pumpkin muffins

pumpkin muffins

Sometimes I plan on carrying out these elaborate plans that sound perfect when they’re rattling around up there in my head. Most of the plans involve planning a meticulously executed party with my twin (think Downton Abbey costume parties or Marie Antoinette pastry parties) or knocking down some wall in my house or turning my attic into a playroom (keep in mind that I have no children…). The latest plan in my head was inspired by I Love Lucy. Lucy gets up every morning and scrambles eggs or makes waffles or fries bacon for Ricky and she always accompanies it with freshly squeezed orange juice. I thought, “That looks heavenly. I’m going to do that for Andy.” The first morning of the plan began and ended with me drooling on my pillow and covered in blankets and still in the bed when Andy left for work. And I woke up feeling sad. And I had to tell myself:

1. Ricky is a nightclub performer. He works late and gets to sleep until about 10:00 AM; therefore, Lucy doesn’t have to get up super early.
2. Lucy doesn’t have a job outside of the home.
3. It’s a TV show.

pumpkin muffins

I guess my point is this: a lot of times we have big plans to do fantastic things and a lot of times the plans actually work. But a lot of times they just don’t. And that’s okay. I’ve had to practice giving myself grace and realizing that things won’t be perfect all the time.

This fall has been somewhat of a blur. It’s been busy and, well, life. I haven’t gotten my fall wreath on my door and I haven’t even watched the Great Pumpkin yet. And it’s okay. It’s okay. I’m remembering that despite the details and challenges of the day to day, there is beauty each time the sun rises. It’s okay to take things one step at a time. And I’m loving this realization.

pumpkin muffins

Whoa. Pretty sure this post just turned into a diary session. But right now I’m going to celebrate this season. This season of rest in the midst of unrest. And this season of coolness and Autumn. And, no, I’m not making a gourmet breakfast every morning right now. And I haven’t started my costume for the Downton Abbey party. But I did make these little pumpkin muffins. And they are happy and pumpkiny and spicy and everything you’d expect from a good pumpkin muffin. They’re traditional with no surprises. Sometimes you just want that.

pumpkin muffins

pumpkin muffins
recipe adapted from Lovely Little Kitchen
prep time: 10 minutes cook time: 14 minutes yield: 24 mini muffins

ingredients:
1/2 cup + 6 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unrefined cane sugar
1/4 cup unrefined brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 egg
1 cup roasted pumpkin purée
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

create:
Preheat oven to 375º. Lightly grease 2 12-count miniature muffin pans and set aside.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the flour, sugars, baking soda, salt and spices and whisk to combine.
In a second medium-sized mixing bowl, add the egg, pumpkin, butter, and vanilla and stir to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until everything is just incorporated (try not to over mix).
Divide the batter evenly in the muffin pans. Each cup will be almost full. Sprinkle the sunflower seeds evenly over the batter.
Bake the muffins for 12-14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

pumpkin muffins

garlic chili paste

chili paste

We were sitting in an Asian restaurant here in Columbia. Andy ordered some kind of stir fried concoction with a sauce I’d never heard of and some kind of animal that still had its legs attached and I probably ordered the most basic thing on the menu. We had just started dating and I wasn’t exactly in tune with my Asian food-side yet (I say yet because now I love Asian food). I’m still, however, at a standoff with seafood. That junk is gross. Imagine. A foodie hating seafood. Just imagine it.

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Anyhow, we were in the restaurant. The waitress brought the food and Andy let out an immediate, “Oh, can I get some red chili paste to go with this?” and she scurried back to the kitchen and came back with a small bowl which she placed on the table. I stared at it like it was a bowl of beaming sunlight that I’d never experienced. Its bright, intensely contrasty red color had me fixated. It was beautiful. But I knew it was hot. Nothing with such a deep, flaming color can be mild. And my suspicions were confirmed when Andy barely dipped the end of his chopsticks into the bowl and stirred the attached paste into his meat and veggies. Hot it may be. Foul it is not.

chili paste

Chili paste like this gives your food a very powerful heat, but it doesn’t give your food an unwelcomed flavor like other hot sauces can. A little goes a long way and it bumps up the flavor (and heat) profile of stir fries, soups, sauces, and whatever else your heart desires. Heck, spread it straight on a cracker if you’ve got the guts to do so.

Note: Do not, I repeat, do not put your face down in the blender and take a big whiff to see how the chili paste is coming along. You may experience a bomb-like experience in your eyes and lungs. Some of us around here know from experience.

chili paste

garlic chili paste
total time: 5 minutes yield: 1/3 cup

ingredients:
1 cup chile peppers (I used cayenne)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp unrefined cane sugar
4 tbsp water
splash of sesame oil

create:
Trim the stems from the chile peppers. Place the peppers in a blender or food processor along with the garlic, salt, sugar, and water. Blend until coarsely chopped. Add the sesame oil and blend until a paste is formed. Store chilled in an airtight container.
You can use a combination of different types of peppers if you’d like. Feel free to change up the amount of water and/or oil to achieve your desired consistency.

chili paste

nashville hot chicken

 

nashville hot chicken

I like hot things. I like to think that I have a tolerance for spicy foods. I like hot sauce. Sweet chili gets on my nerves. I order raw jalapeños on my burritos for crying out loud.

When I approached the counter to order Nashville hot chicken for the first time last summer, I had it under control. Let me back up a little. Nashville is known for a dish called hot chicken. It’s spicy fried chicken. There are lots of restaurants there that serve the staple, but traditionally, the who-created-it-credit is given to Prince’s Hot Chicken. My husband and I were in Nashville last summer and knew we had to try this food we’d heard so much about, so naturally we chose Prince’s.

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We drove up to the humble space within a strip mall, put the car in park, and looked at each other.

“Okay, so, we can order from four choices: mild, medium, hot, or extra hot.”

Knowing we both had the guts for a little spice, I said, “Let’s get hot. Extra hot? …hmm…I don’t know. Let’s just stick with hot for now.”

And we locked eyes for a minute as if we were making a tiny pact, got out of the car, and bolted into the line and stood there firmly like we’d been regulars for years. Remember, we had it under control.

Once it was our turn, we approached the man in the tiny window. I opened my mouth to order. “I…”

“This y’all’s first time here?”

My husband and I looked at each other. “…yeah. Yeah, it is! We’re excited and we’d like to try the…”

“Mild.”

“Well, you see, we actually really like spi…”

“Uhh, no, you gettin’ mild.” Chingggg.

And just like that, the register chimed open and the order was placed.

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We probably owe that man some money, at least our first born child or something, because I’ll tell you this: mild is not mild. Mild is hotter than anything I’ve ever eaten. I can’t even imagine eating medium and I’d bet that extra hot just makes your entire body burst into flame.

They try to make it better for you by serving the chicken with white bread and pickles. The white bread is honestly some what of a tease. In the midst of your sweating and faucet nose, you see that white bread laying there, and think, “RELIEF.” So you grab a chunk of it and shove it in your mouth and immediately realize that that bread has been soaking up all that cayenne-infused oil for about 10 minutes and now your mouth is just numb and you can’t remember how to swallow. The bread is a tease. A delicious tease, but, yeah…a tease.

The only real relief comes from eating one of the pickles and it only lasts about .7 seconds. The pickles are only there to give you a little encouragement. They’re like miniature cheerleaders when you feel like your entire body is turning into a giant ball of capsaicin.

Basically, Nashville hot chicken is hot. It’s dang hot. But it’s also dang good. I squealed when I saw the cover of the newest Bon Appétit magazine: “The Hottest Fried Chicken”. If you can’t make it to Nashville, this’ll do just fine.

nashville hot chicken

nashville-style hot chicken
recipe from Bon Appétit, June 2014
active time: 1 1/2 hours total time: 4 1/2 hours

ingredients
(2) 3 1/2 to 4 lb. chickens, each cut into 10 pieces (breasts halved)
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp plus 4 tsp kosher salt
4 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk (or whole milk)
2 tbsp vinegar-based hot sauce
4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
vegetable oil for frying (about 10 cups)
6 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
bread and sliced pickles (for serving)

create
Toss chicken with black pepper and 2 tbsp salt in a large bowl. Cover and chill at least 3 hours.
Whisk eggs, buttermilk, and hot sauce in a large bowl. Whisk flour and remaining 4 tsp salt in another large bowl.
Fit a Dutch oven with a deep-fry thermometer; pour in oil to measure 2″. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 325º. Pat chicken dry. Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge in flour mixture, shaking off excess, then dip in buttermilk mixture, letting excess drip back into bowl. Dredge again in flour mixture and place on a baking sheet.
Working in 4 batches and returning oil to 325º between batches, fry chicken, turning occasionally, until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of pieces registers 160º for white meat and 165º for dark, 15-18 minutes. Transfer to a clean wire rack set inside a baking sheet. Let oil cool slightly.
Whisk cayenne, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, and paprika in a medium bowl; carefully whisk in 1 cup of the frying oil. Brush fried chicken with spicy oil. Serve with bread and pickles.

nashville hot chicken

homemade applesauce

apples5The smallest things can inspire me. A bulbous lamp base cast between an omelet maker from the 80s and a Guitar Hero guitar missing the first and third buttons at Goodwill. The stale smell and wide plank hardwood floor creaks from a house built in the 1700s. Lorde’s “Tennis Court” on repeat.  And, yes, as you may imagine, food inspires me, too.

homemade applesaucehomemade applesauceapples4But I can’t say that it’s always the food itself that inspires me. While pink macarons and bubble gum themselves possess an ability to make me squeal, other foods require a little more foundation. A lot of my food inspiration/motivation comes from the stories that accompany a particular dish. Biscuits (you may remember me confessing my obsession over them in a previous post), for example, are basically blobs of flour and butter. But because they are so deeply rooted in Southern culture, I find myself yearning for them so I can feel connected to the mamas in the 1800s who got up with the sun to cook all day long or the grandma over in Georgia patiently teaching her granddaughter to push the biscuit cutter straight down or the little boy spreading home-canned summer-strawberry preserves on freshly torn buttery layers. You see, food is not simply nourishment. It’s resonance.

apples3Gowie used to give us a little glass bowl filled with applesauce as a dessert when we’d spend our weekends with her. She’d always ask, “Do you want some sugar sprinkled on that?” while my sister and I made no audible noise, but violently nodded our heads, mouths agape, like we’d never heard of such a grand idea. And then (probably with no chewing involved) we’d finish the sweet applesauce, slip into some PJs, and shove a rented episode of The Little Rascals into the VCR. This dear and comforting story was the backbone in my desire to create my own applesauce.

apples6homemade applesauce
recipe from Simply Recipes
prep time: 10 minutes cook time: 25 minutes yield: about 1 1/2 quarts
ingredients:
3 to 4 pounds of peeled, cored, and quartered apples
4 strips of lemon peel (use a vegetable peeler)
juice of 1 lemon, about 3-4 tbsp
3 inches of cinnamon stick
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
up to 1/4 cup cane sugar
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt

create
Put all ingredients into a large pot. Cover. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon sticks and lemon peels. Mash with potato masher. The applesauce is now ready to serve, hot or refrigerated.

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grilled chicken wings with citrusy and spicy honey soy sauce

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With its cultural events, historical significance, and small-town, big-city balance, Columbia, South Carolina is always a special place to experience. Aside from the iconic statehouse and governmental and political rants, the backbone of Columbia is arguably rooted in the Gamecocks. Not one person glances twice at a pedestrian sporting a Carolina tee shirt or a grown man wearing an Under Armour football jersey in the middle of baseball season. There is no question as to what that chicken foot sticker is doing on the back of that SUV. And I love that. The Gamecocks are so ingrained in Columbia that we Carolina fans have come to know it as part of our city surrounding and coming across garnet and black on a daily basis is like drinking visual water.

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But this time of year, the city changes. Windows in storefronts don gamecock-spotted khakis and feather boas wrapped around almost-formal black dresses. Cheers and parties can be heard for blocks. And Williams-Brice stadium becomes the living host from which the Gamecock union races together to feed.

That sounded gross.

What I mean to say is that football season is upon us, y’all. Our fellow Gamecock-ingrained Columbia citizens are finally getting together once again for this multiple months long party we call college football. And I’m jumpin’ outta my boots. Actually, right now, I’m barefoot. So, I’m jumpin’ outta my skin. Gross again.

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And if we’re talkin’ football, tailgatin’ can’t be a subject too far away. In fact, I believe they go together like love and marriage (and in the SEC, tailgating is a whole other animal. Another time, another post). Y’all know the best way to watch football is to eat. And eat. And eat. And eat, more specifically, food that sticks to your fingers, drips down your shirt, and, more practically, is somewhat portable. Cue wings.

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grilled chicken wings with citrusy and spicy honey soy sauce
cook time: 40 minutes yield: 4 servings 
ingredients
2 pounds chicken wings
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp red pepper flakes
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp peeled and grated ginger
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup Sriracha
1 tsp orange zest
a splash of rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped green onion

create
In a large bowl, toss together the chicken wings, black pepper (your preferred amount), red pepper flakes, and olive oil until the wings are evenly coated.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for one minute. Whisk in the soy sauce, honey, and Sriracha and continue whisking until the mixture beings to slowly simmer. Reduce the heat to low and add the orange zest and vinegar. At this point, remove about 1/2 cup of the sauce and reserve for basting. Add half of the green onions to the sauce mixture still in the saucepan and keep on low heat until thickened slightly.
On a charcoal grill set at an average temperature of 300º, sear the wings on direct heat for one minute on each side. Transfer the wings to indirect heat and cook for 10 minutes. With the sauce set aside for basting, baste the topside of the wings with a light layer. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Flip the wings, baste, and cook, covered, for 15 more minutes or until the wings are slightly charred and crispy.
Transfer the wings to a bowl, pour the sauce in the saucepan over the chicken, and toss to evenly coat. Serve sprinkled with green onions and, if desired, red pepper flakes and mommy’s ranch dressing.

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That title is a mouthful! Also, I won’t pretend to be a grill master. Andy knows all the ooos and ahhs of grilling and made this recipe possible.
And to my fellow football friends across the nation, whatever your team, have fun this season! This is such a special time for bonding over food and for sharing fun memories with friends and strangers alike. I’m getting sappy again. I love you guys. Sniff.

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frittata with bell peppers, bacon, and tomatoes

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Several weekends ago I woke up with a start (I do this sometimes) because my belly was trying to tell me something: I was hungry.  It was already like eleven o’clock in the morning (Don’t tell my dad. He’s always made fun of my incessant sleeping. In college, it was not a rare occurrence for me to take three or more naps in any given 24 hour period.) and my husband and I had spent the entire day before moving mounds of chunked granite from our backyard to our front yard. Cereal wasn’t gonna cut it. Plus, our newly purchased house was so still and quiet when I awoke and the sunshine was trying so hard to beam through the little cracks in the window blinds that I felt like I needed to turn into a storybook princess and twirl around while opening the windows and sing while the little birds helped me pop the tablecloth and lay it gently on the tabletop. This was no morning for an ordinary breakfast.

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A frittata seemed obviously perfect. I didn’t have much in our refrigerator (the unpacked boxes lying around the house demanded more of my attention at this point), but we did have eggs and a handful of random vegetables. And a frittata is one of those pretty foods, not even counting the fancy name, that you would expect to see on a brunch menu at a bistro. It’s hearty, but simple. And perfect for princess mornings with a not-so-stocked fridge.

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frittata with bell peppers, bacon, and tomatoes
prep time: 10 minutes cook time: 15 minutes yield: 6 servings
ingredients
3 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 cup diced bell pepper
6 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cheese, shredded (use whichever kind you prefer)

create
Preheat the oven to the low broil setting.
In a cast iron skillet (or an oven safe sauté pan), cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Add the tomato, onion, and bell pepper. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
In the meantime, beat together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and cheese in a medium bowl.
When the vegetables have turned soft, add the egg mixture and quickly combine the ingredients using a rubber spatula. Cook for 5 minutes or until the bottom is set and the top begins to set.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and broil for 4 to 5 minutes, until the top is set and begins to look fluffy.
Serve immediately.

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sweet strawberry buttermilk biscuits

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My name is Jessa. I have an infatuation with the American South. With grandmas sitting on porches. With surprise sercies. With sunrises hitting flour-dusted wooden tables. And, perhaps most notably, I have an infatuation turned obsession with biscuits.

This is the time I made strawberry ones.

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sweet strawberry buttermilk biscuits
prep time: 15 minutes cook time: 20 minutes yield: 4-8 biscuits (depending on how big you cut them)
ingredients
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup smashed, stemmed strawberries (about 5 berries)
2 tbsp unrefined cane sugar
3/4 cup cold buttermilk
honey

create
Preheat oven to 400º. In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and  salt. Use your fingers to crumble the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
In another bowl, use a potato masher or fork to mash the strawberries until they are mostly liquified (leave a few small chunks). Mix the sugar into the smashed strawberries and let sit for five minutes. Add the buttermilk to the strawberries and stir to combine.
Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the strawberry mixture. Mix with a spoon until just combined and use your hands to gather all of the flour.
Onto a floured surface, turn the dough out and knead (gently) until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Press the dough into a 1 inch thick circle and use a a biscuit cutter or something circular to press straight down into the dough and twist out the biscuits. Reshape the scraps to make more biscuits.
Place the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment so they just touch each other. Bake until they are lightly golden and tall, about 20 minutes.
Serve warm with a drizzle of honey.

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crunchy vietnamese salad

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Sometimes for dinner you eat steamed vegetables and grilled proteins and brothy soups. Sometimes you eat roasted sweet potatoes and a handful of legumes. Sometimes you eat an egg white omelet and sautéed spinach. But sometimes you eat French fries or a chocolate bar or manicotti swimming in a full-on, no-cutting-it-down-with-milk, gob-up-the-spoon cream sauce. I’ll admit. The manicotti happened last night. C’mon, though. It was Andy’s birthday and my metabolism can totally tell the difference in special occasion days and regular days.

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…and then you realize the Calories Don’t Count During Celebrations/On the Weekends/Outside of Your Zip Code theories are actually myths and the next day you’re left reaching for something that doesn’t make your toes feel like a thousand pounds by the time you leave the table.

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Andy has a very foodie (foodie is now an adjective?) aunt who always takes us on food adventures when we visit her in Atlanta. My first dim sum experience was with her. My first authentic Cuban meal was with her. Our last visit consisted of a relaxing visit to a (distinctively comforting) local Vietnamese restaurant, where we were quickly prompted to order the recommended green papaya salad. And, of course, I ordered pho to go along because, whoa. Spiced broth and noodles? Cant’ get enough of that stuff. The salad was very characteristic of traditional Vietnamese cuisine, famous for using fresh herbs and vegetables. It was bright, sweet, and crunchy, accompanied with an almost thirst-quenching quality.

This salad on HTF differs slightly from the restaurant salad I had (Let’s be honest. I was too lazy to hunt Columbia for green papaya. Also, this salad is a bit spicy), but it still stays true to the fresh brightness of its inspiration. So, if you feel like you’ve been eating too many chili cheese burgers or potato chips or handfuls of hamster feed, this may help perk you up a bit.

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crunchy vietnamese salad
adapted from Food and Wine’s Crunchy Vietnamese Chicken Salad
yield: 4 servings total time: 15 minutes

ingredients
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp Asian fish sauce
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp water
1 serrano chile with seeds, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
4 cups finely shredded green cabbage (from 1/2 small head)
2 carrots, finely shredded
1 daikon radish, finely shredded
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp coarsely chopped unsalted roasted peanuts

create
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, vinegar, water, chile and garlic and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Let the dressing stand for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots, radish, red onion, cilantro, and mint. Add the olive oil and the dressing and toss. Sprinkle with the peanuts and serve.

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After Andy and I had had our fill, we rolled the leftover salad up with some rice paper wrappers, served it alongside some homemade peanut sauce, and BAM! we had a whole other meal going on. And afterward, we didn’t feel like someone had pumped us full of greasy air, waiting in the wings to paint us with shortness of breath, all the while trying to plop a baby elephant on our vulnerable, slouching-down-in-the-chair stomachs. Whoa. I’m dramatic. But sometimes, in the midst of that, we just need a Vietnamese salad to come along and lift us up a little bit.

mrs. patmore’s rosemary oat crackers

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I wanted to start this post with a way to immediately transition into talking about Downton Abbey, so I thought it would be relevant to mention the fact that my 23rd great grandfather was King Henry III. But then I decided that may be a bit haughty. And then I thought I could transition with telling you all that my 16th great grandmother was Elizabeth Woodville, Queen Consort of England or that my 12th great aunt was Catherine Howard (yeah, yeah, another queen). But then I thought, “…eh, boring.” And then I thought I would mention that most of my ancestors belonged to the Plantagenets and Arundels or that Elijah Robosson, Colonel in the American Revolution, was my fifth great grandfather. But I know you guys don’t want to hear about my (awesome) family. Besides, I’m no closer to living in Buckingham Palace than any other Joe Blow walkin’ down the street. Let’s talk a little Downton Abbey.

“What’s Downton Abbey?”

Screechy record sounds.

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I’m sorry…what? What? It’s only the best, most tenaciously addicting show, a socially acceptable way to watch a soap opera, disguised with elaborate turn-of-the-20th-century fashion and extreme character development and a set design that is perfected by it being set, well, in a real castle. It’s a fascinating story of high society and working class people and, almost surprisingly, you, as the viewer, end up pulling for both sides to win in their separate and sometimes intertwining stories. I’m like an old soul when Sunday nights roll around. I’m glued to PBS, turning up the volume and sitting silently in case I miss some tiny detail that can change the whole meaning of the season’s story. I, undoubtedly, highly recommend it.

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I remember watching the wedding episode (Mary and Matthew, of course) and feeling slightly restless when the kitchen was shown. Just imagine it. It’s the biggest wedding to-do anywhere around. VIPs, and I mean V-I-Ps, are arriving to celebrate. History is throwin’ itself down. And you’re the cook. The cook. And you are asked to make, not just a pan of BBQ or hamburgers kept warm with a dirty Sterno, but platters of luxuriously decorated roasted game and perfectly whipped sugared meringues and piping hot silky soup in the purest white and gold china available. Phew. And as much as I love making wedding cakes, I still stress with that one simple task. Props to Mrs. Patmore and her staff. Lots of props.

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These crackers would have been made by Mrs. Patmore for guests and/or tea time. They’re not as crackerish as, say, a water cracker, but are a little more hearty, almost like a savory cookie. If you can remember back to when I was cooking a lot of Harry Potter recipes last year, you may remember the book The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. This recipe for Mrs. Patmore’s crackers is from The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook, having the same publisher as the Harry Potter book, and is written by Emily Ansara Baines. It’s totally cool and gives you recipes for each course for a typical dinner, plus a few recipes that the downstairs staff may have eaten. It’s awesome. Exercise that library card, kids.

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mrs. patmore’s rosemary oat crackers
yield: 50-60 crackers
from Emily Ansara Baines’ The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook

ingredients
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp rosemary leaves, chopped
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chopped
1/4 cup whole milk

create
Preheat the oven to 350º. Pulse oats in a food processor until chopped and fine. Add salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic powder, 1/4 cup flour, baking powder, and butter. Pulse until mixture turns into coarse bread crumbs. Pour in milk and pulse until the ingredients combine to form a dough, approximately 45 seconds.
With a rolling pin, roll dough until it’s 1/8-inch-thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut about 50-60 squares (or rounds). Place squares on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until crackers are lightly browned on the bottom. Transfer crackers to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before serving.
Note: My final product made a cracker that was hearty, but still a little fragile. I think these may be better for eating plain rather than using them to serve other items on, such as chicken salad or a heavy spread.

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And now a shoutout to my twin who did a ton of family history research to find out that (switch to rich person voice) our family is royalty. (Switch out of rich person voice) Just kidding, y’all. But ancestral history is so neat and allows you to see how you got where you are now, whether your family is English or from Germany or even if your ancestry stops at a dirt road in the middle of South Carolina. Whoops, I just turned into an old soul again. It actually happens a lot. I’m okay with that.

turnip lentil soup

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The names have been entered, the results are in, and the press is gettin’ hot. That’s right, y’all. It’s time to announce the winner of Heed the Feed’s very first giveaway! Enter crowd applause sound bite here. Wait. I just have to say that I’m so pumped that so many of you wanted to participate and so pumped that you’ve shown so much love to Loveland Coffee. Cheers to you guys.

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Clears throat. And now, without any further hesitation, the winner of a pound of whole bean espresso and a pound of whole bean Ethiopian Yirgacheffe AND the title of HTF’s first ever giveaway winner goooes tooooo:

Gwynne Middleton! And check out her own personal food blog at The Crafty Cook Nook!

Super crowd applause sound bite! Congratulations! I know you will enjoy your new roasts.

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I figured before I skedaddled on out of here, I’d leave you guys with a recipe (this is a food blog, non?). My momma-in-law recently joined a CSA (community-supported agriculture) and invited my husband and me to join in the fun. We used to be a part of one, but for some reason could never keep up with the very large amounts of produce we were receiving each week and ended up composting a lot of it. But this CSA has half baskets, allowing smaller families to participate and helping them to not drown in the season’s finest.

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If you’re not familiar with CSAs, they are super cool. It’s basically a weekly share from a local farm (or farms) that includes fruits and vegetables that change fairly often. For example, if you received a basket of goodies from a farmer during a South Carolina summer, you’d probably receive corn, peaches, and squash. A winter basket may include kale, broccoli, or carrots. Our CSA is cool and usually throws in something that will make your head tilt for a few seconds. This past week was turnips. I like turnips. Turnips are cool. But I’ve only ever done one thing with turnips: roasted them. Tasty, but a bit boring this go around. I needed something new. I found a recipe online utilizing turnips in my favorite food group: soup. Hehh. And turnips are kind of nutritionally neutral. They are certainly not bad for you, though, and, in fact, have a good amount of vitamin C in them. So there. I just argued with myself. But you guys also know from a previous post that lentils love humans. They are the bomb powerhouse food. So…there.

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turnip lentil soup
prep time: 10 minutes cook time: 40 minutes yield: 8 servings
adapted from Whole Living’s Red Lentil Soup with Turnip and Parsley

ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 celery stalks, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
3 turnips, peeled and diced
8 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar (optional)
Coarse salt and pepper

create:
In a pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Increase heat to high and add tomatoes. Cook for 1 minute. Add lentils, turnip, and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, 30 or so minutes. Stir in parsley and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

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And, YES, you CAN cook those greens growing on that turnip root! And those babies really do have lots of good nutrients in them. They have a boatload of vitamins and no saturated fat. That is, until you add butter and bacon grease. Wink, American Southeast, wink, wink.

 

P.S. Loveland Coffee is now open at 7001 St. Andrews Road in Columbia, SC.