Food For Thought

Food for thought-

Food, and the gathering together of family and friends to indulge, celebrate, and enjoy its flavors, is an essential source of sustenance and life beyond the kitchen and dining table.

Consider the role food plays in our all things house that make a home life.

Over the prepping, preparing, plating and partaking of a meal we connect with family and friends, build and strengthen personal and business relationships, indulge in the art of expression and discovery, and create delicious and lasting memories.

Food for thought.

contemporary-kitchen-1Houzz

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

 Virginia Woolf

silver-flat-ware

 

RieslingCamille Styles

Essential-EmerilEmeril Lagasse

Cheese-and-honey-HonestlyYUMHonestly YUM

 “New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.”

– Mark Twain

Chef-John-Besh-red-beans-and-riceChef John Besh Red Beans and Rice

J. Kenji López-Alt, author of The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, debunks five common Southern cooking myths over on the Garden & Gun blog Daily Shot.

Click on the link below for details.

Five Southern Cooking Myths Debunked

The-Food-Lab-J-Kenji-Lopez-Alt

Just a little food for thought.

Love your style!

A Most Fetching Friday Dessert

This week’s A Most Fetching Friday Dessert is dedicated to the art of baking (and no-baking) and the edible works created, admired and deliciously celebrated as the grand finale of the holiday dinner.

Thanksgiving-apple-pastry-package-del1014-lgnWrapped Baked Apple Crumble – Country Clever

beekman-boys-buttermilk-pie-with-pecan-crustButtermilk Pie with Pecan Crust – Country Living Magazine

apple-nut-cake-walnutsApple Nut Cake  with Caramel Walnut Icing

white-chocolate-pumpkin-cheesecakesNo Bake White Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecakes with a Pecan Pie Crust

Butter-pecan-cakeButter Pecan Cake

butterscoth-pudding-Coquette-New-OrleansButterscotch Pudding with Snickerdoodle Cookie Crumbs & Bacon Whipped Cream

I hope you have a most delicious double dip of dessert fetching Friday.

Love your style!

From Coast to Coast: The Cuisine of Summer

From sea to shining sea, coast to coast, the hallmark summer celebration of freedom revolves around the cuisine of summer.

The saltwater, freshwater and farm-raised cuisine of summer varies from coast to coast, but it is fried, boiled, steamed, blackened, poached, baked grilled and barbecued with this is how we do it love.

I love a good game of connect the food to the corresponding city and/or state.

food-cities

When you think about it, food is the claim to fame of many cities and states.

Dedicated foodies travel coast to coast highways in search of gastronomy glory.

All gourmet restaurants, neighborhood cafes, seafood markets, crab shacks, beachside bungalows and river restaurants are open game.

Leave no oyster unshucked, no shrimp unpeeled, no stone crab unturned.

Gulf Coast cuisine of summerA misconception about Gulf Coast seafood dishes is that they are swimming in grease or hot sauce or both.

Granted, the key ingredient featured in many Gulf Coast region seafood dishes and recipes has been swimming at one time or another, but the measure of flavor, spice and heat varies from region to region.

I don’t need a map to tell me what part of the Gulf Coast I’m in-  just point me in the direction of the kitchen (indoor or outdoor) and the in-house spice cabinet.

The pot and the spice potions tell the tales.

Get it?

pascals-manale-restaurantPascal’s Manale via Explore New Orleans

I can’t tell you how many times I have begun a what’s for dinner conversation with the words, “I wish I had the recipe for insert memorable dish here we had when we were in insert memorable destination here.”

Barbecue speaks the universal language of fire it up, throw it on and c’est si bon!

I became a seafood barbecue believer the first time I tasted barbecued shrimp at Pascal’s Manale Restaurant in New Orleans.

You can’t talk the cuisine of summer without talking barbecue, and BBQ naturally brings the conversation around to potato salad.

I have not tasted this Potato Salad with Bacon and Barbecue Sauce Potato Salad with Bacon and Barbecue Sauce Recipe from Food & Wine, but the words barbecue and bacon have my attention.

potato saladPotato Salad with Bacon and Barbecue Sauce Recipe via Food & Wine

Boiling shrimp and crawfish is a way of life down Southern states of the Gulf Coast way.

I’m totally convinced the throw it all in one pot principle of shrimp and crawfish boiling sparked the crock pot revolution.

cuisine of summer

When Dave the Builder was working in the corporate world, we were active in the office supper club.

boiled-crawfish

This group took a crawfish boil to new flavor heights, but the real deliciousness was surprisingly found in the “sides” that went into the pot.

crawfish-time-paintingCrawfish Time by Dianne Parks

Here’s what made the pot:

crawfish

whole yellow onions

garlic bulbs

lemons

celery stalks

whole carrots

link sausage

red potatoes

corn on the cob

cabbage

Let me tell you, the crawfish were tasty, but the vegetables were the hit of the night!

Our hostess whipped up a couple of skillets of hot cornbread and the crowd went wild.

southern-buttermilk-cornbread-in-black-iron-skillet

Food for thought, people!

I found a great article, Crawfish Boil 101,  from NOLA.com that offers expert advice for the perfect boil.

catfish_cinnamon_chipotle1-710x1065Baked Cinnamon Chipotle Catfish with Sweet Pepper Slaw

Caught in freshwater or farm-raised, coasters love catfish.

Catfish is exactly what it is- a mild, delicious classic comfort food.

I’ve had catfish broiled, blackened, baked, poached, grilled, barbecued and stuffed.

Given my plate of preference, I’ll have mine fried crisp with a side scoop of coleslaw, flour battered french fries, two lemon wedges and a couple of green onions.

classic-fried-catfish-lClassic Fried Catfish with Hushpuppies and Tartar Sauce

In the next Coast to Coast installment we’ll be going from Atlantic to Pacific, gee, the seafood is terrific!

Love your style!

The Southern Dinner Table Part 2

We’re moving on up and over a few states to the country road, rolling hills and mountains of East Tennessee for the Southern Dinner Table Part 2.

see-rock-cityTake me home, country roads and See Rock City signs!

Southern in style with only the slightest hint of hillbilly coming through, the delicious differences that set the Southern dinner table in Tennessee style defined the spirit of what coming together for a meal is really all about.

Up first in the Texas vs. Tennessee Southern dinner table comparison taste tests is bread.  In the thoughts and palettes of my Texas and Tennessee family there was and is no room for discussion.

When in Texas, fresh soft white bread places in a bread and butter saucer graced the dinner and supper table.

When in Tennessee, cornbread is considered the bread of life.

White-Lily-flour-meal

A hot black skillet swimming in Crisco seasoned the cornbread batter made from White Lily meal.

The thought process among the ladies that cook cornbread from scratch is that White Lily flour adds extra lovin’ for the oven, and guarantees the perfect golden crisp crust on the bottom, top, and edges.

buttermilk-cornbread-skillet

Home grown tomatoes either fried or topped with a thin layer of mayonnaise and a thick dusting of fine black pepper claimed the title of table staple.

green-tomatoes

Fresh vegetables were more the rule than the exception.

tomatoes-pepper

In the Texas kitchens, grease, and plenty of it, played an intricate role in the flavor quotient.

vintage-grease-canister

The Care and Keeping of Bacon Grease

There was never any misunderstanding of the theory of the Tennessee Southern dinner table.

The recipe to make it work was one part the way it used to be done mixed with one part the way it used to be done.  In other words, forget about teaching these old dogs a new trick.

The ladies of Fountain City, Northwood, Oakwood and central Louisiana stood in an unairconditioned kitchen cooking from mid-morning until late afternoon.  My paternal grandmother and her sisters believed cooking was meant to be an all day event.

Louisianians are also known for our epic all day into all night cooking marathons.

Slow and low- just the way Southern flavor intended.

Grace

Practicality suited this anything but pretentious crowd, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

A framed copy of Eric Enstom’s Grace appropriately hung on the breakfast nook wall, the one memento I requested to have “one day.”  Wafer thin china plates perfectly matched to equally thin iced tea glasses completed the last step before calling the men into the kitchen dining area for dinner.

Wait.

What?

That’s right.  The women and girls moved into the living room where we sat patiently in the air conditioning waiting for the men to eat dinner.

An archaic practice at first impression, this was the way it was done in my grandmother’s home, her mother’s home, and her mother’s mother’s home.

Why?

Size and space, or lack thereof.

The kitchens in the homes of my Tennessee family members were small spaces of utilitarian works.

Kitchen design and decor of the north, south, east, and west has come a long way, baby.

Grits and biscuits may be a Southern thing, but lack of space is a universal thing.

Tennessee-kitchen-yellow

I don’t believe nor make the claim that the South holds the patent on dinner table philosophies.

What I do know from first hand experience and delicious feedback is there is a shared conclusion among the converted faithful who have witnessed, experienced, and savored the mechanics of the Southern dinner table that it is truly a unique case study of common threads running deep through blended traditions.

“Tell me what you eat, I’ll tell you who you are.”

~Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Love your style!

The Southern Dinner Table

The Southern dinner table tells a story.

Gathered in regional reverence, devout worshipers of the dining divine keep time to culinary tradition-nourishing the soul as well as the body.

Taking a meal at the Southern dinner table is a multi-layered celebration weaving through generations, tradition and culture.

A sudden wave of news copy on the popularity, rediscovery, and dare I say it, appreciation of Southern foods, has not only resonated with my taste buds, but my memories of times spent gathered around the Southern dinner table.

honey-biscuits

I surely don’t believe nor make the claim that the South holds the patent on dinner table philosophies, but sitting down to the Southern dinner table is an intended event.

It doesn’t matter if the table is set for cornbread, red beans and rice, or chicken fried anything with all the fixings, eating is far from simply a practice in sustenance.

From Southern farm, garden, market or waterway to the Southern dinner table, the prepping, cooking, baking, frying, boiling or grilling is a culinary event.

the-fondest-memories

Culinary tastes, rituals and traditions of cooking and dining vary from state to state, dining table to dining table across the South, but the core principles of preparing and sharing good food is uncomplicated, simple and basic.

If you cook, bake, fry, roast, barbecue, boil, grill, can, preserve or pickle it, they will come.

Beverly-Hillbillies-vittles

The differences between the ways of my Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana relatives always seemed to warrant a they don’t do it like this in whichever two states you were not breaking bread in.

The shared commonality between the Texas, Tennessee, and Louisiana masses boil down to simple dining vocabulary.

Dinner is the meal eaten in the middle of the day.

Supper is the meal eaten in the evening.

belton-tx1

Breaking bread with the Texas family came with rituals and a throwback vibe all its own.

The dining room table was for the adults, and the kitchen table was for the kids.

Soft white bread on a porcelain bread and butter plate was as close to a bread basket as you were gonna get.

My Aunt Sis was as full of sass as she was wit, and lightening quick with an answer and a serving spoon.

This firecracker’s table came equipped with its own GPS system.

Grease.

Preserves.

Salt.

Grease was the answer for everything, a pressed glass compote dish filled with homemade pear preserves never left the center of the table, and salt was not an acquired taste.

It was a required taste.

compote

The ladies of both my Texas and Louisiana family subscribed to the take down the china, fill the crystal to the rim, and put a hint of silver on the situation school of thought.

When questioned why a middle of the week dinner called for a fine lace tablecloth and a china pattern worthy of royalty, Aunt Sis would shoot back with a, “Well, hon, what’s the use of having the stuff if you don’t use it?”

I knew there was wisdom in her words, and they resonate with me to this day each time I open the doors to the china cabinet.

Life is too short not to use the good china, crystal and table linens every day.

You can quote me and Aunt Sis on it.

dinner-bell1stdibs

Does any of this ring a familiar dinner bell with you?

In continuation and reflection of the traditions and tastes of the Southern dinner table, my Tennessee family round the Southern dinner table traditions is the subject of my next post.

Love your style!

 

 

 

Super Bowl Party Dip Recipes

What’s a Super Bowl party without dip?

These Super Bowl party dip recipes tip their hat to team towns, classic fan favorites, and regional ingredients.

Click on the links for the recipes, and enjoy!

Hot Caramelized Onion Dip with Bacon and Gruyere

Hot Caramelized Onion Dip with Bacon and Gruyere

Jalapeño Popper Football Cheese Ball Jalapeño Popper Football Cheese Ball

Baked Tex-Mex Pimiento Cheese Dip

Baked Tex-Mex Pimiento Cheese Dip

White Bean Dip

White Bean Dip

Clam Chowder Dip in a Bread Bowl

Clam Chowder Dip in a Bread Bowl

Best Queso Dip

Easy Queso Dip

enjoy

One Pan And Two Bowls

I’ve been cheating this week.

Not at games, on my taxes, or on Dave the Builder.  I’ve “cheated” in a culinary sense for twp excellent reasons, imo.

It’s just too hot to cook, let alone eat heavy meals.

I’m a one pan, two bowls kind of girl.

We have been busy worker bees this past week in and out of the house.

I get in the groove of my routine and before I realize it ten o’clock is staring back at me from my computer monitor.

Eight o’clock is about the latest I’ll push serving dinner,  and it’s a struggle to meet that deadline most nights.

Today was my pseudo secretary day for my brother (the family that works together…), and I was still typing contracts at eight o’clock.

The sounds of the seventies were cranked up in the background, and as some Southern rock anthem played, it served as the catalyst in helping  me decide tonight’s menu.

It’s amazing where your dinner ideas will come from.

cooking-quick-grits

Dave the Builder stirs the pot!

Grits are comfort food central for us.

I bring about two cups water and one cup milk to a boil.

I don’t measure the grits but stop pouring them out of the box and into the pan when the whisk hits resistance.

I give them a constant whisk until desired thickness is reached.

The bowls, butter and pepper are standing ready.

You’ve got to move relatively quick with grits to avoid over thickening.

Tonight we dined on grits in their natural state (butter is a natural state, isn’t it?), but the add on options are many.

A few of our favorites are shrimp, green onions, bacon, cheese, fried or scrambled eggs.

I also substitute chicken broth for water on occasion.

With our Paula Deen proud pats of butter and a respectable Louisiana pepper content, we dined on quick, inexpensive and delicious hominy goodness.

 enjoy