Saturday, June 27, 2009

Don't Eat So Fast!

The slow food movement has become a social and political movement aimed at challenging us to think about our food choices and to establish a reconnection with local farmers and food artisans by creating a link between producers and consumers.

The slow food movement is also a reaction to the fast food life style. Sharing the grace of a meal should be a gastronomic event that brings pleasure, a sense of family, and a renewal of food traditions. These traditions may be getting lost with the saturation of fast and commercially processed foods that have become part of our daily food culture.

Another aspect of the slow food movement is a commitment to educate children and create a connection to the food they eat. The movement aims to help children develop a sense of the origin of their food, and develop their senses about the pleasures of preparing and eating food.

This past week, I had the opportunity to spend time participating in a slow food event sponsored by Turkey Hill a local farm located in Tallahassee. This event was made more enjoyable by the fact that my eleven-year old son was willing to indulge his mother in her foodie ways by accompanying her to the event.

These type of events only reaffirm my beliefs that we need to slowdown. I am a product of my daily life. I love to cook, I love to eat, I love to think about food and I understand food. However, most days my commitment to eating locally, and taking the time to prepare a meal that relies on fresh ingredients, are out the window by mid-week. All day, most days, my family is in constant motion. I am a slave to my microwave. Pre-heating the oven to bake a frozen pizza is second nature. A fast food drive through after soccer practice? I am an expert!
I am determined to learn slow down and rely on fresh local foods to nourish my family's stomachs and spirit. When my family sits down to a meal, it is always pleasurable, and I need to do that more often.

I encourage you to GET COOKING!! Pull-out those recipe books! Ask about old family recipes that have been passed down through the generations. Think more wisely about the food choices you and your family make each day. Shop locally, whenever possible. Take advantage of the opportunity to get to know the farmer's and food artisans in your local community. Check out your local farmer's markets. You will be surprised at the variety and the abundance of what is seasonally available. I would also encourage you to grow a few veggies yourself, and don't hesitate to inquire about your neighbors vegetables, they may be willing to share with you.

If you would like to know more about the slow food movement you can find it at:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Blueberry Muffins

There is nothing that makes a Sunday morning more special like the smell of fresh blueberry muffins baking in the oven and a pot of freshly brewed coffee.

Blueberry Muffins
Makes 12 Muffins

3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (for sprinkling) sugar
1- 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1- 1/2 cups buttermilk
6 tablespoons ( 3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1- 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/2 cups, blueberries, lightly coated with flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease well a 12-cup muffin tin.
In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, making a well in the center. Stir in the liquid ingredients until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Batter may be lumpy. Gently fold the blueberries into the batter.
Fill the muffin cups about three-quarters full. Lightly sprinkle with the reserved tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 20-22 minutes until lightly golden or a cake taster inserted into center of muffin comes out with moist crumbs attached. Do not overbake.

Blueberry muffin recipe from the Magnolia Bakery.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Make Mine a Mojito

While the weather may not be cooperating in the other parts of the country, there is no denying that in North Florida summer is here. That means it is officially MOJITO TIME!!
Move over Bobby Flay. The Mojito men have arrived and with them they have brought killer fresh ingredients to prepare for the thirsty crowd their version of the Mojito cocktail.

Gentlemen, get out your muddlers and let the Throwdown begin!

This is hard work. Each drink has to be made individually and the crowd is getting feisty.

And the winner is............

A tie! The outcome is not surprising, both these Mojitos, kicked-butt. The Mojito men put forth their best and left with heavy muddle fatigue. The crowd was happy and looking ahead to the Margarita challenge.

Here is another great Mojito recipe to add to your collection.

Scott's Lemon-Lime Mojito
(Disclaimer: This is an original, on the fly recipe based on the original so proportions are estimates and should be varied to your taste).

Serves 1


1 Persian lime sliced paper thin
1 Key lime sliced thin
1-2 thinly slices of lemon (note: try and pick small, thinly skinned lemons to reduce pithiness)
4-5 fresh mint leaves
3 Tablespoons lemon-mint simple syrup (recipe below)
3-4 ounces light rum ( Use top-shelf rum to reduce adverse side effects the next day)
Splash of mineral water ( prefer S. Pelligrino)


Place limes, lemon slices and mint in a tall, sturdy glass. Muddle until fruit is juiced and mint is in pieces. For best results, spend the little extra for a muddler. Use a firm downward, twisting motion. Add the simple syrup then the rum. Mix thoroughly. Splash with mineral water leaving enough room for ice. Add ice. Garnish with small sprig of mint and lime.

Lemon-Mint Simple Syrup

2 cups Splenda
1 cup water
2 full sprigs of mint or about 10 leaves
1 lemon sliced

In a saucepan, combine the splenda and water. Mix well. Add lemon slices and bring mixture to a full boil. Turn off heat. In a heatproof container (e.g. pyrex) add mint. Carefully add simple syrup and cool completely in the refrigerator.

Our next challenge is margaritas. If your margarita is up to the challenge, please share your recipe with us!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

This is what Summer is all about....

Get out of the kitchen! Fire-up the grill, and indulge your appetite for BBQ.

Slow cooked and then grilled. These ribs are melt in your mouth, fall off the bone delicious.

Fred's BBQ Rib Recipe
Good ribs are an art form. The art is to cook them slow and grill them fast.

1. Trim the ribs to remove the tough membrane and bony ends of the ribs. Don't forget trim any unusually fatty areas. Now, you are ready to apply a rub.
2. Season the ribs with your favorite rub, cover with foil, and let them sit for about an hour.
3. Double check the foil to make sure it fits snugly around the pan. Now, slow-roast the ribs in a 250 degree oven for about 2 hours. This is isn't a exact science so check the ribs after 1- 1/2 hours. You want the meat to pull away from the bone.
4. Now, you're ready to grill.
5. Grill over-medium high heat and brush with a good quality BBQ sauce, no more than 15 minutes.

Summer does not get any better than this! When your belly is full and you are ready to call it a day.......

Don't forget Dessert!

Homemade Blueberry Ice Cream

Now, kick back, enjoy the sunset. It has been a good day.

Photo courtesy of Ton VanVliet, Netherlands

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's Thyme for Berries

Just this past week we visited Green Meadows Farm  
a small certified organic family owned blueberry farm located just outside Tallahassee in the community of Monticello. I arrived with my family and friends to pick the season's early crop of blueberries. We arrived in the early evening when the humidity and warm temperatures had subsided. What a beautiful evening to pick blueberries! Never having picked fresh blueberries, I found the experience to be, well, therapeutic. Our pleasure was only doubled when we were allowed to eat all the blueberries that we wanted while picking our hands purple.  An hour later, we had 7-lbs of fresh ripe blueberries,  not a clue as to how were going to store or eat them.  All of it did not matter, we had our blueberries. Mrs. Green the owner of the farm would help us out with advice for storing the berries.
  • After you pick blueberries don't transport in a plastic bag or container, a paper bag is best.
  • Blueberries will remain fresh in your refrigerator for up to 14-days
  • Don't wash your fresh blueberries until just before using
  • If freezing your berries, don't wash them.  Store in plastic freezer bags (making sure to get all the air out of the bags).
I am not a very good baker  (it has something to do with not following directions very well) and rely on my husband for this talent.  As always, he never disappoints me with what he can whip up even a fresh batch of blueberries did not daunt him.

Blueberry Shortcakes with Lemon and Thyme Biscuits
 recipe from (Bon Appetit June 2009)

4 cups fresh blueberries rinsed, drained well
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water

3/4 cup chilled buttermilk
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1- 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1 tablespoon raw sugar
vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream

Berries: Combine all ingredients in large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until berries are slightly softened and syrup coats spoon, about 10 minutes. Transfer to medium glass bowl. 
Do ahead Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Biscuits: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit . Line large rimmed baking sheet with silicone baking mat, smooth side up, or parchment paper. Mix buttermilk, lemon peel, and thyme in small bowl. Whisk next 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend, breaking up any large clumps of brown sugar with fingertips. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk mixture and stir with fork just until blended (dough will be sticky). Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface. Knead gently just until dough comes together, 4 to 5 turns ( do not overwork dough or shortcakes will be tough). Pat dough out to 3/4-inch thick round. Using 3-inch diameter cookie cutter dipped in flour, cut out dough rounds. Gently gather dough dough scraps and pat out to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut out additional rounds, for 6 rounds total. Transfer dough rounds to prepared baking sheet, spacing apart. Sprinkle dough with raw sugar. 

Bake biscuits until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool slightly.

Using serrated knife, carefully cut biscuits horizontally in half. Place bottom half of each biscuit on each of 6 plates. Spoon blueberries and syrup over, dividing equally.