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Gorgeous Garden

July 5, 2011

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The garden is looking luscious. One dahlia plant opened up. It’s so gorgeous it makes me giddy.

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The tomatoes are hanging heavy. I counted 66 tomatoes hanging in my driveway garden. I even made these geeky diagrams of what’s growing on.

Garden Photo June

And drawn out more completely showing the mess of tomatoes with their count.


You probably want to see those other plants. They’re right here.

Driveway Diagram

So things are growing well. I’m trying to germinate some late season squash and cucumbers, after having lost my squash recently to blight. Here’s a photo of it. Weird stalk decay.

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It’s okay though. The squash’s decay just makes room for new stuff. I planted beans here, both yellow wax and green bush beans. This part of summer is so fun. Stay tuned for fresh tomatoes soon!


What’s growing on?

June 17, 2011

So much has gone on. Summer is already here. The Spring Season is over, and we are well on our way to a thriving summer garden!


Squashes are lurking under vibrant green leaves.

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The beets have all been pulled.


Tomatoes are hanging.

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Peppers are growing.

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My cilantro has gone to seed.

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And something bit off the top of my apple tree.

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But things are growing along on my homestead. The peeps are peeping, and the hens are squawking. Even the smallest chicks have grown feathers now.

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DB Kitchen: Grilled Potato Salad

June 16, 2011

grilled potatoes

June’s Daring Cook challenge was a simple pleasure given the reins of creativity. We were challenged with sharing our recipe of a healthy potato salad.  Potato salad is the most delicious type of salad, typically creamy and substantial; it never disappoints.

My family’s recipe for potato salad is not quite a healthy example though. Laden with mayonnaise, olives, and bacon, it’s also not the best to bring on a cookout considering the mayo. So instead, I am highlighting a different type of potato salad.

This recipe actually has some greens in it, too. But not lettuce greens, as they are no longer in the garden. These are your garden herbs, which at this time of year are plentiful and begging to either be used or go to seed.

  1. First, combine 1/3 cup of olive oil with 1/4 cup of minced herbs in a processor. Zazz it together, set aside covered until the potatoes are grilled.
  2. Boil 1 .5 pounds of potatoes, either red or white but not russet, sliced into 1/2 inch coins in salted water for about 10 minutes. Drain and heat grill.
  3. Grill the potatoes on both sides until lightly chard. Toss with herb oil dressing. Enjoy! It’s freshness at its best.

Another plus to this recipe is that it isn’t difficult to bring on a picnic, just bring a container full of the parboiled potatoes and a small container with the dressing. Then, grill the potatoes and toss in the herb oil. A fun change for grilling in lieu of a green salad or a typical creamy potato salad.


Blog checking lines: Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

DC Challenge: Gumbo

May 26, 2011


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Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh. 

I chose to do the Chicken & Sausage Gumbo. When we were in New Orleans, Louisiana (“NOLA”) just last week, we had a couple different types of Gumbo. They all had sausage; the variation between the two was the thickness and color of the sauce. One sauce was thick and dark, the other was translucent and green. This recipe yields a gumbo like the first, a thick mahogany hue.

The ingredient list is long, it could take 30 minutes or so to gather everything together, but that’s the only tricky thing about the recipe. Once everything is mise en place, the next step is to make the roux. Here is where the variation in the recipes come from: how long the chef cooks the flour in the fat. If the fat is cooked longer, the sauce gets darker. It starts off sloshy and white, then pales to a beige, until turning brown and more brown, until it’s almost black, or you’re too afraid it’ll turn black to cook it further.

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Go ahead and get all your stuff together:

  • 1/2 cup duck fat*
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup okra
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1.5 liters of chicken stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
  • 1/4 pound Andouille sausage
  • 2 pounds chicken, with bones or without, with skin or without. I used a pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs and a couple leg quarters.
  • Creole Spice blend*
  • Filé powder

First season the chicken with the spice blend and let sit while you make the sauce. To begin the roux have at the ready

  • 1/2 cup duck fat*
  • 1/2 cup flour

*You can use any animal fat or oil.

Heat the duck fat in a big pot over a medium high hob. When gleaming with heat, add the flour, and whisk constantly. The roux will begin to color but remain thin for some time. Color the roux to your taste, but at least for 10 minutes.

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After the roux is developed, add in

  • 1/2 cup okra
  • 1 large onion, diced

and fry until the sauce becomes glossy and mahogany in color, about 5-10 minutes. Then go ahead and add in the chicken, stirring to coat but cooking to brown the pieces, about 10 more minutes. Then add in the sausages.

  • 1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
  • 1/4 pound Andouille sausage

Once well combined and heated, add in

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

and bring sauté for a couple minutes. Then add the chicken stock into the pot and bring to a boil, skimming fat every so often for at least 45 minutes. Add file powder to taste. You can serve either alone as a stew, or with rice or with noodles. Enjoy!


*For the Basic Creole Spices, combine

  • 2 tablespoons celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon  onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice


April 23, 2011

Say “hello” to the Peepers!

Baby Chicks

F. brought home six darling chicks this past week. They’re “Leghorn” chicks. They will lay white eggs – a welcome addition to our multi-colored bunch.

holding a baby leghorn chick

We did a photo shoot. Just for fun.  See how cute their little feathers are? I love the little tail-feathers the most.Baby Chick Close up

This little one was a willing subject. So we ventured into the garden.

Chick Peeping

And little Peeper hammed it up.

Chick with Flowers

And was an excellent model. Happy Easter!

Leghorn Chick up close

Daring Bakers Challenge: Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

March 29, 2011

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Mid month means, it’s the Daring Bakers Challenge! The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake. The Coffee Cake recipe was a clipped out slip of paper yellowed with age found amongst a collection, but boy is it a winner. I’ve stored this recipe as a permanent keeper. Aside from its basic deliciousness, this recipe is meant for two cakes, which means you’ll always have one to share!

A slight caution. For the most delicious results, allot at least three hours for the process. The dough has to rise twice. And for the most delicious dough, you really want to be generous with the rising time. Good news is, of the three hours, there’s only about 35 active minutes of time.

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One of the most fun parts of this recipe, is its surprise component. The meringue-filled center. It’s not uncommon when following a new recipe to have moments where you’re skeptical. You think, how bizarre to add raisins to a chicken salad recipe. Then, the raisins turn out to be your favorite thing about the dish. This recipe had a like moment for me with the meringue.

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At first I thought, wont all the meringue just melt as it bakes into the bread. Then, after I cut the dough before baking, I saw how the meringue was pushed out into those fanned out bits, and I thought to myself “wont these taste egg-y and unpleasant once it cooks?” After all, I had had unpleasant bites of soufflé egg white, wouldn’t this be similar?

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Instead, it doesn’t taste like boring old egg whites. It tastes like heaven. The sugar from the cake kind of melts into the meringue, and makes for the most divine bites. Instead of avoiding those pieces, they were prized and the most delicious.

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Restaurant Review: Bull City Burger & Brewery

March 26, 2011

Last night. Friday night. Date night. Fred & I went to the newest restaurant in Durham: Bull City Burger and Brewery. It was opening night, and it was packed when we arrived.

Bull City Burger & Brewery

107 East Parrish Street, Durham 27701



The set up is neat. On the right, they have windows through which you can see the beer vats and other mechanisms of the brewery. In the center of the restaurant are large plank-like tables, akin to the types you imagine in a German Brauthaus. To the far right is the bar and the wine Enomatic station. The Enomatic has 16 bottles, which stand upright and have a dispensary function in half glass increments that you activate with a swipe card. At the very back is the food register and counter with a local, no corn-syrup added soda fountain and  the kitchen is in view behind the counter. Off to the right of the register is a nook with four-top tables with a big screen TV (which at that time had the Carolina game playing) hanging on the far wall.

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