Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Seasons Greetings to All...

May all the days of Christmas bring you a gift of love from your love ones, and on the third day of Christmas, Three Fench Hens.  As the story goes the symbols of the french hens stand for Faith, Hope and Love, and with that you have everything.

I will be away for several days sharing my holiday with all of my family members and I wish you the happiest of holidays and all the gifts of the 12 days of Christmas.

Have a Merry, Merry Christmas and a safe and blessed New Years.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My mini decorations this holiday...

I have been so terribly busy and really under the weather the past few weeks that I have been very bad in keeping up with my posts and comments.  I guess it is the time of year that gives us all too much to do and usually crummy weather to make us sick that we all have the same complaints.  So sorry but I think I have finally caught up and gotten my act together.

I am planning to move to a new and larger place after the new year so I decided to go with a minimum of decorations this Christmas.  I figured it would be less to unpack from storage and less to have to pack after Christmas if we just did one small tree and my favorite
Christmas decoration, St. Nick in the pink robe.  Tonight my minimal Christmas decorations are complete and as pretty as they are I feel like I'm missing tons of things.  I am crazy about the Christmas season and love all the many decorations I usually install.  I like to put different themes in different rooms and also use lots of garland and swags. Watch out next Christmas, with more space I will go crazy!

I have finished all the shopping and baking early this year so now it's just wrapping and making a couple of small pieces of jewelry for a gift exchange.  I'm hoping to be able to just kick back, open a bottle or two of wine and relax away the rest of the weekend.  Nice thought, hope it works that way!

I sure hope all is going well with all of you this season and you are at the spot in the craziness you would like to be.  I have a lovely glass of vino with me now and I send all of you a toast for the holiday. Cheers and wishing you a very safe, happy and blessed season!!

I'd love to hear how everyone else is making out with their plans this year. Drop me a note, your comments always brings smiles.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A new favorite Christmas candy...

This past weekend my girlfriend and I, along with my Mom, spent hours making candy for Christmas and to sell at the holiday church bazaar next week. We made all of our favorites, Turtles, Pralines, Peppermint Bark, Toffee, Toffee Bark, Chocolate and Caramel covered Pretzels and this year my new favorite, Eggnog Truffles. Actually I am not much of an eggnog drinker unless I am served up someone’s homemade eggnog with a hit of rum or brandy but these wonderful little candies are fabulous. They taste wonderful and truly melt in your mouth. I know they will all sell at the church bazaar and we will have to make another batch the week before Christmas just for us. Try these, they are not difficult to do and they are worth the effort!

Note: I doubled this recipe with no trouble at all.
1 pound white baking chocolate, divided
4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Fresh is best if you have it.
1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Imitation Rum Extract or ½ teaspoon Rum or Brandy
(I used the real Rum)
About two tablespoons of ground nutmeg for sprinkling. I use the fresh nutmeg

1. Melt 8 ounces of the chocolate as directed on package. Beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, nutmeg and extract in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed mixer until well blended and smooth. Add melted chocolate; beat until well mixed. Cover. Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm.

2. Shape into 24 (about 3/4-inch) balls. Place on wax paper-lined tray. Refrigerate until ready to dip.

3. Because when you drop each cold truffle into the melted white chocolate to coat you can only coat 12 truffles at a time. The temperature of the coating drops to cold to coat more than 12. I found just doing 10 at a time worked best. Then melt 4 ounces of the remaining chocolate in small microwavable bowl on MEDIUM (50% power) 1 1/2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Using a fork, dip 1 truffle at a time into the melted chocolate. Tap back of fork 2 or 3 times against edge of dish to allow excess chocolate to drip off. Place truffles on wax paper-lined tray. (If there are any “bald” spots on truffle, cover with melted chocolate that remains on the fork.) Sprinkle truffles with nutmeg between each batch while they are each still wet from dipping. Repeat with remaining 4 ounces chocolate and remaining truffles.
4. Refrigerate 1 hour or until chocolate is set. Store truffles between layers of wax paper in airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week.

Don't be afraid of making any kind of truffles, they are easy to do just takes a little extra time. These are delightful and not an overwhelming eggnog taste so anyone will love them.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mom's favorite candy made easy...

When it comes to the holidays each year my friends and family think it is mandatory to have Mom's homemade Turtles.  I will admit I am one of the ones looking forward to getting turtles and pralines even if I am the one making some of them.  They are both very easy to make but when it comes to turtles this year they got even easier.  Instead of making homemade caramel, which is very time consuming although fabulous, I got to try some bulk caramel that was just as good as homemade and actually better when it came down to the ease. 
This wonderful caramel comes in a 5 pound block and it is made by Peter's Candy.  I was able to order it online from a terrific small business out of California called an Occasional Chocolate.  The 5 pound block sells for around $21.00 and is worth every bit.  It is very soft and buttery tasting and super easy to use.  To make your turtles all you have to do is cut or pinch off the amount of caramel you need for the size of the turtle you're making.  Roll the piece of caramel into a ball.  Set down 3 or 4 pecans in the shape of legs and push down the caramel ball onto the top of the nuts, spreading it out so just the tips of the nuts are showing.  Depending on the amount of chocolate you like for your candies either dunk the caramel and nuts fully into the chocolate or spoon some onto the top of the nuts and caramel.  Set on waxed paper to let the chocolate get firm and glossy.  We make some with pecans, which is the traditional turtle nut, and some with almonds but whatever nuts your family loves could be used.  Also available at the Occasional Chocolate is bags of very good Guittard's melting chocolates in Milk, Dark and White for great prices. My favorite is the dark chocolate of the turtles. 
I know you may think this is really a lot of caramel at one time but there are so many more candies you can make with it.  We always wrap some around pretzel rods then dip them into chocolate with sprinkles and nuts on the top. So, so yummy!  The caramel stores very well if you find yourself with any leftover.  We made many turtles and rods so far this year for our holiday use and packaged up many of them for the bazaar at church to sell.  It seems nobody can pass one up and we didn't have any leftovers to save.  This is good stuff and I hope you try it out.  I put a link  to her online business, check it out because I'm sure you will like all the ingredients.
This is not a sponsored promotion for the candy place or the caramel, she doesn't know she is mentioned, it is just that it is really good and the prices are terrific.  Also they ship out right away, can't beat that!.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mama's Sweet Southern Ambrosia...

Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners mean turkey and Mama's Southern Ambrosia.  We don't cook turkeys any other time of the year and we don't make ambrosia. My family loves fruit and fruit salads and we make them year round but throwing in those few extra ingredients and calling it ambrosia puts them into a catagory all its own.  It's sweet and tart, soft and crunchy and just plan yummy.  The perfect side for all the rich flavors of your turkey dinner.  It's beautiful served in your fancy holiday bowl and it is great as a left over treat. Try it, I know you'll enjoy it. It's yummy!
Mama"s Southern Ambrosia
1 large can of pineapple chunks – drain off the juice
1 large can of mandarin orange sections – drain off the juice
1 large can of peaches – chopped into bite size pieces and drained
2 bananas – sliced and sprinkled lightly with lemon juice so as not to brown
1 ½ Cups of seedless grapes – sliced in half
1 ½ Cups of mini marshmallows – the pastel ones are pretty in here
1 can or half a bag of shredded sweetened coconut – more or less to taste
1/2 Cup of red cherries cut into half. Can be left out, we do sometimes.
¾ Cup of chopped Pecans – can use more or less to taste
1 pint container of Sour Cream
2 tablespoons of Light Brown Sugar – Stir well into the sour cream and let sit awhile to dissolve

Carefully fold all ingredients together and serve in a pretty bowl. We sometimes use a trifle bowl and it looks so nice that way.  Ambrosia is best after it has set for a few hours in refrigerator and even overnight giving the flavors time to meld.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thanksgiving sides - Baked Corn Pudding - Family Traditions...

One of the things my family likes best about Thanksgiving dinner isn't the turkey but the sides.  They actually have joked many times about skipping the bird and just having a table full of side dishes.  We have many of the same ones year after year, that include 2 kinds of dressing, regular herb stuffing and a cornbread dressing, petite peas, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with an orange and praline topping, cranberry relish, ambrosia, and if that's not enough, baked corn pudding.
I generally only make this wonderful corn custard two or three times a year and usually only for holidays.  It's rich and yummy and a true southern delight. 

With Thanksgiving so close now I thought I would start to share some of my favorite side dish recipes in case you'd like to try them on your table. This is one that is easy to put together, throw into the oven and let it cook along with the bird.  Try it, I know you'll enjoy it.

Baked Corn Pudding
1 stick of butter – melted
1 cup of cream (have used half and half)
4 large whole eggs – beaten
1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of flour
Salt and pepper to your taste (I use about a teaspoon salt)
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
2 cans of creamed corn
2 cans of corn kernels (drained)
Mix together all ingredients, adding your corn kernels last
Fold the kernels into the batter so as not to break them up.
Pour the corn mixture into a buttered baking dish (will fit a 9 x 13)
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until the custard has set and the top is golden brown.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Drum Roll Please... The Winner Is.....

What a wonderful time I have had the past week with my Fall Give-Away and now the week has come to an end and it's time to annouce the winner.  It has been so much fun to read everyone's comments and emails, and boy what a big head I have had for a week, with all the great comments and the new followers on both of my blogs, Sugar Creek Beads and My Southern Touch.

I really enjoy blogging and reading the blogs of others.  It is a wonderful way to meet and enjoy such a variety of people who have like interests.  With the mixture of different interests I wanted this to be a fun gift.  I plan on offering a new and unique give away for each season.

So, this being the end of the fall give away, the winner is...

The winner of your drawing is...

1st Gaston Studio 
Congratulations on the drawing! It was completed on Thursday, 12 November 2009 at 00:27:15 UTC. The winner was drawn from a list of 114 entrants using true randomness, which for many purposes is better than the pseudo-random number algorithms typically used in computer programs.

Whether you keep it for yourself or give it away as a gift I hope you will enjoy it always.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Three days left until drawing time, it's too good to miss...

Don't forget to leave comments with your email address so that you'll be in the drawing for this fantastic, one of a kind Copper and Larimar Blue Crazy Lace Agate Watch and Earring set.  Drawing will be held Wednesday, November 11th at 7pm.  Custom made by me for a special give away for all my blog readers and followers.  Check out my other blog at Sugar Creek Beads, you can have double entries by commenting on both on my blogs.  It's a beautiful give away, don't miss it!

Good luck and I look forward to reading your comments.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's Here, a Give-Away worth waiting for...

In time for the upcoming holidays, and everyday to come, I have picked a really beautiful gift from my Artisan Jewelry Collection. I've been promising something special and I made it for my blog friends in mind. I love it and I hope you do too. This two piece set is one of kind and really great for any wardrobe.

The beaded watch is special with its antiqued copper watch case and a unique stone known as Larimar Blue Crazy Lace Agate. Each oval and coin shaped stone is shaded from the deepest turquoise to the palest Larimar blues with patterns in shades of copper and taupe. Each of the unique stones is set off by shiny copper beads and a matching copper toggle closure. The total length of the watch is 8" so that is fits as a beautiful bracelet.  The matching earrings are just as unique because they are made from antiqued copper circles; hand forged for interesting texture with a single Larimer Blue Crazy Lace Agate oval stone hanging from the middle. They are for pierced ears and hang on an antiqued copper, flattened French ear wire. They can be worn together, apart or even separated and one piece given as a gift. It is up to you, they will come to you in a gift box.

The drawing will be held one week from today, November 10th, 2009, at 7pm by and selected from all comments left this week and will include all of the followers. This Give Away includes both of my blogs; Sugar Creek Beads and My Southern Touch and for extra chances in the drawing check out both of my blogs and comment on each place. If you are a follower in each location you are also counted on both sites.  Important to include your email address so that I may contact the winner.

Good luck and I look forward to reading your comments.

Monday, November 2, 2009

They're Back... and it's wonderful!

Click on photo to enlarge.
Leaving Mom's in Cambridge earlier, I drove by the big pond next to the Choptank River and the view out my car window was the ultimate sign of fall, when it comes to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. No, not the beautiful tree turning bright orange, but the Canadian Geese setting up home by the water. Each year at this time you can see thousands of Canadian Geese, noisily flying south for the winter in their V formations, and landing in the fields, near the water, in Cambridge and other small towns along the shore.  My photos aren't the greatest taken on my Blackberry cell phone, through a car window as I drove, sorry about that people behind me, but I just had to snap the wonderful view. I get so excited each fall when the geese come back.  They are so beautiful and regal looking with always a sentry standing watch over all the groups as they eat.  The sentrys never put their heads down while it is their turn to stand guard, looking around always until it is their turn to eat and a new guard stands watch.  I love watching them and even though they are known to back up traffic several times a day, they waddle back and forth across the road from the field to the river, sentry standing in the middle of the road squawking loudly at the cars, while the rest of his group get across.  The whole scene always makes me happy and I kind of enjoy being a little late watching their special noisy parade.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Are you ready for the Goblins...

Are you ready for the little goblins and the big pumpkin at your house?  I have my few little decorations out, not many, mostly fall leaves and a last minute pumpkin on the table, but I do have my big bowl of candy already near the front door.  There has been a lot of talk about when trick or treat will take place this year, Friday or Saturday so, whatever day or both days, I am ready.  We don't get many children these days but the ones that are around we know so I have gotten full size bars to make it a little special.  If  truth be told it is partly because we love to have the left overs in full sizes. 
So what's with using the wonderful pumpkin at Halloween?  It seems that in the 1800s when so many immigrants came to America because of the Irish Potato Famine, they brought with them the traditions of Halloween and the use of the pumpkin.  Traditionally, the Jack-O-Lantern was carved from potatoes, beets and turnips and then lit with a burning lump of coal or little candles.  I find it hard to imagine, because we are so used to a big orange pumpkin, a home decorated with small potatoes and beets with a lump of coal inside. These vegetable lanterns were made to represent the souls of the dear departed ones and they set them on porches and in windows to welcome home the deceased. They also believed the little scary lanterns served as protection against malevolent spirits or goblins freed from the dead. Since turnips and gourds were not as readily available in the Americas the pumpkin was used and found to be a terrific and more scary replacement. Today the pumpkin Jack-O-Lantern is an essential part of Halloween celebrations.  As to the trick or treat giving of candy it is said to also come with the Celts to America at the same time. They tried to appease these wandering spirits or goblins by offering them gifts of fruit and nuts. They began the tradition of placing plates of their finest food and bits of treats that the household had to offer on their doorsteps, as gifts, to appease the hunger of the ghostly wanderers. What started out as something very serious to the Druids has turned into a fun time of decorations, parties, candy and lots of sweet little goblins wandering the neighborhood.  Are you ready for your little goblins yet?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Halloween Candy Curse....

I walked into the grocery store this afternoon and the smell of sugar that hits you at the door is super strong.  Sweet, but strong.   During the Halloween season surrounding all the entrances to stores is candy, all kinds of candy.  It's a dieters nightmare and a childs happiest dreams.  One of my favorite Halloween candies is the little pieces of candy corn.  Super sweet and honey tasting but I love it.   Problem is that one serving, about 14 little kernals, is around 150 calories and I have yet to get away with just having 14 kernals. I tried it this week, I counted out my one serving and ate them slow.  I  felt happy that I did so well, then it drove me crazy for the next couple of hours that there were more in the bag calling my name. So of course, I got out the bag and munched on them untill I had eaten several more servings.  I wasn't happy anymore.  They know people do this to themselves, so why not add more pieces to a serving and count the higher calories to begin with, then when you eat your serving your guilt factor isn't so bad.   Who are they fooling anyway, nobody eats just 14 little kernals and stops. A cruel marketing trick I think or rather I try to make myself believe, so I don't have to take all the blame for my self-induced sugar rush.

            If you think I am naughty with candy corn, well you haven't seen anything when it comes to the guilt trip I take when it comes to little chocolate candy bars. I love each flavor especially the little Krackel bars. I do try to have some of each kind including the dark chocolate since "they" claim it has health benefits. Actually, if I pasted the bags to my hips it would be the right thing to do, make the candy curse go quicker.
How about you, do you have a favorite Halloween candy?  Hopefully you don't have the same candy curse I  have with all those little pieces.  Trick or treat huh, well it tricks me everytime.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Turning leaves and cold rain calls for soup...

Looking out my window at the beautiful turning leaves, dripping from the rain, makes me feel cozy and contented.  I love fall, my favorite season, and watching the leaves out front turn red gives me such a nesting feeling.  With me, besides staying warm and cozy, means cooking something from the comfort food family, soup.  My family thinks I am little weird, well actually I am but you never heard that from me, because I can eat soup everyday from now to springtime and not get bored.

After searching through my vast collection of recipes in books, magazines and lots of little cards I have decided this weekend would be perfect for the warm and creamy, and one of my most favorites, Cream of Cauliflower Cheese Soup.  This recipe I found once in the Taste of Home Magazine (it's their photo also) and it quickly became a family favorite.  There are so many Cream of Cauliflower recipes out there and many are fabulous and I love them too, but today I want the cheesey one.  I love this with some green salad, crusty bread and a couple glasses of merlot and I am very content.  Try it, it is good for warming your soul.
Cauliflower Cheese Soup
1 medium head cauliflower, broken in florets
1 medium onion, chopped,1 can  14 1/2 oz chicken broth   
1 chicken boulillon cube
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 cups milk
2 cups (8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon each cayenne pepper, curry powder and white pepper
In large saucepan, combine cauliflower, onion broth and bouilion. Cover and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are tender.  Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter, stir in flour until smooth.  Gradually add milk.  Cook and stir until bubbly, and thickened, about 5 minutes.  Reduce heat, add cheese and seasonings. Pour into the cauliflower mixture. Simmer slowly for 30 minutes. Do Not Boil.  Makes 6-8 servings.  Taste of Home says a 1 cup serving has 220 calories but I make it with 1% Milk and it is still great and the calories and fat are lowered.  I have also left out the curry powder before and I liked it just as well.  I would rate this a 10 when it comes to comfort food and I love having left overs the next day for lunch.

Try it, I know you'll love it too. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Wonderful Fall Treat and Yummy Anytime...

 Looking through my recipes for something fall and yummy to come up with for a shower later this week I was reminded of this fabulous pumpkin dip I make so often at this time of the year. It is so easy to do, and it always goes so quickly, that it is perfect for parties. I also served it with slices of apples and pears, ginger snaps or any fruit that is handy.  Fresh fruit is best because it still has some firmness to the pieces.  Use your favorites and for an extra treat I have spread it on toast, muffins and toasted pound cake slices.  Yummy!!  

Creamy Pumpkin Dip
2 - 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup brown sugar (I like the light best but use what you have)
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 can of Libby's pumpkin - 15 oz size (my favorite but any brand you use is okay)
2 teaspoons maple syrup (have left it out before but the maple gives it a little extra kick)
1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
Beat together all of the ingredients with a mixer until it is extra smooth and creamy.  Put in a pretty bowl that looks like fall, cover and put in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.   Set you bowl out on a pretty platter and surround with fresh slices of fruit and any other goodies you would like on your plate. I know you and your company are going to love this and if you want to make it a bit healthier it works just as well with low fat cream cheese.  Just make sure you use the same amounts.

For an added goodie I often serve either mulled wine or apple cider, but lately I have had a few pumpkin spice lattes and when I figure out that recipe, that will be on menu as well.  Anyone with the pumpkin spice latte secret let me know?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cherry Pie for Breakfast

While writing tonight I kept having memories of the unique treat I had for breakfast this morning.  I ate a slice of cherry pie and a cup of coffee and have not been able to get the memories out of mind all day.  Sure it was a great tasting pie and it was homemade and given to me by a dear friend, but it wasn't that actual pie that has been haunting me all day.

It isn't my habit to have pie for breakfast and I am sure it has been more years than I would care to count since I have made it anything more than dessert.  But this morning it was there and the memories of my Dad and I came floating in when I saw it on the cabinet next to the coffee pot.

When I was a little girl it was a regular thing for me to go to church with my Dad each Sunday morning.  We lived only a few blocks from the old church and unless the weather was bad we would walk together to the 11am service.  My 6ft Daddy in his suit and little me, always in a dress with patent leather Sunday shoes, would walk hand in hand to the church and sit together on the strong wooden pews.  I can picture him now holding his bible in front of him and me sitting there, swinging my shiny shoes under the seat and not always paying attention to the service being preached.  I loved being there with him, and I am sure like any young child I was very anxious for the preacher to stop talking so that Daddy and I could take our walk to the little resturant we walked past on our way home.

It was a tiny little place and besides the few tables and chairs it had a counter like you would find in a diner.  We would always go to the counter and he would set me up on the high stool next to him.  I would order the small hamburger from the childrens menu, with a soda, and he would always order a slice of cherry pie with a hot and steamy cup of black coffee.  We would talk and I would giggle alot and he would always give me his last little bite of cherry pie.   He would pay the couple of dollars to the lady behind the counter and we would walk home from church.

Thinking of my Dad today I thought of all the old memories involved, dressing up, walking hand in hand to the church, sitting and praying with him or the little game he would always play with the one bite of cherry pie.  I am sure as a little child going to the resturant and having a bite of cherry pie was high on the list of fun things to do, but today the memories are all those things because I was with my Dad.  What memories that cherry pie stirred up in me today, but that piece of pie and cup of coffee this morning brought me happy tears, and a feeling of being a little girl again, being so loved by the man who is my Daddy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fall apples and cinnamon pie, my hips and I love it!

When fall hits I think of apple pie. It just goes with the weather and is so comforting on a chilly evening when the taste of cinnamon and sugar makes me smile. Bad for the hips but great for the soul.  I used to go to lots of trouble and make a scratch pie crust, roll it out perfect and make fancy crimps but the last couple of years I have gone rustic.  I don't think it really matters much if it is rustic or not since I am going for the taste and not trying to win a pie contest.  They actually call this style of pie a rustic tart that can be made with any of your favorite fruits but fall apples are my choice.  I like to mix up my apples, some sweet like Golden Delicious and some tart like the Granny Smith.  It doesn't matter what you choose since apples are a bit different depending on how ripe they are and the best pies for your family should be made with your favorite apples.  My family is crazy about vanilla ice cream on their pie but me I love an ice cream called Pecan Praline (made by Safeway) on mine.  It makes it so yummy and gives the pie a hint of caramel and pecans.  So good and I want some right now right after dinner!  Here's my super easy recipe, adjust it to your favorite apples, but try it cause I know you'll love the ease and taste. 
1 refrigerated pie crust (from 15-ounce package)
1 egg white, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons Cinnamon, Ground
4 cups thinly sliced peeled apples (about 4 medium)
1 teaspoon sugar  (I love the raw sugar for sprinkling on crust, it gives a great effect)

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Prepare crust as directed on package. Place on foil-lined 12-inch pizza pan or a large cookie sheet. If necessary, press out any folds or creases. Brush crust with about 1/2 of the beaten egg white.
2. Mix 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in medium bowl. Toss with apples. Spoon into center of crust, spreading to within 2 inches of edges. Fold 2-inch edge of crust up over apples, pleating or folding crust as needed. Brush crust with remaining egg white; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar.
3. Bake 20 minutes or until apples are tender. Cool slightly before serving.

I usually serve it right from the oven, since it is so quick, with a scoop of ice cream melting on top but really this rustic tart is fabulous cold the next day.

I have made this tart in the summer with mixed berries and with peaches and raspberries and they are both wonderful.  Use your favorite fruit and have fun with it, your hips will love you for it!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Some southern food for the soul....

It feels so good to be back home again, funny though when I was still in North Carolina I was feeling like I never wanted to leave. What is it with vacations that we can't wait to get there, not want to leave, then can't wait to get back to our own bed? I hated coming home but I brought something home with me to remind us of the Outer Banks until we get back next September. Shrimp!

Each year before we leave the OBX we go down to Wacheese and wait for the the big shrimp boats to come in with their wonderful treasures. We take our biggest cooler and have it loaded at the dock with 50 pounds of just caught shrimp. The fishermen layer and pack the shrimp with crushed ice till it is very secure to drive back to Maryland. When we get home we load them into freezer bags, of various sizes, and then fill the bags up with water to keep them from getting any freezer burn during the year. It is very economical this way and it always tastes super fresh.

My first shrimp meal back this year is my favorite southern touch for the soul, none other than Oh Boy, Shrimp and Grits. It's warm, and yummy and tastes fantastic with every bite. You can find the recipe so many places but one of my favorites is one by the reigning queen of southern cooks, Natalie Dupree. Look for her Shrimp and Grits Cookbook, it's terrific.

My recipe is a mixture from different people and my family is crazy about it. Give it a try, I think you'll love the ease and taste.

Shrimp and Grits
Start your grits by putting 2 cups of water and 2 cups of milk in a sauce pan. Bring to a low boil and stir in 1/2 stick of butter till melted, then add 1 cup of stone-ground or quick grits (important - NOT Instant Grits). Add salt and pepper to your taste. Stir well and occasionally, then cook on low for 20 to 25 minutes. The grits will have absorbed all the liquid and be very creamy. Remove from the heat and stir in another 1/2 stick of butter and two cups of Sharp Shredded Cheddar. Put a lid on pan and set aside to stay warm.
In a frying pan, fry up 8 slices of your favorite bacon till crispy. Remove bacon from pan and stir in 1 cup of sliced, fresh button mushrooms. Then add 1 cup sliced scallions and 1 large clove of minced garlic. Stir everything in the bacon grease left in pan until they begin to soften. Stir in 1 pound of peeled and deveined fresh shrimp and cook until the shrimp turn pink. Add about 4 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon of Louisiana hot sauce and a couple of tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley. Crumble up your bacon and give the shrimp mixture a final stir. Pour your warm, cheesy grits into a big bowl and dump the shrimp mixture on top for a fantastic treat. Its great with a green salad and some crusty bread. Rich, wonderful, tasty and pure southern comfort food. I am so happy we brought back 50 pounds of shrimp, a year seems like such a long time to spread them out. Enjoy!
PS. I have been getting a number of emails about the freezing of shrimp so I thought you may like the process. Fill the bags about half full with the shrimp then the rest of the bag gets filled with cold water. Use a bag size based on the amount you may want to thaw out at a time. This also works for freezing fish. The seafood last a very long time staying as fresh tasting as when you put them in the water because of the water. We have been doing this for years and it is perfect for big sales and purchases like this one.