Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Candied Fruit

An unexpected gift of three boxes of canning jars and lids led me to create candied oranges and limes to decorate the kitchen for the Candlelight Tour of Homes.

I simply sliced the oranges into even quarter-inch slices, boiled them in sugar water for ten minutes and then layered them in the jars with a generous cap of sugar and the syrup.  I continued to turn the jars for the even until the sugar melted and continued to preserve the fruit!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas in Coweta County, GA

Our home was recently featured on the 2012 Piedmont Auxiliary Candlelight Tour of Homes and as in years past, the tour brought large crowds of happy tourists looking for inspiration for the Christmas season!

It was great to catch up with fans of Home At Last!, past guests of Casa Bella Bed and Breakfast, neighbors and friends!  The weather was perfect and allowed everyone to walk the districts or enjoy a quick drive to the other areas without too much effort! 

Our decorating theme, "Let It Snow" was simple but elegant. We hung large snowflakes from our 14-ft ceilings, suggesting a peaceful, snowy evening.  Through-out the main floor and stair banister the snowflake theme was repeated and even served as place mats under gilded mason jars filled with white roses.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Easy Entertaining

I'm always looking for easy bake items to put out when guests arrive at Casa Bella Bed and Breakfast!  This recipe from a recent guest is about as easy as it gets. Two bowls, a hand mixer, a few everyday items and guests can grab and enjoy!

Ingredients include a boxed yellow cake mix and butter for a crumb layer and a light layer of egg whites, low-fat cream cheese and vanilla!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sweet Taters!

I'm about ready to harvest my one lone sweet potato! I don't know about you but I love to know how my favorite foods are grown and what conditions are required to have good success. This was a sweet potato top that I was about to discard when I made the decision to plant it in about two inches of very dark soil in a raised garden bed recently struck by my neighbor's falling tree. 

My big plans are cut ultra-thin sweet potato chips, deep fry them and serve them up with a Maytag blue cheese and enjoy my sweet potato as a delicious appetizer. 

What's for dessert? Two watermelons grown from seeds!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Newnan Lodging 770-755-6750

A guest of our Bed and Breakfast asked if I had a garden and I shared "my broken garden" story.  Although small,  we enjoyed a fair amount of goodies!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Vernon Kilns Honolulu By Don Blanding

In the mid-80's, Ron and I decided to accept a job offer in San Juan Capistrano, California! We had no money to speak of! About $700 by the time we arrived in California!

We arrived on the California coast with a packed 280Z; including our newest family member, Henrietta, a pretty white rescue from the Japonica Street SPCA in New Orleans!

We couldn't afford an apartment when we arrived due to the fact we ONLY had $700! We rented a motel room that allowed pets and Ron went to work.  Poor as church mice, we finally struck a deal with a landlord to repair a condo ravaged by too many parties and druggies. It turned out to be a lovely rental after we totally renovated and redecorated!

Our time spent in California was wonderful. I think we'd still be there now if not for my unreasonable fear of earthquakes! We loved the food culture, the weather and the friendly people!

We particularly loved the Rose Bowl Antique show every month and found the garage and yard sales to be filled with wonderful finds! I found a box of pretty blue dishes with a the artist's signature and decided to make an investment. Today, after thirty-five years of moving the dishes I'm letting go of my pretty Vernon Kilns dishes! The pattern was Honolulu and they were signed by Disney Artist Don Blanding! 

I'm selling my collection on Ebay! I hope you'll take a peek! Here's to a great adventure!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sapelo Clams

Traveling with Home At Last! is one of the joys of my life and last week's adventure on Sapelo Island didn't disappoint! 

I've been around seafood my whole life-fishing for alligator gar in the bayous of Louisiana, stringing rotten chicken necks in crab traps along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and fishing off the back of my dad's boat for any delicacy that might happen to swim by!

Sampling the seafood of the Georgia coast was an exciting prospect and I was eager to sample the local favorites including Sapelo Clams prepared in a Geechee recipe of Clams and Gravy!

Our new friend and featured cook, Cornelia Walker Bailey, shared her secrets for cleaning, chopping and cooking the clams in a simple, straightforward dish!  Cornelia shares that the fresh clams can easily be stored in the freezer for future use! Once brought to room temperature the clams open and can be cleaned and prepared in your favorite clam recipe! To learn more about Cornelia's life on Sapelo Island Click Here

For our dinner recipe we enjoyed the clams on top of Doc Bills buttery grits but Cornelia suggests trying this as a breakfast dish with freshly-baked biscuits!
Sapelo Clams
Cornelia Bailey and Doc Bill

Clams and Gravy

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Can I Get A Can-Can?

I've been up to my "elbows" with canning this week. Peaches, apples, cherries and figs! I love the whole process but it can be exhausting without an extra pair of hands. 

It's a good idea to make sure you really have use for all the extra food that will be placed in the pantry. For me, having specific dishes in mind that will use up the canned fruits and syrups gives me the motivation needed to complete this tiring task!

The volume of fruit needing to be canned demanded that I create conserves, syrups and preserves. Quality syrups and preserves can cost a small fortune and I welcomed the opportunity to
save a bunch with a few days effort!
Fig Preserves and Apple Conserve with Lavender
We have tried to develop menus with seasonal-dishes constructed of fruits that are abundant during each of the seasons. But the stomach wants what the stomach wants and some of our popular items require us to have blueberries, peaches, and figs out of season!

My own Indian Blood peaches are ripening on the tree and I've already made my first batch of Pretty In Pink Peach Syrup! I have an ungoing love affair with these pretty little peaches and simply boil them in their skins for an amazing syrup perfect for drinks! I'm working on a Pretty In Pink Peach Cocktail!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Deep Freeze Zone

I've been on a quest to use up items stored in the "deep freeze" zone! Surprisingly, the meals created from these mystery ingredients have yielded some pretty awesome and quick dinners.

I had a thought today that I might have need for a "freezer journal". As I add foods to my freezers I would place a dated entry in my freezer journal. Just a thought. My current method of writing on the zipper bag works fine if I bother to write on the bag. I've also had success placing a note in the freezer bag filled with individually packaged tablespoons of items such as tomato paste.

A recent dig revealed a lost bag of lightly-smoked picnic ham from the Porchetta episode of Home At Last! It was well-wrapped in foil and placed in a freezer bag.  Thawed and sampled I was pleased with its condition after three months of excile in "the zone".

Paired with a small amount of homemade bbq sauce (also from the depths of my fridge) and a quick slaw of cabbage, fresh spinach, a miso dressing combined with a little mayo and a couple tablespoons of ranch dressing we were enjoying a Pork BBQ sandwich that rivaled most of the joints in our area!
Lightly-smoked Shoulder Roast

Cabbage Spinach Slaw with Miso-Sesame Dressing

BBQ Pork with Asian Slaw

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Buford Farmers Market

I'm back!

I just had to run outside and make sure the sky wasn't falling!

It started out an ordinary day.  Made breakfast for our guests at Casa Bella B & B.  Business as usual. Our satisfied guests departed after hugs and promises to see us next year.

Ron and I celebrated with a swim and made a quick decision to head to Atlanta, I had a shopping list compiled for Buford Farmer's Market that included provisions for  a big weekend ahead at our B & B and an upcoming episode of Home At Last!

It wasn't a long list.  . .but it provided us with a good enough reason to get out of town.  I love Tuesdays at the market-they sell huge mixed bags of hot and mild peppers for ridiculous prices!  I make hot sauce and stuffed Mexican peppers on the grill.

My surprise came when I suggested that we enjoy sushi at the market and Ron agreed. (He's not a huge sushi fan, although his tastes have shifted after radiation for prostate cancer.) We picked my favorite Unagi (eel) and seaweed salad and Ron opted for a California Roll.  To my great surprise and disbelief Ron tasted the eel! "Mikey liked it!"

So, the sky didn't fall and it was a good day!

Mixed Sweet Peppers

Ukrainian Chocolates

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pasta Pizza

Who knew that cleaning out the fridge could result in a fabulous pizza rich with flavor and great textures. First: The dough-a bright, warm sunny day resulted in a perfectly tender crust with just the right amount of crunch! Second: Food in the fridge that needed to be used up or thrown out. I know . . .but it's a weekend with guests on the way and I need the space. So, So, in to the pot the ingredients flew-fresh tomatoes, pork sausage, black olives, fresh baby yellow peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and on and on it went-including a few tablespoons of leftover penne pasta with similar ingredients! The Results: A fabulous crunchy pan pizza drizzled with the perfect helping of garlic oil and ripe flavor from goat cheese and a young shredded asiago cheese!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

We've Got A Fruity Kinda Love

I absolutely adore this time of the spring. The first fruit crops are being harvested and gracious friends share their bounty! I've cleaned and prepped two batches of early peaches and a boatload of blueberries. The blueberries are incorporated into our wildly popular homemade waffles and the peaches are in everything from "Hard Peach Punch" to our new breakfast dish, a vegan-friendly bread pudding with almond and coconut milks with fresh peaches. www.GirondasCasaBella.com

Friday, May 18, 2012

Spring Has Sprung In Newnan

Our cooler spring temps are providing me with plenty of time to replant my herbs and enjoy a little creative time. Next up on the list: A Bed and Breakfast Bird Bath and a pretty farm table

Saturday, May 5, 2012

It was a wonderfully busy day in Coweta and the rest of Georgia. We tried to get out and enjoy all the markets, festivals and even a few garage sales!

My main focus was the garage sales! I was anxious to score an item or two made of  wood to finally try my first can of Annie Sloan's French Chalk Paint.
I scored in a big way;  paying  a mere $2.25 for three architectural elements perfect for a new coat of Louis Blue chalk paint.

And, I couldn't resist a brand new "in the box" set of glass jars and lids!

I still got it!  And all for under $10!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Smoked Sardines

While I had the smoker at the perfect temperature I threw on a few marinated sardines. 

Lavished with a bit of olive oil laced with Vietnamese Salt and Pepper, fresh lemon in the form of zest and juice and a scant bit of sugar for balance my sardines were worth the effort!

The results yielded an excellent appetizer of fresh saltines (the filet pulls away from the teeny bones with the help of a butter knife) and freshly-mixed cocktail sauce!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Perfect Porchetta

I might be going a little overboard with the smoked meats but it's so irresistable when it's so easy! This classic market and festival favorite among Tuscans is easy to recreate at home in America!

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Smoky Bacon-studded French Toast

Safely on their way home to Albany, Georgia, this weekend's contented guests enjoyed a peaceful anniversary weekend filled with shopping at Lenox Mall in Atlanta, dinner at a few local eateries and several movie dates!

After their leisurely departure we relaxed in the kitchen with a shared piece of French Toast-studded with crispy applewood smoked bacon and hand-blended syrup!  In another "lightbulb" moment I mentioned that it might be time to experiment with our pan-fried breadpudding and it's back to the "lab"!

What sets my French Toast apart from other recipes is the heavenly blend of toasted pecans, neufchatel cheese, caramel mousse, and a teaspoon of buttery caramel. 

Before grilling the crusty custard-soaked bread, I sprinkled both sides of my bread with cinnamon and brown sugar to create a nice crust!  A quenell of praline cream and four hand-blended syrups-topped with roasted pecans create a luxurious morning treat!

Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 6, 2012

Jacque Pepin's Chicken Liver Pate

Every silky-smooth bite of this pleasing chicken liver pate was worth the extra calories!  Created by my daughter-in-law's mother, Jill, the recipe captured everything I love about pate! A perfectly smooth pate enhanced by the addition of cognac.

The rich chicken livers pared deliciously with a dark berry compote made of strawberries, blackberries and fresh blueberries!

Recipe: Jacque Pepin's Chicken Liver Pâté
  • FAST
  1. 1/2 pound chicken livers, well-trimmed
  2. 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  3. 1 small garlic clove, smashed and peeled
  4. 1 bay leaf
  5. 1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves
  6. Kosher salt
  7. 1/2 cup water
  8. 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  9. 2 teaspoons Cognac or Scotch whisky
  10. Freshly ground pepper
  11. Toasted baguette slices, for serving

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken livers, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the livers are barely pink inside, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
  2. Discard the bay leaf. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the livers, onion and garlic to a food processor; process until coarsely pureed. With the machine on, add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, until incorporated. Add the Cognac, season with salt and pepper and process until completely smooth. Scrape the pâté into 2 or 3 large ramekins. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pâté and refrigerate until firm. Serve chilled.
Make Ahead

The pâté can be covered with a thin layer of melted butter, then wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 2 months
Posted by Picasa