Monday, August 29, 2011

Learning To Eat Right

Last week the Huffington Post had an article on line about a chef in San Francisco who was doing a fund raiser for the food bank.  In order to publicize the event, he started about 2 months ago living on the the same amount of money the average person receives each month in food stamps.  He figured he had about $4 a day to feed himself.  It really was an eye opening experience and he blogs about it at  As always, the comments about the article are all over the place from folks that live that life everyday to the people complaining about food stamps.

The comments that got me thinking though were the ones about educating people how to not only eat right but shop smart.  I know that I live in a fairly urban area and in the portion of Charleston we live in, there are a fair amount of choices for shopping close by but, if you go not to far away, into some of the more poverty stricken areas, there are no grocery stores near by.  The bus transportation is poor here and for many people the only choice is to walk or get a taxi which is not really feasible. 

South Carolina for all its beauty has one of the worst education systems in the country, is one of the most obese states in the country and has one of the highest rates of kidney disease and diabetes.  How many of the health issues can be resolved by changing diet?

There is a great organization by the name of Slow Food.  If you have never heard of it, it is an international group devoted to educating people to healthier eating choices (I suspect there is more to it than that).  They are involved with some of the schools here in order to promote better food choices and healthier school menus.  Both of these are extremely important but...if the kids aren't introduced to this type of eating at home, chances are they will not eat that way at school.  Heck, we were all kids (some of you still are) and we can remember the food thrown out in the cafeteria every day.  It was never the chocolate pudding but usually the salad.  How do you reach the families in order to turn this around at home?

So this brings me back to the grocery store and shopping.  I go to quite a few stores to do my shopping.  Some are upscale some are not.  What I notice the most when I shop are the choices that people make.  I'm nosey, I admit it, and I guess part of it is also the retailer in me. I look to see what people have in their carts.  In the upper scale stores, people tend to have more fresh vegetable and healthier choices in their carts, in the lower end stores the carts are full of meat and almost nothing else.  We are talking about those enormous metal carts, over flowing with chicken and pork and beef.  No veggies, no juice, just basically meat.  You hear so much talk about how eating healthy is expensive but when you come down to it, it really isn't.  It's a trade off.

I wonder if you can get the organizations that are promoting healthier eating to work with the grocery stores?  Not Publix and Harris Teeter but stores like Piggly Wiggly and Doschers where there are more lower income families spending their hard earned money and food stamps at?  I would certainly volunteer my time for something like that.


Friday, August 26, 2011

A Rainy Day

Well, thankfully the most of Irene we are going to see are Tropical Storm strength winds and rain.  For us that also means the backyard will probably flood at high tide.  For Bear that means no back yard once it starts to flood.  There is a tidal marsh next to and behind our home, it is absolutely beautiful but, its part of the yard.

Bear waiting for his bath
  About 2 years ago we had a major rainstorm which hit at the same time lunar high came.  We had Bear and the foster dog who's name we refuse to speak (a whole story on its own).  I was cooking in the kitchen and the dynamic duo were romping around the back yard having a grand old doggy playtime.  I would glance out once in a while to make sure they were okay but apparently I didn't check often enough to notice the tide quickly creeping into the yard.  The two of them had pretty much killed almost all the grass so all that was left in many part was this kind of marshy dirt.  Well, they noticed the water, but more they noticed the mud.  When I found them they were extremely happy and extremely muddy.  They had pluff mud from the tip of their tails to their noses.   Golden fur can hold a lot of mud!  Truth be told, as unhappy as I was having to give the two of them baths, I couldn't stop laughing.  They were so ridiculously thrilled with being wet and covered with is good if you are a golden.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

If you have never lived along the coast you have never experienced the excitement of hurricane season.  As you know we live here in Charleston SC which is of course right on the Atlantic Ocean.  We have been lulled into submission the past few years by the wonderful lack of a major storm coming any where near us.  All that changed earlier this week when this gal Irene decided to show up.  Now, I have always said I preferred hurricanes to earthquakes because you know when they are coming but...truth be told, you don't know if they are or not!  So here we sit with our water, batteries, extra toilet paper and all those things you must have waiting to see where the storm goes.  Everyone has a path or an idea and they change by the hour.  Life can be rather unsettling.

There are a quite a few folks living in coastal South Carolina and if the storm decides to head in our direction we will need to evacuate.  Sure there will be those that insist on staying, some people just never learn to tempt nature.  So other than those foolhardy souls Michael, Bear, our youngest daughter, her boyfriend and I will load up in our car and join tens of thousands of folks trying to get off the coast by the one highway that leaves.  Sure there are small country roads out there but..they are normally full too.  The last time there was an evacuation they neglected to reverse the interstate so you had the entire Charleston Area and all the border islands on I 26 at the same time.  The normal 2 hour drive to Columbia took well over 12 hours.  It was a mess and they promise that will never happen again.

So here we sit...waiting and thinking of that song...should I stay or should I go... 

Healthy Homemade Whole Wheat Pita Bread!

I used to say I didn't care for bread.  Like many others I grew up on white bread and the occassional loaf of Italian bread (which is a totally different story).  In the past few years I have discovered a world of breads and lo and behold have found that I love bread (much like Bear).  The problem with this new found love is that we are watching carefully what we eat and sandwiches can be not the healthiest choice.  Last year I started making wraps for lunch with the occasional purchase of pita bread thrown in.  The wraps worked for a while but became boring.  As for the purchased pita bread, I struggled with it.  I had the worst time trying to slice it open to stuff the pita.  They broke, they cracked, I sliced through the name it, it happened.

Sunday morning I realized we were out of bread and whole wheat tortillas.  We were in emergency status!  I had toyed with the idea of making flatbread before but my timing was never right so I decided to google whole wheat pita recipes.  I found the most wonderful, easy to make, tasty pita recipe at!  One of the best features of the website is the ability to adjust the number of portions.  There is this great box at the top of the recipe and you can either make it more or less and they do all the math for you!  There are no pictures...something happened to the ones I took with my phone..there was even one I staged of my lunch.  It was a beautiful, whole wheat pita stuffed with curried chicken salad, lettuce and a fantastic tasting tomato.

Healthy Whole Wheat Pitas
    • 4 cups whole wheat flour ( or 2 cups whole wheat flour and 2 cups all-purpose flour)
    • 1 tablespoon dry yeast
    • 1 1/4 cups warm water ( 120-130F degrees)
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 500°F.
  2. Sift together 2 cups of flour and the yeast.
  3. Add water and salt and mix well.
  4. Gradually add in the remaining flour just until the dough begins to clean the sides of the bowl. Once this happens, stop adding flour (so, you might not use all the flour the recipe calls for.).
  5. Knead the dough for about 4 or 5 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. (While you're kneading, you can get creative and add in some herbs or spices, but only if you want to do that). Be careful not to over-knead the dough.
  6. Form dough into 10 balls.
  7. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a 5-6 inch circle, about 1/4 inch thick. (Be sure to sprinkle a little flour on both sides to prevent sticking).
  8. Place on a non-stick baking sheet and allow to rise 30 minutes, or until slightly raised.
  1. Just before you place the pan in the oven, flip each pita over on its other side.
  2. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 5 minutes. (The instant hot heat will help them puff up).
  3. When the pitas come out of the oven they will be hard, but they will soften as the cool.
  4. Store them, while they're still warm, in plastic baggies or an airtight container.
  5. Cut the pitas in half crosswise and stuff with your favorite fillings (beans and rice, taco fixings, thick stews, curries - anything goes).
Pitas can be reheated in a 350°F oven or in the microwave
Don't panic if you do not need as much flour as the recipe calls for.  I may have used 3 cups for my dough.  I believe it may have something to do with the temperture and humidity.  I also did not heat the oven up right way instead waiting until closer to the baking time.One great tip in the reviews for this recipe was to place the pitas on a dishcloth and cover with a second dishcloth when you raise them.  This will allow you to simply flip the pita onto your hand before placing it upside down on the baking sheet.  I covered my baking sheet with aluminum foil and sprayed it with some non-stick spray I buy at the Dollar Tree.  I kept waiting for the pita's to sink back down like my Yorkshire pudding does but..they don't!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Happy Saturday!

Well it's Saturday so that means just one thing, I am off to work.  Being a retail manager means that when everyone else is out playing on the weekend, we work.  I actually work almost every Saturday and Sunday, that's just the way it is.  Today's exciting agenda includes setting up and managing a Grand Tasting event.  I really enjoy these events actually.  There is so much interaction with the customers and to me that's the best part of working retail.  In some states they actually get to do wine tastings which I suspect brings in quite a few folks.  We live in South Carolina though and unless your wine and beer sales are 50% of your total volume you cannot do wine tastings. Our customers prefer to buy very heavy furniture which is okay with me (unless they think they are loading that dining room table in the back of their Mini Cooper).  So for us, we do what's called a dry tasting, which really is just talking about the wines and they would pair with the food we are sampling. 

The joke in our store is that I am the store mom and catering service.  If there's food, I'm in charge.  I do the shopping, the prep work, the cooking and the serving.  Whether it's the food we serve the staff over the holidays or these tasting events, I'm your gal.  So that's my day.  If you live near a Cost Plus World Market, stop by your local store today, have some snacks and if you live in a wet state, taste some great wines for free and don't forget to say hello the the store mom!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A World Market Savings Experience

I work for Cost Plus World Market so this may sound like a commercial but it is really a story about saving. If you have never been in one of the stores, it's like Pier One on steroids.  Lots of cool home decor and kitchen stuff along with gourmet food, wine and beer.  After 7 years I get a very generous discount!  I have to resist the call to "buy me I am cheap".  Last week all the remaining outdoor furniture went 75% off and I still get my 40% discount off that sale price.  It was really hard to not buy any of it.  An Adirondack chair for $15.00?  Right now I am fighting the desire to buy the rope hammock with stand.  It also is now just $15.00 for me..would make a killer Christmas present for someone..

The discount I get in the gourmet food area is only 10% because the markup isn't as high and as for wine and beer I only get what the rewards program is offering but the prices are pretty low to begin with's still a win and I don't need to spend any extra gas money to get there!

Back to my extreme savings story!  The Explorer program has a ton of benefits, aside from the savings and getting to use my discount on top of them, when I buy $100 worth of gourmet products I get a $10 reward I can use on anything other than wine and beer.  This reward has no minimum purchase other than the $10.   Part 2 is the coffee deal, buy 6 bags of WM coffee, get the 7th one free.  Buy a bag of coffee on Wednesday and get double credit so, if you buy 3 bags of coffee on Wednesday, you than get a coupon for your free bag.  Last week I had both a $10 reward coupon and a free bag of coffee.  I am so silly when I get that $10 coupon, normally I try to get the biggest bang for my buck.  Last week I just wanted to buy stuff for me so for 51 cents I left with

My free  12 oz bag of coffee
1 tube of Amore Tomato Paste
1 bottle of Sesame oil
And to feed my spice obsession
A container of Kashmir Saffron.

Not bad for 51 cents plus what I spent goes towards my next reward coupon!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer Grilling On The Old Weber Grill

The old reliable Weber

Back in the late 80's I worked for a retailer in Phoenix called Home Express.  We sold just about anything you could imagine for your home from dinnerware to televisions.  Included in this interesting mix were Weber grills, I still remember the music to the commercial.  Somehow a customer had set fire to her Weber grill not long after purchasing it and if memory serves me right, this is one thing that should not happen.  Well, we took it back, cleaned it up and I bought it for I think $150.00 (if that).  Many years and many miles later, I am still the proud owner of this grill.  We have replaced some parts on it but, all this time later it still grills like a champ.  One of Bear's favorite hobbies is to check out the drip pan after the grill has cooled.  He thinks we don't know but somehow the grease smears on the sides of his muzzle give him away.

Michael is the grill master in the house and I am occasionally allowed to assist.  Last night was grilling night!  We had seasoned chicken legs and thigh along with grilled summer squash with green pepper and red onion.  It was so tasty and inexpensive.  The chicken is on sale for 49 cents a pound at Harris Teeter and the squash was 88 cents a pound at the Piggly Wiggly.  The entire meal probably cost about 2.50 for the two of us with out the propane.

Sometimes the simpliest food is the most satisfying.  The chicken was seasoned with Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and some Emerill's seasoning.  As for the squash I just mixed it with a tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper.  The chicken was on the grill about 45 minutes total, I left the squash on too long but it was still good.  Probably 20 minutes would have been enough.

The grill pan is one of our best bargains and favorite grilling toys.  Michael picked it up at one of our local thrift stores for one dollar.  We use it for veggies and  have used it to grill shrimp so we don't need to take the time to put them on skewers.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Lowcountry Sunset

Photo by Michael Fenwrick

One or our favorite ways to end the day is a trip down the street to the Stono River.  With a glass of wine and the windows open, we sit and listen to the waves gently lap against the shore as the sun slowly sinks.  Michael often brings his "real camera" and we enjoy the surprises we have once the film is developed. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Amateur Food Porn

Michael hard at work!
I never fully understood what my eldest daughter J was talking about when she kept mentioning food porn.  Well, let me tell you, I have learned since I started this blog.  There are a lot of people out there blogging about food and taking pictures that make me drool.  You look at the picture and can taste the food the pictures are so fantastic.  I am more of an amateur.  We are taking pictures right now with Michael's phone and even though they are not bad, they are no where near the level of so many others.  I need to just break down and buy a new camera but for some reason I keep hoping that one day my camera will decide to focus.  I have done everything they suggest on the fix your camera yourself web sites short of opening it up.  I find it amazing that its less expensive to just go out and buy a new camera than have it fixed.  How bizarre is that.  Actually it is an interest commentary on our society and how so much has become just disposable.  Camera broken?  Throw it out and get a new one.  Tired of the dog?  Throw it out and get a new one.  You get the drift.

They look awfully tasty

Viola!  The finished product

Anyway, I wanted to freeze the shrimp purchased at the grocery store yesterday but they needed to be prepped before hand.  Part of that prep was de-veining and even though I have a tool for that, the shrimp are usually destroyed by the time I do it.  Michael stepped in and did it for me!  What a great guy!  Bear is our recycling bin, he loves the shells from the shrimp so even though you don't see him, he is right at Michael's feet waiting.

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Food Budget

Today is my day off from work and payday so that means one shopping.  Now I work retail and absolutely hate shopping with a passion.  I suspect it has to do with so many hours spent in a store.  Even when I do go shopping, people come up to me and ask me for assistance.  I guess I just look comfortable in my surroundings.  Usually I will take them to what ever they are looking for, customer service is what it is all about after all.  The one type of shopping I don't mind (other than going to Costco to try out all the samples) is grocery shopping.  There is some genetic defect in me that requires that there is always plenty of food in the house (hence the absolutely stuffed freezer and the flying duck).  Grocery shopping is a challenge to me, I need to get the most healthy food I can for the least amount of money (ice cream exempted from this rule).  The same applies to those other things that need to be bought like laundry detergent, paper towels, get the picture.  I have my usual round of stores that I frequent and the normal things I always must have in the house. 

I had stopped couponing for a while but then Ash commented about how bad she was at using coupons and it got me to thinking...even though I don't buy processed foods (other than condiments) there were still coupons out there for me so I started clipping coupons again last week.  Harris Teeter is having super double coupons this week and I was able to save $6.60 with just 4 coupons.  Everything I bought with the coupons was still less expensive than the store brand so I truly felt good about this.  Thanks Ash for the gentle reminder.

So, back to the budget.  I am only feeding the two of us and the budget does not include Bear's dog food.  We rarely eat out and we bring lunch.  Processed foods are fairly minimal.  I try to spend between $150 to $200 a month on food and essentials for the house.  When I look at those numbers they look fairly large but than I think about how much I used to spend in my previous life.  I also keep J's dollar a day budget in mind.

Today I spent...
$20.17 at Piggly Wiggly for fresh veggies and one really cheap bottle of wine
$63.55 at Harris Teeter for an amazing amount of stuff including a pound of both Wild Caught Argentinian     Pink Shrimp and Sashimi grade tuna
$12.13 at Doschers for chicken breasts and 2 rib eye steaks

This is more than enough food and snacks to last us the next two weeks.

I met the nicest lady while waiting in line at the deli counter at Harris Teeter.  We were talking about cooking and I gave her the blog info.  She has promised to look me up here and post a wonderful recipe she told me about for Talapia.  We are both not very patiently waiting for it to go back on sale. 

Each day I am amazed by all of you that read this blog.  Here I sit in Charleston, cooking and trying to save money and there you all are.  How many of you find me just boggles my mind.  Since I am new at this I am addicted to checking my blog stats. For those that don't blog, that's the information that tells me where in the world you are, what you looked at and sort of how you found me.  You are from here in the US, Canada, Guatemala (that's the daughter), The UK, Germany, Australia, Poland and today a new addition, Italy.  Some of you I know, most of you I don't.  The Internet is an amazing thing, bringing people together from all across the world.  I hope you are cooking and saving along with me!  Thank You!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Comfort Food

Bear somewhat patiently waiting for a snack

Yesterday we craved comfort food or as Michael calls it Diner Food.  I had taken some chicken breasts out of the freezer before I went to work and defrosted them in the fridge.  After I got home in the afternoon I started cruising the internet looking for something different.  My cooking searches usually start with what I have for example yesterday I typed in chicken breast bacon ricotta.  Nothing looked even tempting, they were mostly tasty suggestions but not what I had in mind (or necessarily on hand) so I asked Michael what he felt like eating.  His only request was mashed potatoes and from there dinner progressed.  We enjoy cooking together and my husband makes fabulous mashed potatoes.  They are light, creamy and lump less.  I peeled and boiled, he mashed and whipped (with Bear guarding him carefully the entire time).  In the end we wound up with chicken breasts roasted with carrots, onions and garlic, succotash (which Michael had made Sunday evening while I was at work), the fantastic mashed potatoes and gravy.  I am addicted to gravy and would probably eat it every day given the chance.  I am of the opinion that there is an art to making gravy, it takes time and patience, gravy cannot nor should it be rushed!

Roast Chicken Breast

2          Chicken breasts
1/2       medium onion, roughly sliced
2          carrots, chopped in what ever style you like (not too large or they will not cook correctly)
1 Tbs  olive oil
1 tsp    kosher salt
1 tsp    freshly ground black pepper
1         garlic clove minced

Pre-heat oven to 350, place chicken in oven safe roasting pan, spread onions, carrots and garlic over and around chicken.  Sprinkle all with salt, pepper and olive oil, making sure to get them on the veggies also.  Roast in oven about 1 hour or until carrots and chicken are cooked.  Remove from pan.


Roasting pan with drippings and veggies
1 Tbs  corn starch
water (I cannot give you a measurement on this one)

Place pan with drippings over medium heat and add the cornstarch.  Stir and cook for a few minutes.  When it gets thick start adding water.  Lower heat to high simmer, continue stirring and adding water.  I usually cook the gravy for at least 10 minutes, stirring and adding water until it reaches my desired consistency.  Now some folks like thick gravy, some like thin gravy and others prefer in the middle somewhere.  I am a middle of the road kind of gal but you decide for yourself what you like.  Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. 

I was thinking before we started to eat, we should take a picture but, we were both famished and couldn't wait long enough to take the picture.  I than thought, perhaps take a picture of our empty plates but we decided a picture of Bear would have to do today.  This meal definitely required a long walk afterwards for the 3 of us!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Promised Raviolis

So much for yesterdays plans and sorry this is late!  Sometimes life and the weather gets in the way. 
Here are the promised pictures of the ravioli's.  I am not going to share the pasta or filling recipe this time.  It was not up to my standards.  Tasted okay but there is a questionable step in it (baking the ravioli after boiling) and the filling is too watery.  I will search some more and experiment on Michael again.  The sauce on the other hand turned out very tasty so that one you will get!

Not bad looking for a first attempt!

The sauce recipe serves two

Rustic Red Sauce

1 lg can diced tomatoes
2 short ribs
1 garlic clove minced
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 Tbs fresh basil chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
1 cup water

Heat the olive oil in large pot over medium heat, add short ribs.  Brown on all sides, add remaining ingredients.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 3 hours or until ribs are tender, stirring occasionally adding additional water if needed.  Remove ribs and set aside.  Use immersion blender to break up most of the tomatoes leaving some intact.  Cut up rib meat add back to the sauce.  Warm through and serve.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Master Plan

My master plan was to blog about the Whole Wheat Three Cheese Raviolis we had for dinner last night.  I thought I could easily do that before I went to work this morning. I even have pictures!  Alas, the pictures are not quite in focus so I need to play with them on Photoshop before I dare put them up...

Please return later today (probably around 6 or 7 EST) and I promise the recipes and in focus pictures!  I have to say, it was tasty!

Monday, August 8, 2011

I Am A Mad Scientist

Yesterday before going to work I did what we call here at our house "rotate the refrigerator".  I have trouble throwing things out and that includes the little bits and pieces of leftovers that I stash in the fridge for goodness knows what reason.  What started this yesterday though was Michael foraging in the fridge for something to eat.  I knew I had to do it but kept waiting for trash day as it is very hot here and food can really start to smell nasty when outside in the trash can for a period of time.  He opened on plastic container with some chicken in it and phew it was horrible. I apparently had missed a few weeks as there was even mold on the left over quinoa salad.

One of my sister in laws used to joke that we were having some kind of a competition to see what science experiment we could create in the fridge.  I think we usually tied especially when it came to what I used to call the vegetable rotter.  I think most everyone has experienced this one, into the veggie drawer you go only to find something that used to be a solid but is now an unidentifiable liquid. 

I have really tried over the last few years to not let anything go to waste, I buy less, cook smaller portions and freeze more.  It is painful for me to throw food in the trash.  I look it as tossing money in the garbage but it still happens.  Somewhere there must be a fine point that will allow me to throw out those little scraps rather than allowing them to turn into a multi colored science experiment gone really bad.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Simple Life

I grew up in a small town on the south shore of Long Island, New York where clamming was a way of life.  Many of the Dads and most of the boys had clam boats that they used to earn their living.  It was and still is a hard way of life.  The Great South Bay can be very temperamental and the weather can be unforgiving especially in the winter when that cold wet wind comes in off the Atlantic.  It was here that I developed my love of the water.  My brothers and I would often take our fishing poles and ride down to the dock with great hopes of bringing home enough flounder to feed the family.  This was not usually a successful attempt.  I remember one day when a boy I liked in school came up to the dock in his boat, just at that moment I pulled up my line only to find an eel on it.  I screamed and the boy laughed, that memory is still in my mind so many years later. 

Fresh fish, clams and scallops were a normal way of life.  They were nothing fancy, just a way for my parents to feed 6 hungry children, 5 of them growing boys with what I still think are hollow legs.  Time and life took us away from Long Island, only to return occasionally for a visit usually strategically planned for the summer or early autumn when it is absolutely beautiful.

Our home after living in Phoenix and the bay area of California has been Charleston, SC for quite a few years now.  Oddly enough, even though the culture may be different, the way of life for many is still the same as my childhood.  In place of clamming is shrimping and oystering.  Going to an oyster roast at Bowen's Island and eating the oyster clusters fresh out of the creek there is an experience never forgotten.  The oysters are sweet and delicious, the clusters a challenge to open as they are exactly what they sound like, a bunch of oysters who for some mystery decided to all grow together like a giant oyster puzzle.

A few years ago, Santa brought my husband a crab trap.  It sat out in the shed until last summer when he went and purchased some chicken necks from Doschers where you can buy any imaginable part of an animal took the trap down the road to a friends dock, loaded up her traps and ours and threw them in the Stono River.  We weren't sure what success we would have, it's one of those things you never knew.   The endeavor was a success, so much so that folks were hiding from us for fear we would give them more crabs!

This 4th of July weekend Michael put out the pots again and we were rewarded with about 3 dozen crabs.  He brought them home in a cooler, made his own version of Old Bay Seasoning and put a giant pot of water on to boil.  These were some lively crabs who were not ready to die!  Bear was not so sure about the cooler, especially after he took one peak inside and saw all the crabs snapping and doing what crabs do when they are mad!  A few of the crabs even escaped from the pot as Michael was trying to cook them!

What brought this to mind today was a blog I follow and the vacation they have just taken.  They made wonderful crab cakes but purchased the crab meat since it is just too much work and you never know if the crab gods will smile down on you and give you enough crabs to do with what you desire.  The photography on this blog is wonderful and I look forward to each posting.  I hope you will enjoy it also!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Purple Chicken!

I love to watch cooking shows, they are great source of  ideas and a wonderful way to learn new techniques.  We are without cable here so our choices are limited to what is on one of the 3different PBS channels available to us (weather permitting of course).  There is an amazing assortment of shows.  Everything from Lidia, to Julia, Jaques and this really cool Puerto Rican lady in Brooklyn.  One thing about all the cooking shows (other than Master Chef of course) is that the food always tastes and looks great!  I am not that fortunate though.  There are mistakes and not everything turns out the way I planned.

Earlier this week I was searching on line for a marinade that I could use on some skinless chicken breasts I had picked up at Doschers for 88 cents a pound.  They are called mis-cuts and there are often some pretty interesting chicken breasts in there but, they are cheap, they are healthy and they are good.  So back to the marinade.  I wanted something different and came across this marinade which actually tastes delicious!  The only problem with it (which is actually rather minor) is that between the soy sauce and the balsmic vinegar,  the outside of my chicken turned purple.  Not light purple but almost black purple, the color of an eggplant.

I think my husband was a tad hesitant to eat the purple chicken but in the end declared it quite tasty.  So, if you decide to try this marinade, perhaps some darker type of meat would be best!  I found this recipe on

Soy Sauce/Balsamic Vinegar Marinade

1/4 cup   tamari soy sauce
2 Tbsp    balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp    olive oil
2 Tbsp    fresh basil  minced
1/2 tsp    oregano
1/2 tsp    freshly ground black pepper
2            cloves garlic   minced
2            chicken breasts

Put everything except the chicken in a zip lock bag, add the chicken, seal the bag and squish the chicken around until coated.  Let marinade in the refridgerator for 3 hours.  Remove from the marinade and bake for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes or until done.  Viola!!  Purple Chicken!!

Did you know that today is National Watermelon Day?  The food excitement just doesn't stop all week long!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's National Ice Cream Sandwich Day!!!!!

Michael sent me a list of this months very exciting upcoming national holidays and I was stunned to discover how many of them had to do with food!

Today we celebrate....National Ice Cream Sandwich Day!!!!  These are simply Nyakers Gingersnaps (from Cost Plus World Market) and strawberry ice cream purchased last week at the great ice cream sale at Harris Teeter (5 quarts of premium, all natural ice cream for only a little over 10.00).   We will be enjoying these tonight after supper (or maybe before that)!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cheesy Calzones

Even though the temperature was in the 90's yesterday, we decided we needed to get out and about so we went for a stroll around downtown Charleston.  If you have never been here, it is a beautiful city.  Now, it is not what I would call a real city like New York or Seattle but it is a city non the less.  There are so many old homes of varying styles and periods and it is what I like to call a walking city.  It's fairly small so you can get just about anywhere on foot.  We visited the renovated Slave Market (slaves were not sold at the Market, it was built after the war for recently freed slaves to sell their wares at), walked the Battery and checked out some of the shops on King Street.  The advantage to where we live in Charleston is that we are close enough to downtown but far enough away to feel like we live in the country.  I will have to have the husband take a few pictures (I appointed him staff photographer last night).

I had never made calzones before but they sounded pretty straight forward and I had the ingredients so here goes!


  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced pepperoni
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
  • 1 egg, beaten


  1. To Make Dough: In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add the oil, sugar and salt; mix in 1 cup of the flour until smooth. Gradually stir in the rest of the flour, until dough is smooth and workable. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes, or until it is elastic. Lay dough in a bowl containing 1 teaspoon olive oil, then flip the dough, cover and let rise for 40 minutes, or until almost doubled.
  2. To Make Filling: While dough is rising, combine the ricotta cheese, Cheddar cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms and basil leaves in a large bowl. Mix well, cover bowl and refrigerate to chill.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. When dough is ready, punch it down and separate it into 4 equal parts. Roll parts out into thin circles on a lightly floured surface. Fill each circle with 1/4 of the cheese/meat filling and fold over, securing edges by folding in and pressing with a fork. Brush the top of each calzone with egg and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.
So I actually filled ours with the ricotta, Parmesan, provolone, caramelized onions and sausage.  The filling was tasty but next time I will try something a bit moister. The crust is fantastic though!  The original recipe said this would make 2 calzones but each one would have taken up its own cookie sheet.  We had a simple Italian tomato sauce with this. 

The recipe is from  This maybe my new favorite source as they allow you to change the servings and the site does the ingredient calculations for you.