Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March Madness Southern Food Bracket

The Ultimate Southern Food Bracket

Screen shot 2012-04-01 at 10.14.02 AM
We've been keeping a close eye on Garden and Guns Southern Food March Madness . Sadly some of my favorites went down in flames. I still loves ya Soft Shell Crabs, She Crab Soup, Fried Okra, Fried Green Tomatoes and Peach Cobbler. I also can't believe that CORNBREAD(????) beat out Mac and Cheese or Shrimp and Grits lost to Hoppin' John. In the end I still see Fried Chicken taking the trophy. there a trophy? Still time to vote but you better hurry.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mapril Dim Sum Sunday

Susan of 29 Black Street thinks it's time for a little Mapril Dim Sum Sunday. I would have to agree because while it's an explosion of spring color here in the Midwest, up in Canada there's still ice and grayness. She could use some Mapril goodness. It's a quickie since we're going to do it this Sunday but could incorporate Peeps into your Mapril dish. Actually I was hoping for a special Angry Birds version of Peeps but looks like it's not happening for 2012. So make a dish with maple syrup, Canadian if you're trying to suck to Susan or good ole American maple syrup if you want to make me happy. Take a picture, post what you made and come back here on Sunday and leave a comment in the post I'll have up. We'll all come visit all your lovely Mapril creations.

But no cheating by ordering these awesome maple peeps from the Pieces of Vermont online store.

Friday, March 23, 2012


It's March 23. Last March we were still dealing with winter, grayness and snow. It was so bad that I was trying to cheer up my good Canadian buddy with a series of recipes celebrating Mapril. I was planning to do it again this year but winter was a no show here in KC. We've already had a week of weather in the low 80s. LOW 80s! Right now things are growing.

Things are blooming.

Things are....happening.

Them bunnies is FORNICATING under there, I SEES THEM!

As you can imagine, we are ecstatic about the weather but it leaves us confused as to seasonal cooking. It's too hot for stews and soups, way too soon for spring veggies. I pondered this as I was sitting on my couch and eating a banana. I love bananas. This particular banana, just beginning to turn ripe, triggered a flash of curiosity. This banana would taste good paired with rosemary. I didn't know how and it's not very often that I have these sort of insights regarding food. Real chefs do, they do all the time. They dream of food and wake up ready to make the recipes they dreamed the night before. I am not a real "chef". However I am a good googler. Not too much out there in planet google on "bananas with rosemary" except for one very lovely recipe. Yes ladies, it's the very pretty Eric Ripert in a short little video making grilled bananas with rosemary and maple.

rosemary bananas

I LOVE simple. AND it has maple. So I'm calling it, a MAPRIL 2012 recipe. Brush some softened butter on a cookie sheet or broiler pan lined with aluminum foil. Peel your slightly under-ripe bananas and cut them in length-wise. Brush the bananas with softened butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brush with maple syrup. Top with rosemary leaves and broil roughly 4 - 5 minutes. When browned and removed from the broiler, lightly brush with bourbon.

roasted rosemary bananas

Serve while still warm. Eric suggests this would be a good side dish for white meats such as chicken or pork and because your bananas are under-ripe and not yet overly sweet and you've roasted them, they are a starchy almost like a potato especially when you salt and pepper them. The rosemary is a perfect pairing with the flavor of the bananas and the maple syrup. I'm not totally sold that you need the bourbon but who am I to argue with Eric Ripert. No, I'll thank him instead for a stupid simple dish.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Photo Artistry

Have you ever wanted to turn your favorite photos into tiles? I have and now there's a way to do just that. ImageSnap turns your photos into tiles of many sizes. Like a backsplash for your kitchen? Maybe turn your favorite bird or butterfly photos into an outdoor tile grouping on your porch? Or maybe even chicken portraits of your backyard birds? The possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March Madness

I know it's time for a whole lotta college basketball silliness. Office bracket pools and constant television coverage. FEH!! However there is one bracket I wouldn't mind putting some money down on.

Southern Food March Madness

It's Garden and Gun's Ultimate Southern Food Bracket. You can go to Garden and Gun to vote for yourself. While you're there enjoy a fantastic website for southern food. I'm guessing their hardcopy magazine is just as nice as the website. Will have to look for it in my area. And if you're like me, you'll be googling Frogmore Stew (which is neither froggy or stew-like). Also did they leave any of your Southern favorites out of the bracket?


Photo by Helene Dujardin

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Check Please Kansas City, with a Top Chef Twist

2011 was the year I turned 50. No big deal, no big events but it did cause a wee session of "Life in Review" introspection. What I found was a woman fairly comfortable in her ample skin, a bit of a recluse, happy to be puttering in the kitchen and the digital darkroom. Still there was room for personal envelope pushing. Not exactly a bucket list mind you but more traveling down some avenues that might lead to whole new adventures. This is what I was thinking as I filled out the digital application for the Kansas City version of Check Please!

Check Please is a public television program that originated in Chicago in 2001. Ordinary folks visit three restaurants and then "chat" about their experiences in studio. Currently only four other cities host a version of Check Please and a fifth, Seattle, will start their version this year. Back in early 2011 I filled out the application and then promptly sent the link to my two of my most reliable dining buddies, hoping they would fill it out and we could all be on the show together, making the experience much like what we do already, eat, gossip and talk about fracking. However, my two buddies have much more detailed and busier lives than I do and the application link was soon lost in over-burdened piles of electronic noise. Months passed and no response was ever received to my submittal, leading me to believe that I had been rejected. That was until September when I received an email that I had indeed been selected and here's your three restaurants to visit. It was another Put Up or Shut Up moment. But really, was it that hard? Go eat food and then go talk about it on camera? For most people, probably not. For the lifelong behind the scenes, never in the limelight person, yeah, it was hard. But I did it anyway.

Big Shamu Check Please

I have to admit, it was kinda surreal. I did snap a couple of photos before we started the in studio segment.

no empty plate

This is my place at the table. The one thing that bugs me about this show is the empty plates. I know it's set dressing but damn it if you're going to set the table, you better be putting some food on those plates. So I brought my own food. That's a photo of one of the appetizers from one of the restaurants we reviewed. Overall it was a fun experience and I'm glad I didn't punk out. You can watch the episode here. But because it's food and tv and me, it couldn't be without a whiff of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. You see back when we were filming I happen to mention that one of the restaurants was for sale on Craig's List and said how bizarre to try and sell a restaurant that way. (News that R-Bar is up for sale on Craig's List.) Apparently that triggered a whole landslide of "what the hell do we do now?" from the producers. The way the show is set up, more than likely what happens is the producers send out a general letter to many restaurants saying that they are considering reviewing your restaurant, is that ok with you? For the most part, restaurants like publicity enough that they will take the chance that they won't get a bad review. I know this because I asked while we were waiting for the studio segment if any restaurants had refused to participate and only a couple had during the history of the Kansas City version. Once the restaurants respond, the reviewers are sent out anonymously to eat at their three assigned restaurants. They send in their reviews and wait to see if they will be chosen to review on camera. Once the studio segment is done, camera crews are sent out to the restaurants to do the "hero" segments. Nice shots of pretty people in the restaurant, closeups of the food and owners talking about their business. So when it came to the restaurant up for sale I'm guessing they weren't too interested in allowing cameras in to shoot food for a concept that might be revamped if sold. As it was they were barely operating at the time and only open 3 nights a week and running on a severely limited menu. So the producers scrambled to save the segment. But in a bizarre twist, they brought in three totally new reviewers and...

...had them go to the restaurant, order drinks and food and then filmed the review segment in the actual restaurant. The focus of this last piece was liquor because this particular joint, at that moment, was trying to promote itself as a bar first and gastro pub second. I say at that moment because in yet another twist they announced in February that they've hired a new chef, thought about opening an additional night a week and teased that they might, just might serve lunch. Now I think this particular restaurant came out smelling like a rose in the whole Check Please deal because folks, the food when I went there was absolutely horrid. I didn't use the word horrid in my on camera review but I was honest when it came to the food. I thought the decor was beautiful, the thought the service was good but I thought it was way overpriced for the quality and quantity of food I ate. Or tried to eat. I don't remember specifically how the other two reviewers rated their food so I won't put words into their mouths but I don't think it was as glowing as the subsequent three new reviewers. I have to say that makes me sad for a couple of reasons. One of the reasons I wanted to do this was because it seemed an honest representation of ordinary people reviewing their experience in a restaurant. No one told me what to say or what not to say. Just be myself. I've seen previous reviewers who had strong opinions about whether food is good or bad or overpriced so it's not always a total valentine for the restaurants. Who I feel really bad for is Jadh, the young woman who chose this restaurant as her favorite and had her segment totally removed from the show. She got punked which is sad because she was really good on camera.

So there you have it. Mostly good, some bad and I got a great t-shirt out of it.

TV T-shirt