Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Baking question - Please help!

9 words to the wise

I'm making a carrot cake tonight for my hubby's 30th birthday. It has coconut, pineapple and fresh carrots. It will be iced with cream cheese icing (made with cream cheese, butter, etc.) So should I refrigerate it for the 24 hours before we eat it or leave it out (covered on a cake platter)?

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Banana Nut Bread

3 words to the wise

I finally fulfilled my craving for banana bread last night. It's really hard to feel guilty about something that's actually pretty good nutritionally like banana bread. I love making it because it has so few ingredients and is really hard to mess up. This is my go-to recipe that I adapted from a recipe over at allrecipes.Banana Nut Bread
Makes a 9x5 loaf
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c softened butter
3/4 c brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
4 large overripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt and nuts. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar and then stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Dump banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Do not over stir. Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing. I like to eat a slice slathered with some butter. It's the perfect compliment of saltiness to the sweet bananas!

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Blu Seafood and Bar - Hillsborough Road, Durham

0 words to the wise

For date night on Friday, we finally visited Blu. I've read so many good things about Blu on Lenore's blog and decided it was time to give it a try. It's on Hillsborough road, right near the intersection of Ninth Street, next door to vin Rouge. We got there around 5:30 so it was relatively empty and quiet with the exception of the reggae and blues softly playing in the background. The decor is elegantly casual. It's an eclectic mix of blues and crisp whites.

We shared an appetizer of spiced calimari. This was calimari that was lightly breaded with a spicy mixture and coated with poppy seeds. It was deliciously crunchy and tender. It was definitely the best calimari I've ever encountered and it was served with a cilantro based creamy sauce that was equally tasty.

For my entree, I ordered the sauteed shrimp and diver scallops with butternut squash risotto. This had crispy prosciutto and sage leaves garnishing it along with a few filet beans. It was rich and creamy and all of the flavors melded really well together and I loved the mixture of textures. The diver scallops were amongst the largest I've ever seen and were perfectly cooked. The shrimp were just a tad overdone but still very good.

My hubby ordered the shrimp and grits which were equally delightful. His dish was also seasoned perfectly and had wonderful texture. I loved the large pieces of mushroom and bacon in that dish! With the richness of both dishes, we opted to skip dessert, but will probably give it a shot next time.

By the time we left, Blu was filled with diners. The menu is expansive and is a seafood lovers paradise. They had many daily features and specials. The service was friendly and great. The food was perfectly cooked, portioned, served promptly and hot. I have absolutely no complaints. We'll definitely be going back!

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Photo of the Day - First Dance

3 words to the wise

First dance of many for the happy newlyweds :)

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Food bible rule # 21

7 words to the wise

When abstaining from consuming alcohol, you could and SHOULD make up for it in dessert.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How to make the messiest potstickers ever

10 words to the wise

Let me start off by telling you I've never made potstickers before, but I saw the little pre-made wraps and figured since I'd made eggrolls several times successfully that potstickers would be relatively easy. WRONG.

I'm not giving you the recipe because this was a trainwreck that, after 90 minutes of working, left my kitchen looking like the Tasmanian devil tore through it. I will tell you that I used pre-made potsticker wraps, ground turkey, napa cabbage, onion, crushed garlic, oil, soy sauce, salt and pepper.

It started out looking harmless enough. I browned the turkey in my wok. While the turkey was cooking, I quartered the onion and put it in my food processor with some roughly chopped cabbage. I think this was where things started to take a wrong turn. By the time I was able to stir stuff around enough to get it all cut up, it was a light green mush. I decided to add the mush to the wok with the browned turkey. I also added my garlic and spices at this time.Then I cooked that for a few minutes until it was a soupy mess. Despite several rounds of draining and the addition of cornstarch (to thicken) it was still very watery and quite ugly looking.
After more draining, I set out my first 9 little wrappers and piled little mounds of filling on them. Perhaps this wouldn't be so bad after all?WRONG! I wet the edges with too much water and quickly discovered that not only did I use too much filling on each one, but it was too coarse in texture for the delicate dough. This bastard dough didn't want to seal shut, it only wanted to tear open.

I gently placed my first batch into an oiled pan and fried each side for 2 minutes. Then I poured in about a 1/2 cup of water (too much!) which made the pan scream and sprayed my stove and me with an oil water mist. I quickly covered it, cursed it, and steamed for 2 minutes. What came out was a little watery slimy potsticker. Meanwhile I started on my next batch. I used less filling, less water to seal, less water to steam, and things were starting to look a little better. I kept working, batch after batch. I think I made about 50 or so of these little bastards. I threw out the remaining filling (which was about half of it). When hubby came home, the kitchen was trashed, but dinner was on the table. It looks harmless though, doesn't it?
They tasted excellent and the texture was perfect, but the mess and time consumed were too much for me. I'll attempt again, but perhaps follow some sort of recipe next time. Meanwhile, we've got leftovers for lunch!

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Photo of the Day - Piper

2 words to the wise

It seems that to fly exerts way more energy or finesse then to run when it comes to these little guys. I watched wave after wave chase them up the shore. They're quite fast on foot too.

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Sunday dinner at the in-laws

3 words to the wise

Last night after much football was watched, we dined at my in-law's. I was responsible for a large Italian salad. It was a combination of romaine lettuce, celery, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, garbanzo beans and freshly grated parmesan. It was a hit!

**Insert my best Jersey Italian voice**
For the main event we had braciole, sausage and meatballs with gravy. This was served with an enormous bowl of macaroni (spaghetti) and a hard crusty bread. I skipped the sausage, but did eat a gigantic meatball and a little bit of the braciole (my first time). For those unfamiliar, it's flank steak, pounded thin, filled with some cheese mixture (moozarel and parm maybe), rolled and secured with twine, seared and then left to braise in the gravy. It was very good, but surprisingly, I was more enamoured with the meatballs and spaghetti last night.
**End my bad Jersey Italian voice**

For dessert there were Boston Cream Pies and sugar-free Pumpkin Pies. I chose the Boston Cream and it was a delightful end to a wonderful meal. I brought my camera along to photograph the delicious food, but in the end, I was way more interested in eating then in photographing and I completely forgot. I love eating a home cooked meal that I didn't cook! They sent us home with the untouched Boston Cream pie and enough pasta and meat to feed a small army. I give dining at my in-laws five stars ;)

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Friday, October 17, 2008

It could be your backyard...

2 words to the wise

Please, if you have a moment to spare, please help some old friends of mine. I received an email today asking me for help regarding an issue in Hillsborough, NC. The county has proposed putting a 160 acre landfill behind his father's property.

He writes that, not only will this stink, and destroy property value for much of the community, the EPA shows that the proposed area would have severe environmental impact on the water table (the well water would be undrinkable) as well as destroying plant and animal life.

Please help stop this. All you have to do is send 1 email to the following commissioners:

With the following in the subject line:
"I oppose sites 857 and 573 for the transfer station"

This email opposition is being counted and will help tremendously.
For more information, please visit this site.

Thank you for your support.

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Recipe featured...

1 words to the wise

Yay! My recipe for tofu parmesan has been featured on the key ingredient's blog, The Back Burner. I really enjoy cooking and trying out my food on other people, but I think I may enjoy it even more when other cooks think my recipes are good enough to try and re-publish!

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Spinach & artichoke stuffed shells

7 words to the wise

Stuffed shells are really easy for being so good. The traditional recipes aren't very figure friendly though and I was wanting a well-rounded meal so I created this variation. It was very tasty and pretty much guilt-free.Spinach & Artichoke Stuffed Shells
Makes 6 servings
10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, water pressed out, and chopped
6 oz marinated artichoke hearts, drained and diced
1/4 cup roasted red pepper, diced
15 oz part skim ricotta
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp grated parmesan, romano or a combo of both + parmesan for sprinkling
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp salt
dash pepper
12 oz box large shell pasta (though you'll only use about 2/3, so if you have a smaller pkg that's okay)
16 oz marinara sauce (I had no homemade on hand so I used Trader Joe's)

Cook shells al dente per package instructions. Rinse and set aside. Combine all other ingredients, except marinara, in a large bowl. It will be slightly runny.
Preheat oven to 350. Pour about 1/3 of the marinara in a large 9x13 baking dish. Using one of your tablespoons, fill a shell with the cheese filling. How full you fill them is up to you, but I like them full enough so that the shell is slightly bulging open. Place stuffed shell, open side up, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining shells and filling. If you're like me, you'll have quite a few shells leftover. That's because I wanted less pasta and more filling. I'm sure there is something economical that could be done with these, but I just threw my extra ones out. When the dish is full, spoon remaining marinara over the tops of the shells and sprinkle with more parmesan to your liking. If you're really feeling indulgent, you could top with some grated mozzarella. I was too lazy to grate...Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes until hot. Let stand a few minutes before serving. Spoon marinara from baking dish over any exposed areas of the shells, once on the plate.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

The unexpected

3 words to the wise

Last night I watched a bad chick flick, Made of Honor, with a gal pal of mine. It had it's funny moments I suppose, but really it was pretty bad, way predictable. Well the saving grace from this movie came as an unexpected surprise.

About halfway through the movie, I recognized the waiter in one of the scenes, as a classmate from my high-school drama class. I squealed and yelled and my poor friend was beside herself. I quickly paused the movie and pulled out my photo album. I treated my friend to photos of him, myself and others from our high-school production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

I knew he was out in LA doing the acting gig with another one of my drama classmates. It's been a treat for me to watch the careers of my fellow thespians flourish. Though he's going by a different first name, I quickly recognized him and confirmed by watching the credits. I'm so proud of you Brian, Fred and Joyanna. It's a treat to see you on the big screen, especially when I'm not expecting it!

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Photo of the Day - Under the boardwalk

3 words to the wise

The boardwalk at Carolina Beach.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Foodbuzz Publisher Community Launches

0 words to the wise

San Francisco – October 13, 2008: Foodbuzz, Inc., officially inaugurates its food blogger community with more than 1,000 blog partners, a global food blogging event and an online platform that captures the real-people, real-time power of food publishing in every corner of the world. At launch, the Foodbuzz community ranks as one of the top-10 Internet destinations for food and dining (Quantcast), with bloggers based in 45 countries and 863 cities serving up daily food content.

Foodbuzz is the only online community with content created exclusively by food bloggers and rated by foodies. The site offers more than 20,000 pieces of new food and dining content weekly, including recipes, photos, blog posts, videos and restaurant reviews. Members decide the “tastiness” of each piece of content by voting and “buzz” the most popular posts to the top of the daily menu of submissions.

It's been a treat to be a part of the Foodbuzz community and participate in their Featured Publisher program. I've met a ton of people with the same passion for food as me and I've enjoyed both giving feedback and receiving it. I look forward to the growing community expanding. If you haven't checked out Foodbuzz yet and you're into food, you should go pay a visit :)

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The Deckhouse – Charlotte Avenue, Carolina Beach

0 words to the wise

Sunday night my husband and I ate at The Deckhouse for dinner. The restaurant is an old converted church with nautical decor. It has really high ceilings and lots of decorative nooks. It was dimly lit and country music played lightly. We were sat at a wooden booth in the center of the restaurant and from here we enjoyed looking all around at old maps, collected glass bottles and the like that adorned the restaurant.

We shared a very generous order of mozzarella sticks for an appetizer. The marinara that came with them was glorified tomato sauce, but the sticks themselves were delicious. It's really hard to mess up fried cheese though, I imagine.

For my entree I ordered the shrimp stuffed with crabmeat stuffing. This came with a side ( I chose sauteed veggies) and choice of salad or soup (I chose salad). The salad was huge for a side salad. It trumped the entree salad (half portion) I had at California Pizza Kitchen last week that I paid $9 for. It was full of fresh lettuces, ripe tomatoes and crisp cucumbers. The sauteed veggies that came with my entree were also good. They were cooked tender crisp and not drowning in butter. The stuffed shrimp weren't really stuffed at all. What I was presented with were 6 tails poking out of a large gratin dish that was filled with bubbly creamy crabmeat stuffing. Upon further exploration, I found the rest of the shrimp body buried in the stuffing. The portion was very large and tasty! A squeeze from the lemon garnish finished it off perfectly.

My husband had a potato crusted tuna with a shrimp and lobster sauce. He loved it. I did have a taste of the sauce and it was really good. Oh how I miss tuna!

For dessert, we took home a chocolate cake layered with peanut butter mousse. It was heaven. Our experience at The Deckhouse was great. We'll definitely go back next time we're at Carolina Beach.

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Photo of the Day - Gateway

1 words to the wise

Our gateway to a peaceful, fun weekend at Carolina beach.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Ode to Mr. serious security guard

2 words to the wise

There is always a security guard on duty where I work. Who it is, changes twice daily during my shift. Since we have to walk pass the security desk each time we use the restroom, I've become familiar with many of them. Most are friendly, some a little quirky, but there's this one...Mr. Serious.

I've been working here over a year, but he still looks at my badge every time he's working. I'm not the only one either. He makes people show their badges that have been working over here like 10+ years. He doesn't smile. He's rigid to policy – heck, I think he even makes up some of his own rules. You know the type, he was the hall monitor in high school and he got a thrill out of it.

Then there's his walkie-talkie. He keeps that thing turned up so loud, Helen Keller could hear it. I detest those obnoxious nextel phones that beep with each sentence, and you have to listen to not one, but both sides, of the conversation. The people with those phones are always shouting into them. Well, Mr. Serious has all of you outdone.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Political annoyances

5 words to the wise

Earlier this week I received a letter from a neighbor. It was obviously mass mailed, though the envelope was personally addressed. She introduced herself and stressed the importance of the upcoming election.

Next she went on to explain that she was part of "Durham Women Vote" ( I think that's what is was called) and shared their endorsements. I was provided with no justification or background information on their endorsements (except Obama). After the endorsements came the early voting information. This was the part I felt useful so I did keep that portion.

Really people? I don't know you, you don't know me. But let me tell you this, I'm not voting for a woman just because she's a woman. There are more then issues specific to gender when it comes to politics. It annoys me to no end when complete strangers make presumptions as to my political or religious preference. To assume that I would be influenced by your opinion is just asinine. If you really want to influence my vote, tell me that Kay Hagan is going to personally come remove my neighbors cars from their lawns and turn down their thumping bass. Then I might be swayed...

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Kale with Bacon

4 words to the wise

Growing up mostly in the south, you'd think I'd be well versed in greens. Truth is I never had even tried collards, turnip, or mustard greens until I was in my mid-twenties. My upbringing was not a southern one, especially when it came to food. The only cooked greens I ate as a kid were kale and I still get a hankering for them from time to time.

I love the recipe below because of the balance of flavors. The bitter earthiness of the kale is paired well the smoky bacon and balanced nicely with the acidity of the vinegar. You could also leave out the bacon and make this a completely vegetarian dish! This comes from the Joy of Cooking and really the only thing I've altered is the cooking time. I still like my greens with a bit of bite when it comes to texture so I cook them for less time then originally recommended.

Kale with Bacon (Adapted from the Joy of Cooking)
Makes 4 servings
1 large bunch of kale (washed)
1 small onion diced
2 slices bacon chopped (I used hickory smoked)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
splash of red wine vinegar (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Strip kale leaves from stems and discard. Roughly chop kale into bite-size pieces. In a large pot cook bacon. Remove to paper towel to drain. Add olive oil and diced onion and cook over medium heat until translucent. Add minced garlic and kale to pot, stir to cook down kale so that all of it will fit. Add salt and pepper and stir well. Cover and continue cooking another 10-12 minutes. Add the splash of red wine vinegar and the crumbled bacon to the kale and toss. Check for seasoning and serve.

We had this with some gnocchi tossed with marinara, turkey spicy italian sausage, mushrooms and fresh parmesan and a green bean and carrot mixture.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

30 threads blogger bash and the history of my blog

3 words to the wise

When we were looking at buying a home back in January of this year, I started searching for information online about the different areas of Durham. Honestly, Durham is similar to other cities, in that there's a lot of good, and there's a lot of bad. I just wasn't incredibly familiar with all areas and didn't feel comfortable making an uninformed decision.

When I started googling away, trying to find information on specific neighborhoods, I often found myself ending up back on the same website, over and over. A wealth of information was to be had on all topics Durham. This is when I discovered Bull City Rising. Not only did this site help me make an informed decision on our home purchase, it helped me when looking for things to do, places to eat, etc. And through this blog, I was turned on to many others. Being new to the downtown area, I found myself constantly seeking out information on restaurants and the like. The blogs I read, not only helped me tremendously, they inspired me to blog. I was looking for a creative outlet and decided to go for it! I love food. I love photography. I love Durham. My topics were found!

Skip forward to last night. I went to the 30 threads blogger meetup at Broad Street Cafe. Aside from meeting Daphne, one of the very friendly owners, I got to meet and talk to many local bloggers. It was really nice to actually meet a few of the bloggers face to face. I instantly recognized Lenore Ramm of Eclectic Glob. I also met and spoke with Ginny Skalski from 30 threads and Ginny from the Blog. Everyone was very friendly and a hard-to-describe energy filled the room. I was surprised to meet Kevin Davis of Bull City Rising. He just came up and very warmly asked about what we did and started chatting. I did my best to explain the importance his blog had in helping me to make a wise choice, not only in our home purchase, but in looking at Durham with an open mind.

Thank you to Ginny, Wayne and NBC17 for throwing the 30threads Blogger Bash. It was great to participate in and I hope to attend some more in the future. Oh and I did bring my camera to snap photos, but the only one I attempted was of the pizza oven. What can I say, I have a one track mind! The cook moved in front at just the wrong moment though.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Piazza Italia - Brightleaf Square, Durham

3 words to the wise

For date night this weekend, we started with an appetizer of fried green tomatoes at Watt's Grocery. There were 3 lovely thick slices of tart, firm and juicy tomato breaded, fried and topped with a shrimp remoulade. It was garnished with fresh watercress. While it was very tasty, it felt steep for the portion size. 3 slices of tomato for $9! Nothing on the revised fall menu spoke to either of us so we settled our bill after the appetizer and headed to brightleaf square.

After quickly scanning the menu, we settled on Piazza Italia. The menu boasts that they make their own pasta fresh, daily and we'd never been there, so we figured we'd give it a try. The menu was quite expansive and they have a section where you can even customize your own pasta.

A light airy bread was served with a bulb of roasted garlic. No oil, butter, or balsamic vinegar were anywhere to be found. The bread was plain. The garlic was, well, roasted garlic. It was a little odd.

My hubby ordered a side chopped salad that was very large for a labeled "small" portion. He thoroughly enjoyed it. For our entrees, we both ordered the Rigatoni Siciliana. It consisted of grilled chicken, Italian sausage, garlic and wild mushrooms in a pomodoro cream sauce. I thought it needed a fair amount of salt and pepper, but the flavor was good. The grilled chicken was slightly dry and the sausage just had an odd texture. I don't think it was pork sausage. It resembled more the texture of turkey sausage. The portion was generous and after some table seasoning, was quite tasty.

Our server was crap. She left the dirty dishes (bread plates, salad plate, etc) on the table throughout our entire dining experience and never refilled our glasses. The bus gal, however, picked up her slack and refilled our glasses once she saw that the waitress was AWOL. The bad service wasn't enough to keep us from returning. The food was good, served hot and promptly. Next time I'd like to try a ravioli or another stuffed pasta.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

No more baby stuff

5 words to the wise

I've decided in the interest of the general public that reads this blog for it's food, photography and utter silliness to remove my pregnancy and baby stuff. I'm still blogging about it, just on an invite-only blog. If you'd like to be included, I'll be happy to add you, just blast an email to ifoundhappy[at] and make sure you ID yourself if it's not obvious by your email address :)

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Local blog meetup tomorrow - 30 Threads

0 words to the wise

Don't forget about the local blog meetup tomorrow thrown by 30 threads. Looks to be a good time. I'm game, anyone else going?

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Honey-ginger glazed pumpkin bread

4 words to the wise

When I saw this recipe over at Pam's blog last week, I knew I'd be giving it a try this weekend. It was super easy and very very tasty. I did modify the recipe a little to fit what I had on hand and I also decided to give it a honey ginger glaze at the end.
Honey-Ginger Glazed Pumpkin Bread (adapted from For the Love of Cooking)
Makes one loaf
1 can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups of granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups + 1 tb flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour. In a large bowl combine the first four ingredients. Mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients and stir. Add the dry mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Add nuts and raisins. Mix well. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Original instructions say to bake for 55-65 minutes, but it took 75 minutes in my oven. I'd say bake 65 minutes and check with a toothpick. It's done when pick comes out clean.

For the glaze:
Combine the following in a small saucepan and stir over high heat until it reaches a boil. Brush over the bread once it's been removed from the loaf pan. Allow to cool before serving

1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp ground ginger

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Photo of the Day - A girl and her horse

2 words to the wise

Friday evening I went to watch my oldest niece at her horseback riding lessons. She's a natural on horseback. It had been ages since I had been near horses. I took lessons when I was about her age but stopped when I was thrown. I had forgotten how they are gentle animals, full of character and affection.Sergeant here would follow me no matter where I stood outside of his stall. His gaze was engaging and steady and set me at ease. Later we discovered why...We whipped out the bag of carrots and made friends for life with each and every horse in the stable!

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Papa Mojo's Roadhouse - Hwy. 55, Durham

3 words to the wise

Yesterday I met an old co-worker (old as in I worked with her years ago) for lunch at Papa Mojo's Roadhouse. For those of you in the park, this is in Greenwood Commons over near where Park Diner used to be. Oh how I miss Park Diner :( When I go out for lunch, I tend to like to go places where I can't easily prepare the meal I'm about to eat at home. I often will choose sushi or japanese, but usually not a deli or a sandwich shop (unless options are limited or I'm in a hurry).

Papa Mojo's serves Cajun food. It was very busy and slightly noisy from the lunch crowd when we visited at noon, but the service was on spot and we didn't have to wait long for our food. The decor is definitely casual (no tablecloths, some booth seating) and delightfully eclectic. The menu is expansive (and all Cajun) compared to many in the park and I love that they use a lot of local farms and fisheries.

They started us off with a basket of jalapeno corn bread. It was the perfect amount of heat, moist and the tops were glazed with honey. I devoured two chunks in a matter of seconds.

We both ordered 1/2 po-boys. I ordered the shrimp and she ordered the barbequed yardbird (chicken) po-boy. Mine consisted of a lightly crispy hoagie roll, 6 large spicy grilled shrimp, lettuce, tomato and a cajun tartar sauce. It was phenomenol and messy and I loved every bit of it. The po-boys come with your choice of side (again, many to choose from) and I chose the garlic butter green beans. These were also wonderfully seasoned, tender and firm, and plentiful.

My meal needed nothing else to be perfect and the service was the perfect combination of attentive and laid back. My friend loved her yardbird po-boy and potato salad as well. I can't wait to go back!

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One's trash is another's treasure

1 words to the wise

This morning I left 30 minutes prior to my usual departure. As I stood on my front porch, bidding my hubby farewell for the day, I noticed two women rummaging through my recycling bin on the street curb. I watched for a moment. I was sure they saw us, but they said nothing and went on about it. I finally walked down my steps and walkway and asked, "Um hi, is there a reason you're going through my garbage?"

They were very much at ease and lady number one responded, "You always have blue bottles. Usually two bottles a week." She was right, I like to drink something other then flat boring water on occasion and I've taken to treating myself to some bubbly stuff I pick up at Trader Joe's. It's just mineral water, plain or flavored with lemon or lime, but it feels like a little treat and it's actually quite cheap when compared to, Perrier or Pelligrino.

Turns out lady number one collects blue glass and comes by my recycling bin every Friday morning to add to her collection, which will one day become her "glass wall". When I was in my early 20s, I also collected blue glass, so I understood her position. She went on to tell me about another neighbor who must have been quite a drinker that drank Skye Vodka and how she loved those bottles, but he must have gotten on the wagon because he doesn't have them anymore. Odd to think what people would derive from digging through another's recycling bin.

Though I did feel a little exposed by strangers knowing what my household consumed, it was nice to meet some more neighbors. I think I'll even put my bottles in a separate bag for her from now on.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Oooh and rabbits, rabbits, rabbits...

3 words to the wise

For those of you who have been with my blog that long, Mark and I both messed it up this morning, but he remembered after saying, "Yeah snooze just once" hahaha. Happy October!

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Cauliflower gratin

5 words to the wise

I was craving mac and cheese last night, but had no mac. I did, however have a behemoth head of cauliflower. This is what I came up with. It definitely satisfied the craving. We had it with corn and baked chicken tenders served over wild rice. Yum!
Cauliflower Gratin
Makes 6-8 side servings
1 large head cauliflower, washed and broken into florets
2 tb butter
2 tb flour
1/8 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups grated cheese (I used a combo of sharp cheddar and mozzarella)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (I'm trying to use a box up, can you tell?)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Steam cauliflower until crisp tender. In a large sauce pot (large enough to fit the head of cauliflower), melt butter and stir in flour over medium heat. Add garlic and thyme and cook a minute. Slowly add milk (1/4 cup at a time), stirring constantly. Once all milk is added, increase heat to high and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook 4 minutes. Reduce heat again to low and add cheese and sour cream. Stir until melted and combined. Salt and pepper to taste.

In a small bowl, combine panko, oil and garlic powder.

Add cauliflower to pot of cheese sauce and gently stir until all cauliflower is coated. Drain off any excess liquid and pour into a 3 qt casserole (broiler safe) dish. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake at 400 on the middle rack for 20 minutes. Broil on high until the top is crispy and bubbly. I broiled mine from the middle of the oven and it took about 10 minutes. Allow to sit 5 minutes before serving.

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