Friday, October 30, 2009

It’s my (blog) birthday party and I’ll go where I want to

It’s my party and I’ll go where I want to, go where I want to, go where I want to. You would go too when it happens to you.

Welcome to My Carolina Kitchen’s first birthday. My other blog, Island Time in Abaco, is also one year old. I’ve decided to celebrate by taking you on a virtual trip down memory lane to a pink birthday party at one of my all time favorite places in the world - Wally’s Restaurant in Marsh Harbour, Abaco. Located in a pink and white Nassau-style Colonial villa overlooking the harbour, its grounds are dotted with pink hibiscus and bright rosy pink bougainvillea. It’s a balmy 75 degrees there today and I have friends waiting, so grab your passports, throw your sunglasses and flip-flops in straw bag, and hop on board. You take the window seat so you can so enjoy the view. Isn’t that a gorgeous private beach?

We’ll land at the Marsh Harbour International Airport in the northern Bahamas where we’ll take a taxi to Wally’s.

Hi ladies, it’s great to see you. How have you been? We’re meeting friends, so we’ll just go on in.

Hi Pattie, Penny, Barometer Bob. Hope we haven’t kept you waiting too long. I’ve brought along a few friends. Notice the Haitian art work on the pink walls. Even the tablecloth and napkins are pink. Wally's is one of the most upscale restaurants in the islands.

Every time we come to Wally’s the first thing my husband does is to give Wally's daughter Maureen, the owner, a great big hug. Hi Mo. Maureen attended the Cordon Bleu and returns to Paris each fall for a visit.

Hi Angie, our usual, please.

Here’s why we came – to share a bite of Wally’s special birthday brownie. One of their specialties, it’s a huge, sinfully rich brownie, smothered with vanilla ice cream, and covered in a dark chocolate sauce, rich whipped cream, and topped with a birthday candle. It comes with extra spoons, so dig in. The brownie is a little hard to see in this picture, but it's in front of me with the candle on it.

Before we leave let’s slip in the boutique and say hello to Angie’s daughter. Maybe I’ll pick up a cute swimsuit and one of those colorful pareos to match. Look around, I’m sure you’ll see something you can’t live without.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our trip to Marsh Harbour. Thank you Beverly of How Sweet the Sound for hosting this fun pink Saturday party. I’ve met so many fabulous people this year blogging that I now call friends. Thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. Happy Pink Saturday.

These pictures were taken several years ago and reflect how the author remembers Wally’s and her friends.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Shrimp with Creamy Orange-Chipotle Sauce

Shrimp with Creamy Orange-Chipotle Sauce is another easy and quick recipe from Cooking Light’s latest cookbook, Fresh Food Fast, 5 ingredients, 15 minute recipes. I love shrimp and always try to use wild shrimp. The cookbook says that the half-and-half and grated orange rind will create a citrusy cream sauce that tames the spiciness of the chipotle chili. While I agree to an extent, it was still a bit spicy for our taste, so I decreased the amount of cumin called for on the shrimp. Cooking Light uses very little salt, but I used salt on my raw shrimp along with the cumin.

I’m also not a big fan of cooking sprays, so I used a tiny bit of canola in the pan in lieu of the spray. My recipe is for two servings instead of four, but I used the entire sauce recipe because I tossed the sauce with the spaghetti and the shrimp, rather than just with the shrimp (as the original recipe suggested). They used regular half-and-half, which surprised (and pleased) me, since it was Cooking Light. I'm not fond of non-fat half-and-half because it contains corn syrup and an artificial color. I got a little carried away with the cilantro garnish, but here’s my adapted version.

Shrimp with Creamy Orange-Chipotle Sauce
Adapted from Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast, 5 ingredients, 15 minute recipes

¾ pound peeled and deveined large shrimp, preferably wild
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt
Canola oil
½ cup half-and-half
1 large chipotle chili, canned in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more if you want to use it as garnish
Hot cooked thin spaghetti or linguine

Toss shrimp with ground cumin and salt. Add about 2 teaspoons of canola oil in a medium-sized nonstick skillet, turn heat to medium-high, and sauté the shrimp 4 minutes or until shrimp are done, stirring frequently. Transfer shrimp to a serving plate and keep warm. In the meantime place the half-and-half, chili and orange rind in a blender and process until smooth.

To make the sauce, reduce heat to medium in the skillet, add half-and-half mixture to pan and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add shrimp to sauce, then remove mixture from heat and toss with the hot cooked spaghetti. Serves 2.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chicken with Tomatoes, Basil, and Feta served over Orzo

This recipe for chicken with tomatoes, basil and feta comes from a Cooking Light special edition publication, Cooking Light 5 ingredient 15 minute cookbook with 136 recipes. It was on the news stands this past spring. I made a few changes of my own to the chicken, served it over orzo substituting almonds for the pine nuts and it was an instant hit in our family. Not only did it taste wonderful, it looked as good as it tasted, which is often not the case.

The 5 ingredient 15 minute idea must have been a success because they have expanded the idea and have a new cookbook – Cooking Light’s Fresh Food Fast with over 280 recipes.

When I first looked through Cooking Light’s Fresh Food Fast I thought it was a cross between Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee. Rachael because of the fast. Sandra Lee’s semi-homemade idea because the book suggests using, as an example, pre-chopped peppers, frozen rice, and bottled dressings, none of which I would normally use. However, because the chicken with tomatoes recipe was a hit, I decided to give the book a try, but with one exception. If a recipe called for bottled dressing as an example, I would simply make my own. Or with frozen rice, I would use my normal brown rice even though it takes 35 minutes to cook instead of ten.

I recommend the book if you are looking for dishes that require a minimum amount of time and effort and that are full of fresh flavors. In fact I like it so much that I will feature another recipe from the book in my next post.

Chicken with Tomatoes, Basil, and Feta
Adapted from Cooking Light’s Fresh Food Fast

2 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil for sautéing
¾ cup grape tomatoes, halved
10 pitted Kalamata olives, halved
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon small basil leaves, torn

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Heat about 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil in a 10” non-stick pan over medium high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and keep warm.

Remove the pan from the stove and let it cool a little. Meanwhile combine the tomatoes, olives, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar in a medium bowl. Add the tomato mixture to the pan and heat over medium heat and cook 1 to 2 minutes or until tomatoes soften. Spoon over chicken. Top evenly with cheese and basil. Serve over Orzo with Slivered Almonds. Yield: 2 servings

Printable recipe including orzo with slivered almonds

Serve with Orzo with Slivered Almonds
Adapted from Cooking Light’s Fresh Food Fast

½ cup uncooked orzo
½ cup spring greens mix, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons slivered almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook orzo according to package directions. I salted the water, which they didn’t suggest but I do not like pasta cooked without salt. Drain pasta when done. Toss the spring greens mix with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, add the rosemary, season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss with orzo and toasted almonds.

Several bloggers participate in a Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club. Among them include two of my favorite blogs, Val of More Than Burnt Toast and Helene of La Cuisine d’Helen. If you enjoy Cooking Light’s recipes as I do, you’ll want to check out their Supper Club by clicking to either of the above blogs. Val says they will also be featured on the Cooking Light blog site, Test Kitchen Secrets.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I’d rather be here today

Today in the mountains of North Carolina we woke up to a frosty 27 degrees. I would much rather be on Elbow Cay in Abaco, where the current temperature is 75. We've also had a lot of rain this fall. It feels like fall slipped away almost before it got here and turned to winter.

To see more about the Abacos, please visit Abaco Escape, Sandy Estabrook’s gorgeous website which contains hundreds of beautiful photos of the area along with local information, including the beautiful deserted beach shown above on Elbow Cay in the Bahamas.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pink Saturday & Awards

Photograph by Kim Cornelison

This is the cover of Country Home, another magazine no longer in print. Frequently I’ll clip out decorating ideas from magazines. I love flea market finds, antiques and mixing old and new. While our house here is very traditional with wing chairs, ancestral portraits and old rugs, our little pied- a-terre in Florida has a more funky twist. I would love to find something for it like this cool crackled pink chest or the sassy painting of the girl. The fun is in the hunt, as they say.

Debbie of Dining with Debbie is a great gal that I met through blogging. She’s from Arkansas, my home state. She hosts Crockpot Wednesdays if you would like to join and she is also participates in the Pink Saturday fun, hosted by Beverly of How Sweet The Sound. She passed the Honest Scrap Award to me and I’m honored and pleased. Thank you very much Debbie. Because it’s Pink Saturday, I used the powers of Photo Shop to change the color of the Honest Scrap Award to pink. It’s really supposed to be orange.

Here are the rules as they were presented to me from Debbie:
- Post the (orange) Honest Scrap award on your blog. Present this award to seven others whose blogs you find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged you.
- Tell those seven people they've been awarded HONEST SCRAP and inform them of these guidelines and ask that they link back to you.
- Share "Ten Honest Things" about yourself.
- This is the most important part. Use the “Orange” Honest Scrap Award, which is below. Please do “not” use the pink one. I changed the color from orange to pink just for Pink Saturday.

Original Honest Scrap Award

Here are a few things about me.

- I wake up in the mornings in a good mood, with almost no exceptions.
- I believe you’re as happy as you make your mind up to be.
- My given name is Suzanne, which I no longer use. I go by Sam, a nickname my husband gave me when we first met.
- If you believe that it’s possible to come back in another life, I would like to be either a singer or a wealthy person’s spoiled and pampered golden retriever.
- If I had to do it all over again, I would change only one thing: We would live in France for a while and remodel an old mas (farmhouse) in Provence.
- I think good manners are extremely important and are a part of learning to be a lady or a gentleman.
- I don’t like to drive. When we lived in the islands, we had no need for a car. We had a go fast, run-about boat (to take us to town) and a golf cart to get around on our tiny cay (a cay is smaller than an island), rather than walk in the heat to visit our neighbors. The cart was driven on a narrow, old coral road with not much traffic other than a few people walking along from house to house and a couple of other carts. Also, in the Bahamas they drive on the left, which took me almost the entire ten years we lived there to get accustomed to. When we returned to the states, Interstate 95 frightened me. It looked like the Daytona 500 with cars racing by on each side.
- By now, you've figured out I’m a blonde and for some reason I've had more than my share of "blonde moments" this week.

Here are some friends I’ve met recently. Tag, you’re it for the Honest Scrap Award.

Maggie B ~ Normandy Life

Roz at La Bella Vita recently had an interesting post regarding commenting on blogs. I was one of the people who responded and she passed a wonderful award to me, amont others– the Nice Matters award.

Thank you so much Roz. I agree that nice most definitely mattera. Roz says there aren't any rules with this award, you don’t have to post it if you don’t want to, nor do you have to link back to anyone. I’ve been saving the Nice Matters award for the perfect time to say thank you to the right person. This week several people have gone out of their way to be nice to me, so I would like to say a big thank you to these three special friends and pass the Nice Matters award along to them.

Thank you Beverly of How Sweet the Sound for hosting this fun event. Happy Pink Saturday everyone.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Saying good-bye and au revior to my old friend Gourmet

I was very sad to read Conde-Nast’s announcement that it would cease publication of Gourmet magazine after the November issue. I’ve read with great interest the recent stories written by people in the food world and their various opinions as to why a nearly seventy year old publication such as Gourmet would fold. While some have had controversial opinions that stirred up a bit of backlash and name calling on the internet, others reminisced about what made Gourmet what it was and those were a joy to read.

As my way of saying good-bye, I’ve included some favorite covers from my Gourmet collection.

The New York Times reported that one of the first things Gourmet’s editor in chief Ruth Reichl did after telling her staff that the publisher was closing Gourmet was to lock up the library with its collection of 70 years of cookbooks and typewritten recipes. Then she and her staff gathered bottles of wine and liquor from the office and held a wake in her apartment. Good for you Ruth. I hope you opened the good stuff.

The article went on the say that for an older generation it was a place where people learned how to cook and eat. “Gourmet was the only resource you had other than your cookbooks,” said Judy Walker, the food editor of New Orleans Times-Picayune. So true Judy. Gourmet was the first food magazine I subscribed to and we had to rely on our cookbooks. I learned my knife skills from the black and white drawings in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, one of my favorite cookbooks.

I don’t know if or when the lights will go out on Gourmet’s website or their archives after the transitional period, but here’s what they say: “The website will remain available during a transitional period and access to Gourmet recipes will also remain available via sister site and the EPI Iphone application.”

I suggest you pop over to Gourmet’s Archives while you still can, because the archives contain a lot of good articles you won’t want to miss.

For example, Jacques Pepin’s tells Gourmet everything he ate and drank in a 24 hour period: “I love English muffins, so sometimes I’ll have half an English muffin with some jam that I might make, but that’s the most I would ever do for breakfast. [The voice of his wife, Gloria, in the background: “Corn flakes!”] Oh yes, I love corn flakes. I have them sometimes for lunch, but I haven’t had them in a long time.” Read more….

Or how about a charming story from Wolfgang Punk when he talks about fixing his children breakfast: “I have two small sons, Oliver and Alexander. One is four and one is two and a half. They come into our bedroom in the morning and say, “Papa, let’s make pancakes.” So I make pancakes and oatmeal for the kids. The little one prefers oatmeal most of the time and Oliver, the older one, eats pancakes.” Read more

Laura Shapiro writes about what happened to James Beard: “Food lovers everywhere recognize his name, thanks to the James Beard Foundation and its well-publicized annual awards. But apart from the awards, usually given out around the time of his birthday, Beard has pretty much disappeared. He was a colossus in American cookery, and now he’s barely a memory. What happened?” Read more

Can you name the twenty-five people who have changed food in America? It's in the Archives.

Good-bye old friend. I’ll miss you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Celebrating Pink Saturday at the John C. Campbell Folk School Fall Festival in Brasstown, North Carolina

Each year the John C. Campbell Folk School hosts a Fall Festival and I’m here to celebrate Pink Saturday. A group of bloggers from around the world get together on Saturday to celebrate everything pink and our hostess is Beverly of How Sweet The Sound. Today I’m here to find some pink, enjoy the craft booths and demonstrations and listen to some music.

Here's a friendly witch with bright pink feathers in her hat that highlight her Halloween costume.

I found more pink in a booth with gorgeous hand-blown glass sculptures. This glass platter was hand-formed by a talented local artist and is nearly 40 inches in diameter.

Last week I visited Crane Creek Vineyards and found a cute pink metal pig at their gate welcoming everyone to the tasting room. I believe I just spotted her sister. Don’t you love her? She’s aptly named “When Pigs Fly.”

Look at this cool airplane. Many years ago, when we were first married and before my husband owned his own plane, I would give him planes as a gift. Not the real thing of course - just stuff like wooden toy planes and collectables such as this beauty so I could say with great enthusiasm as I handed him his gift, “I bought you an airplane for your birthday.”

John C. Campbell Folk School sits on 300-acres in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in scenic Brasstown, North Carolina. The school offers a year-round roster of 860 sessions for adults in traditional skills such as basketry, calligraphy, batik dying, crafts, arts, music, dance, gardening, blacksmithing, and photography to name a few. In cooking, for example, there are forty-two different classes to choose from. The family-style meals provided during your stay feature organic produce grown on-site.

National Geographic Books listed the John C. Folk School as one of the 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life. In their August 2009 issue Country Living Magazine featured an article, “Who says summer camp is just for kids?about the school.

According to our local newspaper, The Cherokee Scout, more than 13,000 attended the Fall Festival, breaking all previous records from the past 36 years of the festival’s history.

Old time wood working – that little man bobs up and down as the artist works the machine

Broom maker


Basketry & Wreaths – notice the beautiful dried pink hydrangea wreath


Metal sculpture – a glamorous rooster


A grits grinding machine – you know I bought a bag or two for myself - Recipe for Shrimp & Grits

Food Alley

Forty different groups provided live music and dance

As part of the celebration of talented artists, I would like to introduce a fabulous blog I discovered through my Pink Saturday adventures, Fifi Flowers Design Decor. Fifi is a talented artist who believes life should be full of whimsy and fun. So do I Fifi. Do drop by and say hello and see Fifi’s incredible art work. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. If you are a blogger and would like to join in the fun on Pink Saturday, be sure to contact Beverly for details. If you are interested in taking classes at the Folk School, call 1-800-FOLK-SCH for a free catalog or go to the John C. Campbell website.

Happy Pink Saturday everyone from the John C. Campbell Folk School in scenic Brasstown, North Carolina.