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

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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!

How Does Your Summer Vegetable Garden Grow?

How does your summer vegetable garden grow?

colorful-vegetables

Crisp and fresh with taste and color, home grown vegetables straight from  a spring into summer vegetable garden deliver the c’est si bon to seasonal dishes.

How does your summer vegetable garden grow

We answer the how does your summer vegetable garden grow question with dressings, spices, oils, and recipes packed with the flavors that complement the very essence of spring and summer.

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!

Coast to Coast Cuisine of Summer

From sea to shining sea, the coast-to-coast cuisine of summer flavors a celebration with the undeniable taste of summer.

Gulf Coast cuisine of summerCulinary misconceptions abound, one in particular is that Gulf Coast seafood dishes are swimming in grease, hot sauce or a combination of 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.

boiled-Louisiana-crawfish

No map needed 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.

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Pot and spice potions tell the tales.

Get it?

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

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.

homemade-potato-salad-4th-july

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.

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

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

buttermilk-southern-skillet-cornbread copy

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

Food for thought, people!

crawfish-time-paintingCrawfish Time by Dianne Parks

Crawfish Boil 101 from NOLA.com 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.

Broiled, blackened, baked, poached, grilled, barbecued, stuff-I’ve eaten catfish prepared in all the aforementioned ways.

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!

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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-Ruby-Falls

Flickr

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.

Original Dining Room

Up first in my Texas vs. Tennessee Southern dinner table comparison taste tests is bread.

Regas'

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

Hot and ready to go is a black skillet swimming in Crisco awaiting the addition of buttermilk cornbread batter. Considered the flour and meal combination, White Lily self-rising flour and cornmeal mix remains a staple in the kitchens of this family.

buttermilk-southern-skillet-cornbread copy

Unanimous is the agreement among the ladies that cook cornbread from scratch is that White Lily products add extra lovin’ for the oven, and guarantees the perfect golden crisp crust on the bottom, top, and edges of Southern buttermilk biscuits and cornbread.

Duke's mayonnaise

Home grown tomatoes either fried or topped with a thin layer of Duke’s 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.

fresh-tomatoes-summer

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 has never been any misunderstanding nor debate regarding the traditional theory of the Tennessee Southern dinner table.

Formulated 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.

Wise 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.

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Louisianians are also known for our epic all day into all night cooking marathons in slow and low fashion- just the way Southern flavor intended.

Louisiana-Mississippi-map

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

grace-gratitude-prints

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 requested to find its new home in Louisiana.

Grace-kitchen-gallery-wall

Wafer thin dinner 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.

Archaic 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.

baking-in-vintage-kitchen

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

biscuits-in-iron-skillet

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.

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

~Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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.

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The Southern Dinner Table

As I live and breathe I’ve come to learn 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.

White-Lily-self-rising-flour-bag

Taking a meal at the Southern dinner table is a multi-layered celebration weaving through generations, tradition, and culture.  My appreciation of Southern foods taps into 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.

Lenox-Thanksgiving

Regardless 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.

family dinner table vintage

Photography by Annie Spratt 

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 are made when gathered around the table.”

Culinary tastes along with the 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-pickle it, they will come.

Beverly-Hillbillies-vittles

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.

Present is a shared commonality between the Texas, Tennessee, and Louisiana masses that basically boils down to simple dining vocabulary.

Dinner is the meal eaten in the middle of the day with supper being the meal eaten in the evening.

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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.

vintage-grease-canister

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 dinner plates, crystal and table linens every day.

You can quote me and Aunt Sis on it.

dinner-bell

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.

Darleen-signature-love

 

 

 

Super Bowl Party Dip Recipes

What’s a Super Bowl party without Super Bowl party dip recipes?

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

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No time for or interest in stirring up a dip or two for the big celebration?

No big deal!

Options purchased, picked up, or placed at your door via your favorite delivery service from the local grocery store score a flavor touchdown.

Super Bowl Party Dip Recipes

Whatever works for you works best for your Super Bowl get together.

That’s the winning point.

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