hushpuppies

Hushpuppies2
Let's just say my diet as an adult is drastically different than the diet I had as a kid growing up in North Carolina. Don't get me wrong, I have nostalgia for the fried chicken, cornbread, overcooked beans, and sweet tea that I had in my youth, but haven't eaten most of that in many years.

But sometimes, I get the urge to eat something from my childhood.

Like the other night. I was making crab cakes with tartar sauce and decided that we absolutely had to have hushpuppies to go with them. Those little fried bits of dough that I always ate with my fried calabash shrimp as a kid. When done right, they are just the perfect combination of sweet and savory, and really quick to make.

Note: You can add corn kernels in addition to the cornmeal, and add diced onion instead of onion powder, but I make these the way I remember them, which is with no hint of vegetables in them.

 

Hushpuppies

Makes about 24 Tablespoon sized puppies

 

Ingredients:

Canola oil

1 cup all purpose flour

2 cups yellow cornmeal

2 tsp. sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp onion powder (or 1/2 of an onion, finely chopped)

1/4-1/2 cup milk

 

To Make:

1. Fill a heavy bottomed pan or pot with about 2"-3" of canola oil (you want the oil to cover the hushpuppies when you drop them in). Start heating the oil over medium heat.

2. Prepare the dough.  In a bowl, mix the flour, corn meal, sugar, salt, baking powder, and onion powder with a whisk until combined. Add the milk, starting with 1/4 cup. Mix in just to combine, the dough should hold together when formed into spoon sized balls. (Only add more milk if needed.)

3. Drop spoonfuls of the dough into the oil and allow to fry, untouched, for about 5 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove from oil with a strainer and put on a paper towel lined sheet to drain.

These don't keep well, so only make what you'll eat.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

Chocolate Chip Shortbread
Years ago, when I started the job that brought me out here to Seattle, my new coworkers and I had a cookie exchange for the holidays. The cookies I had that day, like these Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies, are still some of my favorites, I still make several of them. READ MORE

Vintage Book, The Cookie Book


Vintage book

 
Vintage book
Found my very faded, dog-eared copy of one of my all time favorite childhood books, The Cookie Book. I guess you could call it a vintage book now. It contains 12 recipes, a cookie for every month of the year. I ordered it from the Scholastic brochures that come home from school (and I smile at the idea of how little the whole Scholastic thing has changed over ht years). I loved the hand drawn illustrations. And I love that I marked my favorite cookies.
Ian has asked to make Mississippi Mud Pie from this book for Thanksgiving. It made me think of this little one, which is still in with my cookbooks.

Emma's Birthday Cake


(Thanks for all the kind words about Ian’s quilt!)
The birthday cake that was requested for Emma’s party, Angel Food. My first time making it. Whenever I make a classic, something like this, for the very first time, I almost always go to The Best Recipe. That cookbook is one every budding cook should have in my opinion. Its not as sexy as most of the cookbooks coming out these days (although they recently reissued this cookbook with a bit more sex appeal, but mine is the original version, with no photographs, lots of pencil drawings, very much like its magazine origin, Cooks Illustrated). But this book will make a cook out of you. If you have a piece of meat, a squash, want to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie, anything, this cookbook will tell you the basic science behind what the ingredients do (for example, I never really knew why they used ingredients like lard in biscuits when I was growing up, I just figured it was what the cook had around, or maybe just tradition).
Anyway, a dozen egg whites and a lot of whipping later, the cake came out beautifully crusty on the outside (the recipe told me I was going for an almost macaroon-like texture on the surface and I watched it like a hawk during the last bit of baking time), and light as a feather on the inside. Whew! This photo was taken just before the strawberry halves were added.
Which brings me to my next question. Its time for me to take the bazillion hundred photos currently on my computer off before I tempt fate more than I feel I already have. How do you guys catalog your photos when you take them off the computer? In the past, I move them onto disks, and store them in a box, but this feel inefficient to me. I’m hoping there’s a better way to preserve them. And quicker. Last time I did this little exercise it took me the better part of a day. So please, what’s the secret? Is there a secret? Can we create a secret? Help!

Brownstone Front Cake

 
Brownstone Front Cake
You folks are special. You should know that, because I would not give this coveted family recipe to just anyone. All clever, pun-filled catchy blog titles aside, this is a cake worthy of its own post.READ MORE

Pantry Pizza

 
pantry pizza
I’ve been loving Molly’s blog these days, I love her style of writing, the way she talks about days with her kids, and life in general. Her grocery challenge post really made me think last week. Our dining habits need overhauling. We are one of those totally city families when it comes to food. We take full advantage of the quick, easy, and good food around us whenever we feel busy or too lazy to cook for ourselves. Which is often these days. Too often. And too expensive. Don’t get me wrong, I really do like to cook, but I don’t like to cook for picky eaters, and its hard to stay motivated to be creative with our meals. So, we head out to eat, or we grab on the go, yet always feel guilty about the expense and lack of thought put into it.
 
So, when I read Molly’s post about skipping the grocery store for a week, I decided to give it a try…of sorts. My mindset was to let us run out of some things. The idea was to work through our seemingly abundant supply in the pantry and really stop and think about meal prep. Today, when Peter was heading home from the track, he called to asked if he should pick up lunch. “There’s stuff here to eat”, I suggested. “But I don’t think there’s anything I want, and I’m starving.” The lack of a response on my end of the line was apparently all it took for him to quickly rethink lunch. We figured out within a minute that everything was here for tuna melts. Turns out we had everything on hand for homemade pizza for dinner too, plus watermelon. Pizza is one of those meals that pleases everybody in my house. If I make the dough, I know what’s in it (and I can usually get little hands to help me). I gather, chop, grate, and carmelize what’s in the fridge, then put it all out for everyone to make their own versions. (My most successful pizza dough recipes are always the ones from The Best Recipe, from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated. Tonight I made the fast rise one in my standing mixer. It rises in about 40 minutes with the help of a preheated oven.)
pantry pizza
Molly, thank you so much for inspiring me. I am happy we are getting back on track here.
OK, back tomorrow. I made some stuff over the weekend.
B

Our Favorite Bread Recipe

favorite bread recipe
I need to start this post with a disclaimer. You see, I, like yourself, try very hard to extol the virtues of whole wheat living on my family (peppered with the occasional “do as I say, not as I do”, because, well, I’ve been waiting my whole life to say that!). I do like it, and my kids come around to it in fits and spurts, which I can live with.
But…
READ MORE

Grilling Vegetables


 
 
As an adult, probably one of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of super fresh, gorgeous vegetables. Farmers markets literally make the hair on the back of my neck stand up in excitement, and I love opening the kitchen pantry and fridge to see all those beautiful bright colors ready to eat.
We are big grillers here at my house. In my humble opinion, everything tastes better grilled (especially fruit), and its this time of year when grilled vegetables start showing up in literally everything I cook. I do not even begin to think that I am an expert on grilling vegetables, but I wanted to talk about them because of how good and familiar they are to me. Last night, I thought the cupboards were bare and that there was an emergency trip to the market in my future. When l spotted several vegetables that had never made their way onto the table that week, I started up the grill. They were perhaps not at the tippy top peak of their freshness, but grilling takes care of that. Zucchini, shallots, red bell peppers, and eggplant…
 
I brushed a little olive oil on each side, seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper, then put them the grill (fully pre-heated on high, turned down slightly when I put on the veggies). I have friends who use those special wire grill pans that hold the veggies in it as they grill, but I never have and have never had a problem (cut the pieces large enough so they don’t fall through the grill). A few minutes on each side, and you’re done. (I prefer to grill the shallots whole, to a dark char on the outside, making them soft and sweet on the inside.)

 
I found some slivered almonds, which I lightly toasted, then made a salad with radishes and grape tomatoes (no cheese, boo!). The grilled vegetables that were left over will show up wraps, sandwiches, and salads we’ll eat over the next few days.

And then it will be time to grill again.