About Me

I have been cooking my way through life for over 50 years, beginning with mud pies as a child. I've turned a corner now and feel a Renaissance in my life. Recipes and Random Thoughts is my personal spin in a blog about how to prepare good food and how it prepares you for life. I want to share with you, honest to goodness food punctuated with perspective from the special memories and moments that have marked my journey.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Georgia Olive Oil

I finally bought some Georgia Olive Oil after reading about the Shaw family and their brilliant idea of growing olives in the southern part of the state.  "Why not", thought one of the son's while studying abroad.  The climate is warm enough and it turns out, olives where previously grown by early Spanish settlers along the Georgia coast.  The Civil War and production scale eventually doomed the olive in Georgia until recently.  In 2008 the Shaws planted a modest 20 acres of the arbequina variety and plan to grow olives exponentially. I feel a road trip  to Lakeland, Georgia coming on.  I love driving past the groves of olive trees I've seen in California, Italy, France & Spain  and have wondered if it was possible in Georgia-well yes it is!

Personally, I'm thrilled for the Shaws and Georgia. The health benefits of olive oil have made it a staple in most pantries.  EVOO has as many flavors as wine, depending on variety, growing region and production method. Georgia olive oil is a bit pricey but it will find it's niche in the specialty foods market. I'm not an expert on its flavor but, I like this Georgia variety because it definitely has flavor.  I did note, the label indicates both Georgia and California olives in the blend but I guess that's like wine making, it's requires blending. Best yet, it's all American!

In my opinion, olive oil can never replace butter when it comes to cooking, but I've learned to love it
and use it every chance I get.  Here's an simple pasta dish to try out the fruity flavor of Georgia Olive Oil.  Check for this product on line Georgia Olive Farms.com.

1/2 lb spaghetti
3 tbls. Georgia olive oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
 1 egg yolk
1-2 ladles of pasta water
2 oz prosciutto chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan
Chopped basil leaves to garnish

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Heat Georgia olive oil in large skillet and add red pepper flakes, heat briefly before adding minced garlic. Stir for 30 seconds before adding chopped prosciutto.  Shake skillet and stir. Add drailed spaghetti shake and stir.  Season with salt and pepper.  In a seperate small bowl, add 1 ladel of the pasta water and the quickly wisk in 1 egg yolk. Add to pasta mixture and heat over medium low heat stirring constantly. Add grated parmesan and add 2 tlbs  Georgia olive oil to finish, add more pasta water for desired thickness.  Garnish with chopped basil.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Banana Peach Bread

 I hate to waste anything, food in particular.  That's why I enjoy taking the odds and ends in the refrigerator and turning them into something good.  A few over ripe fruits and the last dab of sour cream about to go to waste turned into a lovely twist on good old banana bread.

1 stick of butter at room temperature
1 cup of sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 ripe bananas mashed
2 ripe small peaches chopped
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup milk

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy with and electric mixer on high speed. Add the eggs one at a time and beat in after each, then add the milk and sour cream.  In a seperate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and soda and cinnamon and set aside.  Combine the mashed bananas and peaches to make 2 cups of fruit. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three parts, mixing well and scraping down the sides after each addition. Add more milk it mixture is too dry. Mix until just combined, then stir in the fruit.
Pour into 2 8x4 foil pans sprayed with cooking spray.  Place on a baking sheet and bake 50 minutes at 350 or until a skewer comes our clean.  Allow to cool 15 mins in the pan and then turn out onto cooling rack to cool completely.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Aspen Salsa

We take getting away from the summer heat seriously and headed for Alaska with a stop in Aspen for a wedding. The weather was delightful in Aspen and a hearty sidewalk breakfast was a great way to start a day of hiking or biking in the Rockies.  We ate at Poppy's one morning and I discovered their delicious fresh salsa with poached eggs and avocado.   I wasn't sure how I'd like the salsa and ordered it on the side the first time, but it was made from scratch and it was love at first bite.  I went back the next day and asked how they made it. The owner was thrilled I asked and gave me the basic ingredients but was a little vague on the seasonings so I've been trying to create something similar.  He said each batch varies slightly because of what's available and personal inspiration. Poppy's had just the right balance for morning, not too much heat but definitely present.

2 lbs. fresh tomatoes, cored and seeded
1 green bell pepper, cored and seeded
1 pablano pepper, cored and seeded
1 Anaheim pepper, cored and seeded
Cut all the above into 1 inch pieces
2 green onions, sliced
2-3 tbls. red wine vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin

Put all ingredients in a food processor pulse until vegetables are uniform in size.  I like mine fairly smooth but not soupy.  Pour vegetables in a nonreactive sauce pan and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 mins.  It there is too much liquid, strain salsa.  Makes about 2 cups.  Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.