Saturday, September 29, 2012

There and Back Again~A Birthday Tale

Did you miss me?  What a great week it has been. It all started last Friday with a mani/pedi and massage as a pre-birthday treat.  Never underestimate the power of pampering yourself! 

Saturday was my 43rd birthday, we started off the evening at Jeff and Donna's for a little celebratory drink or two.  My SugarMama spoiled me with a bottle stellar chardonnay and a bottle of even more stellar Champagne.  It was fun not having to choose between them.  

We went on to dinner at Local Three and it did not disappoint.  It was a lovely evening all around.

Sunday brought even more joy.  My sister was in town for the weekend visiting her BFF who just had a baby.  They live about an hour from here so I went down and spent the evening visiting with them.  I wanted to bring a little gift, so I made a Mumkin.  Have you ever actually made any of the crap you've pinned on Pinterest?  I felt so pleased with myself for actually having done something I pinned.  It turned out so cute, I want to fill my front porch steps with them.

On Monday Rob and I headed to Savannah for a few days of fun in the sun.  Savannah is always a pleasure and we had so much fun.  We wanted to stay someplace new and try all new places to eat and drink and we did just that.

We tried Jen's and Friends for some fancy cocktails, such a hit we went back the next night.  Marianne, the bartender, was amazing.  She made fabulous drinks and made us feel like we were regulars.  150 martinis on the menu but I had to try their most popular drink, the Rice Crispy Treat.  I usually go for strong and bitter manly drinks like a Manhattan or Negroni but this was  marshmallow heaven but not nearly as sweet as you would think.  

We stayed at the Bohemian instead of the Mulberry.  The check-in clerk made sure we knew that The Bohemian was "a boutique" hotel and that it is much better than the Mulberry.  I admit, I loved the Goth-Pirate chic decor and the luxurious touches like the Bose wave radio and mood lighting were nice but at 4pm after waking from our afternoon nap, we missed the afternoon tea the Mulberry is famous for.  Nothing can top a hot cup of tea and homemade cookies!  

The rooftop lounge was rather fabulous though and was a nice place to hang out.

We went out to Tybee beach and had a nice long walk on the beach and a nice relaxing sit by the Atlantic.  Nothing like the beach off season, perfect weather and not a soul around.

As far as dining goes, Savannah keeps getting better and better.  We dined at The Crystal Beer Parlor, which was fun with really good food.  We at lunch at the Six Pence Pub, which wasn't exactly authentic but we enjoyed our Lager Shandies.

The biggest surprise was The Olde Pink House.  The cellar pub called Planter's Tavern is 200 years old and steeped in history. We couldn't believe it when we walked in, it was like stepping through a portal in time.  Dark and dimly lit by flickering candles, exposed brick walls and open beam ceiling.  This is no Disney replica, this is the real deal.  We had a great meal and lingered over drinks while the piano player took requests.  It was a really special evening and we cannot wait to go back!

Of course there is one repeat that we had to do before leaving, visit our old friend Florence Martus, Savannah's Waving girl.  

As far as birthday celebrations go, this was a memorable one.  I hope you all had a great week!  Happy Saturday.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Chit-Chat

I took Tally for a nice long walk this morning, here's me in my sweaty, endorphin induced grinning state.  My speed and endurance continue to improve.  I actually wore my girl out, she went back to bed.  I'm going to get some house cleaning done, which has fallen by the wayside since going back to work.

Rob and I are on track with our saving for our move plan and of that I'm very proud. Our timeline is still on schedule but there is a wind of change on the moving front but I'm not ready to divulge just yet. 

I've got a beauty spa day on Friday with a manicure, pedicure and massage lined up so I'm really excited about that!

My birthday is Saturday and we've got dinner plans with friends. We're going to Local Three. It's been 10 weeks since I've had booze in any way, shape or form so I think I might enjoy having a cocktail or two that night. But I'm not sure about wine because I got a severe headache from some sulfites that got past me in pomegranate vinegar and fear drinking wine may incapacitate me. 

My sister is coming to town for the weekend to visit a friend of hers who lives an hour or so south of here so I'm heading down on Sunday to spend some time with them. I'm heading up to Boston next month for two weeks. I'm really looking forward to spending fall in New England, which is better than anything I can conjure.

So that's all the news that is fit to print.  I'm feeling great, I'm rested and I'm going to make Monday my bitch!  What's new with you?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Deliciously Successful Primal Pizza Hack

Let me just start by asking, is there anything that cauliflower can't do? Such a versatile nutritious and delicious food!  I used it as a base for a Stroganoff-style beef stew I made last week and it did an amazing job at sopping up the rich gravy.  But this time it's pulling duty as "crust."  

As I've said before, giving up grains doesn't mean giving up particular food experiences, you just need to think outside the (wait for it) pizza box.  I've read lots of different recipes for paleo and primal pizza crusts as well as plenty of reviews, both positive and negative.  The most common complaint was that the crust was too soft and soggy and simply not crust-like enough.   Challenge accepted!

Preheat oven to 450, line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  I love Martha Wrap, it's my new favorite.  

Next, break up a head of cauliflower into florets, add it with a few cloves of peeled garlic into a steamer basket and steam until fork tender.  LET COOL. I did not do this because I am impatient but I don't want you to burn your fingers. Lay out a clean dishtowel and pour the cauliflower and garlic onto the towel.  Gather up the corners, twist it up and squeeze it like you mean it (over the sink) getting rid of all the excess water.  Put the dry mixture into a bowl.

Now for the flavorings and binders.  Add two eggs, pinch of salt, pinch of crushed red pepper, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/4 cup coconut flour, 1/4 cup of shredded cheese and 2 tablespoons of grated cheese.  Mix it up with a fork, mashing as you go.  You should end up with a nice soft dough.

Spread dough out onto the parchment, forming a rectangle.

Bake at 450 for about 30 minutes.  Your oven may be faster or slower, so keep an eye on it for the last 10 minutes.  Pull it out when it looks like this...

Now you're free to top as you like, then return to oven until the toppings are brown and bubbly, it won't take long.  I wanted it to be like garlic flat bread, so I brushed it with a bit more olive oil, sprinkled on a bit more crushed red and topped with a bit more shredded cheese.  This was the result...

It looked like pizza, it cut beautifully with the pizza wheel and though it's not "traditional" crust, it tasted pretty damn good and the texture was way better than I thought it would be.  Such a fun side dish, showing here with a perfectly cooked steak and roasted marinated beets.

And like really good pizza, it tasted really good cold.  I was excited to find the leftovers in my lunch bag at work!  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday Spam

Look at this huge Tiger Swallowtail that was hanging in my herb garden!  I had the lens just a few inches away and she did not move.  I love when I see all the critters in and around the pots, but they rarely stay still long enough to grab the camera and get the shot.

This shot is not magnified, I really was this close.  The tail is so lovely. Perhaps I'll use this beauty as inspiration for a manicure using these colors.  Now onto the food.

This dinner was awesome.  Steak griddled in ghee, roasted delicata squash and broccolini.  Sometimes the simplest meals are the most satisfying.  And eating primal has really simplified things!

Omelet, sauerkraut and juicy juicy pluots that came in the garden box.

Crunchy Joyful Fingers and roasted acorn squash.

Scrambled eggs and watermelon.

My new favorite simple salad that my sister turned me on to.  It's just peppers, spicy olive oil and salt.  It is a bowl full of sweet, salty, crunchy deliciousness.  You must try it!

Chicken and mango coconut curry.  Simply chicken, coconut milk, an underripe mango, Thai red curry paste, Thai red chilies and scallions cooked on low for 6 hours.  I stirred in blanched curly kale at the end.  This dish has potential but the spice wasn't quite there.  The kale was an awesome addition, worked well with the combination.

Behold, Lemon Chicken!  I followed the recipe pretty closely except  for a few changes.  I butchered a whole chicken rather than using parts, I used browned ghee instead of butter and marinated for 4 hours.  I also did not reuse the marinade.  It just seemed icky to me and really wasn't necessary. 

It turned out beautifully, the lemon flavor was SO THERE!  I poured the pan drippings into the gravy separator and drizzled the luscious lemony pan sauce over the meat.  Keeper!

Leftover lemon chicken, peppers, evoo and salt.  Such a great lunch.  I even ate it for breakfast one day at work.

Beef Stroganoff over steamed cauliflower, which soaked up all the gravy so nicely.

While I was making supper on Tuesday, I set a package of organic ground beef on the counter to defrost.  I really wanted the cheeseburger salad for supper the next day.  But I forgot to put it in the fridge before I went to bed.  I was gutted when I had to throw that meat away the next morning.  Gah!  I usually set my phone to remind me of these things but I forgot.  Some days I need a bloody reminder to set the reminder.  That led me to Publix after work (remind me to tell you how going paleo/primal has made me a morning person and now I work the day shift) where I picked up some beautiful wild caught Florida pink shrimp and made this salad for supper.

Shrimp, avocado, peppers, scallions on a bed of greens in a spicy Thai inspired dressing (lime, hot sauce, fish sauce and mayo.)  Those shrimp where so amazing.  Rob happily had that English classic, beans on toast.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

New Goodie~ Nature's Garden Delivered

How I love my little box of joy that gets dropped off on my front porch every Thursday.  If you are local to Atlanta and don't subscribe to this service, you are missing out!  Nature's Garden Delivered puts together a box of seasonal, organic and mostly local produce and delivers it to your front door at no extra charge.  Unlike CSA boxes, Nature's Garden allows you to customize your box with exchanges.  So if you don't like beets, you can swap them out for something you do like.  But I love beets and the ones that arrived in today's box are roasting in the oven as I type this.  

They e-mail on Saturday with the contents of the next box and a link for where to make any exchanges and additions.  Then I can plan my menus around the box and pick up any additional produce I might need at the market.  It's really helped cut down on the time spent at the supermarket, which is always a good thing.  

The boxes come in four sizes, we get the $28 box which is perfect for two people.  There is no extra delivery charge and I got $5 off my first box.  Pictured above.  

These two pics are my second box, though I've been subscribing for a month now.  They have other add-ons like local non-homogenized, lightly pasteurized milk, local pastured eggs and locally, humanely raised pastured meats.   I still patronize The Farm but it's nice to have additional resources.  That pastured pork shoulder roast made the most delectable carnitas!  

Right now Nature's Garden only operates in Georgia and Arizona, but hopefully they'll expand to more areas because it's a wonderful service and our days in Georgia are (thankfully) numbered.  

Do you participate in any CSA or other farm share box service?