Sunday, September 20, 2015

Carolina Panthers Game

Panthers 6

Today I got to go to my first Carolina Panthers football game in sunny Bank of America Stadium in sunny Charlotte, NC!

The last and only time I was at an NFL football game was back when the Detroit Lions still played at the Pontiac Silverdome.  Sad but true.

Panther Stadium

Attention Ladies!!  It was right about here that I learned something very important that I would like to share with you so that it doesn’t happen to you!  The NFL had decided for security purposes that you cannot bring a purse or handbag in with you to the game.  Of course I didn’t now know this so when I got to the gate, I wasn’t allowed in with my bag!!  Had to WALK back to the hotel and drop my purse off.  The things I wanted to bring in with me had to be placed in a see through plastic bag that they were more than happy to give me.  Too much walking in very uncomfortable but I have to say extremely cute sandals and my feet have borderline blisters.  It felt like it was 100 degrees! 

Rickshaw cabs in Charlotte, NC

And a huge thank you to the Pedicab or bicycle driven pedestrian taxi like this one from R & R Pedicab CompanyWalking back to hotel did a number on my feet in those cute sandals I was telling you about.  So……..Rickshaw cab to the rescue!  Took me back to the stadium in no time flat for a very reasonable fee.  : )

Panthers 5       panthers 4

This was not a planned event for my weekend but you know I have learned and have started to embrace and love the things, people, and activities that come my way seemingly out of nowhere.  Two free last minute tickets to the Carolina Panther’s game on a very hot Sunday afternoon. Ummm….OKAY!

    Panther Tailgate

  Started the morning at a tailgate.  I got to see firsthand how serious a large part of the population take their football.  And I’ll be shopping for the Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix asap.

Bloody Mary Mix     Bojangles

Usually I don’t really like drink mixes…..this one was awesome!

And what respectable southern tailgate doesn’t have at least one box of Bojangles  chicken and biscuits? 

Panther Boy Scouts

These were the smartest and most enterprising Boy Scouts I’ve ever seen.  They were selling bags of popcorn for their troop.  Fun popcorn like jalapeno cheddar!  And of course caramel corn.  Get a bunch of hot and hungry football fans who are eating and drinking to pass the time before the game starts and ask them if they want to buy a bag of popcorn.  I’ll bet they set a troop sales record.  : )


Panther 7I

So the game was big fun.  It was way too hot….I was melting.  The Carolina Panthers beat the Houston Texans 24-17.  Took a rickshaw/pedicab back to the hotel before the game was over because feet were still a hot mess as was I from baking in the sunshine.  I have to work on my football fan skills.  They are seriously lacking.  Remember, I grew up in Michigan.  Football is a cool/cold weather sport.  I’ll get better at the football fan thing.  I just need a bit more practice.  : )

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Low Country Boil

Shrimp Boil

For years I have wanted to try and make a Low Country Boil and serve it to a large crowd and preferably at the beach! I was a subscriber to Coastal Living Magazine for years which is where I found the basic recipe that I used to make mine.  There I saw and read recipes and stories about Low Country Boils and always wanted to give it a try.   I finally got my chance. 

Favorite kind of vacation for me….hands down….is to spend a week at the beach.  The Outer Banks in North Carolina continues to be one of my favorite spots on the earth.  But this year, now that the kids are older and more spread out location wise, I found a place to stay that was easy for everyone to get to and so for the first time we met on the Beautiful Isle of Palms,  in South Carolina.

And I had a crowd to feed which made me very happy!

I looked at a lot of recipes and each of them a little bit different from the other.   Which made me realize that this too was one of those great recipes that is never the same exact thing twice or that you can easily put your own signature on.  It’s one of those ”throw whatever you have on hand into the pot, feed a lot of hungry people, and it’ll all work out just fine” kind of suppers.     



This is how I made mine.

Low Country Boil

Equipment and Ingredients: 

Very tall pot.  A Stock pot works great or even a canning pot would work. 

News papers, and lots of paper towels!  Forks optional.  : )  This is the ultimate finger food kind of dinner.

Water, I filled the stock pot up about 1/3 of the way with water so that I had enough room for all the ingredients. 

4 Heaping tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning  (add more or less depending on your pot size.)  Don’t worry about precise measurements.  It’ll all work out I promise!

If you don’t want to be eating at midnight, I suggest you start to boil the water with the Old Bay added to it right away.

Turn your burner on High and put a lid on the pot to bring it all up to a boil.  Chop your vegetables and seafood while this is happening. 

Red skin potatoes, leave the skins on, cut in large chunks for even and quicker cooking.  I figured about  2 potatoes for each man and 1 for each woman.  How’s that for science?  The potatoes need more time than some of the other ingredients to cook all the way through so add them to the pot first and then cut up the rest of your ingredients.

3 to 4 Onions, cut into large chunks

1 to 2 Green Pepper, cut into large pieces

Corn on the cob.  Shucked and each piece broken in half.  I figured one ear per person and threw in a couple of extra. 

Raw Shrimp,  The shrimp still in their shells have more flavor but you can use whatever kind you want.  Peeling with your fingers is part of the fun.  Just have lots off napkins or paper towels on hand.  I used 2 pounds of shrimp and was able to feed 7 people.  But I also did not have any other seafood in the pot.  Many people like to add crab legs or chunks of fish.  The next time I make this I would love to add some mussels. 

I did not add my seafood, in my case the shrimp, until the pot was at a full boil.  Then I added my shrimp and set the timer for 10 minutes.  Perfect.  The shrimp were cooked but not over done or tough.  They were nice and tender. 

3 links of Sausage, cut in small chunks.  Any kind.  I used beef sausage from Hillshire Farms because it was buy one get 2 free!  Buy what you like.  Next time I think I’ll try kielbasa.  A smoked sausage might be nice in this too.

Butter , melted for dipping the seafood in and makes buttering the corn cobs easier.

Salt and Pepper

Sliced Lemons (optional)

Cocktail Sauce Crosse and Blackwell is my favorite brand. 


Old Bay Seasoning     Cocktail Sauce Crosse and Blackwell

Old Bay.  It’s a classic for a reason.       And my favorite cocktail sauce is made by Crosse and Blackwell.

Low Country Boil     Low Country Boil Isle of Palms Vacation 3

Spread some newspaper several layers thick down the center of your table.  I used a large slotted spoon to lift the food out of the broth in the pot and put it in a large bowl.  I poured the food down the center of the table.  Steaming hot.  Be careful.  The newspaper absorbs any excess broth and the food is evenly dispersed across the center of the table for a reach in and help yourself meal.  Have lots of paper towels or napkins on hand.  This is a messy but very fun business.   I had to improvise with brown paper Harris Teeter Grocery bags deconstructed with a pair of scissors and the inside of the bags face up with the  ink side face down.  It worked out just fine.

                         Coles Garlic Bread 

( I also served up one of those ever so handy frozen Coles’ Garlic Breads that you can find in the frozen bread section.  Perfect beach fare although a really great bread would be more than awesome….if you can make it easy on yourself…and you’re on vacation… it! )

This was the ultimate in beach food.  Feeds a crowd, easy and economical too. I hope to make this meal an annual event!

Sand or no sand.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Vacation on the Beautiful Isle of Palms, South Carolina

Marina 2

Having a wonderful and long due vacation on the Isle of Palms in South Carolina this week.  It’s been a long time coming.  My favorite vacation to take is one at the beach and while I think my favorite beaches are on the Outer Banks in North Carolina, we decided to give the Charleston, South Carolina area a try.  Love it here too!  We are staying the on the beautiful Isle of Palms and not a rain drop all week.  It’s been perfect beach weather.   They take their Palm Trees very seriously here.  As well they should.  There is a very beachy vibe here.  The main street as you come across the island where all the beach front cottages/beach mansions : ) are located is lined with palm trees.  We even saw city maintenance crews pruning away the dried out fronds.  Isle of Palms is a barrier island on the South Carolina coast. It lies along a narrow strip of land, hugging the beach, separated from the mainland by Intracoastal Waterway.  And Charleston is only about a half hour from here or so I’m told.  Will find out tonight.  Planning on having dinner there this evening.

Our first day here we had lunch on the top deck of a restaurant called Morgan Creek Grill which was in the Isle of Palms Marina.  How’s that for a view?! 

Creek Drinks          Marina 3

It was a bit too early for cocktails but the drink menu looked good enough for a return visit.  I’m very into Moscow Mules right now so I think I might have to order The “Gig”.  : )

Isle of Palms Beach

My camera lens and angle makes the beach look really crowded but it really was not.

Beach Pelicans and Sea Gulls Isle of Palms, SC

Pelicans have to be my most favorite kind of bird.

  Shrimp Boat    Beach Chair    Sea Gull

That’s my beach reading chair in the middle.  Toes in the water and my book and my 50 SPF sunscreen.  Happy Girl.

     Evan in water fishing     re

So I am sure you have all heard the reports of the crazy shark attacks this summer off the coast of North and South Carolina.  Well, I have to say there were very few people in the water here.  Me included.   The sharks are there I am thinking because my son caught 3 baby Black Fin Sharks in the last two days. I don’t know much about sharks or how long the Mama sharks stay with their babies but that made me kind of nervous! 

I am headed back to the beach for the day.  Got a little bit scorched by the sun yesterday so I have to take extra care with the sun screen and beach umbrella today.  I had a lot of mouths to feed the other night and did so by making my first Low Country Boil.  So stay tuned.  It was a big success!

Book Off Season Anne Rivers Siddons     Book The Girls of August Anne Rivvers Siddons

My beach read this week is Off SeasonOff Season by Anne Rivers Siddons.  And I am very excited because next week Off SeasonThe Girls of August comes out.  I took my vacation one week too early.  Look at that cover.  Either make for beach reading perfection. 

See you soon.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Driving Hungry by Layne Mosler

Driving Hungry Layne Mosler Stack of Books

Summer is upon us and I couldn’t be happier!!  Hard to believe that next week is the Fourth of July which to me marks the middle of the summer.  How can that be??!!  We are headed to the beach very soon and it’s been a long time coming.  I Love to sit in my beach chair with my toes in the water  a good book in my hand,  with my sunglasses and my SPF 50 sunscreen.  I can’t think of anything more relaxing than that can you?

I just finished this very entertaining book. 

Are you looking for a great beach read?  Consider this one.

It promises to take you on an adventure!


Driving Hungry: A MemoirDriving Hungry will be released by Penguin Random House on July 14, 2015. 

This delicious and fun book is by the author of the popular blog Taxi Gourmet where Layne Mosler takes you on her Taxi Cab Adventures.  She learned quickly back in 2007 when she started writing her Taxi Gourmet blog that sometimes the best food a city has to offer is sometimes off the beaten path and who would know better where some of these hidden treasures are than the taxi cab drivers shuttling locals and tourists around town?  She writes about the food and restaurants she discovers on these adventures and  also writes about the interesting, and diverse and colorful cab drivers she encounters from all parts of the world.  And so much good food.  But if it’s bad or if it’s not all that, she’ll tell you.


Driving Hungry is  a memoir that will take you from Buenos Aries to New York City and finally to Berlin.  You really get to experience all three of these unique cities through the eyes, nose, and taste buds of Layne Mosler and learn a lot about taxi cab culture as you tag along on one of her "Taxi Cab Adventures".  She discovers the uniqueness of each city by tasting it's food based on the recommendations of the taxi cab drivers she meets along the way.

Driving Hungry Laynes Mosler Washington Post Photo

Photo from an article in the Washington Post February 19, 2009 Cabbies Steer Blogger to Buenos Aries’s Diverse Culinary Offerings by Joshua Partlow

I so appreciate good writing and Layne Mosler can write.    She takes the reader of her memoir to three very different cities.  It starts in Buenos Aries, a city that I really didn’t know anything about except that it’s the capitol of Argentina and is known for it’s beef.  I don’t speak Spanish but I do have a thing for beef and Chimichurri sauce.   : )   The sights, sounds, and smells of this city are brought to life in Layne’s descriptions of what she gets to eat so much so that I found myself looking for recipes to try my hand at making empanadas.  They seem to be the easy street food of choice there.  Tasty and economical.  Her charming story includes a romance that centers around the handsome Tango Dancer she meets but also gives us a taste for the culture and tradition of Tango dancing that is the city of Buenos Aries. 

Driving Hungry Layne Mosler WSJ photo

Photo from the  Wall Street Journal  July 2, 2010 A City of Tasty Fares by Aaron Rutkoff

Next stop is New York City.  It’s a city that I am sure would chew me up and spit me out in a very short amount of time!  But Layne gives it her best shot and even finds herself in cabbie school after meeting a couple of female taxi cab drivers and gets her cab driver’s license and starts picking up fares in a tough city.I admire her braveness.  Her Taxi Cab Adventures continue by finding the hidden food treasures of a gritty and bustling city but something is missing and soon she finds herself in Berlin.  Berlin is another city that I am so unfamiliar with but I found it fascinating to learn of it’s history and to see it through her eyes.  She meets an especially endearing taxi cab driver who experienced the Cold War first hand and witnessed history watching  the Berlin Wall come down.  She must have fallen in love with Berlin and her Taxi Cab driver because she is still there!  Such a sweet story. 

Want to read more about Layne and her taxi cab adventures here’s another link:

 New York Times  October 31, 2010 A Cabby and Her Cravings by Simon McCormack

Driving Hungry.  Highly recommended and thoroughly enjoyable!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Little Free Libraries

I have to say I was charmed the first time I saw one of these Little Free Libraries. 

Charleston, SC Little Library

I didn’t really know what I was seeing but it was pretty easy to figure out and intrigued me enough when I spotted my first one one a recent Girl’s Weekend to Charleston, South Carolina that when I got home from my trip, I dug around online to learn more about them.

Charleston, Jogger

Charleston, SC is a delightful city.  We took the horse drawn carriage tour into some of it’s neighborhood’s and my camera was in overdrive.  So as we were moving our way up this street, I snapped this shot thinking to myself that if I lived here of course I would be jogging too! And then that little box just past that lucky runner who I was imagining to be myself caught my eye. 

There was what at first looked like an elaborate bird feeder to me but to my surprise it was filled with books.  I have a soft spot for libraries.  I loved to visit them when I was growing up and worked in one when I was in college.  Still love to visit and browse in a library.

The box I spotted had a little sign on it and I snapped the photo so I could investigate when I got home.  The boxes are called Little Free Libraries and they are springing up all over the country and all around the world.  The premise is a simple one.  “Take A Book, Return A Book”.  Making books available right there in one’s own neighborhood.

Check out this cute video that explains how it works.

Little Free Library 2     Little Free Library

  And the creativity!!  Just look at how adorable some of these Little Libraries are.   And what a great way to recycle an old newspaper box.

Little Free Library Book Roof      Little FreeLibrary 3     Little Library

Love the book roof on this first one.

Little Free Libray Mushrom

And oh my, I love little red mushrooms.  What a cute idea for a book box. 

Have you spotted one in your neighborhood?


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Life From Scratch by Sasha Martin

    Life from Scratch
This was a gem of a book.  And it’s getting lot’s of attention.  I don’t get asked to write book reviews very often but when this one was offered to me I jumped at the chance mostly because it is the kind of book that I would have picked up on my own.  I read cookbooks for fun.  I love to sit on my front porch in the summertime and pour through old favorites.  In the wintertime  I sit on my couch with a lot of those same cookbooks.   Sometimes I’ll pick up a fresh stack of cookbooks from the library,  and armed with a quilt,  I’ll  look for new recipes among them to try for the next night’s dinner. 
I also like to read memoirs.   And this one is special.  Life from Scratch is a memoir  about food, family, and forgiveness.   Sasha Martin tells the story of her childhood with memories of a larger than life mother and her mother’s ability to make her earlier childhood an educational adventure.   Another reviewer compared it to The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and I have to say it reminded me a bit of that book too.   It’s extremely well written, poignant, and hopeful.

Here is the summary of the book I was given when I was first asked if I would like to read and review it.  
Over the course of 195 weeks, food writer and blogger Sasha Martin set out to cook—and eat—a meal from every country in the world. As cooking unlocked the memories of her rough-and-tumble childhood and the loss and heartbreak that came with it, Martin became more determined than ever to find peace and elevate her life through the prism of food and world cultures. From the tiny, makeshift kitchen of her eccentric, creative mother to a string of foster homes to the house from which she launches her own cooking adventure, Martin’s heartfelt, brutally honest memoir reveals the power of cooking to bond, to empower, and to heal—and celebrates the simple truth that happiness is created from within.

I love this kind of format for a book.    It’s a memoir that tells the story of Sasha’s life and includes the food that was part of those events that shaped her and then wraps up each chapter with a recipe from those events.  It reminded me of another favorite food memoir I read a few years ago called  A Homemade Life  by Molly WisenbergAlthough the stories were very different, they were the written in the same format of telling the story of a family and wrapping each chapter up with a recipe.  I’ve tried several of the recipes from Molly’s book and can’t wait to get started trying some of the recipes in Sasha’s Life from Scratch

Reading this memoir also introduced me to Sasha’s blog called Global Table Adventure where she shows her readers how to bring the world to your kitchen.  The idea behind her blog was to take 195 recipes from 195 countries and prepare and enjoy them with her family.  It was a way to see the world without leaving home.  Not all of us can travel the world…trips like that are usually once in a lifetime but this is an amazing way to experience foreign lands and the people that live there. It’s brilliant!  And it makes for wonderful reading. 

And look at this amazing cake that she is featuring on her blog.  Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream!!  That looks so delicious and if you like the idea of the Bailey’s Buttercream but maybe not the Guinness Stout, she also has a recipe for O’Hara’s Irish Red Velvet Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream.  Click on either link and you’ll be taken to her blog with the amazing recipes.     Perfect for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration.    I’ll be making this for St. Pat’s day myself.  A bottle of Guinness is on my shopping list…I’ve got all the other ingredients. 
     Irish Red Velvet Cake Recipe
Take a trip around the world or make something special based on where your ancestors are from.  I plan to dig in to some Czech Republic recipes right after I explore the Irish recipes for St. Pat’s Day.  How about you?  Where are your people from?  And wouldn’t it be fun to make and eat something that you great great Grandmother used to make? 

Sasha Martin  Sasha Martin
Life From Scratch by Sasha Martin is published by National Geographic Press and is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Green Beans with Prosciutto

Green Beans on Platter


These green beans rock!!  I could eat them alone as an entire meal and be completely satisfied.  They are that good.  I mean it.  Really.

They are adapted from a Pioneer Woman recipe.   My version has a few secret weapon ingredients and I have tweaked this recipe enough to finally declare that the version I have here is the preferred recipe of choice.  Pretty bold statements I know.  But really, these are tasty!!

Green Beans with Citterio Prosciutto

My secret weapon ingredient is diced prosciutto.  My favorite brand is Citterio which is one of the brands my company merchandises for the supermarket chain we service.   The cheese company I work for has branched out a bit and we now merchandise some meats and sausages and so that is how this fun and magic making product showed up on my radar.  Now of course you could use diced ham which would be very nice in this recipe or even some bacon.  I think The Pioneer Woman gets a lot of the flavor for her recipe by using bacon grease…. but if you can find the prosciutto it really makes a difference.  And you will only need to use half of the 4oz. package of prosciutto. 

Green Beans with Prosciutto

There are a few other things that I tweaked from her original recipe.  I leave out the chopped red pepper and I also leave out the salt.  I find that the chicken stock really has enough salt and whenever I added the salt she called for in her recipe it was too much.  And if it was too much for me, and I LOVE my salt, even though I am not supposed to, then please take my advice and leave it out until after you cook these delicious babies up.  You can always add it later if you need to. 

Green Beans  Garlic and Black Pepper

My second secret weapon ingredient are the Pictsweet  Frozen Whole Green Beans.  Of course fresh is always best and I would absolutely use fresh in the summertime if I grew my own or found some at the Farmer’s Market, but this is my favorite brand of frozen vegetables.  They cost a little bit more but they really are worth it and I usually stock up on them when Harris Teeter has a buy one get one free deal  which they do quite frequently. 

     Green Beans Almost Done!          Green Beans on Platter

Here’s the recipe:

Green Beans with Prosciutto

1 24oz. package of Pictsweet Whole Green Beans (Family Size)

1 cup chicken stock.  (I like Kitchen Basics)

1 medium onion, diced small

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

2 Tbsp. butter

Half a package of Citterio Cubetti Prosciutto.  2 oz.

2 cloves of garlic, pressed

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil and sauté the diced onion till soft and they start to caramelize.

Add the prosciutto and sauté with the onion just enough for the prosciutto to start to brown careful not to burn the prosciutto and onions.

Add the entire package of frozen green beans. Mix well with the meat and the onions. 

Add the cup of chicken broth and deglaze the pan by scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. 

Green Beans on Platter

Add the garlic and pepper and quickly put a lid on the mixture till it comes to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on.   Add more chicken stock as needed so watch them close.  When they are done they will have a somewhat thickened sauce on them. 

Green Beans Finished 5