Monday, November 23, 2020

Stuffing vs. Dressing

Some say that stuffing is what you stuff inside the bird whereas dressing is what you cook separately on the side. I think Southern Living said it best,

"The difference between stuffing or dressing isn’t as much about technique or ingredients as it is about whether you say y’all, you all, or youse."


I grew up in the north and my husband is from the south. My family made a white bread stuffing. His family made a cornbread dressing. Both families cooked some of the stuffing/dressing inside of the bird and some of the stuffing/dressing outside in a separate pan, purely to appease all that would come to eat at the table.

Personally, I think both are absolutely delicious so there is nothing wrong with welcoming both to the Thanksgiving table. After all, the more, the merrier!


Michigan's White Bread Stuffing

Ingredients
12 cups soft bread cubes
1 cup butter
2 cups celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions
1. Heat butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the celery and onion and cook until tender.

2. Remove from heat and stir in all of the remaining ingredients. Combine and serve.



Texas's Cornbread Dressing

Ingredients
3 boxes of Jiffy boxed cornbread mix
1 cup of chicken broth
2 medium onions, chopped
5 stalks of celery, chopped
6 Tablespoons of Butter
1 pound mild pork sausage
4 eggs

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

2. In an oven-friendly baking dish soak the cornbread mixture in the chicken broth for 10 minutes. Stir to absorb the liquid.

3. In a saucepan melt the butter over medium heat and saute the onion and celery until tender. Add the sausage and cook over low heat until the sausage is browned.

4. Drain the sausage and vegetables. Then add the sausage mixture to the cornbread mixture.

5. Bake for 45 minutes or until slightly browned.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Bourbon Pecan Pie

This Thanksgiving will be like no other in our lifetime. It's a time of food and gathering. Fortunately we can savor in the former, but sadly we are discouraged to entertain the latter. So food definitely will be had, and we will have to work hard this year at mastering our recipes so that in the years to come, we can go back to sharing them with all of our family, friends, and loved ones.


Bourbon Pecan Pie Recipe

Ingredients
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 1/2 cup of white sugar
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons of butter, melted
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup of light corn syrup
- 2 Tablespoons of Bourbon
- 1 unbaked pie crust *

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix the white sugar, brown sugar, and butter together in a bowl.

3. Beat the eggs. Add the eggs, corn syrup, and bourbon to the bowl with the sugar and butter. Stir to combine.

4. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Top with the pecans. **

5. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until set. Let cool on a rake prior to serving.


* Make your own pie crust using this delicious Homemade Apple Pie recipe!

** It's good to dip the pecans a little bit into the pie filling mixture for more flavor. Don't worry, they'll float their way back up to the top.


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Tortilla Soup Recipe

Baby, it's cold outside! which also means... it's Soup season!


Chili, chowda', and soups galore. Enjoy this recipe!

TORTILLA SOUP

Ingredients
- 1 rotisserie chicken, skinned, de-boned, and cut into pieces
- 4 corn tortillas, cut into strips
- 2 Quarts Chicken Broth *
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
- 1 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo sauce, chopped
- 2 cans of Rotel tomatoes and peppers
- 1 Lime, juiced
- 1 teaspoons of cumin
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 sliced avocado for topping

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the tortilla strips for about 5-8 minutes, until crisp but not browned. Remove and let cool.

2. In a large pot or Dutch Oven heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until slightly caramelized. 

3. Add the garlic, stir, and cook for about 1 minute. Add the cumin and stir to combine.

4. Add the chicken, chipotle pepper, Rotel, and stir.

5. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

6. Finally, add the lime juice, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir together.

7. Serve into individual bowls. Top with the tortilla strips and avocado.


 
* You can always make your own broth. Just follow the first few steps in this Matzo Ball Soup recipe! 

** Optional: Give it an extra garnish with some chopped onion and cilantro.
  


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Stacking Stones, Cairns

Stacking Stones, or Cairns, are no stranger to New England. If you have visited this part of the country, then you have seen the beautiful rock walls that landscape many of the houses. But where did they all come from?

At first ask, many New Englanders will respond that these rock walls were formed with the first settlers, who were farmers, needing a fence to keep the animals in (or out!). Smart thinking, at first. Now, does that really make sense? If you truly think about it, no.

But it's not totally wrong. The first settlers were indeed farmers, and the "new" England was covered in trees and debris. So, upon clearing the forestry land for their crops and livestock, there was plenty of fire wood to be stacked, but also these nuisances called rocks, which were tossed aside into a pile, or a "dump wall" as they called it.

Well, as the years went on, and the settlers started to take more pride in their new American land they called home, they wanted their home to look nice. Thus, these dump walls became beautiful works of masonry art for each farmhouse to display with honor. They truly are beautiful after all.

The stacking of stones is seen by many as an art form, or even a meditation - needing a lot of calmed focus and concentration. It is actually an ancient form of artistry seen back in Neolithic burial grounds in Scotland, nautical travel markers in Scandinavia, and Inca Goddess Pachamama shrines in Peru, according to the New Yorker.

One's reaction to a Cairn is individual, but for me, I enjoy the natural pause to stop and enjoy the beauty of the natural world around me and the thought, care, and effort of the Creator.



Friday, August 14, 2020

Dietro Front in Florence, Italy



I took a picture of this sculpture a long time ago when we were visiting Florence, Italy. Something about it spoke to me, made me feel like it was something quite unique and special.

Here I am, about 10 years later, revisiting old photographs and feeling that this sculpture now speaks to me, once again, but this time in a different way.

Dietro Front in Italian translates to "about turn", "about face", or "to turn around in the opposite direction". The artist once described his work as simply that - this statue is placed in the intersection of Porta Romana, and one womanly figure points in the direction toward Florence while the other figure points away from Florence leading the way to Rome. Simple, right?

But is his work meant to be a beautiful street sign? Or is the meaning more deep? Do we want to venture out from home and explore, while at the same time there is something pulling us, or holding us back, seeking an "about turn"?

The Florentines have given this sculpture other nicknames, including the "headache" or "unbalanced". Easy to understand, don't we all feel a heavy weight on our head or shoulders at some point in time, especially these days? But is that the focus? Should it be the focus?

Whether it is the weight of the world, or a weight of wanting to go back - go back home, or go back to the way things were, the way things used to be - the bottom figure is strong. We are strong, we are resilient, and that is just beautiful.


Saturday, August 1, 2020

Strawberry & Rhubarb Galette

Summer season brings the strawberries!


My older son only likes to eat his berries "fresh off the vine" (insert emojio with a slap in the face), so when strawberry season hit in June, we went to a local farm to do some pickin'. And with that came a plethora of fresh, delicious, beautiful strawberries! But what do you do with all the bushels? Well, you eat them as nature intended, maybe make some jam, and why not try a homemade galette?!

A galette is a French word for a flat round or crusty cake-type pastry. So I started with my easy-to-do, never-fail pie crust recipe and went from there.

Next, people seem to always be mixing strawberries and rhubarb. Why? Well, first of all they grow at a similar time of year. Secondly, they both have a similarly sour-based starting flavor, but then tend to veer off in different directions, with rhubarb becoming a bit mild or bland while strawberries tend to produce more of a sweeter taste as they continue to ripen. Thus, we have a fitting marriage to the classic Strawberry and Rhubarb combination. 


Now here's the Strawberry & Rhubarb Galette recipe:

CRUST:
2 cups of Flour
1 Tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of Butter
1/4 cup of iced cold water

1. Combine the first 3 dry ingredients.

2. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients and blend together (I like to use my hands) to form a crumbly mixture.

3. Add the water, little by little, until a dough forms.

FILLING:
3 cups of cut-up strawberries
2 cups of chopped rhubarb
2 Tablespoons of Flour
1/4 cup of sugar
1 cup of Water


1. Combine the first 4 ingredients together in a saucepan on top of the stove.

2. Add the water and heat over medium heat. Stirring to combine, heat for about 10-15 minutes, until you have a nice, gooey mixture.


3. Roll out your pie crust extra round and extra big, and pop it into a pie plate.

4. Add the strawberry rhubarb filling and then fold over the edges.

5. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.





Sunday, May 10, 2020

Homemade Croissants


Being a mother myself, I love Mother's Day. It's the one day a year where I (try to) sleep in and am brought breakfast in bed. Breakfast usually consists of a latte, a croissant, and maybe some juice or fruit. The bed tray also has some homemade cards and a small vase with flowers from the yard. Yes, my kids usually end up "sharing" the croissant, and despite my husband's every effort to the alternative, I even let them have the first bite, but it's a morning moment of pure happiness, and I soak in every second.

Now this year, Spring of 2020, was posing a bit of a problem. Typically my husband runs out to pick up said fresh croissants, but that wasn't really an option... so, what else do you do? You attempt to conquer Mt. Kilimanjaro - how hard can it be to make homemade croissants? (insert nervous face emoji)

Using a Bon Appetit dough recipe and this technique, try it I did, and conquer it, did I? For sure! To be honest, there may be no going back... Albeit, it is slightly time consuming, but not really that difficult. But these days we've got nothing but time. 

INGREDIENTS:
2 Tablespoons of Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of Salt
2 1/2 cups of Flour
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) of Butter, chilled
Ice Water

Friday, April 17, 2020

Cherry Blossoms outside DC


When we moved from DC, I thought that was it for our annual Spring coming of the Cherry Blossoms. Little did I know that I'd find myself seven years later living in a house with a lovely matured cherry tree in my yard. Happy Spring to everyone!



Thursday, April 16, 2020

Everyone is making bread right now

We are living in very unique times right now, to say the least. The ability to go to the grocery store or bakery on a daily basis has no longer become a norm, but rather a limited experience. In these times, we are all trying to manage on just the necessities to get by. And one of those necessities that has been around for mankind survival for centuries, is none other than the lovely loaf of bread.

More often than not, when you ask people what they are doing in their around the clock hours at home these days, I'd say maybe eight out of ten are making bread.

Now I already had a homemade bread recipe and process, but these days I have had the time to perfect it. A friend passed along Mark Bittman's Food & Wine No-Knead Bread recipe, and it has become my favorite. It's super simple, the only caveat is that you need time, but these days, time at home is aplenty...


INGREDIENTS
4 cups Flour 
1/2 teaspoon Instant Yeast
2 teaspoons Salt
2 cups Water (at 70 degrees)
Dutch Oven *

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Friday, January 24, 2020

Maker's Shirt in NYC

Despite its newly recent appearance street-side in Midtown on Madison Avenue, New York, New York, Kamakura Shirts (a.k.a. Maker's Shirt) has been around for a long time. And what is so special about this new, but not so new face? Try one, you'll see - they're quite special. It's my husband newest go-to shirt, and just might be yours too.


First, despite not necessarily being custom made (although you can custom make to order), when they take your measurements and choose the right shirt, it actually is the right fit. A fit the way a dress shirt should be. It looks good, but it also actually feels good. Happiness restored. Confidence restored.

Secondly, it comes to the thread count... Now what exactly is this thread count that people are always talking about? Well, thread counts are the number of threads woven together in one single square inch. The concept being that the higher the thread count, the more thread used, equating to the softer the feel. Practically speaking, you can have too high of a thread count, where you may increase the technical thread count, but you do so by diminishing the actual strand of thread itself, blah blah blah... So why this tangent? Kamakura Shirts takes pride on its 300 thread count shirts, handmade specifically for Kamakura Shirts, and it is pretty much the ultimate thread count while maintaining the highest quality. 


There's Tokyo Fit or NY Fit, which more easily translates to a shorter or longer shirt. And then there's Casual Fit or Traveler Fit, which again mostly translates to iron or non-iron. A dart in the middle or two darts on the side - all I'm saying is that there are options, and just the right kind of options.

Tried, tested, and true - don't be shy, pop in (or go online) and get your Maker's Shirt today. They fit like a glove, or really they fit just exactly how a shirt is meant to fit you.