Christmas time.

He's got the spirit, do you?
I still don't believe that Christmas is only two days away. I'm usually on top of everything (gifts, cards, food) by mid-December. This isn't because I'm a planner (I'm famous for my procrastination), it's because I love all things Christmas. The music, the clothing, the decorations, and the overall spirit of giving (all while trying to avoid the mall...crazies). If you're looking for last minute gifts (especially if you're on the cheap, like us, "it's a Tiny Tim Christmas!"), and you're not interested in fighting for that last snuggie for two. I have a couple of suggestions that I tried to pass as gifts (warning, when I told a co-worker of said gifts, her response was "how cheap of you!" proceed with caution).
Fact: No one wants this.
Chocolate & Peppermint Bark Cookies adapted from Cookin' canuck who adapted it from Bon Appetit magizine

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 finely chopped peppermint candy canes (about 3 ounces)
2 oz. high-quality white chocolate

3 candy canes = about 1/2 cup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with parchment, letting it hang over the sides of the pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt and set aside. In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar. Continue to beat until the mixture is light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla extract and egg yolk. Turn the mixer to low speed and gradually beat in the flour mixture, until just combined. Do not overmix.

Scatter the dough over the bottom of the prepared pan and gently press it, with slightly moistened fingers (this is important, dough sticks to dry hands), to form a flat layer. Prick all over with a fork.

Bake the cookie layer until golden brown and slightly puffed, and edges are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, 25-30 minutes. Place on a cookie rack and immediately sprinkle chopped bittersweet or semisweet (or a combination of the two) over the cookie layer. Let the chocolate sit for about 3 minutes. Using an offset spatula (I don't have one of these, I found that the back of a large spoon works quite well), spread the chocolate into an even layer over the surface of the cookies. Immediately sprinkle crushed candy canes, over the chocolate layer.

Place chopped white chocolate in a medium metal bowl (I used a glass bowl, worked just as well) set over a simmering pot of water. Stir constantly until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Using a fork, drizzle the white chocolate over the peppermint candies. Chill for approximately 30 minutes.

Gripping the overhanging parchment paper, lift the cookies out of the pan and place on a work surface. Using a large, sharp knife, cut the cookies into irregular pieces. This can be stored in an airtight container in a refrigerator for one week.
Highly addictive, don't say I didn't warn you.
Italian-Herb Party Mix
Adapted from Noble Pig, who adapted from Cuisine at Home

For the party mix-
2 cups each: Chex Corn, Chex Rice and Chex Wheat cereal squares
2 cups mini pretzels*
1 cup peanuts

For the Butter-Spice Mixture-
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon each dried oregano, thyme, parsley
1/2 teaspoon each: red pepper flakes, salt, garlic powder and onion powder

For the Cheese-Herb Mixture-
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 250o F.  Mix cereal, pretzels and nuts for the party mix in a large bowl; set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add oil, vinegar, Worcestershire, Italian seasoning, pepper flakes, garlic salt, garlic powder and onion powder; stir to combine.

Off heat pour butter-spice mixture over party mix and keep tossing until it is fully coated.

Transfer party mix to a baking sheet.  Bake mix 1-1-1/4 hours (I did mine for 1 hour only), stirring every 15 minutes.

Combine Parmesan, basil and rosemary in a bowl, sprinkle over party mix and toss together while mix is still warm.  Cool mix on a baking sheet and store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

*For the pretzels you can use any shape, just make sure they are small, I went with the sticks.
**The recipe suggested using slivered almonds, I used peanuts because I love peanuts in party mixes, but any nuts will do.

Tie a little bow around this, and you have yourself a nice (albeit cheap) gift that everyone will enjoy. 

Happy holidays everyone!


Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Sorry to be all about empty promises and let downs, but remember that post where I said that I'd be cooking Thanksgiving? Well, now it's looking like we're going to Tom's parents for the holiday (which is good, because I don't actually have any of the necessary Thanksgiving equipment, like a roasting pan, turkey baster, and a bottle of bourbon). I did get a chance to make one dish, for Tom's holiday party at work. I never actually tasted it, but I heard it went over pretty well.
This recipe comes from Rick Rogers, who is well known in the culinary world as a teacher, writer, and critic. He's written over 35 cookbooks, many of which are about holiday meals. I decided on his mashed potato casserole mainly because it was considered a "make ahead" dish. I knew Tom had to take it into work the next day and it would taste best out of the oven there. I included roasted garlic in the recipe to add some depth of flavor to the dish. I only added one head for fear of it being too garlicky (that's actually not possible for me, but I was cooking for others), but I think next time I would add two or three.  I apologize profusely for the photos. It was nighttime and my kitchen has some pretty terrible lighting.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes adapted from Rick Rogers Mashed Potato Casserole

Makes 8 to 12 servings
The casserole can be prepared up to 1 day ahead.

1 (or up to 3) head(s) of garlic
Olive oil for drizzling
5 pounds baking potatoes (such as russet, Idaho, Burbank, or Eastern)
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk, heated
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Chopped chives or parsley, for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Peel off the outer layers of the garlic, leaving the skins of the individual bulbs intact. Slice off the top 1/2" of the pointed end, exposing the individual garlic cloves. Place garlic on aluminum foil and drizzle 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil over the bulb and let it sink in between the cloves. Cover the clove with the aluminum foil and bake on a baking sheet from 45-60 minutes, or until the cloves are browned and soft throughout. Remove from oven and set aside.
2. Fill a large pot (at least 5 quarts) halfway with cold water. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1"chunks and drop them into the pot. Add more cold water to cover the potatoes by 1 to 2 inches.
3. Stir in enough salt until the water tastes mildly salty. Cover tightly and bring to a full boil over high heat, allowing at least 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and set the lid askew. Cook at a moderate boil until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a small, sharp knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Do not overcook the potatoes.
4. Drain the potatoes well and return to the warm pot. Stir over low heat to release more steam, about 2 minutes. Remove the individual garlic cloves from their skins (I found it works best to just squeeze them out), and add them to the pot. Also add the cream cheese and butter. Using a hand-held electric mixer, mash the potatoes until the cream cheese and butter melt. Beat in the sour cream and milk. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Transfer to a buttered 9 X 13-inch baking dish. Cool completely. (The potatoes can be prepared up 4 hours ahead, covered loosely with plastic wrap, and stored at cool room temperature, or cool, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 1 day.)
5. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Bake until the potatoes are heated through 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot, sprinkled with the chives, if using.



Last Farmer's Market of the season

Shoppers on Cathedral Square
This past weekend, Tom and I rode our bikes over to Cream and Sugar and met up with Mobilians on Bikes for our Saturday morning ride to the farmer's market. This was the last market of the season until it returns in the spring, sometime in April.
Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
Mobile's Market on the Square is a diverse, centrally located farmers market for growers and shoppers in the tri-state area. The market features some of the best, seasonal produce, meats, handmade soaps and candles, cheese, pasta, seafood, etc.
Pecan Season!
While the market has been steadily gaining popularity (at least over the past two years since moving here), it's still only open for a few months out of the year: April-July and October-November.  With such a long growing season, plus the recent boost in popularity, I'm hoping for a transition to a year-round market soon. Fingers crossed! We had a great time last week, picked up some eggs, met some new friends, and met a bulldog named "Gumbo"! We're excited for the spring market to start already!
Just because the market is over, doesn't mean that you should stop buying local produce. Ang Jordan over at Gulf Coast Local Food has posted several links and resources to help you find produce in the area. In fact, a few weeks earlier, she posted information about picking your own Satsumas over at Sunnyland Satsumas. It runs from November 19-December 19 and it's $1/lb. Tom and I can't wait to get over there and pick our own!


Mushroom Casserole

"Cold" is a relative term here in the deep south. When the high temperature drops below 75°, jackets, hats, and scarves slowly emerge out of winter storage and onto the streets. I'm not one to judge though,  I'll bust out a scarf at any given opportunity. That, and I'm pretty sure I've adjusted to the weather here...to the point that my fingers start to turn blue at 55°-60° (I still act like I'm "cold-weather tough" though). Anyway, the temperatures have started to drop, and Thanksgiving is upon us, which can only mean one thing: casserole season.
Mushrooms in a dimly lit kitchen + high ISO, delicious!
Few things are more comforting than a well made casserole. I'm pretty particular about my casseroles, I'm not big on taking too many short cuts, I prefer it to be as "from scratch" as possible (granted, that's easier because I don't have kids), and Heidi's recipes over at 101cookbooks usually come through. My main complaint about her recipes is that she (unfortunately) frequently uses ingredients that are hard to come by in Mobile. She has so many recipes that I would LOVE to try, I've just had a difficult time finding all of the ingredients, but I adapt where I can. However, this is one recipe that simple, delicious and easily customizable. You can add nuts (especially roasted pine nuts, which I want to try next time), greens, or even chicken. It takes a bit of time, so you will need to set a good two hours aside (unless you have brown rice already cooked), but it's definitely worth it.
so good!
Mushroom Casserole adapted from 101cookbooks
1/2 pound (8 ounces) brown mushrooms (I used baby Portabellas), cleaned and chopped
1 large onion, well chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 large eggs
1 cup Ricotta cheese (the original recipe calls for cottage cheese, which I was out of, so I used Ricotta. I think I liked the Ricotta better, it was creamier)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
a bit of fresh tarragon, chopped
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a medium-large baking dish (smaller than 9x13) with a bit of olive oil and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat saute the mushrooms in a spoonful of coconut oil (better than olive oil for medium-high heat cooking) sprinkled with a couple pinches of salt. Stir occasionally until the mushrooms have released their liquid and have browned a bit. Add the onions and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes or until they are translucent. Stir in the garlic, cook for another minute and remove from heat. Add the rice to the skillet and stir until combined.

In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, Ricotta cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper.

Combine the rice mixture and cheese mixture in a large bowl, stir until well combined and then turn out into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with 2/3 of the Parmesan cheese, cover with foil and place in oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 20 or 30 minutes more or hot throughout and golden along the edges. Sprinkle with the chopped tarragon and the remaining Parmesan.

Serves about 8.


More to come...

So, it's been well over a month since I've posted. Blame the wedding, blame the honeymoon, and blame the fact that our computer was completely full of pictures/music/etc that we couldn't store anything else on it (and you know I like to document my progress...even if the photos are blurry or have terrible lighting). And, we had a VERY difficult time finding a hard drive that was compatible with Mac OS-X. Enough with the excuses though, I have been wanting to blog again for some time, I just haven't taken the time to actually do it. In fact, I recently made some blueberry scones and some cinnamon raisin bread that I thought about posting, but it just never happened. However, a conversation that Tom and I had last night provided fodder for my new project:

Tom: Looks like it's just going to be us for Thanksgiving

Me: That's cool, maybe we can just have a relaxing few days at the camp

Tom:  I still want to make a turkey though

Me: Ok....it's just the two of us, so maybe we can just get a small turkey breast? (Starting to get nervous at this point because I'm slightly intimidated at the thought of cooking a turkey...but it's just a breast so we're fine, right?)

Tom (pouting face develops): But...leftover turkey sandwiches are the best!

Me: Oh, we'll still have plenty of leftovers, don't worry

Tom (still pouting): but the dark meat is my favorite!

Me (freaking out...but...on the inside): fiiiine, we can get a turkey

Tom: Yeah, we'll only need a small bird, an 8 or 9 pounder. And, let's make it a full Thanksgiving! We need stuffing, some potatoes, squash casserole and maybe a dessert?

So, there you have it. I'm jumping on the food blogging bandwagon (albeit a bit late) for Thanksgiving recipe posts. Most will be experimental, and you may even witness complete disasters, but hey at least I get a Thanksgiving trial-run of sorts; I'm only cooking for us. Besides, now that we're married, Tom's still obligated to love me, even if I set the bird on fire.


Gator belts and FETA melts and Monte Carlo's...

It's been a hectic three weeks since the last post. Classes have
started again at South Alabama, so I've had to get back into the swing
of things like setting up the syllabus, creating labs, grade-book,
etc...oh and the lab books aren't in yet? Awesome. Luckily, I only
have one class this semester, with a total of 9 students, so it's a
pretty intimate class. They seem like an intelligent group so far as
well, hopefully I can transform all of them into geography majors (as,
that's always my ultimate goal).

We have a little over a month left until the wedding, so we're trying
to nail down all of the remaining details. We mailed out the
invitations on Monday and we are finally getting everything together
for wedding gifts and music (and if you have any suggestions, feel
free to let us know here:
http://www.mywedding.com/tomandannie/music.html we want the music to
help create a casual, relaxed atmosphere, where no one feels confined
to a table or the dance floor, we encourage wandering). With
everything going on, I haven't had much time for blogging.

Recently though, with the start of September and of classes, a slight
drop in temperatures and humidity, I am reminiscent of early fall in
Fredericksburg. The Mary Washington campus was gorgeous in autumn, the
brick facades and sidewalks in coordination with the changing of
leaves was breathtaking. Thoughts of autumn in the Mid-Atlantic
conjure up memories of apple orchards, bonfires, scarves, and pumpkin
picking. It's really the only season that makes me long for life in
the north. Sure, there are times here and there that I miss it...but
nothing pulls at my heartstrings like autumn....it's just not the same
down here (although, it IS the start of festival season...that in
itself is reason to celebrate, once that starts I'm sure I'll post
about it).

So, as a tribute to fall in Fredericksburg, I'm posting a remake of my
favorite sandwich at my favorite downtown restaurant: Sammy
T's, with a side of my first-time-ever kale chips. I wanted to get
fresh, local ingredients for these sandwiches, and I wanted an excuse
to go to Fairhope, so Tom and I ventured over to the Windmill Market
in Fairhope. We've heard a lot about it on the radio, read the ads in
the Lagniappe, etc. It's described as an open-air market that sells
fresh and local produce, dairy, and meat. These are all true, but it's
totally overrated. I felt like it was more of an open-air craft fair
that just happened to have some local produce (all I saw were
tomatoes, peaches, sweet potatoes, lemons and limes). They did have a
large selection of meats, but it was mostly pork and beef products,
which we weren't interested in at the time. I should give the meats a
try but overall, it wasn't worth the hour drive. I would probably
frequent it if it were located in Mobile (we did buy some peaches and
tomatoes and they were delicious), but it's just currently too small
of an operation for the drive. I'd really like to see Mobile get
something similar. It's definitely in high demand.

Anyway, because the tomatoes we purchased weren't quite ripe, we were
unsuccessful in buying anything that's actually used in this recipe,
but it's delicious none the less.

Luckily, I had one sole-surviving eggplant (the rest were sadly eaten...and not by us). I couldn't wait to use it.

Looks delicious right? It was. Now I want more. Anyway, the first thing you want to do it chop the eggplant into cubes along with some portabello mushrooms.

Also, chop up some onion, tomato, and green peppers. Saute the eggplant and mushrooms until soft.
Spread some Dijon and mayonnaise on toast and stack all of the ingredients. Grate fresh mozzarella and throw some feta chunks on top. The more cheese, the merrier. It's a proven live motto.

Stacked and ready for the melt-down.
Place the stacks under the broiler until the cheese has melted.
Don't forget about the kale chips

 This was before...when the kale was soft, and terribly bitter.


This was after, when the oven magically transforms the kale into a crunchy, salty, delicious snack. Try it right now.

Open-Faced Feta Melts
(adapted from Sammy T's menu)
1 small eggplant, chopped           
1 cup sliced baby portabello mushrooms
1/2 cup diced onions                    
1/2 chopped green peppers
1/2c diced tomato (we sadly left this off, none were ripe!)
1/4 c freshly shredded mozzarella       
1/4 c feta
2 tbs Dijon mustard and 2tbs good mayonnaise
2 slices of good multi-grain bread, toasted

Preheat the broiler on low. Start by sauteing the eggplant and the
mushrooms in 2tbs oil (we use coconut oil because it works well at
high temperatures, but you're free to use whatever you prefer).
Meanwhile, combine the Dijon and mayonnaise in a separate bowl. Spread
the Dijon sauce over each piece of toast. When the eggplant and
mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes, layer the mixture on top of the
bread. Add the peppers, onions, tomatoes, mozzarella, and feta. Pile
it high, it's delicious. Place the slices under the broiler for about
2 minutes, or when the cheese has melted, watch carefully! You don't
want it to burn. Serve with sweet potato fries, or in our case, kale
chips. We used Smitten Kitchen's recipe with curly leaf kale.

I hope ya'll enjoy and have a great labor day weekend!





I'm not talking about the southern, comfort food of chicken-n-dumplins. I'm talking about dim-sum style, Chinese dumplins (I live in the south, I have to leave off the final "g"s to correctly pronounce it).  I've been trying to find authentic, delicious dumplins since I returned from China, which was about three years ago. They were by far my favorite thing there (and that's saying something because all of the food was amazing), there were SO many different varieties, from pork to shrimp to vegetarian options...there was really no limit. Tom and I have made them several times, and I think we've finally narrowed down the recipe. It may not be completely authentic...but it's damn tasty.
First of all,  it's a bit of a time commitment...maybe not your average weeknight meal. 
Secondly, there are a lot of ingredients, but it's definitely worth it to get all of them. You'll thank me. So. good. 
 The meat mixture (ok so we were out of carrots...they make a lovely addition...but whatever, it was still awesome). Also, most dumplin recipes call for ground pork, but we opted to use ground turkey and it turned out very well. 
Now that it's all mushed together, it's not so bad, right? More like, delicious. 
Also, the sauce? Swoon. You will probably want to put it on everything. 
Also, I hope like green onions. Because you're going to use a whole bunch of them. Literally. 
 First, dab a spoonful of the turkey mixture onto a dumplin wrapper. 
Then, make sure you get someone to do all the dirty work while you take pictures. You'll enjoy them so much more with clean hands. 
Ok for real, in order to make the dumplins, the first thing you want to do is to dab the edges of the wrappers with water. Then fold the wrappers in half and press the edges together. Fold up the corners and scallop the edges throughout so that you have a tightly sealed dumplin.
Also, don't follow our lead and overstuff them...you'll have meat leakage. No one likes that. (Notice the uneven folding, we're still trying to perfect that, but as long as they're sealed, that's all that really matters...or...that's what I tell myself)
If you don't have a bamboo steamer, stop what you're doing right now and get one. They're only like $20 and they're such a clean, fresh, and simple way to cook. Anyway, if you do have one, place your dumplins in both layers of the steamer and cook for about 7 minutes. 
See how delicious they look? See how I opened the steamer to take a picture? Don't do that. Try to keep all the steam in, they'll cook more evenly this way.
Use it to cook your veggies too, we're all about bein healthy around here. 
Plate it up. You'll want to make this all the time. 

Dumplins with Ginger Soy Dipping Sauce
(adapted from Bay Tables)

1lb ground turkey                                   4 tsp. sesame oil
6 green onions                                        2tbs vegetable oil
1 medium carrot, grated             4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger root, grated                    3tbs oyster sauce
1/2 tsp salt                                               2tbs chicken broth
1tbs sugar                                                    3tbs cornstarch
2tsp soy sauce                      1package of won ton wrappers
Ginger Soy Dipping Sauce Recipe at the bottom

Combine the turkey, onions, carrot, ginger root, salt, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, vegetable oil, garlic, oyster sauce, chicken broth, and cornstarch in a bowl and mix well.  Chill and let sit for at least an hour. 
Place 1 tbs of the filling in the center of each wrapper. Moisten the edges with water. Fold over and press the edges to seal.  Place the dumplins in a bamboo steamer. Steam, covered, for 7 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with Ginger Soy Dipping Sauce. 

Ginger Soy Dipping Sauce:
2 tsp sugar                                    1/4c soy sauce
6 tbs chicken broth                     1 tbs sesame oil
3tbs freshly grated ginger root         1 green onion
pinch of red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. 


It's not over

I'm a bit disturbed by how the media has recently been portraying the oil spill incident. Yes the leak has stopped (for now), yes BP has been filling the well with mud and soon cement...these are both fantastic, but it's not over, not by a long shot. I've heard reports that most of the oil has been scooped up, burned or evaporated. I just can't believe that's the case. I can't begin to imagine how much has sunk (which will continue to cause problems), how much is still trapped in marshes, or how much oil (or dispersants for that matter) lies within the bodies of countless fish, birds, crabs, etc. Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there...

Crabs filled with "black substance"


Dresses, beer crocks, and sliders.

Saturday morning, I went to Something New for my second dress fitting...I am about to shower this place with praises, it's pretty fantastic. I found this shop on a whim because I had no idea where to go for alterations in Mobile. I got a used dress from a Brides Against Breast Cancer event in DC, (and if you're in the market for a wedding dress, it's a bit hectic but I definitely recommend it!), so I couldn't exactly get my dress altered where I bought it (which is what usually happens). I asked around and no one really had any suggestions so I checked out this place because I frequently passed it on my way to South Alabama. Smart move. The girls have taken great care of me (and of my dress), and they really seem to know what they're doing. More importantly, the woman doing my alterations (feel like such a jerk, can't remember her name!) is amazing. My dress was about 2 sizes too big and you wouldn't know if you saw it now. She has done a fantastic job! It's a bit on the expensive side, but oh so worth it. When I tried the dress on Saturday morning, I really started to get excited. It needs to be taken in just a bit more (I have one more fitting on August 14th) but overall, it looks great, I am thrilled! It's really starting to feel like this wedding is coming together (although, part of me is still like "I'm getting married?!?).

Anyway, because it was nearly a thousand degrees outside, Tom and I had to find some indoor activities to bide our time before we sweated our butts off at Callaghan's to see Holy Ghost Tent Revival (another recommendation in this post...really fun band, if you like the Avett Brothers or Old Crow Medicine Show). So, we decided to drive over to Fairhope to checkout Tom Jones Pottery. A coworker of mine recommended the place and told me that they were having their summer show and sale this past Saturday. I'm so glad we checked it out, it's really cute. Great pottery, friendly people, and spiked lemonade...SCORE. After a couple of glasses of "adult lemonade", we obviously got suckered in to buying some pottery. Two wine goblets (because, why wouldn't you want to drink wine from a goblet? Glasses are so five years ago...), and a bread crock (that came with a beer bread recipe...I'm sensing a theme here). So that basically dictated my plan for Sunday. Bread baking.

We started with some delicious rosemary-olive-beer bread (with a bit too much rosemary). I want to tweak this recipe a bit before I post it but, clearly we didn't hate it...
                                                             half of it is already gone...

Anyway, while the beer bread was in the oven, I stared making some buns for the sliders we were going to have on Monday night. Quick way to get bread to rise? Just put it outside in the 100 degree heat, no big deal. The buns turned out great, and were a perfect accompaniment to our buffalo (oh yes, we used buffalo meat) sliders.
They're obviously not complete without some home-baked fries

Hope you had a great weekend too!


Lazy Food?

Everyone has his/her go-to meal. The "I'm too lazy to cook something difficult, but I don't want to spend money" meal. You want it to be somewhat healthy, but you also want it to be easy. I have several in my arsenal (mostly salads that involve throwing whatever you have in your fridge and mixing it with either cous cous or pasta). My other go-to fave? Hash. No, I'm not talking about toking up until you eat everything in your fridge. I'm talking about hash. Like hash browns, but mixed with vegetables and oh-so-delicious. If we can't think of something to make for dinner (and we want something quick...and assuming we have potatoes) this is what we go for.
It's loosely based on Deb's (over at Smitten Kitchen) spring asparagus panetta hash.  The rich, saltyness of the pancetta mixed with the fresh, bright asparagus is absolutely divine. I'd make that hash everyday. However, we rarely have pancetta and we were out of asparagus as of about two days ago, and I wasn't about to go shopping. Afterall, that's what this post is about right? Lazy food.
That's what I love about hash though, you don't have to make it fancy with salted, Italian meats, just use what you have. Whatever you have. Throw it in there...let the flavors dance with the potatoes, sooner or later, you'll have something delicious. This time around, we threw in (besides the potatoes) red bell pepper, green bell pepper, banana pepper, jalapeno pepper (too much pepper? nah), red onion, and some tomatoes.  That's it. So easy and so good.
Look at them, all of them, it's a frying pan party. Those potatoes have already started getting that nice, crisp outer crust, while the peppers and onions are getting softer and happier.  Finally, we invite one more friend. A friend that pulls this whole party together.
The fried egg. The runny yolk will really gel the flavors here. You won't regret it. Trust me.
See what I mean? That yolk is just itchin' to party.
Top it off with hot sauce (obviously, this is gulf south cookin' everything's topped with hot sauce) and enjoy! This is just too good and too easy not to share.

(Makes 2 servings)
1/2lb Yukon gold potatoes, diced
2tbs coconut oil
vegetables. whatever you have. diced.
Creole seasoning to taste

Heat a 12 inch frying pan over medium to medium high heat. Let the oil heat up for a minute or two and add the potatoes. Season with the creole seasoning. Let them cook for a few minutes until they've browned on one side. Start stirring and flipping them around for a few more minutes (you don't want them sticking) until they've browned on both sides (about 3/4 cooked). 

Add the vegetables and stir them around a bit. This is also when you might want to start frying the eggs; you'd like them to be finished around the same time as the potatoes. Cook for about 5-7 minutes. Once the vegetables are soft, remove and serve immediately, top with the fried egg (and whatever garnish you have around. Goat cheese? yum! Green onions, go for it! Really, whatever you want). 

What's your favorite lazy meal? 


First CSA experience

This summer, Tom and I were fortunate enough to take part in our very first C.S.A. (community supported agriculture).  Tom works in Mississippi, so he and some of his co-workers signed up for weekly fruit and vegetable deliveries from Steede Farms, located in Lucedale, MS.  Many C.S.A.s operate differently, some require manual labor from their members (monthly or bi-monthly maintenance), some deliver produce while others are a "pick-your-own" operation. How they operate, of course is heavily influenced by farm size, membership size, and trial-and-error. We were members of Steede Farms' inaugural C.S.A. experience. And from what I understand, it was quite overwhelming. Our deliveries were supposed to run from the beginning of June through the end of August. Unfortunately, the stress on the farmers and on the land in combination with the heavy summer rainstorms and high temperatures has put our deliveries on hold until September. Despite this set-back, I honestly couldn't be happier with Steede Farms and I would sign up again in a heartbeat.
We only signed up for the "half"box which equated to about 10lbs/week (I couldn't imagine the full box!). We ended up getting zucchini, summer squash, pattypan squash, okra, tomatoes, bell peppers, banana peppers, chile de arbol peppers (way WAY too hot for me), watermelon, cantaloupe and much more! We've been able to eat fresh, local vegetables throughout the summer, we've tried new recipes, and we've been able to store a good amount for the winter.  All-in-all in was a wonderful experience. I can't wait until this fall when we get a new harvest!

If you haven't had a chance to sign up for a C.S.A. (I know, it's a bit late in the season...but next year!), please do! If you don't know where to find a C.S.A. or with whom to get in touch, look around websites or local blogs to see if you can find one in your area, you may be surprised!


Camp life

This was the first weekend we've spent at the camp since the beginning of its construction (which was at some point last year).  It was absolutely fantastic and a much needed escape from Mobile for a short weekend. The difference between the two camps is incredible. I feel so relaxed at this new place. It's absolutely perfect.
Before construction:

The original house is located on an old homestead in rural Perry County, MS, just east of Hattiesburg. It was  a great place for a camp weekend (and has stories to back it up), definitely rustic but, charming as well.  Tom's parents had discussed building a new camp for years, and with the increasing battles with snakes and rodents in the old house (and more importantly, a growing family as we are to welcome a new niece or nephew sometime in late November!), this could not have come at a better time.
After construction:

Absolutely serene.  To top it off? Check out this view.

I hope your weekend was as relaxing as mine!