Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The World's Most Perfect Food

This looks awesome!
It's finally feeling like Fall here in Columbia and thankfully, we are getting much needed rain. The rain then leads us to not wanting to cook tonight. That's right, it's Order-a-Pizza-Night!

I truly believe that pizza is the perfect food. All the food groups are represented. There are endless possibilities with all the cheeses, vegetables, fruits and meats of the world. You can get the china out and use a knife and fork, eat it with your hands, it's portable, it's always good as a leftover and it looks pretty. Pizza gets a bad rap too. People love to bash on it as being unhealthy. But, I submit to you that you can create a wheat crust, homemade organic sauce, and load up on veggies, shrimp or chicken and you're WAY ahead of the doofuses at the Laughing Seed who are shoveling in the pan fried tofu, roasted veggies and salad drenched in vinaigrette, followed by soy ice cream and a clove cigarette. People have an annoying tendancy to convince themselves that if something tastes good, it simply must be bad for them. Come on people!

Now, I will admit that the pizza I'm going to have delivered tonight won't come close in healthiness to one that I'd make from scratch. I do live in the real world. But don't be hatin' on the world's perfect food. I'm just sayin'

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Confessions Just Keep Comin'

I'm sure I should've known this, but I really never thought a refrigerated, unopened tube of sausage could just go bad. Now I know. It can go horribly, horribly bad.

Wine Run

It's that time of the week; time to make the wine run to Greene's. I wish I could just place a weekly order and have it delivered. That would be a terrific service that they could provide, now that I think about it. Maybe I should suggest it?

I have been around long enough to have attended many wine tastings, received nice bottles as gifts and sipped my way around a few European countries. I know a good wine when I taste it. I love a good wine when I taste it. But, on a regular everyday basis, the problem with really good wines is that they cost a lot and they only come in little bottles. Years ago, my sister invented nomenclature that sticks with my family to this day. A 750 mL bottle is a "one hander" and a 1.5 L is a "two hander." Yes, it's very complicated I know. One hand to pick it up and pour, or does it take both hands to hoist that baby up?

So, then, you're left with deciding which two handers are the right wine and the right price to be your "everyday" libation? We've been around the block on this. $12 Lindemans, $8 Barefoot, $7 Woodbridge? Well, I'm going to confess something to you all. There is a wine out there that is a great everyday sipper, but because it's so tacky and the price is borderline insanity, that it's very hard to admit. I can't do it out loud, have to write it down for you. Ok, here goes: It's Foxhorn. It's from Australia. Years ago, it had a cork with a plastic cap on top, so you just pulled the cork straight out without having to use a corkscrew. These days, it's even tackier than that. The neck of the bottle has grown in circumference to about the size of one of those aluminum Budweisers they sell at festivals. And (audible gasp) it has a screw-top! Ok, I said it. Oh yeah, and you can get a two hander at Greene's for (wait for it) $4.97. Deep breath, serenity now, serenity now.

So, how in the world can we drink this and like it? Because it's good. The Chardonnay is a good white wine with some body to it, unlike a grapefruity Sauvignon Blanc or glorified water Pinot Grigio. And for those of you with Chardonnay prejudices, it DOES NOT taste like the inside of an oak barrel. One the red side, the Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon are equally good and tasty, although I prefer the Cab. And that screw top thing? Pure genius is what it is. Traveling? Take a bottle to your hotel room, don't have to worry about a corkscrew. Didn't finish the bottle and realized that someone threw the cork in the garbage can and it's now buried under egg shells and coffee grounds? No problems here, just screw that top right back on. Have to vino-vac your wine so it doesn't turn to oxidized swill? I don't have that problem. Now, the price. I know, right? On a bad day you have to pay maybe $7 for it. Don't let Greene's know that we think $4.97 is crazy low, because they'll raise the price. It's our best kept little secret.

Try may be your 'Green Eggs and Ham.'

Monday, September 27, 2010

Most Expensive Coffee

I had a few extra minutes this morning, so I popped into Starbucks for a cup of coffee. I just ordered a grande half decaf which is about $2 and some change. Now, add in the $7 parking ticket. As God as my witness, I'll never pay $9 for a cup of coffee again!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Dreaded Turkey Burger

I started using ground turkey in lieu of hamburger years ago: chili, tacos, lasagna, chinese dumplings. But, whenever I tried an actual burger, it was always a disappointment. They would either turn out horribly dry, or they'd just fall apart. Plus, sometimes, the whitish appearance of turkey just doesn't scream "hamburger" at me. It's kinda creepy really.

Well, a couple months ago, I was thumbing through a magazine and saw an ad/recipe by Kikkoman for a teriyaki turkey burger. this sounded interesting! So, I made them and they were fantastic. You make the burgers with turkey of course, teriyaki glaze, green onion, and ginger (ummm, my favorite). Then, as you grill them, you baste them with more glaze. At the same time, you're grilling pineapple slices with the glaze. Melt some provolone, swiss or monterrey jack on top and there you go. I was an instant convert!

I bring this up now, because at the time, I made extras and put them in the freezer. This morning, I took two out to thaw, so I'm daydreaming about my new favorite turkey burger that I'll be having this evening. Thought you'd all like to know. If you want the complete recipe, shoot me a message.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

**Restaurant Review**

Tin Roof-in the Vista

I had no idea this place existed; Neil noticed it so we decided to check it out. We realized it's a chain, which typically isn't what we seek out. Open, kind of basic furnishings, live music venue, patio. The menu is pretty usual casual dining options: chicken wings, quesadillas, po' boys, salads.

They've only been open 2 weeks, so we had the same new place service experience that we've had before. At first, there were no servers anywhere to be seen, so finally a mumbly bartender came over to get our drink order. He returned to say that "they" didn't have any vermouth, so he couldn't make a martini. Then we never saw him again. Soon, there were waitresses all over us. Each trying to determine where the hell those drinks were and who was going to actually wait on us. But, like I said, it's only been 2 weeks, so we were patient.

Food-wise, I'd have to say it was ok. Not anything to write home about (Ha! but here I am writing about it!), but not bad either. First, Neil asked to try the queso dip. Now, here's the thing: he likes fresh peppers, not the pickled ones that come jarred or canned. So, he proceeds to quiz the waitress about which kind they have. Her answer is that they buy fresh jalapenos in the morning, roast them, then mix them into their cheese dip to serve for the day. Hmmm, okay. So, next comes the wing order. Neil is the king daddy hot wing aficionado. He likes 'em hot, REALLY hot. So, he ordered the 'Fire' wings. I went with a buffalo chicken wrap.

Let's start with Neil's side of the table. The queso dip arrives with a big bowl of extra jalapenos on the side (remember, though, they don't have ANY because of all the roasting going on in the mornings, but there they are) and the 'roasted' jalapenos on this plate came straight from a giant food service can. We can deal with pickled jalapenos, but not with a waitress who either doesn't know the difference or does but thinks she can dupe us because we don't know any better. Anyway, it's a good queso dip, pickled peppers and all.

Wings: I asked Neil twice how they were and all I got was "they're tender." Well, that's good but probably not the best review. You can tell when Neil is really digging wings because he stops talking, has sauce running down his forearms, forehead sweating and sniffly nose...and this makes him happy!

Mine was pretty good. The buffalo sauce was hot, but could have been a little hotter. The wrap actually had lots of chicken in it, unlike so many casual places that skimp. It came with fries and I must give them credit here; they were crispy and not at all greasy. I could only eat half of the wrap, so I have lunch for today!

When it was time to take off, we had to wait around to get the bill and then to actually have them take the money. It does irritate me to have to wait to give someone money. But, at the end of the day, we realize it's only been 2 weeks and they, like all restaurants, will have growing pains and kinks to work out. So, we decided we'd give them about 3 months, then we'll go back and give it another try.
Tin Roof Columbia on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 24, 2010


I am no sushi expert. In fact, until recently, I didn't even participate in the whole sushi thing. You see, despite numerous attempts, I just simply don't like raw fish at all. BUT, then, I was enlightened. Now, thanks to Chef Larry from SakiTumi, I am addicted to the shrimp TEMPURA roll.

Now, I am loyal to SakiTumi, but my husband is a huge fan of the TakoSushi folks. He believes their fish tacos are rivaled only by the Taco Boy at Folly Beach. And, lucky for me, their shrimp tempura roll rocks as well. One nice little detail about theirs is that it has a light sprinkling of red caviar on the outside...nice little salty crunch.

If you're unfamiliar with TakoSushi, give it a whirl. Apparently, they first opened a restaurant in Aiken, SC. My husband became their most loyal of loyals at their 2nd place in Greenville, SC. Now, we have them in Columbia and all is right with the world! It's on Assembly across from the Statehouse, where Doc's Gumbo Grille used to be. (BTW, Doc's isn't gone, just moved to Rosewood) :-)
TakoSushi on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Obsession with Lobster

It all started when I was a kid. A really young kid, like maybe four. My mom and dad were (and still are) really smart. When it came time to introduce a different, grown-up food, they had 5 magic words that worked on me like a charm..."Kings and Queens eat this."

Since I had absolutely no doubt that Queen Elizabeth was named after me, this royal tactic was particularly successful. So, at a very young age, I began eating stuff like lobster, artichokes, asparagus and black olives. Still some of my faves today.

Before I had my little girl, my mom, sister Katherine and I would take Mother's Day trips. After my uncle passed away, we included my Aunt Jennie. We had been to Chicago, Amelia Island and now it was my turn to pick a town and plan it. I knew two things: we were going to Maine and we were going to eat lobster until we were sick. Thanks to the internet & probably some luck, I chose a little town called Boothbay Harbor. We flew into Portland, hopped in a car and drove the rest of the way.

It was just what I wanted. My mom and I both managed to eat lobster in some form for every meal, except breakfast. But, if we'd come across a lobster benedict, we would have ordered it without question.

Hey, that gives me an idea! :-)

What a Tool!

If you don't have a ricer, you need one. Go get one now. Hurry.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Success & Cashews

The roast was a great success! The 'jus' was made with pan drippings, soy and beef broth. It rocked the house. AND Vivian made a "happy plate" consisting of roast beef, roasted asparagus, and mashed potatoes (btw...if you don't own a ricer, get one. Mashed potatoes by any other way do not compare!)

Then, lastly, before I leave to see Joaquin Phoenix's follow up to the weirdest interview I've ever seen, I just want to publicly acknowledge that cashews are just that little bit of Heaven!

Big Cuts of Meat

I'm 42 years old and I'm still not always sure what to do with big cuts. Most often, I call my mom and ask her "What do you do with a bottom round?" I'm getting better though. Today, I discovered sirloin tip roasts at BiLo for B1G1. Thanks to the internet, we're having roast beef with ginger & jus tonight.

Ginger is one of the most heavenly roots on Earth. I love everything about it: the aroma, the flavor, the bite it can have. I've never combined it with a traditional roast beef, so I'm excited to see how this turns out.

Grits Intervention?

My cousin Brooks (and family) lives in Vietnam. Yeah, that's right. He commented that he wants 'Thuy' to read my blog. I gather that Thuy is a Vietnamese person who cooks for them. So, this made me think, "Hmmmm, he's probably not getting any grits on any kinda regular basis." Probably no collards or biscuits either. I wonder how I can get Adluh grits from Columbia to Hanoi? Do you just stick them in the mail?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What's for Dinner?

So far, pork tenderloin is on the menu. I have a great rub (ok, I've made this before) that is fantastic. Last time I made this particular recipe, we used the leftovers for Cuban sandwiches. Frankly, I think those Cubans turned out better than any of the ones I've had in a restaurant before.

So, here's how it goes:

  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Hungarian sweet paprika (hot is good too)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Trim fat from tenderloin. Combine sugar & next 5 ingredients, stir well. Rub all over tenderloin.
Place in a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425 for about 25 minutes (150 degree meat temp). Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

But what else? Maybe I'll go Southern and add some field peas? Fresh spinach is in the house...let me get that cookbook I have on leafy greens!


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