Monday, May 31, 2010

Oops Again

I forgot to talk about dinner.

We have stopped for the night in Huntsville, TX. And yes, we're still in Texas. I know TX is a big state. One look at any map will tell you that. However, until you are driving through it, you really don't appreciate how massive it is. It just keeps going forever and ever.

We stopped in a little town called Chillicothe, TX at a pecan stand. We didn't buy any regular pecans (because they were $10 for a quart sized baggie), but we did buy some Bourbon Praline Pecans. They were yummie, until we got down the road and looked at the list of ingredients. Bourbon flavoring was the last one. Bleh. I did see one of my friend Damon's cookbooks for sale there, though. That was cool.

And now I'm sitting at the Holiday Inn Express in Huntsville, TX, after having dinner at a local seafood place. I had a combo platter of fried shrimp and oysters. Dev had the grilled fish. Mine was good, but his was better. When am I going to get over the fried seafood thing?? You would think my culinary horizons had expanded a bit beyond that, huh? Apparently not.

Midnight Train to GA- Day 2

Day 2 of our cross country drive began having breakfast at our motel. We were staying at the Baymont Inn in Amarillo, TX. I don't recommend doing this. It was a less than favorable stay.

After getting our key from the front desk last night, we went to our room and were rather rudely greeted by the couple that already paid for that room. Back down to the desk we went....

Then at around 6:30am this morning, a little man came and banged on our door, delivering a machine to get rid of the stale cigarette smell in our "non-smoking" room. Nice.

The desk clerk told us we could come down between 6:30 and 9:30am for hot breakfast. We rolled down the stairs about 8:00, and took a look at what they had to offer.

There were institutionally oven baked scrambled egg (consistency somewhere between rubber door mat and foam mattress), biscuits, sausage gravy, sausage patties, apples, oranges, various pastries, cereal and a waffle maker. Not too bad, by motel standards, I guess. I had a few spoonfuls of rubber eggs, and a biscuit with a tad bit of gravy. I bypassed the sausage patties. Dev had the sausage and biscuits with gravy.

We were sandwiched in between several tables. Two of the tables had 2 very tired looking women and 7 (yes I said 7) kids. No husbands in sight. I hope they weren't sleeping up in the rooms. I'm fairly sure if I had to herd 3 kids down to breakfast, their other DNA donor would be there, helping me. The other table looked like something right out of "Deliverance." At the table sat several males, the most striking of whom was a very large old man wearing denim overalls. And a baseball cap. At breakfast. I think it was the most interesting breakfast I've ever had, from a sheerly people watching standpoint.

After breakfast, we hit the road. Here's what I see from my side of the truck most of the time...



Here's a pic of the spot we picked to have lunch today. It was at one of the Texas travel information centers. This one was really nice- covered picnic areas and a scenic view of the river.



And here's Dev under the Texas sign. Isn't he cute??

Oops!

The first and last picture on my last post are backwards. Oh well.

Midnight Train to GA- Day 1

So Dev and I are driving back home to GA over the next 4 days. My plan is to take a little time each night and chronicle the events of our days on the road.


That's the traditional "Sixteen Candles" pic we take before all road trips. Here's Dev attempting to remove all the bug entrails from the windshield during one of our pit stops...


We have another tradition on road trips. We always stop and take pics of each other standing near the state name signs. This is the one I took of Dev as we crossed from CO into NM.


The first day of the trip was relatively uneventful.

We breakfasted (is breakfast a verb? I guess it is now) on leftover pancakes. Believe it or not, I actually planned it that way. I wanted there to be minimal clean up. I love it when a plan actually works, don't you? Another totally out of character plan that seems to have worked thus far is packing a cooler so we can have picnic lunches. Traveling is ridiculously expensive, what with hotel stays, fuel and eating meals out. As a way to keep our costs down on the trip, I packed a cooler with canned drinks, several different kinds of cheese and crackers, cold cuts and sliced bread, some steamed sugar snap peas, and sliced cucumbers. Add a few condiments and biodegradable paper plates, and you've got yourself lunch! Four lunches, to be exact.

When we finally stopped for the evening, we were in Amarillo, TX. It was pretty late, and we were both tired, so we opted for Chilis for dinner. I really don't care much for Chilis, or any other chain like that, really. But it's so easy and cheap, I fell under it's spell. Dev even pointed out a local BBQ place, and I still opted for Chilis. What is wrong with me?? I am finally back in the South, and I bypass BBQ in favor of mass produced chain store food? I think I've been brainwashed. Needless to say, this mistake WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN!! You can bet on it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Garden is In!!!!!





It has finally warmed up enough here to plant the garden! I was beginning to think it wasn't going to happen this year. We knew we had to get it planted before we left for GA, but the night time temps were still below freezing up until a few days ago.

We planted sugar snap peas, spinach, carrots, swiss chard, lettuce, potatoes (red and blue), tomatoes, squash and cucumbers. In the deck planter box we put grape tomatoes, basil and oregano. I also put in 2 lemon grass plants in the corner of the yard.

We've been composting since we moved in, and we were able to use quite a bit of it to till into the garden soil earlier in the spring. It made some beautiful soil.

Gardening is hard work. I've never planted a garden like this. I've lived in apartments most of my adult life, so my gardens have always been in containers- no weeding or hoeing necessary!

Hopefully I'll remember to take pics along the way as our garden begins to grow. Dev has been working like a mad man, and it will break his heart if it doesn't take off.

Wish us luck!!! Here are some pics of the set up...

A Different Twist on Breakfast for Dinner



So we worked in the garden all afternoon long. I was sorely tempted to order take out, but then I remembered I had eggs in the ice box- so why not have breakfast for dinner??

I have always been a big fan of this. Breakfast is comforting. Breakfast is usually easy. Just the ticket for tonight, after bending and stretching and playing in the dirt.

I brushed corn tortillas with olive oil and put them under a low broiler until slightly brown and crispy. I put sausage on Dev's and a slice of capicola ham mine. I topped the meat with custardy, rich scrambled egg (eggs, a splash of half and half, a dash of sriracha pepper sauce and some salt), grated pepper jack cheese and some of my pico de gallo from earlier this week.

So good and so easy. It just doesn't get much better.

Chicken Quesadillas



One of the great things about grilled chicken is making sure you grill enough to have leftovers to play with for the rest of the week.

These quesadillas were made Monday with the leftover chicken from Sunday. It doesn't get any easier than shredding the chicken and grilling it between two tortillas with some cheese. I made some pico de gallo (chopped tomato, chopped jalapeno, chopped red onion with a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then a liberal handful of chopped fresh cilantro) and topped it with some sliced avocado and sour cream. Very yummie.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New Feature!

My husband started a blog for his class. This was good, because I learned about a new gadget I could install on my own blog. Now you can search for any post on this blog by typing a keyword in the search box on the upper right hand side of the main blog page.

So if you want to see the blog entries that deal with strawberry rhubarb, just type that in and it should pull up those posts. I guess this means I'm going to have to get better at labels. Sometimes I just forget to add them. Who am I kidding? Half the time I forget to post at all, much less with a tag....

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hamburgers



Burgers are one of the things I find most challenging as a home cook. Every time I've tried to make a burger at home, it has always turned out dry. Then I try fillers and they taste like meatballs instead of burgers.

Today I decided to try something new to see what happened.

I went to City Market and bought a pork shoulder and some beef chuck steaks. I cubed up the meat, seasoned it with salt, pepper and BBQ seasonings and asked Dev to run it all through the grinder for me. I used half pork and half beef.

The resulting burgers were amazing! The pork kept the texture soft and juicy, but the beef flavor was still there. I topped mine with the BBQ sauce I made earlier. Normally I would also go for cheese, but tonight it was all about the meat.

I was really happy with the result. I can't wait to try other combinations of ground meats. Maybe next time I'll try a lamb/beef combo. I bet you could even saute some spinach and grind that in there as well. Hmmmmmm....

Ice Cream and Cobbler



Today was the day. I took my new ice cream maker for a spin. I used my tried and true vanilla ice cream recipe (from my "Ben and Jerry's" ice cream book.

I like the new machine. It's just as loud as my old machine, but a little easier to use. The lid has a much bigger opening for pouring in the ice cream base. It also has a larger capacity. When the ice cream was finished, it was also easier to scoop out into a container- I didn't waste as much.

I decided to use the last of the rhubarb in my freezer and make some cobbler. The filling was 1/2 lb. of strawberries, hulled and quartered, plus about 2 cups of sliced rhubarb. I mixed the fruit with 1/2 c. of sugar and 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch. I let it sit for a few minutes, then stirred and added about 1/4 c. of port. While that sat and festered, I mixed flour, oats, sugar, salt and pepper and pecans together, then poured on enough melted butter to stick it together. I put it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up. I poured the filling into a greased 8x8 brownie pan, then crumbled the flour mixture over it. It baked at 375 degrees for the better part of an hour. I started watching it after 30 minutes, but it took longer to get brown and crispy on the top.

The cobbler made the perfect foil for the ice cream. The tartness of the rhubarb was perfect against the creamy sweetness of the ice cream. I like the picture I took because you can almost see the little speckles of vanilla in the ice cream.

I think the next flavor of ice cream I'll try will either be green tea or espresso. Which one do you prefer??

BBQ Sauce



I love this BBQ sauce. I've blogged about it before (click here to see the original post). It has a great smoky sweet flavor. I made it today because we were going to throw some burgers on the grill tonight and I like BBQ sauce on my burgers.

I don't think I'll ever buy bottled sauce again.

My next project is ketchup. I'd like to try my hand at making it, so I can control the amount of sugar in it. When I find a good recipe, I'll be sure to pass it along!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Veggie Lasagna


This weekend I made a big pot of marinara sauce, and what better way to use some of it than a small pan of veggie lasagna? I don't really have a recipe for this. It just happens every once in a while.

The marinara sauce is easy. I saute one small onion, some anchovy paste (shhhh- don't tell Dev), carrot and celery and red pepper flakes for a few minutes. I add a couple of cloves of chopped fresh garlic. Then I add about half a small can of tomato paste (or a few squirts of ketchup if I don't have tomato paste) and let it cook for about 5 minutes. After the tomato paste has had a chance to fester a few minutes I add a few glugs of red wine (if I have it) and let it reduce a little. A 28oz can of crushed tomatoes lands in the pot after that. I salt and pepper it and let it simmer on the stove top as long as I can stand it. This weekend's batch simmered about 3 hours.

For the lasagna I roasted some mushrooms, yellow squash, zucchini and red onion slices. When they were done, I layered them with lasagna noodles, marinara sauce and ricotta mixed with a little lemon zest, onion powder and garlic powder. I topped the lasagna with grated parmesan and mozzarella (sp) cheese.

It came out pretty well. A little loose, but after a night in the fridge, the leftovers were perfect!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Is It Summer Yet?

Wow. You'd think with a brand new computer I'd be blogging all over the place. Apparently not. I could blame in on the last few hectic weeks of school. And it is partly that. When we get home from school, we fix dinner and then fall into a semi-vegetative state in front of a baseball game or Top Gear or something else.

I've been cooking up a storm lately. This weekend I whipped up a batch of home made marinara and used it to make a pretty darn tasty veggie lasagna. I even made a swiss and bacon quiche to get a jumpstart on breakfasts this week. Tonight I made grilled chicken tacos with corn/jalapeno salsa. Tomorrow will be Santa Fe Quinoa Chicken Salad. Hopefully I'll remember to take some pics and blog the results. I did take pics of the lasagna. The tacos were gone by the time I even thought about the camera. Oh well, you can't win 'em all!
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