Back from Chucktown….re-entry day….
April 26, 2010

Dinner on the Porch, Charleston style...

Yes, we arrived fresh from a warm and altogether fabulous week  in Charleston…to a rainy and chilly welcome home in Baltimore….not the greeting I was hoping for, but perhaps apropos of saying goodbye to vaca. I always call today….your first day back at work…re-entry, as in re-entry to real life. It can be a little tough, I won’t lie to you, and a little sad. Laundry that needs to be done, grocery shopping list waiting, an email box at work that I still haven’t finished clearing out…you know the drill.

But, it was a wonderful week in Charleston…which I noticed the NY Times touted this past Sunday as a great place to go in April and May. Well, duh, and I’d add March to the list. Spring there is splendid…not humid or hot, just sunny and so, so pretty. The house we stayed in this year was dubbed by the lovely Jennifer, as…”our rock star pad“.   And I can’t disagree. You can check it out on VRBO right here.  The picture above was taken one night before dinner, out on the porch overlooking the Isle of Palms marsh. While we ate dinner out several nights, we found we were happiest cooking and eating at home….so relaxed, and such a gorgeous view. We cooked shrimp and grits(of course), had delish carry out pork carnitas from Caviar and Bananas(a Dean and Deluca like food emporium), made shrimp risotto another night….the local shrimp are so good. And we loved just hanging out….we don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like.

view from loft bedroom window seat...

Hey, who would not be happy here? And you know I’m a VRBO girl all the way, when it comes to family travel. To have an actual house to stay in…where everyone has their own bedroom and bath, but we have a communal gathering space for tv, or games or dinner…is perfect. And we love to cook on holiday. And this house had a great kitchen in which to prepare meals, and had the most wonderful selection of pots and pans, utensils and dishes…seriously, it had everything. And nice stuff too.

boardwalk over the marsh leads to the beach!

Great  living room with comfy seating for all five of us, a huge projection screen tv that came down from the ceiling, glass all around, porches with dinner seating and getaway spots for reading, beautiful bedrooms with pretty views….it had it all. It was designed by Peter Bohlin, who is (evidently) a famous architect who designed part of the Bill Gates house. Pete…good job.  Best vacation house ever.

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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!