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Food Stories

Appetizers/ Dessert/ Food Stories/ Morning Foods/ Sauces/ Scones

Devonshire Cream and the Proper Way to Eat a Scone

Too good to be a “Mock” anything.

I use to call my recipe for Devonshire Cream “Mock Devonshire Cream”, but this is too good to be a “mock” anything and I’m sure is better than anything you buy ready made in a jar.

Unless you have a cow out in your back yard where you can go milk her and take the unpasteurized milk and allow it to sit for 12-24 hours and then slowly heat it and then leave it to cool for another 12-24 hours you may want to make your own before going out and buying that cow just to get an authentic bowl of clotted cream to put on top of your scone to follow with jam. Devonshire cream is produced in Devon England.

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Food Stories

Walk This Way! Food Tours

FOOD — One of my favorite things to do on vacation.

Food is so much a part of our lives. You can’t get away from it. Not even on vacation. I’ve said before that I usually research the area we are visiting and find restaurants we may want to visit while there. I’d rather do that than get some place and when you are ready to eat you just go to whatever is close, missing some great local favorites.

When we travel to a city that is known for good food (or some kind of cooking class) we do a food tour of the city. Normally the tours are in the old historic part of the town where there is a high concentration of restaurants all within walking distance of each other. Most tours are about 3 – 3 1/2 hours in length and cover anywhere between 1-2 miles of walking. The tour guide will give you some local history of the area and when you get to the restaurant your group will sit and sample something from that restaurant. You eat, drink, enjoy new friends and think about what you might be sampling at the next stop.

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Food Stories

Southern Inspired Meal

First we eat, then we play!

My husband and I were born and lived the first 21 years of our lives in the “bootheel” of Missouri. We were just across the Mississippi River from Tennessee and on the border of Arkansas so we feel like we have always been “southern”; maybe not deep south but we definitely claim southern roots.

Southern cooking runs in our blood, bacon wrapped everything, cornmeal battered, deep-fried, fresh from the local farmers market or your own garden. Some of our southern favorites growing up were fried chicken, black-eyed peas (any kind of pea), gravy (mostly milk gravy), fresh-side pork (pork belly), smothered everything. Talking about food always brings up memories of “my mother made this, or my grandmother made that”.

Since everyone, even if not from south of the Mason Dixon line, seems to have a love affair with comfort foods, we decided to do a modern take on some down home favorites for our annual Friday night Feast meal after Thanksgiving. Most of our meal was inspired by things we all remember whether you are from Missouri, Alabama, Louisiana or anywhere in between.

So, our meal started off with an amuse bouche (my dish) of buttermilk soup with cornbread. For me, that brought back memories of my grandfather drinking (or eating) buttermilk with cornbread crumbled up in his big goblet glass.

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Food Stories/ Salads

Sweet Corn Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

And the corn is raw.

I subscribe to a lot of blogs and occasionally come across a recipe that I can’t wait to try but this recipe had to wait until those sweet ears of corn made their appearance at the summer farmer’s markets. Then I would know they were fresh picked.

When we were traveling by car to Chicago last summer we saw fields of corn along the way. Seeing row after row of corn always bring back memories of living in Iowa and the corn festivals where you knew you were going to get the best, sweetest, corn on earth. These road trips to Chicago, seeing masses of yellow ears always makes me want to jump out and grab a few, but, of course, I never do. I can’t run that fast.

As we are already several weeks into summer and looking for those great side dishes to go with your grilled meats, lets don’t forget about all that sweet fresh corn that is starting to show up in our produce sections. Corn dishes make a great side dish with any summer meal whether it is served hot, cold or room temperature.

It’s funny how recipe evolve into newer, healthier versions of what we use to prepare or just a version of something you imagined in your head. I have always wanted to try a raw corn salad so what better recipe to use to try it out on. Food52 suggest passing the dressing but I opted to stir some of the dressing into the salad.  You can see the picture below with the buttermilk dressing perched on top. I don’t think it blends as well with the salad and besides then you have to stir it once it’s on your plate. We did pass extra dressing incase someone wanted more.

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Food Stories

Re-visited Recipes

Some of my most viewed recipes.

Only occasionally do I get comments on recipes I post. I wish I got them more often especially if someone out there ever tries any of the things I make and post; but even if I don’t I get excited seeing how the count continues to go up on people searching for recipes to try.

So I decided to sort through some of the most viewed things and see if by chance you missed these.

PEANUT BUTTER SHADOW COOKIES

My all time highest viewed recipe is the Peanut Butter Shadow cookie that I have made since the 70’s. Don’t ask me how 21,023 people even found this recipe. They would have had to Google Peanut Butter Shadow Cookies. Anyway, it is a delicious cookie full of peanut butter and chocolate.

BACON WRAPPED DATES WITH BALSAMIC

If you love dates then you will love these Bacon Wrapped Dates with Balsamic — 3,015 views. I love the sweet and salty taste of this appetizer. And appetizers are one of my favorite things to make.

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Food Stories

Paris, Provence and A Few Pounds

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating — Luciano Pavarotti

And we did just that while in France.

Were those few pounds worth it?

Our first night in Provence, and in our tiny little town of 1,800 (Eygaliers), we had one of our most fantastic meals in France (we had several) — Sous les Micocouliers. What impressed me most about this dish was the way they had the leg cut flat on the bottom so that it would stand up. And, the boneless thigh was wrapped around some sort of risotto mixture. Don’t ask me what the smear on the plate is, I have no idea, just know it was delicious.

Now, were those pounds worth it? Of course they were! Every ounce, and I’m not even sure what the scales would say if I were to get on them. I’m holding off until I can get back in the gym.

We enjoyed all the sights of Paris and so many wonderful meals and experiences. We had an apartment in the 2 arrondissement, Montorgueil area, and had a 15 minute walk to the Louvre. I loved walking down the Champs-Elysées before heading to the Eiffel Tower at dusk — what a sight.

Normally in the morning we would grab something from one of the bakeries in Paris and head out for the day. If we did not stop for lunch we would make an early afternoon visit to a bistro or bar for some wine and FRENCH FRIES. Boy, where those fries good and we did this almost daily. We learned really quick how to say “frites”. And, please, a glass of “vin rouge”. Later in the afternoon we would start thinking of where we were going to have dinner. I had read about Verjus months earlier and made reservations so we knew one night was already planned. Believe me when I say where we eat was just as important as what we saw during the days. We turned our heads at the sight of a McDonalds or even a Starbucks — none of that for us. We were there to enjoy everything French.

We saw many wonderful museums but one of our favorites was the Musee du quay Branley. After all the museums full of amazing art work by some of the most famous artist in the world, I was ready to get to Provence ,and if I had one ounce of “go” left in my knees, ready to see some of the hill towns. Provence was my favorite of the whole trip and I think we had our best meals and wine there. (Update, looks like I have no go left in the old knees, one getting replaced this summer.)

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Food Stories/ Side dish

Swiss Chard and the French Markets

Oh how I loved those French markets!

I snapped this picture of Swiss chard one day. A little lady was hand picking her chard probably for her dinner that night.

It is hard for me to imagine (except I was there and saw it) what it would be like to shop daily for your food, to see just picked vegetables and know that they probably still are covered with dew drops and an earthy smell to them. One day we saw the most beautiful turnips, they still had green stems attached and looked just picked from someon’s field.

We live in a world where we get our grocery ads on a Wednesday to see what’s going to be on sale this week at our local market. Just think what it would be like if all we had to do was take a leisurely walk down the street (or up a hill) with our basket over our arm and shop for what we needed for the day; or go to our local bakery and line up with others waiting to buy a baguette for today’s meal (we saw that in Eylgaliers).

I can’t say that I have ever eaten Swiss chard, I have eaten other greens, like kale, turnip greens, spinach, but after seeing this in the market in France, it just made me want to try it. I’m sure chard that is bought at a farmer’s market is much more sweet and buttery tasting than the bunch I purchased at a grocery this week. Who knows how long that has been laying around in their cooler. So, I’m thinking if you have never eaten Swiss chard before maybe your first time should be with some fresh leaves from a local farmer’s market. (This chard I made was really good. I would definitely buy it again.)
Food Stories/ Soup

Corn and Crab Bisque

Creamy awesome bisque!

For our feast night meals usually everyone is responsible for a course (or two) My husband was suppose to be doing this bisque but he was out in the rain with the pig most of the day with our son; so, Paul with my help (he did most of it) made this deliciously creamy bisque.

Paul, never follows a recipe exactly, if he follows one at all. So we started with a basic recipe which is below and he added the poblano pepper and tweaked it somewhat. So, when you start this recipe, just know that you can make whatever changes you want. Originally we had pureed all the soup with all the corn in it already. Luckily I had some frozen (fresh) corn that I had bought back in the summer and we added that at the end for some texture. It turned out wonderful. I think we all would have liked to have more than the little espresso cup portion that we were given; but we knew we had much more food to come.

Paul was also responsible for putting together the menu, buying the pig, rigging the cooking equipment with his dad, doing the pork belly, brining and cooking the pig (with dad’s help) and making the sauces to go with the pig. So we depend on him a lot for our feast meals. He whipped the bisque together (with my gophering help) in no time.

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Appetizers/ ColdApp/ Food Stories/ Salads

Michie Feast Day — Hawaiian Style

Aloha, Komo Mai, E komo mai, Mahalo!
Hello (friends and family), Come in, Welcome, Thank you (for coming and participating in our feast).
 
Menu:
 
Sushi Musubi (Spam Sushi)
Corn Crab Bisque
Poke
Hawaiian Coconut Crusted Shrimp with Orange Horseradish Lime Sauce
Bitter Greens with Yuzu Dressing
Pork Belly on Steam buns with Hoisin, scallions and cucumber
Porcini Dusted Sea Scallops with Tomato relish and pea sprouts/micro greens
Kona Pale Ale Basted Suckling Pig served with
Hawaiian Coconut Rice Salad (recipe below) and Papaya Chipotle Salsa
Drunkened Pineapple Upside Down Cake Macadamia Coconut Ice Cream
 
MaiTai Cocktail
Hawaiian Beer
Wine (lots of it)

This was a night of cocktails, food (lots of it), wine, (no hula) lots of fun with family and friends.

We have been doing our Michie Feast Day for about 9 years now. We have done everything from frog legs, sushi, tapas, French Country, Italian, Mexican, oysters 7 ways, New Orleans and this year Hawaiian. This all started when my husband fried our turkey for the first time. After using 3 gallons of oil to fry the turkey, we decided we needed to use the oil again before throwing it away so we bought some frog legs and the rest is history. After that first year we moved on to other themes.

My daughter and her newly wed husband just returned from their honeymoon in Hawaii in November. So, a Hawaiian theme was quite fitting for this year’s feast. We got to hear all about their 27 mile bike ride down a volcano and all about the beautiful waterfalls and the food they sampled while there. My daughter-in-law, Brooke and her friend, Heather, made all our beautiful tissue paper flowers and decorated the tables. We even had a kid’s table with decorations (see pictures below). Our table always looks great when Brooke is put in charge.

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Food Stories

Favorite Food Memories

Memories, what would we do without them?

Some of my favorite moments are served around a table. What on earth is more enjoyable than sitting around a table with friends or family sharing a fabulous meal. Nothing, in my opinion. It doesn’t even have to be a fabulous gourmet meal but could be something as simple as a bowl of ice cream and some homemade cookies. Hey, they don’t even have to be homemade.

This picture was from a little cafe in Tuscany where we went several mornings for breakfast. No one spoke English, and this one kind little lady took it upon herself to get us a table and proceeded to show us some of the pastries. They were wonderful, the people and the pastries. — Unforgettable experience.

Some of my unforgettable moments of food are: my birthday dinner at Brennans’ Chef’s table which is in the kitchen, sitting outside a cafe in Bruges having a bucket of mussels, and sitting at my parents table with a big platter of fried catfish piled so high it looked like it would topple at any moment. I’ll never forget dinner in the cellar at Botin (the oldest restaurant in the world in Madrid) or a simple plate of cheese and meats sitting on our son’s deck in Chicago.

Also, top of the list would have to be any meal my son, Paul (chef Paul now) has ever prepared for us. He puts so much heart and soul into everything he cooks.

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Cake/ Food Stories

Cupcakessssssss!

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

Now don’t take me wrong, I’m not saying I’m an old dog or anything like that.  I think I may still have a few new tricks in me.

Lately, it seems like I tend to get obsessed with things. For instance, cooking for the blog, trying to make my camera take better food pictures, and taking computer classes at the Apple store.  Now I’ve started a miniature fairy garden and ordered my first house for it and now I’m trying to figure out how to make a miniature pond and table and patio for the fairy garden.

Now if that isn’t enough, three weeks ago, I started cake decorating classes at Hobby Lobby and then turned around and signed up for fondant and gum paste classes the following day. I must have been nuts at the time.

I’ve been catering for 20 years and one thing I have always wanted to know how to do was to decorate a pretty cake and hey, why not learn to make fondant covered cakes and flowers at the same time.

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Cake/ Food Stories

De-railed Thomas the Train Cake

How sagging frosting became the hit of the party.

Most people would have been in tears when they opened their refrigerator and saw all the frosting drooping off the sides of their cake. BUT, not me.

My son Paul was making a Thomas the Train birthday cake for my grandson’s 2nd birthday. It was a beautiful 3 layer perfectly level chiffon cake and I have to say it was totally my fault the French buttercream did not turn out. I miscalculated the butter; 24 oz. is NOT 3 sticks of butter, but 6.

So, here’s what happened. When we saw the cake sagging. I laughed and said “this looks like a train wreck”. Since little Milo loves the part of Thomas The Train when the train wrecks, my son took his black frosting and besides the Happy Birthday, he made a train track and had it continue off the side of the cake. And then we used some of the Thomas the Train car pieces and stuck them in the side and bottom of the cake like they had just driven off the side of the cake. I have to say it was ingenious and saved the day.

Milo looks happy with his cake even though the train de-railed.

Looks like mom might be explaining that Thomas fell off the cake. Oh, whatever, it still tasted wonderful.

I definitely owned up to my mistake and the kids and adults all loved the cake and cupcakes.

Moral of the story — don’t let minor derailments spoil the party. After all, kids just want something sweet, they don’t care what it looks like.