Monday, May 28, 2012

A Different Take on Meat and Potatoes

I love most foods. However, I am more of a Mediterranean eater: meat and comfort food are not my favorite. I  love light flavors like citrus, blueberries, nuts, and white cheeses. 

This recipe for steak and potatoes hit the spot and because we have the advantage of Bedford Avenue Meat Shop I was able to have the butcher on hand cut the steaks while I shopped for feta cheese. 

The steak was easily prepared in oil with salt and pepper. The potatoes are red which you boil then cut in half. The best way to cut a hot, red potato is to make sure you slice. Don't put pressure on the skin with the knife.

I am so pleased that Bedford Avenue Meat Shop now has the herb wall. We were able to buy the meat, fresh dill, and feta all in once place. The feta was not dry--it was extremely fresh and pungent.

Then you mix in vinegar and scallions. It's so simply and so delicious. I took the leftovers to the house the next day to share for our Mother's Day meal. 

I also enjoy pairing wines with foods (I'm a novice). For this meal we chose Hickory Hill's Cabernet Franc. The fruity oak paired well.

Eating with family and friends has become so much fun. Once the expectation is set for cost and clean up, you get used to it and it's not a big deal any longer. 

Ulterior Votive

I am slowly training myself to look at one thing and see another. Generically, this training would apply to people, art work, philosophies, but in the most practical sense, the self-coaching has lead to a different experience at flea markets and yard sales.

 I am not naturally visual nor crafty. I am very envious of those who can see a piece of crap and turn in into something new and valuable. I've need a little direction. I'm thankful for crafts that are easy to make. But I did get a little creative on my latest endeavor.

My favorite flea market is Kemper Street Flea Market. It's huge, the prices are fair, and you can grab a soda and fried fish while you're shopping. I more or less need to know what I'm going for--a specific item--otherwise the quantity can be overwhelming.

Here is the inspiration picture from Jessica Constable:

I liked the idea of the tea cup so I found a $4 set at From Shabby to Chic in Forest, VA. A tea cup multitasks as place to hang your earrings, place your rings, and display smaller chokers or bracelets:

The necklace tree was the beginning of a challenge for me. I didn't want to buy one--they range anywhere from $15-$70. So I came across a hanging votive holder at the flea market for only $6. I took it home, threw away the candles, spray painted it white, and made it into my own display for necklaces and earrings:

Now instead of looking through a cluttered jewelry box I can walk into my bedroom and see all my accessories.

I really love the ability to by craft supplies and groceries that will go toward more than one thing. The spray pain I used was from my last month's craft:

Shrimp and True Grits

My mother and I vacationed on Virginia's Eastern Shore on a lovely little island called Chincoteague. Wild ponies run free on Assateaque, the neighboring island, and each July there are numerous events centered around the pony swim. Misty of Chiconteague, based on the famous Assoteague pony, was also filmed on the island in the 1960's.

But I really just chose the place because it seemed like it wouldn't be terribly crowded and felt it safe to assume fresh seafood would be available at all times.

We decided instead of eating out the entire stay we would prepare a few meals at the cottage. I was pleasantly and absolutely stunned to find such affordable accommodations. The cottage at The Seashell Motel were more than worth the price. We essentially stayed in a small house for $88 a night. The kitchen was stocked with a coffee maker, pots and pans, toaster, microwave, refrigerator, and a grill and picnic table out back.

I was a little disappointed the wireless connection did not work in the rooms but besides that, and a slight musty odor (I was prepared with Glade room spray) I was very happy with the accommodations.

We tried a few restaurants but I was the most impressed with Captain Zack's Seafood Carryout. I ordered the crab quesadillas and they came with chips and a pickle. Mom ordered clams and they included corn on the cob. The food was delicious.

At Howard Gary Seafood (another restaurant that sells seafood--or vice versa) we purchased a pound of shrimp for the Cajun shrimp and grits recipe I brought along. Then we listened as the clerk provided a short tutorial on how to devein shrimp. It's a nasty and tedious business, I'll tell you:

The "vein" is actually the shrimp's digestive tract so while you can leave it in, it can make the shrimp gritty. It's also a disgusting thought. 

Mom and I both participated in the deveining process. She made the grits and I brought along homemade Cajun seasoning from my own kitchen. 

It's been rumored that shrimp are high in cholesterol. Before leaving for vacation I discovered my cholesterol is high. I've read different research studies about shrimp and I don't know that I've determined shrimp is truly  bad (unless you've deep fried it, of course).  But this recipe contained grits, a good fiber source and fresh spinach, a valuable source of vitamin K and anti-inflammatory violaxinthin.  

I'm learning that making the effort and doing the extra work is worth it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In the Know: Salsa--It's a Verb You Eat

One of deciding factors of where to eat Mexican food is the quality of the salsa. I prefer a little spice with visible chunks of vegetables and I have an affinity for cilantro.

But one of my favorite things to do with friends is have taste tests (i.e. a creative excuse to eat lots of different foods). I have done this at my friend Robin's house with Ben and Jerry's ice cream and we visited my friend Kim's house on Sunday to have a salsa taste test in light of the road test portion of Woman's Day's In the Know section. 

What you do is you choose a food then have a mini party centered around that food. Kim even made her own salsa to use as a comparison.

Woman's Day compared Tostitos Chunky Mild Sauce, Frontera Tomatillo Sauce, and D.L. Jardine's Pineapple Chipotle Salsa.

To keep it comparable, we compared our local Kroger Private Selction Restaurant Style Medium, Pace Salsa Verde (which was one of Kroger's wonderful Closeout Prices), and Mrs. Renfro's Peach Salsa.

Erik really preferred the salsa verde. Salsa verde is a pureed green sauce made of lime, cilantro, chilies, and other spices. It's great with pork (try pollo chorizo from Mi Patron) or salmon. I loved the idea of peach salsa because of the novelty and nutritional value of combining both fruit and vegetables. I think I would have to agree with Kim, however, that making your own salsa causes a prejudice.

 We spent another occasion making pineapple salsa. The advantage being, we were able to eat together without spending a lot of money and we had extra left over to jar and share with other friends.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

5 Ingredients or Less: Bullseye

My mom used to fix a special breakfast that she called "bullseyes." White bread worked best and, using a cookie cutter, she would make a hole in the center of the bread after buttering both sides. Then, she cracked an egg in the center and let the bread toast and egg cook together to make the bullseye. The she also toasted the circle to absorb the yolk (we are over medium people).It was a fun breakfast for a kid and it's still a fun breakfast for an adult.

Woman's Day calls this breakfast (or brunch) an "egg in the hole." Their version is a bit more healthy but takes just about as much time.

For this scenario I used whole grain wheat bread. If you want to make it interesting, you can use duck eggs which are higher in protein:

I broiled the tomatoes but they were really thick. I bought an organic tomato from Kroger:

Add grated Parmesan (also from Kroger):

This is the lesson I've learned: treat yourself to breakfast. It will make you feel like you've accomplished something already, so early in the day, and in this case, drum up a pleasant childhood memory.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


"As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you." Isaiah 66:13

In considering this blog and what comfort means to me, the first thoughts to manifest involved my bed. I realize some women take great pleasure in rising early and taking the day by the reigns: I am not one of them.

Therefore the word "comforter" takes on a very literal meaning for me. The solitude of the perfect sleep arrangements is almost an alleviating sensation. When the room is cool, the blankets just so, my television is on the right routine channel, set to sleep timer, with the fan on, the unpleasantries of my day drift away, allowing me to sleep peacefully.

I believe that God's grace and wisdom's guidance allows us to accept and discern a more comprehensive, mature idea about comfort as the years roll by. In this edition of Woman's Day I read about Dr. Oz's health advice,how to make more money, and the secrets of a happy marriage. There are deeper comforts as we mature through life's difficulties. They are similar to discovering joy is more valuable than happiness and peace more priceless than convenience.

The comfort I experience on the day after I control my appetite and refuse the sweets past 9 p.m. or the exhaustion after the 1 hour gym class or the relief in seeing I have put aside enough money for vacation this year exceeds the enjoyment of cool sheets and listening to Golden Girls as I drift off to sleep.

There is a greater comfort in the knowledge that, left to ourselves, we have the ability to make better choices--and therein lies a hope that produces a supernatural comfort.

I'm not a mother this Mother's day month but I am believing that I am giving birth to new life.