Friday, April 20, 2007

This blog site is moving!

Well, I have been having blog envy for a while now. The solution? Design my own blog with my colors and layout. I wanted a theme to match my mood, the colors of Mexico. It is still in process, but from now on I plan to post on this site: Once nice aspect is that the address is easier to remember.
So, update your links and enjoy! Gardening season is here and I am very much looking forward to my visit on Sunday to Van Atta's to gather more varieties of heirloom tomatoes, peppers, other veggies and always more herbs. Next weekend I hope to install a cold frame in the garden and work on some long awaited landscaping.

I will figure out a way to link you to the new blog soon when someone types in this address. Lucky for me, my boyfriend is an internet/blog guru and is helping me with this project, ok, he is doing all of it and I just pick out the colors and photos.

See you over at the new Fresh Ginger, where I will actually be including more recipes on a regular basis soon!

i'm out

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

grapefruit and boys

I have to gush for just a moment here, so give me a small gush moment if you would. Last night I was making stir fried shrimp with snow peas from this magazine (of course I can't find the recipe online to link to it) and my sweetie offered to make me a cocktail. Being a vodka girl (ok, you got me, also a rum girl, bourbon girl and perhaps a tequila girl too), I said how about a vodka grapefruit? (my standard evening cocktail - a girl needs her vitamin C right?)
He says "ok" and looks in the fridge for the grapefruit juice.
"Where's the juice?"
Me "Oh, I ran out on Easter and have been squeezing the ones my dad gave us from Florida ever since" (side note here - these grapefruits are so delish - he picked them up at a farmer's market down there while on vacay).
I thought of course that he would bow out of the making of the cocktail offer or offer to make something different. No, he went down into the basement, grabbed two grapefruits and began squeezing them. They were a beautiful light pink color and I had to take a photo - I know, it is just grapefruit juice and vodka, but it was a gorgeous color. He went to the beer club meeting this eve and took the camera with him, so I will post the photo tomorrow.
foodandbeer 206
The point is, he didn't think twice and squeezed fruit to make me my goto cocktail. He will even make me a much more labor intensive mojito on occasion. That's love.

And well, it doesn't stop there, the gushing, just a bit more gushing. I was on the road all day today driving to Lake Huron and back and upon arrival home noticed two large pots of flowers on the deck greeting me. If it weren't dark out right now, I would take a photo, but tomorrow I will. The pots were filled with purple pansies, pink hyacinth, daffodils and yellow tulips - all in bloom and blasting with color and vibrancy. I melted. In the back yard was the remainder of a flat of pansies waiting to be planted. I am still so taken aback by such selflessness (well he might like the flowers too). He went to the local garden store to get flowers, nothing else.
flower and cats 010 flower and cats 011
To top it off, he organized the laundry room and built shelves. I should mention that he had the day off. All of it such a surprise, pulls on the strings of my heart. The little things, they have much more distance in them sometimes.

hiltonhead2 007

i'm out

every blog needs a cat photo...knitting and pakora

Ok, I completely forgot for a while that this blog is also about knitting and gardening too, so here is my first post of a knitting project. I should have lots of photos, but have a habit of giving the finished knitting project away before photographing. Here are my adorable niece and nephew wearing the "dready hats" I knit for solstice. The pattern was provided to me by my friend Ragnar at Domestic Piracy, on her blog I am known as jiggy.

and my cute kitties:
every blog needs a cat photo zoe and clara

fergus in a box

Now that that is out of the way, back to food and gardening. I now have tomato plants growing happily indoors until it is warm in MI. I recently planted some Thai basil and sweet basil in pots and the seeds have germinated - yip yip.

And finally, a food shot:
indian pakora bangladeshi dora

I will post the recipe for these Indain pakora/bangladeshi dora in the next day or two and add the unbelievable cilantro mint chutney sauce to it. I just look for reasons to make this sauce and put it on these pakora/dora. It is sooooo tasty - but I am a sauce girl by nature.

i'm out

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Wings... is it the sauce or the chicken??

For me, it is all about the sauce and the crunch, well, two sauces really. Hot wing sauce and blue cheese sauce. Eating wings is a reason to eat the wing sauce. Just like for my dad, eating shrimp is just a way to eat as much cocktail sauce as he wants. He could dip carrot sticks in there and I think he would be just as happy.

I have discovered/created something that rivals wings, but has less calories (maybe, that could be debatable) and is far easier to make. No bones, no skin and no deep fryer. And well, it has potatoes in it and everyone knows that I love my potatoes.

Buffalo tater tots. Now there are plenty of brands of tater tots out there with no wheat added, so this makes it really easy. Bake them at whatever temp they should be baked at until they are crispy. In the meantime, in a microwave safe bowl add probably 1/8 to 1/4 cup of your favorite hot sauce, I like Crystal, Durkees or Franks, depending on what is on sale. Then add several pats of butter and some garlic (fresh or dried) and microwave for 30 seconds or so until the butter is melted. Stir and then toss the hot tots in the sauce when they come out of the oven. They sigh with pleasure as they adsorb the hot sauce.

Have a little side bowl of blue cheese dressing - luckily there is a brand supplied near me (found next to the lettuce in the store - the refrigerated kind) that uses Roquefort mold instead of bread for the blue mold innoculation. Yes folks, lots of blue and gorgonzola cheese is fine, I find that the blues of European origin tend to be the true stuff, and less frequently use bread mold as a starter. It is easy to make your own dressing too. Blue cheese, sour cream, lemon juice, chives, salt, pepper and maybe some mayo or cream.

Oh the heat, oh the crunch, oh the potato deliciousness. Then the creamy blue tang.

Let me know if you try it and like it. I might just have to make some for the Final Four game this eve. If I do, I will take a pic. Goes great with basketball. Sometimes a little junk food gets you through.


i'm out

GF Road tripping cont'd, cider, oysters and nachos

Day 5 Savannah and Hilton Head. After sleeping in and waking up to the sound of the surf and gulls on Tybee Island, we headed in to explore Savannah. I am not going to blog about the dinner we had on Tybee Island, needless to say, we should have gone with our gut and not the hotel guy's recommendation. Dinner was so bad I couldn't eat it and went back to the hotel room and ate, guess what - chips and salsa (essentially nachos minus cheese).
We toured around down by the river (very touristy there) and had two goals. Find Moon River Brewing Co and find the local tobacco shop (we are in tobacco territory after all). Ok, three goals, eat seafood for lunch.

We found the brewery right away thanks to the plethora of maps available at the hotel. To my surprise and extreme happiness Moon River had hard cider on tap. They make it in the fall with Pink Lady apples from northern Georgia. It was hands down the best cider I have ever had. I make my own cider (in fact have 30 gallons of hard cider in the basement right now) and this was the best. Tart and tangy with a hint of sweetness and great apple flavor. I dislike sweet ciders. I was feeling pretty happy after my second one (in 20 oz glasses). We ordered a cheese dip subbing tortillas (what would I do if I couldn't eat corn?) for crackers. The sad news was, that in Georgia they cannot serve beer and cider in growlers (glass bottles to take home) and you can't bottle and be a pub, so all we could do was drink it there. They were on the last 1/3 of the last keg of cider, so that evening would be the last of it. My guy ordered the beer sampler - I think there were 8 or 9 beer styles. I think he really like the Alt, but I was focused on my glass of joy, so didn't pay much attention. And for the topping - you can ask for a take out glass for the remainder of your beverage. It is legal to walk around with open alcohol in Savannah, so of course we had to, just because we could.



We found the tobacco shop and bought some local blends ( my boyfriend smokes a pipe on occasion. Seems like the only occasions are when he is outside roasting coffee or outside brewing beer though).

Next, the quest for lunch away from the tourist meccas. Finally we found a place and guess what I ended up ordering? Yes, of course, shrimp nachos. This was however a challenge. Their chips are fried in the same oil as some wheat products. At this point we were so hungry we were about to become grouchy and neither of us wanted to go to another restaurant. They sure do like to bread and deep fry stuff in the south, making it slightly more challenging to dine GF. I decided that this would be an experiment and I would see if the cross contamination would affect me. Our waitress was great, so helpful and had a close friend who was Celiac. After all the discussion, the kitchen actually forgot to put the shrimp on the nachos, but they did bring some out to me afterwards and they were perfectly cooked. They had banana creme brulee for dessert, so we splurged and ordered dessert, a rare thing when I dine out. Roasted bananas and homemade whipped cream, need I say more? Mint garnish. Oh, by the way, yes, I could definitely feel the effects of cross contamination on my shrimp nachos, I was nice and bloated for a few hours - so won't be doing that again, but now I know for certain, even if I had already guessed.

After our late lunch we headed for Hilton Head, but not after debating whether we should go back to Moon River for one more. I knew if I did, I might not leave or get to the next local on time, so we didn't. We crossed the long marsh bridge and were in South Carolina. We were meeting my dad and step mom for a couple of days at their time share. Now for the record, there is no other reason that I would choose to go to Hilton Head and I am not a fan of time shares - unless of course they are free and sit on the ocean. The view from the deck:


Something that you can do while on the isle is crabbing. When I found out that you just went to the hardware store for a bucket and line and the grocery store for chicken necks I decided to pass. Apparently there are designated crabbing areas along the coast.

We had lunch at the Crab Shack and I ordered a broiled seafood plate and it was a big deal at first to sub out the stuffed flounder (that had bread crumbs in it) for something else, or to take it off the plate. But then our waiter became more accommodating and just had it removed. Huge scallops and shrimp and a piece of salmon. Broiled with a squeeze of lemon, simple, nice and safe.

Dinner was at the Oyster bar. This was a bit of an adventure too, but they had a real manager who was flexible and very helpful. I really wanted some oysters and some shrimp, I asked the waiter the usual questions about the dishes I had in mind and he went to the kitchen to check and sure enough, the oyster apps that I wanted were fine. All the fish had sauces that included wheat in some manner and I am a sauce girl, the sauce makes the dish, so if I can't have the sauce, forget it and move on to something else. So I decided to just order the oyster app and a baked potato (they had fresh hush puppies on the table - that was torture). I had asked about the sauces on the oysters and had been given the go ahead. Oysters Rockefeller and Oysters Savannah. The Rockefeller was topped with spinach and bearnaise sauce (which should never have wheat in it, unless they make it from a box). The Savannah was to have cheddar, bacon and onions - no sauce. I start to dig in to the Rockefeller and eat one, then the Savannah, well, it had no bacon or onion, but a creamy white sauce (Paula Dean Oysters I called them) and cheddar. I ate the oyster and then looked more closely at the sauce, seemed to be a thickened sauce. I called the waiter over - who had given me the go ahead and asked him to double check as I had doubts. He went straight to the kitchen and this time, well, no, I couldn't eat that one, but the Rockefeller was definitely safe, no wheat in the bearnaise sauce. I start to eat the Rockefeller as he orders a few more oysters to replace the Savannah ones and the manager rushes over before I get the bite in my mouth and says the spinach has roux in it (a mix of butter and flour). He was extremely apologetic and asked me what I wanted instead. I decided to go with oysters on the half shell and he said that he would make sure I got the best ones (there were several varieties to choose from) and they were on the house. They came with two sauces, a cocktail sauce and a tasty balsamic vinaigrette. These oysters were fresh and delicious. They really worked hard to make amends after giving me the wrong info and I appreciated their efforts to do so. So I was the cheap date that night for the price of a baked potato. I was really going to ready to cook up a storm of seafood when I returned.

We spent two days at Hilton Head and then started the long journey home - this time making it a two day trip instead of one 18 hour one! We wanted the scenic route through the Smoky Mountains and drove through Ashville NC to Kentucky that day. We passed through the last pass of the mountains just as the sun was setting, so both trips we passed through Tennessee in the dark. We went to a local authentic Mexican restaurant for dinner and I ordered a pork and onion dish. I find that if you ask for their hot salsa, you usually get the one that really tastes of Mexico, and they had a fabulous tomatillo hot salsa. I practically drank it.

We left London Kentucky the next morn and beat the path back to Lansing MI with a stop at a large grocery store outside of Toledo called Andersons. Lo and behold, they had Bard's Tale Gluten Free beer!! It is pretty good. I hear they are experimenting with a dark beer, I will look forward to that. A couple of days later, our friends came over and we did a bourbon tasting and a comparison of the three GF beers I had on hand - New Grist, Redbridge and Bard's Tale. The New Grist wasn't as fresh as it could be - my fault not theirs, but half the crowd (of normal beer drinkers) preferred Bard's Tale and half the New Grist.

As long as you like lots of nachos..GF road trips work just fine.

i'm out