I had a lot of fun talking to archaeologist Warren Oster of Weaver and Associates and paleoethnobotanist Dr. Katherine Mickelson of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Memphis. I learned a lot too. Plus it’s really cool to see an article you wrote on a scrolling marquee.
So here we are at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. We have been to fascinating classes, met brilliant chefs, and stuffed our faces at the tasting tents. After a long day, we decided to head back to the hotel to rest up for the last day of the festival and get some writing done. …View full post
Angela and I are thrilled to announce the publication of our second book, Farm Fresh Tennessee: The Go-To Guide to Great Farmers’ Markets, Farm Stands, Farms, U-Picks, Kids’ Activities, Lodging, Dining, Wineries, Breweries, Distilleries, Festivals, and More. We spent a year traveling from one end of our great state to the other, visiting nearly 400 …View full post
It’s impolite to review a restaurant before it has had at least a couple of weeks to work out the kinks. Reviewing a place on opening day is probably a mortal sin, but I’ll risk it because, darn, Taziki’s was good. We had no idea the Jim ‘n Nick’s sister chain was opening in Memphis …View full post
Procrastinators? Us? Really? Just because we haven’t blogged in over a while (October was really busy, and then there were the holidays, and we really do have manuscript deadlines), it doesn’t mean we didn’t have ideas that we just never got around to writing about… Or that we put off going to the grocery store …View full post
Cookbooks can be the most wonderful works of art, but at heart they are products. They have to have some sort of shine to encourage sales. One technique is the gorgeous food porn cover — images of the recipes inside like you’ll never be able to recreate at home. Another draw is the name on …View full post
Nearing the end of our ten-hour drive home from Austin, Texas, and the IACP conference, the lights of Memphis just beginning to brighten the horizon, ten minutes left in our sixth anniversary, Free Bird comes on XM. The ultimate breakup song and I realize why, what it all means. “Too many places I gotta see.” I have it made because she wants to see those places, too.
Happy anniversary, Angela. I love you.
We had an afternoon of errands, and we were starved by the time we headed home. Since we’re heading out in the morning for Austin, Texas, we really didn’t want to cook food and make a mess of the kitchen tonight. And, we’ve pretty much eaten everything we had in the house that isn’t frozen since we knew we were leaving.
So, we had to decide what was for supper. We drive down Walnut Grove all the time, and we’ve watched eagerly as an old shop has been remodeled. When we saw that it was going to be an Italian drive-thru/walk-up, we knew we’d be trying it soon. Since it was on our way home, our decision was made.
Ordering at Vito’s is easy. They’ll help you through the menu and offer suggestions. Their menu is on their website, and I would advise you to take a look before you go. And one note – if you want a whole pizza, call in the order for carry-out, or Vito’s will deliver.
How was the food? Pretty good. We started with the toasted cheese ravioli. These were really well done. The filling is creamy ricotta, and the coating is crisp without being tough or oily. The marinara is bright and not too sweet. Overall, I would happily make a meal of these.
Next, we tried the breadsticks. These are nice with a good coating of garlic and parmesan, but they seemed a little under-done to me; I like mine to be a little crisper on the outside, but these were definitely edible.
We split a couple of sandwiches, too. The Vinnie is a meatball sub on good French bread. This was a great sandwich – the meatballs were soft and flavorful, and it wasn’t drowning in sauce. This sandwich vanished quickly into the bottomless pit that is our son.
The Joseph is a muffaletta-style sandwich. The olive spread is really good, but I think we would have preferred the sandwich to be heated. I’m sure Vito’s would heat it on request. Hot or not, we enjoyed it.
Then we got to the pizza. We got a Centurion (Italian sausage, salami, pancetta, ham, cheese, tomatoes, black olives and banana peppers). This is a nicely made pizza. The toppings are generous, and the sauce is just right. Like the breadsticks, we thought the crust was a little underdone, but it was still thin and crisp without getting soggy. And it was probably our fault. We didn’t know that we needed to call ahead for a whole pie, but they took pity on us and made it for us on the spot.
Overall, we had a good meal, and I’m sure that we’ll be dining with Vito’s again.
We’re (well, Paul and I) are getting ready to head out for a 17-day research trip. 17 days of being in a car. 17 days of living from a suitcase. 17 days of pet-free existence. 17 days of a teenager eating alone.
Now, Patric is perfectly capable of handling himself alone in the kitchen. He can follow any recipe that we’ve ever thrown at him, and he likes to be creative and add touches of his own to the things he makes. So, given a well-filled pantry, meat and vegetables in the freezer, fresh vegetables, cheese, and milk in the fridge, he can do just fine.
But we’re parents. We feel guilty about leaving him alone this long. To be honest, if it weren’t for all of the papers and tests he’s getting into for school, we would drag him along whether he wanted to go or not. (For the record, we did give him the choice, and he’s very certain that he doesn’t want to go on this particular trip because we’re going to be going to so many places.) But since he is staying home, we’re making sure that he’s got some of his favorite foods around to keep him company.
There are plenty of food options within walking distance of our house, but we really want him to eat at home while we’re gone with only a few exceptions — Mother’s Day brunch with his grandmothers being one. So we’ve started planning. First up, there was the Costco trip.
It would be very easy to load up a cart with frozen foods to last him for days at Costco, but we do want him to have some less processed options. That being said, there are things that he likes that he doesn’t get often that are sitting in the freezer for him now – frozen pizzas (thin-crust Margherita and spinach paneer on na’an), chicken taquitos (yeah, I know), sausage, egg, and cheese croissants, and hot dogs (kosher). We also loaded up on fruit juice, peanut butter, a big chunk of Swiss cheese, rice, ramen (his favorite very hot flavor), and, as a special treat because we obviously don’t like him at all, a case of Mexican Coke.
We also picked up canned tomatoes to make a big batch of marinara sauce so that he can whip up pasta for something fresher when he wants it. At the farmers market, we stocked up on ground beef, sausage, and bacon for the freezer, and a flat of strawberries (most of those will go into the freezer for him to make smoothies, but there’s always the chance of shortcake). Before we go, we’ll make sure he has some fresh vegetables, cereal, milk, and bread. Luckily, he’s within walking distance of being able to get more of those when he runs out.
We’ve got some great meals planned while we’re on the road, but in general, I think Patric will be eating better than we will. And since there are strawberries, he can make something at home that we can’t make on the road.
Taste your strawberries before measuring out your sugar. Strawberries at the peak of strawberry season will be sweeter and won't need as much sugar.
The shortcake itself is an often overlooked component. If you make them from scratch, they'll be incomparably better than the sponge cake variety you can buy at the grocery store. A simple recipe for shortcake simply takes a biscuit recipe and adds half again as much shortening and 1/2 cup sugar. A sprinkling of cinnamon, nutmeg, or even cardamom can add a great accent to these simple cakes.
If you don't want to use Grand Marnier, you can still add a little of the flavor to the strawberries. Add a teaspoon of orange extract or orange juice instead. If you want a different flavor, minced fresh mint is a good addition to the strawberry mixture. Or you could drizzle over a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Creme de cacao or Godiva liqueur are good replacements for the Grand Marnier if you don't mind using alcohol. If using a different liqueur, consider omitting the orange zest. Slivered almonds complement creme de cacao well.
The whipped cream also offers room for variation. I like to leave mine unsweetened, but you can add some sugar or other flavoring to it if you like. A little bit of cocoa powder will add a note of bitterness to the dish.
- 2 pints strawberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/4 cup Grand Marnier (optional)
- To serve:
- 8 Shortcakes or slices of angel food cake
- 1/2 pint heavy cream, whipped
- Hull the strawberries and slice them into bite sized pieces.
- In a non-reactive bowl, combine the sugar, vanilla paste, and orange zest. Gently stir in the sliced strawberries, coating them thoroughly with the sugar mixture.
- If using, sprinkle the Grand Marnier over the strawberries.
- Allow the strawberries to rest, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.
- If using shortcakes, split them and layer them with strawberries and whipped cream. If using angel food cake, spoon strawberries over the cake slices and top with whipped cream. Be sure to serve with generous amounts of the syrup from the strawberry bowl.
From a mother to her son:
Thinking of you.
Angela: Did you like the picture?
Patric: Uh… Sure?
Angela: Did you get the picture?
Angela: It’s a mule butt. So it’s like an ass squared. And we thought of you.
Angela: Just no words for how much you love us?
Stripey mule knees. Who knew?
Patric: I’m sure the mule did.
Disapproving mule disapproves of your shenanigans.
Patric: Are you bringing an extra mule home with you?
Angela: An extra?
Patric: Well, we’ve already got one.
Angela: I know you can’t possibly be talking about either one of your kind & loving parents.
Patric: No. No, of course not…