Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Turkey and Avocado Sandwiches are a Hit!

Around Noon, I recieved a text from one of my Meal Plan eaters. Here is what it said: LUNCH WAS TRULEY AWSUM.

So here is what they found in their cooler:
Turkey sandwiches with avocado, feta, tomatoes, onion, baby greens and spicy mustard on multi-grain bread.
Carrots, sliced bell peppers, and ranch dressing.
Honey wheat pretzels.
Arizona Sweet tea.

At the office, folks were eyeballing my sandwich while I ate it. Maybe soon, I will have more on the meal plan.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Today's Meal Plan Lunch

I am really enjoying making the Meal Plan Lunches. Here are today's sandwiches.

Roast beef, with sharp cheddar, banana peppers, onions, horse radish, dijon mustard, tomatoes, and baby greens on a cibatta bun. In the cooler along with the sandwiches were 3 cans of arizona tea, tortilla chips and a container of salsa. Happy eating boys!

My first sailing trip.

Oh what a good weekend I had. Friday, I went out around Ocean Springs, and I was exhausted, so I went home kind of early. Saturday, I started some Occo-buco in the crock pot(another post to come) and my friend James picked me up to take me to a delicious lunch at Al Fresco. I had a cup of minestrone soup and a fried green tomato sandwich, he had the ravioli. Once we finished our lunch, we went to Miners Toy Store. If you dont know this place and you live in Ocean Springs, or along the coast, you should visit. We went there last week to get a gift for a friend's birthday, and we had so much fun we decided to go again. James bought me a big green ring, and he got two wind up air planes.

We took the planes to the park and flew them. Oh it was so much fun. We ran a bunch of errands an then headed to his house to see if we could rig up his catamaran. He didnt have the right size sails for his boat, so we headed to my house for that Occo Buco and the Big Labowski.

Sunday, I got a lot of chores done and around noon James called up telling me to pack a lunch for three and put my swimmies on. (he used that word, swimmies. so cute) anyways. i did what he said, and about an hour later he picked me up and took me to a dock, where we met up with one of his friends.

We were going sailing!!!!! We were on a trimaran, which is a very fast and stable sail boat. We (james and his friend) got all of the rigging set up and we were off. We ran on the little motor until we got past the bridges, and they raised the Jib and the Main Sail. We were sailing! it was so amazing. James was definitely in his element, but he was being a good teacher as well, showing me how work some of the ropes and the rigging. Oh my goodness it was so much fun.

When we got to where they were ready, they rose the spinnaker. It was so beautiful.

I have to say that sailing is amazing. You don't have any motor, it is all natural power pulling you along. It is so quiet. All you hear is the water hitting the bow.

We were sailing for a while and they let the spinnaker down, and I guess we were moving a long so pretty that a flock of pelicans started flying with the mast. There were probably 7 or 8 of them. It was so neat.

All in all, i loved sailing. It was amazing, and relaxing, and humbling. I think I have the bug.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Meal Plan is Back!!!!! oh and Grapefruit Cupcakes!

IWhen I lived in Starkville, it was hard to cook because I was cooking for my self. I would do it, but i was a bit uninspired. There is something so delightful about cooking for others. I would cook for my few friends every once in a while, but, for the most part, it was just me. Then.... one of my friend's came up with the idea that i cook for them and they give me some money. Another friend found out about this, and he just happened to be an owner in a bar, and he wanted in too, although his trade was beer. It worked out great. I could generally end up paying very little for my food, and get all the beer I wanted. It was amazing! This deal ended when I moved to the coast.

For three years, I have been cooking for my self or cooking for my friends.... well, a few weeks ago, a friend of mine was complaining about the food choices at lunch, and how expensive it was, and greasy it was, and how it didn't really taste that good, and it put him and his work crew into comas.

I suggested they pack their lunch. They in the typical manly fashion, admitted that they would probably never do that. This discussion (complaining) went on for the last several weeks. Finally I mentioned that I would pack their lunch if they bought all of the food including the food for my lunch. They were extatic, and I was too seeing as how my budget is super tight and my lunches as of lately have been less than beautiful. So today was my second day.

The first day I made porkchop sandwiches, caramelized onions, feta, roasted red peppers, and baby greens on a baguette. I also packed some fresh fruit, 3 cans of arizona tea, a bottle of hot sauce and a bag of zapps. That was a winner. All three of them were happy.

Today I made Turkey Sandwiches with swiss, avocado, tomato, and baby greens on toasted whole wheat bread. I packed zapps chips, and Grapefruit cupcakes that I made from scratch last night.

When my friend came and picked up the lunch this morning, I gave him a breakfast cupcake with his coffee and he loved it. I was supprised, because he hasn't really liked the real citrusy things I have made, but these he did. He took another for the road.

That is my lunch, I decided against the chips for me and went with oranges.

The cupcakes were another recommendation from my friend Casie. Here is the recipe.

Oh my goodness. They were so light and refreshing. Perfect for this crazy hot weather we have been having.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Several Good Breakfasts, and a sunday of benefits

So.... unfortunately, I have not taken too many pictures of food the past few days, or pictures of anything for that matter. I guess it means that I have just been having that much fun! and I have.

Sunday morning, I woke up early, and with the craving of pancakes. I ran to the store, got some bacon, orange juice and blackberries, and whipped up a batch of my Dad's famous whole wheat pancakes, and fried up some bacon. I was lucky enough to have a friend join me for all of this delicious food.

Moving slowly after the pancake breakfast, I finally got moving and did some house work. I finished all of my laundry, and vacuumed the house.

A friend and I headed to the Chuck Gibson benefit at the grocery, where I ate 2 baskets of shrimp, and hung out with friends.

It was such a fun evening, and I won a months worth of drum lessons from the grocery!

Tuesday morning, I was feeling extra ambitious, so when I woke up I made biscuits and eggs and bacon. I know I shouldnt be eating like this so often, but I love breakfast!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A night of fun and a morning of recovery.

Last night, two of my friends invited me out to Just Us in Biloxi for an open mic night and a 2 for 1 happy hour. I had the best time. There was a great poetry battle between Lady Larry and the owner of the bar about the stools in the bar, and their state of disrepair. There were several folks singing, and reading poetry they wrote and poetry they love. I got to meet some new people too! We ended our time at Just us by dancing. I havent danced in so long! It was great.

We left the dance party and went over to my friend's house for the after show. It was a lot of fun, but my body was telling me to go home. So I heazded back to ocean springs.

This morning.... I did not feel good. I really didnt feel good. So... I made some coffee and soaked in the bath tub while I drank it. Then I made my self a beautiful breakfast of parmesian cheese grits and eggs with onions, tomatoes, and basil from my garden. I finished off the plate with some oranges. It definitely hit the spot and left me feeling much more lively.
I played ball with deloris, cleaned out my car, planted some turnips, kale, dill, and brussle sprouts(again...oops to the first batch) and now.... I am ready for the day! Happy Saturday Y'all!!!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

Around 2 pm, after laying around all day sunday watching Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and eating pork roast for both breakfast and lunch, I forced my self to get up and make the strawberry shortcake cookies. My friend Casie made these a few weeks ago, and told me how delicious they are.

They were so much fun to make, and really easy. Strawberries are always fun to cook with because they are so bright, hence all of the pictures. I couldn't stop taking pictures.

They turned out beautiful and were delightful when they were warm, and not bad at all when cool. They were not too sweet, and the strawberries added a little twang of tartness. I took the cookies over to some friends', because god knows I have no business eating all of these. Their daughter had a few friends over, and they were so happy to have such girly cookies. They are girly cookies. The guys really liked them too as they each ate about 6 of them, although the comment was made that they were no whoopie pie. I think I will make the whoopie pies this weekend. It has been a while since the last time I made them.

Anyways... here is the recipe for Strawberry Shortcake Cookies. You should make them. They are beautiful and delicious cookies!

My third pork roast!!!!

So, third time must be a charm, because with as much as I have enjoyed eating the other two pork tenderloins this is the first time I have managed to take a picture of the finished product.

This like my second pork pot roast, this one I cooked in the crock pot. Saturday morning, I ran to the store and got all of my supplies, hurried home and threw it in the pot.

Here is what I used:

2 small pork tenderloins (about 1.5 lb each)
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
3 small turnips, peeled and diced
6 carrots, peeled and chopped into thirds
1 onion, chopped into 8ths
4 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
2 bay leaves
6 stalks of fresh thyme
salt and pepper
a few tbl sherry

First, brown the pork tenderloin on all sides. Throw that into the crock pot, and deglaze the pan with a bit of sherry, and through that juice into the pot as well. Throw everything else in, cover with water, and turn it on, slow cook for 6 -8 hours. Stir every once in a while. MAGIC.

I just thought of something that might be good, after you deglaze the pan and pour off the juice, it might be good to sautee the onions garlic and bay leaves in a little olive oil before throwing them in. I will try this next time.

This brings me to a few questions for who ever reads this thing:

First, what do you call a pork pot roast? is it a pork roast(isnt this more something that is done in the oven like the first one)? a pork tenderloin? a pot roast (i think this refers to a beef pot roast)? If you know, please let me know.

Second, I know that the crock pot is not the really gourmet way to cook. It takes a lot of the skill out of it, as well as the fun and challenge, but there is also something nice about putting something on and being able to do your thing through out the day, and coming home to a good meal. BUT my problem, and one of the reasons for me repeating this same dish twice, is that i cannot find any recipes that look good that don't use packaged stuff, like soup mix or bouillon, or the god forsaken mushroom soup. I have just ordered a book that looks promising, The Best Slow Cooker Cook Book Ever by Diane Phillips, but if you know of any delicious recipies, that use only real food, I would appreciate it. By the way...canned tomatoes are included in the real food category, as they are usually better than the fresh tomatoes you can get at the store. Please send me your slow cooker recipes... and I will let you know how that book turns out.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard.... i mean Water Cress

Ok, so this is a recipe that I love, and that I have cooked several times. I usually replace the Swiss Chard with what ever green that I have, like Collards, turnips, mustards, or kale.

When I saw this recipe, it struck me as being a mix between two of my favorite things in cooking, southern and curry. Sweet potatoes, greens, and a legume... sounds close to a mix that I have had of sweet potatoes, greens and pink eyed purple hulls, but then you add all of these rich spices...... ughhh HEAVEN! and then the pop of the lime and cilantro! yes!

And it is pretty easy to make. All of the stuff goes in one pot and it cooks a little while. It does help to go ahead and measure out all of the spices and get everything lined up, because some of the steps go quick, but the clean up is next to nothing.

Ok, so this time, for some reason, I was thinking Water Cress in stead of my normal greens when I was at the store. I am not sure why... but that is what I got. It has been a while since I last made this. Oh my memory.

Anyways... I could not find this recipe on the NYTimes website where I originally found it, which I was going to link to it in this post. So here. I am writing it for you. NY Times, please dont get mad at me for doing this, but it is so good, and i tried to find it.

Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard
Origionally published November 14, 2007 on the NY Times Website.

Time: 1 hour

2 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1-in piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded if desired, then minced
4 to 5 cups vegetable broth as needed
2 lbs sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
1 bay leaf
1 lb swiss chard, center ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 lime
1/3 cup finely chopped tamari almonds for garnish(optional)
1/4 cup chopped scallions for garnish

1) In a large sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, garam masala, curry powder, and jalapeno. Cook, stirring for 1 minute

2) Stir in 4 cups broth, sweet potatoes, lentils and bay leaf, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, partially cover and simmer for 25 min. (if lentils seem dry, add up to 1 cup stock as needed. Stir in chard, salt and pepper, and continue cooking until lentils are tender, and chard is cooked, about 30-45 min. total.

3) Just before serving, stir in cilantro, lime zest and juice. Spoon into a large, shallow serving dish. garnish with almonds if desired and scallions.

yeild: 8-10 side dish servings, 6 Main-course servings.

Final Note: after trying this batch, the water cress in it ain't half bad. I guess any green will do!
Good luck!

Oh, I labored!

I went into this weekend without any big plans, or expectations, only to relax and be out side as much as possible. Well, I think I accomplished it.

Friday night, I rode to a friend's house on my bike, and we sat out side the entire evening sitting on the front porch, talking and drinking. Saturday morning, a friend and I watched Spinal Tap then to brunch at Phoenecia's then headed for the art walk. I didnt buy anything, because I dont have any spare money at the moment, but I sure did want to. I got to see an old family friend Tazwell who was showing his art downtown. We rode bikes all day long. I dont recount all of the places we went, but we went just about everywhere, ending the evening at the Grocery.

Sunday I was moving a little slow. My body was depleted from the riding around all day, but it was happy. I woke up, and made my self some oatmeal with dried cranberries, and walnuts, and did some house work. One of my friend came over and we watched the first disk of Always Sunny in Philiadelphia, which is a show that I am now addicted to.

I had a pork tenderloin in my freezer, and wanted to make a pot roast. I called my dad and on his instruction, I browned the pork roast then put it into a borrowed crockpot with turnips, potatoes, carrots, fresh thyme from my garden, garlic, salt and pepper. We left the house after two and a half hours of watching that funny show, and headed out on the bikes again. We went to his house and set up a structure to cover his boat. Then we rode our bikes to a friends house for more porch sitting. When we felt that we had sat on the porch long enough, we went back to my house and ate some of the pork roast. It was great. It was really the first time I had cooked anything in a crock pot. I am not sure that I am the biggest fan of cooking this way, I really love the labor of cooking, but it seems great when I want to just leave some food to do its stuff while I go off on an adventure.

Monday, I helped my friend work in the yard. My roommate loves working in the yard, and generally has all of the yard work done, before I can even think about firing up the mower. I also love working in the yard, and so when my friend said he needed to get some done, I was quick to offer up my help. We mowed his lawn, and weed-eated, and planted a few plants. My legs were worn out after riding all weekend, and pushing the lawnmower. I was not going to pedal another block that weekend. So after I got cleaned up, I met up with some friends, via a car and spent the last few hours of the Labor Day holiday relaxing.

I could not have asked for a better weekend, one where I cooked, rode my bike, spent a lot of time with friends, saw old friends, saw art, watched movies, and worked out side until I was worn out.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

My First Pork Roast.

So, sorry, I dont have pictures of my first ever pork roast. I had all intentions on making a good photo, but I didnt. I was entirely too hungry when it came out of the oven Tuesday. I had also been waiting for it for a whole day, the time it need to marinate, and I had no more patience, so once the 15 minute resting period after pulling it out of the oven was done, I got to eating. I ate it with a salad and some aromatic rice.

I asked for many hints and tips for making this roast from folks that cook meat a lot, and here is what I got.

Get a meat thermometer! this is a must when cooking meat, or you will over cook it

Pull it out when the themometer reads 5degrees below where it needs to be when it is done. So I pulled it out when it was at 155, because it needed to get to 160.

Another thing I learned was that you should brown the meat in a super hot skillet before you roast it, but it doesnt work with this recipe because the rub started to come off onto the skillet, so dont do that with this recipe. But do it with other pork roast recipes, and especially when they have a dry rub, because it really toasts the seasoning.

Last and final, is don't go to Winn-Dixie when you are looking for a 4 lb pork tenderloin, they only go up to 2 lbs. This turned out to be the perfect size for me, because I was the only one eating it, and it lasted me all week, but I was also glad that I had a meat thermometer in this case, because the cooking time was different.

So the review of the meat.
It was good! really good. I used peppers from my friend Al's garden, and they were not as hot as I had expected, so the roast wasn't as spicy as I would have liked it, but it was good! It was moist, and rich.

For two days of lunch, I bought some fresh bread from Le Bakery here in Biloxi, and made poboys out of it. One day I used Louisiana hot sauce, and the second I used Tabasco. Louisiana is generally my favorite hot sauce there is, but with the heavy allspice in the rub, I think that the Tabasco went better.

So here is the Recipe for Jerk Pork Roast.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Today at work....

I got to make little huts and towers from my imagination.
you might need to click on the images to see the whole thing.
And a little snake tunnel for kids to run through. And little flower seats.
This is all for a fall festival of sorts here on the coast. Lets see if they get built?!?!?!

The Second Long Beach post and a lazy Sunday

So I am a little behind in my posting, but I will catch up! Here is a big heap of things I wanted to record though.

On Saturday, after leaving the Trace dedication, we stopped at Bankhouse Coffee which is located in Downtown Long Beach Mississippi. This is an oasis for coffee lovers if I have ever seen one.

Good coffee in the Mississippi Gulf Coast is hard to come by. Especially for us folks that spend a lot of time around East Biloxi, where our only real option for coffee is found in the casino Starbucks. There is the Beanery in the Beau Rivage, but that stuff is real expensive.

Bankhouse, is located in a gorgeous old bank that has been converted into a mixed use building, with a coffee house and a hair salon on the first floor, and an apartment on the second floor. The coffee house has an abundance of natural lighting and feels great to inhabit.

The thing that is really striking though when you walk in is the smell of the beans roasting. This is the most impressive thing I have seen on the coast as far as yuppy city dweller stuff. THEY ROAST THEIR OWN BEANS. Everyone in the group was excited about this fact. To add to the excitement, we got to watch it happen, and the owner was nice enough to tell us what was happening, and how beans were roasted.

OH MY GOD IT SMELLED SO GOOD!!!! Well, that is about it. If you go there, make sure you have cash, because they don't take credit cards. Also, I recommend the Ice Coffee, which comes with cream already in it (but no sugar, thank goodness) Just the way I like it. Also, I heard that the Ice Mocha was good too.

One last note about Long Beach before I get to the Lazy Sunday, and that is that apparently Long Beach is the home of the Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich.

Alright so, Sunday, my stomach was feeling better. I woke up early, and got my laundry done. Then my friend and I decided to ride bikes to Phonecias for breakfast. Ahhh... I love their breakfasts there. I had a melon and a bowl of asiago cheese grits, and my friend had a pecan waffle which looked delicious. I am going to have to try their waffle one day.

We then returned to my house and proceeded to watch movies for the rest of the day. Here is what we watched: The Big Sleep, Paris Je T'aime, Unforgiven, and Say Anything. We only left the house when we figured we needed to eat something, and biked up to the InnZone for some burgers. MMMMMM I love their burgers, and

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Katrina's Anniversary, and my icky stomach!

Friday afternoon, I left the office with a bit of a belly ache. It had been lingering for a week and that was the most nauseous I had been the entire time. I spent most of the night in bed reading the rest of David Sedaris's When you are Engulfed in Flames. Yet another great book by him! I have two of his books left to read: Dress your family in Corduroy and Barrel Fever. I really love his stories.

Saturday, I woke up, with still a bit of a twinge in my stomach, but I figured it would go away. I met up with one of my client's Myra to take pictures of her and her children in front of her house. Here is one of my favorites from the morning.
After the photo shoot, I headed home for a spell. I watered my garden, took Deloris on a walk then headed back to Biloxi. I was meeting some of my friends to head to Long Beach for the dedication of a large project our studio worked on.

The project is called the Trace. It is a subdivsion built by Habitat for Humanity Gulf Coast. I did not work on this project, but our office worked with them on their neighborhood design, house design and hooked them up with a landscape architect which in my mind completely made the project. Our houses are good, and Habitat did a great job at building them well. But the landscaping of the neighborhood really makes it feel like it is a coastal Mississippi neighborhood. It also makes it look unique. I was not on the ball with taking pictures at this event. My stomach was angry at me, and it was making me grumpy, but here is a picture of one of the houses set under an old tree, and it looks so natural the way it is sitting in the landscape, like that house was there for years, but it was just built.
There are street lights, sidewalks, and local plants that wont die in this extreme heat. This is why landscape architects are so important. This is why design is important, especially in affordable housing.

Anyways, at the dedication was Mississippi's Governor Haley Barbour. He gave a speech off of one of the porches about Mississippi's progress, and the people of Mississippi. It is good to see that projects like this are not going unnoticed and are seen as part of the progress to rebuild after the storm.

My next post will have more about my time in Long Beach. Promise.