Monday, June 29, 2009

Putting Up

I have found my new favorite cookbook - and it's all about "putting up". Putting up is what we call canning or preserving here in the South. The book is fascinating - all the science, fact and fiction of sweet and savory foods. I've been taking it to bed at night, reading all the information in preparation for trying some of the recipes. I had the pleasure of meeting the charming author, Stephen Palmer Downdey last week at Cooks Warehouse. What a story he shared - from Army Ranger to boat-bottom-scrubber to canning magnate. He learned his craft from his grandmother and after a long career as a stock broker, (with time out for the boat-bottom-scrubbing) he returned to South Carolina to start Rockland Plantation Products with his son. Next picture of jelly you see on the site will be mine :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Tenderloin For Iron Chef!

Woo Hoo! Fun Iron Chef class last night at the Cooks Warehouse. 4 Corporate Teams battling it out over the Secret Ingredient: Tenderloin. Lots of fun and lots of wine capped off a fierce and creative competition for bragging rights. Loved the "secret" team #5's entry. Check it out - no veggies, and a parsley bedecked Beer! Team #1 with the beautiful veggie platter (bottom right) and yummy tenderloin scored the win, with team #3 (diagonal asparagus) a close second.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Holy Guacamole, or Avocados Should Be a Kitchen Staple

I think that avocados are just about the most wonderful food in the world. Good for breakfast, (Avocado Omelet, Anyone?), Lunch (See Picture) and Dinner (Avocado Half, Red Wine Vinegar and Good Olive Oil, Yum!). I have even enjoyed avocados for dessert - just Google: avocado chocolate cake and see what I mean. Susan and I met at Verde Taqueria for lunch today, and although all the food was delicious - I could have just eaten the guac, chips and salsa and been happy. Here's my favorite recipe for Guacamole
2 ripe mashed avocados 
1/4 cup minced ripe tomato 
1/2 tsp minced garlic clove
1 TB minced onion
1 Tsp fresh lime juice
Dash of hot sauce to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Scoop onto a PLATE, flatten slightly, and scatter the top with 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar, (Cabots makes an Awesome 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar).
That's it. No mayo, sour cream or any other fillers. Just luscious, creamy goodness. This is the kind of guacamole your guests will swoon over, and you will make for dinner over and over again.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Flowers and Friends

Here's a picture I wanted to share. I grew up with gardenias - they have always been one of my favorite flowers. (I even had a brief "fling" with Shalimar perfume, redolent of gardenias - but that's another story...) So, I was thrilled last night when friends Rebecca and Peter walked in with this bouquet. In an attempt to make them last longer, Peter had cut the flowers early in the morning, and put them in ice water. So far it has worked. Now every time I walk down the hall I am hit by the heady fragrance of the white flowers. The couple also knew exactly how to bring the flowers to us - they were already arranged in a vase, ready for display. Isn't it lovely how little things just mean so much to family and friends? Next time you are bringing flowers, remember to make it easy for the host or hostess. Grab a vase, and "gift" them ready to enjoy. In turn, here's a good tip if you are the one hosting the party, and guests bring you wine: keep a Metallic Sharpie Marker handy. Ask the giver to sign their name on the bottle before they leave it with you. That way, when you enjoy the bottle later, you'll know who to think about and thank!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Rutledge Georgia

We've been on the bike again, touring through the backroads of Georgia. Rutledge was our destination - east of Atlanta, near the more lauded city of Madison. There were two places that drew us to the tiny town, Rutledge Hardware and Yesterday's Cafe. The wonderful old store was featured in Smithsonian Magazine - and is "all that a hardware store should be", says Mike. You could spend hours inside sifting through piles of merchandise that you never knew you needed... The buttermilk pie is the main attraction at the Cafe. The other items on the menu, a pretty traditional "meat and three" are good, but the pie is the thing. If you have never enjoyed it, it's kind of like pecan pie without the pecans. I've included a before and after picture to verify our opinion:) 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pink Heals Salsa - WOW!

Couldn't resist sharing a couple of pictures from the Pink Heals Salsa Party last week at the Piedmont Cancer Wellness Center. Executive Director and Founder Lisa Vingerling hosted the kickoff for Pink Heals to celebrate with young women who are cancer survivors. Super Salsa Dance Instructor Jimmy Rumba from Take Hold Ballroom got them to "strut their stuff" with lessons that produced incredible results. Can't believe how well they did moving across the floor - who knew the group could dance so well? They drank sangria and enjoyed the tapas while taking in the beautiful views across the city. Pink Heals will have their next event in the fall - if you know any young women who are cancer survivors, hook them up with this organization. I can guarantee they will have a great time. 

If you are looking for Pink Heals find them at: For Jimmy Rumba: For Take Hold Ballroom:  And if you are a cancer survivor, (or family member), and interested in quality programs with caring individuals check out