Staying Put in Louisiana Country

My poor blog has been ignored for quite a while. We’re staying put in Louisiana until we have better weather to head up the east coast to see old friends and meet new. So, we’ve kind of hunkered down in the little town of Sulphur, a suburb of Lake Charles and I’ve done more cooking than sightseeing the last few weeks. Plus spent the holidays here cementing friendships with some of the locals – great people in this area.

Since I can’t tell you more about the area, here are some of the dishes I’ve been cooking and maybe one will spark interest in you to add to your menu.

A great find last month was an ebook, “The Southern Foodie – 100 Places to Eat in the South Before You Die,” and to find it while we are spending a few months right in the middle of all this wonderful Southern food! First dish I tried was a winner (and that’s always a very good sign) – Lasyone’s Red beans and rice and Sausage.

The Lasyone family has owned and operated this restaurant in Natchitoches since 1967. Highlighted offerings which the restaurant is known for – Fried Meat Pies, Crawfish Pie and their Red Beans, Rice and Sausage, which I made and thoroughly enjoyed heat from the seasoning and also the spicy smoked sausage I bought locally and used.

1/2 cup lard or bacon drippings
2 1/2 quarts water
1 lb dried light red kidney beans
1 lg. onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery
1 1/2 cups chopped smoked sausage
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 Tbs dried parsley
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs salt
6 cups cooked long-grain white rice

In large pot combine the lard, water, beans, onion, bell pepper, and celery.

Cook uncovered on medium heat, stirring occasionally and adding more water as needed, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the beans are tender.

Add sausage, garlic powder, red pepper, parsley, sugar, and salt during the last 30 minutes of cooking. Serve over the rice.
A new breakfast treat for us was making Apple-Walnut Pancakes one Sunday morning. The recipe comes from and the pancakes are wonderfully light and flavorful from the tart apple and toasted walnuts.

Treat yourself to a short or tall stack of these fluffy pancakes flecked with tart apple and toasted walnuts. Eat them as is, or smear them with sweet butter and a drizzle of warm maple syrup.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
11/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
2 Tbs melted butter
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

Whisk together the buttermilk, egg and butter in a small bowl. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture stirring just until the flour mixture is moistened. Gently fold in the apple and walnuts.

Brush a nonstick griddle or large nonstick skillet with oil or spray with nonstick spray and set over medium-low heat. Using a scant 1/4 cup for each pancake, pour the batter onto the griddle. Cook until bubbles begin to appear and the edges of the pancakes are dry, about 2 minutes. Turn the pancakes over and cook until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer the pancakes to a plate and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter, making a total of 12 pancakes.

Tip: If the batter is a little too thick, thin it out by gently adding more buttermilk, a tablespoon at a time. Alternately, if the batter is too thin, add a tablespoon or two of more flour.
And, while we’re in the country of spicy smoked sausages, what better twist to try with a dish than making Salami (or Sausage) Carbonara – the creaminess combined with the spiciness is just brilliant. The recipe calls for Salami, but we loved the sausage addition.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 lb good-quality salami, sliced 1/4 inch thick and finely diced
1 1/2 lbs bucatini
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
Kosher salt
Coarsely ground black pepper

In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the salami and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the salami is tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the 1/2 cup of cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Add the pasta and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the salami and cook over moderate heat, tossing, until the pasta is coated and hot, about 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and immediately add the egg mixture and remaining 1 cup of cooking water. Using tongs, toss the pasta until creamy, about 1 minute. Season with salt and black pepper. Serve in shallow bowls, passing more cheese at the table.
I needed an idea for leftover pork and found the perfect easy and fast stir-fry in one of my own cookbooks – “I Have LEFTOVERS…What Do I Do Now?”
???????????????????????????????Linguine and Pork Stir-Fry
Substitute just about any meat or fish for the pork and you’ll have a delicious and fast dinner.

1 lb. Linguine, Spaghetti, or Vermicelli, uncooked
1 Tablespoon sesame oil, divided
1 1/2 cups cooked pork
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups (approx. 1/2 head) cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, shredded (1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain and toss with 1/2 Tablespoon of the sesame oil, set aside and keep warm. Dice the pork and set aside.

In a deep pot or large skillet, heat the other 1/2 Tablespoon oil and add the garlic, cabbage, onions, bell pepper and carrot; stir-fry until all is tender. Add the meat and lightly stir-fry until hot; then add hot linguine and toss to mix. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings
I’m going to finish up this blog entry with an old favorite which is an invaluable recipe to have in any cook’s repertoire – how to make Crème Fraîche – which is a thickened cream with a tangy, nutty flavor. It can be very expensive to buy in the U.S. which seems quite frivolous given the flavor is substandard to that made in France. Homemade is equally delicious and so very easy to make at home. My friend, Chef June Jacobs gave me this method years ago and I love having it on hand.

2 cups whipping (heavy) cream preferably NOT ultra-pasteurized
1/4 cup buttermilk — room temperature

Warm cream in heavy small saucepan to lukewarm (85° F). Remove from heat and mix in buttermilk. Put the mixture into a clean glass jar (that has a tight-fitting lid for later use). Leave the jar open and cover with a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper, fastened with a rubber band. Let it stand in a warm draft-free area until slightly thickened, 24 to 48 hours, depending on temperature of room.

When the cream has “clotted,” remove the paper and replace it with the lid. Refrigerate until ready to use.  That’s it! It is so easy and so very delicious.

Chef June’s tip: Stored in this manner, the Crème Fraîche should keep until you’ve used it up (and made more!) Like fine cheese, it may develop a “skin”, but you can remove it and use what’s underneath.
Another of her tips – Crème Fraîche whips beautifully and is wonderful on a strawberry shortcake.

Note: Normally all I can find is ultra-pasteurized and buttermilk on the shelves is reduced fat/1 ½% milkfat/50% less fat than whole milk, but it works. Mine is normally ‘clotted’ after 30 hours.
Well, it’s time to check out the freezer – it’s almost empty and figure out how much I can buy at the Holly Beach Seafood Shack here in town. They have been closed since mid-December, so I’m really anxious to check out what they have for us this new year.

Hope you find something in the above recipes you might like to try – let me know if you do. Would love to hear.


2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Favorite Louisiana Foods – Part 1

We are now in Sulphur, Louisiana, a suburb of Lake Charles and one of the nicest RV parks we’ve so far stopped in. A + RV Park.  A lot of drama going on right now – I guess our dish is kaput; have to replace the system or go in another direction. Have to watch all of our taped shows before everything gets shut down… I keep telling myself – it’s only television shows, but darn it, that’s our evening entertainment!! (and we are hooked on some) Also, our anniversary is Saturday and I have planned a big blow-out for Saturday………….. Time to back off and remember we are supposed to be having fun, so life will be what it is and I’ll just pour another glass of wine and go with it.

Friday, Nov 21st
I had to shop Friday for our anniversary (46 years!) dinner on Saturday, so lots of running around and I knew we wouldn’t get home in time to eat. So, what I came up with was something I just NEVER do!!! I think buffets are the work of the devil, un-sanitary, mediocre food, yaddda yaddda!!BUT, guess I’ll have to negate that ‘never’!!

We  passed The Grill Pit and didn’t realize until we got inside it was a buffet. For some reason we decided to stay and we just ate our fool heads off. I took one or a spoonful of everything to taste and my plate was really full. Every bit of it was just delicious and good temperatures. My favorites were the crawfish casserole (kind of a corn pudding) and the  shrimp beignets!!! Even the greens were good! I was so full, could hardly look over the dessert table, but there sure were some good lookin’ goodies there. Just couldn’t eat another bite!!

I went on and on so much about how good the beignets were, our server, Mona Jane, offered to sell us some. I ordered 3 and she told us to wait a few minutes and the kitchen would make up some fresh for us. She came back with a box of SEVEN! For $.99. Still warm. And, their method for making them. If mine turn out half as good I’ll be happy – but I’m not making them for a while!! The last of them were my dinner later

Shrimp Beignets – how to make per Mona Jane, waitress at Grill Pit, Sulphur, LA – I’ll make these when my pants fit me again…………………
Pancake mix – sweetened with a little sugar – prepare
Grind small raw shrimp and add  along with gr. onion
Add flour until the correct consistency.
Dip spoon or scoop in hot water; spoon batter into hot oil and fry.

On to Saturday, Nov. 22nd and our anniversary dinner!!
Oh my, what a wonderful champagne dinner we enjoyed today!! I’ve been researching jambalayas and gumbos and have found some very interesting customs in this area. Decided to go with a gumbo dinner after learning a most fascinating tidbit – in Louisiana gumbos are traditionally served with potato salad!!  And, oh my, are they correct. The spicy heat of the gumbo with the spicy coolness of the potato salad was outright wonderful!

Louisiana Potato Salad – adapted from a Simply Recipes newsletter site.
1 pound Yukon gold or new potatoes, scrubbed clean (peel on or off, your choice), cut in 1 to 2-inch chunks
3 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
1/2  small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup Creole mustard
1/3 cup mayonnaise (less or more to taste)
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

Cook the potatoes until just tender. Hard-cook the eggs. While the eggs and potatoes are cooking, chop the onion, celery, and green pepper. Also, combine the dressing ingredients: the vinegar, sugar, mustard and mayonnaise.
Drain the potatoes and while still warm toss with the dressing; when cool enough, peel the eggs, chop and add to the potatoes. Add the remaining ingredients along with salt and Creole seasoning to taste.  Makes 6 servings

Gumbo with Sausage and Chicken

1/3 cup Crisco or lard
1 lb fresh sausage links, cut into ½-inch pieces (preferable Andouille)
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 extra large onion, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup)
1 large green bell pepper, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
32 oz chicken broth
1  T.  Gumbo file
1 T. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
8 oz. or 1/2 of a 16-oz. pkg. frozen Gumbo vegetables
2 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken

Heat 2 tablespoons Crisco in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until well browned, stirring occasionally. Remove the sausage from the saucepan and drain on paper towels. Do not pour off the drippings from the saucepan.

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir the remaining oil and the flour in the saucepan and cook for 30 minutes or until the flour mixture is dark brown, stirring occasionally.

Stir the onion, celery and pepper in the saucepan and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the broth, seasonings, okra, chicken and sausage and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Served 8
Serve with the potato salad added to bowl of gumbo or as a side dish.
Nov 22 Sausage Gumbo Plated
I was so proud of my roux – dark mahogany brown and just so delicious!!

Now, I have to cook healthy for a few days or run a marathon!!! We’re staying her for 2 months, so I ought t be able to share some fun dishes over the next few weeks. Happy cooking to us all!!

Mississippi – 2nd Week of Cooking

With the temperatures in the low 30s, and being in a travel trailer, the need for warmth is paramount. So, baking takes care of any heating problems.
Started the day trying another bread recipe in my quest for ‘our perfect’ sandwich roll – one that will hold up to any filling I use. And, I’m thinking this one is close to it!

Quick Pan Rolls – 1/2 Recipe (16 rolls) a Chef’s Journey Revision
My oops in making this recipe consisted of using only a quarter of the yeast called for in making  1/2 the original recipe( which called for 2 T.) and I like the texture better for sandwich rolls. They will be sturdier, I think. I will make the recipe again using the called for amount of yeast and see how much, if at all, lighter they can be. No need to shape individual rolls – simply cut dough in each pan into 16 rolls! Quick and easy.

2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 T. sugar
1/2 T. yeast (should have been 1 T.)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 T. butter cut into pieces
1/2 large egg
1/2 T. all-purpose flour, for dusting

Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Heat milk, water, and butter until very warm (120° to 130°F); stir into flour mixture. Stir in egg and enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cover; let rest on floured surface 20 minutes.

Roll to fit a greased 8 or 9-inch square pan. (I used an 8X12” 1/4-sheet pan) With sharp knife, cut dough into 16 rolls; cover. (I cut into 6 pieces for sandwich rolls) Place large shallow pan on counter; half fill with boiling water. Set wire rack over pan; place baking pan on rack. Let rise 20 minutes.
Dust tops with 1/2 tablespoon flour. Bake in preheated 400°F oven for 15 minutes or until done. Remove from pan; let cool on wire rack, Yield: 16 rolls or 6 beautiful sandwich roll
Original recipe –

Roy brought home 4 beautifully dressed catfish that I have decided if I want it done right, I’ll do it myself. All I’ve been able to find in restaurants as I move south are ‘strips,’ ‘bites,’ ‘chunks’ or some such clever name that means the fish has just been chopped up! Two went in the freezer and two were used for dinner today. Trying to be a little careful of fat intake, I chose to oven-fry them after marinating in buttermilk, salt, pepper and a little Frank’s hot sauce; then dusting with corn flour.
???????????????????????????????  The result was mixed – even sticking the catfish under the broiler for a couple minutes I couldn’t get a nice ‘crust’ on them. The flavor, though, was wonderful and made for a tasty dinner alongside oven-roasted potato planks and sliced onions. Coleslaw completed the dinner with a dressing I haven’t made for quite a while.

Honey Mustard Slaw Dressing
The amount of dressing will coat 8 to 10 oz. slaw mix.

1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbs grainy mustard
2 Tbs honey
2 tsp cider vinegar
1/4 tsp dry mustard
Source: Cuisine @ Home magazine

Nov 17th Monday –
The final 2 catfish  and I prepared them exactly as I have been looking for in restaurants in every town we stop! The old adage, “If you want it done right, do it  yourself” definitely holds true with my catfish yearnings
Fried Catfish Recipe – a Chef’s Journey recipe

1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 T. salt
1/2 T. black pepper
1 T. Hot Sauce (Frank’s hot sauce is good)
4 catfish fillets (preferred size 4 oz. each)
1 1/2 cups corn flour or corn meal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

In a large heavy plastic bag combine the buttermilk, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Rinse catfish with cold water and pat dry. Make 2 diagonal cuts in the thickest part around the belly flap area to help the thicker parts of the fish to cook evenly with the thinner tail part. Add the fish to the bag with buttermilk, ‘smooshing’ around to coat all the fish; place bag on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 2 hours.

In a heavy frying pan (I prefer to use cast iron), pour enough oil to come 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. Turn the heat to medium-high. Turn your oven to 200° and lay a cookie sheet inside. Place a wire rack on top of the cookie sheet.

While the oil is heating, mix the corn flour or meal and flour together. (Or you can substitute your favorite seasoning instead.) Let the oil reach 350 degrees — a good test is to flick a little of the dry breading into the oil, and if it sizzles at once, you’re good to go.

Once the oil is hot, sprinkle the catfish fillets with salt and dredge them into the flour mixture. Shake off the excess and gently lay into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 4 to 6 minutes, depending on how thick the fillet is. Use a metal spatula and gently turn the fish over and cook for another 4 to 6 minutes. Cast iron heats up and stays hot, so monitor the heat as you fry; you may need to lower the heat on the burner at some point.

Once the fish is ready, move it to the oven while you cook the rest of the catfish. Keeping the fried catfish warm in the oven will help keep it crispy. When they’re all done, serve at once with your favorite hot sauce, cole slaw and some hush puppies or the following Grits dish!!

Corn and Goat Cheese Grits  SOON
“I decided to citify low-country cuisine by adding lots of chopped garlic and fresh goat cheese,” says Bobby Flay of these hearty yet elegant grits. The end result is a tangy, creamy, corn-flecked side dish. F&W. I made 1/2 the recipe which resulted in my having enough for a little bowl for breakfast….will I offer it to Roy Richard?? No way in…………………….

4 cups water
1/2 cup whole milk
2 Tbs unsalted butter
Kosher salt
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, coarsely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears) or one 10-ounce package frozen corn kernels
Freshly ground pepper
4 oz fresh goat cheese

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Cook the grits over moderate heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until thickened and the grains are tender, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the corn mixture to a food processor or blender and puree until the mixture is just smooth.

Stir the pureed corn and the goat cheese into the grits, season with salt and pepper and cook just until heated through. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

But, back to the Sandwich rolls –
The results for sandwich rolls – these turned out to be too large for individual sandwiches, but were perfect for splitting with a salad. The rolls stand  up to any fillings and taste wonderful, also. Will work on size in subsequent batches.
First off tried them with pulled pork – very nice!
Next day, after finally (with the help of a multitude of friends) I remembered the sandwich I was anxious to make with these rolls – Patty Melt – and, it was everything I’d hoped it would be, even tho it wasn’t with the traditional Rye bread.
To round out this blog entry, here are a couple ideas for serving with a bowl of soup for a fast, each and not too filling later dinner –
After the filling  Patty Melts m id-day, we were hungry for  just had a bowl of tomato soup  – but, added a garnish that was super tasty. And, great in the soup if you can keep yourself from nibbling on the chickpeas!!!  This is from a link  my friend, Alina posted on a forum we both belong to – I didn’t make the soup, only the chickpea garnish and it is so good as a garnish and as a nibbling goodie!

My Version – Roasted Chickpea Garnish (for soups)
This is a link to the original recipe if you’d like to make the soup, also

2 garlic gloves
1 oz diced ham or prosciutto
1/2 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Drizzle with 1 T. olive oil
Sprinkle with 1/8 tsp. ground cumin

Toss all together and roast in a 450° F. oven for 20 to 23 minutes; tossing a couple times while roasti
Remove from oven and set aside until ready to garnish soup. If made ahead, slightly warm in a microwave or skillet before adding to soup.

Another side which we love with a bowl of soup is a Tortilla Pizza – we had this simple one earlier this week and I hurriedly wrote down what I had down to be able to duplicate again.

Tortilla Pizza

And, here is an easy & fast ‘go with’ your bowl of steaming soup/stew. A tortilla pizza for two – all you do for this one is:
lay out a wrap size tortilla (we love the Spinach flavored) on baking sheet (dusted with cornmeal)
smear with a little pizza sauce
scatter shredded cheese – this is Swiss
1/4 cup (about) diced cooked meat (I used Prosciutto)
Green onions
Pickled jalapeno slices

Bake at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes.

This ends my Mississippi cooking – we have leftovers to see us through a few days until we get settled in Louisiana! We didn’t  do as much touring as I thought we would do here, but we sure did try a lot of local favorites and that’s what it is all about for me!!

Mississippi Cooking – Lots of Cooking and Tasting

I must warn that this blog turned out longer than I initially planned, but there were so many ideas and recipes I wanted to share – just had to keep going.

Mississippi cooking is a nice change from Missouri – I can’t believe I almost overdosed on BBQ which is one of my favorite flavors in the world.  I hit Mississippi with a long list of never tried (or never tried authentic) foods known for in this state:

Catfish (my everlasting pursuit of a whole – meaning bone-in – fish!)
Fried green tomatoes
Bacon rinds (Love these and used to make them when we were raising pigs)
Calamari (always want more of this – sure didn’t know Mississippi was known for it)
Fried Chicken – would love to try some in each Southern state
Sawmill Gravy – had never heard of this, but evidently it is milk gravy as I know it, but would love to try it.
Mississippi Mud Cake
Mississippi (Sausage) Breakfast Casserole
And, of course we’re getting into Po’Boy country…………….

While I was gathering ingredients and my thoughts, I ran across this dish from Noble Pig – Cathy Pollak’s blog, and it sounded so tasty I had to make it first night here.

Brined and Glazed Hoisin Drumsticks
This is a winner for sure!! I’d give it at least a 12 (out of 1 to 10). Here is a link to the original recipe but, I have adapted the brining method to the easy one that I use.

The recipe looks time consuming but 90% is hands off – so very easy. We loved the flavor – the soy and vinegar cut the sweetness of the Hoisin while leaving a strong mellow (is that contradictory??) flavor to the chicken.

1 qt. cold water
1/4 cup Kosher salt
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. granulated sugar
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
3-inch piece of ginger, chopped
3/4 tsp. (liquid) anise flavoring (couldn’t find Star anise in stores) Watkins Pure Anise Extract
6 large chicken drumstick
For the Marinade/Glaze:
1-1/4 cups hoisin sauce
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 Tb garlic, minced

Whisk all the brining ingredients together until the salt and sugars are dissolved – don’t worry if there are a few grains not dissolved; add drumsticks, making sure all are submerged. Put the chicken in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours.

Meanwhile, just before chicken is done brining, combine all ingredients for the marinade/glaze in a large Ziploc bag. Remove chicken from brine, rinsing and patting off excess water; place in the hoisin mixture. Tightly close bag and turn over several times. Let sit for two hours and continue to turn. Keep chicken on counter so it can come to room temperature. (I kept mine in the fridge)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cover a large rimmed baking tray with aluminum foil and set a rack on top, spraying with cooking spray. Place drumsticks on rack, wiping off any excess garlic back into the marinade/glaze (garlic tends to burn in the oven). Reserve sauce.

Bake chicken in the oven 40 minutes on each side (a total of 80 minutes), turning over once. (I turned mine over after 25 minutes and my drumsticks were done in 55-60 minutes.) While chicken is cooking, add marinade/glaze to a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 10-12 minutes.
When chicken is done, remove from the oven. Brush reduced marinade/glaze on both sides of the chicken. Serve warm. 6 servings

Red Beans & Rice – Any RVers out there (or just for a fast, easy dinner) – There is a great pkg’d dinner mix I tried that is so flavorful, it’s like it was made from scratch! I’m having a devil of a time finding Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning, but as I check stores I am running into his products. Picked up Creole Red Beans and Rice Dinner Mix and wow, it is so good.
Red-Beans-&-Rice-7oz-LG It’s just ridiculous to think of having all the ingredients/seasonings in my trailer and this one solves the problem. If you’re on the road anyone, this is one to try. Great with a pulled pork sandwich.
One of my favorite food combinations (and I have no idea why) is Fried Oysters – with Corn Chowder. And, my chowder has to be drizzled with Tabasco only, no other hot sauce will do for me for the flavor.
Corn Chowder with Clams
From “Black Bens & Corn”  a Chef’s Journey cookbook. Whatever you add to this chowder, it is delicious!

4 T. butter (or 2 T. butter & 2 T. bacon grease)
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
2/3 cup finely chopped onions
2 cups cubed potatoes
1 qt. milk
2 cans (15 oz. each) cream style corn
1/4 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp. salt
Dash of pepper
8 oz. can minced clams (optional)

Melt butter and add celery and onions; sauté until transparent. Add remaining ingredients except the clams.
Cook over low heat until potatoes are tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
Add drained clams and just heat through. 6-8 servings.

CJ’s tips: below is an addition (1) and a substitution (2) to the chowder
(1) BACON AND SCALLOP CHOWDER (to be added to above chowder):
Cook 4 slices of bacon and chop coarsely. In the same skillet with the bacon grease, add 1/2 lb. medium sea scallops, season with salt & pepper and cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 1 1/2 minutes. Ladle the Corn and Clam Chowder into soup bowls top with the scallops and garnish with the bacon and chopped chives.
(2) SALMON AND CORN CHOWDER (Substituting in original Chowder recipe above):
Substitute 1/2 lb. salmon, cut in bite-size pieces for the clams; add to the soup (after the potatoes are tender) along with 2 tsps. lemon zest, cook until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.

Now here’s a dessert to add to your list of easy and delicious favorites! Stretching it a little, but we are heading south – Candied Jalapeno Peach Ice Cream. One of the best combinations so far in this continuing fascination with flavoring our ice cream.

At the farmers market in Vicksburg, I ran across Candied Jalapeno peppers at one of the stalls – it hit me immediately, Why have I not done this???? Brought a jar home and we have been adding a little of the peppers and/or just the ‘syrup’ to everything!! For dessert, I use 6 oz. of ice cream or frozen yogurt for our treats and this is the amount I use for combining with jams/jellies/sauces/and now candied jalapenos. To the ice cream, I added 2-3 T. peach jam and approximately 1 tsp. of the jalapeno syrup and used a mixer to combine.

???????????????????????????????  We think this is the best combination to date. I have found a number of recipes online for making the jalapenos and this one is the closest to the ingredients that are listed on the jar. I have not tried this recipe yet, but it is on the list!

Turnip greens – had for the first time and I’m certainly hooked – now, to cook them for myself.

Black-eyed peas – have used them for years, but in conjunction with stews and soups and such. I’ve never just had a dish of the beans themselves as a side. I love them! Over the years, I have taken these silly quizzes of say, “How many of these foods have you eaten?” which usually offer exotic dishes and adventurous foods and I can answer yes to almost all of them. But, for everyday local foods, I sure wouldn’t be able to; so I’m having fun tasting everything our country has to offer.

Mississippi Breakfast Casserole – the usual ingredients for a strata, but somehow this one is a little tastier and I can’t figure out why!! (one thing – no mustard, which I normally add to a strata might mute the fresher, vibrant flavors???? ) interesting idea.

The only thing I’d do differently is using the sausage as patties makes it difficult to eat (but, it is prettier) – I’d just scatter the broken up sausage as a layer.

Just a quick note about Catfish Po’Boys – if you have catfish you’ve brought home from a restaurant and IF you also have Remoulade sauce and a fresh sandwich bun, you are all set for a delicious and easy Catfish Po’Boy Sandwich!

And, lastly for this week of cooking – WOW, we’re ending with a real bang for your buck!

Mississippi Mud Cake with Bourbon
Because there are only the two of us and we try to limit ourselves In what & how much we eat (I know it doesn’t sound like it, but we do – usually), I cut this cake recipe in half and made a mini-Bundt cake. Cutest little thing; I’d never thought of doing this before but it’s certainly the way for me to go.
??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????
The Bittersweet chocolate gives it the fudgy dense cholately flavor  I love. The cake recipe:
We have 5 more days in Vicksburg, but in addition another  couple weeks in Lake Charles area, I may be able to do the remaining projects I’d like to do – myself rather than paying too much money in a restaurant when I can do it the way I want!
Buy and cook my own bone-in catfish!!
Fried Green Tomatoes
Mississippi Fried Chicken with Sawmill gravy….we’re in trouble now
Turnip Greens and Black-eyed Peas as sides

That’s all for now –  I hope you all made it through all of this!!

Missouri – Too Short of a Stay!!

Warning – this blog is a little chatty, so much to add about Missouri, but I hope you’ll enjoy our adventure.

We’ve moved on from Missouri, but must say we both fell in love with this state. It seems each state we visit outdoes the previous! The people, the country side, everything just came together for our visit. We didn’t do as many ‘touristy’ things as I had made notes to do, got side-tracked having a good time in other ways.

Show Boat Branson Belle
Quite an afternoon – couldn’t have asked for a better weather! Overall, the excursion was underwhelming, but I’m glad we got to be on the boat. The whole afternoon was spent IN the boat with just a 1/2 hour we could spend outside on deck and take in all the beautiful landscape. The entertainment was really a little hokey, but fun.
Oct 22 Branson BelleThe Branson Belle
???????????????????????????????As we boarded

The show area is huge; we were assigned the Captain’s table on the balcony, center stage and could look down on everything. The dining area below filled up in no time and dinner service began before we were out of ‘port.’
Oct 22 Filled up fast
Oct 22 The Capt.'s table, oursThe Capt’s table
I had Mahi-Mahi with Rice Pilaf – fish cooked very nicely and a Turtle cake for dessert – a real sugar high.
??????????????????????????????? Oct 22 Turtle cake - mine

Roy opted for the Prime Rib ‘steak’ – way over cooked and a Pecan pie for dessert.
??????????????????????????????? Oct 22 Roy's Pecan pie

Chef Larry Ferguson came out and talked to us for a while – very nice young man. Even offered to send us home with a steak to replace Roy’s!

Staying put for 3 weeks allowed me time to collect my thoughts and ingredients and do some serious cooking. Since I’m working on transferring my cookbooks to ebooks, I’m trying to add as many pictures of the dishes as I can (my early books had no pictures – which I’ve never heard the end of).
For a week, I worked on dishes from various books –

Beef (Pork or Chicken) Salad with Ramen Noodles
“A one-dish entrée salad using basic ingredients which can be leftovers or easily found in your pantry. Roasting the bell pepper gives the salad a smoky flavor in addition to a texture which compliments the dish over using raw pepper.”
Oct 23 Beef Salad L.O book

Another I needed pictures of – Dried Cherry Relish. I so agonized over how to plate for best presentation showcasing all the ingredients but, hopefully, not overpowering any of them. Tried a number of ways:
Oct 25 Dried Cherry Relish w Duck and Cream cheeseDuck Confit Bruschetta with Dried Cherry Relish
???????????????????????????????A creamy Quinoa topped with relish and duck confit
Cherry RelishRelish with a round of cheese
Bleu Cheese Salad with Dried Cherry Relish apr 6, 2012 And lastly, a salad topped with cherry relish
And, the winner is – well, I’m not sure – between the bruschetta and with the round of cheese. That is the process of adding pictures of recipes to books and it can be maddening, but very tasty!

Another baking project I wanted to sneak in was some peanut butter cookies for my great-grandson. I have to mail them very quickly because they are one of Great-Grandpa’s favorites!!

Neighbors in the RV park, Joe & Lori, brought over a bottle of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey one afternoon and Wow! Is this stuff ever tasty. I’m not a good ‘sipper’ – I tend to just drink, but I sure had to be careful with this liqueur. What a smooth, mellow flavor. And so, the afternoon flew by.

The RV park we were staying in,  Is a wonderful, friendly park and the owners, Ruth & Dennis Groff, are delightful folks we were lucky enough to spend a couple of hours visiting with.
Ruth runs a little café which serves breakfast and lunch 5 days a week. We had been told how good the burgers were, so we of course had to stop in one afternoon to test them out.

The burger was great! And, what an afternoon our outing for the burger turned out to be. The park owner had been working with Roy on a problem with the propane and stopped to see if all was well. He sat down and started chatting and when he found out I was a retired cook he told us his story of the park and the little café. Seems when they bought the park a year ago, the financial person told them if they wanted to open the café they would have to run it, not hire people. So, Ruth, the other half of the owners who is a Registered nurse by trade turned in her nurses uniform and took over the kitchen with a couple months help from the previous owner. Ruth had never had any experience in a professional kitchen, but was a wonderful cook by all accounts. He left and came back a couple hours later with Ruth in tow and we all chatted for couple of hours and introduced her to Tobin James wine (which she loves- and in addition to all the new cooking she is doing, is teaching herself to make wine!!) I can’t tell you how impressed I am with what this gal has done with her café.

She is now baking all her breads (not the burger buns yet, but that will come), does all the pastry/cookies/muffins, makes all homemade soups, yadda, yadda, yadda!! She has a core group who eat at the café almost daily and they are her testers. She is constantly trying new dishes to add to the menu and these folks judge them for her. What wonderful people she and her husband are. If I were 20 years younger, I think I’d stay here and cook with her for a while! And, she bought a whole set of my books!! She devours cookbooks like we all do. But, she really puts them to good use now.

Thus ends our too short visit to Branson, Independence and Kansas City, Missouri – but you can be sure we will be back through.

The Hunt for Ribs in Kansas City

Up and out early this Saturday morning in pursuit of BBQ Ribs in the city of the best sauces I have loved over the years, Kansas City – but to go to Kansas City, Missouri, or to Kansas City, Kansas. Opted for the closest since we’re staying in Missouri after a quick non-productive stop at Independence farmers market. No corn to be had, but they did have watermelon…???? (trip wasn’t completely wasted – found a cute pair of earrings)

Found The Local Pig Charcuterie,, a butcher shop with a little ‘shack’ attached at the back called ‘Pigwich Shop’ where they sell sandwiches. Not ready for those yet, so we bypassed and headed to the butcher area and found a windfall of more meat, sausages, charcuterie, etc. than I could possibly choose between.
Sept 20 The Local Pig Charcuterie
Finally narrowed our purchases down to: a slice each of head cheese & rabbit pate (for a charcuterie platter at home); Burnt ends sausages; ‘rotating pot pies’ savory filled (sausage, potato, gravy, not sure what else) little breakfast bun which we will split and have with lamb bacon (had never heard of or thought of this). Had to stop there!

On our lists of stops – next was The Seattle Fish Co. (in Kansas City??), but they were not open on weekends, will head there next week. They advertise “If it swims, we have it”. Just take a gander of their roster  I’m going to have real trouble with this place.

We’d worked up an appetite and figured we could now start foraging for ribs. First stop – McCoy’s Public House,, found a couple of new wines to try: Dreaming Tree Cab (my choice and it was great) and Black Cabra Malbec (which Roy equally enjoyed). Hoping to allow room in our tummies for a few more stops, we started with an appetizer – Bag of Bones, a pile of Garlic-Chile Honey Boney Spareribs with crispy sesame wonton slaw and a doggy bag. Not the usual doggy bag, but a paper sack to throw our bones in as we cleaned them!
The ribs had all the flavors – pungent (acrid) sweet, sour, bitter and salty and were some of the tastiest ribs I’ve ever had; even tho they were not the K.C. ribs we had set out to discover. I was so taken with the crispy wonton slaw that our server, Angel (and she certainly was!), brought me a container of the slaw and 2 containers of the vinaigrette to bring home to try duplicating.

Since our wine taste buds had been awakened, we headed next to Belvoir Winery,
Sept 20 Belvoir Winery
What a beautiful building and setting for a winery. They are in the process of developing a B & B, if you will, for weddings, conventions, and I’m sure the general public. The wines were surprisingly tasty and with more body than I would have hoped. (must get past the notion we will be hurting for good drinkable wines when we leave the west coast!) P.S. This was the first time we had ever seen hard liquor for sale in a wine tasting room! One of the pourers proclaimed proudly – “We get away with everything in Missouri!” Found out later, Missouri really does; it has the most lenient liquor laws in the U.S.

Broke our ‘1-bottle per winery’ edict and purchased Casanova – a blend of Missouri Chambourin, California Syrah (7% – no wonder I liked this one), Missouri St. Vincent grapes; and Naked Pink, a Catawaba grape (“…a red American grape variety used for wine as well as juice, jams and jellies. The grape can have a pronounced musky or “foxy” flavor.[1] Grown predominantly on the East Coast of the United States” Wikipedia)

We stayed at the winery so long talking to a great group of visitors and the ‘pouring’ staff, that it was almost dinner time and we actually found we had room in the tummy for our rib pursuit. Headed back to Independence to stop at Smokehouse BBQ – heading back was our first mistake! Why didn’t we stay in K.C. and go to a rib ‘joint’ recommended to us by folks we know? Dumb.

Our rib platter (beef, pork & chicken) was so bad, we didn’t even eat it! Dry, stringy, tasteless except for the dollop of sauce added last minute. But, I must admit the baked beans were some of the best I’ve had! And, the coleslaw was very tasty, too. Our server, bless his heart, only charged us for our wine & a side of beans. So, we were only out one experience of trying the local fare, which hurts because I want to limit our restaurant stops.

We will be eating ‘high off the hog’ so to speak for the next few days and then we’ll go foraging again – we’re here for 2 weeks after all!

Sunday Champagne brunch will be the pot pie, lamb bacon and an egg over top. Later, a charcuterie platter including the pate and headcheese and a few other goodies. Not sure how we will enjoy the burnt ends sausage……

My Visit to Cuisine @ Home, Des Moines, IA

Where to start with one of the best days of my cooking years! And, I must begin this story with an apology – I should have taken a photographer and a note taker with me because I was like a kid visiting a candy store for the first time. For 90% of you reading this, you’ll probably agree with me that a job in the test kitchen, we would all kill for. If I were 20 years younger, believe me, I’d have my job application in and move to Des Moines in a minute! Because of my awe of all I saw and those I met, I did not make note of names, titles, all the information I should share with you to give them proper credit.

Meeting Brian VanHeuverswyn, who has been my mentor and guide leading me through the past few years of being a moderator for our forum was one of the highlights of the day. He is such an outgoing, engaging, humorous man who ‘blocked out his afternoon’ to show us anything and everything. John Kirkpatrick, test kitchen manager, joined us on our tour and between the two, Roy & I know more about magazine publication than I would have ever thought possible. What a fascinating world John and Brian led us through. (my C@H guru, Brian, is on the left in the picture)

We arrived early and as we were waiting and looking around, a beautiful old building caught our eye – it’s an old carriage house which C@H bought years ago and where the gardens are located. We declined to tour the gardens because the mosquitoes were out in full force and they would have had a feast on me. But, I did manage to get some pictures. The building in front of the carriage house is the accounting, etc. side of publishing.
CatH Gardens

Then on to my favorite part of the visit – the test kitchen and the talented cooks who ‘play’ all day with food and get paid for it! Kim answered all my questions about how things are set up in their area – everyone has their own ‘kitchen’ to work their magic on recipes for each issue. And, they come together to test them.

Kim in her ‘kitchen’ cooking bacon – everyone does their own dishes; they don’t have the ‘dish dog’ I have when I’m testing recipes.
One of the recipes they are working on for November’s issue is a Chocolate Peppermint cake, which was waiting to be tested/tasted. We were invited to test with them and the cake was a winner – moist and chocolatey. The garnish of candy shards made the cake look so festive (the method will be part of the recipe).
Choc Peppermint Cake Nov issue 1
Choc Peppermint cake testing Nov issue

Later in the tour we would see the pages on the story board for this cake and the progression of the recipe to what it will look like for publication.  See the candy shards on top of the cake? They will not be in the initial picture, but will be added as an alternative garnish for adventurous bakers.
Story boards issues working on

Other areas we walked through – picture taking of the turkey for November’s issue – and what a treat this one will be. They are giving us a new method using a dry brine for the turkey and the stylist is ‘dressing’ the bird for its ShowTime.
Shooting turkey Nov issue

Another hint about November’s issue – the cranberry recipe; it is combined with goodies that I think we will all want to try – and, not an orange in sight, thank God. Sorry to those who like the combination, but I run from it. Also, looking forward to the new take on Brussels sprouts. We are in for a treat.
We finally had to leave the food area and check out one more facility – the wood working area. While most of us are fans of the cooking magazine, August Home Publishing offers others – Woodsmith, ShopNotes, Garden Gate, and Workbench magazines, and the Woodsmith Collection of woodworking plan books.
As I knew would happen, it was difficult to get Roy to leave the woodworking areas – believe me, the equipment they have to work and play with could make a grown wood worker cry with envy.
wordwording facility
Wood working pix layout facility

Sadly, we had to let Brian, John and everyone get back to ‘work’ and we headed off to have a glass of wine and bask in the joy of our journey around the magazine world. I could not have asked for an afternoon better spent!! Wow!

Thank you Brian for putting this together for us and again, I apologize for not taking better notes and pictures instead of being an awe-struck fan.

Of course, along with that glass of wine, we had to try the local fare at John & Nick’s Steakhouse – perfectly cooked rib eye and Key Lime pie for dessert. Now, back to the drawing board for me to decide what to do with the leftover steak.
Key Lime Pie
And now, on to Kansa City Missouri and RIBS!!!!!!!

Visiting Friends – Stop Nbr. One, Rogers, MN

 Finally arrived in a town where we know someone on this cross country trek! My friends Laura and Brad Behrendt and their great kids, Maggie and Joe, live in Rogers, MN. Spent the afternoon and evening talking food, wine, food, kitchen equipment, food and watching Laura prep a pizza dinner….you see where Laura and I are on the food scale – at the top!

After visiting Larua & Brad, I am so lusting after two pieces of equipment they have – the salamander (in the kitchen pix) and the Kettle pizza cooker. I’m thinking this Kettle is the way to go for us, much less expensive to start with and it does a darn nice job of grilling pizzas.

 Laura prepped 5 or 6 pizzas and each one was better than the other! Great flavors.

 Brad acted as the little old pizza cooker and as you can see, he really gets into his job in comfort!

 A couple of our pizzas and a good time was had by all! Along with a little wine (Spanish Tempranillo) and Rhubarb Lemonade, that we’d never tasted before, but will be making them now!!

 And, she sent me home with a goodies bag of her garden goodies she has been preserving – all look darn good to me – now, to decide what to use first.
Yellow Heirloom Salsa – bound to be a sauce for slow cooking short ribs for some wonderful tacos.
Yellow Heirloom spaghetti sauce – destined for lunch today over Campanelle and a couple of garnishes.
Heirloom Pizza/Spaghetti Sauce – looking for my pizza dough to get busy with this one.

Supposed to rain today, so she has a great prime rib dinner planned with a surprise local dessert. Stay tuned……….

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream

This was such a spectacular result it deserves a blog entry of its own!

At the Walker, MN farmers market a few days ago a vendor was selling pkg. dips – desert and savory. One caught my eye, Lemon Cheesecake Cheeseball & Desert Mix and just from the picture, I bought it with no idea what I’d do with it.

Before I got home, I knew what I was going to do. Being in the travel trailer with very little room in the freezer, I have never been able to make ice cream. But, with light bulbs exploding in my mind, I grabbed my little hunk of leftover cream cheese while Roy hit the road for the nearest Dairy Queen.

Mixed up 1/2 the pkg. of mix with the softened cream cheese and when Roy walked in the door, I added the pint of soft ice cream to the mix; froze it and waited very impatiently for it to harden enough to dig in.

I haven’t been so impressed with a desert for a long time for a few reasons –

  • Almost every town we hit has a Dairy Queen and a pint is only $1.99.
  • My freezer won’t hold more than that amount
  • Just think of all the flavors to add to the ice cream
  • And, Dairy Queen is lower fat than regular ice creamWhat a decision as to what flavor next….Huckleberry, Chokecherry, CHOCOLATE!

    To me, this is a win win situation – and the same day one of the wines we picked up from Forestedge Winery, also in Walker, MN – Black Currant, was wonderful with the ice cream.