Summer Solstice, oh wait, nope. 

Well, it is officially the longest day of the year – but we will never know that because we’re sitting under days of rain from TS Cindy. I don’t know what the official mark is in inches right now, but when it is over it should be an interesting number. There is localized flooding, and our roof leaked – likely because of the odd angle the wind was blowing the rain – and it’s just crappy and dreary. So, there we are – no longest day of the year.
That said, the Summer Solstice is really just the beginning of the end. After that, every day gets just a little shorter. Until we do it all over again at the winter solstice.  When the days start to get longer.

Odd that the summer solstice makes me slightly depressed but the winter solstice makes me happier, but this year in particular the summer makes me sad – it does. Damnation. But at least I don’t have to wear a hat and worry about the sun for a few days. Somehow that is not does not really make me feel much better.

I think the rain will last at least one more day. Hopefully it will make me sleepy tonight and I will not have to put up with leaks in the closet or those damn tree frogs at 4:30 in the frigging morning. Steve needs to kill them, and I cannot believe I am saying that because I do not like to kill really green strange frogs, but last night – lord have mercy. Let us all hope tonight will be better.

So here is our life …

Apple Market Ham Salad

Okay, this is another thing that I have found that someone, Apple Market, does so much better than any version I have ever made. Yes, it is ham salad.

Let’s just get all the disclaimers out of the way. I will eat deli ham on occasion – see chicken, cheddar, apricot sandwich in which ham plays a key role. But a big ol’ Easter ham is not for me. The cut is too thick and I just do not care for it which is slightly interesting since I really like the vast majority of the rest of the pig (pork) parts a lot, no really, A Lot.

The MotH says this ham salad is too sweet and I am guessing that is the sweet relish, but I really really like it.

Apple Market is an interesting place. It is a local (yeah) small grocery store that has a great deli, excellent beer selection, a real butcher shop, sushi, really fresh dairy, and I think they employ most of the teen-aged kids from the area of East Pensacola Heights. They were one of the first grocery places to open after Ivan and after that you could tell that they had increased the generator back ups for the whole store.

Apple Market is a real treat. I do not get there as often as I would like, but since I have had the ham salad recently, I am motivated. May not look like much, but you should envy me. Yes, you should. D&D_1849

Okay? Does it look like cat food? Or is that just me? Sigh. I just stay up too late. I really should not say that, but the idea just struck me. No matter – it tastes amazing. And I am going back this weekend for more. Yep. Also to see if they have some really old chickens that will make a great chicken and rice.

Bill E’s Bacon – Fairhope, Alabama

You know I love my husband. The other day I asked him to go to the Apple Market which is not close to our house, but not terribly far either. It is just one of those place I do not get to often enough. I wanted some ham salad for Easter and it was great ham salad. [See post about letting others do things if they can do them better than you.]

Well, since the MotH had not been to Apple Market in donkey’s years, it was like a field trip for him and he just kept sending me photos at the office. One really struck a cord – Bill E’s bacon out of Fairhope, Alabama. It wasn’t ridiculously priced and, well, I am a sucker for local foods of all sorts. “Serenaded by Songwriters. Savored by Carnivores.” Interesting, if nothing else. Still not sure what it means. D&D_1831

Damn, I fried up a few strips to adorn the deviled eggs and the German potato salad for Easter brunch. That is totally gilding the lily.

Now, what do I do with the rest of it. Ah, we shall see. I love bacon-wrapped dates (or any dried fruit for that matter) stuffed with cheese, or even better some other piggy parts. Although that may be over kill.

This bacon is really smoky, so I think going with a dried fruit and some kind of neutral cheesy-ness that I think might be just amazing.   D&D_1833

Deviled Eggs

I guess it is just a requirement that you have some sort of egg – thing for Easter – spring and all. So I made deviled eggs. Again for The Boy – he will eat them anytime.

This is again, another no-recipe recipe. I have done this so many times, but to be honest, I do not eat deviled eggs – at all, ever. I like egg salad, so this really does not make sense, but there it is. D&D_1839

So here is how I make hard-boiled eggs. Put eggs in a decent-sized pot and cover with at least an inch of water. Heat the pot to boiling and removed pot from heat, put on a lid and let sit for 13 minutes. Yes, 13 minutes. Dump the hot water out and add cold water and bash the eggs against the side of the pot. Let sit for a few minutes  – peel the eggs and cut in half cleaning the knife between eggs so no yolk gets on the white part.

Remove the yolks and put into small-ish bowl. Add a little Duke’s mayo* and some Dijon mustard – I go with a smidge more mustard than mayo. Add 3 Tbs of drained sweet pickle relish and one more not drained. Taste and decide on salt and pepper.

Put the yolk mixture in a zip top bag and cut off a corner to make a tip to pipe the yolks into the whites. Then decorate. This time I decided on chives and really amazing local bacon, but I also like minced shallots and I really like paprika. I guess it is a Southern thing – the paprika, not the shallots. Parsley is always nice.

It is funny how I like egg salad, and plan to make some soon, but do not like deviled eggs when in reality they are not that far apart. Strange.

* A Southern staple – you must not be without it, ever.

Mardi Gras

Well Carnival season is always a fun time here in Pensacola. Everyone associates Carnival with just New Orleans, but in this country it started in Mobile, Alabama – and moon pies are involved. Yep. Moon Pies. Pensacola has a vibrant krewe tradition and a host of parades and balls from 12th night (6th of January) on – there is not much else to do in January and February after all. It is cold and rainy most of the time so any excuse to drink like fish and dress up is appreciated. I would join a krewe, but I just do not like people. Nope.

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Yes, I have carnival cookie cutters. So?

Throws (beads, cups, and, whatnot) vary, but Moon Pies are in the mix. I am so not sure why, but hey, what is wrong with a chocolate Moon Pie once a year. Apparently this year there were calorie count moon pies – like tiny little things – who does that? This season is for indulgence, so let us just have a regular old-sized moon pie – like the kind I ate when I was a kid. I do not like the vanilla ones and really do not like the banana ones – ugh. Go chocolate (which is odd for me) or do not bother.

So today I wear beads to work – just like I wore beads this weekend when the major parades were going on. Monday was red beans and rice day and while that is a traditional Monday thing, but this is the important Monday. Today is Mardi Gras – the crazy day and then Ash Wednesday changes everything.

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Hood – my Mardi Gras pup

I have local fresh eggs – amazing!

My friend Tony told me his friend Dusty raises chickens and sells eggs. Finally, a source for farm fresh eggs  – that is so great! I know there have been several places in Milton that have signs out for fresh eggs, but I just do not go into Milton that often. Tony speaks very highly of his friend and from the description the chickens are kept in, it is the kind of environment that I think is great for chickens. I mentioned it at work and someone called them yard eggs, and I guess when you get right down to it, that is really what they are. Though I have never heard that phrase before.

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The colors are so amazing. It is like Easter eggs without dying them.

This is just in time for my Meyer lemons to come in from California so I can make all kinds of lemon curd. And lemon curd tartlets – oh yes, this is going to be a good couple of baking weeks. Or just a good couple of weeks in general. Yep.

I think Meyer lemon curd has to be first because the two most important things are egg yolks and Meyer (or any lemon, but prefer Meyer) lemon juice. I think the only other thing that will be made more outstanding is hollandaise because, again, egg yolks. And fresh ones have to be so superior.

Pecan Pie Cookies

It is a well-known fact that I will try any kind of “pecan pie” anything. Pecan pie muffins – so there. Pecan pie cookies, hell, even pecan sandies ^ of all sorts of varieties. I just cannot help myself. I am not a huge ice cream person, but the one thing in the ice cream world I do love is butter pecan ice cream, as long as the pecans have a bit of salt on them. dd_1798

If I were not so cheap, I would buy an ice cream machine and figure out how to make the best butter pecan ice cream, but then I might just end up being as big as a house and that serves one well in the grand scheme of things.

So here we have a new pecan pie cookie. One I really like. I also make my pecan pie muffins the same week – do we see a theme? Yep.

1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 (12 Tbs) cup unsalted butter, softened
1  large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Filling
1 cup chopped pecans (Renfroes *)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all cookie ingredients except flour and baking powder in bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Sift together flour,  baking powder, and salt and beat in at low speed until well mixed. Chill 2 hours.

Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Make indentation in each cookie with a measuring teaspoon; rotate to hollow out slightly

Combine all filling ingredients in bowl; fill each cookie with 1 rounded teaspoon filling. Bake 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to cooling rack.

Source: Modified from Land o’ Lakes

* Having local fresh pecans is just an absolute joy. I guess simple things make me happy.

^Make these. No really, do this.