Please Sir, May I Have S’more?

I went camping this year.  I even have witnesses.  It’s not a regular occurrence for me, but occasionally I like it.  To be clear, I like the outdoors – the scenery, most of the smells, trees and stuff.  I’m not an avid camper though, so I have no equipment to make camping easy.  I have a sleeping bag that my brother gave me that he wasn’t using.  If you asked him to go camping, he’ll respond, “Why would you do that when there is a perfectly good hotel not far away?”  He didn’t need his sleeping bag, so I took it.  I own nothing else to help myself to live outdoors even for a night.

Growing up, I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to go camping.  I can count on one hand all of my camping experiences including the one this past year.  My first camping experience was to Camp Happily Appley with my brownie troupe.  There, I was forced to drink water that tasted like dirty armpits, pretty much got bucked off of a horse and was traumatized changing clothes in the outdoors without any doors anywhere, but people everywhere.  (I was a modest 9 year old).  Let’s not talk about the dreaded out houses where there could be a rattle snake waiting for you?  This trip took me out of my comfort zone.

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I’m in the back row, third from the right.

My next camping trip came in high school when my youth group was going to McGrath State Beach.  This beach camping trip sounded great in theory as it was 5 minutes from my house and I really loved the beach.  I used to go really frequently to the beach back then.  For this trip, I had nothing with me except a blanket.  Everything was fine and taken care of by our leader such as food and campfires etc, until it came time to sleep.  Without a tent or a sleeping bag, I slept with my blanket in the youth group van by myself.  You might think this would be alright but I was a frozen popsicle by morning.  I have no recollection of the trip after that but I think I got picked up and defrosted at home?

So after that, I went camping one or two more times and if there was a rock, inevitably my head would find an uncomfortable pillow.  I also managed to position myself sleeping downhill?  I’m not the most coordinated person, so I associated well with Lucy in the movie Forever Darling.

Needless to say, I eagerly signed myself up for camping with friends this past Spring!  I warned them all of my lack of camping knowledge and basically told them to take care of me.  Thankfully, they did.  We also rented an RV, so there was no chance of a rock pillow or downhill sleeping arrangement.  My reference for RV camping was also Lucy in a movie called, The Long Long Trailer.  I’ve obviously watched more movies than camp.

IMG_0706My lack of experience lends itself to romanticizing and associating camping with classic things like…singing around a campfire, lots of flannel, star gazing, and of course S’mores.  My friend Lucas found a recipe on pinterest for home made marshmallows which I was certain would make us the most popular campsite for miles around.  He said he’d make them, so I didn’t argue!  We thought they’d be perfect around the campfire.  He made dozens of fluffy white yummy marshmallows.

Lucas and Vito, Eagle Scouts, were on the trip.  They were more than capable of building a campfire but this Brownie criticized the fire for not being big enough because I compared it to others around us and “movie” campfires where they seem a bit more dramatic than ours?  They assured me our campfire was exactly right and appeased me a little with a few more flames to get that film quality that I envisioned.

IMG_0720Campfire was set, stars were in place and now those homemade marshmallows were going to be roasted.  There were four of us in on this campfire experiment.  We skewered our marshmallows while our salivary glands anticipated the sweet mouthwatering delicacy.  Each person had a different roasting method which pretty much garnered the same outcome.  Marshmallows were melting quickly and falling off the skewer into the fire.  New plans were quickly derived to catch marshmallows in graham crackers before falling.

IMG_0721It was a messy endeavor but when you finally got a marshmallow in your mouth, it was a confectionary delight.  We tried to eat more than one but it wasn’t easy, even for a sweet tooth connoisseur.  They had to have been the best marshmallows that I’ve ever had but a bit more richer than the average store bought brand.

Mere marshmallow handsIngredients for marshmallows:

About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar (cane sugar worked just fine)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites or reconstituted powdered egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla (alternately: 1/2 of a scraped vanilla bean, 2 teaspoons almond or mint extract or maybe even some food coloring for tinting)

To follow the full recipe for Springy, Fluffy Marshmallows from smittenkitchen.com, click here.

The next encounter with THE marshmallows were at a Palm Springs trip.  As you know we frequently make a visit to Palm Springs as it’s close and relatively inexpensive for a group of us to go.  This time I found a recipe for Skillet S’mores which I thought would be better because it eliminated the game of twirling the skewer to keep your marshmallow on it.  The idea is that the chocolate and the marshmallows are in a skillet where you can dip your graham cracker or spoon the concoction on your graham cracker.

Ingredients for the skillet s’mores:

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 8 large marshmallows or fill the skillet
  • graham crackers for dipping

To follow the full recipe for Indoor S’mores from dessertfortwo.com, click here.

In the future, I would make an adjustment to this recipe though.   I suggest melting your chocolate and adding some cream and maybe some butter in a double boiler first to make loose viscous texture then pour into a skillet and bake the marshmallows on top.  Nobody found fault in the way that I served this per the recipe but I think it would have made for easier dipping and less chance of burning the chocolate before you put the marshmallows on top to bake.

IMG_1435I’m usually up for most adventures.  I probably would have slept on a rock on a hill as long as there was promise of these treats again but I’m certainly glad there was a moderately comfortable bed for this princess and the pea.  I hope you have sweet dreams if you take this recipe with you on your next camping trip or just at home watching movies.

 

 

 

Chalk To Me

Chalkboards are all the rage right now.   I see them in all sorts of cute tables, jar lids, signs and more.  I admit, I kind of like it!  I’ve always been a fan of font type and chalkboard art.  Once again, I was inspired by Pinterest for the chalk art but first I had to create a chalkboard surface somewhere!

I live in a 1920’s bungalow and I was in need of a decorating update.  My dining area had become a dumping ground for unfinished projects and wishful ideas.  I wanted to redo this area to be livable, not a reminder of my lack of completing projects and most of all, functional for entertaining.

My dad gave me his old drafting table several years ago and I knew that I wanted to continue using it in this area but I needed to clear it off and figure out how to make it work for entertaining?  I decided to float it in the middle of the room and add some bar stools for that “office” pub feel.

IMG_3035Terrible picture, but you get the idea of what a mess I had!

So I cleared this area by mainly putting all of the craft supplies in the garage and getting rid of useless stuff, lots of useless stuff.  Once I got the room cleared and set it up generally how I wanted it to live, I felt it needed a focal point but didn’t want to spend any money or very little and I also didn’t want to hang anything heavy.  At first I was going to paint something on the wall but there was a couple of things wrong with that idea.  1.  I’ve never really painted anything and 2.  I change my mind sometimes…what if I hated it in a week?

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I decided I wanted a painted chalkboard on the wall so I could experiment with font types and designs anytime that I wanted.  If my experiments failed, I could always invite visitors to sign or leave a phrase or I could practice my math tables.

IMG_3839From the cleaning exercise, I remembered I had large pads of papers from yesteryear art classes.  I taped them carefully together and then cut a border so it would be symmetrical when I placed it on the wall.  I used the paper first so that I could determine the scale and not make a ton of pencil marks on my wall.  I was avoiding more cleaning, if that was possible.

I taped the paper on the wall and made sure it was evenly placed between my windows and at the right height.   I then traced a thin pencil line on the wall so I could paint within the line.

 

I went to my local OSH store and discovered that you can get chalk paint in any color that you wanted.  Why did they tell me that?  After I stopped my head from spinning, I decided that I wanted a classic chalkboard but not quite a saturated black color, slightly lighter.  I went with a classic grey chalkboard color, the slate color that could be found in a little red schoolhouse.

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It took about 4 coats of chalkboard paint to really cover the area well.  I wanted another detail to make the design stand out and add a little glimmer.  I added a metallic gold trim line to the edge.  I just hand painted this and didn’t create a template for it.  When I did it, I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t perfect but now I like the imperfection of the hand painted trim.  The line isn’t exact and changes thickness a bit, but from a distance it looks good.  IMG_3848

Once the chalk paint was dry for about 24 hours, I had to rub chalk over the entire surface and wipe it off.  That was per the instructions, so I did that.  I think it had to cure again for about 24 hours before I decided to chalk it up with something fancy.

IMG_3862Like I said, Pinterest inspired me again.  This picture is a much bigger format of what I could do with my little chalk space, but it was the inspiration.   (DelishTish pinterest boards coming soon)

I wasn’t sure I could copy or get anywhere close to this design, but it was chalk so if I hated it…erase.  I started in the middle with the Hello and then just kept adding elements around it.  I used old fashion chalk, not a chalk pen or any other new fangled chalk writing utensil.  Chalk, a wet rag, dry rag and my hands were all I needed.  My costs for the project were about $20 for the paint and some foam brushes.

Here’s a few photos of each stage.

IMG_3861Drew the “Hello”, added a bit top and bottom

IMG_3863Started to block out the top right bubble and filled in some on the bottom.

IMG_3864There’s still a blank spot on the bottom left, so added some arrows cause didn’t want to move or mess with anything that I had done thus far.

I think in the end it came out well.  I haven’t changed the artwork on the board yet, but if it changes…you may just see a post about it!

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Delish-able Mention #1

It seems as though it’s Fair season around So Cal these days and I admit I love a good Fair ribbon award!  There’s not enough Fair ribbons awarded in this world for jobs well done, so I’m taking it upon myself to remedy that with the “Delish-able Mention”.

The first one is going to…drum roll please…

IMG_1820This great wine bottle display and storage in the window at Tin Roof Bistro in Manhattan Village.  I’m a big advocate of space saving ideas and I love the simple rails that are attached to book shelves on either side of the window.  The built ins surrounding the window give it a great custom approach to the entire wall.

It’s a great restaurant too, but check out the details in the interior when you make a visit.  You won’t be disappointed.

Congratulations Tin Roof Bistro on this Delish-able Mention!

Glutton for Southernment

I recently traveled to Tennessee to visit extended family for the funeral services of Mary Ann.  On the last day, we wanted to eat brunch before we left our separate ways and tried to determine where to go for a Southern experience.  There was a good  discussion of Midlands vs. Cracker Barrel vs. Waffle House and the general consensus was the need for waffles, so Waffle House seemed the natural choice.

As I have been to several areas of the South, I was familiar with the building but haven’t stepped inside a Waffle House to try the cuisine yet.  The Southerners assured we were in for a true greasy spoon experience.  I wasn’t quite sure if I would appreciate that or be completely disgusted but I was game for trying!

MenuThis small diner wasn’t equipped to handle a group of eight seated together, so we chose two booths and got comfortable for the parade of food that was to come.  It had a counter and several small tables for 2 or four and a jukebox for customizing your personal soundtrack for the meal.

My table of four quickly began negotiating an array of food so we would sample as much as possible and share favorites.  The next table’s approach was to order “smothered” items as they were pros and knew what they liked!  I’m not even sure I’ve seen the word “smothered” in a menu in California?

 

Food began to arrive and I wasn’t sure there would be enough room on the table.  There were cheesy eggs, bacon, raisin toast, grilled biscuits, grits and of course waffles.  We ate and shared, and ate and shared and I think we all enjoyed the cheesy eggs and felt the waffles were a good standard waffle.  No complaints.  My breakfast was pretty much all carbs but I was going to just eat and deal with the consequences of that later.

Table 2The smothered food, well…looked smothered and yummy in a “don’t think about what that is going to do to you” kinda way.

Smothered 2This was a meal that I don’t have to do every time I go to the South but I’m glad we took the time and made this the choice.  The staff didn’t know what hit them when we all walked in, but they did well and we didn’t overwhelm them too much.  There were plenty of locals in the diner which contributed to the ambiance for me.

It was a quick trip to Tennessee and I grow fonder of the area due to the warmness of the people and how different it is from home.  They say I am “Southern” too, as in Southern California.  After the Waffle House, I feel I had a right of passage and am officially a Glutton for Southernment.

When you visit the South, what’s your favorite place?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

 

 

Cornbread Comfort

For me, food and recipes connect me to family and friends.  Smells of chicken and garlic always transport me to my dad’s kitchen while just chopping broccoli gives me giggles reminding me of prepping for a Jackson party!

My best friend’s mom recently passed away and I will always think of the great times that we shared this past year especially at the Isle of Palms and Las Vegas where she made the craps table cheer everytime she was the shooter!  She gave us all some wonderful memories to hold in our hearts for the remainder of our days on earth until we reunite.

Mary Ann was the matriarch of this fun-loving, wacky family.  I went to visit this extended family in Tennessee in 2011 where we celebrated, partied and bonded with each other through tons of food and drink as Southerners have taught me.  We ended that wonderful trip with a family dinner at Mary Ann’s.  One of the ulterior motives of this dinner was to be able to watch “the master” make her cornbread.

  • 2 cups corn meal
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2-3 teaspoons oil (heated in pan)

Mary Ann had a cornbread skillet, well used and seasoned after years of making the beloved recipe.  It had about eight wedges built into the skillet and was perfect for cornbread.  This California girl had never seen a skillet like this!

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She had the skillet on the stove warming on a low heat and poured in well over the recommended amount of oil!  (Her daughter in law ended up removing some, so I suggest using the appropriate amount in the ingredients listed).

After combining the corn meal, egg and milk, you pour the mixture in the oiled skillet.  Set your oven to 400 degrees, place the skillet on the middle rack and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.

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If you don’t have a separated skillet like Mary Ann’s, you can use a standard skillet.  She would use a standard skillet and flip the cornbread through the baking to get both sides a beautiful golden brown all over.

This recipe is best baked in a skillet but if you don’t have one, a cake pan will work but it won’t get the lovely Southern fried golden crusting that happens in the skillet.  This is a simple recipe but the flavor comes from essentially frying in the oven.

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It could be that this recipe was made with love each time and that was its main ingredient.  Thankfully we are blessed with indulging in memories of every bite and smell that comes from recipes like Mary Ann’s cornbread.  If kitchen walls could talk, they would divulge thousands of emotions, hundreds of calories and most of all, decades of love.  We can take comfort in cornbread today and continue traditions for tomorrow.

“She loved YOU best!”

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Cookie Monsters like Salt

Chocolate.  I like it but I’ve determined that I’m allergic.  That doesn’t stop me from making chocolate chip cookies for the gang!  I found a recipe on Pinterest again.  This time it was a recipe from the New York Times.  It seemed like a very standard recipe but it had one strange addition of mandatory sea salt.

So on a lovely hot night in Palm Springs, I decided to bake cookies!  Luckily my friends have had a few drinks, so there was a good chance that I could succeed no matter what came out of the oven.

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar (10 ounces)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons natural vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate (at least 60% cacao)
  • Sea Salt

I followed the directions as they were written.  You basically mix the dry ingredients and set aside.   Then mix  the butter and sugars together and add an egg one at a time.  Once all of your wet ingredients are together, you slowly incorporate your dry ingredients.  When the cookie dough is combined, gently add your chocolate chip cookies.  I then put chocolate chip cookie dough in plastic wrap and formed a couple of cookie loaves to put in the refrigerator.  You should let this dough set for at least a day.  It honestly does make a difference in the flavor of the dough.

It made it easier that I had premade cookie dough for Palm Springs.  I just had to cut cookies, place them on a cookie sheet AND sprinkle with sea salt.  I wasn’t sure about this but the recipe insists not to skip this step so I just trusted and sprinkled away!

Out of the oven, I delivered them to the pool.  Comments of “Mmmmmm” and “is there salt on this?”  accompanied lip smacking and Cookie Monster munching and crunching.

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I purposefully did not tell anyone that the cookies were sprinkled with sea salt.  They definitely noticed it and welcomed the additional flavor.  I almost forgot to take a pic of the cookies because they went so fast!  Make these and do not forget the sea salt!

Pie for Breakfast!

Breakfast Pie is a hit with most people, so I thought I’d start with a crowd favorite. I found this recipe on pinterest so I can’t say it’s my original thought but I can tell you what works with it. Eggs, cheese, hash browns, green onions – totally works. Bacon – absolutely works!

You will probably hear of me talk about trips with friends often and especially our jaunts to Palm Springs, CA. At least once a year, we rent a house with a pool and hang out there for about 4 days. We do nothing. It’s glorious. I usually plan the food and I luckily have friends that help! This past Memorial Day 2015, I introduced Breakfast Pie to the gang and everyone seemed to give the nod of approval for this recipe.
I adapted my general recipe from the “pinterested” recipe from tablespoon.com
4 large eggs
2 cups of milk
2 cups of potatoes (frozen hash browns, any brand)
frozen pie crust (any brand)
salt, pepper and green onions to taste

You can follow the directions on the pie crust, but you’ll most likely set the oven to about 350, poke the crust a few times with a fork and brown it in the oven for about 10 mins.

In the meantime, combine all of the other ingredients. You don’t have to brown your hash browns before. I didn’t, however next time I make it I might try that for extra flavoring and for color. Once the pie crust is out of the oven and you have ingredients combined, pour them into the pie crust and bake at 350 for about 35 mins. Watch that the egg mixture is solid. You can jiggle it a bit to see if it shifts too much or not or you can also slide a knife of fork in the middle to see if it comes out clean.

Once this basic quiche is cooked, remove it from the oven and set the temp up to 425. While you’re waiting for the oven to heat further, weave bacon on the top in a lattice design. If this is too complicated, nobody is going to argue with you just putting strips across the top! Put the whole pie back in the oven to brown your cook your bacon, probably another 10 to 15 mins will do it.

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You’re supposed to let it sit for about 5 mins, but I’m almost certain that we didn’t follow that direction. I wasn’t the best at cutting and serving this pie, but there were no complaints about that. It tastes great and is easy to prepare. You can even make them the night before. I would suggest making the pies up to the bacon lattice the night before. You can cover with bacon and bake 15 mins prior to serving in the morning.

I’m sure you could also change up the ingredients to other items to vary flavors such as mushrooms, spinach or a southwestern style. I hope you try it and let me know how it works for you.