It’ Friday people! Momma’s Day and Half-price Frappuccino??
May 7, 2010

Momma and Poppa Goose

Yes, yes, yes…it is indeed that lovely day to which we all look matter how much we enjoy our work…the felicitous 24 hours known far and wide as …..Friday.

I love poppies....but I can't grow them, for some reason.

I started mine off with a brisk walk this morning…I saw some gorgeous orange poppies in  bloom…”poppies, beautiful poppies”…remember, Wizard of Oz? Oh never mind. And I also saw a pair of geese wandering through the grass, one keeping a close eye on me while the other one grazed…lovely sight that. I predict I will see baby geese..goslets?…soon, if I keep a close eye.

Mother’s Day is this Sunday…and it will be the first of such days without my own Mother to call and send good wishes. The first year I haven’t needed to try and think of one more thing that she might enjoy, as she wasn’t enjoying nearly as much at the end. Sweets usually went over well, and I ordered several times a year from Fat Witch Bakery in NYC, for their fabulous brownies, that I first discovered at the Chelsea Market there….you should stop by if you’re ever in the Big Apple.  And they do such a great job of packing them in a cute way….and I love the little witch. I would get Mom the “brownie babies“…individually wrapped mini-brownies that she could give away to staff and friends. She enjoyed giving treats.

I also have to plant these peonies I bought.....

I’m being taken out to brunch Sunday by my sweet daughter…she and a long time girlfriend of hers(since diapers) are taking me and her Mom, who’s a friend of mine…(you may remember Clare, whose head I helped shave during her rounds of chemo) out, for a treat. I’m looking forward to catching up with the girls, and I’m so happy to report Clare is doing well.  And last night, when I got home, I found a big box on my  doorstep, with a cooler inside  filled with delicious varieties of Callie’s Biscuits ….from the lovely Jennifer and my son…oh, and a really cute Callie’s t-shirt too. They know I adore those biscuits(then again, who doesn’t?), but it’s such a tasty way to send a bit of Charleston love to Baltimore.

A different kind of happy hour....

Last, but not least, treat yourself to a Frappuccino today and this weekend, at half-price(take one to your Mom, she won’t know it was half price)! Starbucks is having a Frappuccino Happy Hour  every day, from 3 to 5 pm starting today, through May 16th. Don’t say I never tried to save you some bucks.

I wish for all of you a lovely weekend….don’t forget your Mom….you’ll never regret the time you spent with her, but you may regret the time you didn’t spend. Play nice, don’t throw rocks and come home safe…’cause we miss you.

A Tale of Pimento Cheese and Biscuits….
April 28, 2010

Hands in motion, mixing a huge batch of pimento cheese...yummy...

There are as many ways to make a batch of pimento cheese as there are crackers to spread it on….but there are some rules that should be obeyed….using sharp cheddar cheese, using a good mayonnaise like Hellman’s, add a touch of Tabasco….but there are also some rules that can be broken….such as, never buying pimento cheese at the grocery store. As I’ve stated before, grocery store pimento cheese is just awful. So let me qualify that. If you’re a store that carries Callie’s Biscuits  pimento cheese, then by all means, grab hold and don’t let go.

Callie's employee mixing butter into the flour for biscuits...

Pimento cheese is a new product for Callie’s…a Southern Staple, as they call it. And I guess that’s true…growing up in Alabama there was often a pie plate of pimento cheese in the frig that would make its way into lunchtime sandwiches. A Pyrex pie dish because my Father, who often made it, found it easier to mash the pimentos that way…now you can buy pimentos already chopped. He always let my Mother add the mayo though…he was afraid she’d complain he put in too much.

Anyway, there probably lots of people now, who simply don’t want to take the time to grate the cheese, and add pimentos, Worcestershire, Tobasco, and Helman’s mayo…so maybe many of you have never tasted real pimento cheese….and Callie’s is like homemade…ok, better. When I was in Charleston last week, I called and asked if I could stop by where the magic happens, on famous Meeting Street….the dodgy end says Callie’s daughter Carrie, and they said sure..come on by.

Carrie filling biscuit bags with luscious biscuits.....

It’s a lovely little bakery, with hardwood floors and a big freezer to stock all the different flavors of biscuits. Carrie was up to her neck in alligators as they say, because Piggly Wiggly(love the Pig) had called and said,”It’s Friday and we need more biscuits pronto!” So Carrie was loading packs of Callie’s cinnamon biscuits, ham biscuits, cheese-chive biscuits and buttermilk of course, into bags as fast as she could while we talked. Carrie’s Mother Callie was the originator of the biscuit, and Callie is pretty much retired, though still doing a little catering here and there. And this is her biscuit recipe, that her business minded daughter made into a product…she told her Mom that people all over would want to buy them, and Callie never thought it would amount to much. “Oh, who would want to buy my biscuits?”  But lots of people do, because they are so luscious….as far away as Dean and DeLuca in St. Helena, California. These women know their biscuits.

Callie's...made from White Lily flour, of course....

And the rest is history…Carrie is still growing the business and getting them into more stores…the only place I can find them in Maryland right now, is Graul’s Market in St. Michaels and Annapolis. But I’m hoping that Graul’s here in Baltimore, or maybe Eddie’s in Roland Park would stock them. And the pimento cheese, of course. No shipping fees!  And while I carted down a couple of blocks of cheddar to Charleston with big plans to make pimento cheese….did I? Not once I spotted Callie’s in the Piggly-Wiggly. I’m gonna go spread some on a cracker right now.

Lunch al fresco……
April 5, 2010

My egg tree...a pear tree that survived the winter...

Like many of you, the glory of the weather yesterday was just so gorgeous.…perfect day for Easter Sunday…perfect. No doubt many egg hunts went better without kids coming back with mud splashed up to their knees or on their butts from falling…or with purple lips from the cold, as has happened many times.

Table for fresco...

We had a small lunch party yesterday…for the past 7 or 8 years, it has been a much larger gathering…maybe 30 people or so. Which is fun too, in its own way, but this year for some reason… I just wasn’t up to it. So we whittled it down to about 10 including us. That way you can actually sit at table with people to eat, and visit and talk…something that is much more difficult when we’re all just milling about.

No, I no longer iron the napkins...

I put two long wooden tables together, one that is always outside and the other from inside, covered them with two white but non-matching cloths,  put several bunches of tulips down the center, tied the white napkins with different colored ribbons and that was that. And while I used to iron and starch the white  linen napkins…I actually prefer them soft and looser. As long as they come out of the dryer immediately and get smoothed and folded right, they’re not wrinkled…a softer, shabby chic look, I suppose. I do not miss ironing them.  My daughter made lunch at the last minute….not wanting to miss her Easter basket. I have posed the question in the past to you, about when does one give up the Easter basket? What age is too old to be getting a basket?  

A Southern Staple....but you can make it yourself for less...

As my son and the lovely Jennifer stayed in New York this year…that was two less baskets to fix, though I did send them an Easter care package from Callie’s Biscuits as a treat….some cheddar cheese and chive biscuits and two tubs of their very good(and very pricey) pimento cheese. You know how I feel about good pimento cheese…very very fond, indeed.  For lunch we had shrimp and grits, and a salad with roasted vegetables in it….and tiny cheese biscuits stuffed with Smithfield ham. A friend brought the most fabulous tiramisu I’ve ever had…got to get that recipe!!

Foodie delights for your weekend…..
January 29, 2010

Ok here’s the first one and it’s dead easy, and really good…I made it last night after work!! It’s called Chicken Ground Nut Stew….I know it sounds a little …awful…but it isn’t, and it is a variation of something cooked in the West Africa Peace Corp, but using Thai ingredients.

from the Peace Corps to you.....Chicken Ground-nut Stew

Here’s what you’ll need

1 can of coconut milk (highly recommend the brand  ‘A Taste of Thai’)
1 package of ‘A taste of Thai’ peanut sauce mix (use both envelopes in package)
1 can of water chestnuts
1 cooked (baked) and de-boned / de-skinned chicken – cut into approx 1-2″ pieces (Donna’s note: I also sautéed a red bell pepper, a bunch of green onions and fresh garlic and some fresh baby spinach at the end. Made it much prettier and much more healthy.)

1.  Shake coconut milk before adding to pan. This is important because a lot of the milk will stay clumped in the bottom of the can if you don’t shake it well. 
2.  Heat the milk to simmer
3.  Add the spices. 
4.  Stir together for 2 minutes (until the sauce is consistent)
5.  Add everything else and heat on medium low until boiling
6.  Boil on low for 2 minutes  …  and voila, you’re done! Serve over rice(and I like brown rice…healthier).    

Please take the bag away from me....

Next up: delicious crackers I found that are made on the Eastern Shore. Little Ragghi’s Crackers are yummy flat bread crackers made with olive oil and parmesan cheese. I’m eating one right now, and the flavor is just sooooo good. if you go to Ragghi’s website, you’ll find a list of where they’re sold and the story behind Raggi, which is pretty fascinating. I bought mine at Well’s Liquors on York Road…and picked up a bottle of wine for the weekend. Can’t wait to eat these with some cheese tonight!

Oysters, Gruyere, green onions and bacon..

Last, but not least…something I want to make this weekend, maybe Sunday night. It’s a recipe for Iron Skillet Oysters from Callie’s Biscuit Blog. I’ve told you about Callie’s before….their biscuits, which hale from Charleston are so very  very good, but I’m not gonna lie to you…they’re pricey. But they have some lovely and easy recipes on their blog….and this one really struck me as something I might like to make for Superbowl…and you don’t have to go outside…this recipe is made in the oven.  Fresh oysters, Gruyère cheese, bacon and green onions…what’s not to like?  So there you have it….3 suggestions to make your weekend a little more special…mostly simple, and people will love you for it. Play nice with others this weekend and come home safe….talk to you Monday!

A pulled pork weekend….
June 29, 2009

All you need is a bun or a piece of cornbread!

All you need is a bun or a piece of cornbread!

OK, here’s something I’ve made for the past two weekends in a row….it’s that good(and that easy).  You may remember that I had the caterer make pulled pork barbecue for the Friday night party in New York at my son’s wedding. It was just lovely, and got me to thinking….hey, why can’t I do that? So I looked over a few recipes, and kind of put together several,  for a slow-cooker-weekend-surefire-hit. Oh, and did I mention it’s easy on the budget? Well it is, baby, it is.

First, get a pork shoulder….my slow cooker will take about a 4 pounder, and you can find them at the supermarket for $1.99 a pound or less if they’re on sale.  I cut off any excess fat…though a little is good, let’s be honest. Dice an onion, put half in the bottom of your oiled cooker, plop the pork on top, salt and pepper, the rest of the onion…and maybe a cup or so of your favorite barbeque sauce( I like Baby Ray’s)…and a tiny bit (may a quarter cup) of water. Cook on low for 8 hours or until tender, OR on the high setting for about 5 hours. When the pork is tender, use two forks to pull it into shreds, drain some of the liquid, add more barbeque sauce. Dig in.

Simple, fabulous, thanks Callie...

Simple, fabulous, thanks Callie...

And for dessert, I made a super-easy cobbler recipe that I found on Callie’s Biscuits website….it’s called  A Cup, A Cup, A Cobbler.  And the title fits…it is pretty much a cup of this and a cup of that, extremely quick to throw together, and in this, the fresh fruit season where my beloved blueberries are yes, cheap, you can even make several and freeze them. And for those of you who who’ve never heard of Callie’s biscuits…I discovered them when I first went to Charleston a few  years back. These pricey, pretty delicacies are soooooo good. They only retailer that carries them in Maryland is Graul’s in Annapolis and St. Michaels. The benefit of not getting them mail order is avoiding the high shipping charges….and the price is high anyway…around $20 a dozen(little)biscuits…yikes….so I put this in the special treat category….that said, they are fabulous. 

Bonus recipe: this recipe from Apartment Therapy for slow cooked pork cooked on top of the stove also looks great…you might want to try it.