Life

Pulled Pork Barbecue

Posted on 09/20/2011. Filed under: Dinner, Life, Pork |

Hey y’all! I do believe I have mentioned before how much I love the pig. I love bacon, I love ham, I love prosciutto, I love sausage (ha ha, double entendre!), and I love some pulled pork barbecue. Really, I love barbecue in general. I’m the chick who has sauce all over her face while holding a rib in one hand and sucking sauce off her fingers from her other hand. I will slap my mother for some good smoked brisket. Barbecue chicken is summer. Anyway, I love barbecue. Last weekend, I was driving home from the Goochland Drive-In after seeing my friend Celia Finkelstein in Horrible Bosses, and I had the brilliant idea to turn my crock pot into a smoker and make some pulled pork barbecue. Why not?? I’d heard and read about methods where people turned their oven into a smoker with a roasting pan and keeping the temperature low, smoking the meat for 8 hours or more, so why not do it in a crock pot?

All week I’d been plotting in my head how this was going to work: I was going to put soaked woodchips in the bottom of the insert of the crock pot, put non-stick foil over the chips, poke holes in the foil, put the meat on top of the foil, put the lid on it (and everything will turn out riiiiiiigggghhhht! I love the Squirrel Nut Zippers!!), set that sucker to low and in 8 or 9 hours, voy-ola you have barbecue! Sounded easy and totally do-able! This means barbecue in the winter!!

So I consulted my Facebook friends, one of whom is the executive chef at Tommy’s Restaurant in Reedville, about my methods and where to purchase the woodchips as I had no idea, especially since fall arrived here suddenly this week and we’re now past Labor Day. I also figured this would be a good Supper Club meal for The Men as Matt would be home from college and Flogging Molly was playing The National on Sunday, September 18. Saturday, I went to Lowe’s and bought a bag of Hickory woodchips. Then I went to Kroger and bought a pork butt (I have no idea how much it weighed but by feel, I had a big butt…get it? No, seriously, the butt probably weighed 5 lbs? I know it was about $15 with my Kroger card), paprika, cumin, a 24 oz. can of Heineken, and a few other things. I came home and put dry woodchips in the crock pot to measure out how much to use, then put them in a pitcher, poured the Heineken over the chips, added about an ounce and a half of Wild Turkey American Honey, and let the chips soak starting at about 5pm on Saturday afternoon.

Chips soaking in beer and bourbon

And then I took Mom out for her birthday dinner at her favorite place in Richmond, Joe’s Inn in the Fan. We always get the same thing, her the Spaghetti a la Joe, and I get the Spaghetti a la Greek. And another great thing about going to Joe’s this time of the year is that they have my beloved Legend Oktoberfest on tap. This beer is one of the many reasons why I love fall. Awesome beer. After dinner, we picked up a friend from church and went to the Goochland Drive-In. Yes, this was actually my third week in a row going to the Drive-In, the first one being for a date (who then later dumped me after two dates because I didn’t put out….nice! haha!!), the second with a friend, and then this weekend for Chick Flick Double Feature of The Help (which was so good, really well written, directed and acted. I love Emma Stone and have a tiny girl crush on her) and Bridesmaids(which really could have been funnier…Melissa McCarthy totally stole the movie and was incredibly hilarious but Kristen Wiig’s character was just really frigging depressing). When we got home from the movies, I stayed up and rubbed my pork butt.

I’d found a recipe online (on my iPhone, how 21st Century of me) for a rub that looked good. It was a quarter cup of paprika and two tablespoons each of the following: sugar, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, cayenne, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder. I mixed the spices together in a bowl with a fork, rinsed and dried the pork with paper towels, and then massaged the hell outta my butt. (hee hee!) I coated the pork with the rub and got in any nooks and crannies, put it on a plate and wrapped it in plastic wrap (which my friend Frank later pointed out to me that next time to leave it unwrapped in the fridge as to let the meat “dry out” a little and there would be more of a bark on the pork…will try this for next time!). I put the butt in the fridge and went to bed at 2am Sunday morning.

Spices assembled for butt rub

Ready to be rubbed

 

All rubbed up and ready for the fridge

Y’all, 7am is damn early when you’ve only slept for five hours. Or for me it is anyway. I stumbled downstairs, rubbing my eyes and got to work. I took the woodchips that had been soaking in beer and bourbon since 5pm the day before out on the counter, strained the liquid from the wood and nearly got drunk from the fumes of the boozy wood. That was a hell of a way to suddenly wake up! I decided to reserve the beery bourbon for a sauce later and put it in the fridge. I think I had about two cups left.

I put the chips in the crock pot and put some non-stick foil over the wood and poked holes all over with a toothpick. I put the pork on top of the foil (fat side up), put the lid over the pork, plugged her in and set the temp to low. I quickly washed my mess and went back to sleep. When I got up four hours later, the house smelled so good. Smokey and spicy and porky yummy.

Then I got some bad news. Matt texted that he wouldn’t be able to make it, his fraternity was holding their pledge initiation that night. Well, I understood but since the pork was already cooking, and Dan was coming for dinner anyway, we went ahead with Supper Club. Although, Dan and I decided not to see Flogging Molly as he’d just gotten off work and I had household stuff to do like laundry. Besides, I was exhausted from all this cooking.

I took the beery bourbon out of the fridge and poured it in a saucepan and heated the pot on medium with a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and a splash of apple cider vinegar and let it simmer and reduce down for about 45 minutes. While that was going, I roasted a head of garlic for hummus.

Simmering booze

I removed the sauce from the heat and took the garlic out of the oven, and let them both come to room temperature. When the pork was ready, I heated the vinegar sauce back up and in another saucepan I heated up the rest of an old bottle of still-good Whole Foods Mesquite barbecue sauce with liquid from the chips and pork in the bottom of the crock pot. I also added the same crock pot liquid to the vinegar sauce. I let the pork rest for about 20 minutes before shredding. I took the pork out of the crock pot at about 5:30. Mom had told me later that the outlet I’d plugged the crock pot in had stopped working and needed to be reset, and the pork didn’t start really cooking until 8am that morning.

I pulled apart the pork and it was just falling apart. Tender and juicy, the rub was nice and spicy. While it didn’t have a crust that I was hoping for, and it wasn’t as smokey as I’d hoped (because there ended up being a lot of juice in the crock pot from the chips and the pork), but it was still very good. I then added pulled pork to both the vinegar sauce and tomato barbecue sauce, put Tabasco in both pots for more kick. To the vinegar pulled pork, I added rice vinegar for more tang, Worcestershire sauce, and several dashes of Tabasco, salt, pepper, and honey for a little sweetness.

All done!

Just falling apart and fork-tender

Pulled pork with the vinegar sauce

Pulled pork with the barbecue sauce

 

Dan came over for dinner and we had a sandwich of each type of pulled pork, along with Kraft macaroni & cheese, Martin’s red skin potato salad, and Martin’s cole slaw. Y’all, my barbecue is so good! It’s different than what you’d expect of pulled pork barbecue but it’s just really good. Mom and Dan loved it and raved, and both had a hard time deciding which type was better. And the best part is that there are tons of leftovers. Dan brought a Meritage that was delicious and complimented the meal perfectly. A nice soft juicy wine that had the right amount of dryness.

Dessert was a devil’s food cake with white buttercream from Martin’s for Mom’s birthday. We watched football and laid about in a barbecue daze.

I would totally do this again, but I think next time I do believe I will try the oven method of smoking to see if I could get more of that smokey flavor and a bark to the meat. But who knows, I may go back to the crock pot method for more simplicity. Either way, barbecue and the pig are gifts from God.

Bon Appetit, Y’All!

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Chicken Noodle Soup

Posted on 08/28/2011. Filed under: Chicken, Life, Pasta, Soup |

Have y’all heard or experienced the crazy weather this week here in Central Virginia? Good lord we began with an EARTHQUAKE and ended it with Hurricane Irene! Shit is crazy here y’all! And I’ve been dealing with the summer cold that is going around, which proves my theory that work is bad for your health.  So because I’d been sick all week, I’ve been craving chicken noodle soup like crazy. Another con about work: it interrupts my cooking.

I finally got the chance today to make the soup I’ve been wanting for a week now, and my cold is waning…right now I’m at the annoying lingering cough stage. Mom had gone to the store and picked up the celery I needed, I had half a bag of baby carrots left in my fridge (speaking of, I’ve often wondered how carrots could have such a long life if kept cold…is it because it’s a root vegetable? Dunno), I still had a couple of white onions hangin’ around, as well as the stock and chicken breasts in my well-stocked freezer.

Speaking of my freezer, if we lost power for a significant amount of time, sooooo much food would be wasted, and I would cry like a woman in the middle of her period watching a tear-jerker marathon on Lifetime. So knock on wood, the only power outages so far during this storm have lasted maybe three minutes long. Others in Richmond, many of my friends, have lost power. Fortunately they’re all stocked up on beer. But the downside to this storm is that Shadow is going crazy. He’s an outdoor cat and is refusing the litter box, and it wandering around my house and yelling at my mom and I. Our response? “Dammit cat, can’t you tell there’s a HURRICANE OUTSIDE?!?!”

Watching the storm from the best seat in the house

Getting back to the soup…I started out by chopping one white onion in a medium dice. I then tossed it in a cold stock pot that had been drizzled with a tablespoon or so of Trader Joe’s Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and a three-finger pinch of Kosher salt. I let the pot hang out cold while my frozen four cups of homemade chicken stock melted in a saucepan on the burner next to it.

Then I sliced eight stalks of celery into medium slices, and sliced most of the bag of carrots. I wanted to keep the veggies around the same size for even cooking, and I guess I sliced a cup of each. Then I cut three chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.

When the stock was melted, I turned on the stockpot and let the onion cook until transluscent-ish. Yes, that’s a word. Then I added the celery and carrot to the pot, stirred it up, and cooked the veggies for a couple of minutes. Then I poured the stock in, as well as an additional 10 cups or so of water. The veggies will add flavor to the water, and since I was going to cook the chicken in the broth, it was going to add flavor as well. I then herbed it up (no, not “herbs,” just herbs, you stoners!) with dried thyme and dill, a few bay leaves, garlic powder and onion powder, a few dashes of hot sauce, white pepper and a couple more pinches of salt, seasoning to taste. Season your soup however you like. If you’re a sage freak, have at it. Like a kick to your soup? Add crushed red pepper. Go nuts, let your freaky soup flag fly.

So anyway, after the seasonings get added, and the veg and liquids, I brought the soup to a boil, reduced to a simmer, and let the veg cook for about 30 minutes. Then I added the cut chicken to the pot, stirred it up, and let it cook for 10 more minutes, and then I added dried wide egg noodles to the pot, stirred it up, let it cook for an additional 12 minutes. You can use whatever noodles you want, if you want to add noodles. If I had a matzo ball recipe, I’d probably made Penicillin Soup like at The Jewish Mother in Virginia Beach (but better, their soup’s gone downhill, whereas mine is bangin’). But if you add spaghetti, be sure to break up the pasta before adding it to the pot, unless you wanna slurp noodles.

The soup was warm and comforting, like a soft blanket by the fireplace on a cold rainy night. The veggies were cooked to perfection, were not mushy and overcooked. The chicken was juicy and firm, not chewy, and the pasta was al dente.  It makes a TON of soup: 14 cups of leftovers plus two soup bowls full. So good, all natural, filling, and plenty left over to either share or hoard in your freezer like I did.

Large stockpot of homemade chicken noodle soup

Perfect dinner on a rainy night..healthy too!

…The next day…

I started this blog during Hurricane Irene. I was fortunate enough to have power until about 9:30pm the night of Saturday, August 27, when I was in the middle of typing the last sentence of the last paragraph. I am happy to report my townhouse did not have any damage, the only bad things that happened were no power throughout the night (but fortunately it wasn’t that hot and slept comfortably), arguing with Shadow as to why he could not go outside, and the cover blew off my grill (but landed safely behind it, caught between the side fence and the grill, and it is currently drying out in the sunshine). When I went to bed last night I was very scared about the food in my large 6′ freezer out in the garage as well as the food in my well-stocked fridge, and nearly cried at the thought of throwing everything (including the soup I’d just made) out. Also, it dawned on me that I do not own a French Press coffeemaker nor do I own either ground coffee or a coffee grinder (because we own a Cuisinart Grind & Brew), and might have to drink tea instead if I boil water on the grill. Fortunately, our power was restored around 10:00 this morning, I had fresh coffee and pancakes with bacon for breakfast in my own home, and am now able to wash linens. I have offered my friends without power use of my facilities if they need them.

How he recovers from a hurricane, by napping on a cooler in the shade next to my mint

Anyway, I hope everyone is safe and has an enjoyable week, and hopefully no more crazy-ass weather.

Bon Appetit, Y’all!

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My Summer in Pictures

Posted on 08/23/2011. Filed under: Life |

Grilled Beer Butt Chicken

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

Chili Beef & Mac with Cheese

My sad attempt at growing tomatoes. Yeah, turns out they need water. Like, A LOT.

Grilled Italian sausage, sauteed bell peppers & onions

Shadow, waiting for Sunday breakfast

Shrimp & Grits with too much parsley

The Men bought me a new grill. Matt's on the left playing with his knob; Dan's on the right playing with his knob,

Meat sauce for calzones

Sauteed red & green bell pepper and onion for calzones

Calzones! Dough from scratch

Marshmallow, en fuego

Matt's psyched for Pork Stir Fry (His dinner idea, my execution)

Legend beer, roasted garlic hummus, crackers. The night of Pork Stir Fry.

Left, Pipline Porter; Right: Longboard Lager, Kona Brewing Co, Kona, HI. Taken at Capital Ale House, Midlothian for Steal the Glass

Fried green tomatoes. Tomatoes from Matt's backyard.

The Bacon Lettuce Fried Green Tomato with Cheddar Sandwich, on toasted butter bread with Hellman's

A destroyed pulled pork BBQ sandwich with sauce and cole slaw, from Ronnie's Ribs, Wings & Other Things.

http://ronniesribsandwings.com/

Pineapple sorbet

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Hi Chickadees!

Posted on 08/06/2011. Filed under: Life |

So, how y’all doin? How yer chirren duerin? Having a good summer, I hope. So the reason why I have been MIA is really because of lack of access to a computer. My desktop crapped out in July of ’10, right before the New Orleans trip. And then a ton of things happened in my personal life (new job, Mom had back issues & surgery, a fiance moved in…and out). Yes, I am no longer with John, and that’s all that needs to be said about that. I am happy now, and enjoying life.

The Men (Matt & Dan) and I have started our Supper Club for the summer, pretty much as soon as Matt’s year in college was done. We had it weekly, from May until late July when schedules finally put a damper on the weekly meetings. Things cooked this summer: pineapple salsa stuffed grilled pork tenderloin, calzones, grilled pineapple spears, shrimp & grits again (this time with MUCH better grits, Wade’s Mill, local Virginia grits), fried green tomatoes and bacon-lettuce-fried-green-tomato sandwiches (which, I swear, if I ever have my own restaurant, they are definitely going on the menu), pork stir fry, roasted garlic hummus (which Matt is now addicted to), and grilled beer butt chicken (with my own rub!).

I also purchased an ice cream maker and have made chocolate ice cream and pineapple sorbet. The ice cream was really easy and really good, nice and chocolatey (I used regular ol’ Hershey’s cocoa powder) and decadent with all the heavy cream and whole milk. The pineapple sorbet was super easy, and surprisingly creamy for only being pureed pineapple, sugar and lemon juice (and a couple of optional tablespoons of homemade pineapple vodka).

So since I now have my own laptop, will definitely be updating this blog the more I cook. For the next Supper Club, I’ll be doing the grilled pineapple salsa stuffed pork tenderloin again, hummus for Matt, and haven’t decided on any sides yet. But I have until the 13th to figure it out.

In the meantime, I hope everyone is well, having a great summer, and until next time…

Bon Appetit, Y’All!

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Happy Thanksgiving Y’all!

Posted on 11/22/2010. Filed under: Life |

I’m blogging at work!  Woo, I’m bending the rules!  Suck it, Big Brother.  Anyway, so yeah I’m sorry y’all, once again, for not posting.  Shit’s been crazy.  Mom came down with a nasty batch of spinal stenosis which landed her in the hospital for four days in October, then returned two weeks later with a blood clot in her left leg.  I haven’t had much of a chance to do any exciting, daring cooking lately because it’s just been A MAD HOUSE!  (I can’t help but think of Charlton Heston every time I say “It’s a MAD HOUSE!” Rest in peace, Chuck.)

So this summer was exciting.  We had a fantastic time in New Orleans and got to know some church peeps really well and we had a blast. We laughed a lot and sweated more. Seriously if you have never been to the Deep South in July, I don’t recommend it.  It’s like breathing warm bath water, and you begin to sweat simply walking from inside out to the car.  I grew up in the Deep South, but I’d gotten so used to being in Virginia that my body acclimated to Mid-Atlantic weather.  I planned meals very well for everyone, cooked as much as I ever had in my life (time at Whole Foods included), and received the best compliments on my cooking.  The first night, as a teenager was shoving mouthfuls of Chocolate Stuff in, he mumbled, “Dude, you need to open a restaurant.”  Thanks, kiddo! 

My sous chefs (Mom and a lovely woman named Lola who we made laugh so hard I wouldn’t be surprised if she peed her pants) and I fell into a routine of waking at 6 am and starting breakfasts of scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits, cut fruit.  We’d pack lunches at night, which were sandwiches with meat (turkey or roast beef) and cheese, mini Gladware thingies of pasta or potato salad, more fruit.  The key was to keep everyone hydrated while they built houses for Katrina victims.  Once everyone had left for the day, the ladies and I would sit down and plan the grocery list for the day and what time to start cooking and who was doing what.  The kind people at the Slidell Wal-Mart got to know us very well by Day 2.  But it was the dinners that were the main attractions.  The first dinner I made was blackened burgers (seasoned with Magic Red Fish seasoning) that I’d stuffed half with a mild blue cheese and half without (because blue cheese is definitely either a love it or hate it food), grilled veggies, a Mediterranean pasta salad (rotini pasta, sliced black olives, chopped up artichokes, feta cheese, chopped fresh spinach, dill, S&P, and a simple red wine vinaigrette), more fruit and chips. 

The second night was The Gumbo Throwdown.  One of the guys on the trip’s best friend lives in New Orleans and the friend said he’d make us a pot of gumbo.  The gentleman arrived with another friend, Jerome, who is a former linebacker for LSU (which I overlooked because I love a large man that brings me food).  Jerome came in carrying his 78-year-old daddy’s gumbo. Y’all, this man is a native.  I took one whiff of this gumbo, threw my hands in the air and said, “I concede!” Oh mah Gawd it was HEAVEN.  The crab was still in its shelled legs, the chicken wings still on the bone, other unknown but tasty meats and simply wonderful.  Jerome also brought us his daddy’s potato salad which was deeee-vine.  It was like a deviled egg stuffing with potatoes and cayenne and green bell peppers.  Even now, in November, I’m still trying to figure out what was in that delicious potato salad. And bread! They brought us a beautiful loaf of crusty French bread from a local bakery, which Jerome told me to slice and toast slightly in the oven.  After dinner, I followed the men out to the truck for a beer and a Thank You.  I could have kissed Jerome for all the wonderful food, despite his football allegiances.

The third night was our day off exploring New Orleans.  I dearly love this city.  The sights, the smells, the food, the culture, the people, the music, everything.  I bought pralines galore, local art, gifts for friends.  Mom and I went off on our own and got blindingly drunk off of Hand Grenades (a frozen melon drink that will knock you off your ass in a flash) and Hurricanes (from Pat O’Briens, naturally).  Since we hadn’t heard from anyone much during the day, we had dinner at Margaritaville.  The crawfish etouffee was delicious, hot and tasty with plump, fresh crawfish tails.  Really, not bad for what is considered a chain restaurant (although I think they only serve the etouffee at their New Orleans location). 

The fourth night was my crowning glory, the meal that is still talked about.  Jambalaya.  It was the same recipe I’d posted here a while back, and everyone raved about it.  There’s talk of mission trip fundraisers being held by selling MY Jambalaya.  I’ll never forget going to the seafood store to get shrimp, either.  Of course, the damn oil spill this summer in the Gulf was still happening while we were there (and was plugged while we were there too, a joke that our church started: “We send our group to rebuild Katrina houses and they stopped the oil leak!”), and merchants were driving up prices of seafood.  So I go into Kenney Seafood and I ask the man for four pounds of shrimp (beheaded, please).  “That’s gonna be pricey. It’ll be $26.”  For FOUR POUNDS?!  THAT’S ALL??!  Four pounds of these big-ass shrimp would have cost me at least $50 in Virginia, so I was happy as a clam (or shrimp?). 

The best part of the trip was knowing that I managed to feed 16 people for a total of 12 meals (and buying cases and cases and cases of bottled water) for $1300 UNDER my food budget.  Now that is some damn fine planning!  AND I made almost all of them gain weight with my cooking.  I have since been named the official cook for all mission trips for my church. 

Then came August…nothing much happened there except I got another job.  I worked for a national wireless company’s call center, and I hated it.  It was a constant argument with customers and it was never ending, like the post office.  I knew before going to New Orleans that I’d have a difficult time with work when I got back, so I started applying for jobs before I left.  I had a phone interview with another company (not a wireless company, but a call center job nonetheless), and when I returned I got the job.  I went into the Hell Job on what I knew was my last day, sent an email to my boss and my boss’s boss saying I was resigning effective immediately and left.  They’re lucky I didn’t pull a Scarface on them.  I began the new job and I really like it.  The customers are infinitely nicer and I like my boss a hell of a lot more.

Labor Day weekend arrived, and with it, our annual Jimmy Buffett concert.  My best friend in the world came up for the concert and brought my boyfriend John with him.  We had a great time tailgating and breaking the men’s Buffett show virginities.  During the concert, John and I were talking about our relationship during “Why Don’t We Get Drunk (And Screw),” and he proposed.  I agreed to marry him as Jimmy Buffett serenaded us with “Honey, why don’t we get drunk and screeeeewwww? I just bought a waterbed, it’s filled up for me and yooooouuuuu!”  We’re thinking of April 2012 for our wedding.

Things calmed down for a while and then came October with Mom’s back issues.  John was spinning his wheels in Florida and I was having a hard time taking care of Mom, the house, the cat and going to work, so I asked him to move up to Virginia now, rather than what we originally planned of him moving up in May.  It’s been an adjustment, and he got here November 3, right after I turned 29 for the third time.

Well, that’s about it.  We’re preparing for Thanksgiving, and we’ll be preparing dishes we’ve made before (Cajun-fried turkey, candied yams, green bean casserole), and some I haven’t made before (Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake and Butterfinger Cake for Dan’s birthday).  Schmoopie and his boyfriend are driving up from Florida, so Mom and I will have a house of men at our table.  I will be sure to let y’all know how the desserts turn out, since once again, I am not a baker.  Fortunately the Butterfinger Cake is a Paula Deen recipe that involves a boxed cake mix (thank GOD), so it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Bon appétit, y’all!

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General Laziness

Posted on 04/22/2010. Filed under: Life |

Woo!  Look at the time!  It’s April 22 (Happy Earth Day, people!), and my last post was three weeks ago.  Yeah, total slacker.  But lookit, it’s spring and I have been out enjoying it.  Except this week.  This week I’ve had the chance to have four days off, and I have been a completely lazy girl, even though I’m currently on day three of four off.

So here’s what’s been going on: my friend Matt and I kinda fell into having a Friday Night Supper Club thing.  The first week he came over, I just grilled out: chicken breasts, beer brats, asparagus, onions, green peppers.  Nothing special.  The following week, it was Matt’s turn.  He made his own special burgers (I can’t reveal the entire recipe without his prior blessing, but there’s a layer of cream cheese between two patties of seasoned beef), while I made sweet potato fries with melted blue cheese.  The burgers were huge and thick and juicy, but I was amazed at how the blue cheese (some cheap Danish stuff I picked up at Walmart) really worked with the sweet potato fries.  Sweet, tangy, slightly salty, delicious.  Matt was the one who also conceived the fries.  The meal went very well with Landshark Lager.

Last week, it was Matt’s choosing again for the entrée, but I made dessert.  We made taco salad, but the twist was using Nacho Cheese and/or Spicy Cheese Doritos in the salad.  I built mine like this, from bottom to top: shredded lettuce, a light layer of Spicy Cheese Doritos, nacho cheese, taco meat (also seasoned with Tobasco for that vinegary heat), more nacho cheese, a dollop of sour cream, lots of cut-on-the-bias green onion.  I also provided split grape tomatoes for the tomato eaters at the table.  For dessert, I sliced some strawberries and had been letting them macerate with sugar for a few hours.  Then I made fresh-whipped cream (something I’d learned how to make from my wonderful and talented friend Joe B.), topped the strawberries with the cream and drizzled the juice from the berries on top.  Fresh, light, easy and delicious.

This Friday is my choosing.  A dish I’ve been wanting to make for a while now and am excited about it.  It’s very seasonal, using lemons and asparagus, yet promises to be comforting.  The Friday after that, if Matt & I are able to continue on this culinary journey together, is Matt’s choice.  And it will be something I said I saw on Man vs. Food, something so fattening and bad for you that it scares me a bit.  It will involve bacon, beef AND a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed donut.  I intend on complementing this creation with something very light and healthy.   Every time I think about this upcoming dish, I can feel my heart beat faster from fear and impending cholesterol.

In other news, somewhat cooking related: I am going to New Orleans!!!!!  I went to church for the first time in a while on Easter Sunday and saw where my church is hosting a missionary trip to New Orleans to help build/re-build houses still affected by Hurricane Katrina, and they needed a cook!  I got the time off of work, and will be going to New Orleans for a week in July to cook for my team from church.  So far the people interested in going are awesome and I’m completely stoked: Matt, my mom, and my friends Adrian & Roy.  This trip was getting good until I realized the best part: John. 

And here’s the other part of my news, y’all.  I met a man.  John and I met online a year and a half ago but never really met until we bumped into each other at Sticks Kebob Shop one night in February 2009.  The first time either one of us had ever been to Sticks, and he was in line in front of me.  I was about to be engaged at the time, and I knew it was coming, so I didn’t say hello to John.  That and Adrian was with me.  But I knew who he was and I was instantly attracted to him.  He told me later he was thinking of opening lines to say to me that night but he didn’t either.  We were too shy.  I got engaged to the craziest man alive, outside of Manson.  Then John moved to Syracuse, NY the same day I ended it with the whackaloon.  John spent some months in Syracuse but that didn’t work out, so he decided to move to Tallahassee to be closer to his family.  I figured he was driving through Richmond on the way down, so I sent him a message on Facebook inviting him to get together when he came through.  Turns out, he wasn’t planning on taking 95 down, he was going to take 85.  But another friend of his insisted on John stopping for a visit and we finally, “officially” met.  🙂

We met up at his hotel and then went to Capital Ale, where he noshed on perogies and we talked over beer.  We had an instant connection and I felt at home with him.  We had a lovely evening and then he left for Florida.  We’ve kept in touch ever since, and he’s planning on meeting up with me in Nawlins for our team’s one sight-seeing day.  I’m hoping I can step away from the group and show John around Nawlins.  If our visit goes well (and I am sure it will), I’m hoping to come down to Florida sometime this fall (hopefully I’ll have enough time and will get the time off to come the weekend of the Florida/Florida State game, being played in Tallahassee).  We’ll see where we wind up, but we’re both hoping and praying for the best.

So here’s to life, love, good times and good food.  No worries, y’all, I’ll be back with my latest dish not too long after I’ve made it.  Until then…

Bon appetit, y’all!

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