Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Salisbury Steak, Mushroom Gravy, and Latkes

We had some ground beef and shitaki mushrooms that needed to be used and decided to go with Salisbury steak, even though we had it in January after never before making it.  We also had some frozen hash browns that I thawed that morning because they were getting frosty, and I’d been wanting to make latkes (shredded potato pancakes).

Once again we used Lynda’s Salisbury Steak recipe from Lynda’s Recipe Box, which I followed except we decided to grill the meat – click on the link for the recipe.

For the latkes, I used pam’s recipe for Easy, Easy Potato Pancakes from Pam’s Midwest Kitchen Korner and followed it except for the brand on potatoes and I used a canola & bacon grease mix for frying.

Even though it was cool outside, I decided to cook everything on the gas grill.  Note Bev’s daffodils in the woods.

I started the mushroom gravy on the side burner than moved it over to the grill burners so I could cook the latkes on the side burner. 

I had to be careful with the steak as they were pretty delicate.

Bev has been on a cooked carrot kick lately and It’s been years since I've had peas and carrots so that was our veggie dish - looks like a massive amount of food, but it was a small plate.

Everything was delicious but we decided we preferred the steak cooked in a pan – which is good since it’s easier.  This was our first time to make latkes but now that I know how easily they can be made with frozen hash browns, it won't be the last.

We also had another patty melt with some of the burger.

For Blonds Again
There's this blonde out for a walk. She comes to a river and sees another blonde on the opposite bank 'Yoo-hoo!' she shouts, 'How can I get to the other side?'

The second blonde looks up the river then down the river and shouts back, 'You ARE on the other side.'

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago:  None

Two years ago:  None


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hash Brown’s – An Investigation

Based upon I-don’t-know-what, my potato definitions have always been:

Fried potatoes – Sliced or diced raw potatoes fried in fat.

Home fries – Pre-cooked potatoes, sliced or diced and fried in fat.

Hash browns – shredded raw or pre-cooked potatoes fried in fat and butter.

So when Ore Ida began selling diced potatoes labeled hash browns I was naturally incensed.  However, according to the ever reliable source Wikipedia – “Hash browns or hashed browns are a simple potato preparation in which potato pieces are pan-fried after being shredded, julienned, diced, or riced. In some cultures, hash browns or hashed browns can refer to any of these preparations, while in others it may refer to one specific preparation.” 

Now that I know the reality of the situation, I’m sticking with my original definitions and the rest of the world will just have to adapt J.

My investigation is trying to answer two questions:

1.    Can I make crispy, golden hash browns like I got at Hoot’s on Marco Island.
2.    Is there a difference between frozen Ore Ida and homemade hash browns.

I’d been planning this test for several months and finally remembered to boil extra potatoes when I was cooking some for the patty melt meal – I got them a little over-done, however.  After cooling I stored them in the fridge overnight. 

On cooking day, I got some frozen hash browns from the freezer and shredded the home cooked (HC’s) and allowed them to come to come to about the same temperature.  Due to their over-cooking, the HC’s  were a little mushier.

I sided the potatoes with a couple of pieces of homemade Polish sausage (mild & hot) that I’d picked up at Razzleberries while getting the muffuletta pasta  meat & cheese.  This is everything ready to go.

I cooked the potatoes and sausage in the same cast iron skillet using olive oil and butter for the potatoes and seasoned them with equal amounts of S&P.

When they were nearly done I cooked two over-easy Banny eggs (Bantam & Banty may be the same thing) in another pan and added some shredded cheddar to one end of the potatoes then plated everything.

I started eating from the end of potatoes that were unadorned, then to those with just cheese, and finally cheese and egg.  Except for the part of the HC’s that were too close to the skillet edge, both developed a nice golden crust. 

I could tell the difference in the texture from the HC’s being over-boiled, but my taster was not sophisticated to tell any difference in taste – Bev said I wouldn’t.  However, I could tell the difference between the sausages as the hot version had a good zing to it, so I ate it with a bite of potato.

In conclusion, for my taste buds, making my own hash browns is not worth the effort however, care must be taken with the frozen ones that are un-used to prevent them from getting frost bite.  Since I like the crunchy surface, next time I'll spread them out a little more in the skillet.  Final note - two Banny eggs = 1 chicken egg.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago:  Seafood At Almost Heaven South - Grilled Oysters

Two years ago:  Chef Salad Ala Beverly & Meat Buying


2/24/12  meal date

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mushroom Patty Melt

I’ve never, in my life, made a petty melt and I can’t remember if I’ve ever eaten one, so tonight was at least one first.  I’ was planning to make a fancier meal with the ground chuck and mushrooms, but just couldn’t motivate myself to cook it.  So the meal was a patty melt with sauteed onions and mushrooms and smashed taters all done on the cook top.  We liked them so well, we had them again two days later, so these shots are from both meals.

For the patty melts, I made up two 5oz burgers for Bev and Pat shaped to fit the bread we had and a 7oz one for me, and I sliced up some red onion and shitaki mushrooms.  I seasoned the burger with Tiger Seasoning and S&P – same for the mushrooms and cooked them in the same pan.

I boiled a couple of red potatoes until tender then smashed them with my hand and cooked in butter in another pan and after flipping they were topped with cheddar cheese and a little crumbled bacon - the sandwiches were grilled in yet another pan.

Then I assembled the sandwiches with a slice of bread with mayo, smoked cheddar, burger, onions & mushrooms, and bread with horseradish mustard.

This is my plate - sorry, it's a little blurry.

All I can say about this meal is if you are ever here for a lunch or supper - or breakfast for that matter, you should request the patty melt meal – it was awesome and will be made again. 

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

2/20/12  meal date

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Battalion Commander LTC Rhett Walker

We had a grand winter trip planned beginning with Ft Bragg, NC for Rhett’s (son) change of command ceremony, then to the Baltimore area for our first visit with Eric (son) and family in their new home, and were considering a swing thru WV to visit with my family there.  The day before we left, Eric called to advise his family was coming down with a cold and we aborted everything but Ft. Bragg – over one day and back the next.

The change of command ceremony is a 200 year old army tradition and we’d been at his other two, both as a company commander, but becoming a battalion commander is a big deal and this ceremony included a marching band and several generals.

His battalion contains 1100 folks and this is some of them in formation along with the 82nd Airborne’s marching band.

Before the ceremony, I got a shot of Rhett with the XVIII Airborne Corp Commander, Lt.General Frank Helmick.

This is Rhett and the outgoing commander reviewing the troops.

This is change of command where the boss, XVIII Chief of Staff, Brig General Mike Garrett, takes the battalion guidon from the outgoing commander and passes it to Rhett, as the incoming commander.  Battalion commanders generally work for a colonel, but this is a unique situation in that his boss is a one star and his senior rater is a three star.

Gen. Garrett and Rhett making their remarks and a final shot of the troops.

I failed to get any shots, but the previous night we went to Luigi’s Italian Restaurant and had a great meal.  Not only was the food good, but we had, perhaps, the best server ever – attentive, efficient, and a super personality.  If you’re ever in the Fayetteville area and like Italian, you should give it a try.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday Humor

Scottish Gold Course Sign

This is an actual sign posted at a golf club in Scotland:












Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Steak And Mushrooms

This is our second meal using the mushrooms we got from Brewers Mushrooms and steak and sautéed mushrooms sounded like a winner.  I went freezer diving and found a package of three filets and a rib eye with the filets being for Bev, Pat (SIL), and Joe (friend) and the rib eye for me – all seasoned with Montreal Steak Seasoning and S&P.

Since the rib eye was so thick, I thought the reverse sear method was mandatory so I had the burners to either side on high with the meat on my Grill Grate.  When it got to about 115*, I put it over direct heat and added the filets.

While the steak was cooking, I sautéed a mixture of shitaki, oyster, and lions mane mushrooms.

While the meat was resting I grilled a half romaine heart for each of us.  The ladies actually ate the filets and I removed the rib eye bone and sliced it for Joe and I.  Bev made some oven roasted potato wedges and my plate looked like this - complete with shadow.

Everything was delicious and I may already be hooked on these mushrooms.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago:  Smoked Salmon Cakes

Two years ago: BLT For Breakfast


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Muffuletta Pasta

When I’d posted the Greek Pasta in early January,  I’d hinted at the idea of muffuletta pasta and the more I considered it, the better it sounded.  I’d used all of my Central Grocery olive salad, so the first order of business was to make some up.  As it turned out, we had everything on hand to make up a batch from the Muffuletta Olive Salad Recipe , which I found on several sites including Nola Cuisine.  I could have just added the ingredients directly to the pasta, but decided it would be better to follow the directions and make it ahead. 

Before I get into the pasta and for you folks who know I’m taking some liberties, I realize that a muffuletta is as much about the bread used as what’s on it, and it’s likely improper to apply the name to a pasta dish – so please forgive me in advance.  In doing some online research, I also discovered there is some variability in the selection of meat and cheese, except they all seemed to have provolone cheese, salami, and ham, with the following as options: mortadella, cappocolo, mozzarella, emantaller

So for mine, I went with the stuff I liked – baked ham (the hot cappocolo that I wanted wasn’t available), mortadella, salami, provolone, and mozzarella all purchased from the very small deli at Razzleberry’s in Oak Ridge and since it was pasta, I tossed in some pepperoni.  After the lesson I learned from the Greek Pasta (I used spaghetti), for this dish I used penne thus making it much easier to get the olive salad, meat, and cheese along with the pasta on to an eating instrument.  The final pasta recipe was:

1/2 lb. penne pasta
1 cup  olive salad
1/8 lb. mortadella, julienned
1/8 lb. ham, julienned
1/8 lb. hard salami, julienned
1/8 lb. Mozzarella cheese, julienned
1/8 lb. Provolone cheese, julienned
1 1/2" Piece of pepperoni, julienned

Set out salad, cheese, and meats for an hour to come to room temperature.

Cook the pasta in salted water to desired doneness, drain and return to the hot pan then stir in the other ingredients.  We plated and topped with a little grated parmesan and crushed red pepper.

Bev and I both liked it and it and it tasted somewhat like the sandwich - Bev actually liked the pasta better.  We'll have it again with two changes - nuke the olive salad and meat a little so it doesn't overly cool the pasta and buy some Central Grocery, or other good, olive salad as mine had a little bit of an off taste.

For you blonds out there - last one for a few days

A gorgeous young redhead goes into the doctor's office and said that her body hurt wherever she touched it.

'Impossible!' says the doctor.. 'Show me.'

The redhead took her finger, pushed on her left shoulder and screamed, then she pushed her elbow and screamed even more. She pushed her knee and screamed; likewise she pushed her ankle and screamed. Everywhere she touched made her scream.
The doctor said, 'You're not really a redhead, are you? 

'Well, no' she said, 'I'm actually a blonde.'
'I thought so,' the doctor said, 'Your finger is broken.'

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago: Garden Time At Almost Heaven South

Two years ago:  Nothing



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mushrooms - They're What's For Breakfast

Beginning on January 16 , Chris Grove did a series of mushroom posts on his Nibble Me This blog and he referenced Brewers Mushrooms in Sevierville, Tn.  Since we are big fans of schrooms, even growing some of our own, and I passed nearby on our way home from our trip to Gatlinburg, I arranged to stop by Brewers.

Even though they are closed for the winter, Hugh and Tammy invited us in, gave us a tour of what they are growing, answered questions about the schrooms I’m growing in my logs, and sold us a few pounds.  Click on the link above for their website which includes information about their CSA.

I came home with Shiitake, Lions Mane, three Oyster varieties - Bev met up with the SIL and stayed in Pigeon Forge.

We also came home with some new learnings such as the schooms can be sauteed and frozen for preservation and I need to soak my logs to make them produce better.

My first meal with them was breakfast (big surprise huh), using ingredients I had on hand.  The bread was still in Gatlinburg with Bev, but I had English Muffins and I knew the oysters were the oldest so I used mostly them with a few shitakis.

Normally I would make a scramble, but I decided to go with fried eggs.  After slicing, I sauteed the schrooms in butter with some green onion.

While they were cooking, I toasted the muffin and fried the eggs sunnyside up in a mold.  When all was done, I topped the muffin with the schrooms, sliced guyere cheese and the eggs - one bled out from under the ring mold.

It was delicious and would have been all star with a nice sauce over it - but I sure don't need the calories. 

For you blonds out there - again
Two blondes living in Oklahoma were sitting on a bench talking, and one blonde says to the other, 'Which do you think is farther away... Florida or the moon?' The other blonde turns and says 'Helloooooooooo, can you see Florida ?????'

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago:  Smoked Pork Wellington

Two years ago: Stretching A Dollar Brisket


2/16/12 meal date

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pan Fried Crappie

For some reason, I’ve really wanted some pan fried fish lately – I’m pretty sure it’s not male menopause or pregnancy.  I thought the urge wound be satisfied when I ordered fried catfish at The Partridge & Pear during our Gatlinburg trip, and while it was good, it was deep fried and the urge remained.

Then along came Mary’s post for Pan Fried Catfish with Lemon and Garlic on her One Perfect Bite blog and my urge turned to a near craving.  The next day I went freezer diving and found a small package of crappie – my desire was for pan fried fish and the variety didn’t matter to me.

I considered using Mary’s recipe but it was late, I was hungry, and didn’t want to wait the hour for it to marinate.  I went easy peasy instead by seasoning the fish with Old Bay, salt, and pepper, then breading with flour – egg wash – cornmeal (I couldn’t find the yellow).  I fried it in olive oil with a little butter.

This is my plate with the back two pieces being the appetizer, the next two my side dish, the next three the entrée, and the final two for dessert (Bev was still in G'burg).

Craving satisfied.  Life is good.

For you blonds out there:
A blonde pushes her BMW into a gas station. She tells the mechanic it died. After he works on it for a few minutes, it is idling smoothly. 

She says, 'What's the story?'

He replies, 'Just crap in the carburetor'

She asks, 'How often do I have to do that?

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago: The Power Shopper Is Home

Two years ago:  Mama's Lasagna  I encourage you to have a look at this one


2/15/12 meal date

Monday, February 20, 2012

Gatlinburg Mexican Restaurant

After a beautiful drive to Cherokee NC and back and making our donation to the Cherokees (smaller than usual) at their Harrah’s Casino, we headed for our favorite Mexican restaurant in the area – Los Rancheros.  I can’t remember if we've tried others, but this one has a nice atmosphere with good music, good food, and it’s just down the street from our condo and at 3pm on a winter Monday, we were the only ones there.

We started with the usual chips and salsa and a little margarita.

Bev had a build your own combo meal where you select four items from a list of 15 and she chose a burrito, chile relleno, enchilada, and refried beans – I took a photo but it was a bad one.  I generally always get the normal Tex-Mex fare like Bev ordered, but since I’d been wanting to try making carnitas at home, I got them to give me an idea of what I should end up with.

Both meals were good and I enjoyed the carnitas, but I thought they needed a sauce of some sort.  I shredded them a little, added to a tortilla and topped with guacamole, jalapeno, tomato, and lettuce which made them very good .  I feel sure we’ll go back again next year.

NOTE: For those of you who use Blogspot but require a password to comment, I will still be reading your blog, and hope you'll continue to visit mine, but I may be commenting less as I can't read the new format most of the time, even after a several trys.  For what it's worth I've been using the built-in spam guard, without the password, for over a year and no one has gotten thru yet.  Click on one of these links to find out how to use it LINK1 or LINK2.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

Two years ago:  The Diner Is Good Eats


2/13/12 meal date

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gatlinburg Ham & Eggs

If you’ve never been to the Gatlinburg – Pigeon Forge area of Tennessee, it is inundated with places to sleep and places to eat.  I can’t imagine how many there are or how many serve breakfast but they have about run out of words to put with Pancake House - Log Cabin Pancake House, Little House of Pancakes, Aunt B's Pancake House & Grill, Smoky Mountain Pancake House, Pancake Pantry, Red Rooster Pancake House, Flapjacks Pancake Cabin, just to name a few.  Many restaurants, chain and local, have a place in each town as well as Sevierville.

Most serve the traditional Southern fare with country ham being a big seller on most breakfast menus and since I know Allen Benton ships to a lot of restaurants here, I assume many are serving his.  Here are a couple of menu listings with most serving pancakes rather than toast or biscuits.:

“Country Ham at its finest, a delicious center cut served with two eggs and a stack of homemade buttermilk pancakes $7.59”  (Smoky Mountain Pancake House)

“Country Ham & Eggs: 2 eggs, slice of delicious country ham served with 3 buttermilk pancakes - $8.95”  (Red Rooster Pancake House)

Since we were heading over to Cherokee, NC to make our annual donation to the Cherokee Nation at their Harrah’s Casino and it would be a two-meal day, I decided to stock up with a thin center slice of Benton’s country ham, two sunny-side-up eggs, and 2 slices of toast for dipping (works better for this task than pancakes).

It was delicious, I didn’t have to leave our Gatlinburg timeshare on a cold morning, and I only had a few bucks  invested in it – a definite winner in my book.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

Two years ago:  Finally


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday Humor

Old prospector and the young gunslinger

An old prospector shuffled into the town of El Indio, Texas leading an old tired mule. The old man headed straight for the only saloon in town, to clear his parched throat. He walked up to the saloon and tied his old mule to the hitch rail. As he stood there, brushing some of the dust from his face and clothes, a young gunslinger stepped out of the saloon with a gun in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other.

The young gunslinger looked at the old man and laughed, saying, "Hey old man, have you ever danced?" The old man looked up at the gunslinger and said, "No, I never did dance.... never really wanted to."

A crowd had gathered as the gunslinger grinned and said, "Well, you old fool, you're gonna' dance now" and started shooting at the old man's feet. The old prospector, not wanting to get a toe blown off, started hopping around like a flea on a hot skillet. Everybody was laughing, fit to be tied..

When his last bullet had been fired, the young gunslinger, still laughing, holstered his gun and turned around to go back into the saloon. The old man turned to his pack mule, pulled out a double-barreled shotgun and cocked both hammers. The loud clicks carried clearly through the desert air.

The crowd stopped laughing immediately. The young gunslinger heard the sounds too, and he turned around very slowly. The silence was almost deafening. The crowd watched as the young gunman stared at the old timer and the large gaping holes of those twin barrels. The barrels of the shotgun never wavered in the old man's hands, as he quietly said, "Son, have you ever kissed a mule's a**?"

The gunslinger swallowed hard and said, "No sir..... but... I've always wanted to."

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago:  Shepherds Chili Pie


Friday, February 17, 2012

Lunch At The Partridge & Pear

Bev and I had been having trouble scheduling a meal out with friends Laurie and David but we finally made it happen in Pigeon Forge, Tn.  Bev and I were staying at our timeshare in Gatlinburg and knowing they like to go places, we suggested a meal in the mountains. 

There are not nearly as many eating options in the winter, especially for lunch, but after a little online research, we settled on The Partridge & Pear, which is part of Christmas Place Complex, which includes a store and hotel.  The restaurant was very nice on both the inside and out and our dining room had a train running around the top of the walls.

We started with the Christmas Tomatoes appetizer which was fried green tomatoes, topped with feta cheese and served with cranberry-pear sauce – it was just okay.

Bev’s entrée was a Reuben with ‘Tis the Season fries and like the appetizer, the sandwich was just okay but we both liked the fries – a mix of Idaho and sweet potatoes.

I had the fried catfish dinner with ‘Tis the Season fries, coleslaw, and red onion & caper Remoulade.  I liked all of mine and would love to have the Remoulade recipe as I thought it was outstanding.

It wasn’t a great meal – it was a tourist restaurant after all - but I’d give it another try.  It was, however, a very nice way to spend time with our friends.

After lunch we headed across the street to The Incredible Christmas Place and it blew me away.  It’s huge, but divided into small rooms that feel intimate, but I could envision wandering around in there lost for a while.  It only took me about 5 minutes to see all I wanted, but if you’re in Christmas stuff, they seemed to have at least one of everything made for the season and you'd probably think it really is incredible.

After leaving the store, we were able to get this shot of the Mountains above Gatlinburg - I couldn't tell if it was snow or ice or both that we were seeing, but it's obvious where the line is.

These are from our condo balcony of the mountains to the east and across Gatlinburg to the hill on the west side of town.

It was a very good day.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


1/12/12  meal date