Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sugar? Bread? Why Wouldn't You?!

My dog is kind of a weirdo.  Evidence:
There was a bag on the floor, and he climbed right in.  He did a few turns and plopped down inside.  Weird.

What's not so weird about him is his absolute terror when he sees lightning.  You see, when he was just a puppy, a puppy not even the least bit concerned about thunderstorms, a giant ball of lightning hit the pecan tree outside our house.  It made a spectacular bang and obviously was very bright.  Since then, Puddin just hasn't been the same.  Now when there's lightning he comes into my room.  I think it's harder to see the lightning from my window, so he lies down and goes to sleep.  Poor baby.

Ya know what makes me feel better when there's lightning?  Cinnamon bread.  Specifically, Joy the Baker's cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mini Apple Pies

What's more American than apple pie?  Nothing.  Is everything cuter in miniature?  Yes.  Mini apple pies?  My head just exploded.  Actually, my head didn't explode.  It happily gobbled up these little delights.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cacio e Pepe

I feel like I've been a little remiss in my posting.  Eep!  It's been a busy few days, and I promise I've got some good stuff comin' at you.  Like apple hand pies.  Chyeah.

I went up to Columbia for the Vandy game.  It was unreal being back in Williams-Brice Stadium again.  I realize I was just there last year for the Alabama game, but it was a different feeling knowing I'd be able to see more than one game this season!

But today is about the dinner I made for my grandmother's birthday last Tuesday.  Better late than never right?  P.S. Does anyone else hate it when a person uses "then" instead of "than"???  It belongs in the same category of grammar pet peeves as to, too, two and there, they're, their.  This...has absolutely nothing to do with food.  Y'know what does?  Cacio e pepe.  Cheese and pepper.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Birthday Cake

My grandmother turned 75 Tuesday!  Because everyone needs a birthday cake, I offered to make one.  And cake is something that always tastes better with a little extra love mixed in it.

I couldn't decide what to make until I was flipping through a cookbook and was hit with carrot cake.  I flipped a little more but couldn't shake the carrot cake.  Carrot cake?  For realz?  Yes.  I was compelled to make carrot cake, a dessert I've never ever made before and wasn't totally sure I liked.  For the record, I do like.  But don't feed me a raw carrot, I'm not a horse.  My carrots shall be cooked or baked.  I digress.  Wanna know what Sybil said when I told what kind of cake it was?  "Oh I love carrot cake!"  She loves it.  Winner.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pumpkin Bread, Y'all!

Fact:  I was bitten in the face by a bug.  In my sleep.  I'd like to thank the good sweet Lord that it wasn't poisonous and that it's in a relatively inconspicuous spot on my jawbone.  Small favors.

In lighter, brighter news, I made my first pumpkin bread of the season!  This is easily one of the best I've made, especially because of the glaze I came up with.  It's stupendously moist, even after sitting out a few days.  In fact, we were going to share it at the tailgate Saturday, but my sister decided that she wanted to eat it more than she wanted to share it.  And well, I'm not gonna argue with the pregnant lady about food.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall Weather

Today and tomorrow are going to be fabulously cool.  As in I had to buy jeans because it's gonna get a little chilly.  After a week of temps in the 90s, 65ยบ is just downright magical.  So much so that I had to go to one of Columbia's new coffee shops for a hot latte and a chill vibe to match the chill in the air.  I know it's only for a couple of days, but glory it feels wonderful.  Thanks, Peace, Love, and Rocky Roast.  Yeah, it's a 60s themed place.  The gelato looks divine, but I'll have to wait on sampling that.  They roast their own beans and....just go to the website.

Mmmmm, a soy latte.  Just what the doctor ordered.  Well...I'm not a doctor, but I do have a Master's!

Obviously those people had no idea I was picture-taking.  I'm stealth like that.  Actually, I just figured out how to turn the flash off my phone.

Check out some of the fun wall art.  The whole place is one big mural.  I think I'm sitting next to Jerry Garcia, but I can't be sure.

In honor of the fall weather, I'm going to make pumpkin bread today.  I love pumpkin bread.  Especially if it has a cream cheese glaze.  And why wouldn't you want a cream cheese glaze?  We will glaze, my friends.  Yes, we will glaze.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Browned Butter and Asparagus Pasta with a Side of Disney

So I watched Snow White today.  It's funny how as a kid you don't necessarily realize how creepy cartoons can be.  I hadn't seen the movie in probably 15 years, so I didn't remember some of the details.  Like how when Snow White is running through the forest (after the huntsman realizes he can't follow the Queen's orders and bring Snow White's freakin' heart back in a box) and appears to have an acid trip.  How else do you explain the trees coming to life and logs turning into alligators?  Then at the end the Queen, disguised as a hag, falls to her death and is crushed by a boulder.  And on top of that, the vultures who had been following her circle around where she went down, presumably to snack on her carcass.  How is this a kid's movie?!

Doesn't that get your appetite goin'?!  Well forget about creepy children's movies and focus on an easy weeknight pasta dish.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Date Night

This weekend was all sorts of wacky and scrumptious, though not all at the same time.  Will and I had our big dinner at Saluda's Friday night, which we'll get to later.  When Will and I get together, we like to eat.  A lot.  It's one of our favorite activities.  That sounds rather gluttonous, doesn't it?  Perhaps I should say we enjoy the dinner experience with each other's company and good food.  Plus we have to make up for all those dates we don't get to go on.

We stayed with my sister a couple of nights this weekend and manage to see two small disasters while we were here.  Yesterday, the whole plumbing system decided to revolt and back up into the house.  Not fun.  Several towels were sacrificed before the plumber got here.  This morning, while I was relaxing in bed, I heard a crashing sound.  I thought the dogs had knocked something over but no.  The kitchen was intact.  Then I looked into the yard.  A tree fell on the fence.  What the what?  Rich has spent the afternoon repairing it.  Thankfully it doesn't look like it did major damage.  Just enough to be really inconvenient.

Saluda's is a casual upscale place (Don't you just love a good paradox?) that blends Lowcountry ingredients and style with more classic French and Italian techniques.  The decor is simple with white-clothed tables and antique-style chairs.  Forgive me if the lighting in my pictures isn't the best.  I didn't want to be that girl taking pictures in a dimly-lit restaurant with flash out the wazoo.  Can a wazoo flash?  I digress.

We started with what they called a sushi plate.

Tuna sashimi over soba noodles tossed with peanut sauce.  It was topped with a salmon crudo, which is sort of an Italian ceviche.  Basically raw fish, salmon in this instance, is dressed with olive oil, citrus, and salt.  This had black sea salt sprinkled over it.  I think that might be some kind of roe on top.  The chili sauce in the corner gave it a pleasant heat.  It was lovely way to start a meal.  Light and refreshing because heaven knows the rest of the meal wasn't.

I had the shrimp and grits because I've been fantasizing about them for weeks now.  For realz.  A bed of Adluh grits with Dubliner cheddar, roasted red peppers, pancetta, sauteed shrimp, a bourbon cream sauce, and as if that wasn't enough, a delicate fried green tomato perched atop.  The tomato had a nice tang (as good fried green 'maters should), which offset a little of the richness the overall dish had.  Adluh Flour is a local company that sells flour (duh), grits, and assorted mixes.  The grits come out luscious and creamy, and in this case the bourbon cream sauce didn't hurt one bit.  Nosiree.  Honestly, shrimp and grits is one of my favorite dishes, and I love when I find a good rendition of it.

Because I have a hard time resisting dessert, we ordered a slice of red velvet cake drizzled with a little caramel.  Will thought he'd just have a few bites, but we ended up finishing the whole thing.  It was moist with a good ratio of frosting to cake.  There's nothin' like a little cake to finish off a good meal.

I like getting dressed up and feelin' fancy, especially if it's a date with Will.  And especially if I get to eat food like that.  Any date night recommendations for the next time he and I see each other?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Crack. Pie.

I'm excited.  Wanna know why?  Well I'll tell you anyway.

  • I've got a whole weekend with Will.  I haven't seen him since my trip to Alabama in July.  That's about 2 months!  So yeah.
  • We're eating at Saluda's in Columbia.  The food is supposed to be ah-mazing.
  • In a month or less, I will be an aunt to a wee baby boy.  Reason to celebrate, no?
  • There are two big games this weekend.  Carolina vs. Georgia and Alabama vs. Penn State.  I know who I'm cheering for!

Well we've come to the last of my football menu.  Dessert.  I stumbled across this pie on Bon Appetit's website somehow.  It's from Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC, and it's called Crack Pie.  And let me tell you, the name is 100% accurate.  It could alternately be named Di-uh-beetus Pie.  Side note: Have you seen the Wilford Brimley commercials where he talks about diabetes?  He pronounces it di-uh-beetus.  Seriously, it's a lot of butter and sugar on an oatmeal cookie crust.  And it's delicious.  Um, I should probably go ahead and apologize for the atrocious lighting.  I made the pie late Friday night, and the light around the kitchen leaves a little something to be desired.

Did I mention there's powdered sugar?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Football Feast Pt. 2

I made 2 pounds of chicken for four people.  And we had other food.  It's an affliction in my family.  We make far too much food for the amount of people involved.  It dates back to when my grandparents were first married and living on their own.  My great-grandparents came over for dinner, and Jimbo showed his daddy the chicken they were making.  Papa Dick promptly said "Is that it?" or something along those lines.  From then on, there's never been a doubt that we have more than enough food for a small army.

Rich, my brother-in-law, always comments that it's a little weird that we always have fried chicken at tailgates because our mascot is a rooster, albeit a vicious one.  I just think it's good tailgate food.  You can eat it warm when it's fresh or cold after the game.

You know you want to snack on a piece of chicken.  And as chicken frying goes, this is probably one of the simplest recipes.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Football Feast Pt. 1

Um, yeah.  This needs multiple parts.  Let's just review some college football highlights first, shall we?

Starting with Carolina (obvi--they're my team).  I nearly had a heart attack.  Or an aneurysm.  Or both.  My head almost exploded.  I can only hope that they were holding back a smidge because it was ECU, and they're supposed to win.  But I have to hand it to the Pirates, they put up a good fight.  I have a feeling they'll do really well in their conference this year.  That being said, I'm glad we put up 56 points and won.

I really have to hand it to Stephen Garcia and his freshly shaven face.  He revitalized the offense and wasn't afraid to run when he needed to.  Here's to hoping his troubles are behind him.

LSU showed Oregon that changing your uniform every game does not a BCS contender make.  I wish Georgia had taught Boise State a similar lesson.  Boise played a good game, but they just don't have the schedule strength to convince me they're the top team.  And while we're thinking of teams who have been arguing for a shot at the BCS, I'd like to thank Baylor for the upset over TCU.

This Saturday: Gamecocks vs. Georgia at Sanford Stadium in Athens.  Should be a good game.

Today we're going to look at the ham rolls I mentioned last post.  Be warned, they're addictive.  Salty ham, bright Swiss cheese, and a lotta butta.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

In Less Than 24 Hours...

Kickoff.  College football will be in full swing.  I'll be singing the fight song at the top of my lungs.  Hallelujah!  

I love the butterflies I get when 2001 plays and the sentimental tears when I sing the alma mater with 80,000 other people.  Tomorrow's game (or today's rather) against East Carolina is being played in Charlotte.  We're having a little ladies football evening.  In other words, my mom, grandmother, aunt, and I are going to watch the game together.  Real women watch football.  The rest can stay in the kitchen.  I'll be in the kitchen a good deal but definitely not while the game is goin'.  

This picture is from the Bama-USC game last year.  A glorious day as I recall with an historic win for us.  Will wasn't so thrilled as he's an Alabama fan.  

I've been tailgating and game-prepping a while now, so I have a few tricks up my sleeve.  Since we'll be watching tomorrow's game at my grandmother's, it's a little easier to prep.  I can also make more time-consuming dishes because I'm working with a fully equipped kitchen.  I whole-heartedly recommend making as many things ahead of time as possible.  Of course, this is even more important when you're tailgating in the elements and maybe staying at a hotel.  Making pimiento cheese by a bathroom sink?  I think not.  

Game day food should be effortless and make you smile.  Fried chicken from your favorite spot.  Dips of all kinds with veggies, crackers, and chips.  Some things should be homemade, but not everything has to be.  You want to be able to enjoy going to the game, not stressing about garnish on deviled eggs.  For at-home viewing and tailgating, food that doesn't necessarily require a fork is ideal.  

I thought I'd share tomorrow's game day menu.  Again, I'm going to have the luxury of time in a full kitchen.  
  • Pimiento cheese with football-shaped Ritz crackers (oh yes, I did)
  • Quick French onion dip with chips- Note: I prefer a ruffled or wavy chip for dip because they're sturdier
  • Fried chicken tenders with honey mustard sauce- This is one of those dishes where I balance the store-bought with homemade.  I'm making the chicken but bought a gourmet dipping sauce.  If you're tailgating, get your favorite fried chicken and whip up some honey mustard sauce for dipping.  
  • Ham rolls- These are always a favorite and super duper easy to whip up.  They're fantastic after the game when you're hungry again.  And the next day when all you want is ham and bread.  Not that that's ever happened to me...
  • Crack pie courtesy of Momofuku Milk Bar's Christina Tosi
We might have some fruit for something a little healthy, but there's only four of us.  We'll have a balance of hot and cold items, as well as spreadables and more substantial dishes.  

The most important part:  Cheer as loudly and fervently as you can for your favorite team...unless it's Clemson.  Go Gamecocks!