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Well. Just six weeks ago my husband and I moved from one side of the country (east) to the southwest again. Now that the move is over fro...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Alabama Catastrophe / Butter Beans

As I returned from Easter vaction with my beautiful daughter Lauren, her boyfirend Griff and my husband.  We enjoyed the beautiful white sands of Gulf Shores, AL. One thing made me uneasy as we approached Birmingham.  I noticed a few torn (felled as if someone had taken a razor and cut the tops off trees) tall pines by the side of the road. We came up 180, hit 59 and then traveled up I-65 N all the way into south Birmingham. While traveling  I-65 we stopped in Montgomery to hit the State Farmers Market picked up some beautiful produce including some pole beans, fresh speckled butter beans and also some other beautiful produce, went past Pratville and on to Birmingham. We picked up our dogs early at the vet in Pelham, AL -- learned that the vet was closing early, learned why later. We got home, noticed the tornado sirens were sounding off and the skies getting very cloudy and moving fast including fast winds. I washed the dogs off quickly, made a quick pot of chili, was glad of that, scarfed steaming bowls of chili with my husband w/saltine crackers and fed the dogs, turned the TV on and saw the news of a monster series of tornadoes coming. 

Then the power started going in and out.

We made the best of it, trying to watch a acouple of shows we had recorded, while in the background the news coverage of the tornadoes hitting played. We hunkered down for the night, said our goodnights and my daughter called to find out if we were ok. We were I told her, told her I loved her, not to worry and that I would call her in the morning. I made a note to myself to call her in the morning - otherwise I would meet my husband on the "other side" along with hordes of dogs which we have owned in the past (my rendition of what the other side is like).

I awoke the next morning, heard the stories of the devastation once I turned on the TV, checked with my husband's cousin Gail and found the family had survived but some of the devastation hit her daughter in Tuscaloosa while she was in a dorm at Univ of Alabama - the family is all OK but it is hard to not be able to do anything while you wait for the family to return calls. Gails daughter is going to try and make it to Birmingham today after helping her boyfriend with his house which was ripped apart in Tuscaloosa.

So, this is the day after, now I have connectivity and am looking what to do with the butter beans I bought as I listen to the devastation on the television - hoping I can continue to finish this blog post while I have connectivity and describe what happened last night.

Here is my simple southern recipe.

1 slice of partially cooked bacon
6 cups of water
 2 T minced vidalia onion
3 cups speckled fresh butter beans
1 T butter

Bring water, onion, butter and bacon to a boil. Add beans and cook for 1 hour, reduce heat to simmer. Add hot water as needed. Remove bacon.

Serve with rice, chicken and cornbread.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Biscuits Towers

In the deep south I have found there seems to be no ending supply of biscuits with butter or biscuits with gravy. I have come to love them when they are light, tall and fluffy. I have been experimenting with biscuit dough, here is the recipe I make all the time now.

I am talking about making tall light, fluffy buttery biscuits. I make them and store them in the freezer - good biscuits anytime you want one!

For a quick breakfast split a biscuit - and add a cooked sausage patty.

Here is my recipe:
3 cups flour, all purpose unbleached
1 T + 1 Teas baking powder
1 stick of butter, sweet cream ( 6 - 8 T butter)
1/2 t salt
3 T sugar
1 cup milk

In a large bowl add flour, salt, sugar and mix well. Cut butter into 1 inch pieces, cut each 1" slice into four pieces, save 6 of those pieces. Using your fingertips work the butter into the flour until butter resembles pea size. In a separate cup mix milk with the baking powder, stir well to distribute and add to the flour mixture.

Using your hands, mix the dough turning your hand in a circular clockwise motion until it forms a ball in the bowl. Mixing this way creates a light texture.

Dump the dough onto a floured board and knead exactly 5 times, no more, no less. Kneading more than 5 times works the gluten strands, making the biscuit tough.  Cut with a biscuit cutter or a deep glass in quick downward strokes or use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into squares. Re-roll scraps only one time, you can just pinch them together once. Arrange on a cookie sheet, brush tops with melted butter or milk remaining. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes. Makes 12 - 15 biscuits.

To reheat in microwave, nuke them 40-50 seconds each.

Four Minute Corn on the Cob!

OK, this is one of those "doh" moments. How to FIX Corn on the Cob in a hurry.

You have been toiling over hot coals, you made all the sides, made the barbeque but somehow forgot to throw the corn in a pot of water to boil. This how you get it done - superquick!

Take 2 ears of corn, leave the silk and 2 inner husks on the corn on the cob. Wash the corn under water, place the shucks back on, don't worry if you did not get all the silk off -  and put on microwave plate. Trim the ends of the corn and pop the plate in the microwave.

Cook the corn for 4 minutes, remove corn (at this point you can add another two in the microwave and nuke another 4 minutes). Let corn cool for a couple of minutes, pull off the husks - silk sloughs off with the shucks. Add butter and pepper or salt and serve immediately.

This is so easy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Kindle content

Not sure how many cookbooks are in the Kindle format or in Nook format for that matter. Apparently Kindle sales are surpassing Book sales now on Amazon.com. Brings to mind a few questions?

With the shrinkage and demise of the traditional brick and mortar publishing industry off in the future. Is E-Publishing the way to go now? Does it mean that over time, profit lies in e-books, blogs, speaking about our writing, is the publishing industry going the way of the music industry?

So, continuing to blog, generate revenue via an e-book, learn how to market your e-book and get into actively seeking out speaking engagements. Finally, releasing an e-book before publishing a printed book later may be the way of the future.

Wonder where this is taking the publishing industry and writers in general?  Perhaps changing the way things are being done?!

I love to blog and so I shall continue to share!

Leads me to the next thing I have to figure out. I have begun the search -- how to convert the second version of "Abuelita's Cocina" into a Kindle format first, and have about 1/2 of it completed. Makes me think there has to be an easier way to do this...then I can work on a hard copy format. Makes me think I need more anecdotes in vol 2! This presents special problems as there are some limitations concerning what can be pulled into a Kindle format. For example:
  • Kindle does not support tables in their books
  • Kindle uses a place holder, and numbers the pages in a different format
  • Kindle requires it own ISBN separate from your printed copy of a book