Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Summer Grillin'!

Superking and I recently bought ourselves a little charcoal grill. Up til now, if we wanted to grill something, we would hop down the street to my in-laws' house with our food and bogart their grill, then run back home before the food got too cold.  Superking finally broke down and got us our own. Its a Weber and its small, not too expensive, but its perfect for us.  And we've been grillin' up a storm every chance we get!!

The first night we fired it up, we got a nice tender filet and some raw shrimp.  We've never cooked raw shrimp ourselves before.  But we marinated them...half in a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce and half in this creamy Greek marinade with lots of spices...and put them on skewers.  The filet, prepared with nothing but salt and pepper. We also tossed a few poblano peppers on the grill too.

The steak was perfectly tender and juicy and the shrimp plump and pink with a slight smokiness. The peppers had a lovely char on the skin. Everything was great and so easy!

 And every time we fire up the grill, we leave it burning for a while after dinner so we can roast marshmallows to make smores!! Superking asked me after about the second or third time of doing this, if the smores were going to continue to be an after-dinner-grilling-tradition.  I'm like, uh heck yeah!! What kind of question is that??

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Aw, honey honey!!

Last week I shared about my Mom's Garden and one of the things I mentioned they have up there is a beehive.  My parents purchased their own bees and harvest the honey every summer.  My dad even has the cool spacey bee suit! Too bad I don't have a picture of that!

I didn't win the Farmers Market Photo contest but this is one that did.  Taken by Staci Longest of Newton at the King and Queen County Farmers Market near Richmond, VA. I thought it appropriate to share her beautiful photo with this post.

Honey is amazing.  It can go with just about anything sweet or savory.  Use it as a sweetener in baked goods or in your tea.  Its awesome with certain kinds of cheese. I love it with feta cheese!  Sometimes I'll make scrambled eggs in the morning and top them feta cheese and a sprinkling of honey...its so yumma yumma!! The salty savoriness of the cheese combined with the sweet stickiness of the honey is delightful! I'm not a huge fan of maple syrup so I like to use honey on my pancakes and waffles instead. 

Check out these homemade secret-recipe waffles Superking made with some fresh blueberries straight from the farm, sprinkled with a little powdered sugar, a little dab of butter, and drizzled with honey from my parents hive!! Delish!

There are so many subtle flavor differences you can get from one honey to another. It all depends on what flowers and other pollinating plants are nearby the hive.  As the bees travel from one plant to the next, what combination will they come up with to flavor this year's honey?

There's something sort of mysterious about honey too.  It has these ancient healing qualities that have been around since the dawn of time that are still used today! Did you know honey can used as an antiseptic and promotes faster healing for cuts and scrapes? It can used as an antioxidant and cleanser for your whole body and skin.  Many natural beauty products include honey.  I love Burts Bees products!! One of my favorites of theirs is a cleanser that has royal jelly in it (which is a special honey made just for the queen bee)! I have very dry skin and that stuff makes my skin feel as smooth as a baby's bottom!

Honey can be used to fight infections and reduce inflammation.  As a singer myself and a voice teacher, I always tell my students the best thing they can do if their voice is sick or to prepare for a performance, is to drink a warm cup of tea with honey and lemon juice.  It does wonders to heal and soothe your throat and also lubricate your voice.

one of my favorite mugs with my bee themed tea infuser in my bee themed kitchen (see below)
yes even the curtains have little bees on them behind my beehive wind chime

Honey is an excellent remedy for digestive issues.  Have tummy trouble or maybe heartburn after eating a bunch of heavy fried foods? Take a spoonful of honey!  Mary Poppins sang about a "spoonful of sugar", she shoulda sang a spoonful of honey! Honey has been known to cure diseases and correct other health disorders such as yeast infections, arthritis, even fighting cancer.

Its great for an energy booster and building up immunities as well. So next time flu season comes around, try a spoonful of honey each day! Its at least worth a try. If nothing else, it'll help make your day a little sweeter!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes

Oh man, theres nothing like a good fried green tomato! The movie was good too.  But when you get a plate full of crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside-slightly-greasy tomatoes, its like a trip to another time.

Recently I shared we went on a trip to my parents house and toured my mom's garden which was full of all kinds of produce.  Tomatoes were everywhere!  All sizes and colors too! I couldn't help but snatch a few of those beautiful bright green ones to take home! I was dying to make some delicious fried green tomatoes.

Start by slicing up your tomatoes.  A medium to thick cut slice.  They should be nice and crunchy!

Next the dredging station...you should have a bowl of all purpose flour, a bowl of about 2-4 eggs whisked with about 1/2 cup to 1 cup of heavy cream or buttermilk, and a third bowl of about 1 cup fine breadcrumbs, I cup cornmeal, and your choice of seasoning such as a little salt and pepper, maybe a little paprika or even Old Bay, whatever your tastes are.  Notice there aren't strict measurements.  Its all about your tastes and how many tomato slices you're frying up.  Experiment a little! Have fun!

Heat up some veggie oil or peanut oil, if you prefer, in a big semi-deep frying pan.  You'll want enough oil to cover your tomatoes once they're swimming in there. Once all your prep stuff is ready and your tomatoes are sliced, let each tomato slice take a dip in the flour to get a nice even coat.  Then dip in the egg wash and shake off the excess. Next, dredge the tomato in the breadcrumb mixture until well coated.

Carefully put 3 to 4 slices (or however many can comfortably fit in the pan, don't crowd them too much!) into the hot oil.  Let them fry a couple minutes on each side or until you see a beautiful crispy golden coat!  Set them aside on a papertowel to drain any excess oil before serving.

We decided to have an all-out southern comfort dinner that night...fried green tomatoes with a dollop of fresh goat cheese on top and cheesy grits topped with grilled Old Bay shrimp.  Yumma Yumma indeed!!

we used some quick cooking grits...

and some sharp cheddar cheese!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mom's Garden

Before these last few weeks of summer fade away, I must share some lovely summer adventures we've had.  A few weeks ago, Superking and I went out to visit my parents who live in the mountains of northern Virginia countryside.  They have about 10 acres of woods just above the beautiful flowing Shenandoah River.  My dad is an avid outdoorsman and has been in the building industry in one aspect or another for most of his life.  My mom is a country girl at heart. They designed and built their own house up there in their own little quiet paradise.

One of the things my mom loves to do is gardening.  And she's always had a knack for it too. I, on the other hand, have the Black Thumb of Death when it comes to all plants, be they fruit, veg, or flower, with the exception of weeds.  If it was acceptable to grow weeds and make them look nice, I would be the Queen.

Anywho...as my mom took us on a little tour of her garden, it was bursting with greens and reds and yellows everywhere we looked.  Just about anything you can imagine growing in a garden, it was there.  Tomatoes (so many tomatoes of all different kinds), cabbages, squash, carrots, strawberries, peppers of various kinds, herbs, cucumbers. They even tried to grow peanuts but they didn't turn out so well unfortunately.  But everything else was vibrant and colorful.

my mom being goofy
one of their dogs, Buddy or Bella?

And she doesn't use any kind of pesticides either. So it doesn't get much more local and organic than that!

For our lovely dinner we had with them, my mom used plenty of her yummy produce in our meal, including this delicious tomato salad.  Beautiful red and orange cherry tomatoes mixed with a tangy balsamic vinagrette and fresh herbs and chunks of creamy mozzarella cheese. It was sweet and tangy and juicy; a perfect companion to a good juicy steak hot off the grill.

We also had luscious strawberries stuffed with a marscapone cream cheese and dipped in chocolate for dessert.  I could've eaten the whole plate they were so yummy!

And before we left we stuffed our pockets with as many tomatoes (even green ones...another post to come) and peppers and squash and cucumbers and honey (yes they have their own beehive too...again another post to come) as we could carry away!  Can't wait to share some more recipes with you from Mom's Garden!!

beehive full of bees and fresh honey!!

Happy Summer!