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Charlotte On My Mind

On Saturday we returned from our annual vacation and anniversary celebration at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.  I was refreshed and rested and looking forward to sharing the experience with you. As I sat down at my computer this morning to write this post, I realized I just couldn’t do it.  I am so saddened by the events over the last couple of days in Charlotte and I am praying for peace and justice.

I will share my Hilton Head experiences with you later on and I do look forward to doing that.  However, Charlotte is a very special place for me and is only about 50 miles from where I live in Conover. My first job after finishing school was indowntown Charlotte right where the protests happened last night.  I met Mr. D in Charlotte and my daughter was born at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte.  There are many good people that live in that city and I am sure they are disillusioned too.

Mr. D and I visited Wing Haven in Charlotte last Spring and I snapped this picture of downtown.

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I am lifting up prayers that peace will be restored and justice will be served. This scripture verse came to me this morning and I want to share it with you:  Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Romans 15:7 NIV

This final picture is of Wing Haven and the peacefulness and beauty of the garden when we visited in the Spring.

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Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.  Thanks for stopping by.

September Means Apples – Apple Pie or Apple Surprise

In September, I think of two things:  Apples and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. First let’s talk about apples. We purchased some at the Farmer’s Market last weekend.  The apples of fall are so crisp and delicious.  I wanted to share a couple of apple recipes with you today.  One of the recipes is a traditional apple pie in a pastry crust.  The other one is an apple surprise that makes it’s on crust.

Both of these recipes come from a cookbook given to me by my friend, Dixie.  The cookbook is entitled Williamsburg Kitchens written by Kay Willard and published in 1968.  I think that makes these recipes real keepers as they are just as relevant today as they were in 1968.

The first one calls for a pastry crust and of course you could use a frozen or refrigerated pastry.  Because, I have learned to make a pastry crust, I do prefer them.  However, I have found that if you are real patient in preparing a refrigerated pastry it can be very tasty.

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The next one is an easy one and I think the smell of a fresh pie or pastry baking is a wonderful aroma no matter how you make it.

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Now to the second part of my post.  We always go to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina in September to celebrate our anniversary.  This is the week of our trip to my most favorite place ever.

I look forward to sharing with you when I return.  Thanks for stopping by.

Fried Chicken With Milk Gravy – A Work In Progress

Over the past week or so, I have been nudged into frying chicken.  My California cousin sent more recipes and he included a fried chicken recipe.  I really thought he was very brave to send a cousin in the South a fried chicken recipe.  As I read it, I realized it was very similar to the way I prepare fried chicken.  Then to confirm that I needed to make some fried chicken, I was sitting in a training class at work and the leader said every woman in the South should know how to make fried chicken.  I decided then and there that I would make fried chicken.

Have I made fried chicken before?  Yes I have but several years ago I gave my electric frying pan away.  It was a specialty frying pan and was very heavy and I just felt as if it was quite cumbersome.  I have tried to fry several things including okra on the stove top and it just does not work.  A few months ago, I purchased a new light weight electric frying pan.  I love using it and the consistency of the heat is a great plus in frying food.

I browsed through my California cousin’s recipes and several other cookbooks by Southerners to decide how to fry my chicken.  Here is what I came up with.

Fried Chicken with Milk Gravy

4 to 8 chicken thighs and breasts ( I used boneless breast and cut it half lengthwise)

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 quart of buttermilk

1 cup shortening

2 tablespoons of butter

1/2 cup water

First of all, I washed my chicken and placed it in a shallow bowl and covered it with buttermilk.  I let it marinate in the refrigerator for about two hours.  I drained it and I do believe I should have rinsed it off and patted it dry.  My breading started to come off when I was frying it and I believe it is because the buttermilk was still on the chicken.

I mixed together all of the dry ingredients in a gallon size freezer bag.  I placed the chicken pieces in the flour mixture, 3 pieces at a time. Reserve any unused flour mixture for gravy.

I put the shortening in the electric frying pan and set the temperature to 360.  I used Crisco oil and I am thinking maybe I should have used the crisco solid shortening instead.  I added the two tablespoons of butter to the oil and after it melted, I placed the chicken in the oil. I placed all of the chicken pieces in the oil skin side down.  Then turned to brown on all sides.  I added 1/2 cup of water to the oil and covered the pan and reduced the heat to 220 degrees.  I cooked it for 25 to 30 minutes until the chicken was tender.

To crisp the crust, remove the cover and cook at 360 degrees for an additional 5 minutes or until desired crispness.

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As you can see from the above picture, the breading did not crisp up as much as I wanted it to.  Also, maybe I should have double breaded the chicken or used an egg wash. When I fry the chicken again, I will rinse and pat dry after marinating it in the buttermilk.  I may also use an egg wash when breading the chicken.  If you have any suggestions, let me know.

I will say this was the chicken was moist, juicy, and flavorful. On to the milk gravy and I will say, I have never tried to make milk gravy before. However, this seemed so easy and it turned out well. The milk gravy recipe is from Betty Feezor’s Carolina Recipes Volume II.  The basic chicken recipe is from her cookbook to but I did make some variations in the spices and she did not marinate her chicken in buttermilk.

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After chicken is fried, remove it and all but 1/4 cup of fat.  ( I estimated that the bottom of my pan had a small amount of fat covering the surface).  Set temperature to 210 degrees.  Add the remaining flour from coating the chicken and brown it slightly, stirring constantly.  Gradually add two cups of milk and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stirring constantly.  Cook at 210 degrees about 5 minutes, stirring to keep gravy smooth.

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I was very pleased with my first attempt at milk gravy.  It amazed me how similar the recipes for fried chicken were from Dorie Sanders, Mrs. Wilkes, and Betty Feezor.  I will definitely try this again and I am sure I will make Mr. D very happy. It will make me very happy if the breading doesn’t slide off the chicken.  I know I can do this.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Almost Heaven – Charleston West Virginia

Mr. D and I traveled to the Mid-West to visit our family in August.  Our midway stopping point is Charleston, West Virginia.  I know I have written many times about Charleston South Carolina and how beautiful it is.  In a totally different way, Charleston West Virginia is just as beautiful.  No there is no ocean or sea breeze but there are beautiful mountains and the Kanawha River that runs through town and right beside the state capitol building. We drove through downtown and there are many shops and restaurants on shaded streets.  One of my favorite places was the Capitol Market that is also located downtown and has a wonderful farmers market.

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A view of a college across the Kanawha River in Downtown Charleston

 

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Another view of the Kanawha River

 

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This is a picture of the Capitol Building grounds. It was a hot day and we appreciated the shade.

 

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The statue is of Abraham Lincoln in front of the Capitol and he is the founder of the State of West Virginia

 

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I love this picture of the Capitol Dome showing through the trees. When I think of West Virginia I think of beautiful lush forests.

 

All of the following pictures are of the Capitol Market in downtown Charleston.  Part of the market is indoors and there is an outside market that sells fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers.  All Summer I have been wanting some wonderful juicy nectarines.  I could not find any in North Carolina and I was totally surprised to find them at this Market.  Who knew that I was going to have to travel to West Virginia to find nectarines.

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The picture below is one of many farms that we passed in our travels.  Ohio is a beautiful state and has so many farms.  Indiana has cornfields as far as the eye can see.

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In an election year, you can become very depressed with what you hear from the politicians.  After traveling through the Mid-West and meeting so many nice people, I just have one thing to say.  America does have to become great again, it is great and will continue to become even better.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

A North Carolina Treasure Cheerwine and How About Cheerwine Poke Cake

Mr. D and I traveled to visit our family in the midwest earlier this month.  When we returned it seemed to take a long time for me to get caught up and return to my regular routine.  I wanted to share something with you but wasn’t inspired by anything special.  Today, I started filing away my new recipes and some that I had used recently. No I don’t trust the computer with my precious recipes and keep them in a notebook or a recipe box.  I saw this recipe I am sharing with you for a Cheerwine Poke Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze.  I knew immediately that I wanted to share it.  It is from a recent issue of Our State Magazine.  I love the flavor of Cheerwine in a cake and I can just imagine how good that would be with cream cheese as a glaze.

As you can see from the introduction to the recipe, Cheerwine is made in Salisbury, NC and contains no wine at all.  It has a sweet cherry flavor but I would never call it a cherry drink.  I think the only word that describes it is Cheerwine.  It might be a good cake to make when you just feel like poking someone.

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I have been sharing some recipes from my California cousin with you. The other day I think I laughed out loud when I saw a recipe he had forwarded to me that was for a cherry cola cake.  I told him I had been using cheerwine to make cakes for many years.  It surprises me at how we are so much alike even though we live in such different regions of the US.  I guess that proves that the love of food, cooking and recipes can bring people together.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Cherry Tomato Provencal By Ina Garten

I love tomatoes and I do not eat them in the winter.  I only eat fresh tomatoes in the summertime and I am always super excited about that first taste of the tomato in a wonderful sandwich on white bread with Duke’s mayonnaise.  I do have to admit that by the time August arrives, we are getting a little tired of tomatoes. I was browsing through one of Ina Garten’s cookbooks recently and saw this recipe for provencal cherry tomato gratin.  I made it for us recently and it is so good.  The cherry tomatoes I purchased at the farmers market were larger and so I only needed two pints of the tomatoes.

I love the wonderful flavors of this dish and it is a little different as we usually pair basil with tomatoes.  I know this is a recipe that I will continue to make in the future.

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This recipe is in Ina Garten’s cookbook Foolproof.  I always chose Ina when I want to use a traditional ingredient and make it a little differently.  She is such a master of that.

Thanks for stopping by.  (Oops sorry about the little green strip in the title of the recipe.  That was my sticky note to mark the page.)

 

Fried Okra

On one of my previous posts I mentioned that I was going to try to fry okra this summer.  I have tried it in the past and had disastrous results.  Surely a southern girl that loves to cook would be able to master this task.  As I have been seeing okra at the farmer’s market weekly, I decided it was time to give it a try.

I searched through my cookbooks for the best recipe.  I chose one from The Glory of Southern Cooking Cookbook by James Villas.  I love the cookbook and it is such a wonderful collection of southern recipes from all over the South.  The recipe I am sharing seemed very traditional and I love James comment about how the fried okra could be served as an appetizer.  Mr. D and I have wondered many times why people in the South and restaurants in the South do no serve fried okra as an appetizer.  I think that is a great idea.IMG_4443

Above is a picture of the fried okra I prepared.  I used an electric skillet instead of a cast iron skillet.  I have a hard time regulating the heat on my stove and that is how I messed up my fried okra the last time I gave it a try.  If I was going to improve on this first attempt at this recipe, I would try for sure to make my pieces of okra a more consistent size.  I also used the fine grain cornmeal and I did not like the texture.  It was almost gummy.  I would try to find the old fashioned corn meal to use.  Also,  when I placed the okra in the batter, I think I should have left it in the batter for a couple of minutes as that seemed to help to coat the okra. By the way, I don’t cook with lard so I used vegetable cooking oil.

I had never heard of parboiling the okra first.  I did that and I think it helped to make the batter adhere to the okra.

Here is the recipe.

 

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We were very happy with the results.  I know many people think okra is just gross; however, if it is prepared correctly that isn’t necessarily true.  I do plan to make this recipe again before the fresh okra disappears at the farmers market.

Thanks for stopping by.

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