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!