Wednesday, April 27, 2011

All things were made through HIM...

Lately, I have really been trying to stop and smell the roses. A few weeks ago, we had a guest teacher at church who really got me thinking about some things.  This is usually something I try to avoid, but since then my mind has been whirring.  Dr. Smith, our guest, spoke about a collegue of his named Norman Wirzba.  Dr. Wirzba is a research professor of Theology, Ecology, and Rural Life at Duke University.  Basically, the earth is a garden that we are to tend and care for.  This garden has provided sustenance to its inhabitants for millions of years, without fail.  When we lose sight of the fact that everything we eat is a gift from the earth, (and not something that is dropped off the back of a truck) we forget to give thanks to God for the nourishment that He provides to us and every living creature.
This year, I am teaching at a school with a beautiful and bountiful community garden.  This garden is tended by the students, faculty, and community volunteers.   When the students enter "The Grow Zone", it is obvious they are consumed with excitement that the garden is in their hands, and they cannot wait to accept this fundamental responsibility.  They are weeding, sowing, reaping, and loving every minute of it. When these students harvest, and hold in their hands, their first red, juicy tomato I can't wait to see the joy, pride, satisfaction, (and most likely dirt) that will be spread across their faces.  When is the last time you saw anyone look at a tomato in a grocery cart that way?

On a different note, my students and I read an article in Time For Kids recently about a little girl who is doing her part to care for and protect the earth.  She uses old drinking glasses (which aren't recyclable) as pots for plants.  We were so inspired by her story, we purchased one of her succulents.  Check out her website here.  

Sunday, April 3, 2011

If this doesn't light your fire, your match is wet...

Yep, I think my dad summed this dish up best.  If it doesn't light your flame, your match is wet.  This is the second dish I made for the basketball party.   I love parties.  I'm not sure you read that with the correct emphasis.  I LUUUV parties.  In case you haven't read my bio, my favorite thing in life is family, friends, food, and a nice cold beer.  Well you can always find at least two of the above at any party you may stumble into.  Our little basketball party definitely didn't disappoint.  Does this look like a fun crowd or what?

For some reason I had a hankering for some shrimp tacos.  I came across this recipe in Food and Wine.  The flavors work so well together with the tangy pickled onions, sweet onion sauce  I'm not even going to waste anymore of your time.  Go.  Just go.  You need to go and make this tonight.  Seriously.

Shrimp Tacos with Pickled Onion Slaw


  • Red Onion Salad
      1/2 cup white wine vinegar 
      1/2 cup sugar 
      1 medium red onion, thinly sliced 
      1/2 cup fresh orange juice 
      1 small white onion, finely diced 
      1 tablespoon pure maple syrup 
      2 tablespoons malt vinegar 
      1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds 
      2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
      2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 
      1/2 large ripe mango, cut into thin sticks 
      1/2 cup thinly sliced green cabbage 
      1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

    Shrimp Tacos
      1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
      1 small white onion, finely chopped 
      1/2 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined 
      Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
      1/2 cup barbecue sauce (I use North Carolina's own Bone Suckin' Sauce)
      1/2 cup shredded jalape├▒o Jack cheese 
      Four small corn tortillas, warmed 
      2 tablespoons salted roasted pumpkin seeds, 1 thinly sliced seeded serrano chile and 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, for garnish

      In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the hot pickling liquid over the red onion in a small, heatproof bowl and let cool, then refrigerate overnight. 
      In another saucepan, combine the orange juice, white onion, maple syrup, malt vinegar and cumin seeds. Boil over moderately high heat until the liquid has reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a blender, add the oil and lime juice and puree until smooth; season with salt. 
        Drain the red onion and transfer to a bowl.
         Add the mango, cabbage, cilantro and half of the vinaigrette and season with salt.
        In a skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook, turning, until white throughout, 3 minutes. Add the barbecue sauce and bring to a simmer. Off the heat, stir in the cheese. Spoon the shrimp and red onion salad onto the tortillas and roll them up. Garnish with the pumpkin seeds, chile and cilantro, and serve with the remaining vinaigrette.
      This is how it looked before I folded it into taco form, and then devoured it in 3.6 seconds.

    A Final Four Party? Sure, I'll be there! Who's playing?

    Ok, Ok.  I'll be the first to admit, I don't know that much about basketball.  But if someone says, party, I'll be there before you can say 3 point shot.  Needless to say when my buddy, Kate, asked me to come over for a final 4 party, I  was all about it.  And she was kind enough to walk me though a breakdown of what to expect with the game...
    The breakdown of the Final Four by me and @mckaussie. It is v... on Twitpic

    I decided that nothing says b-ball like some wings.  I used this recipe from Giada.  They tasted really good, but I think I left them in the warmer a little too long, because they got a little dried out.  I highly recommend the recipe though.

    Balsamic Chicken Drumettes

    1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

    1/2 cup honey

    1/2 cup brown sugar

    1/4 cup soy sauce

    5 sprigs of fresh rosemary

    5 garlic cloves, halved

    10-12 chicken drumsticks and/or wings

    2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
    1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

    Combine the balsamic, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, rosemary sprigs, and garlic cloves, in a large, re-sealable plastic bag. Shake and squeeze the contents of the bag to dissolve the honey and the brown sugar. Add the chicken drumsticks to the bag and seal with as little air as possible in the bag. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for 2 hours.

    Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

    Place the chicken drumsticks on a foil-lined baking sheet.

    Bake until the skin is caramelized and very dark in spots, about 30 to 35 minutes.

     I know what you are thinking.  "Girl, you have gone and burned the wings."  Oh no.  That brown crusty goodness is just what you want.

    Meanwhile, place the marinade in a small saucepan. Bring the marinade to a boil (in order to kill bacteria). Reduce the heat to simmer and cook over low heat until thick, about 15 minutes. Reserve.

    Use a pastry brush to brush some of the cooked marinade on the cooked chicken. Place the chicken on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and the chopped parsley.

    You know you want one.