Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Around the World: Ghana

What's to say? We made it. We ate it. We liked it!

Shoko (a.k.a. Beef & Spinach Stew)


  • 6 small canned tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 whole fresh hot chili
  • 4 medium onions, whole
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb stewing beef, cut in cubes
  • 1 cup water [or beef broth]
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cayenne [more or less to taste]
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 3/4 to 1 lb fresh spinach


1. Build up your arm muscles so you can actually use a manual can opener.

Oh, and while you're at it -- figure out how to cut onions without crying your eyes out! (suggestions?)

2. Reserve 1/2 cup of juice from the canned tomatoes, and discard the rest of the juice. Combine the chili, tomatoes, onions, and green bell pepper in a food processor, and process until the vegetables are minced but not pureed.

3. Heat the oil in a large, cast-iron pot, and sauté the vegetables and beef for 5 minutes over high heat.

4. Add the reserved tomato juice, water sugar, salt, cayenne, and ginger. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 2 hours. Stir occasionally to keep from burning.

5. Meanwhile, soak the spinach in warm water for 15 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly, separate, rinse again (and even a third time if you want to be extra careful), shred coarsely, and set aside.

6. After 2 hours, add the spinach to the pot and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, until the water is gone and the spinach is cooked.

7. About half an hour before serving, prepare boiled rice. Serve Shoko with rice.

Here's Olivia with her feast - Yum!

Want to check out some more recipes from Ghana? Go to Global Table Adventure. It's a great site that all foodies should absolutely follow! Sasha (the mama) and Mr. Picky (the daddy) explore a world of cuisine with their little cutie Ava. Here's Ava sampling Spicy Chicken Peanut Soup from Ghana.

That girl is one of the best eaters I'ver seen!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Around the World: Hungarian Goulash

These guys can do it ...

Why the heck can't WE? Afterall, we're a pretty smart bunch.  One of us has letters behind his name. One of us knows Latin. Another gets straight A's and another reads all the time.  Oh, yeah, and then there's me.

But we're still mucking up this Cook Your Way Through the World from A to Z thing.  We were A-Okay with A (Afghanistan), blasted through B (Belgium), choked down C (Croatia - ugh!), dared to try D (Denmark -- oy!), and then it started unraveling!

We spent days making E (Ethiopian) food, but still haven't blogged it.

F - We managed to post the French recipe, but only because Olivia gave up reign of the kitchen to Andrew.

And G? We made G (Ghana) last week but haven't even downloaded the photos from the camera!

Okay - self-flagellation over. We're getting back on track tonight with Hungarian Goulash.  (I promise, no goofy Hungry for Hungary jokes. Okay, well maybe just that one.)

When I was growing up my Mom (this is us in the north Georgia mountains) ...

made Hungarian Goulash with ground beef, potatoes, water and pepper. It was a comfort food for me, right behind Beef Stroganoff.

But in searching for a Goulash recipe to make tonight, Olivia and I discovered there's a LOT of debate over what's "authentic". Apparently, "authentic" requires paprika and tomatoes and doesn't necessarily require potatoes. Who knew?

So, here's the recipe we settled on, from a webpage that has lots of info on the history of Hungarian Goulash and its many variations.


  • 1.5 pounds beef (any tender part), cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 carrots, diced
  • 1 parsnip, diced (Not sure what a parsnip is?!? It looks like a carrot, only white)
  • 1-2 celery leaves (Wasn't quite sure what this meant, so we skipped it)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped -- or 1 tbsp. tomato paste (** Olivia's tips for peeling a tomato)
  • 2 green peppers (We used 1, since most of us don't like green peppers)
  • 2-3 medium potatoes, sliced
  • 1 tbsp Hungarian paprika powder
  • 1 tsp ground caraway seed (We started cooking and realized all we had was whole seeds. So we used 'em.)
  • 1 bayleaf
  • ground black pepper and salt, according to taste
  • water


1. Heat oil in skillet; add chopped onions and cook until they get a nice golden brown color.

2. Sprinkle the braised onions with paprika while strirring them to prevent the paprika from burning.

3. Add the beef cubes and sauté until browned. Add garlic, caraway, ground black pepper, salt and bayleaf. Pour in enough water to cover the contents of the pan. Let it simmer on low heat for a while.

4. When the meat is half-cooked (about 90 minutes) add the diced carrots and parsnips, the celery leaf, potatoes and more salt and pepper if necessary. You may also need to add water (2-3 cups) to cover the veggies.

5. When the veggies and the meat are almost done add the tomato cubes and the sliced green peppers. Let it cook on low heat for another few minutes.

Plate and Enjoy!


Chef Olivia - It was harder to make than I thought. The carrots and parsnips are hard to cut. But the food was good.

Jason - It's soupier than I think Goulash is supposed to be. Maybe she added too much water? Still, I'll take another helping.

Hannah - Is there more meat?

Tanya - It was good, but Mom's goulash still holds that special place in my heart (and stomach).

How to Peel a Tomato

Step 1: Slice an X in the bottom of the tomato.

Step 2: Get water boiling in a pot, add tomatoes, and boil for 5 minutes.

Step 3: Peel.

So easy, a 12 year old can do it!

Seared Steak with Chard Salad

Returned home from a week in Shiny City, put in 8 hours at work, got home and discovered I'm sick. Not this kind of sick, but a run-down, working-too-hard, 101 fever kinda sick. So the last thing I wanted to think about was dinner. Thankfully, my mind-reading husband saved the day again (how lucky am I?!?) and whipped up some Seared Steak with Chard Salad for dinner last night.


  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups large crusty bread cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 to 4 anchovies
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless beef sirloin steak
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint (we skipped this since Jason doesn't like mint)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Put the chard in a bowl. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the bread cubes and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until toasted, 4 to 5 minutes. Add to the chard.

3. Add the anchovies to the skillet, mashing them with a whisk. Add the garlic and 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook until the garlic is golden, about 45 seconds. Add the tomatoes and warm slightly, then whisk in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Pour the warm dressing over the chard, toss and set aside to wilt.

4. Wipe out the skillet and place over high heat. Sprinkle the steak on both sides with the mint, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Sear the steak until browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook until browned on the other side, 3 to 4 more minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.

5. Add the feta to the chard salad and toss. Thinly slice the steak and serve with the chard salad.


The kids bowls still had a fair amount of chard left (but they were begging for more meat!). Not surprising, though, as I'm pretty sure they have never had Swiss Chard and it usually takes a while for Miranda and Hannah to embrace new things. (Olivia gobbled hers up).

Jason and I agreed that putting the toasted bread cubes in with the oil mixture doesn't work. All we got was soggy bread crumbs. Next time we make this we'll hold them out until near the end, to provide a little more crunch.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Everything's Shiny in Crystal City

So, I'm in Crystal City (Arlington, VA) for a conference this week. And everything's ... shiny.

Big, shiny hotels (lots of 'em)

and big, shiny shops

and lots of chain restaurants

I'm a day late for the Farmer's Market

And I have no desire to go all the way to DC to eat at a chain restaurant.

But a pilot friend (Hi Andy!!) who regularly flies through Reagan National Airport suggested a hole in the wall indian place just down the road.

You had me at "indian" (despite what Olivia says), but throw in "dive" ... and I'm there!

Monday, June 20, 2011

For the Love of Cookie Bars

Hannah discovered the Payday Candy Bar this week. And by discovered, I mean asked for a taste of mine, then proceeded to scarf it down. Now she's the ambassador of non-chocolate candy bars, lecturing her friends on the merits of peanut-caramel gooeyness.

I can't wait to show her this...

Framed Cook's Payday Cookie Bar looks like a must try.

Of course, we do have some No Chocolate=No Good-ers in our house, so maybe we need to also make some of these...

Bakers Royale's Belt Bust'n Cookie Bars look soooo good!

Ooh, oooh, ooooh.... While we're on a cookie bar kick, how 'bout these?

(Baked Perfection's S'more Cookie Bars)

Or these...

(Magical Coconut Cookie Bars from the Post Punk Kitchen -- yes, they're vegan! * if you use vegan choc chips)

Happy Baking! If you make some extras, send 'em over our way!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Simple Sea Scallops

We had a very full Father's Day. Well, sort of...

It started with sleeping in till 10:30 a.m. Yes - seriously! Olivia got up early, fed the dog and cleaned her room (as usual). But the rest of us? Total slackers!

There's an explanation, though. Jason and I pretended to be teenagers last night and went to a local bar/restaurant called BottleTree (great vegan/vegetarian options) to see two bands. The opener was Other Lives, an indy rock band from Oklahoma. Apparently they're pretty well known (their music's been on Grey's Anatomy and Ugly Betty), but it was our first time seeing them. They were really good! Check 'em out.

The headliner was a North Carolina band called The Rosebuds. Also very good!

Here's some interesting background on the husband and wife team from the Rosebuds. (For the record: I'm not sure Jason and I could ever work together professionally. We have completely different work styles and might end up killing each other! Could you work with your significant other?!?)

Anyways, back to the day. So, we didn't get in from the concert until well after midnight and were totally exhausted. So sleeping in today.

Sleeping in, followed by ...

(thumbs up from all of us but Olivia, who really wanted to see Mr. Popper's Penguins)


(Yup, just the way to treat Dad on his day, right?!? Have him refinish the deck. We're about 1/8 of the way through and our color is much lighter than the stock photo. We're using a new product called Deck Restore. Jury's still out on whether we like it.)

And how do you top having Dad spend his afternoon refinishing the deck? You let him cook an amazing Father's Day Dinner for you!

  • 1 lb scallops
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 4 tbsp butter


If frozen, thaw the scallops. Mix salt and sugar together. Season one side of scallops with the salt/sugar mix. Heat 2 tsp of butter in a skillet on medium high. Add the scallops, seasoned side down. As they're cooking (4-5 minutes) season the other side. Flip. Cook 4-5 minutes. Add the wine and remaining 2 tsp butter to the pan and allow to cook an additional 2-3 minutes while the wine/butter/sugar/salt mixture "syrups up" (Jason's words).

Serve with the sides of your choice (Ours: new potatoes from the farmer's market, corn, and artisan rosemary bread)

Yum, Yum, Yum!!

Now I think I'll kick back and let Jason finish celebrating Father's Day by giving me a massage!
These old bones are pretty darned tired!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cabbage Soup

Remember Carl?

Well, after receiving lots of recipe suggestions, he's now Carl Jr.

Tonight, we tried Heather's suggestion (Thanks Heather!)

Weight Watchers Cabbage Soup

  • 3 cups nonfat beef/veggies or chicken broth (we used 1/2 beef, 1/2 veggies ... just 'cause. It's what we had on hand.)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup green beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • salt & pepper

1. Spray pot with non stick cooking spray saute onions carrots and garlic for 5 minutes.

2. Add broth, Tomato paste, cabbage, green beans, basil, oregano and Salt & Pepper to taste.

3. Simmer for a about 5-10 minutes until all vegetables are tender then add the zuccini and simmer for another 5 or so minutes.

4. Customize at will. We doubled the broth, basil and cabbage (hey - it's so healthy and low-fat you'll want several bowls).


Chef Tanya -- I like it. Reminds me of my Dad, who's notorious for making what we call Dump Soup Basically, he cleans out the 'frig and freezer, dumps it in a bit pot, adds canned tomatoes and calls it soup. Growing up eating this as a kid it was often torture. But occasionally it was quite tasty. This soup is the tasty version!

Jason -- It could use a bit more flavor. Maybe red pepper, more garlic, fire-roasted tomatoes instead of just tomato paste.

It's Getting Real in the Whole Foods Parking Lot!

Couldn't resist sharing this viral timewaster (thanks, Megan!)

And yes, Jason and I have that exact same audio set-up in the back of our Prius. Fer reaaalz....

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Carl The Cabbage

This is our Cabbage...

We call him Carl.

We need suggestions to use him up. Ideas?!?

Time Saving Recipe: Chicken & Stuffing with Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Pressed for time - or just feeling lazy, like us? Try this one:

  • 2 cups prepared stuffing
  • 1 can (14 oz) fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
  • shredded mozzarella
  • fresh basil


1. Put tomatoes (with juice) in medium bowl, add water and stuffing. Set aside while stuffing absorbs liquid.

2. Place chicken breast pieces in bottom of 9x13 baking dish.

3. Top chicken with mozzarella and fresh basil (tip: use scissors to cut it).

4. Cover chicken with stuffing mixture.

5. Put in oven preheated to 400 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes.

Hannah - It was fine. I don't really like stuffing. It's really mushy. I like the chicken, though. If you like stuffing then you would like this dish.

Olivia - It was very good. I loved the stuffing and the chicken. It was just like I was back at Thanksgiving.

Tanya - It was easy and the kids like it. That's good enough for me tonight!
Jason has a stand-by recipe that always makes the girls happy. JaFaxby's is short for either Jason's Faux Zaxby's or Jason Fulmore's Zaxby's. Whichever, the girls go GaGa over it.

True to GaGa style, I mixed it up tonight (by substituting corn meal for the flour. I'm just that wild! Born that way, I guess.)

(measuring advice from Jason: "make it up as you go"):

  • flour (or, if you're feeling wild, corn meal
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan cheese, grated (leave it out if you're making it Mama style)
  • chicken, cut into strips
  • egg
  • milk
  • canola oil

Directions -- Cover the bottom of a heavy pan with 2-3" of canola oil and heat over medium-high. Beat the egg with a little milk in a bowl. Put some flour, S&P and parmesan in a sealable plastic bag (or, if you're like us and don't often have plastic bags on hand, just put it in a large bowl). One by one, dip the chicken strips in the egg/milk mixture, then into the flour mixture, and then into the hot pan to cook.

Braised Chicken Legs with Lemon

I think we've stumbled on a brilliant idea! Start a food blog, get your friends interested in said food blog, somehow convince them to be guest bloggers and have them come to your house (ingredients in hand) and cook you a wonderful dinner! (see, I told you, brilliant!)

{{ Okay, moratorium on exclamation points }}

But seriously, when our friend and fellow foodie Andrew (not to be confused with Andy of Steak Taco fame) asked if he could come over and cook us dinner we jumped at the chance. Andrew's a member of Guerrilla Dinner Party group here in Birmingham, which includes some notable local chefs and other foodies. We couldn't wait to see what he whipped up.

Here's his Guest Blog:

I have decided to run contrary to the Necessary Pleasures family’s current diversion into the prurient, i.e., Weinerfest and Corn Porn, and intend to purify the culinary waters with a dish that has a G rated Birmingham connection*. That dish is Braised Chicken Legs with Lemon from Richard Onley’s 1974 cookbook, Simple French Food.

Olney spent much of his life as a food writer in France and this dish originates from the Catalan region in the south. I like most facets of this recipe. It requires only a couple of cooking vessels, the meat is braised (which is both easy and delicious, if done properly) and it has quantities of both lemon and garlic, and what the heck (G rated, see) can be wrong with that. I also recently scored a new large Dutch oven and am still in the new toy phase.

The procedure is quite simple.

1. Peel the garlic (helps if you have a sous chef like Jason to help.) 

and get it simmering in the broth (I skip the parboiling mentioned in the recipe).

2. In the meantime, brown the seasoned chicken (I do this in olive oil and butter so as not to burn the butter), and peel and slice the lemon.

Once browned on all sides, remove chicken, deglaze with wine, add more butter if desired, stir in flour, return chicken to pan, add stock and garlic, delicately making sure to distribute the garlic without crushing it, and put your lemon slices over the top.

Put in a 300 to 350 degree oven and let go for 45 minutes to an hour.

The traditional way to serve this is with rice, but pasta would work, as well as cous cous (which I realize is also a pasta). I suspect that mashed potatoes with olive oil and/or butter would be pretty good too. Here it was done with Thai red rice mixed with caramelized onions and fresh lemon thyme.

* As for the aforementioned Magic City connection, here is the brief version. Richard Olney was a significant influence on Alice Waters, the somewhat sanctimonious and socioeconomically out of touch, but generally righteous, demiurge of the Slow Foods movement. Local chef of note, Frank Stitt, was heavily influenced by Waters while cooking at her Berkley California restaurant, Chez Panisse. She then recommended him to Olney who made Stitt his personal assistant in France, while the latter was editing a Time-Life book series on cooking.


Jason - I thought it was really good. I liked the combination of the rice and the chicken. The chicken was really tender and had a great flavor!

Olivia - I liked the chicken, but I didn't like the rice because it's just not like wild rice. 

Hannah - I loved the chicken. I thought that the chicken could use your pepper, because I like pepper. But the rice, the only rices that I really like are wild rice and white rice and I tried this and I just didn't really like it. 

Tanya - I really liked the dish. The chicken was fall-from-the-bones tender and the lemon and garlic was a really subtle infusion. We paired it with a 2007 Cosentino Pinot Noir that was excellent. Andrew can definitely come back any time to cook for us! 

So ... who's next for guest blogging?!? We've got an opening for dinner next weekend ;--)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Are You On Facebook?

We continue our conversation over at the Necessary Pleasures Facebook Page. Hope you'll join us and share your favorite recipes and tips!

Friday, June 10, 2011


In honor of this week's news headlines, we give you ...

Hass Avocado Dog
hot dog (we use Applegate Farms dogs)
hot dot bun
1/4 cup diced onions
5 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 ripe hass avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and chopped
1/2 lime, juiced
salt, to taste
mayonnaise, to taste
ketchup, to taste
mustard, to taste
hot sauce, to taste
1 tbsp oil

In small skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; add half of the diced onions to pan. Cook onions, stirring frequently until wilted. Reduce heat to low and caramelize onions, stirring occasionally (about 15 minutes); set aside.

Grill hot dogs over medium-hot coals until lightly browned.

Toast bun. Spread mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard on bun; add hot sauce.
Place hot dog bun and top with grilled onions, tomato, raw onion and avocado. Sprinkle with a little lime juice and salt.

Flyin' Hawaiian Dog
1 hot dog
1 hot dog bun
2 tbsp diced pineapple
1 strip bacon
1 tbsp mozzarella
2 tbsp dijon mustard

Grill hot dog. Toast bun. Spread mustard on bun, add hot dog topped with bacon, pineapple and mozzarella.

The Greek Dog
1 hot dog
1 hot dog bun
a shmeer of hummus (We used Garlic Lovers')
2 tbsp sliced black olives
2 tbsp feta cheese
2-3 sliced sun dried tomatoes (We used the kind packed in olive oil)

Grill hotdog. Toast bun. Shmeer hummus on bun, add hotdog, then olives, feta and tomatoes.


Tanya -- My favorite was the Flyin' Hawaiian, followed by the Hass Avocado Dog, then the Greek by a distant third.

Jason -- I liked everything we made. I didn't try Greek... I'm not a big black olive fan.

Olivia -- Loved the Avocado Dog. Hated the Greek thing. I spit it out on my plate. Yuck! I don't like pineapple, so I didn't try Dad's.

Hannah and Miranda are purists. They had Naked Dogs. Just the way Anthony likes 'em.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Copper River Sockeye Salmon with Corn & Tomato Salad

See this face:

That's how I feel that we still don't have a working grill. And it's summer.




Our gas grilled exploded in a blaze of shooting flames last summer. And although we technically gave Jason a new grill for his birthday/Father's Day, we haven't actually bought the grill yet.

So, it's summer and we're grill-less. And we're walking through Whole Foods to pick up a few items and those damned product sample-giver-people reeled us in with their Copper River Sockeye Salmon with Corn & Tomato Salad.

We already have a favorite salmon recipe (and a second favorite salmon recipe), but since this one didn't require a grill and the salmon was on sale, we figured we'd give it a try.

Ingredients (serves 4):
  • 1.5 - 2 pounds Cooper River sockeye salmon
  • 4 ears white/yellow corn, shucked **
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bunch basil, leaves only
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1-2 lemons, juiced
  • 1-2 pieces preserved lemon rind, chopped
  • 2-3 T olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • canola oil, as needed


1. Cut the salmon into 4 portions, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Shave the kernels from the corn cobs using a sharp knife.

We tried this method first:

But he's right. We had corn kernels flying everywhere! Ruby (the puppy) loved that part.

Next we tried putting the corn in a bowl to trap the kernels as we cut. But you could only cut one half, then you had to flip it over and cut the other half. There's gotta be a better way!

We searched for video tutorials and found this little gizmo:

3. Combine the corn, tomatoes, lemon juice, preserved lemon (if using), olive oil, green onion, and basil and season well with salt and pepper.

4. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, and film the bottom of the skillet with oil. Place the salmon pieces skin-side down and cook until the skin is brown and crisp before turning. Cook the flesh side until your desired temperature is reached.

5. Serve the salmon atop mounds of the corn salad.


Chef Jason -- It was really good. The lemon offered a little zing, which was nice. We only used one lemon. I think two would have been too much. The salmon didn't cook as crisp as I'd like, but that may have been our pan.

Tanya -- Very good. Only two of us eat tomatoes, so we cut the tomatoes down to 1/3 pint.

Miranda -- It was good. Very tasty.

Olivia -- It was good, but I still like my salmon better.

Hannah -- Can I have some Cheerios?!?

** An aside... while searching for corn-related videos we stumbled on something shocking! Google "rachael ray corn" and you'll see what I mean.

And if you're too lazy to Google it, here's a little tease:

So much for being a family-friendly food blog!

Photo Credits: Clown, Kid, Cell Phone.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tangy Barbecue Sandwiches

I admit it. I hate my family <<< just a little bit >>> right now.

I mean, I love my family. But so many of them are teachers and get these nice, long, extended vacations over the summer. And it just makes me a wee bit jealous. Okay, more than a wee bit.

Summers in our house are just a new kind of crazy, especially since the kids got old enough to decide they have their own interests. What's up with that?!?

No more sending all three girls to the same summer camp. Nooooo, for the next few weeks we're juggling theatre camp and gymnastics. Starting at the same time, ending at different times. In two different parts of town. While both Jason and I are working. Yeah... summer is fun!

It's times like these that we lean on Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly, and that's where we found the recipe for Tangy Barbecue Sandwiches. (* and **)

  • 3 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup low-sodium ketchup
  • 1 cup low-sodium barbecue sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 4-lb. lean boneless chuck roast

1. Combine all ingredients except roast in slow cooker. When well mixed, add roast.
2. Cover. Cook on low 7-9 hours.
3. Remove roast. Cool & shred meat. Return to sauce & heat well.
4. Serve on buns.

How easy is that?!? But is it good? Afterall, we do live in a state that takes its barbecue very seriously!

Chef Tanya -- Pretty darned good! It might not be Dreamland or Full Moon, but it's pretty darned good (and did I mention, "easy"?!?!). The one nitpick I have is that the sauce is pretty watery. Next time we make it we're gonna skip the water.

Jason -- What she said!

Olivia -- It was really, really good. I like the sauce a lot. I want seconds. There are seconds, right?

Hannah -- It was, um, interesting. I liked the bun and the french fries. The sauce, not so much.

Olivia -- Hannah! The sauce is the best part! You're crazy!

Hannah -- Whatever!?! I like the french fries. And the bun.

* Just found out there's a Fix-It & Forget-It website. Huzzah!

** Did I mention this is a "healthy" BBQ? Just 300 calories, 7 grams fat, and 60 mg cholesterol per serving.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Eating Our Way Through Vacation - Pt. 1

It's a good thing our trip to Charleston included miles of walking because we ate like Queens & Kings! It's great to visit a place that really appreciates good, locally-produced food.

We hate eating at chain restaurants (who needs to sample the TGIFridays in every town?!?). So we go out of our way to find quirky local options wherever we are. But you gamble any time you try a hole-in-the-wall place.

On a trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains last summer we ate at a place in Copperhill, Tennessee (or was it McCaysville, GA?) that was just awful! The meal took forever (and was wrong when it finally arrived), the soda was flat and the air conditioning was broken. (July ... in the South ... with no air conditioning? Are you kidding me?!?)

On our drive to Charleston we stopped at Eva's Bake Shop and Caribbean Cuisine, which is tucked into a small strip mall in Douglasville, Georgia. It looked promising. The bakery cases were filled with cupcakes, the lunch menu was fairly diverse, and (thankfully) the air conditioning was cold.

We split a Cuban Sandwich. We always split. Portions these days are crazy huge!

The sammy was roasted chicken served french bread panini style with sliced ham, garlic mayo, swiss cheese, and pickles. We ordered a side of Broccoli Cheese Soup. Eva uses a really spicy pepper mix in it to lend a real zing!

We skipped dessert, figuring we should watch our calories heading into a week of Charleston Chomping. But, as we ate, one person after another streamed in to buy cupcakes, and I began to have orderers remorse.

Man, do I wish we'd bought a cupcake! In retrospect, skipping dessert at Eva's is kinda like ordering the crab roll minus the crab in Portland, Maine. (boo on us!)

We're BAAAAACK....

You've probably noticed we've been pretty quiet lately. There's a good explanation and we wanted to warn you. But after a lecture from Olivia about internet safety and how we shouldn't tell people we're going out of town, we had to stifle our excitement and not share the big news.

For the first time in 17 years....

Jason and I went on a real vacation...

without the kids...

to celebrate our 20th anniversary.

(Woo Hoo!!)

We packed the munchkins off to Camp Grammy & Dampa (don't ask!) and hit the road. Can you guess where we went? Here are some clues:

Lots of Churches

Beautiful Houses

And Gardens

(That last one? A 1500 year old tree!)

A couple more hints:

It's called the Holy City because of the many church steeples dotting the skyline and because it was one of the few cities in the original 13 colonies to provide religious tolerance.

It was once the richest cities in the United States (actually, pre-U.S), due in part to its booming rice and indigo industries.

The city was besieged during the Civil War and then flattened by a massive earthquake that left more than half of the city's residents homeless.

It's now home to a world-renowned Art, Dance and Music festival. We were lucky to catch an incredible production of The Cripple of Inishmaan at the nation's oldest theatre (first performance in 1736).

Oh... and I should mention... it's also home to some incredible eating! (more on that coming soon)


(one more picture to share... just because)