Tag Archive: Farmer’s Market Fresh

gwyneth to the rescue

So we are 15 days into our 30 day real food challenge.  Half-way there!  On the downhill slope!  Other than a couple little snaffoos things have been going pretty well.

After more carefully studying the ingredients in some of our typical foods, I had to rethink some of my breakfast and lunch menus.  For breakfast, I’ve been on an instant oatmeal kick of late.  I know making the oatmeal myself is better for me, but it just takes too long for me to do before work.  (I have a slight problem getting up in the mornings…)

Lisa raved about her homemade granola cereal so frequently on her blog that I decided to give it a try.  But,  along side my oatmeal, I’ve been having two small Jimmy Dean turkey sausage links and an orange.  Well, after giving a hard look to the contents of my fridge, the Jimmy Dean had to go, leaving me in search of a real food alternative as I had serious doubts that a simple bowl of granola would tide me over until lunch time.

Enter Gwyneth Paltrow…

I know what you are thinking.  “Seriously?  Gwyneth Paltrow solved your real food problem?”  And the answer is – yes, she did!  Well, she helped at least. But let me back up…2 yrs ago to be exact.

In April 2011, I entered a giveaway on my friend, Beth’s, blog and won.  The prize was Gwyneth Paltrow’s recently released cookbook, My Father’s Daughter.

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I won!  I was super excited because I’d never one a blog giveaway before.   I started a post about winning the cookbook, but because I was a bad, bad blogger for a while I never finished and published it.  I made a couple items out of the cookbook then put it on the shelf amongst the gazillions of other cookbooks I have and kind of forgot about it…until recently.

I remembered that her cookbook contained several options for vegetarian meals as well as some recipes for homemade pantry staples.    So, I grabbed it off the bookshelf, knocked the dust off of it, and started perusing.  Guess what I found…

A RECIPE FOR HOMEMADE TURKEY SAUSAGE PATTIES!  Hazzah!  I don’t have to forego my morning boost of protein after all! The recipe is super simple and tastes the same as much better than those prepackaged Jimmy Dean things I was buying.

Here’s all you will need:

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(cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, fennel seed, herbs de provence, salt, sage, ground turkey, Vermont maple syrup)

AAAAAND it’s as easy as 1-2-3.  See…

1. Combine the spices and ground turkey

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2.  Form into small meatballs and flatten into patties.  (When forming meatballs, I use a little trick I learned from Martha Stewart.  I use a small spring loaded ice cream scoop so that they are more uniform in size than if I just grabbed a hunk of meat out of the bowl.)

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3.  Cook in a skillet

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In re-reading this recipe for this post, I realized that Gwyneth’s instructions actually call for you to use a mortar and pestle or mini food processor to “bash” the spices together.  Somehow I missed that bit, as I’ve just been dumping them all in a bowl and stirring them up.  Mine have still turned out tasty, though it would be nice not to bite into a big ole fennel seed every now and then…

The whole process takes maybe 15-20 min.  Gwynnie says that her recipe makes 12 patties…but I’ve only been able to get  8-10 per 1lb of ground turkey and that’s using a ????? ice cream scoop.  Since it’s such a quick and easy process, what I’ve started doing is doubling or tripling the recipe, putting a week’s worth in the fridge, and freezing the rest.  That way I make these once a month and I’m set.

First I let them cool on paper towels to absorb any excess oil from the skillet.

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Then I layer them in a freezer appropriate container, placing wax paper between the layers.

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Then I label them and pop then in the freezer.

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You’ve just gotta love these Martha Stewart food container labels from Staples.

A bowl of Lisa’s homemade granola with local milk, one of these turkey sausage patties, and a piece of fruit is now my favorite breakfast.  And, I’m telling you, it absolutely keeps me satiated!  I usually eat breakfast around 6:30a.  With my previous breakfast, I would always notice the first twinges of hunger around 11:00-11:15a.  With this breakfast I’m good to go until 12:30p.  For me, going 6 HOURS without feeling hungry is a freakin’ miracle!

Prior to publishing this recipe in her cookbook, Gwyneth published it on her website, goop.com.  You can find this recipe here.  One of the things that I love about My Father’s Daughter is that Gwyneth has coded each recipe to indicate whether it is a recipe that can be prepared ahead of time, it’s quick, it’s vegetarian or vegan or can be adapted as such, whether it is a one-pot meal, or a “dress-up” meal.  Over the last couple weeks, it has proved to be excellent resource for vegetarian meal recipes as well as recipes for homemade pantry staples.  More posts to come on those later!

With my renewed appreciation for this cookbook gem, imagine how excited I was when I spotted this in Target last week.

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Gwyneth’s got a NEW cookbook!  You can pick it up at Target or Amazon for around $20.  Or if you so desire, you can order a personalized signed copy for $55 from goop.com.  I think Gwynnie’s cool and all…but I don’t think I’ll pay an extra $35 for her signature. I’ll get all the fun and 5% off for picking it up at Target with my Target Red Card.  I can’t wait to see what goodies it has in store.

newmrssig

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/1143

real food: a confessional

Well we are now on day 8 of our 30-Day real food challenge.  I bet you are wondering how we are doing.  For the most part we are doing really well with it. I’ve altered some shopping habits and been making several menu staples and pantry staples myself (I’ll tell you about those later) but…

I have a confession to make…

We had two instances this week where we ate some processed food.  :(  The first one was quite minor.  The second…well…

You know those kids who never drank in high school, were always home before curfew, and never broke any rules, then went off to college and went stark, raving mad and partied to be point of nearly flunking out during their first semester.  Let’s just say the second incident fell more along those lines…

Does it help if I clarify that neither instance was intentional?  I think that just illustrates how hard something like this is in our current American food climate.

Since you guys don’t follow us around town and only check in on us here, it would be very easy to skip over the bits where we didn’t follow the rules and only report back on the parts where we succeeded.  But, if we are going to do this, it only works if we are completely honest about it.   (As I sit here writing this on Easter Sunday, I can’t help but consider parallels between my temptation to hide these “real food sins” and our attempts to hide our actual sins…but that is a whole other can of worms. Let’s stick to the “real food sins” for the time being, shall we?)

VeggiePizza

We host our small group for church every Tuesday and the members of our group take turns providing snacks.  This week the provided snack was a “veggie pizza.”  It looked beautiful with all the raw broccoli, cauliflower, red peppers and tomatoes on top.  Without thinking I grabbed a small piece (~2″ square) and swallowed it down only to realize later that the “pizza” crust was made from pre-packaged crescent rolls.   Not a terrible “real food sin” in severity.  But you’d think on Day 2 I would have been a little more focused and on my guard.  Apparently not.  I’ll have to be more careful next time.

Oh, and, I’m pretty sure The Mr had like 5 pieces…

I also need to figure out a balance here.  If friends will be bringing snacks to our home weekly, then this is something that is going to come up at least 3 more times during our 30 day crusade.  I’m certainly not going to impose these rules on them and make them go to any extra work to bring us snacks.  This is our challenge, not theirs.  So, we’ve got to find ways to politely decline snacks (and eat something from our pantry) if they include processed foods.  Hmmm…

Doozy

For some reason, at the end of my work day on Friday, I was craving a burger something fierce.  So, I texted The Mr shortly before leaving the office and he was up for burgers as well, even though we had leftovers ready to be reheated in the fridge.  Our usual go to burger joint is Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar on East Blvd but The Mr wanted to try something new so he suggested we check our Kickstand Burgers-n-Bar on Central.  Y’all…it didn’t even cross my mind to worry about what real food options we would have there.

The Mr was hungry and jonesing for an appetizer.  As soon as he grabbed the menu the Shrimp & Fried Grits caught his eye.  (Yes, you read that correctly.  It was Shrimp and Fried Grits, not fried shrimp and grits…there’s a difference.)  It was a cake of deep fried grits with a “shrimp and grits” sauce on the top with andouille sausage.   It tasted like jambalaya.

Our discussion was whether or not we needed an appetizer, not

  • “No refined grains such as white flour or white rice.”  I’m pretty sure that grits fall into a refined grain category.  
  • “No deep fried foods.”  Strike two.
  • “Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (and preferably in moderation).”  Not sure whether or not the sausage in it was local because it did not even dawn on me to ask.

I’ve gotta say, though, it was totally worth it.  Just look at this…

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Seriously, The Mr is lucky that I didn’t tackle him to keep him away from it.  It was crazy good!

But wait, our sinful indulgence didn’t stop there.  After all, the whole reason we were eating out was because we wanted burgers.  I had The Kickstand signature burger (which is mixed with onion, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and garlic) topped  with cranberry chutney, caramelized onions, and baked brie.  The Mr had The Fender Bender with chili, mushrooms, slaw, American cheese and bacon.  He asked that they hold the fried onions.  Sides included fries for me and tots for him.  (Sorry, no pics.  I was too busy cramming that burger in my face to remember to take pics.)  So let’s see how many real food rules we broke with these:

  • “No refined grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat, not just wheat).”  Neither of us had or asked for whole wheat buns.
  •  “Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (and preferably in moderation).”  Again, not sure if the meat was local ‘cuz we didn’t think to ask…
  • “No refined sweeteners such a sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or artificial things like Splenda.”  Not sure what all was in my cranberry chutney, but it tasted very sweet and tangy.  Also, both of us were freely dipping our sides in Heinz ketchup, which every one know is full of sugar…
  • “No deep fried foods.”  Um, yeah…#epicfail.

Well, go big or go home, right?  What upsets me more than the number of rules we broke in one two-hour period, is the fact that it didn’t even dawn on me/us to choose differently.  As soon as I realized I was craving burgers and started down that path, we were both on autopilot.  Back to our typical behaviors and decision making patterns.   It simply didn’t occur to us that this was not in keeping with the goals we set for ourselves for this month.  That’s supposed to be the advantage of doing something like this with someone else.  Your parter is supposed to remind you and help keep you accountable.

Neither one of us flinched.

I’m telling you, though, when we are done with our 30 day challenge, we are definitely going back to Kickstand.  It may have been an complete and total real food failure, but it was DELICIOUS!  My burger was amazing and those fries were some of the best fries I’ve had in a while.  They also had a good beer selection, not the best I’ve seen in our burgeoning beer town, but a good one nonetheless.  I guess we are just a little spoiled on the beer front here…#firstworldproblems.

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Let’s see, what else can I do I need to confess to you…

I’m annoyed by the inconvenience of shopping for local produce and meat for my weekly groceries.  I HATE fighting the crowds to do my grocery shopping on the weekend.  I’ve been working 4 10-hour days since October, getting Thursdays off, and doing my grocery shopping then.  Even then, though, I still like to get up and get my shopping out of the way first thing in the morning.  Until this last week or so, I had it down to a science.  Hit Target by 8:30a for things like toilet paper, toothpaste, etc.  Then head across the street to Trader Joe’s for the food. Home by 9:30a (or 10:00a at the latest) with the rest of my day off ahead of me.

Around here Farmer’s Markets are only open on Saturdays.  There are crowds there too and you have to get up at the stinking crack of dawn to get there before everything gets picked over.  The “stinking crack of dawn” is not where I like to start my Saturdays…and did I mention that I HATE fighting crowds?  However, there are two local public markets which sell only goods from local farms and are open on Thursdays – Atherton Mill Market and 7th Street Public Market.  However, one opens at 10:00a and the other opens at 11:00a.  So, if I want to get everything that I can locally, before heading to Trader Joe’s for the rest, I’m not even getting started on this until 10:00a.  I have found that I can consistently get the meat I want from 7th Street and between the two can always get local milk, eggs, and cheese on Thursdays, but neither of these places seem to be as stocked in the produce department on Thursday as they are on Saturdays. (I started researching this part of it before we started our actual 30 days.)  That means I end up running around to 3-4 different places in the middle of the day on Thursday just trying to get local grown food.

I miss the one-stop shopping!  Frankly, though, it’s starting to annoy me that it is more difficult and inconvenient to get the local food.  It should be the other way around. (Markets, if you are reading this, it would be immensely helpful if you would post on your websites the produce you have available each week.)  I am thoroughly pleased with the goods I get from these places, I just think it should be easier to get local stuff than imported stuff.  Ya feel me?

Final real food airing of grievances – I. MISS. MY. HAZELNUT. COFFEE. CREAMER!!!  My morning coffee is just not the same with plain half-and-half.  To say I am not a morning person is the understatement of the century.  Needless to say, taking away my favorite thing about the morning, makes for one unhappy momma (pup momma, that is.)

Despite our Friday night epic failure and my griping here today,  we are enjoying this challenge and have been able to stick to the rules for the remaining 95% of our week.  When we have eaten the food that I’ve prepared we have stuck to the real food rules beautifully.  And I am really glad that we are making a better effort to support our local farmers and economy.  I’m getting some tremendous satisfaction out of making some of our menu and pantry staples myself.  You’ll have to tune in later in the week to read all about that.

Until then, we will keep trucking along and trying to keep it real!

newmrssig

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/1144

it’s about to get real around here

Sorry for the lack of posts last week.  Blame The Mr’s travels, me subsequently having a hectic week, and the power being out for two hours because of a storm on the one night I had time to work on posts.  But now, my fella is back in town, the power remains on, and all is right with the world.

So, I’m baffled. I can’t believe that I have lived in Charlotte and been a food blog reader for as long as I have and have only come across the blog 100 Days of Real Food in the last month!  I seriously don’t know how on earth I’ve been missing it.  Oh, well.  Whatevs.

For those three other people in the world who haven’t read it but somehow read this blog, the 100 Days blog is about how a family of four completely cut processed food out of their life for 100 days and the subsequent dietary changes they maintained after the initial 100 days.  I’ve found it to be really interesting…and eye opening.  In fact, it got me wondering…how much processed food do The Mr and I really eat?

Initially, I was all “I buy 97% of our groceries at Trader Joe’s.  We can’t be doing that badly, right?”

Before I can answer that question, I should clarify what Lisa from 100 Days outlined as “real food” for her family’s 100 day challenge.  Pretty much real food is just what it sounds like.  It’s food that either remains or is made from ingredients that have not been processed in any way.  So, for Lisa’s 100 day challenge here were the terms:

What You CAN Eat:

1.  Whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry.

2.  Lots of fruit a vegetables (as many as possible from local farmers).

3.  Dairy products like milk, unsweetened yogurt, eggs, and cheese.

4.  100% whole wheat and whole grains.

5.  Seafood (preferably wild caught over farm-raised).

6.  Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (and preferably in moderation).

7.  Beverages limited to water, milk, all natural juices, naturally sweetened coffee and tea, wine, and beer.  (WHEW!)

8.  Snacks like dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and popcorn.

9.  All natural sweeteners including honey, 100% maple syrup, and fruit juice concentrates in moderation.

What you CAN NOT Eat:

1.  No refined grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat, not just wheat).

2.  No refined sweeteners such a sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or artificial things like Splenda.

3.  Nothing out of a box, bag, can, bottle, or package that has more than five ingredients listed on the label.

4.  No deep fried foods,

5.  No “fast foods.”

 

So keeping those in mind, I started looking at the things in my refrigerator.  Here’s what I found:

Exhibit A – My FAVORITE Tru-Moo Chocolate Milk (which I typically use for my late afternoon snack)

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Daaammmnnn!  I knew it was too good to be true that chocolate milk could be good for me.  So how many “real food rules” have I broken with this one – 1) sugar as an added ingredient, 2) packaged product with more than 5 ingredients in it, and 3) cornstarch.

 

Exhibit B – The Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage Links we eat with breakfast each morning. 

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This one didn’t surprise me much.  Definitely counting more than 5 ingredients on the back of the package…two of them being added sugar and added salt.

 

Exhibit C – My FAVORITE Trader Joe’s Hazelnut non-dairy creamer that I put in The Mr puts in my coffee each a.m.

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You may ask yourself what exactly I thought “non-dairy creamer” entailed.  Truth is, I didn’t think about it at all really.  I just liked the hazelnut flavor and thought it would be healthier than say Coffee Mate you buy at main stream grocery stores, you know, since it comes from TJs.  I’m betting that the fact “cane sugar” is listed as the second ingredient in it means it has a pretty hefty dose of it.  Again I say – daaaammmnnn!  (FYI, that should be pronounced with at least three syllables…)

And finally…

Exhibit D – The Trader Joe’s Sundried Tomato Chicken Sausage I’ve been putting in my lunchtime quiche.

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This one is sneaky.  Conveniently lumped into the category of “seasoning” for this product are added salt and added sugar.  Hey, at least TJs was honest about it.  They could have easily left only the generic “seasoning” in the ingredients list and it would have met the “no packaged items with more than five ingredients rule.”  But…they told the truth and I’m a believer that the truth will set you free.  That’s true of many things, but in this case it’s free from added sugar and salt.

Clearly, not all is as it seems.  For the most part, as long as we eat at home, we do pretty well with these things.  But, as this little experiment illustrated, there are some hidden traps out there.  And, truth be told, I talk a good game about eating local but when it comes to my weekly shopping, I opt for convenience.  I can make a greater effort to get more of our meat, dairy, and produce from local farmers.  We’re much better about drinking local than eating local. ;)  I need to learn to shake the hand that feeds me…not just the one that makes my beer.

On her blog, Lisa encourages readers to go for a 10-day real food challenge to open their eyes about the hidden processed foods they encounter.  I don’t know that I’m ready to sign up for a full 100-day challenge, but I think 10 days might be a little too short for us, especially since we have a pretty good start.  I mean, aside from my Tru-Moo habit, our snacks are mostly things like plain Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, cheese, and raw nuts.   In ten days we could simply avoid eating out and make one run to the farmer’s market.    That’s not enough to really start to impact our habits and the choices we make about our food.

So, The Mr and I have decided to put ourselves on a 30 day challenge to follow the rules listed above and only eat real food.  We started yesterday and we’ve got two weeks to get into a rhythm before he has to go on a business trip.  I can tell you right now, I’m already missing my hazelnut flavored coffee creamer…

I’m also thankful that beer and wine are the products of natural processes which put them in the list of “allowed” foods and beverages.  Otherwise, no deal…or at least only maybe 98% deal.

Anyway, we’ve got one day down and 29 more to go.  Who knows, as we approach the 30-day mark we might call an audible and decide to go the full 100.  You never know!  Wish us luck! We’ll keep you posted as to how we are doing!

newmrssig

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/1136

You Heard Me…A “Porkapalooza”

If you’ve read this blog for any period of time or actually know me, you know that I am not one of these skinny-mini-eat-salad-on-a-date kind of girls.  I like to eat.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not Miss Piggy or anything…I just like to eat.  That also means that I’m not one of these girls who lets the fact that the pig is the universal symbol for fat get to me.  Samuel L. Jackson’s proclamation (as “Jules” in Pulp Fiction) that “A pig is filthy animal” doesn’t bother me one bit.   A couple weeks ago, when my friend Gretchen reminded me that she doesn’t eat pork and requested that I leave the bacon crumbles off her serving of the Pumpkin Goat Cheese Risotto I made to kick off our Walking Dead Season 2 marathon, the only response I could muster was “But…you’ve TASTED bacon, right?”  It just blows my mind that someone could have actually tasted bacon and decided against it.  Pulled pork, I get.  Even ham, I understand.  But bacon?  Seriously?!?

But I digress…I mentioned to you that I spent last weekend in the Durham-Chapel Hill area for a work-related workshop.  What I didn’t tell you was that while up there I attended a “porkapalooza” event.  Yeah, you heard…uh, READ me right – PORKAPALOOZA!

Every summer, Foster’s Market does regular Farm to Table dinners.  I’ve known about these for years and I have never been able to go because they are always at 6:30p on a Thursday night.  Since Chapel Hill is about a 2.5-3 hr drive from Charlotte, and I always find out about them after my work schedule is full of patients, going would mean having to cancel my Thursday afternoon patients as well as my Friday ones (‘cuz there’s no way I’m gonna drive back from dinner 3 hrs away, then get up early for work the next day).  Well, my workshop started early Friday morning, so I drove up Thursday night (‘cuz there’s no way I’d get up in time to leave Charlotte at 6:30a on Friday morning) and, as luck would have it, Foster’s was having a Farm to Table dinner that night!!

This dinner was to celebrate Cane Creek Farm of Snow Camp, NC, who specialize in “unique breeds of pigs” and an “ever expanding family of goats, chickens, turkeys, sheep, donkeys and ducks.”  Knowing that, is it any wonder that Foster’s theme for their Farm to Table dinner was a “Porkapalooza” in which the entire pig was cooked…in multiple ways… invading every course…even dessert?

I know the word “Porkapooloza” sounds…well, what’s the word I’m looking for here…ummm…ok, I’m just gonna say it – redneck! Don’t worry.  In true Foster’s fashion it was very farmer chic!  (And, yes, “farmer chic” is a real thing and I TOTALLY dig it!  Remember our lunch here 2 yrs ago?)

The meal was served family style on the mismatched farm tables throughout the market.  The Mr. chose not to couldn’t come with me, so I was on my own but quickly made friends with my table mates. We sipped on a fantastic 2011 Mendocino County Gerwurtztraminer while we chatted about missing our grandparents home grown veggies and wishing that we’d payed more attention when our grandmothers were canning them, all the while nibbling on hors d’ oeuvres of Pork Rillette and Country Pâté with Crostini and tons of pickled veggies.

I’m not really a fan of pickled anything, so I passed on most the veggies.  (Besides, what am I – a chump? What kind of dummy fills up on veggies when there are four courses of pork on the line?  A girl’s gotta conserve energy where she can.)  I didn’t love the rillette (weird texture) but, surprisingly, I really enjoyed the pâté.  (Little known secret – I was a pâté virgin until this dinner.)  Next came the soup course – Split Pea and Ham Hock with a side sliver of fresh bread loaded with herbs and caramelized onions.

I lie to you not, the bread basket came with a little dish of LARD to spread on the bread instead of butter.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture, but I promise you I’m not making that up!  After all, they did say that they would be using the WHOLE pig…I guess that includes it’s fat.

We switched colors and nationalities of wine for the entree…a 2010 Tempranillo to be exact.

Maybe I should say ENTREES, because it involved 3 pork offerings – 1) Housemade Italian Sausages with Peppers and Onions, 2) Porchetta, and 3) Braised Pork with Plums, Sage and Onions

served with sides of Creamy Polenta that was topped with some sort of sweet potato glaze and Wilted Kale and Spinach with a Warm Bacon Dressing.

I had a little bit of everything.

It was all crazy good, but that sausage was out of this world.  BEST.  SAUSAGE. EVER.  There was TONS of food and, since sausage is The Mr.’s favorite food group, I (thoughtfully) boxed up some left overs to take back home to him…

only to get back to my hotel room and discover that I didn’t have a mini fridge in which to keep it until I headed back home on Sunday.  Sorry, dude.  Ya snooze, ya lose.

Sarah (as is Sarah Foster, herself – owner of Foster’s Market, former apprentice to Martha Stewart) came by our table while the staff cleared the entrees to inquire as to whether we were enjoying ourselves and the meal.  She urged us to save room for the dessert because it was “incredible.” She also informed us that although the menu listed Caramelized Apple Upside Down Cornbread Cake with MAPLE Bacon Ice Cream, it had been changed to a SORGHUM Bacon Ice Cream, because the “sorghum just worked better with the bacon.”  Since she was standing right next to me, I made a little joke that, in my humble opinion, there just weren’t enough desserts that involved bacon.  She gave a little laugh and patted me on my shoulder!

(You know what that means, don’t you?  It means that Sarah and I are kinda like BFFs.  I imagine that, had Martha been dining with us, she would have laughed at my joke too.  So…if Sarah and I are now kinda like BFFs…and she’s also BFF with Martha…and Martha probably would have also laughed at my joke then…by extension, that means me, Sarah, and Martha are all BFFs together…just three peas in a pod… What?  It could happen.)

But, again, I digress…Now, about that dessert.  Actually, there are no words.  I’ll just let you look…Oh, and look closely.  Do you see what I see?

Uh-huh.  Little chunks of bacon IN the ice cream.  I know it sounds weird, but it was really REALLY good.  I’m not a person who loves sweets and this was a great balance of salty and sweet.  The cake part was a little dry, but it was a cornbread cake.  When have you ever had cornbread that wasn’t dry?  Besides, who really cares about the cake anyway when there is bacon in the ice cream on top of it?

You would think that bacon-laced ice cream would be the clincher to my porktastic weekend, but the next day when my workshop broke for dinner, I made a b-line here

to check out some local brews, only to find the Big Mike’s BBQ food truck parked outside.  I washed down a BBQ sandwich with Fullsteam’s Carver Sweet Potato Lager.

I loved the beer.  Not too heavy, but very tasty.  Perfect for an early fall afternoon.  (Wish I’d had more time to spend there…)  The sandwich was good, but I’m not a huge fan of BBQ.  But their dessert was something else entirely.  As I close, I’d like to post this question to you – What’s better than banana pudding?

Yep, you guessed it – BANANA PUDDING WITH BACON!!  Now THAT is certainly worth a trip to Big Mike’s.

With this weekend, I think I’ve had my allowance of pork for the next 6 months or so…which is good because, according to Stephen Colbert, we’re on the verge of an Aporkalypse due to the recent drought.

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/997

Herbaceous

Don’t ya just love fresh herbs?

Parsley

Basil

Rosemary

German Thyme

Last summer, having gotten tired of paying $4 a pop at the grocery store for small plastic containers of herbs that I never fully use before they go bad, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  I bought two of these lovely planters from Crate & Barrel, had The Mr. mount them on the railings of our back “porch,” and got my hands dirty.  I planted basil, parsley, and oregano in one and rosemary, mint, and thyme in the other.  It sounded like a good idea at the time.  With daily watering and all that direct sunlight on my “porch,” I had spent less than I would on containers of those herbs at the grocery store and I was gonna keep myself in fresh herbs throughout the summer!  Those were my thoughts, anyway.  That is…until we went away to the beach.

I asked our pet sitter to please water the herbs for me daily.  Well, she did, and I came home to HERBS GONE WILD!!  They had tripled in size in 10 days time!!  (Unfortunately, I seem to have deleted this pics I took, so I can’t prove it.  But I promise it’s true!)  Horticulturally speaking, that was pretty awesome. But practically, I COULD NOT use them fast enough.  I put basil and parsley on anything that would stand still.  I made mojitos like they were going out of style.  I even infused olive oil with rosemary and mint and made a bath scrub out of it.  (I understand that all of those things would have made interesting blog posts, but who can write when you are worried about herbs taking over your home?) But the herbs just kept growing and growing.  I gave all my neighbors permission to just come up on my porch and snip off any amount of herb they wanted.  I tried to give them away to my friends.   And still they grew…and grew…and GREW!  By the fall, my “porch” railing planters no longer housed a lovely, demure little herb garden.  They had become monstrosities of the highest order, disproportionate in size to their containers, with yellowing leaves from disuse and snaking limbs.  They were huge and hideous and starting to choke each other.  So, I did what any self-respecting gardener would do – ripped them all out and planted pansies.

Despite this failed experiment, I still had a strong desire to grow my own herbs.  I mean, even though they are just herbs, it’s still nice to think that I’m eating something I grew myself.  Also, without having my own, I’m forced back into my original predicament – paying $4 a pop at the grocery store for small plastic containers of herbs that I never fully use before they go bad.  This year, though, I decided to take a different route – CONTAINMENT!

I was given this sweet little plant stand by a neighbor who moved and wasn’t going to be able to take it with her.

It had been sitting on my “porch” for a couple of months, as I was uncertain about what to do with it myself.  But then I thought, “Hey, what’s this in my living room?”

A HUGE window with excellent natural light, perfect for plant growing.   Plant stand, meet ginormous window.  You both love plants.  Discuss!!

Hmmm…but what to put in said plant stand?  If, I put some herbs in smaller pots, and grow them inside through filtered window light, I might just be able to grow the herbs I need without running the risk of them squeezing me out of house and home.  One problem, though – the orangey-color of terra cotta pots doesn’t exactly mesh with the look I’ve got going in my living room.

What to do?  Several months ago I saw Martha decorate up some cute little terra cotta pots on her show and loved them.  I refreshed my memory with an archived video from her website, ordered up some Old Fashioned Milk Paint, and headed to Michael’s for a hot glue gun and some twine.  I’m usually not the crafty type, but this little project was just calling my name.   I know I’m no Martha but, they didn’t turn out half bad, huh?

I love the dusty, weathered look from the milk paint and the “Driftwood” color blends perfectly with the color palate of my living room.  Now I’ve got a window full of sweet little herb pots. They’re fresh and demure, just like I like ‘em!

‘Cuz, let’s face it, nobody likes a haughty herb!

Cheers, ya’ll!

The Mrs. Signature

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A Farmer Chic Lunch

We left the DC area in a bit of a fog this morning, literally…

Doesn’t it look like we are about to drive out into an unknown void?  Crazy! But, thankfully, it was not a “void.”  We had a very specific destination today. Well, two actually.  Ultimately we were headed for Colchester, CT to spend some time with dear friends.  But from the moment I awoke this morning my mind was focused on one thing and one thing only – LUNCH!

How is that different from any other day, you may ask?  Truthfully, not much.  The difference today was that I was fixated on WHERE I was going to eat lunch, not WHAT I was going to eat.  We routed our trip through Westport, CT specifically so we could have lunch here

I saw the chef, Bill Taibe, on The Martha Stewart Show months ago and have been plotting this lunch ever since.  This is me being SUPER EXCITED about our lunch plans…

Le Farm is what I like to call “Farmer Chic”… and this is one of my FAVORITE vibes!  BG asked me to define exactly what I mean when I say “Farmer Chic” and I had a hard time doing so.  I may not be able to articulate it, but I know it when I see it.  This was it and I LOVED it!

The first thing that I loved about Le Farm, a point that was discussed in depth on The Martha Stewart Show and one of the main reasons I wanted visit, is the philosophy behind it.  As listed on it’s website the restaurant’s goal is

“to support our local farmers here in Connecticut as much as possible, but sometimes we may have to cross state lines to find what we need.  One thing we can promise is that your dinner with us will be meticulously sourced and simply prepared.”

It is a farm-to-table restaurant, which www.wisegeek.com defines as

“a restaurant where the ingredients are sourced as locally as possible, which means that they tend to be very fresh, and they have been through a minimal series of middlemen, if any, literally going directly from the farm to the table. The farm-to-table restaurant trend is part of a larger movement to eat as locally as possible, taking advantage of seasonally available fruits and vegetables and focusing on the environmental and cultural impacts of farming.”

The restaurant is tiny. It only had 12 tables in the whole place.  Upon stepping inside my first thought was “This is perfect!”  No detail was over looked.  The interior and provisions were all a distinct farmhouse style, but elegant.  So very, very elegant.  You know… “Farmer Chic.”

The gorgeous neutral grays color palate (neutral, but not boring), the rustic tables and chairs, the cheesecloth table runners, the dishtowel napkins, the utensils situated in a jar of dried beans, the table water in old fashioned milk bottles… Perfect!  Just take a look.

Sorry for the weird angles on the pics. We were trying not to be complete tourist dorks.  I mean, this lunch was “Martha Approved.”  I needed to be cool about it.  Plus, in such a tiny place, we were bound to draw some attention whipping out the D90.

Dorkiness or not, it all made me so very happy.  See…

But more important than the ambience was the menu!

It was hard to choose.  Ultimately I went with the Pork Shoulder Braised in Milk

and BG had the Stommington Scallops

We shared, of course, and washed them down with these…

also shared.  I love that they served the beer in stemless wine glasses.  Lunch was SUPERB on both sides of the table, but it didn’t hold a candle to dessert…at least for me.

The dessert menu.

Any guesses as to which one I chose?

If you guessed the Warm Cornbread, you were right.  I ordered it because, as I told the waitress, how often do you get to have BACON in your DESSERT?  It sounds so weird, but it was so good. I’m really not a “sweets” eater, but I will almost never turn down cornbread… or bacon for that matter.  This had just enough sweetness to call it dessert, but just enough saltiness that it totally hit the spot.  It was such an interesting combination of flavors.

BG had the Vanilla-Lavender Pannacotta

You’ll have to ask him about that.

I have to say that lunch at Le Farm was, hands down, the best lunch experience I have ever had. What else would I expect from a lunch that is “Martha Approved?”  Nothing less than “Farmer Chic,” of course!

Cheers y’all!
Wine Girl

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I Ask You

Can you possibly think of anything better on a hot summer afternoon than a good ol’ juicy South Carolina peach straight from the Farmer’s Market?  Go ahead.  I dare you to think of something better.

You can’t.  You simply can’t do it because it doesn’t exist.

I’m WAY over this heat and ready for Fall, but you’ve just got to love the fruits of summer!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/206