Thursday, December 31, 2009
This is really more like a pork and rice stew. It was really simple to put together and tasted awesome when it was done. The leftovers taste even better today.
I got the recipe out of "Ultimate Casseroles"- which is a supplemental magazine published by Better Homes and Gardens. I am such a sucker for the glossy magazines at the grocery store...with their photos of heartachingly-rich dishes on the cover...promising warmth and gooiness.
Anyhoo- I bought it and have now made 3 things out of it, with a 4th on the docket for this afternoon (Black Bean Lasagne to take to a New Year's gathering).
Here's the recipe:
2 to 2 1/4 pounds boneless pork shoulder roast (I used already cubed pork stew meat)
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow sweet pepper, cut into thin strips
1 8 ounce can water chestnuts (I didn't have any so I left them out)
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 14 ounce can chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons white corn syrup
1 to 2 teaspoons red chili paste (I had curry paste and it was fine)
1 teaspoon five spice powder
1/3 cup sliced green onions for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut meat into 3/4 inch pieces. In an extra large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat. Cook meat, half at a time, in hot oil til brown. Transfer meat to an ungreased 3 quart rectangular baking dish and stir in carrots, sweet pepper and water chestnuts. I didn't have a 3 qt. dish so I used my dutch oven and it worked fine.
Add the remaining oil to the skillet and cook onions til tender. Add rice, cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, soy sauce, molasses, corn syrup, chili paste and five spice powder. Cook and stir until it all comes to a boil. Add to meat mixture and stir to combine.
Bake, uncovered, about 1 hour or until meat and rice are tender. Let stand, covered, for 10 more minutes before serving. Garnish with green onions and serve.
This was so good! It was sweet and spicy and very warm. Next time I'll add more veggies. I think mushrooms and cauliflower would be great additions. You could really use any combination of meat and/or veggies you wanted.
I could go on forever about the differences (geographically and culturally) between my adopted home here in Colorado and my actual, soul home in the South. But as many of my old friends will agree, it really comes down to a state of mind.
I have tried several things to combat this intense homesickness I feel. I tried making a batch of home made pimento cheese- that should have instantly made me feel better- but it didn't. I played some Johnny Mercer on my laptop- that made it so much worse. I texted my friends who still live there, hoping to be cheered by some contact with them- but it's just no use. I'm in a funk.
The only thing that seems to make me feel any better is thinking about our road trip home this summer. Finally we will be driving instead of flying...so I can bring more stuff back with me. Perhaps if I transplant some of my favorite things about home to here, they'll take root and help me survive the painful separation! I suppose I should start making my list of must-haves.....
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Fast forward less than a month, and after living with the remnants of that first snow storm (it hasn't been warm enough to melt much off), it's snowing on us again. I find my attitude changing. Now it just means snow tracked in the house, and eventual slushy messiness everywhere. But it is still beautiful.
Trying to look on the bright side, at least I have an excuse to stay in and try out a few new recipes. Tonight I am trying a pork and rice stew. Hopefully I'll remember to take some pics and post them here.
I'm also catching up on reading my food blogs. Everyone seems to be posting their lists of the best cookbooks of 2009. So far I only see 2 I am interested in: 'Wichcraft and Hungry Monkey. The first is a cook book all about sandwiches and the second was written by a food critic who is trying to raise his son not to be a picky eater.
I guess I'll end this rambling, non-focused post now. I must go check on the progress of my pork defrosting project.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I always looked forward to book club Monday. We had a very diverse, intelligent and lively group of women. I should be using present tense, since the book club still meets, I just don't get the pleasure of attending anymore.
However, this morning, Dev and I met some fellow teachers at Starbucks. We sat around and talked. We talked about school, family, books- anything that came to our minds. It felt so good to sit in the company of friends and discuss things. It almost felt like book club all over again. We even talked about starting a book club group. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about the prospect of that.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we can all find some time for meaningful discourse...
I think I'll start with the food. The one thing I was most looking forward to during the break was a chance to spend some quality time in the kitchen.
Dev's parents came to stay with us for Christmas, and I wanted them to eat well. Wednesday night was our first meal together, so I wanted it to be special. After giving it some thought, I went with seafood.
Using Diane's patented shrimp breading technique, I fried some shrimp and served baked potatoes and barbecue beans.
Thursday morning, we had hashbrown casserole and bacon with fruit salad. The hashbrown casserole recipe was from a Paula Deen cookbook. It was fairly simple- a bag of frozen hashbrown potatoes, sour cream, grated cheddar, and a can of cream of chicken soup.
Dinner brought about a pork loin roast with smoked gouda macaroni and cheese and peas. The pork was dry rubbed, then roasted at 375 degrees until it registered 150 degrees on a meat thermometer.
Christmas morning, we enjoyed baked stuffed french toast with buttered honey. For Christmas dinner, Dev made game hens with stout gravy. Dev's mom and I added cranberry salad, spaghetti squash and wild rice salad.
It seems like I've done nothing but eat since school got out. And with this week off, too, I'm sure there will be a few more adventures in the kitchen before I head back to work!
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Yet another award winning food photo (ok, I know it's bad).
This is the cranberry sauce I made for the potluck Christmas party Friday afternoon. It is Tyler Florence's recipe. I liked the fact that it was made from whole berries. I didn't like the tartness that much. I ended up increasing the sugar, and it still tasted too tart for me. Other people seemed to like it, so I guess it was ok. You can go here for the recipe.
Here's another awful picture. I could have taken it out of the tin foil, huh?
This is another of the potluck dishes I've had to make over the course of the week. This particular dish is Paula Deen's Corn Casserole. It turned out pretty well. If I do it again, though, I'll add a can of spicy green chile to it, to cut the richness and sweetness. You can go to here if you want to see the recipe- it was very easy.
Is this not the worst picture of pasta salad you've ever seen? I'm not proud of it, but I've had so little time to cook since September, taking professional looking pictures isn't even in my top 50 things to do.
Anyhoo- I needed a salad to take to a Christmas party, so I decided to throw this one together. There was no recipe. I bought some refrigerated cheese tortellini, chopped up some pepperoni, diced a block of part skim mozzarella cheese and threw in some marinated artichoke hearts. I tossed it with a little homemade balsamic vinaigrette and that's the end of the story. Except for next time, I'll add olives. It needed the zing.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
You really MUST watch this. It's 80s chic through and through. LOVE IT!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
One of the things I love about living in Colorado is fall. The trees here turn beautiful shades of yellow and red and orange.
We didn't get to Aspen in time to see the full on fall color, but there was enough left to make an impact.
I uploaded the rest of the Aspen pics to my flickr page, so go check them out if you want!
Saturday, Dev and I decided to drive over to Aspen. I had never been, and we thought we'd go before ski season started and the ultra rich people showed up.
We stopped for lunch at a little cafe called Escape. It's located upstairs in a little book store right on the main drag in Aspen.
I didn't realize it until we looked at the menu, but the restaurant was primarily vegetarian.
Dev and I both ordered from the pre-fix menu. Dev ordered the butternut squash soup with a tunafish sandwich and sweet potato fries...
I didn't get a good pic of the sandwich. It looked like pretty basic tuna salad.
I ordered the roasted organic tomato bisque...
And a grilled veggie sandwich with sweet potato fries. The veggies were summer squash and zucchini...
This was a great lunch! My soup was hot and steamy...the flavor was slightly sweet, but rich. The grilled veggie sandwich was perfect, thanks in large part to the crusty baguette. And I can honestly say the sweet potato fries were the best I've ever had at a restaurant. Di still makes the best I've ever had... :)
Even the decor was perfect. The restaurant was upstairs with lots of skylights and windows. I took a pic of the baby's breath centerpiece on our table. It was just right- not too big, but it made a simple, clean statement.
I would definitely eat here again!
Saturday, October 24, 2009
My, my, my....how far the mighty have fallen.
When I used to have lots of spare time, I wrote often about how evil pre-packaged foods were. I categorically snubbed my nose at any and all short cuts involved in getting dinner on the table.
Well, now I don't have any free time. And I'm having to eat a lot of crow. I can't tell you how many times a can of soup has been the quickest route between starvation and dinner before 10pm at our house over the last month and a half.
I found a simmer sauce today that has changed my whole view of jar sauces.
Dev and I drove to Aspen today to check the place out and get a little fresh air.
On the way back, we made our customary stop in Glenwood Springs to get a few groceries. I have become very fond of the Vitamin Cottage- Natural Grocers store in Glenwood. I usually stock up on my favorite fig flavored yogurt there, as well as natural hair and skin care products.
I have been craving Indian food for the last couple of weeks, but, of course, we don't have an Indian restaurant here in Rifle. Whilst roaming the aisles of the Natural Grocers, looking for a simple curry sauce to throw some shrimp in when we got home, a jar of Seeds of Change Korma Simmering Sauce caught my eye. I picked it up, brought it home, and fell in love.
I put a pot of rice on, then while it cooked I sauteed some green peppers, onions and mushrooms in a large non stick skillet. By the time the rice was done, I had thawed about a half of pound of shrimp and threw them in the skillet with the veggies, spooned on about 5 big spoons of the korma sauce, and let it simmer on the stove top about 5 minutes.
I served it over simple white rice. It was outrageously good. I don't think there will ever be a time when I don't have at least 1 jar of this around.
I've made korma from scratch, and this jarred version is very, very close. I highly recommend you go pick up a jar and try it yourself. You can use any protein you want. I can't wait to try pan fried tofu!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I can not begin to tell you what the last month has been like. It has been quite the mixed bag of amazing highs and amazing amounts of stress.
I accepted a long term sub position in an 8th grade literacy class. After subbing for 3 weeks, I was officially offered the position permanently Friday. Needless to say, I accepted the position, but wow, has it changed my life.
I haven't had time to cook or knit, which are two of my favorite things to do. The cooking thing especially bothers me. I hate to eat or serve a bunch of pre-fabbed food. However, when I'm at school until 8:00pm, you gotta get something on the table quick. We actually had canned soup for dinner one night last week! How far the mighty have fallen...
Tonight I did manage to make a chicken casserole (again, getting some help from canned cream of mushroom soup). But that was only because I graded papers yesterday. I suppose eventually I'll fall back into a rhythm and get at least some of my life back.
So posts on the blog will probably be spotty for a little while longer. Maybe now that I've logged back on, I will be inspired to write at least a few lines each night before collapsing in a heap on the bed...
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Sorry about the out of focus pic...I was really hungry! :)
I usually try to make a treat for Dev to take to team meetings with him on Tuesdays. This week I decided to make brownies.
I think brownies are an under-used dessert. They are so simple to make- but so versatile and so delicious!!
This time around, I didn't do anything fancy to them. I wanted plain old, down and dirty, chocolatey, gooey brownies.
I used a recipe from Rachael Ray's magazine (can you tell I've been going through a pile of magazines lately?? Everything I've cooked in the last few weeks has come out of Rachael Ray's mag. Weird.).
Here's the recipe:
Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9x9 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 sticks melted butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whisk in 3 eggs, 1 at a time. Stir in 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 cup flour. Transfer batter to the baking pan and bake until just set, 25 to 30 minutes; let cool.
I let mine go for 25 minutes, because I like really gooey brownies. If you like more done brownies, go about 35 minutes.
With a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream, these were perfect!
I've been subbing at the school almost non-stop for the last two weeks, and somehow I've managed to wiggle my way into a permanent job at the school (starting September 28th).
Dev's birthday was yesterday, but I've planned a party to celebrate on Saturday evening. I took a few days off this week to get things ready and figure out what to serve my guests!!
In the meantime, I have cooked a few memorable meals, and I'll post one of them here.
Not too long ago I did a post about some savory waffles I found a recipe for in Rachael Ray's magazine. The recipe made about a zillion, so I froze the rest to use later.
One morning this week, I popped a few of the leftover waffles in the toaster, topped them with some leftover veggie taco filling (zucchini, onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes), sprinkled on a little cheese and ran them under the broiler. The results were pretty tasty!
Friday, September 11, 2009
For me, there were times when I sat and thought about things I am truly thankful for- and there are many.
A few weeks ago, while we were unpacking boxes and trying to re-assemble our lives here in Rifle, I came across a file folder of emails I had printed and saved. Most of them ended up in the trash can (jokes and funny pictures, etc). But one was saved and came to mind again today.
On April 17, 1998, Di sent me this email....
"I went to the shore alone and I sat and watched and thought and became aware of my solitude.
I went to the shore with my lover and we sat and watched and played and swam and I became aware of sharing.
I went to the shore with my friend and we sat and watched without speaking and I became aware of trust."
I don't know where she found this, perhaps she even wrote it. But one of the things I am the most truly thankful for is having someone in my life who not only understands this, but who knows that I understand it, too.
Today, I am thankful for Di. What are you thankful for??
Sunday, August 30, 2009
This dinner was good. I mean really good.
I'll start with the roasted cauliflower cuz it was the easiest.
I defrosted a bag of frozen cauliflower florets. Yes- I said frozen. I was skeptical about the outcome, but it was fine. Actually, it was better than fine. After it was completely defrosted, I dried it on paper towels. I spread it out on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzled it with olive oil, then salted and peppered it. It roasted in a 400 degree oven for probably about 30 minutes. I roasted it while I was grilling the chicken. I wanted it to get a really deep, roasted color.
It tasted really good, and I think using frozen cauliflower was easier than cutting up a fresh head. But if you want to use fresh, I'm sure it will be even better!
Now...on to the mac and cheese...
I found a recipe in the Apr/May 2008 issue of "Cook's Country" magazine for skillet mac and cheese. It did not require boiling the macaroni separately- meaning one pot start to finish. I like that- and Dev likes it even more, since he usually does the dishes.
Here's the recipe:
Skillet Macaroni and Cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (I used panko)
salt and pepper
3 3/4 cups water, plus more as needed
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
3 cups elbow macaroni
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar
2 cups shredded monterey jack
Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add bread crumbs, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and wipe out skillet.
Bring water, 1 1/4 cups evaporated milk and 1/2 teaspoon salt to simmer in skillet over medium high heat. Add macaroni and cook, stirring often, until macaroni is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.
Whisk remaining evaporated milk, cornstarch and hot sauce in small bowl, then stir into skillet. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Off heat, stir in cheeses, one handful at a time, adding water or milk as needed to adjust consistency. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Serve.
You could get away with much less than 2 cups of bread crumbs. I think a cup would be plenty.
The flavor was really great, especially since I used the sriracha hot sauce. I could really taste the chile/garlic mixture.
Last but not least, let's talk about the chicken. I defrosted 4 leg/thigh quarters. I put a very simple blackening rub on them and grilled them. Actually, I incinerated them. They were on fire several times. I guess I need to brush up on my grilling skills. Anyhoo...
When the internal temp reached 170 degrees, I glazed them with the following mixture:
2/3 cup hoison sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon veggie oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 small piece fresh ginger, skinned and sliced thin
2 medium garlic cloves, rough chopped
6 scallions, rough chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Take everything for a spin in the food processor til smooth.
After brushing the chicken with the glaze, I let the meat coast to 175 degrees before pulling it off the grill.
I put additional glaze on my chicken after it went on my plate. The sauce is excellent! It would also be good over slaw or noodles.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
I wanted to take a quick minute and blog one of the meals I made this week. Unfortunately, I spaced on the taking pics, but it really was pretty.
Pasta with Lemony Chicken and Asparagus (from Cook's Country- Apr/May issue)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4 inch slices
4 T. unsalted butter (or you could use olive oil)
1 pound asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 pound companelle pasta (I used farfalle)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Melt one tablespoon butter in large non stick skillet over medium heat. Cook half of chicken til golden, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with additional tablespoon of butter and remaining chicken.
Add additional 1 tablespoon butter and add asparagus to empty skillet and cook til asparagus is tender- about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook til fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to the bowl with the chicken and cover to keep warm.
At this point I went off the recipe and deglazed the pan with some white wine. After it had reduced, I hit it with a pat of butter, to make a little bit of a pan sauce.
Add 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water and add pasta. Cook til al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water. Drain pasta and return it to pot. Add remaining butter, chicken, asparagus, lemon juice, cheese and parsley to pot and toss to combine, adding pasta water as needed (I omitted this step and poured on my pan sauce). Season with salt and pepper. Serve.
This was really really good! And the leftovers the next day were even better! You could do this with any pasta/veggie combination. The kicker to me is the lemon. It really makes the whole dish bright and light.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I never really run out of ideas for cooking, but I very often run out of funds! :)
Monday, August 24, 2009
We ate well this weekend. I think I spent more time in the kitchen than any other room in the house.
I made this soup for dinner on Sunday night. I used the leftover brats from dinner on Saturday. The recipe ran in a Penzey's spice catalog a while back. I couldn't find it online, so here it is...
Brat, Beer and Cheese Soup
3 bratwurst sausages, cooked and sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 c. onion, finely chopped
1 c. celery, finely chopped
1 c. carrots, finely chopped
1/4 c. flour
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and diced
6 c. chicken stock
1 beer (12oz)
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/2 c. milk or half and half
1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
2 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
Heat olive oil in soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots. Cook about 15 minutes or until tender, stirring every so often to keep from sticking. Stir in flour; cook about 1 minute. Add potatoes, stock and beer. I didn't have 6 cups of stock, so I used 4 cups stock, 1 cup white wine and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and cook 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add mustard powder, garlic, salt, pepper and chipotle powder. Combine milk and worcestershire sauce in a bowl. Stir into the soup. Remove soup from heat. Add cheese, stirring until the cheese is melted and smooth. Remove 2 cups of vegetables with some liquid and puree in blender or food processor. Stir back into the soup to give it nice body. Return to low heat and add sliced, cooked bratwurst. Cook until sausage is warm; 5 minutes should do it.
I didn't puree the 2 cups of soup. I used an immersion blender to blend the soup in the pot until it was as chunky as I wanted it. I also had a lonely ear of corn in the ice box, so I cut the corn off the cob and threw it in when I added the sausage to the soup.
This soup tasted amazing. And I'm sure the leftovers I will have for lunch today will be even better for having festered in the ice box overnight.
This recipe makes enough to serve 12- so be prepared for leftovers (or invite some friends over).
I was on a roll this weekend!! I actually baked my way through an entire bag of flour...
I have a friend who has a wonderful food blog called "Simple Daily Recipes." She is always cooking something that makes my mouth water.
The other day I was surfing around her site when I saw this recipe for bran muffins. It reminded me of a recipe my ex-husband's mother used to make. So I printed it off and gave it a whirl Sunday afternoon.
The results were amazing!! I think I am going to keep these in the freezer all the time so I can have one whenever I want.
Here's a link to the recipe. I didn't change anything. I know- you don't believe me- but it's true! Also- I used "3 Greek Gods" fig flavored yogurt. I found it at a natural grocery store in Glenwood Springs. If you can't find it, go ahead and use plain or vanilla.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
These were Sunday breakfast.
I blogged about my usual waffle recipe earlier this week, bemoaning the work involved. I found this recipe in the September 2009 issue of Rachael Ray's magazine, and it sounded much simpler- not to mention it added a savory element that sounded good to me. So- I got out my waffle iron again and made a batch this morning.
They came out really well, and I'll be making them again soon!
Sausage, Potato and Cheese Waffles
1 link sweet Italian Sausage, casing discarded (I subbed ham)
1 baking potato, grated and excess water removed (I used frozen hash browns)
4 tablespoons butter
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 c. shredded cheddar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 c. milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
In a medium skillet, cook the sausage over medium high heat, breaking it up with a spatula, for 5 minutes. Add the potato and butter, lower the heat and simmer until butter melts, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir in the milk and eggs until smooth. Stir in sausage potato mixture.
Using a waffle iron, cook the waffles according to manufacturer's directions.
I really liked these. I think I will use the leftovers to build breakfast sandwiches during the week.
I had several projects for Sunday, and this was the first one.
I saw this recipe in the September 2009 issue of Rachael Ray's magazine. I had all the ingredients on hand, so I decided to give it a whirl. I'm glad I did, because these turned out really well!
Here's the recipe:
Chile Cheese Corn Muffins
2 1/3 cups flour (I used 2 1/3 cups white and 1 cup whole wheat)
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 c. frozen corn, thawed (I used fresh off the cob)
1 can diced green chiles (I used frozen chiles)
1/2 c. plus 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
1 c. milk
1/2 c. mayo
Preheat the oven to 425. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne. Stir in the corn, chiles and 1/2 c. of the cheese. Stir in the milk and mayo. Spoon the mixture into a non stick, 6 cup jumbo muffin pan (I used my 12 muffin pan).
Bake for 15 minutes, then sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes more.
I needed a little extra liquid, so I used the juice from the frozen chiles.
For dessert Saturday night I asked Dev to grill some fresh peach halves, so I could serve them with a slice of blueberry poundcake- then I drizzled the whole mess with warmed honey.
Geezumpetes was it good! Had I known it was going to be this good, I'd have made this cake months ago!
This was my main Saturday project. I have yet to make a poundcake at high altitude, and I decided to wait no more.
I found this recipe in an issue of Paula Deen's magazine. I know. I have said so many times I can't stand to watch her, but everytime I pick up an issue of her magazine, I want to cook every dirn thing in it!
So when I saw this recipe, I could not resist. And it turned out beautifully. I think my Mom would be proud!!
Blueberry Poundcake from Paula Deen
2 c. (4 sticks) butter, softened
3 c. sugar (I subtracted 6 tablespoons for altitude)
6 large eggs
4 c. all purpose flour
1 T. baking powder (I subtracted 3/4 t. for altitude)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (I added 3 tablespoons for altitude)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries (I used frozen)
Preheat oven to 350 (I used 375 because of altitude). Grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed, blending well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
Fold in blueberries, and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until a wooden cake tester comes out clean. Shield top of cake loosely with foil halfway through cooking to prevent excess browning. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on a wire rack.
This was yummie!! My next post will show what I did with it for dessert Saturday night!
I'm gonna confess right up front that this recipe is a total cheat. But it is so fast, and so good, that I will do it many, many more times!
I found this recipe in the January 2009 issue of "Real Simple" magazine. The article was about short cuts to quick meals using things you probably have in your pantry.
There was a section on chicken noodle soup- things you can make using canned chicken noodle soup. I decided to give one of the ideas a try. I'm not sure how the soup got in the pantry, because I don't like canned chicken soup, but it was there, nonetheless.
Here's the recipe:
Thai Coconut Soup
2 14 oz. cans of chicken noodle soup
1/2 c. coconut milk (I used more)
2 t. fresh lime juice
You bring the soup and coconut milk to a simmer, then stir in the lime juice. Ladle it in bowls and stir in chopped cilantro. I wanted mine to have more kick, so I also added a healthy dose of Sriracha hot sauce.
I was using store brand, regular chicken noodle soup. Next time I will find an organic, lower sodium type, and it will probably be even better. But really- this was good. I expected it to be ok, but it was really good. Even Devin liked it, so it must have hit the mark!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I LOVE nachos. I bet not many people know this about me because I never order them when I go to restaurants.
That is because I am a control freak when it comes to my nachos. I want to know what's in them.
When I was newly divorced and living on my own for the first time (in a very tiny apartment with a miniscule kitchen), I bet I ate nachos for dinner at least 3 nights a week. Horrified? Don't be.
Don't get hung up thinking about nachos the way they usually exist in bars and restaurants. Not that there's anything wrong with them, but they don't always have to be a huge pile of greasy chips covered in mushy refried beans and tons of chemical cheese.
I have always considered nachos to be a quick, easy way to use up bits of leftovers in my ice box. The format is completely interchangeable. The combination of toppings is as vast as your imagination- and if you're anything like me- your imagination is limitless!
Today's combo included tortilla chips, diced plum tomatoes, leftover grilled chicken from last night's fajitas, fresh mushrooms and the grated remains of 2 teeny weeny little knobs of Dubliner and Cotswald cheese I had in the ice box. I topped the nachos with the leftover home made salsa from the fajitas, as well as a few dollops of sour cream. I nuked them for about 1 min. 30 seconds. Then I sat down and ate lunch with my fingers. Excellent!
I have made nachos out of just about everything: shrimp, goat cheese, cabbage, smoked salmon (using melba toasts instead of tortilla chips), you name it, you can make nachos out of it. Really, as long as you have a cheese component, some veggies and some sort of protein, you have nachos. Sometimes I use the crumbs in the bottom of the bag of tortilla chips to make a kind of layered nachos that I have to eat with a fork. Instead of arranging whole chips on a plate, I dump the crumbs in the bottom of a bowl, pile the toppings on, nuke it, then mix it up and eat it with a fork.
This is the ultimate leftover user upper, as well as the ultimate lazy dinner!!
Monday, August 17, 2009
I sent a batch of these to school with Dev today...insuring his instant popularity with his fellow teachers!
They were simple to make (but not simpler than a real pecan pie). I guess the only reason to do these instead of the pie is you get more pieces. If you cut them in teeny weeny pieces, you get 36. I got 12. Nuff said. :)
Here's the recipe- as usual I will follow with my substitutions (cuz there are always substitutions):
Pecan Pie Surprise Bars
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1/3 c. butter, softened
½ c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 ½ c. dark corn syrup
1 t. vanilla
1 c. chopped pecans
Heat oven to 350. Grease 13x9 pan. Reserve 2/3 c. dry cake mix for filling. In large bowl, combine remaining dry cake mix, butter and 1 egg at low speed until well blended. Spread in prepared pan. Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown.
In large bowl, combine reserved cake mix, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and 3 eggs at low speed until moistened. Beat at medium speed about 1 minute or until well blended. Pour filling over base; sprinkle with pecans. Return to oven and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.
Alrighty- the only substitution I made this time around was the corn syrup. I didn't have dark, so I used light. I'm not sure if it affected the flavor- but these were pretty dirn good, so I don't care!
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Dev wanted waffles for breakfast this morning. We haven't had waffles in a long time, so I figured it was worth the trouble.
And trouble it is, kids. These always turn out wonderfully, but oh my gosh what a pain in the posterior this recipe is! The only reason I used the recipe again was because I knew where it was and didn't need to look it up...
Here's the recipe...
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup veggie oil
Preheat your waffle iron. I use the crispy setting on mine.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
Use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites to soft peaks, slowly add sugar and beat til stiff. Remove egg whites to separate bowl.
Use mixer to blend the egg yolks, milk and veggie oil.
Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk together until just mixed- a few lumps are fine.
Gently fold egg whites into batter.
Pour batter into the center of each portion of your waffle iron. Close lid and bake. Repeat with remaining batter.
Makes 10 waffles.
Well, mine makes more like 14 because I make them a little smaller. But they are really good. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
On the down side- I used every dish and spatula in my kitchen to make these. Clean up is a nightmare.
On the up side- I now have home made waffles in the freezer than I can pop into the toaster during the week. They taste just as good after they are toasted as they did when they came out of the waffle iron.
There are probably easier waffle recipes out there- I just haven't gotten around to finding them yet!
So this was my first attempt at peach jam. So sad, it was.
The original recipe calls for 2 quarts of sliced fresh peaches and 6 cups of sugar. I went to the farmers' market and bought 3 pounds of peaches, which would have been enough to get the 8 cups- but after slicing one and tasting it, I got greedy.
I decided to half the jam recipe so I could have peaches left over to slice and eat fresh. Sounds like a good idea, huh? BIG MISTAKE!
Here's the original recipe- my notes on the epic failure follow.
Old Fashioned Peach Preserves
2 qts. Peeled, sliced peaches
6 c. sugar
Combine peaches and sugar in a large, shallow glass or plastic container. Cover and let stand in a cool place for 12 to 18 hours.
Pour peach mixture into a large dutch oven; slowly bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil gently until peaches become transparent and syrup thickens (1 ½ to 2 hours), stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Skim off the foam with a metal spoon.
Quickly ladle preserves into hot sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch head space; cover at once with metal lids, and screw bands tightly. Process in boiling water bath 15 minutes. Yield about 7 half pints.
Ok kids- let's review the game tape and figure out how we screwed up!
First of all- I really don't think halving this was a good idea. Or if you do half it, use a smaller pot. I used my chili pot and it was too big. I think if I had used a 2 qt. saucepan, for instance, and reduced the surface area, it might have worked.
What I made turned out more like caramel with peach slices in it. I only boiled mine for half the time, cuz if I would have boiled it for an hour and a half I'd have to throw away the pot and start over. I think 4 cups of peaches and 2 1/2 cups of sugar yielded about a cup of stuff for me. I can't really call it jam.
But worse case scenario, if I can chip it out of the jar and reheat it- we'll have some mac daddy peach sauce for home made vanilla ice cream!
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I know....what's so exciting about cabbage?
Well, I have not always liked cabbage. This really isn't my fault. Or cabbage's fault, for that matter. You know who's to blame?? My mother.
My parents are both great cooks, but they are from the old school that dictated vegetables must be cooked until they are shrunked to a gray, tasteless mass.
I had most of a head of green cabbage in my ice box and I wanted to do something different with it.
As I perused my somewhat sizeable collection of recipes, I came across one from the Amateur Gourmet. If you've never read his blog- really, you should. He writes about his own cooking and he reviews restaurants. He also did the webcast "FN Dish" for the Food Network.
Anyhoo- I had stolen a recipe from his blog for braised cabbage. Now there's something you don't run across very often. I've seen lots of recipes for braised meats- but not veggies. I read through the ingredients and immediately decided this was what I wanted for dinner.
Go here to see the original recipe and post on Amateur Gourmet...
In my usual fashion, I stayed true to the spirit of the recipe, if not the letter. First of all, the recipe called for a 2 lb. head of cabbage. I had about 3/4 of a puney little head of cabbage. So I added more carrots and onions than he did, plus I threw in some celery that was about 11 minutes away from becoming primordial ooze if I didn't use it quickly (come on, if you cook- you know you have some in your crisper drawer somewhere!). I also didn't have any chicken stock. So, I decided to get creative with the braising liquid. Instead of using stock, I used about 1/2 cup of marinara I had made for pizza last week, 1/2 cup of red wine (because I was having a glass at the time and it seemed like the thing to do) and then I added a little water so the liquid would come a little ways up the veggies and make a nice braise.
From there, I followed the instructions exactly. And this wasn't difficult, but it was time consuming. I think it baked all total about 2 1/2 hours. But as I stated in my last post, I got nuthin' but time on my hands now, so what else was I going to do??
So this isn't what you'd call a classic SUMMER dish, but it hit the spot for me and it was delicious. I'll be doing this again with different veggies- maybe some broccoli or brussel sprouts.
I served the braised cabbage with big ole pork chops that I pan seared and a couple of dainty little mayo biscuits to sop up all the good juices.
If school doesn't start soon, and I don't start getting some subbing jobs immediately...I AM GOING TO GO STARK RAVING CRAZY!!!!!
I think being a housewife is only truly enjoyed by those who fall into either or both of these two categories:
1- Independently Wealthy People
2- People with Small Children
I don't fall into either of those categories. And I am going insane. It was ok when Dev went to work and I had the house to set up (and arguably, there is still some of that to do) but now that all the fun stuff is done, I have a raging case of cabin fever.
There are only so many times in a day you can keep checking your friends' facebook status, or checking sub finder to see if anyone is planning to be sick the first day of school, or measuring the tomatoes on the plant to see if they've grown any today.
I was so nutted up this morning that I actually sat on the couch, waiting for the mailman, so I could introduce myself and have at least a tiny, meaningful conversation.
I also went to the store and bought a bag of Hershey's Miniatures. I then proceeded to write a short blurb about what a great substitute teacher I will be. I taped a note to each little candy bar, then drove to the school, where I put a candy bar in each teachers' box. HOW SAD AM I?????
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The kitchen is slowly but surely taking shape. I change things around everytime I go in there to cook.
Monday's projects included 2 strawberry rhubarb pies and home made strawberry sherbet.
The pie has been blogged before (with raspberries instead of strawberries), but the sherbet experiment is new.
Here's the recipe. Then I'll weigh in on what I'll change next time...
2 c. chopped fresh strawberries
1/2 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. half and half
2 t. lemon juice
1 t. vanilla
dash of salt
Mix 1 cup berries and sugar in a bowl and let it fester for 10 minutes or so. Throw it in a blender and take it for a spin.
Mix the buttermilk, half and half, lemon, vanilla and salt. Run the berry puree through a sieve and dump it in with the buttermilk mixture. Stir it, cover it and stash it in the icebox for at least 2 hours.
Pour it in your handy dandy ice cream freezer and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Put the reserved cup of chopped berries in during the last 5 minutes of churning.
Ok- now let me tell you what I did differently and what I'll change next time.
I didn't have enough buttermilk, so I ended up using 1 cup buttermilk mixed with a cup and a half of 2% milk. Next time if I don't have the buttermilk, I'll use half and half or real cream. The milk affected the texture and made it too hard. I also didn't have lemon juice, so I used lime juice. I don't think that did any harm. Citrus is citrus when it's that small an amount.
The taste of this was slightly odd. I liked it because it isn't cloyingly sweet. But as I said before, I wanted it creamier. I think using all half and half or even heavy cream to replace some of the buttermilk would help. If you don't like tangy then don't try this recipe. I love tangy and it was fine for me.
It was very refreshing and perfect for a summer dessert!
Not a bad meal, if I do say so myself.
We feasted upon a chicken frittata (sauteed chicken, onions, red peppers, mushrooms set with a mixture of 4 eggs beaten with chile garlic sauce and half and half), cucumber tomato salad with creamy balsamic dressing and Di's zucchini cakes.
This was actually Sunday brunch, by the time I was done with it. I made home made buttermilk pancakes and maple sausage. Dev had coffee and I had chai.
I think I'm going to have to punch up my repertoire now that I have a decent kitchen. I have no excuse anymore!
This is my kinda lunch. I have some flatbread crackers, sliced smoked gouda, pepper jack, dubliner, sliced apples, smoked turkey, smoked salmon and prunes. I know- gross. But I'm getting old, plus I just like the way they taste- everyone needs more fiber!
Part of the master plan for the outdoor lounging area is to have a small kitchen garden. Some things will be in pots and some things have been planted in the built in planter.
Dev transplanted our tomatoes, some sage and parsley into the planter on Saturday. Sunday, we added marjoram, thyme and a Thai basil plant.
We are going to attempt to transfer these to pots before the first frost and winter them over in the sun room. We shall see if our diabolical plan works!
Saturday was a busy day. We did yardwork for most of it. I decided we needed a very healthy breakfast to stick to our ribs.
Can you tell I'm trying to get used to a different broiler?? That toast got a little dark, huh? But I feel I made up for it with the artfully arranged banana/orange offering.
Breakfast was: scrambled eggs, broiled tomato and dubliner cheese on bagel toast and bananas and oranges. Dev had coffee and I had chai.
This little cutie will be available to adopt in about 2 weeks. The Rifle animal shelter had a table set up at the farmers' market, showing off the next batch of kittens up for adoption.
This little guy is too cute. I wonder if I could sneak him past Dev....I know if I got him, Dev would fall in love!
So this kid is wandering around the rabbit area at the fair, and he wants to pet one of the rabbits. So this lady gets one out of a cage and sits down so the kid can pet it. But this photo clearly shows the kid's intentions. One hand on the rabbit, one hand on the boob.
I think that's funny. Does that make me a bad person?
Friday night we walked down to the Thai Chile Bistro for some sushi, then we decided to saunter on down to the county fair. I think this is a big deal around here, judging from the crowd.
I know this is going to make me sound like a snob, but sometimes I can't believe how much my life has changed in the past 3 years.
I'm not sure which is more redneck.....watching a demolition derby....or watching and taking pictures through the fence because you're too cheap to buy tickets to the demolition derby.
When I told Di what our plans were for the evening, she commented that these two things were at opposite ends of the cultural spectrum. I believe she used the term dichotomy. I knew what the word meant, but I had to look up how to spell it!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Not bad looking, huh? I had bought some smoked salmon as a treat for myself because I've worked like a dog trying to get this house set up. Usually I eat smoked salmon in the morning on a bagel, but this particular day I wanted to have some for lunch. I wanted a bagel, but not a big thick one. So I took one of the bagels I bought from the bakery down the street and cut it horizontally in about 4 slices. I toasted the slices and voila! The perfect crispy foundation for a smoked salmon sandwich!
Now that I finished blogging our vacation, it's time to start blogging about our new house!
After pulling off one of the quickest moves in recorded history, we are finally settling down in Rifle, CO.
We have rented the cutest little house ever! It was built around 1926 and has all the obligatory nooks and crannies characteristic of the time period. I love it because it isn't the apartment in Alamosa, but also because we can entertain here. There is an awesome deck area in the back, and the landlord left us a mack daddy grill on the back patio. Plus- we have more room for people to come and visit!
I have uploaded pics of it the day we moved in. Go over the my flickr page and check them out!
Saturday, August 8, 2009
I spent the morning and early afternoon with Mom at a doctor's appointment. Dev hung out at Barnes and Noble.
I decided to make tacos for dinner. I used ground turkey instead of ground beef (which I found out was not one of my Dad's favorites- oops!). We had hard and soft shells and quite a variety of toppings.
Dev and I spent the rest of the evening doing laundry and packing. We were also mentally preparing ourselves for the packing and moving marathon waiting for us back in Alamosa...more on that later!
Leaving Savannah is always difficult. I enjoy living in Colorado, but Savannah is my hometown and part of me will always be there. I think the only thing that made leaving easier was knowing that Colorado would not be anywhere near as hot.....
So... we had lunch at a place called Tangerine. We were joined there by another Chris friend. This one was a friend of mine in high school. And as a bonus, his mother came along. She was my teacher in 5th grade, as well as various other times during my school career. I suppose you could say that she was one of the inspirations that lead me to become a teacher myself. I got to meet Chris' wife, Crawford and their two beautiful sons.
We had sushi for lunch, which you already know is my favorite food group! I can't think of a better lunch combination- sushi and a mini high school reunion...
Sunday night we again went to Suz and Di's for dinner. This time her parents were joining us for a tapas party. I brought some cheese and crackers from Fresh Market, while Diane did all the rest of the cooking. She served seared tuna, hummus and pita, roasted peppers, Caprese salad and buffalo boiled shrimp. Her mom contributed some beautiful ripe fruit for dessert.
Another mealtime was passed with excellent food and excellent friends!
For dinner I decided we should have some roasted chicken. So I went to Krogers and bought a pack of bone in, skin on chicken thighs. I seasoned them and put sliced lemons and garlic under the skin, brushed them with olive oil and put them in a 400 degree oven til they registered 170 on a meat thermometer. I also pan-roasted some cauliflower to go with it. I used frozen cauliflower- but it came out really nice. I think the secret was really high heat and good seasoning.
We watched the last of the Tour de France coverage and headed to bed.
Chris and I have known each other since I was a high school sophomore and he was a freshman. The minute we met, we just clicked. There was a prolonged period of time when we didn't see each other, but as soon as we bumped back into each other, it was right back to normal. I know I've said it several times over the course of chronicling my vacation, but I feel so fortunate to have so many friends who've been a part of my life for so long. I have always found it easy to make friends, but these friends are different. They know me better than I know myself. We've been through tough times together. These are people I can count on and who know they can count on me.
Wow- I should get back to talking about vacation before things get too heavy...
Dev and I got to Statesboro right at lunchtime, so we immediately jumped in Chris' car and went to El Sombrero in Statesboro. When we both lived in Savannah, Chris and I had a standing dinner date on Monday nights to go eat Mexican food, so this choice was no surprise. I had a taco salad, and it was everything a taco salad is supposed to be- really fattening. I think I ate the entire thing, bowl and all.
We spent the afternoon playing a game called Sequence. It is one of those strategy games that I never do well at. I did manage to win one round, but I'm pretty sure it was dumb luck.
We headed back to Savannah about 4:30. After calling Di to check on dinner plans, we stopped by Sho Nuff on Hwy 17 to buy some seafood. We ended up with 2 pounds of shrimp.
Di then proceeded to make one of my favorite dinners ever- friend shrimp. She breads them with panko crumbs and shallow fries them in a cast iron skillet. I absolutely love shrimp done this way. We had some beers and ate lots of good food. I believe we all sat around and watched a Braves game after dinner. I don't think Friday could be any better.
Thursday, we met my friends Ray and Randy at Blowin' Smoke BBQ for lunch. I guess I should explain that Ray is my ex-husband. We are still very good friends, and I wouldn't dream of coming home without seeing him. He caught me up on all the happenings in the choir I used to sing in, as well as news about his sister and her family in Atlanta.
Ray and I always managed to eat well, so it was no surprise that he picked another of my favorite places to eat. For an appetizer we ordered the fried pickles- which were great. I think I enjoyed the dipping sauce as much as the pickles themselves. I ordered the grilled veggie sandwich with hand cut french fries for lunch, and it was really really good. Dev had the brisket sandwich, and it was wonderful as well.
On the way back to the southside of town, we stopped by and visited with Ray's mother, Delores, for a long while. It had been years since I'd seen her, and it was just like no time had passed. She is still so easy to talk to!
That night we met one of my former students, Alan, and his family for dinner at Papa's on Whitemarsh Island. Alan is another of the students in the class I mentioned in an earlier vacation post. I became friends with his mother Angela while Alan was in my class. Again, it wouldn't be a trip home without going to dinner with Alan and Angie and the rest of their family! Alan also makes me very proud, as he has goals and dreams I have no doubt he'll reach. Alan loves to tinker with computers, so I'm sure whatever he does, it will be technology related. I hope he knows how lucky he is to have such wonderful support from his family. I know his mom will do whatever it takes to help him be successful in whatever he chooses to do.
As for the food, I was so busy talking, I don't remember much about it. We had some kind of warm seafood dip for an appetizer, and I ordered grilled shrimp and sweet potato fries for dinner. The best part was the sweet potato fries...they were crispy and perfectly fried. I have never been able to replicate that at home.
When we got home that night we hung new curtains in my mom's bedroom. I think they definitely make a huge difference in the room. A room just doesn't seem finished or lived in unless there are curtains on the windows!
We headed downtown to meet my friend Jaime for lunch at the SoHo South Cafe on Liberty Street. Jaime caught me up on all the changes at Bethesda, plus news about some of the students I knew while I was there.
I love the food at SoHo. I've eaten there dozens of times and I always leave happy. On this particular day I had the crab cake sandwich with spicy southwestern potato salad. The crab cake was pretty good (Di's were better), but I was disappointed in the southwestern potato salad. It just didn't do it for me. It didn't have much flavor. And it wasn't even spicy. Oh well, everyone has an off day, right??
The down side to our lunch was the PARKING TICKET I GOT WHILE WE WERE EATING. I was exactly 4 minutes late getting back to the meter, but the ticket was already there. It amazes me that crimes are committed successfully all over downtown, but God forbid you show up late 4 minutes to put more change in your parking meter...someone has already been there and left you a ticket. I guess I should just consider it a $15 parking spot.
The real highlight of the day was the reunion that took place at a new place called Bar Food in Habersham Village. The group assembled there that evening had probably not been together all at once since 1985. The reunion was engineered by my friend Chris (more about him later). He put a message out to our friends on Facebook to meet up at Bar Food at 5:00 Wednesday afternoon. Before the evening was over we had almost the whole gang: Chris, Sandy, Elizabeth, Sherry and me. The only person missing was our friend Lisanne, who lives in Atlanta and is enjoying a new addition to her family- an 18 month old son named Daniel. Other friends also joined in the fun- Diane, Suzanne, and their friends Jamie and Clayton. A good time was had by all! And the food was as good as the company. We ordered and consumed all of the following: Pimento Cheese and Shrimp Salad, Bleu Chips, BBQ Wontons, Baked Brie, Creme Brulee, Cheese cake and a Southern PuPu Platter (Tomato sandwiches, meatballs and boiled shrimp). I was so full afterwards I could hardly move!!
Friday, August 7, 2009
Di, Suz, Dev and I headed out to the beach about 11:00 Tuesday morning. Because I was unable to locate a beach umbrella, I began the process of basting myself every 30 seconds with spf 70 sunscreen. I should explain that I am a pasty white girl who takes medication that makes me even more sensitive to the sun. What fun it is to be me!
I have a love/hate relationship with the beach. I don't particularly like sand. I'm sensitive to the sun and usually scorch myself. On the other hand, there's nothing like sitting on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean...wondering if there's someone on the other side doing the same thing. I feel peaceful when I'm sitting at the beach. Problems get put in perspective. Emotions even out and stress melts away.
Then there's the seagulls....why is there always a one legged seagull in the group?? I don't think I've ever been to the beach when I didn't see one. How does the wind not blow them over?? I always have questions....I think about these things. An excellent candidate for medication, I hear you thinking...
We hung out at the beach for a couple of hours, then headed to another of my favorite places to eat in Savannah- The Crab Shack (Where the Elite Eat in Their Bare Feet).
I like the Crab Shack because they serve seafood the way it should be served...simply boiled. Not boiled until it falls apart. And you can't get anything fried. Don't get me wrong- some things are ok fried (oysters, shrimp, calamari) but sometimes you just need to roll up your sleeves and dive into a pile of boiled seafood. Informal atmosphere and plenty of paper towels make this a great place to eat! And the view! Our table was so close to Lazaretto Creek I could practically dangle my feet in the water.
I had what I always have...1/2 pound of shrimp and a half pound of crab legs. Suz had the same thing. Di and Dev opted for crab legs only. We all ate well and were fat and happy by the end of the meal. I even bought a Crab Shack tshirt to take back to Colorado!
Dev and I met my friend Jared and his lovely wife Katherine at Toucan Cafe for dinner later that night.
Jared and I have been friends since 2001. He works for Senator Isakson. We met when I worked for Senator Cleland. We even rented a condo together for a couple of years and still managed to remain friends! I always make it a point to catch up with him while I'm home.
The Toucan Cafe is a great place to eat. I have never had a bad meal there. On this particular occasion, I ordered the special- Moroccan Salmon. I wish I could describe it, but I can't. It was sweet and savory at the same time...perfectly cooked medium rare, topped with toasted almonds and served on a bed of couscous. They should put it on the regular menu. It's that good.
We spent a long time talking about old times and updating each other on the status of old friends. Again, I feel so fortunate to have such good friends in my life.
Day 8 came to a close with a full stomach and a happy heart!
I was fortunate enough to feel that way about most of my classes at Bethesda. But one particular class stands out for me. When I returned to Bethesda after teaching in Atlanta in 2003, I had a seventh grade homeroom. One of my goals from the get go with this group was to somehow meld us into a family. I wanted my boys to watch out for each other and have fun together. I wanted to shepherd them through the process of choosing friends and how to nurture those relationships. I wanted them to learn how to socialize in a comfortable environment. In an attempt to do this, I cooked for them. We took lots of field trips. We talked a lot. We worked a lot. We didn't always like each other, but I think we did bond.
I taught this particular group in 7 and 8th grade. The next year, I moved into an administrative position, but saw them in the hallways everyday, and was still able to keep tabs on them and make sure their noses were clean. Then my position was cut and I returned to the classroom. This time I had them as 10th graders. We picked up right where we left off. They were bigger, but they were still mine.
I met Dev that year and eventually left Bethesda to move to Colorado. It was a tough decision.
This last spring my little family graduated from high school. I can't tell you how proud I was of them. I didn't get to come home to watch them walk, but in my heart I was there.
Everytime I come home, I always let them know I'm coming and we try to get together for dinner or lunch.
On Monday, we met Jason, one of my students, at the Jalapeno's in Sandfly for lunch. He has grown into such a great young person. He told me he is planning on going into the nursing field and is enrolled in college for fall semester. I felt such a great sense of pride and relief. He is going to make a wonderful nurse, and I'd like to think I played a small part in helping him have the confidence to set goals and meet them. I hope he keeps in touch and lets me know how he's doing.
After lunch we did a little shoe shopping for Dev. I should say we went shoe visiting. Dev has this thing about shopping. If he needs a pair of shoes, he'll go everywhere in town looking at them. If he finds them, he leaves them there and goes back to visit them about 12 times before he finally decides to buy them. Most of the time, he's waited so long- they aren't there anymore and the whole process starts over. Welcome to my hell!
We bummed around with Di for a while. She gave me a shirt she and Suz had picked out for me (it's nice to have a friend who gets an employee discount at Belk!). It is a great shirt! For some reason, I can't pick clothes out for myself. The stuff Di picks out for me always looks better. Why is that??
For dinner that night, Di used the crab we had leftover from the quesadillas to make crab cakes. She served them with frozen spanikopita and we had mini eclairs for dessert! What a great dinner. Di makes the best crab cakes ever!
After dinner Dev and I left to go to WalMart in search of a beach umbrella and some spray Benadryl for the 4,000 mosquito bites I had after just a few days home. We found the Benadryl, but they didn't have any beach umbrellas. How could that be? How does a WalMart in Savannah in July not have beach umbrellas?? This should be against the law. Oh well- I would just have to baste myself in spf 70 every ten minutes at the beach the next day...
You throw some whole red potatoes, halved onions, some cup up smoked sausage and more Old Bay Seasoning than you think you should in some water in a big pot on the stove (or if you're feeding a crowd- a huge pot on a gas burner in the back yard). After about 20 minutes you add some corn on the cobb (frozen will do fine, but fresh is better!). After about 10 minutes you throw in 1/2 pound of shrimp per person. Then you take it off the flame and drain it. Don't let the shrimp cook for more than about 3 minutes or they'll be too done. Traditionally, this is poured all over a table spread with newspaper and people just pick out what they want. We were eating inside, so I put it all in a humongoid stainless steel bowl and served it from there.
However you do it, it'll be good. There's something about the smoked sausage and the Old Bay that make it so so so tasty. You can also throw in a few more halved onions when you add the corn, if you want the onions to be part of the service instead of part of the flavoring for the boil.
We went to bed after watching Tour de France coverage. Not a bad day at all!