Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cornbread for Your Chili

Greta got me started on a chili kick with her recipe last week. If you make any of the leftover chili dishes I suggested on Tuesday--or if you're hankering for sweet, corny yumness that is made better with butter, here's a kick-ass Basic Cornbread recipe.

This recipe comes from the book Cooking Texas Style. My parents found this book at a used bookshop in Maine and bought it for me as a gift when I left the lovely Green Mountains of Vermont to chase after my true love who was trapped in Corpus Christi, Texas. That seems like a lifetime ago, and now that my husband and I live in rainy Washington State, the recipes in Cooking Texas Style are all we need to remind us of "the whole other country" that is Texas.

Anyway, here's the recipe. It's begging for additions like bacon, cheddar cheese, corn kernels, jalapenos, whatever. Though you can cook this in anything you'd like, I suggest using cast iron. Liberally grease cast iron corn bread sticks or a cast iron skillet with Crisco and pre-heat in the 425 degree oven while you're mixing your cornbread ingredients. When you pour the batter into the sticks or skillet it will fry up a bit, giving you a crunchy, satisfying crust.

1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup bacon drippings or oil
1 1/2 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Shift cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together.
  3. Combine egg, oil (or bacon drippings), and milk together and add to flour mixture.
  4. Mix until smooth. This should resemble pancake batter--it will be thin and pour-able.
  5. Pour into a greased 9-inch square pan, 10-inch skillet, or 12 muffin tins (or cornbread sticks as mentioned above).
  6. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Night Out

Tonight Lydia, Aidan and I went out for pizza at our favorite place - The Rock! We had our usual, brown sugar mozzarella sticks and a meatball pizza - super yum! After dinner, we all decided to do a little shopping - Aidan suggested Toys R Us and Lydia and I opted for Cost Plus World Market. As always, I walked out with a bag full of goodies!

Over the summer during one of my many stops at Cost Plus, I found that they sell my favorite pretzels - Utz Sourdough Hard Pretzels. I would buy these and my family would inhale them! Then one day, I went to pick up another container of them and they were gone - no longer an item! These are really hard to find and I have even looked at ordering them on-line at the Utz website, we were all dissappointed. Tonight, my son ran over to me and he was holding a large container of "his favorite pretzels" and both he and his Aunt had big smiles about the return of Utz Sourdoughs - we of course had to buy some!

I also really like the Sticky Finger's Scone mixes that they sell. Lydia turned me on to these mixes during one of our weekend stays at Seabrook, WA. You just need to add water and cook and you have warm, delicious scones! They make all sorts of flavors (Aidan is fond of the chocolate ones) - I like the plain ones and the cherry mix. It is a super easy breakfast and also a good way to get the kids to help out in the kitchen!

My original reason for going to Cost Plus was to pick up my favorite tea - Coconut Chai Black Tea by Zhena's Gypsy Tea. I love the way this smells and I always have a stash of this at work. I have turned my coworkers on to it too. It is spicy and aromatic and most importantly, caffeinated. I find it soothing and a nice break from working!

Lastly, I let Aidan pick out some treats. We always get a kick out of all the different types of candies, cookies and tins. Aidan completed a Mario Mushroom tin collection and has now discovered Yan Yan, Pocky, and Chocorooms. We also found 5 Stripe Zebra gum (I haven't had that since I was a kid)!

All-in-all, it was a fun night out. And yes, we stopped at Toys R Us too (we let him start looking for toys for his birthday list)!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Yum Up Your Leftovers

So last week my sister gave us her recipe for chili. And that made me think about leftovers.

I am not traditionally a fan of leftovers. There's something about reheating meals that seems a little, I don't know, sad. There are a few exceptions, of course. Leftover turkey is yummy, some stews and sauces seem to get better with age, and chili makes for killer leftovers.

If you make up a batch of chili, consider one of these two options (below) to make your leftovers a bit more yummy.

My husband grew up in Texas, and when I went down to the Lone Start State I noticed a strange thing at a fast food restaurant: Frito Pie. It sounded so terrible but so good that I had to look up a way to make it. It is what it is: Frito pie. It is by no means a health food and could possibly be featured on This Is Why You're Fat, but hey--you only live once and this is yummy.

3 cups of Fritos
3/4 cup diced onion
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 1/2 cups leftover (or canned, if you want to be really classy) chili

Spread 2 cups of Fritos in a baking dish. Top Fritos with 1/2 the onion and 1/2 the cheese. Spread chili over top of the Fritos/onion/cheese layer. Top with remaining onion and cheese then add remaining Fritos.

Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until bubbly and heated though. Serve hot with sour cream, guacamole, or whatever other fixings you may want.

(I was right! Frito Pie WAS featured on This Is Why You're Fat! Check here! Yikes.)

This recipe comes from Martha Stewart, so I suppose it's slightly more refined than Frito Pie. I haven't personally tried this yet, but I think it looks pretty tasty.

4 cups chili
1 (16 oz) bag of fresh or frozen shredded hash browns, thawed if frozen
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425, with rack set in upper third. Divide chili among four individual baking dishes (10 to 12 ounces each). Set aside.

Place potatoes in a double layer of paper towels; squeeze out as much liquid as possible

In a large bowl, combine potatoes, cheese, and cilantro; season with salt and pepper. Scatter potato mixture over chili. Place baking dishes on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until potatoes are golden brown and chili is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve.


If you have a favorite way to use up letftover chili, leave a comment!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Vindaloo, Wine and Kheer - Oh My!

In keeping with my Indian theme, I made goan-style hot and sour pork (Vindaloo) this weekend. It was a bit more time consuming than the other dishes, but it turned out deliciously!

To make this meal, I ended up biting the bullet and buying a spice grinder and I also made a trek to Central Market (and their bulk spice isle) to find 2 key ingredients for this dish - fenugreek and brown mustard seeds. You start by taking all your spices (cumin seeds, dried chilies, peppercorns, cardamon seeds, a cinnamon stick, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds) and grinding them up, then you add vinegar, salt, and brown sugar to make the start of the vindaloo paste. After that, you brown 2 onions in lots of oil and then transfer them to a food processor, add some water and make an onion paste - this gets added to the spices and you have vindaloo paste. Once the paste is made, the rest of the meal is pretty easy - cut up and brown your meat (I used pork), make a garlic & ginger paste and add that, add turmeric & coriander and the vindaloo and let it simmer for at least an hour.

I made plain rice to go with the pork vindaloo (I thought that the dish itself had enough seasoning and plain rice would go better than a seasoned rice) and served garlic naan (from Treader Joe's), broccoli and a delicious Dry Riesling from Chateau Ste. Michelle.

I discovered the Dry Riesling in talking to the "wine lady" at Safeway - I wanted a white wine that went well with spicy food and she recommend the Dry Riesling. It is very drinkable and goes perfectly with anything spicy - it has quickly become one of my favorite wines! It also helps that I can buy it right at the grocery store and it is under $7.00 a bottle!!

For dessert, I made Kheer again (see my post from 01/13/10 for the recipe), but I changed it up a bit from the original recipe. I used coconut milk, vanilla and toasted coconut in the recipe - along with the raisins, milk and cream. The addition of vanilla and coconut added dimensions to the flavor that were exceptional! Since the dish was a bit spicy, the creamy rice pudding put an exclamation point on the dinner - I love the Kheer!

If you make this meal at home, give yourself lots of time for prep and to chill the Kheer!! I had been running around and didn't start cooking until 2:00 pm - I served dinner at 6:15, but I was "running" around the kitchen all afternoon! It was worth it and there were enough leftovers for dinner tomorrow night too!! I also love my new spice grinder, I can't believe that it has taken me so long to fork out the $20.00 to buy one - it is a must have!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Land of Yum

One of my favorite places to shop for food is Trader Joe's. If you live in an area devoid of a TJs, I am so terribly sorry. I lived in Vermont for awhile where not only are there no Targets, there are no TJs in the entire state. Ugh. Then I moved to Washington and discovered the goodness of TJs.

Here's how TJs describes themselves:

Just what is this thing we call Trader Joe’s? Well, we’re a grocery store, sure, but really so much more. Our shelves are stocked full of delicious foods and beverages from the basics like milk, bread and butter to more exotic fare like imported cheeses, organic produce and hand-tossed pizza from Italy. We taste every product before we decide to sell it, and we guarantee you’ll like it.*

You might expect indulgences like these to come with unbecoming prices. But at Trader Joe’s, we’re as much about value as we are about great food. In other words, we keep our costs low, cut out the middleman whenever possible and pass our savings on to you in the form of terrific everyday prices. So you can afford to be adventurous without breaking the bank.

*Our Product Guarantee: We tried it! We liked it! If you don’t, bring it back for a full refund, no questions asked.

Every time I go to TJs, I seem to find something new to try out. If I go in for a gallon of milk, I typically leave with a bag full of stuff and at least $60 deducted from my checking account. I also noticed several Trader Joe's inspired cookbooks springing up during the holiday season. I have not yet purchased any of these cookbooks and don't have plans to do so, even though I am a TJs shopper. are a few of my TJs favorites:
  • Milk! Their milk is a great price and doesn't contain tons of hormones.
  • Nuts. If you need a bag of salted or unsalted nuts of almost any variety, TJs has you covered and you're not going to spend a lot.
  • Meats. Again, high quality; reasonable prices.
  • Frozen pizzas. My husband loves their super thin-crusted European-style frozen cheese pizzas.
  • Frozen rice. Sounds weird, but packets of frozen jasmine and brown rice save the day when I'm trying to cook a super fast dinner after working all day.
  • Refried beans. Their beans are squishy and favorable. (And cheap!)
  • Pita Chips and White Bean Hummus. A perfect combo. Snarf!
  • Pita Crackers and Pub Cheese. The crackers are perfectly salty and crunchy and are especially yummy paired with pub cheese.
  • Olive Oil. A big bottle won't break the bank.
  • Cheese. TJs sells my beloved Cabot cheddar and they also have a very tasty, very affordable goat cheese log that I'm a big fan of.
  • Wine. I don't drink a whole lot of wine (I leave that to my sister and mother!), but TJs has a great selection of wine and beer at very reasonable prices. They're known for their 2 Buck Chuck.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. And like I said, I tend to find something new each time. If you're a Trader Joe's shopper, let me know what you love. It's always good to add new items to my cart.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spice Up Your Night (or at least your dinner)

On cold, wet January nights, I can't help but crave something hot and spicy. For me, that comes in the form of chili!

I love it and the more beans the better! Now I know that there are a million and one different recipes and ways to both eat and make chili - over rice, with bread, smothered in cheese and sour cream, over pasta, with corn chips, etc. My favorite chili is made with tomatoes, beans, and steak and accompanied with avocados and cornbread. Yummy!

So here is my super easy recipe and my secret ingredient - Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce...1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 - 3 pounds stew meat, cubed
2 large cans diced tomatoes
1, 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 small can green chilies
1 can black beans
1 can dark kidney beans
1 can cannellini beans
1 can garbanzo beans
2 medium onions
chili powder to taste (2-3 tablespoons)
cumin to taste (2-3 tablespoons)
salt & pepper to taste
chipotles peppers in adobo sauce (1 small can)
  • In a large pot over medium high heat, add the vegetable oil and cubed stew meat and brown on all sides.
  • Add the garlic and onions to the meat and cook until the onions are translucent.
  • Cut up the chipotles in adobo - these will make the chili very hot if you use the entire can. Try adding about a tablespoon first, you can always add more later! If you don't use the entire can, freeze the remaining amount in small batches.
  • Turn down the heat to simmer and add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and green chilies. Drain the beans and add them along with the chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
  • Cover the chili and let it cook all day - the longer the better!
Feel free to add/remove any ingredients that you like - my family likes peppers (I am not much of a fan) too. Enjoy plain or with anything you eat chili with!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Be Back Soon!

For the long weekend, the whole family packed up the cars and headed out to an awesome house at the beach (and the woods) here in Washington State. Because we're still sort of on vacation time, we're going to be tardy with our posts this week. We hope to be back at it on Wednesday and Thursday, though, so please check back then!

In the meantime, if you have any food related questions, comments, or suggestions, please feel free to contact us:
  • Greta:
  • Lydia:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cookbook Corner: Savory Baking

I love baking cookbooks. I have several and always want more. Over the holiday shopping season, I noticed that March Cech's Savory Baking: Warm and Inspiring Recipes for Crisp, Crumbly, Flaky Pastries was on several "best of 2009" cookbook lists.

I am more of a fan of savory snacks and was excited by the prospect of a book dedicated only to less-sweet baked goods. Thankfully, my husband picked up a copy for me and I am eager to get baking!

What to expect: This book includes 75+ recipes and several color photos. The author takes normally sweet baked foods and puts an interesting savory twist on them. She also goes beyond just baked savory treats and includes a few items that could be main course dishes in their own right. The book starts off with the normal explanation and information about equipment and techniques and ends with a section on various accompaniments like sauces, spreads, chutneys, and dressings.

Best recipes: There are plenty of recipes I'm anxious to try, like:
  • Sour Cream and Dill Muffins (page 35)
  • Onion and Sherry Cream Turnovers (page 64)
  • Portobello Mushroom, Rosemary, and Shallot Cream Clafouti (page 101)
  • Thyme, Lemon, and Sea-Salt Shortbread (page 124)
  • Black-Rimmed Pistachio Wafers (page 137)
Complaints: None! Though I'd love to see more recipes and more photos. Maybe they'll do another version of this book since this one has done so well.

Deliciousness scale: 4 spoonfuls of yum out of 5!

This review is based on the 2009 edition, ISBN: 9780811859066

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Since Lydia knows of my new passion for Indian cooking (and eating), she dug through her vast collection of cookbooks and found one for me: Complete Indian Cooking by Sterling Publishing Co, Inc. It has photos to go with each recipe and a nice introduction that describes the spices and cooking tools need to prepare the dishes in the book. It was in this book that I found a recipe for Kheer or rice pudding to complete the meal I made on Saturday night (see Monday's blog).

kheer with candied almonds
Kheer Recipe

1/3 cup long-grain rice

7 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup golden raisins
sugar to taste
5 ozs cream
  • Put the ice and 4 1/2 cups milk in a heavy-bottom pan. Cook for 45-60 minutes until most of the milk has been absorbed - use low to medium heat and stir often.
  • Add the remaining milk and the raisins. Increase heat until the milk is at a very low boil and constantly stir. Once the milk starts to thicken, reduce heat to low-simmer; stir often.
  • Once the milk has thickened and is creamy, remove from heat and add sugar to taste (I think I added about 1/4 cup).
  • Transfer pudding to a glass bowl and allow to cool. Stir occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.
  • Stir in the cream and transfer to serving dishes. Serve cold and sprinkle with almonds, pistachios or other nuts.

1/4 cup raw almonds
1 tablespoon butter
honey or sugar
  • In a small, non-stick pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
  • Chop the almonds and add them to the butter.
  • Constantly stir the almonds until they start to brown.
  • Lightly drizzle with honey or sugar and mix well.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool.

When I made this, the original recipe just called for simmering the milk - I ended up cooking my pudding for an extra hour before I turned up the heat. I also made sure to stir this well and use whole milk - I was worried about scalding the milk and having a skin form (neither of these things happened). I also think that it would be tasty to add some type of extract while the milk is thickening, like vanilla, orange or almond. Additionally, I think that you could also sweeten this with honey, but the sugar was good too. I really think that the candied almonds made this dish - it was a really nice end to all of the rich flavors and spices of the lamb dish. Please try it out and let me know what you added!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Breaking Bread

I recently read this blog entry from film critic Roger Ebert. If you have time, I hope you take a minute to give it a glance.

In his blog, Ebert (who's been battling thyroid cancer) states that due to surgeries he can no longer eat or drink. He goes on to say that it's not the food or the beverages that he misses, but rather the act of sharing a meal with family and friends...eating with people, talking to people, sharing and making memories...that's what he misses most.

Reading the article, I couldn't help but wonder how I would deal with not being able to eat or drink ever again. Sure there are times when I wish I could get my nutritional needs at the press of a button (kinda like the Jetsons), but I know I would miss flavors, textures, and all those pleasurable sensations I get from eating. And drinking. How weird would it be to no longer need or be able to drink a glass of water?


But I also completely understand why Ebert misses the act of coming together to have a meal more than the actual act of eating. Think of all the great moments in your life--of family gatherings, of holidays, of time spent with friends. How many of those memories involve food? Most of them, probably. Sharing meals is how we celebrate, how we get to know each other. And not being able to really be a part of a meal sounds so terribly sad.

Sure, you can survive with feeding tubes and IVs, but I know I'd really miss every aspect of eating. I hope to never be in the position Roger Ebert is currently in. I hope he got to have a kick-ass final meal before losing his ability to eat or drink! My last meal would include garlic, pasta, chocolate, and juicy berries.

Though the memories are sometimes better than the real thing, I think being in Ebert's predicament would be agony.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Saturday Delights

Saturday Night Lamb Dinner

In keeping with my New Year's Resolution to use my Indian cookbooks and make at least 3 dishes a month, I decided to make Royal Lamb with Creamy Almond Sauce (Rogan josh), Rice Flavored with Cumin Seeds and Kheer (rice pudding).

Royal Lamb
I went to CostCo to buy my boneless leg of lamb - it was the best price and I had the largest selection of lamb. It took me about 45 minutes to trim all the fat and cube it in to the right size to cook, but it was completely worth it! Once the onions were all diced and the spices measured, it did not take long to cook the dish; the longest cook time was to allow the dish to simmer for an hour. The Royal Lamb melted in my mouth and the sauce was creamy and seasoned perfectly. The next night we had the leftovers and those were even better since the lamb marinated in all the spices for an extra day. Definitely serve this dish with rice and naan!

Ok, so I cheated again when it came to the naan and samosas. Instead of Safeway, this time I went to Trader Joe's and checked out their freezer section. I ended up purchasing frozen vegetable samosas and frozen plain naan (I also got some fresh garlic naan from the bakery isle for Sunday's dinner). The vegetable samosas took 15 minutes to cook and were delicious. They were crispy and not oily and the mashed potatoes inside held the seasoning - they were easy and tasty! The naan (both frozen and fresh) was also quick and yummy! I melted some butter, added some parsley and brushed the naan with it. I am still planning on making my own naan in the future.

Basmati RiceI stuck with the same rice that I made before, but this time I had all the right spices and I also modified the recipe slightly. By the way, this rice is incredibly easy and very forgiving - I am a big fan of this recipe!

2 cups water
18 ozs (2.25 cups) basmati rice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 whole cloves
4 cardamon pods
2 bay leafs
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
  1. Wash the rice in several changes of warm water and let it drain in a colander for at least 20 minutes.
  2. In a large pan, heat the oil and add the cloves, cardamon pods, bay leafs and cumin seeds. Cook until the cumin seeds begin to crackle.
  3. Add the rice to pan and toast it until the oil coats all the grains (a minute or two).
  4. Add the salt and water; stir well and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat to simmer, stir again and cover. Allow to simmer until all the water is completely absorbed (about 10 minutes).
Serve and enjoy - it is that easy! It also reheats well to go with any other leftovers.

Please see my post on Wednesday for my write up on Kheer!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cookbook Corner: Way to Cook

Everyone seems to make the same resolution every year: to lose weight. I am not a resolution maker, but it's always good to have a nice collection of healthy recipes at my ready. I saw Cooking Light's Way to Cook at Costco (for $17), it looked good, and I thew it in my cart.

I haven't cooked from this book yet, but I plan to soon.

What to expect: The book is divided up by technique (Way to Saute, Way to Broil, Way to Bake, etc.) and is filled with full color photos. The first part of the book provides a comprehensive overview of healthy cooking basics including ingredients, equipment, and techniques.

After the intro, each chapter is a different cooking technique, so all recipes that require broiling are stacked together. This is different than most cookbooks that divide recipes by main ingredient. Every recipe includes multiple, full color photos, so the book lives up to its promise of being a "complete visual guide to everyday cooking."

Best recipes: Here are a few that made it to the top of my "to try" list:
  • Pork and Ancho Chili Tamales (pages 120-123)
  • Chicken with Cider and Bacon Sauce (pages 146-148)
  • Soft Shell Crab Sandwiches (pages 194-195)
  • Quick Barbecue Flank Steak (pages 220-221)
  • Duck with Pinot Noir and Cherry Sauce (pages 326-327)
Complaints: Because of the layout of this book, I think I'll need to rely on the index a lot to quickly find recipes. The book is heavy on photos and technique info, so it may be a little bit more of a beginner-friendly book than I need. Still, that's just a minor complaint. Another thing I am not crazy about is the dust cover. It slides around way too much and I'll probably end up pulling it off and recycling it. Oh well. (Disclosure: I'm not a fan of dust covers of any sort as a rule!)

Deliciousness scale: 3.5 spoons of yum out of 5.

This review is based on the 2009 edition, ISBN 0-8487-3292-8

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Night Out

My friend, Andrea and I were looking for something fun to do together - without the kids, away from work and without a designated driver. I was flipping through a Sur La Table catalog and came across their cooking class; they were offering Indian, Dish By Dish (Andrea was also the friend that gave me the super delicious Indian cookbook for my birthday). This seemed like a perfect match for us!

So last night, Andrea and I and about 13 other people assembled at the Kirkland, WA Sur La Table for some instruction, socialization and good food. The class started at 06:30 PM and we left around 09:00 PM - in between, we cooked Curried Beef Samosas with Mango-Papaya Chutney, Savory Semolina, Coconut-Vegetable Curry, and Yogurt-Braised Chicken with Cashews and Raisins.

I enjoyed the class - it was a nice mix of people, both young and old and all seemed to have fun. The instructor was knowledgeable and he explained everything very well - he seemed to really like teaching people and the 3 Sur La Table helpers were wonderful too! The instructor broke us up in to groups of 5 and we all did the prep for a specific dish (Andrea & I worked on the Coconut-Vegetable Curry). The chicken was cooked ahead of time and so was the ground beef for the samosas, so we added spices, veggies and various sauces to the meat dishes to complete them. Everyone made their own samosa (some made a few more than others). The instructor and assistants finished the cooking while we were on a short shopping break (we all got 15% off of any purchase that evening). Then we came back and ate all the food.

My favorite dish was the Coconut-Vegetable Curry (it was also Andrea's). I will admit that if I made it at home, I would meat to it and serve it with rice. The samosas were ok - we used wonton wrappers and I thought that took away from the "Indian" flavor a bit. When I have meat samosas out, they always are spiced well and the dough is more flavorful. The chutney that went with the samosas though was delicious and I really enjoyed it to my surprise (I don't really like mangos much, but paired with vinegar and curry spices it was awesome). The chicken had a really good flavor and was very tender - the sauce that went with it broke and was not the most pleasing to the eye. My least favorite dish was the semolina - it reminded me of mashed potatoes (don't get me wrong, I like mashed potatoes - I would have rather had rice or naan instead).

Mango-Papaya Chutney

Overall, I had a good time and had a fun night with my friend! We both enjoyed making the food, meeting new people and using our 15% discount. I would definitely take another class at Sur La Table; I think that I would do well with a basic knife skills class!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Maryland Memories

Photo by Greta - Ocean City Boardwalk, MD

I have lived on the West Coast since 1994 and I love it - the weather, the Puget Sound, the food and yes, the coffee too! I have acclimated very well and am happy to be where I am. There are times though that I long for walks on the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, Utz chips, blue crabs and Taylor's pork roll sandwiches. Well thanks to the internet, I can have some of those tastes and memories again.

Utz Potato Chips
The first internet order I placed was for Grandma Utz potato chips. These are a thick cut chip that is cooked in lard and salted. They are my favorite chips ever and are quite addictive too. Utz potato chips can only be found around the mid-Atlantic. Every once-in-awhile I can find Utz pretzels at Cost Plus World Market or CostCo, but not my Grandma Utz chips. So I went to and ordered up some of my lard soaked, salted goodies and shared some with my Sis. They were fresh and delicious and tasted wonderful with a micro brew!

Maryland Blue Crabs
Next up was an order of a half bushel of Maryland blue crabs for an end of the summer party with the family. I went to Phillips Seafood for my delicious blues and I was not disappointed. They came in a large cooler packed in rows and well insulated. I quickly steamed them in some vinegar and water and then added Phillips spice to them (Old Bay works well too and can be found at the grocery store). We added some corn on the cob and some bread for a true feast!

Taylor's Pork Roll

Lastly, in talking with my family about what to serve on Christmas morning, I was reminded of Taylor's pork roll. If you live in the mid-Atlantic, you are fortunate enough to go to the grocery store and buy this yummy treat! Since I am in Seattle, I must look on-line and luckily I found I ordered 4 packs of sliced pork roll and received it 2 days later. I cooked up some and made pork roll sandwiches with mustard - I used to get these on the boardwalk as a kid. My son (who hates most food) even loved them and wanted me to order more! I pan fried some up to go with my eggnog french toast on Christmas, a cup of coffee made it all perfect!

Please check out these websites for some delicious treats! I would love to hear about any of your food memories too!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Matha Stewart Would Not Approve

I own tons of cookbooks and have mounds of recipes. Because I have so many places to search for recipes, I often get overwhelmed by it all. And then stuff like this happens: I'll find a kick-ass recipe on the Internet, print it off, cook it, then promptly lose the hard copy while simultaneously forgetting where in the worldwide web I found it in the first place. It's exhausting, really.

I can't believe that I am the only one this happens to. And to combat this, I really, really need to get my recipes and cookbooks organized.

Our mother has all of her recipes organized in overfilled yet neat envelopes, sorted by category and housed in plastic storage bins. She also makes notes on her recipes, indicating any changes she made, who she served it to, and how it was received. Martha Stewart would love to compare notes with Mom.

I am not like my mother. I have piles stashed away, clippings here, there, and everywhere, and print offs folded up and stuck inside cookbooks, etc. It's complete and utter chaos.

I don't like the idea of putting everything on index cards. Binders seem intimidating. Scanning every recipe I own into the computer appeals to me, but seems like a major undertaking.

So I am going to ask you--our readers (all three of you!)--how you organize your recipes. Does your current system work? How long did it take for you to get set up? Also, do you make notes in your cookbooks? (I do, sometimes!) Please leave a comment and let me know what you do. I'm hoping one of your suggestions will be my ah-ha moment and will get me going with my goal of organizing my damned recipes once and for all. Thanks in advance for any suggestions you may have!