Monday Randomness ~ Brussels Sprouts Edition

Every once in a while I come across either a food or food trivia that I feel compelled to pass along. It’s been a while though since I did that (maybe the last time was this post about apples on my old photography blog?)

But I have been meaning to share a particular brussels sprouts recipe over at She Feeds Her Family and figured it could be fun to share some random facts about those little balls of mini cabbage.

First, they actually are not mini cabbages. More like a cousin since they’re part of the same family as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale. They are a human engineered strain of a wild cabbage.

They can be traced back to the 13th century and are not native to the US. They can be grown just about anywhere with New York, Washington and California the leading growers in the states producing over 32,000 tons of them.

They were introduced to Louisiana in the 1800s by the French. Merci beaucoup!

Great Britain considers brussel sprouts their national vegetable.

They grow on stalks! I think it was last year when I saw an actual brussels sprout stalk for the first time and this fact totally amazed me. Apparently they last longer on the stalk than loose so if you can buy them still attached do it. Plus they look way cooler 😉 In 2000 a US couple grew the world’s tallest stalk measuring in at over nine feet tall! The biggest individual sprout ever grown weighed in at 18lbs and 3oz.

They are incredibly healthy. Sprouts have more vitamin C than oranges and vitamin K is abundant along with other antioxidants and being high in fiber.

A 2019 survey found brussels sprouts to be the fourth most hated vegetable in our country. Most believe this is due to improper cooking technique though. I mean, an overcooked squishy brussel sprout is rather yucky but roasted with apples and bacon? Or pan seared with gnocchi? They are delicious!

But there might actually be a genetic reason someone doesn’t like the little green veggie powerhouse. The gene TAS2R38, which is responsible for tasting the chemical PTC. PTC is how humans taste bitterness so if your family doesn’t love them you guys may have a developed amount of PTC.

I came across a New York Times recipe and when I finally got around to making it it became a family favorite. Actually, it’s been a favorite every time I have made it no matter who I made it for.

Mosey on over and check it out and you will be able to enjoy it’s deliciousness and wow people with all the fun random facts you now know about brussel sprouts.

Happy Monday, y’all!

Look how pretty they are!

Friday Favorites ~ Backroads Edition

Earlier in the week I mentioned riding down some back roads and taking pictures and since I think I have my days straight (it is Friday, yes?) it’s the perfect time to share a few. As a bonus I also have a link to a new recipe to share!

I really do find Louisiana to be a beautiful state. Even when we were just visiting in Monroe as Emily and Hays were getting to know each other last year I found myself enthralled with the bayous. But a new rival for my affections on that front are the marshes.

There is this beautiful color palette of blue and gold that I just love. As a drove further along I noticed a lot of black too and realised they must do controlled burns the way you do forests. Either that or there was one heck of a wildfire recently! The funny thing is that even the blackened landscape was beautiful.

I wanted to get a closer, better composed shot of this bench but when I got out of the car there was a great big sign that said, “Please do not feed or approach the alligators” and I thought to myself, “Not a problem! But has anyone told the alligators not to approach?”

I still have a particular shot in mind for this spot but I will wait until Rob is with me so I don’t have to be concerned about the wildlife!

Speaking of the wildlife…this is another shot still on my bucket list. I want to get a picture of a crane and this one is close to what I see in my head but my timing was off and the light was too harsh. I was still happy to have gotten this one though.

They can be pretty skittish so I captured quite a few fly away shots.

I drove on over to Holly Beach too. From the beginning of our move we have been told repeatedly not to expect Florida beaches here, actually not anything remotely close. So I wasn’t and I can see where you might would be disappointed if you were expecting pristine white sand and those crystal emerald green waters. Because the sand is brown and for about the first mile out from shore the water is brown because well, the sand at the bottom is brown. But you know what I learned? The magic of the beach is something you carry inside and it might have to do with the sound of the water and the scent.

I wasn’t disappointed at all. As a matter of fact I was delighted because the seashells here were ubiquitous and whole. And I promise you as the waves retreated the sound they made cascading over the shells was a music all its own. I picked up and brought home so many shells! I am not sure what I will do with them exactly, although I have a few ideas, but of course I did some macro pictures.

The colors and swirls are just so fascinating.

So no, not the Pensacola beaches I grew up on but I think I am going to do just fine here.

So two more things. First, my friend Tiffany shared this delicious goodness with me last week while we walked around with the kids doing the Cluedupp mystery. It is yummy! So yummy that I am really thankful it is a seasonal item 😊

Now about that recipe I mentioned. Are you familiar with a nearsighted cartoon character named Mr Magoo? He just sort of bumbles through situations none the wiser of the chaos that surrounds him. Do you see where this might be going? My beloved tells me I magoo my way through things sometimes. I, of course, have no idea of what he speaks 😉

Except for this recipe. I read it and thought I was following directions but…

It all worked out though because my version of sausage and gnocchi soup (forever after known in our house as Magoo Stew) turned out delicious and you should click the link and make it this weekend!

Have a great weekend you guys! Our church is hosting a wedding shower for Emily so our Porter people will be in town!

More Macro on a Monday

How was your weekend? Mine actually had a head start with a visit from our Sarah with the added surprise of her bringing my mother to see me! It was a super quick visit with them coming in late Wednesday evening and leaving early Friday morning but it was still good for my soul to have both my girl and my mama here. After they left I had some time to drive around some of our backroads taking pictures. There is so much beauty in the landscape of Louisiana and I hope to share them later in the week so that family and friends in Florida can see more of where we live now.

A lovely dinner with a sweet young family from our church that evening, and a beautiful Saturday morning walking around some of downtown Lake Charles while Claire and her friends solved the CluedUpp murder mystery. This is the second time they’ve done the geo mystery game and it is always a lot of fun. The company does them all over the country and we actually gave two of them to people for Christmas, one that takes place in Pensacola and one in Monroe.

We are so grateful for the sweet friends Claire has found here!

This was followed by Claire’s first formal dance with the homeschool coop we belong to. She takes weekly dance lessons in Lake Charles so it’s fun to actually get to go somewhere and do the foxtrot and Virginia Reel.

Then Rob and I actually went on a date, something we realise we haven’t done since sometime like September? We went to a restaurant called Calla and oh boy! was the food delicious. We started the meal with blue crab beignets and the meal just went up from there…the brussel sprouts were divine!

Everything wrapped up with a wonderful Sabbath full of spiritual food (I found Rob’s sermon to be particularly beautiful) and good rest.

There was a beautiful mix of fog and pink skies this morning when I took the puppies out. A quick phone picture is all I captured but I think I may need to keep my camera handy tomorrow for a real picture.

There is so much to be thankful for and I’m looking forward to whatever this week holds. Everything is not always rainbows and butterflies I know. Last week was mixed with deep sorrow over the loss of a faithful minister and friend of Rob’s who passed away suddenly. There were text conversations with friends that I miss seeing regularly. But God shows Himself so faithful even in the midst of those things and then the extra portion of grace given in such sweet good things can only cause me to either weep with joy or sing His praise.

It seems like a good place to begin a Monday, don’t you think?

I almost forgot the macro picture! I’m not calling it macro Monday every week but right now it is a fun departure from regular photography and I hope you enjoy seeing things up close and personal. I actually find taking macro pictures to be very relaxing and if I feel stressed or a bit chaotic it helps to take a moment to lean in and narrow my focus for a bit.

I think this last one was my favorite from the roses.

Macro Macarons On A Monday

On Saturday the ladies of my church came over and we enjoyed a lovely brunch and fellowship over a discussion on Psalm 23. It was my first time hosting a group since we moved here and it was so fun to have them here! God has indeed been so gracious to us in this move.

And the food. Breakfast foods are some of my favorites and we had a veritable feast to savor and enjoy. As an afterthought I picked up some frozen macarons, partly because they are yummy and, being completely honest, partly because I knew if there were any left over I could take pictures of them 🙂

And there were so I did and now we get to enjoy the fabulous alliteration of macro macarons on a Monday and if that isn’t just a fun way to start the week I don’t know what is. In all seriousness, I realize it may seem a silly thing to do and really a lot of the pictures I take may seem that way. I mean, these probably aren’t going to grace anyone’s walls just like the ones I did of an artichoke or the cheerios. But to me these pictures, the ones that so delight my soul but will never be hung or even printed, are small acts of beautiful resistance.

I have an online friend that I have been following for years and this morning she shared some of her heart struggles while living in China as the government there begins to push another lockdown due to covid. She talked about how Japanese-Americans were forced to live in internment camps during WWII and as an act of resistance they took to gardening. “They made rock gardens and ornamental gardens, vegetable gardens and gravel gardens. They refused to give in to the desolation. They preserved their culture and humanity. They resisted the harshness of their condition, and they did it with beauty.”

Christine went on to write that as she read Psalm 23 with that thought in mind it was as if God himself is known to create these beautiful acts of resistance…I have prepared a table for you to sit and feast in the midst of your enemies.

So, I ask you dear friend. What beautiful act of resistance will you commit this week? What small beautiful thing will you do or make that tells the world Christ is King?

Me? I think I am going to pick up my camera and see what unexpected and often overlooked beauty I can find to photograph.

DPP ~ Day 8

I love cold weather. Winter is actually my second favorite season right after autumn. Those two facts are rather ironic considering that I live in Florida where we don’t really get much of either of those two seasons but we do get cool weather and I was delighted to have soup weather today.

My love and I have been on a Top Chef kick lately and it has really gotten us out of our comfort zones and trying different recipes and such. It’s funny to see how we both interact with it because I am focusing more on homey comfort food while Rob has been getting more adventurous with Asian food. (The man has perfected a killer spicy chicken with rice dish.)

Because it was colder today I did make a new soup recipe and it turned out okay I thought. Oddly enough I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would but Rob and Claire both gave it a thumbs up. Abigail doesn’t like onions so she tasted a spoonful and promptly popped open a can of cream of chicken soup.

This was only the second time I had cooked with leeks and I have to say we really like them! (Last night was also a new comfort food recipe…one that I really enjoyed but it has a good sourdough bread and cheese so what’s not to enjoy?)

Today’s dpp is actually a picture I took today while prepping for the carmelized onion and garlic bisque. The leeks just have a pretty color and fun shapes, don’t you think?

What Would You Do?

I once blogged about the lazy state of affairs we are living in when butter comes wrapped in half stick chunks. I vividly remember thinking how utterly ridiculous that seemed to me. That we would actually pay extra to have the same amount of butter cut and wrapped in smaller pieces so that we wouldn’t have to take the time and make the effort to actually cut a stick of butter in half.

Oh, dear friends, how the mighty have fallen! Those words came back to haunt me…to taunt me really…the other day when I was getting the ingredients to make a dessert for a dinner with friends.

I, who mocked and derided those who would buy their precut sticks of butter, was faced with a conundrum that shamed me with it’s weightiness. The irony of my decision making was not lost on me in the Walmart candy aisle.

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Do you see my quandary? On the right a slightly larger bag with a handful more of that delicious caramelly goodness, wrapped.

On the left? A slightly smaller bag with just a few less pieces of that delicious caramelly goodness, unwrapped.

The ones on the left? A little bit more expensive for fewer pieces. But still more than enough for the dessert I was making.

I did it too. With an apology in my heart for my younger more judgmental self that mocked those half stick of butter lovers.

What would you do?

Click here to see the sweet treat I made with my unwrapped Rolos. Super easy made even more so by those unwrapped Rolos and super tasty.

In Which I Talk About Rice

I know, a whole post on rice. Really? Really.

I have never been good at making rice. Honestly, rice has always seemed to me to be one of those foods that’s really just a vehicle for other foods like a hot dog bun or such and was best used in casseroles and corned beef hash. I’ve never been very good at making it so I rarely served it as a side.

Kitchen confession: I got really good with minute rice when I did need it. I had no idea what we were missing out on by going this route though. No judgement if you too love those convenient little boil in the bags or dehydrated just add water boxes of rice. I get it. Real rice can be intimidating. It takes more time. It’s tricky to get the water to rice ratio just so to ensure soft fluffy rice. And boy, oh boy, brown rice is a whole other category altogether!

But I have learned some tips and tricks recently that changed my rice making game and maybe they will be of help to you. Or maybe I am the only one who has had a problem with rice making. It is entirely possible I am in a club of one. I know what you are probably thinking. “Woman, why didn’t you just read the package directions and follow them?” Y’all, I totally would! But would somehow still end up with undercooked rice. I will totally cop to it being user error but that’s the simple truth. Making good rice eluded me for years, people. Years.

But I am living in a different rice zone these days so here are the tips and tricks that I found helpful.

IMG-0759Basmati rice. Other more experienced and knowledgable cooks in the kitchen may roll their eyes and say what type of rice doesn’t matter but I have found that basmati rice turns out perfect every.single.time. It’s a little more expensive but totally worth it in my book for the fact of consistency alone. And may I just point out that I had no idea there were different kinds of rice other than white or brown and the cheater minute rice and the real stuff reserved for elite rice cookers? Who knew?

The Rice Association apparently. Guys, there is a fascinating website all about rice! According to them there are over 40,000 varieties of rice. Crazy, huh? Apparently rice plants need a ton of rain in their early days but then require a long dry spell to finish growing. Because the plant is so particular about its water and climate Great Britain has never been able to successfully produce it’s own supply of rice.

Historians believe that America owes it’s original source of rice seed to a storm that blew a ship bound for Madagascar off it’s course. The ship made it’s way to the safety in the harbor of South Carolina and out of gratitude for help with repairs the ships captain is said to have given rice seed as a thank you gift. But then the American Revolution started and we hit a snag but I will let you read about that on your own.

Now where was I before I found that fascinating website?

Oh yes, another tip from a rice making guru…after combining liquid and rice together, bringing it to a boil, cover and reducing heat, walk away for twenty minutes. Literally forget about it. Go paint your fingernails. Fold a load of laundry, whatever, but ignore the rice on the stove. Don’t open the lid to check the liquid. Trust the process. Difficult I know but letting the steam out does something unkind to the rice making magic I think.

Two tricks I have found that make for some really tasty rice are actually pretty simple.

Toast the rice before you make it. Put a couple of tablespoons of butter in your pot and when it is all melted add in you desired amount of uncooked rice. Toast it for about two to three minutes. It will smell heavenly. Add in your liquid and cook as usual.

You might have noticed that I keep saying liquid instead of water. Two words for you. Chicken broth. It adds so much flavor. I even use it to make mashed potatoes. You can use plain old water if you wish but salt is your friend. Either way, when your rice is ready don’t forget to dash some pepper on it too. It’s delish!

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So, that’s that. I’m certainly not some rice aficionado now (although I am certainly much more knowledgable than I was before this post. Thank you, Google!) but I feel confident with a few months of successful rice making under my belt. Maybe I will tackle quinoa next. Slow down there, Scooter! Don’t get carried away.

Here’s a link to this summer’s favorite cilantro lime rice. Enjoy and be sure to check how America almost ended up being a riceless nation.

 

Pinterest Test Kitchen #99 ~ Cordon Bleu Bubble Up

This is crowd pleasing comfort food at it’s best. Biscuits and cheese are two of the main ingredients so seriously, how could it not be? I cannot even remember how I found the recipe, or when, but I know since I pinned it and started making it it’s a favorite at every potluck I bring it to. I was actually surprised to realize I hadn’t blogged it already.

What you’ll need:
2 cans Grands biscuits, cut into pieces
1 jar of Alfredo sauce (I like the family size jar but the regular works fine)
2 cups Swiss cheese, separated 
(I have only found shredded Swiss once, the rest of the time I just use sliced and chop it up)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 garlic salt
2 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 lb deli ham, shredded

What you’ll do:
Toss the biscuit pieces with the Alfredo sauce and garlic seasonings
Add chicken, ham, and 1 cup of cheese
Stir until everything is well blended and coated with Alfredo sauce
Place into a 9×13 that has been coated with non stick cooking spray
Top with the remaining cup of cheese
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until biscuits are done.

Serve with a Caesar salad or steamed green beans so you’re at least giving a nod to the healthy life and enjoy!

Just The Thing

Today is July 3rd which means for most of us that tomorrow is all about family and friends, grilling burgers and hot dogs or any red meat, pool parties or beaching it. Shrieks of laughter, the smell of sun screen and bug repellent. Some of us will take our place in the crowd to ooooh and ahhhh over city fireworks and then we’ll join the crazy lines of traffic and slowly make our way home hoping to get in our beds before the next day starts. Some of us will decide it isn’t worth the hassle and we will delight and fascinate the neighborhood with loud kabooms and light up the sky from our drive way while children run around the yard with a flaming sparkling wand. The joy of celebrating independence day in America.

So while you are making the grocery list for tomorrow’s feasting go ahead and add this delicious corn salad. With the purple onion giving it a kick and the Fritos adding the perfect crunch it’s just the thing to pair with any cook out menu.  (There’s also a bonus snicker salad recipe so if you what a little more sweetness on the table you’re covered.)

Happy fourth of July, y’all! Stay safe and have fun.