Thursday, March 31, 2011

Scallops and Lobster For Wende

When we went on our seafood shop-a-thon a while back, I had wanted to buy lobster tails, but passed at $32/lb, but when I saw them at Kroger’s for $6.99/lb, I decided I had to give them a try – about 5oz each. They may be large crawfish or farm raised in who-knows-where, but for a $25/lb difference I figured they wouldn’t kill me – I also bought some sea scallops.

Since Bev was on vacation and not a big fan of lobster, I invited daughter, Wende, down to share these with me. My original menu idea was lobster tails, scallops, potatoes , and asparagus with everything grilled, but it didn’t work out. First, I wanted to pan fry the scallops but that would still work, then I found a broiled lobster tail recipe I wanted to try from Claudia over at What’s Cooking Italian Style, then the cool weather slowed down the asparagus, so there wasn’t enough.

So, for the lobsters, I put them in boiling water for 2 ½ minutes, split and pulled the meat out, brushed with butter and sprinkled with paprika, and broiled to an internal temp of 145*. The well dried scallops got S&P and a sauté in olive oil – in a properly heated pan of course. I removed them, deglazed the pan with a little white wine and added a couple of tablespoons of butter and a clove of minced garlic for a simple pan sauce – spooned a couple of tablespoons over the plated scallops. Then it was just a baked potato to round out the meal – the green part of the meal was the parsley in the Garlic Butter Wine Sauce for the lobster, but it didn’t show up in the photo.

The last item I bought during our trip to Tellico Grains Bakery was a pecan roll. Since, one of my favorite childhood memories was a grilled pecan roll following the movies in my Northern WV hometown, I knew I had to try one. Since it was pretty large, I knew it would serve two people, so I sliced it horizontally into three slices. I spread a little butter on the slices and grilled in a skillet then cut it in half and served. Wish I had a scoop of vanilla ice cream to top it with.

I'd have to say this was a pretty darn good meal and now I feel more comfortable trying the lobsters on the grill, and this was the most successful I'd been with scallops.  As for the pecan roll, it would have been perfect had they put nuts in the middle as well as on top - I'll have to talk to the family baker about making some who finally returned from her 10 day vacation yesterday.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.

One year ago: Pastrami Sandwich and How-to


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Nice Trip To Tellico Plains, Tennessee

Pretty nice springtime view from the front porch.

Tellico Plains is a little town tucked away at the base of the Smoky Mountains that used to be home to a large Stokely Van-Camp cannery situated on Tellico River bottom land.  The cannery is gone and the town now seems to be reinventing itself as a tourist stop at an entrance to the Cherokee National Forest and the beginning of the Cherohala Skyway. There’s not a lot there but they do have Tellico Grains, an artisan bakery, and it's well worth the 45 minute drive from here.

So when friends David and Laurie invited Bev and I to lunch, I accepted if they would take just me – Bev was still on vacation - and of the location choices they gave me, I picked the bakery. I specifically went for olive bread but forgot they only have it on certain days, so I got a loaf of sourdough instead.

They have a nice lunch menu and I selected the Sandwich Joe’s Italian – I’m a sucker for all things that remind me of a South Jersey sub. My sandwich was delicious and it reminded me a little of a muffuletta with slightly different ingredients.

I had barbecued 50# of pork for the local Lion’s Club fundraiser and had some left for myself, so for supper, I wacked off a couple slices of the sourdough and made a pulled pork sandwich with a little Blues Hog sauce, diced onion, jalapeno, and grated Manchego cheese. Very good.

I bought a blueberry scone – never had a scone – and heated it up for dessert after my sandwich. Very Good.

And since I enjoyed the sandwich so must, I swapped the BBQ sauce for an egg and had it for breakfast the next morning.  Very good again.

Check out tomorrow's seafood dinner post for the final item I brought home.

Can you tell it was a successful trip – and the company was the best part. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.

One year ago: Spring Plus 7 Days


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

One Pan Potatoes and Eggs & My Bloody Mary

Pretty nice view from the front porch.

With Bev on vacation, I’m not only my own cook, but also the chief bottle washer. Necessity being the mother of invention that it is and my having plenty to do without creating more dishes to wash, this was a one pan breakfast meal. I used a lid to help the egg top cook.

The egg white bound everything together, so I just slid the whole thing onto a plate.

I cut it all up together and it was very tasty.

Seems as though I’ve been posting more drinks lately – not sure if I’m drinking more or just talking about it more. There are probably as many Bloody Mary recipes as there are professional and home bartenders and of course I have mine, developed over thousands of trials. After trying the Cajun version posted by Velva the other day over at Tomatoes On The Vine, I’m really interested in what other sorta-out-there versions exit.

Mine’s pretty basic but very tasty. I start by mixing a large container (64oz) of Mrs T’s Bloody Mary Mix (regular) with a large container (about 32oz) of Clamato juice. To my glass, I add 2oz vodka, couple of shakes of celery salt, wedge of lemon - squeezed, 3 olives with a little juice, about ¼ tsp of Tabasco habanero sauce (or your favorite), about ¾ tsp of horseradish, and fill with the juice mix. Stir and enjoy.

I don’t actually measure anything but the vodka and obviously, all ingredients can be adjusted for personal taste.

There will be several more posts with the old camera as I'm not allowing myself access to the new one until I get my taxes done.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Cleaning Up The Shrubbery

Sweetie is back up by popular demand.

I used to be a believer that trees and shrubs knew how they were supposed to grow and we should just leave them be, but I’ve since realized we can make them healthier, prettier, and more productive by properly pruning them. My problem is I always wait until past the proper time or don’t feel like doing it, so they get out of control and require more than just pruning. In general, the proper time to prune is just after blooming for spring bloomers and late winter for summer bloomers. The problem is that for major work on spring bloomers if you do it at the proper time, there is so much foliage, it’s almost impossible for a major rejuvenation, so late winter is best.

For these first things I did, three weeks ago would have been better, but I think they’ll be okay. The Butterfly Bush just needs to be cut almost to the ground in late winter every couple of years. I forgot the before shot, but here’s the debris pile and what’s left.

The Snowball had never been pruned and required a lot of work. After this, it will be easier to keep up by pruning.

The Weigela needs pruning every year by removing the 3 year old (or older) branches, and leaving the younger vertical ones. It’s been closer to 5 years for this one.

These Rose Of Sharons have never been pruned and have grown completely out of control plus suffered some severe snow damage – to the point I couldn’t mow around them. I just picked a mental inverted cone size for them and cut off everything outside the cone.  Here are the yet to be done and the finished ones - you've got to be ruthless.

I did these plus my fruit trees, ornamental trees, crepe myrtles, knockout roses, and a few others. I’ll tackle the Azaleas after they bloom.  This will be a major effort and will take a few years to get them in good shape as evergrenns should not have more than 30% of their foliage removed in one growing season.

When pruning, it’s always important to use proper techniques – cutting out the dead, cutting back to branches or nodes, cutting off branches just at the outside of the collar, etc.  If you question whether you're rejuvinating or pruning - I never prune with a chainsaw :-).

A few days ago I was bemoaning being on negative news overload.  I watched CBS 60 minutes last night and it was a real feel good to learn about Bob Hurley, the 30 year basketball coach at St. Anthony's High School in Jersey City.  This guy has passed up bigger opportunities for his $9000 a year job where he turns out national championship basketball teams on a regular basis at a school with no gym and he has had only 2 players not go to college in his career.  Talk about impacting kids lives - this guy is a real hero and I'm glad I was watching to learn about him.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Fruits Of My Asparagus And Mushroom Labor

While I often grumble about the garden work, especially in the 90* July and August heat, I do enjoy the fruits of our labor. While we'd gotten a couple of asparagus spears from a plant in Bev’s flower bed, this is the first picking from the garden. Since I’d just read a blog about mushrooms, I decided I’d better check mine to find three nice shitaki’s. I don’t know what will become of the remainder, but if you know me, you know what I did with the first of them.

I don't usually make a restaurant omelet (cooked on a griddle and folded over both ways) but I wanted a three egger and didn't have the right sizd pan so I went with the larger one.  I added some Spanish Manchego cheese and sided it with a half lnk of my homemade breakfast sausage and as you might expect, it was darned good and would have been outstanding had I remembered to add a little onion.  Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

And so tomorrow came, but this time I remembered some green onion and used more asparagus and cheese.

I had trouble getting it to slide from the pan and had to flip it.  Here it is topped with a few chives and after a few bites, sided with the other half link of sausage.

It would be hard to say this is the best breakfast I've ever fixed or even the best omelet, but it was amazingly good and will be eaten, in some form, at least once a week until I get tired of asparagus.

As good as the fresh asparagus is, it won’t be too long before I’ll be calling the neighbors to come get it.

I got my new DSLR camera yesterday, but since it came with two instruction books and a DVD, I'm thinking about sending it back.  Not really, I made many shots with an SLR in my younger days and hopefully it will come back to me and these will be even easier to operate.

If you haven't, please check out the blogger party invite.

Have a great day and thanks for visiting.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Blogger Party - A Texas BBQ in East Tennessee

Last year, we had such a good time, we wanted to have another blogger get-together this summer. Chris Grove (Nibble Me This) and I love to BBQ and would like to invite our blogger buddies to join us for as close as we can get to an authentic Texas BBQ.  Chris put together this really cool announcment and to read it just click on it and when it comes up, click on it again.

We'll be back in early May asking for an RSVP but you can let me know now if you like.  Hope you can make it.


Friday, March 25, 2011

My Smoked Pastrami

We live about 16 miles from anyplace you could really call a town, 5 miles from Greenback, which is pretty much just a post office, two banks and a restaurant; and 6 miles from Vonore, which is a wide spot in the road. But in spite of its smallness, Vonore has Sloan’s which is a miniature combo of a Walmart and Home Depot – it’s an amazing little place and it has a great meat department. While they only sell select beef, they still buy good meat and their burger is renowned in the area – they buy packer cuts then butcher it themselves – can you believe this little store has at least six people working in the meat dept.

I buy as much of my meat from them as I can and like most stores they have a weekly discount flyer. The week before St. Patrick's Day, they had the cheapest corned beef around, choice Skylark brand for $2.99/lb, so I bought one for St. Patty's Day and one for pastrami.

I smoked the pastrami at 235* to an internal temp of 165, then put it in a foil pan, covered tightly with foil and cooked to an internal temp of 185*. Then I put it in a pre-warmed cooler to rest until dinner time. I normally pull it from the smoker at 175* then steam it to heat prior to slicing and serving, but we were eating it off the smoker for this meal.  As it turned out 185* was fine for the brisket flat, but the fattier point and the fat between the two needed to go another 10 degrees.  I believe I'll stick with pull at 175* and steam before serving from now on.  It still looked and tasted very good.

And remember, if you own a grill, you can smoke pastrami.

Since I not only had pastrami, but also some corned beef left for St. Patrick's day, I could not let Chris' (Nibble Me This)  Blue Max sandwich post pass by.  I made it pretty much like his except used dill havarti cheese as that's what I had and I grilled it in a pan with butter.

Even though I ate no lunch, I could only eat half of it - d%*n diet pills.  My only comment to Chris is "D%*n boy where you been keeping this thing" - it was outstanding.  The best part is I'll soon be making corned beef and pastrami again - d%*n Chris, what else you hidin?

Finally two great giveaways to tell you about.  Bo over at Bo's Bowl is giving away a very nice piece of Le Creuset cookware and Chris at Nibble Me This is giving away a neat book called the "The Encyclopedia Of Sandwiches".  Please hope over to their blogs for the details.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Breakfast Sausage Four Ways

We had a tornado pass near here last night but we're fine.

I’d mentioned in my sausage making post, that we stuffed a little of the breakfast sausage and smoked it, and the next day, I tried it for the first time for breakfast. I had it four ways: cold while I was slicing it, nuked for 30 seconds and tossed in with the eggs, nuked for 30 seconds, served on the side, and later on at room temperature.

Unfortunately the flash shot turned out best, I've ordered a new DSLR to keep up with you pros - hopefully someone can teach me how to use it.

All I can say is I wish I had stuffed it all – it was as good a piece of sausage as I’ve ever had and I’m now officially hooked on homemade stuffed sausage. I’ve always been a big fan of stuffed sausages of all kinds and now that Bev has said she liked it and I won’t have to eat it all myself – I’M IN.

I believe I may have a new menu item for my BBQ friends to consider.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chocolate Truffle Cake, Bloody Mary, And White Bean Soup

These are just three topics I wanted to write about and decided to combine them.  Header shot is Fat Albert spruce on left, pink Patio Peach, and Yoshino Cherry behind.

After posting about this several times, I thought I should go ahead and put up the recipe. I would have done it earlier, but I had to use my three finger hunt-and-peck method to type it in.

Chocolate Truffle Cake
Nestles via Woman’s Day magazine, 2005

- 3 cups (18oz) Semisweet chocolate chips (Or your favorite chocolate – Bev used Merken's)
- 2 sticks Butter, unsalted
- 6 Eggs, large at room temperature
- 1-2 tbsp Chambord raspberry liqueur (added by Bev)

Preheat oven to 425*, Coat an 8” dia x 3” high cake pan with nonstick spray. Line the bottom with wax paper and spray paper. Have a larger roasting pan ready.

Melt chips and butter together in a bowl over boiling water and stir until well blended.

Beat eggs in a large bowl with a mixer on high for 7 minutes, or until tripled and soft peaks form. Fold in chocolate mixture until blended and pour into cake pan. Cover loosely with foil.

Place large pan inside oven, place cake pan inside it and pour boiling water into large pan halfway up the side of cake pan. Bake 40 minutes.

Cool cake pan on a wire rack. Cover and cool in fridge for 3 hours or until firm. Invert on a serving platter and shake down sharply to release cake. Peel off paper.

Serve topped with whipped cream and fresh raspberries (added by Bev).

If you are a chocolate lover, I'm confident you'll enjoy this dessert.

After I read Velva’s post for a Cajun Bloody Mary over at Tomatoes On The Vine, I knew I had to try it, so on my next trip to the store, I got the only missing ingredient – pickled okra. Velva, I don’t know if you found this recipe or invented it, but I loved it. I used 1/8 tsp of the okra juice, 1/8 tsp of Fire Ant Juice, and my homemade tomato juice and beef stock. I tried ½ tsp of horseradish in the second one, but didn’t like it as well – I shouldn’t be fooling around with perfection. These things are like Salty Dogs – they go down real easy. I decided to make up the quart of tomato juice and ended up with this.

As I read the recipes on your blog, I often say “wow, I must try this”, so I put it on my “must-try” list and often forget to go back to it. It works much better if I can make the dish within a few days and it worked out with this one. Pam, over at Pam’s Midwest Kitchen Corner, recently posted her recipe for White Bean Soup With Andouille Sausage and as it happened I had the necessary ingredients - sorta.

I had some newly made smoked sausage and some kale that I’d purchased for another meal but didn’t use and these seemed close enough. From an ingredients standpoint I followed Pam's recipe except for these two (I used homemade chicken broth) but I cooked it on the stove. I didn’t pay attention to the fact that it was a crockpot meal, so without thought, I put by beans in water the night before to soak. Since they no longer needed an all-day cook, I just added everything to a pot over very low heat and cooked for about four and a half hours.

I added a little crushed red pepper and grated parmesan to mine to kick it up a little and it was delicious.

The next morning I had a bowl of reheated soup and a bloody mary from the pitcher.  Both were just as good or better the next day.  Thanks Velva and Pam for the recipes.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mid-March Garden Update

Since several of you have expressed interest in my veggie garden, I thought I’d provide a little update.  As always, click on any shot to blow it up.

The garlic, planted in November, is growing well – I’m experimenting with 4 varieties.

The garden asparagus is beginning to send up a few small spears, but not big enough to pick and eat.

The spinach, radishes, and green onions planted in later Feb are all up.  My neighbor said she always plants spinach but never gets any and when I showed it to her just coming up her response was - it looks just like grass, maybe I've been hoeing it up.

For those of you with rich loamy, black soil, this is actually pretty good for red clay and that crust helps hold the moisture in when it gets dry.

I planted an entire row (about 150) of a large white sweet onion that we love, called Superstar, which we get from Dixondale Farms. They were planted as dormant slips but will start putting on new growth soon.

This past week, before the rains, neighbor Pat and I, planted the red and Yukon gold potatoes, lettuces, cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower, and kale. Pat offered to help with the planting in return for eating from the garden – good deal for both of us.  They look a little punny after three days in the garden but they all survived and should perk up soon.

The blueberries are loaded with blooms.

In the greenhouse, I transplanted the tomatoes into containers and as deep as I could - they should be ready for my mid-April garden planting date. I’m growing the following varieties: Kada Hybrid, Quimbaya Hybrid (both paste tomatoes for canning and salsa), Better Boy, Persimmon, Sudderth’s Brandywine, Yellow Brandywine, Cherokee Purple (all slicing tomatoes), Sugar Snack Cherry, Green Zebra (salad tomatoes).

I’m a pretty fair vegetable gardener and actually teach it to new Master Gardeners, but I’m just adequate in the greenhouse. If I were to teach a class, it would likely be titled “Do As I Say Not As I Do,” but I’m normally successful in spite of the rules I break. Most plants are okay with being transplanted, some (like cukes, squash, etc) really don’t like it, but tomatoes love it, if done correctly. This means planting them much deeper than they were, so they develop new roots along all of the stem that has been buried. Here’s a before and after for mine - note how much less is above the pot.

This was the perfect day as it was overcast – the new transplants don't need full sun exposure on day 1 after transplanting. Only three varieties were ready to transplant so I’ll get the others as they become ready.
Then look what they've done in just three days.  I adjusted the greenhouse vents to try and cool the greenhouse down more and I have the fan blowing on them a few hours a day - both of which will help them be stalkier.  The ones in the background flat are now also ready to transplant - except the eggplants on the right.

It must be spring as I heard my first wild turkey gobbling when I went to get the paper.

Welcome new followers and thanks for reading my ramblings.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.