Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wild Game!!!

No, I am not talking about the Georgia v. Georgia Tech football game. Go Yellow Jackets!!! For those of you that do not know, my husband got his Bachelors from Tech, and his Masters from University of Alabama. Yellow jackets and Elephants for us.

Enough football talk though. I am talking today about wild game meats. The stuff our ancestors ate, that many of us are afraid of now days. One of my husbands friends is giving us a deer, and he will be bringing it home this evening. My mind starts to think about all the wonderful ways to prepare it. Of course I will grind some of it for Chili and hamburgers. I will leave one of the tenderloins whole to cook on the grill. I will cut some of the tenderloin into thick medallions for steaks, and some into thin slices for frying and putting into biscuits. There are so many ways to prepare this meat besides the regular ways we are all used to. Deer is great for gourmet cooking. For instance, some of those medallions will be seared off and then simmered in a white wine reduction with mushrooms and thyme and cream, finished off with a little cognac. That whole tenderloin that is going on the grill will be encrusted in salt, pepper and rosemary, and cooked to medium rare. When it hits your palette the meat will practically melt in your mouth. In the words of Paula Dean, "It will be so good, it will make your tongue want to beat your brains out!"

I grew up in family full of hunters and during hunting season, we rarely had to buy meat. We had a lake on our property that fish and turtle were caught out of. We raised laying chickens so we always had fresh eggs. My Nanny always had a garden with fresh tomatoes, corn, okra, squash, cucumbers (you get the idea). I am thankful to have been raised by my great-grandparents because I know that if I ever had to, I could live off the land. Maybe one day I will tell you about my shooting skills and the time I shot my first deer.

Alright southern gals how many of you have ever eaten biscuits and gravy with homemade canned tomatoes on top? What about putting gravy over a freshly sliced piece of cantaloupe? For those of you who have never tried the cantaloupe it is the perfect combination of hot and cold and salty and sweet. Give it a try, your tongue will thank you.

But, we were talking about wild game weren't we? Don't be afraid to try things that nature provides for us. When they are properly prepared game meats can be a real culinary delight.

Until next time...Happy eating!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Meatless Mondays

Well, this past weekend was absolutely beautiful here in the low country! It made us feel an urgency to get out to the beach and let out little monkey get in the surf. Warm Summer days will soon be slipping into cool Autumn evenings.

I can't wait. As I have said before, Autumn is my favorite time of year. I am ready to bake apple crisp, and drink mulled wine. I start to crave hearty dishes like German sauerbraten. I feel the need to start making soups and breads. Though I use the grill all year round, I will start using it far less than I have through the Summer. My mind starts to wander to new dishes that I can make with pumpkin and winter squash. The thought of slow roasted meals gains appeal, because I tend to care less about how much I will be heating up the kitchen.

I also start to think about Halloween. I know that Halloween can be a controversial holiday, but my child does participate. Last year he was a space alien, complete with a space ship. Too cute!!! I think this year he will be a scarecrow. I always make his costumes, and I will continue to do so as long as he will allow me to. Thoughts of Halloween make me think of caramel apples, and popcorn balls. It is too bad that we live in a day and age that we can't pass these types of treats out any more.

Enough of that though. This week's recipe is for Garlic Monkey Brains. I love this bread, but I am a huge fan of garlic, and this bread has a lot of it in it.

Garlic Monkey Brains

I know that when you think of Monkey Brains or Monkey Bread, you probably think of that ooey gooey sweet stuff. Well, this is a savory monkey bread recipe that is sure to please.

2 loaves of frozen bread dough, thawed and each divided into 16 pieces (32 pieces total)
1 stick of butter melted
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 (5.2 oz.) round of Boursin cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take a piece of the bread dough, and place a small sliver of the boursin cheese in the middle of it. Pinch the dough together so as to cover the cheese completely with dough. Roll the dough in the melted butter, and then in the Parmesan cheese. Place in the bottom of a tube or Bundt pan. Continue placing prepared pieces of dough into the pan until the dough is all used up. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Until the bread is nice and brown, and the garlic is fragrant. Allow to cool ten minutes. Rip a piece off and enjoy!

This is great as an appetizer, but is an equally nice accompaniment to a plate full of spaghetti.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tofu Tuesday!!!

Just Kidding!!!!!!

Not that I have anything against Tofu. As a matter of fact there are many Asian and Indian dishes that I really enjoy which have tofu in them.

Speaking of ethnic dishes...I have come to realize that there are lots of foods that I have tried that most people reading my blog have not. For instance, how many of you have sat down to a meal at a nice little Ethiopian restaurant? When we lived in Detroit they had a really good restaurant for that there. How about Moroccan food? In Atlanta there is a great place called the Imperial Fez, serving wonderful Moroccan dishes, but there was also a place in Birmingham, Michigan next to the law firm where I worked that had great Moroccan food. Shoofly Mama was talking about craving good Chinese food like you would find in NYC. I have to agree that you just can't find that kind of Chinese food here. I have heard that there is a really good Chinese restaurant on Daniel's Island that serves dim sum. Does anyone know about that?

It saddens me when the best sushi that I have had since moving here has been from the grocery store. The fish at the sushi bars here always seems kinda fishy. There is good Vietnamese food here and Cambodian food as well. If anyone ever wants to try something new, we can definitely go have Vietnamese food together, and I will teach you all about it.

See, where Dan and I lived in Atlanta was very close to Buford Highway. What is Buford Highway known for? It is a cultural melting pot that some Food Network chefs say even rivals NYC. I am open to just about anything when it comes to food, so we tried all sorts of things when we lived there. Vietnamese food is the next big Asian cuisine, so if you want to be ahead of the crowd, stick with me.

I would like to know what your biggest food adventures have been? Did you try alligator one time when you were in New Orleans? Is Buffalo as crazy as you can get with wild game? Does the thought of eating SPAM frighten you? Did you get drunk and eat the worm? I want to know. Look for me to compile a list of the strangest things I have eaten in the next few days.

Until then, happy cooking and eating!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thanks to my guinea pigs!!!

Yesterday, I whipped up some dips and my famous Mac-n-Cheese, and sent it out to some friends to give me their opinions. The dips by the way were BLT dip, buffalo chicken dip, hot spinach and artichoke dip, and a peanut butter dip for apples. Anyway, one of my friends Jaime took notes as her family tried the various things that I had sent over. Her son gave me the best compliment I have ever received about cooking.

See I had put cracker crumbs on top of the Mac-n-Cheese, and Jaime's husband said, "I'm not big on the crackers on top but the flavor is amazing." Later he clarified, "I didn't dislike the crackers. Just if there was a dish and 1/2 had crackers and the other 1/2 didn't, I'd pick the 1/2 without." In response to what her husband said, her son said, "I am big on the crackers, I like their crunch. If she were on Iron Chef America, I'd pick her!"

A compliment like that from a child is just music to my ears. Sometimes as adults we hold back, but children are honest. If it is bad, they will let you know, and when they love something, they are equally good at letting you know that.

April and family are tonight's guinea pigs, so it will be interesting to see what they have to say. I already received a preliminary report that the spinach and artichoke dip is a big hit!!!

Thank you so much to Jaime and April for allowing me to subject your families to my science projects. Robin, I will get you next time. I am going to work on some soups next week!!!

Crab and corn chowder anyone?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fried Bologna Sandwiches

In the South, we eat fried bologna sandwiches. I am not really sure if Northerners eat fried bologna or not. Can someone please tell me?

My great-grandmother made me fried bologna sandwiches when I was small and they were one of the first things that I ever cooked all by myself. Envision the ripe old age of 4 (yes, I do mean four years old) I pull the little cast iron skillet out of the stove drawer. It was the one reserved for frying bologna, grilling cheese sandwiches, and occasionally scrambling an egg. I go to the fridge and get a little scoop of real butter out and put it in the pan. I amble over to a chair and set my pan down in the chair. Next I push the chair over to the stove, climb up, set the pan on the eye, and gasp light the eye (you guessed it, we had a gas range). As my butter started to melt, I jump from the chair get a piece of bologna from the fridge and a fork from the drawer. Now we are cooking with gas, quite literally. Nanny (that is what I call my great-grandmother) stood idly by in case I needed her. I used my little fork to cut the edges and center of the bologna after it started to puff up. For those of you who have never fried a piece of bologna, it starts to look like a mushroom cap ballooning out of the pan when the heat starts to hit it. Once it was cooked to my liking, it went on toasted white Sunbeam bread with ketchup. Now a days I still eat the occasional fried bologna sandwich. Now I eat it on untoasted wheat bread with mayo and mustard, and there are usually two slices of bologna. Though I hate processed meats and nitrates and all those other nasty things which are part of bologna, sometimes these sandwiches simply warm my soul. If you eat fried bologna, I would like to know how you eat it.

The other funny thing here to me is the fact that I was in the kitchen cooking at age 4. By the time I was 12, I was cutting coupons, reading the weekly ads and doing the grocery shopping. I realize that shopping at 12 was a necessity for us. My great-grandmother was 74 and my great-grandfather was 82 and suffering from severe Alzheimer's. But, I think that Nanny in her infinite wisdom was also preparing me for adulthood.

Don't be afraid to get your children into the kitchen with you. You do them a great injustice by not teaching them their way around a kitchen. A child as young as 8 can safely handle a knife if taught proper knife skills. If you don't know your way around a knife, let me know and I will come teach the whole family. By 12 they really can be doing anything in the kitchen. I encourage you to make your teens responsible for planning and preparing one family meal a week. Get your little ones in the kitchen for things as simple as mixing the sugar into the tea or stirring the Kool-Aid. When I am working on recipes for the cookbook, Marcus is sitting in the high chair in the kitchen watching me. When I make a sandwich for him, or other easy foods, he stands beside me at the counter on a foot stool watching what I do. The little guy gets very upset if I run the KitchenAid mixer and he is not able to get into the kitchen to see what's cooking. For those of you who don't know me, Marcus is all of 18 months old.

As they say on Food Network, "COOK WITH YOUR KIDS!!!"

Monday, September 8, 2008

Meatless Mondays

I am going to start with the recipe today, it is for meatless stuffed mushrooms. I made these for my MOPS groups annual banquet. They were a hit, and I had many requests for the recipes. Since my fellow MOPS members are my primary readers, this one goes out for all of ya'll!

Meatless/Vegetarian stuffed Mushrooms

24 whole button mushrooms
2 T. olive oil or butter
3 T. chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese
½ cup of freshly grated parmesano regianno cheese
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the stems from the mushroom caps. Finely chop stems. Saute mushroom stems and onions and garlic over medium heat in the oil or butter until the onions are translucent. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl, and add the mushroom mixture once it has cooled. Stuff mushrooms with filling using a spoon to pile it on. Bake on a sheet pan for 20 minutes, or until mixture starts to brown. Serve warm.

Beyond the recipe. I just want to say that Hanna was a major disappointment. I was looking forward to the power being out, making s'mores on the grill, and all that fun stuff. Instead, we got some rain, and that was really about it. I don't want to sound ungrateful though. I know that it was a blessing that we were spared any damage and all. It is just that I like storms. Storms are God's fury in all it's glory. They get me charged up. Nature is a beautiful thing.

Let me tell you a funny about hurricane preparedness. Normally in my house there is very little if any junk type food. I steer away from non-perishables, and I do not liked processed meats. Well, in preparation for Hanna we go out and buy things like crackers, cookies, soups, canned meats, etc. You know the typical shelf stable type things. Before we even get them put away some things are starting to be opened and eaten. Do other families do this? Here is our emergency supply, and we are consuming it. I guess when we don't keep these things around, they do become very tempting.

Guess it is a good thing that Hanna was lackluster!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hanna, Ike & Josephine...What do you eat when a Hurricane hits?

Welcome to the Atlantic Coast!!! Did I mention that September 10th and 11th are the peak of Atlantic Hurricane Season? Seems that things are right on track. To me, the name of the three tropical storms sound like members of a B rate band.

Anyway, since we may all be facing power outages and all in the not to distant future, I thought that I would write a little about spicing things up when you are eating by candlelight out of necessity rather than choice.

First off, I know that beef stew in a can is one of the old standby go to items for shelf stable foods. Well, serve your beef stew over chow mein to add crunch. Chow mein is a great shelf stable item that everyone needs to put into their emergency food kit. You could also try putting it over dry ramen noodles. I saw a lot of people buying those up at the grocery today. And, I really don't get why all the vanilla wafers were sold out. Am I missing something here people?

A great little side dish that I use for camping that would work great on the grill as well, is you take new potatoes and cut them in half, add sliced onions, about 1/4 stick of butter some garlic powder and red chili flakes and a little salt. Put that all in an aluminum foil packet. Throw it on the grill for about 20-25 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. Make sure to turn it about every 5 minutes, and don't puncture the packet. Man does it make some good eats. Yes, I know that butter is not shelf stable. I also know that a stick of salted butter sits out on my counter all the time and guess what, none of us has food poisoning.

Back in 1993, a blizzard hit Georgia in the area where I grew up. I know what you are thinking, "A blizzard in Georgia, yeah right!" Well, the area that I lived in got 18 inches of snow in 24 hours, and there were snow drifts that were as high as 4 feet. Needless to say the power was off for days. The nice thing about a blizzard is you don't have to worry about your food spoiling, you just set it out in the snow. Anyway, our house was total electric, so our kerosene heater served to heat the house as well as cook our meals. It took me a good 30 minutes to fry a pan of bacon on top of the kerosene heater. But man, did that bacon taste good. It was kind of like when you are camping and the food just tastes better. That had to be the best bacon I have ever eaten. That time spent with my family is a treasured memory, not some scary thing that happened in my past.

I hope that no matter how you and your family fair this hurricane season, that you treasure the time spent with your family unplugged and off the grid. In this high tech fast paced world we live in, that is a luxury that we don't even get when we go on vacation anymore.

Enough of the deep issues. I would love to hear what your family eats during power outages. What is in your emergency kit? How many gallons of water can one family of three really use? Inquiring minds want to know!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Labor Day!!!

I just wanted to quickly say that I hope that everyone is enjoying a wonderful Labor Day with their families and friends. For the Mommies out there, this might be a time to reflect on the day your child(ren) was born. For those who are currently expecting you will have a new respect for Labor Day next year.

A quick meatless Monday for now, but I will post more later this week. Thought this one would be very appropriate for the last official grilling holiday of Summer.

Hot and Sweet Barbecue Sauce

2 c. chopped onion (about 2 med.)
4 cloves of garlic chopped
½ c. vegetable or canola oil
14 oz. Can of tomato paste
1 c. cider vinegar
1 c. honey
½ c. Worcestershire sauce
1 c. Dijon mustard
½ c. soy sauce (dark)
1 c. hoisin sauce
2 T. chili powder
1 T. ground cumin
(1) 7 oz. can of chipotle peppers in adobo
1 c. apricot all-fruit spread

Sautee onions and garlic in oil over medium heat until translucent. About 7-10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Blend until smooth with and immersion blender or in an upright blender (be very careful as the liquid will be hot). Use on chicken, ribs, pork chops, whatever you like. Makes aprox. 1 ½ quarts. Will keep in the refrigerator for up to three months.