Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I started a new project today that caused me to stumble upon this beautiful bracelet - purchased at a “rag market” in Birmingham, England almost 17 years ago. It’s a stunning example of vintage jewelry with chunky amethyst glass and brass. But it so much more than an inexpensive piece of costume jewelry-it is a wonderful token discovered on a great adventure to a part of England I knew little about.
My husband and I traveled to Birmingham, England to visit a friend we had met on a Caribbean cruise two years earlier. Adrian was charming, energetic and had visited several times in the states before convincing us to include England in our upcoming travel plans.
We had simple plans to visit southern Germany where my father had been stationed in the mid-60’s. Nothing was set in stone! Typically, we get in our car and drive . . . making ours plans along the way.
But the lure of a new adventure was strong and caused us to change our plans! We agreed to meet Adrian in Dover, England somewhere in the middle of our trip.
We traveled from Germany to Belgium, driving along the Belgium’s beautiful North Shore, into France and on to Calais, France- where we hopped a channel ferry delivering us to the White Cliffs of Dover!
Exhausted from a long day, we checked ourselves into the closest and quirkiest Bed and Breakfast a few blocks from the ferry! The owners were friendly and gave us the last tiny room with two twin beds. The room was clean and adequate but had two of the firmest mattresses with barely enough padding to cover the springs inside.
Watching TV required dropping coins into a box, the toilet was located outside the room in a tiny closet, the shower was down a level and required an understanding of English technology in order to heat the water – if you were savvy enough to know where the control knobs were! We weren’t -outside in the hall- cold showers!)
Heavenly morning! Come quickly! Morning finally arrived and we were treated to our first proper English breakfast of eggs, bangers and scones served with fruit preserves, English butter and plenty of hot tea!
Adrian arrived early and off we went along the craziest highways and roundabouts I had ever seen. Believing that the earth had been thrown off its axis I remained dizzy for the two hour trek to London, cars whizzing past me on the left front passenger side! Oh, Lordy! Can we be delivered safely to London?
Monday, March 30, 2009
Making the Roasted Pork proved to be a real time-saver this week. With so many new projects in the works I was more interested in playing all weekend and really fell back on the pork for some quick delicious meals.
Last night we enjoyed panninis with Roast Pork, provolone cheese and a nice loaf of freshly-baked foccacio, courtesy of my new corporate sponsor, Panera Bread Company! The crusty sandwiches transported us back to our favorite Friday market in Terranouva, Tuscany, where succulent porchetta is a favorite amoung locals.
Tonight, after slicing the last of the pork into nice thick slices, I decided to chunk it and make and open-faced BBQ sandwiches. Simple, delicious and satisfying!
And happily my Lemon Cake with Marscapone and Hazelnuts was a huge success! More on that later!
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Thinking that we wouldn’t be seeing sunshine and warm weather for a few more days we were forced to create a little faux-sunshine here on the ark with a big box of juicy California lemons.
It’s time to make one of the two batches of Limoncello that we will make this year so I solicited my husband-the expert lemon peeler-juicer person in our family.
The fragrant oils wafted through the house lifting our spirits and turning our thoughts to Italy! We imagined ourselves living in Tuscany and handpicking lemons from our own trees, tending the olive trees and imagining the first yield of our own cold-pressed olive oil.
In the short time we fantasized about our villa in Tuscany, Ron peeled and juiced 10 pounds of lemons. We covered the peels with a quart of vodka and retired them to a nice, cool dark spot where the oils and flavor will be leeched out of the rinds.
With some of the fresh juice I created a batch of lemon simple syrup that will begin a transformation into a lemon curd that will enhance a lemon crème filling made of marscapone and whipped cream.
Tomorrow I have plans to bake an olive oil cake. A little espresso or cappuccino . . . and I ‘m off again to Italy, in spirit!
Friday, March 27, 2009
In posting the idea for the Fire-Roasted Pork Shoulder Butt yesterday, I did so with a specific goal in mind. . .sharing ideas for stretching the family's weekly food budget.
Our food budgets are being stretched to their limits while food costs seem to be on the steady rise. It seems like a good time to revisit the way our grandmothers and mothers stretched their food dollars to feed large families after the depression. I believe with a little experience and some thoughtful planning families can begin to enjoy mealtime again-saving valuable budget dollars for other family expenses.
The Fire-Roasted Pork Butt is a perfect example. At one of the warehouse stores we purchased two pork shoulder butts, totally $24 for $1.59 per pound. (15+ pounds) One is in reserve for use on an upcoming episode of Home At Last and the other, already roasted is being sliced, portioned and stored later this afternoon.
Last night I served about four ounces of pork, ¾ cup each of brown sushi rice and a reduction sauce of my cooking liquid flavored and thickened with Pork Bisto from England for two people. It was perfectly roasted with delicious flavor and the brown sushi rice provided more flavor and great texture.
Which leaves me with 14+ pounds of pork shoulder butt that will provide us with some great dinners including tonight's Italian-inspired Porchetta panninis with a delicious artisan cheese and fresh fruit!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Since I had the camera out all day I figured I might as well share what I was making for dinner. I had to come up with something easy so that I could goof off all day! So, I am making a Fire-Roasted Pork Butt.
I have boiled the pork with cranberry juice and a 16 oz coke,(tenderizes the meat and adds a lot of flavor. I also add shallots,chives,fresh garlic,herbs,and spices to the water before boiling it for about an hour and a half!
Now that it's cooked through and tender, I am going to fire up the infrared grill and cook it for another hour on low heat with a nice dry rub of brown sugar and spices! I'll be sure to get another photo tonight for you.
It will feed us for weeks. I make sandwiches, fried rice and even Asian-inspried meals with the portions that are left over. It's works well as BBQ with the addition of a few more ingredients!
I have been trying to take a decent photo of a dogwood bloom for over a week! The rain actually helped making the limb limp! I was able to get right under it and found a pretty shot.
It's a lazy kind of day again . . . rained all day. A little sun is just now forcing its way through the gray clouds, promising a beautiful evening.
As I write I see my rottweiler, Zena, relaxing by the pool. She is such a sweetie, enjoying everything about her days here. She inspired me to find something fun to do rather than work. Zena, like most Rotties, has a wonderful imagination and sense of humor. She's fond of toys and has taken to an empty white garbage can that sits on one of the back porches. She crashes it down the stairs, slinging it around and pushing it all over a courtyard. It's a lot of noise and apparently, a lot of fun!
Taking her cue, I wanted to find some good in the day so I grabbed my camera and headed out to the yard to see what was blooming after the rain! Spring is such a magical time of the year and it's worth recording and studying! So I'm sharing a few of the shots and Zena. That's my day! Not bad!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
If you're a fan of homemade vegetable soup you know the soup taste better the day after!
The reference to Herbert Hoover's "A Chicken In Every Pot" quote refers to the budget-stretching whole chicken that flavors the broth and leaves half a chicken to use for other meals. I am making Grilled Chicken wraps tonight with whole grain flatbread from Kontos!
Monday, March 23, 2009
My husband and I have been putting in some long hours in the field. As I mentioned in an earlier post we are responsible to many other projects outside of Home At Last! As a "home body" I can stand being away from home for so long and then I crave the comforts of home and my beautiful kitchen.
So in honor of home and all things "southern" I am making a recipe that is a favorite from my mother. . .Homemade Vegetable Soup and Biscuits.
I'll post the recipe for the biscuits on Home At Last! The recipe comes from an aunt in Colorado. Years ago, she shared it with my mother who passed it on to me. The recipes yields big,fluffy biscuits perfect for sopping up soup!
Ok. . .the biscuits are from Colorado - but I'm southern! More pictures tomorrow!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
|From Blog Uploads|
The Spring Home Show in Atlanta is taking place in North Atlanta this weekend and I don't think attendees could have ordered a more perfect weekend. Attendance seemed a little light but vendors were enthusiastic and the displays were varied and interesting.
Blinds By Noon, an Atlanta Blind and Shutter manufacturer, displayed a trade show video created by my company, Paper Moon Productions! That's right . . . I moonlight! Besides being a passionate foodie and host of my own cable television show Paper Moon Productions produces corporate and trade show videos as well as cable advertising in the Atlanta, West Georgia and Alabama markets.
On display at the Home Depot booth, I was tickled to see our work in action and looking quite good . . . if I do say so myself! As editor on the project I find myself eager to move on once a project is completed and while I have the video linked inside my own website, Home At Last, it's not quite the same as seeing it on a pretty high-definition flat screen TV with throngs of people milling about!
While I am on the topic of Home Depot I want to mention that I enjoyed Home Depot's interactive booth allowing attendees hands-on activities and contests. Kids were treated to projects that allowed them to walk away with a completed tool box and apron. I wanted one! I think there must have some height requirement (like Space Mountain at Disney) because no one asked me if I wanted to build a toolbox! Next time!
Over the next few weeks I will introduce you to some of the stand-out companies on display this year at the Atlanta Spring Home Show. The show is held each spring and fall at the Cobb Galleria on the north side of Atlanta and hosts The Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show coming up in April.
This is a pear tree that bears a hard, sandy pear that I think be might be good for pickling. Someone explained that was the name "Sand Pear". Can't really find much on them. They are pretty to look at but difficult to enjoy . . . so this year I will experiment and see if I can't find a good use. Maybe poached with a raspberry coulee, or a pear galette with toffee.
If you have information or ideas, let me know!
Some us have spring fever, bad! This is my baby, Red, short for Robert Redford! He's so happy I am outside! Red showed up on our property years ago-not too keen on humans. But after six longs months of "coo-ing" and chats he joined our clan and has remained devoted to me ever since. He's a big handsome boy who enjoys "kissing". He bangs his hard little head on my face demanding to be kissed. You gotta love it!
Friday, March 20, 2009
This peach tree was a gift of a local man who stayed at our Bed and Breakast over ten years ago. After enjoying our Peach Breakfast Taco he went into the woods and dug up this beautiful young peach tree and delivered it to my doorstep with an note explaining the gift as a King Peach Tree.
Now, every spring I have this beautiful tree with it's delicate blossoms as a reminder of this man's generosity and a single act of kindness!
This particular type of peach is favored for pickling because of its small, firm peaches.