Well it’s a hurricane … again.

Did you see the movie Groundhog Day? One of my favorite movies ever. Remember when Bill Murray says, “Well … it’s Groundhog Day ….. again.” Great line, not subtle, but very funny.

hurricane-nate-rainfallThis is our life in hurricane alley. It’s a hurricane, again. Sometimes people get complacent, some people panic and bum rush the Sam’s Club and the Publix, and then there is me.

I just don’t get over wrought about these things. We have an attic vent that, when the rain/wind goes the right way will leak into my closet. My fix – my clothes can be washed and I protect my shoes – they are, by far, more important to me.

I look around at all the trees we planted after Ivan (2004), and the are the best kind for our area in terms of hurricanes – river birches, crepe myrtles, a holly. Should be fine in that regard. And slightly boring in that regard.

We have one pine. All of our pines (15) went down during Ivan, including several into the house, but this little seedling sprouted just after Ivan and I couldn’t bring myself to pull it out of the ground. There was so little left in the garden – I lost a beautiful old magnolia. So there the little pine stands, 13 years old. It’s skinny and awkward like any 13 year-old, but it could still hit the house or the workshop, but I don’t any regrets leaving it to grow. I can’t quite help myself.

So my question is what will be open today?

And when will be the first time the news shows a wobbly stop sign – it is a requirement. And so twee.

Artichoke Bread

This idea kind of combines a couple of other really good ideas. Cheese bread and artichoke dip with some garlic throw in for good measure. This just sounds like dinner to me. That being said, I am sure I could survive on bread and cheese – and maybe some apples and grapes and be a perfectly happy camper.dd_1810

For all the desserts that I bake, they just are not my favorite things. I do it to make the Boy happy and when I have extra to share, I take them to the office or to my local. I am going to make an effort to also start taking treats to the local sheriff’s department and the local fire departments. My only question there is – is that just weird? Will they be suspicious of it? I hope not. Cookies, and baking in general, are just good for me to do and I would like to share.

Last week was a pretty rough week for our LEOs  in Escambia County FL, Santa Rosa County Fl, and Escambia County AL. You probably didn’t hear, but a guy killed two women in Milton, another in Foley and stole her car, and shot a women in Pensacola and then stole her car too. She later died. It was a bit scary because he and his accomplice were seen not too terrible far from my office. I just don’t understand. Who does this? This seems really depressing, but it was that week. Let’s just say we were all hyper aware of our surroundings now.

I am sure artichoke bread will not fix the bad things in the world, but doing something comforting makes life a little better – at least it does for me.

14 ozs artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 scallions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ozs cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
zest of one lemon
chopped chives
1 loaf Italian bread, sliced in half horizontally

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix artichokes, scallions, garlic, cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon zest, and cheeses, reserving some cheese for the top. Or just add some more, because it is cheese after all

Hollow about 1/2 inch of bread out of both halves of the bread. Spread mixture in the hollow and top with reserved cheese.

Wrap bread loosely in foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until the cheese is melty and golden brown.

Source: Closet Cooking


Sausage, Cheddar, and Corn Muffins

I have a thing for breakfast muffins, especially when a pork product is involved. I just had to try these, although I did mess about with the recipe a bit. We are little bit past fresh corn season, even for us.* So I purchased frozen white shoepeg corn – one of my favorite things in the entire frozen world. I think I prefer the shoepeg because it is slightly less sweet. I have modifications to the originally recipe and know I will be making more adjustments to this recipe the next time I make it.**dd_1590

2 teaspoons olive oil
16 ounces hot breakfast sausage
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup corn meal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup frozen sweet white corn kernels, let thaw while you make batter
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling on muffins
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tin cups with foil liners.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add sausage. Break the sausage into small pieces with a spatula as it cooks. Cook until the sausage is crumbly and cooked through. Remove skillet from heat. Blot up some of the fat with  paper towels leaving about 1 tablespoon. Let mixture cool.

Place flour, corn meal, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Whisk until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and buttermilk together. Add egg/buttermilk mixture slowly to flour/cornmeal mixture. Add corn kernels, Cheddar cheese, and reserved sausage mixture. Stir in melted butter; mix just until flour is mixed in.***

Divide batter among muffin cups. Top with some extra Cheddar cheese.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool to warm before serving.

Adapted from Allrecipies … once again.dd_1591

* We have a huge rural farming community around us, but it is October and I’ll just go with frozen corn and pass on the farming left-overs.

** I was missing a little salt in these muffins. I think next time I’ll add a 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan. I could add salt, but why not make it Parmesan. More cheese and some salty flavor to the mix.

*** I mixed everything up one night and put it in the fridge. Came home the next day and let it sit until room temperature and then baked the muffins and they were great. I am a huge fan of making a recipe to a certain point and then continuing on the next night.  I have to do that since I bake/cook after I get off work.

The original recipe had scallions in it. They might be nice, but I am thinking chives next time would be a great deal better, or maybe even a shallot. Now there’s a thought.

Can you tell I will be making these again pretty soon. One of our students had one and said anytime you add sausage to something, that was a good thing. I completely agree. Any pork is a good thing.

Milton Bakery

Milton Bakery is an old school bakery. They make muffins, pastries, croissants, and lots of specialty cakes, and pies in the fall. They also bake breads and rolls. And they also make donuts.

Since our nephew mentioned it recently, I cannot forget Shipley’s donuts in Texas. Those donuts holes were amazing and I ate way more than I should. But would still love to eat so many more. I might even get up a little earlier for those next time we are in Texas. Not kidding, and I never do that on the weekend. Ever. Do not get me started about kolaches. That is a entire different story.

I have taken pictures of the Milton Bakery donuts, but, I did kind of decimate the box. Six donut holes out of a dozen. And I still want more. That is so not good.

D&D_1511This just reminds me of the Donut Shoppe in Jacksonville. My Dad would go and get donuts there pretty much every weekend. The shop was on University Boulevard, and right next to a 7-11, not very promising, but the donuts were pretty much amazing. Yep. It has moved since I lived there – still on University – next to a, wait for it, gas station, but the donuts are still amazing and dear lord they open at 5:00 am – ugh – who does that? I guess bakery people, but sure the hell, not me.

When we were kids we would always get donuts at the Donut Shoppe on our way out of town on our way to North Carolina to visit our parents’ families, and also go to the 7-11 for candy for the trip too. The donuts were eaten on our way and enjoyed. But the funny thing is that since we were on a road trip were were only allowed to bring a shoe box of our own stuff to pass the time, and I did fill my box with candy – especially the big ass (at the time but not anymore) everlasting gobstoppers. Yes, I did love Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Also did read the book which it was based on, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was such a library dork. I guess I have always been a reader – not a bad thing, in the grand scheme of things.

Okay, back to donuts. I think I just might be going back to the Milton Bakery this weekend. I know Krispy Kreme is a Southern tradition, but my favorite way to eat them is without the glaze, and you can order them that way. Krispy Kreme was founded in Winston-Salem North Carolina and is an iconic Southern treat. When we lived in Chapel Hill, I had a colleague and friend whose father made the first neon Krispy Kreme sign for the first store. What a very cool story. But that being said, that glaze kind of makes my teeth hurt a bit. The Boy used to go by our one little Krispy Kreme for coffee and donuts before classes at high school, can not say that I blame him.

Either way, I am a giant fan of the Milton Bakery. It reminds me of my dad and that makes me happy. Oh, and can I have just about a dozen more donut holes, please.

 

 

Steven’s Market Deli – Pace, Florida

I am a bit of a potato salad person. I will pretty much try everyone’s potato salad – it is just a thing for me. It is a measure of how well a restaurant can do something that is relatively simple. I love to make my own, but I also love to try any other version. Steven’s Market Deli caught my attention because they sold German Potato Salad – yes, I just did lots of capital letters there. But I had a real idea of where they procured that German potato salad (yes, I have now relaxed a bit, not so many capital letters), but it was so obvious it was from The Creamery – an excellent Gulf Breeze restaurant that sadly closed not too long after we moved here. I had the fading hope that after The Creamery closed that Steven’s might pick up the idea and make their own German potato salad. They did not, but that was a boon for me because it made me try their traditional potato salad. Damn skippy – that is some really good potato salad. D&D_1494

I used to work at a place very similar to Steven’s Market Deli. It was in Jacksonville and it was a cafe that also had ice cream. Hence, why I am so over ice cream. Serve it enough and you just do not care anymore. This place had a stupid name and though it thought itself a tearoom, it really was a small cute cafe that served croissant sandwiches, quiche, soup, and oddly enough a knockwurst plate with… wait for it … German potato salad. I will say this was my introduction to Twinings tea with my favorite being Earl Grey and that was a very good thing.

Well, once again, I have wondered far afield from where I started. Back to Steven’s Market Deli. Beyond getting potato salad to go, I have had their pork barbecue sandwich with cheddar and it is just amazing! – yes, it deserves the exclamation point. Chicken salad is also really good. And the stuffed grape leaves, sigh. I need to get them more often. I have not been to brunch there, but the menu looks pretty amazing – I just don’t quite get up early enough on the weekend for that. Yep – that is just me.

It seems when I go on the weekend to get potato salad (and next time stuffed grape leaves), there are always high school-aged kids. I think that is cool. And one thing that always impresses me is when I get my potato salad, these high school kids sprinkle the top of the potato salad with paprika and chives. It is just a little attention to detail that endears them to me. They do not have to do that, but they do – and to me that means a great deal. This is the kind of local establishment that I want to, and continue to, frequent. Love local restaurants.

Egg Usage – by month – May 2016

17 May 2016 – 3 eggs – Yukon Gold Potato Salad

21 May 2016 – 3 eggs – Chicken Salad

 

Well, this was not the month for eggs. I had a slight serious thing for toffee and shortbread this month and neither involve eggs. So this month, my egg supply was used on some pretty amazing savory things.

Summer always has me thinking of potato salad. I did the same thing last year. I really need to get to the local farmers’ markets to find some local red new potatoes. The By-Pass Market in Milton is one of my favorite places because they have excellent, local, new red potatoes – and lots of other amazing local produce. I am always tempted to roast new potatoes because they become sweet (like candy) and we just eat them right off the roasting pan. They are so addictive. So they never seem to make it into potato salad.  I know what my future holds – a trip to the By-Pass Market.   Ce weekend.

I am a huge fan of chicken salad. I poach chicken breasts in water which I then save and serve to a totally underserving puppy – chicken water is an excellent thing for a pup. I usually make this simple – celery – peeled of course, shallots, Duke’s mayonnaise, a little Dijon mustard, parsley, and, of course, a few boiled eggs. Simple, but so very good.

Will have to do better in June in both the butter usage and egg usage, but I am not thinking it is going to go well. I am still a little off my game, but I will make up for that.

Yes. Yes, I will. You just have to work through things and to me cooking and baking makes me happy.

Roasted Roma Tomatoes with garlic, Gorgonzola, and bread crumbs

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Roasted Roma Tomatoes w/bleu cheese & garlic

Another no recipe recipe …

Roma tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
Olive oil
Fresh Garlic, minced
Kosher salt+
Freshly ground black pepper
Plain bread crumbs*
Gorgonzola, crumbled

Okay with this recipe you have to base it on ratios. But the methodology is solid. Roma tomatoes work because they are solid tomatoes that hold up under the heat and get better and sweeter as they roast.

So slice the tomatoes and use a grapefruit spoon to get rid of the insides and especially the seeds. Put them cut side down of several pieces of paper towels to drain for at least 5 minutes.

Put tomatoes in a bowl large enough to hold them. Add enough olive oil to coat. Sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add minced garlic, enough that it makes sense for the number of tomatoes but understand that garlic is a key part of this recipe. Stir everything together until the tomatoes are coated and let marinate for as long as it makes sense.^

In another bowl mix together Gorgonzola and bread crumbs.£ Place marinated tomatoes, cut side up, on lined baking sheet. Fill with Gorgonzola bread crumb mixture. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Bake (or should it be roast?) for 20 – 25 minutes until tomatoes are softened and topping is lightly browned.

If you want, top with chopped herbs, parsley is a good idea. I think the best idea.

+I have used my homemade lemon Rosemary Maldon salt for this and it is, in a word, amazing.

*At work we use a lot of catering from Panera and they always bring baguettes with each order. I typically take one home if no one else wants it and have two things I do – make croutons with herbs fine and make plain breadcrumbs. So these are my homemade breadcrumbs.

^For me it takes at least an hour, but I have let them sit overnight too. Works well either way.

£ Figure out, based on ratios how much Gorgonzola you think will work, you can always add more and add just enough breadcrumbs to make the cheese sandy – that makes sense to me but to explain, enough bread crumbs to barely coat the Gorgonzola cheese.

This is one of the last things that my beloved father-in-law had that I made. He asked for seconds and well, even now, that is difficult and it has been several years but it still makes me happy. He was a second father to me and I am glad that I was able to make him happy.

25 May 2009 – Memorial Day. vvg w W/J – Used just enough bread crumbs to make Bleu cheese sandy
20 June 2009 – added a couple Tbs of cream cheese – just because there were fresh local Roma tomatoes
4 July 2009 – @ W/J w/D et al
23 June 2012 – vg
4 October 2015