warm. Wash parsley in cool water and do not use stems. Chop into small pieces and set aside.( Keep them for chicken soup.) When the chicken is browned, place on warm platter in the oven to keep warm. Repeat until all chicken is cooked. Take skillet off the burner. Turn off the oven. Cut three of the lemons in half and take out seeds. Squeeze into skillet. Pour the chicken broth in. Drain the capers in a strainer over the sink and use half right into the skillet.Use a wooden spoon to loosen up the bits of garlic from the bottom. Place all chicken breasts back into the skillet and cover and simmer about five minutes. Sprinkle parsley over the top and simmer another minute. Take platter from oven and set on a dish towel using hot pads and let platter cool a minute. Spoon cooked rice or risotto onto the platter. Slice the remaining lemon into small disks and set aside. Gently arrange chicken on top of the rice and pour juice over the top. Garnish with lemon slices. If you have leftover juice just keep it on the stove covered. 

Serve family style with a large spoon. Enjoy!


Nothing is better on a hot Summer night than the taste of lemons and the green of fresh parsley.  The best thing to do after, is fall into the wicker chairs on the front porch with a coffee and watch the sun go down. Dream of warm beautiful places like Ravello where lemons grow everywhere and the sea and the earth live in harmony. Beautiful. I hope you find flavour and joy in this simple dish and share it with the special people in your life. -



Till next time- take life in small bites and love like there's no limit


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Azaleas and a cold Spring day


I was thinking today how cold it was. How can that be? Well below the Mason/Dixon Line and I feel like I should be wearing Ugg boots in the house....The flowers here are in full bloom and as beautiful as they are, they are pumping out so much pollen I can barely breath. If I had a time machine, I would always reverse to the first day the azaleas bloom in the backyard making a fairyland of pink and hope of sunny days to come. In the Low country that is very much a sure thing. We are truly lucky for that! I am enjoying drinking a glass of Pinetti Primitivo and seeing nature in all its glory outside my kitchen window. ( My unofficial  office. ) Thank God for Italians and their incredible ability to lasso the sun in a red grape! 

  I was in the mood today again , for comfort. I had set out to make a sandwich I saw in my Bon Apetit magazine and sort of regrouped as my day changed. So I am planning on doing that this weekend; as I want to savour the process. Long days like today, sometimes sap my energy and make me unwilling to experiment in the kitchen. Weekends I could easily spend just finding the perfect ingredient for whatever alchemy I may use later that day. I have been quite fond recently of Paprika. I spent some time years ago in Hungary and I would hazard that it is the national spice. They use it in stews, on grilled fish et cetera. Lovely! The red pepper in all its compacted flavour and guile. I think here in the US it is not quite so common in prepared food , but oddly enough easy to obtain in almost any store. I decided tonight to make my version of Swedish Meatballs and I hope as they will surely warm my body and renew me that you also will enjoy this version.

Swedish Meatballs

1 pound of prepared frozen meatballs or 1 pound of ground round
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp of fresh ground black and white pepper mix
sea salt
fresh chopped ( approx 2 tsp) of parsley leaves
8 0z of good beef broth
1 small container of half and half
1tsp paprika
1 pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp pf butter
1tsp of flour
1 tablespoon of good olive oil
4 oz red wine ( Pinetti works as well as any strong red wine )
prepared small pasta or white rice to serve the meatballs on

Roll small amounts of the ground meat into small balls by hand into about half a golf ball size. Add to a hot skillet with olive oil and saute until browned on all sides. If you use the frozen meatballs just start with part two. Sprinkle generously with the garlic powder and paprika as you saute and lightly salt as you cook. Start your pasta or rice so they will be ready at the same time. Take out the meatballs and add the butter to the pan and lightly sprinkle it with flour. Be sure it doesn't clump. Cook it until it appears brown and smells a bit nutty. Do not burn this as it not only will thicken your sauce, but also flavour it. I use a stainless steel pan and whisk to be sure that it is smooth. Add the broth and warm it. slowly add the half and half and whisk well. Lower the temp and let simmer for approx five minutes. Whisk again being sure to smooth out the mixture. add the paprika, wine and any remaining spices. Whisk one more time. Gently add the meatballs using a slotted spoon and cover and simmer for about ten to 15 minutes on low. Be careful as this can burn easily. The mixture should appear creamy and bubble over the meat. Just before serving add the parsley and sir. Serve over the rice or pasta and let cool before eating for about five minutes in nice white bowls. 

It is important to remember this. Everything makes more sense when you tailor it to your needs Feel free to tweak or change this recipe to suit yourself, as half the fun in cooking is the discovery of what makes sense for you. ( just don't forget what you did... )

 As I grow older there are many things I discover about myself and my world. Cooking and sharing are one experience I am so lucky to enjoy. When I am fortunate enough to travel it is a way I can communicate with others and share in any language. There are so many bad things in this world and so many people who cannot agree. When you sit at my table you are expected to eat, share and feel equal. Perhaps the UN should have a world picnic and invite our sworn enemies? If the only fighting occurring was over the last meatball or piece of bread, that would be a feat in and of itself. I have no expectation of World Peace today or tomorrow, but if you stop for a moment and break bread with each other are you not compelled to feel a sense of belonging?  I will wish you well and hope you enjoy my small bit of philosophy tonight.

- Till next time- take life in small bites and love like there's no limit



Paprika

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Take me back to South Texas!

Isn't it funny? We all have ideas of places and people. Get thee away from the city and go to the Texas hill country. I have been to Dallas and Houston and they were big cities. Lot's of concrete. The arts and walking plazas definitely were redeeming factors. You have not seen Texas though until you have driven down a road that has winding hills and a water gage next to it like a big thermometer. When it rains there. It rains big! The simplicity of blue sky for as far as you could see along with beat up pickup trucks and big piles of limestone and cacti makes for a canvas of unassuming beauty. The food was very in tune with the place. Lots of beef barbecue and spices so hot they made the sun pale in heat. The Spanish influence is quite strong here and I had more tortillas and grilled steak than I have ever had in any long weekend.
There is nothing finer than a sunrise on an old porch with a vista of those hills in a pair of dusty boots while my family slept and I watched shadows of clouds pass overhead. My phone and the internet was almost nonexistent and I enjoyed that too. I disconnected with those things and felt myself getting back to who I am. We are so over stimulated anymore, we don't even realize it until we stop.

We ended the weekend with a stop in San Antonio. We did the little river cruise and enjoyed the architecture and embellished bridges. We had a lunch stop at a San Antonio iconic restaurant. ( Mi Tierra ) It has been open since ??? and was full of all kinds of people enjoying and celebrating birthdays , etc. The full service bakery as you left was amazing. A wonderland of flour and sugar. My husband tried the Mole and pronounced it " pretty good" his version of great! I ordered the queso flameado to share and the tacos carnitas with avocado. Wow! I had heard that this particular dish. The queso can also be called "fundido. " It depends on who's talking. It has become a signature South Texas dish and people have many versions. I am planning on incorporating it into my revolving menu at the best kitchen in Georgia and I hope you enjoy my version as well.

Queso flameado

2 cups shredded asadero cheese
1 cup of shredded white Monterrey jack
2 large fresh jalapeno peppers
1/2 pound chorizo sausage
1 med size crockery dish suitable for the microwave
1 package of small flour tortillas


Using rubber or plastic gloves slice peppers in half. Use a paring knife to de vein and remove seeds. Rinse in cool water and set aside. ( Wash gloves and hands well. ) The oil is caustic and will hurt anything it touches! Using a broiler pan or some foil roast the peppers turning once until the skin is black and scaly.

Place chorizo in a skillet and cook well until it is small and crumbly. I just squeeze it out of the casing to speed up the process. Remove excess fat. Lightly grease the crockery dish. Mix the shredded cheese and chorizo together in the dish. Slice the jalapenos into small strips and lay across the cheese in a decorative pattern. Microwave in short stints of 40 second increments until it is hot and bubbly. If you have more time you can also bake it at 350 for approx 15 min.

Serve immediately with warm tortillas. Spoon the cheese on the tortilla and roll it and eat it like a taco. Awesome!

There is something so special about trying regional cuisine. It tells a story about who was there and perhaps even the hardships they have had. I attempted to go into the chapel at the Alamo. Unfortunately the line was epic and I ran out of time, but the gardens were beautiful. This was a special week there as the letter requesting help on the siege of the Alamo was unlocked from a vault and you were able to actually see it. The last words, " victory or death" were incredibly strong. Perhaps the real reason I enjoyed Texas so much was a clear example of the American and ( Texas ) flag waving everywhere and a feeling of pride in the American way? All I know is I shall return to that place with my boots on and a smile on my face. - Till next time- take life in small bites and love like there's no limit.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sweeties

St. Valentine's day is impending. A dance at school for young sweethearts today reminded me of the innocence of youth. It is a beautiful thing to yearn and love from afar.

 Little did St. Valentine know that he would forever be the reasoning behind major commercialism and roomfuls of women in red for one night only. Be daring and wear blue or yellow the 14th. I think I will.....I may pin a red heart on my lapel or wear red lipstick , but I will leave the bad fashion to someone less adventurous than I.

My mother always made sure that day was special and the house was full of smells of lovely tomato based sauces and the lovely smell of powdered sugar on the candy hearts. We would find our formal china laid out in the dining room with a well chosen message in candy. Be mine or you're sweet! I am smiling remembering this. I didn't appreciate those efforts then. I thought everyone had a romantic mother who would get all up in arms on holidays like this. 

I am lucky in love this year and I do have a sweetheart. Alas, he is not here right now, but he knows of my love. I send it every day. I tried to surprise him with brownies in his suitcase, but he caught me as I finished baking. at the very least I tucked in a card to be opened on that day, because I am a hopeless romantic.

There have been many Valentine Day's that I was alone. I would turn on the t.v. with a glass of wine and watch movies about other beautiful people. It is a day if  you are alone that you must stay in as the world does not cry for broken hearts or tender spirits. If you are one of these people on Thursday, remember this. There is always tomorrow and you are not defined by lack of this, but by what you are. A toast to romance and love and strength of spirit and hope to the ones who wish for it tomorrow. Something red on the table is an absoloute must. I will make strawberry sauce and serve it on angel food cake to celebrate-

Strawberry Sauce

1 pint of fresh hulled strawberries
1/2 c of white sugar
1 tsp good vanilla
( 1 tsp of gran marnier for grownups )
1 bakery angel food cake
fresh whipped cream

rinse the strawberries and slice nicely into a bowl. add the vanilla and cover with the sugar. Let this rest covered for a half hour on the counter. If the strawberries don't create enough juice a little water and another half hour and a gentle stir will do the same. Try and make the sugar crystals mesh with the juice as it is best if it is all liquid.

slice a small piece of cake and place on a pretty plate. Ladle the fruit on it to make a pretty arrangement and top with a little whipped cream.

Lovely! Light as air, like your heart feels when you fall in love. Dare to dream of a happy place and find the sweetness in your day no matter where or who you spend it with.    Till next time- Take life in small bites and love like there's no limit.