Mo Cookies!

IMG_7761Happy Wednesday!  Boy, do I not feel like working on this blog right now.  I can think of 1000 other things I need to do.  But, I told you I would write out the Soft Ginger Cookie recipe.

Some promises are not easy for me to break.  Did I promise this?  I would have to go back and check my writing.  But I do know that I said I was going to do it.  When I say that I am going to do something, it is my language of love to do it.  Expectations can be so titillating or so, so disappointing.   Now, I don’t think if I didn’t get this blog out that you guys would cry (or notice).  But, I never know.  And I do not want to dishearten one soul.  😉

So, here goes!

Soft Ginger Cookies

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

pinch of kosher salt

3/4 cup butter (room temperature)

1 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

1/4 cup molasses

Raw Sugar for rolling over top (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Begin mixing your butter and sugar.  While is mixing add flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in another bowl.  (I didn’t have time to sift the flour today and the cookies came out just as divine.)  Set this aside after giving it a stir with a fork.  Go back to butter and sugar mixture and it should be pale and fluffy.  Add in egg, water, molasses.  When this is mixed, turn mixer down and add in flour mixture.  Shape dough in a ball and pat raw sugar on top or scoop out small half-dollar balls for baking.    Bake for 10 minutes, then cool for 5 min.  Freeze or refrigerate the dough for drop in guests!

My eyes feel heavy.  Whew, I am tired.  Looks like we are having Soft Ginger Cookies for dinner tonight.  Here’s to that!

 

 

 

Long Rough Roads That Do Lead to Somewhere

_MG_1162

Lighthouse Beach, Eluethra


I went on a fabulous trip with my wonderful, amazingly patient partner in crime.  We did some traveling along the roads of a small island in the Bahamas called Eleuthra.  There is one main road that travels the distance of the island that is paved.  Then there are tiny dirt roads that branch off if you want to explore towards any one of the many beaches.

One of our road trips was to a beach we had read was the most beautiful.  It was on the very southern tip and about an hour away.  After traveling the main road (about 45 minutes) we turned onto the this jarring and rugged road with tree limbs that reached out scratching the sides of the car and reaching inside the car to smack our faces.  We began our journey towards the Lighthouse Beach on this uninhabited dirt road.

Now, the tires on the convertible Chevy Tracker we rented were also so timeworn that they looked white.  I couldn’t tell if it was that color because of the sand or because the threads that were so exposed.  I was a little concerned our vehicle wasn’t up for the excursion.  It didn’t matter, we were on our journey.

This car ride to reach this amazing beach is like my own personal journey I’ve been on the last few years.  I feel like I have been on a road of rough terrain but believing this road will come to my own understanding, happiness and peacefulness.  I know people who have gone before me on this journey, which gives me some relief that I am not alone and a lot of gratitude for their stories.

My personal road seems to keep going on and on and on just like the road to the Lighthouse Beach with Stephen.  Is it ever going to end?  I feel car sick.  Will I get there?  Then, just when we level a hill and look out on the horizon, I think maybe this is it and then I see it goes on further.  This road seems to go on longer than I had anticipated.  Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten on this road had I known how difficult this journey was going to be.  Then I surprise myself with how determined I am.  Believing is what keeps me looking at the next hill towards the horizon.  Is it here?  No.  I keep going.  We keep going.  Another 45 minutes had to have passed.  I know that this road ends and a beautiful place exists.  It has to.

Just when I think I will crumble and I want to quit, I see it, a beautiful beach.  I immediately get out of the car and walk towards and into the water to cool off.   I touch the earth to keep my stomach from turning because of being car sick.  I am so glad to be out of the Tracker that any where would be better than the car.

I look over to Stephen and something is troubling him.  I have a feeling I know what is wrong but I don’t want to say anything.  Please just ignore it, I think.  It is a beautiful beach and I am happy to be here with him.  He says it.  “I don’t think this is it.”  Shit.  I really don’t want to get back in the Tracker.  I really don’t want to continue this journey.  But, the water is really rough.  There isn’t a lot of places to swim and snorkel.  It doesn’t look like what we had been told.  It isn’t what we believed it to be.  I saw myself starting to settle.  I was nauseous and satisfied to be “almost there”.

My sweet friend and lover says, ” we need to go a little further.”  I am so glad I listened and believed.  I’ve learned there are no short cuts and believe me, I have tried them.  I’d like to think my journey will become my story and those who travel it after me will know they too will get there.  And once we have arrived, we will know it.  It is breathtaking.  It is paradise.  It is heaven.  It is a state of mind.

We did get back in the car that day.  It was the shortest leg of the journey.  I thought our little Tracker would tip right over going through some of the holes in the road or those tires would just pop.  But we made it.  When we did arrive, we both knew we were in the right place.  We made it together.  We made it to our paradise.  The water was the clearest I have ever seen.  It was clearer than pool water.  We saw hundreds of fish, a sea turtle, and miles of coral and white sand.  It was really stunning.  And to think, I was almost ready to quit and settle for rough waters.

Now, after traveling so far, you will of course need some nourishment.  What better than a picnic lunch?  If nothing else, we all need a little food to keep us going.  Stephen and I loved this Beet Sandwich that we discovered at a cafe called Da Perk in Governor’s Harbour.  Here is my recreation of this healthy sandwich.

IMG_7429

Beet Sandwich from Da Perk

Ingredients

Multi Whole Grain Bread (cut into 4 thick slices)

2 Red Beets

Hummus

1 Onion sliced

1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

Lettuce

Tomato

Goat Cheese

Directions

Preheat your oven to 4oo degrees Ferinheight.  Place your washed beets in foil paper with a drizzle of olive oil and pinch of kosher salt.  Bake for around 20-30 minutes or until you can easily poke with a toothpick in it.  While your beets are roasting, saute your onions until they are wilted and carmelized.  Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to your onions and a pinch of salt.  Spread a bit of hummus on one slice of bread.  Stack your sandwich high with the slices of roasted beets, balsamic onions, lettuce and tomato.  Spread the soft goat cheese on the other slice of multigrain bread and place on top.  Viola!  Now you have a delicious, healthy, meatless sandwich!  This is perfect for a picnic to the park if a beach isn’t your destination.

Here is to going the distance!  For all of us who think on occasion we can not walk another step in our journey or that this is not the place we belong, I tell you, keep going, you are almost there.  Just pack a healthy lunch, it can be a long jaunt.  Cheers!

 

 

 

To All the Momma’s Out There

Potato Salad

Potato Salad

I was wondering what I should write about this week.  And then I remembered.  It’s Mother’s Day this Sunday.  This time of year always brings with it a great many feelings.  Gratitude is one.  I am so grateful for my mom and to be a mother.

My poor mom had to put up with a wild child.  I was a free spirit who demanded attention (and possibly still does).  When I think about how tired I am, I think about all the mothers before me and around me.  I want to give a group hug to all the mothers out there.  Here’s to you!

My mom would always share this story about being in a Rose’s Department Store.  I began running away from her and she couldn’t catch me.  I was running around and around those circular clothes racks.  My mom asked a gentleman to grab hold of me so that she could catch me.  The gentleman told her “children will be children” and walked away.  I think she wanted to hurt that gentleman more than she wanted to hurt me at that moment.

My third little princess was a screamer.  She would scream at the top of her lungs when I told her no.  She would then throw herself onto the floor and it was always a real scene.  If her head could have spun around, it would have.  I swear I thought she was possessed.  My friends, to this day, will say “remember when Gabby used to have those fits?”  Uh, yeah, I lived them.  And gratitude comes to mind again… I am so glad she has outgrown them.

My grandmother, who is German, used to always make a wonderful german potato salad.  She has Alzheimer’s disease now and I am not really sure if she remembers me or her potato salad recipe.  Today I want to share a similar recipe to hers.  She used to put sweet pickles in her recipe, but I do not.  I never have liked those sweet pickles.  Granny’s mom died when she was three years old.  Gratitude comes to me again.  I am 39 years old, and I have gotten to share many years and memories with these wonderful women.

Southern Potato Salad

Ingredients

12 Medium Red Potatoes, boiled whole with skin on

5 Hard Boiled Eggs, diced

1 Medium Purple Onion, diced

2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard

3/4 cup of Hellmann’s Mayonnaise

1/2 cup Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

You will first medium dice your boiled potatoes.  You will know the potatoes are done when a fork goes through easily.  This takes about 10-15 minutes.  In a large bowl, mix potatoes, eggs, onion, mustard, mayo, parsley, salt and pepper.  If your salad looks a little dry, add a couple more tablespoons of the mayo.  It’s as easy as that.  In the summer, I love this side dish with a grilled hamburger and corn on the cob, just like my mother.

As I finish up, I am remembering those sweet chubby hands of all three of my girls when they were little. I am feeling gratitude again, for the memories of yesterday and those to come.  And most importantly, I am thankful for the honor of being a mother and for my own Momma.  I love you!

Cheer’s to every mother!  And a very happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

IMG_7103

Granny and Grandaddy with My Mom and Aunti Chrissy


Me, Mom, Allie and Em

Me, Mom, Allie and Em

 

 

 

 

 

This Too Will Pass…Thank Goodness!

IMG_6549

jardin congelés

 

 

 

All those hard things that I’ve put off, like taxes and the empending move, are fast approaching. Excitement had turned into paralizing fear.   The creative work in the kitchen, which is the work I am passionate about, is now needing to be on the back-burner for a bit, while we look at the books.  The fear is there and I am swimming in tears.    I so dislike this part of the job.  When I talked to the book keeper, AKA, Guardian Angel, she says, “I am part accountant, part psychologist”.  It is true, she needed to talk me off the edge.  My head races, will she tell me I need to get a day job, and quit this silly quest of owning my own business?  Will she tell me I am working so hard for absolutely nothing?  Who will take care of the girls if I have to get a 9-5 job?  Will she say I am the dumbest client EVER to make all these bookkeeping mistakes?  The self-doubt in my head is amazingly ridiculous.  If you could hear the chatter going on in my head, you wouldn’t believe that we had accomplished what we had in the last year.  In fact, I HAD forgotten.  I had forgotten all the people we have helped to make their lives simpler, healthier, and more joyful with each event or dinner we had prepared.   I HAD forgotten what this quest was all for, helping those that need it.  We all face different challenges that can seem overwhelming.   Some worse than others but it is all relative to our own lives.  I know I felt hopeless and stopped believing in myself.  Heck, I was having trouble recognizing the woman staring back in the mirror.

Through these trials we get a little bit stronger.  We are all a little stronger after going through difficult times and we WILL get through them.  Whether it is the business books, a loved one who is sick, a child whose tantrums seem to be unruly, or just a rotten day at work, we push forward.  The clouds do move out, leaving the sun to shine.   The clouds come and go, but the sun is always there.  I saw this once on an airplane.  The sky was so crystal clear, beautifuland sunny above the clouds, then we dipped down to land and it was the most grey day below.  The visual will forever be with me as inspiration to be patient for the clouds to move out.  Mimi Thorrison, model, writer, mother and chef wrote in her last blog post on Manger this, and it speaks directly to my heart even though there is a huge ocean between us and she was writing of something much deeper.

In the past week I’ve come to realize that simple things like sharing a table at dinner with the whole family are never more important than in times of turmoil. The comfort of good food, the healing power of a shared moment is never more needed than on a cold January night when bad news reaches your door.
So we continue to lead our lives, cook, eat, laugh and cry together and hope that by raising our children to the best of our abilities will help create a better world.

Today, it is time to get back in the kitchen.  All the hard work isn’t over, but I want to give myself a little sunshine before trudging through the mud again later this week.  I am going to treat myself and my little ones with a little creative fun that I hope you will enjoy too.  This dish is a wonderful rainbow!  My Dad says, “you want every color on your plate”.   This one serves that purpose!

IMG_6509

Rainbow Thia Chicken Salad

 

Here’s Ali’s recipe for Rainbow Thai Chicken Salad-

INGREDIENTS

3 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 cups shredded purple cabbage
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1 avocado, diced
1 mango, peeled, pitted and diced
1 (large) carrot, julienned or shredded
1 red pepper, cored and julienned (or diced)
1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped cashews or peanuts
PEANUT DRESSING INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup natural peanut butter
2-3 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce (if you are gluten-free, use GF soy sauce or tamari)
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
juice of 1-1 1/2 lime
DIRECTIONS:

Toss all your salad ingredients in a bowl leaving out the peanuts and some of the cilantro for garnishing the finished salad.  In another bowl, mix together all dressing ingredients.  You can set aside until ready to serve.  When you are ready to serve, mix together your salad and dressing.  Top with peanuts or cashiews and cilantro.

I found this recipe on Gimme Some Oven‘s website.  I thought her peanut dressing was a little too thick but she mentions that may happen and to add hot water.  I added more fresh lime juice and tamari (gluten free soy sauce) as well as hot water.   Again, the most important thing is getting all these wonderful colors on your plate.

The rainbow makes its way into your mouth and then to body and soul.  It will be sure to bring out the sun, if even for a moment at lunch!  Whatever clouds may be hovering around you, remember the sun is there, we just may not be able to see it.  Here’s to the sun during this cold February!  Cheers!

 

 

It Costs How Much??

IMG_9283I can not tell you how many times I have heard this question.  It costs how much?  Of course it doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen.  Good quality things are not cheap.  We have all been there too many times at the store, looking for the less expensive item.  We buy it, bring it home, and wish we had bought the other one that costs a little more.  No, this doesn’t always happen but it happens more often than not.

I would like to explain why I charge what I charge for my food.  I want to do this because I really don’t want to charge anyone for more than I deserve or for more than my food is worth.

First, everything I make is fresh.  I am a one woman show with a little sprinkle of help from other fabulous people that have the same quality standard.  When I make a salad for a party, the lettuce is washed and cut the day of the party.  The cucumbers and onion are sliced the “day of” as well.  In most restaurants I have been in, I know that they have to cut their vegetables in bulk and most of them don’t sell it all that day and it will be used the following day or even the following few days.  Is this going to kill you?  Probably not.

I know that some places don’t carry extra virgin olive oil.  It is expensive and to cut corners they will buy mixed oils.  Even though you get a healthy salad you may be getting an oil that isn’t very good for you.  I use extra virgin olive oil for every dressing I make.  I am not making a fortune on millions of hamburgers sold at a cheaper price.  I am not even making a fortune- yet- but I think this is the premise- keep the quality of the product, no matter how big you get, or just don’t get big.

I know this eliminates some customers.  But, I would like you to think about food as health insurance for a moment.  What we eat can effect our overall well being.  If we all ate a little better and put a few extra dollars into something that could keep us healthy, why wouldn’t we?  We pay hundreds of dollars each month preparing for the moment that we get very sick.  What if you put just $50 towards eating healthier and more likely to not becoming sick?  Seems like a no brainer to me!

For example, I made a side garden salad today.  There were a couple of bad grape tomatoes in the bunch.  If you have ever had a bad grape tomato, you know it is one of the worst things to ever put in your mouth.  I can’t taste every grape tomato but I will throw that bunch away because the possibility of others tasting bad is higher.

I buy organic, sometimes.  I used to read up on what is best for you and what is not.  The problem with a lot of the information that comes up is that it is studied again, and then you are given another statistic that is telling you to do the opposite.  And who is doing the study?  Many of the times, a big paying company wanting you to buy their product.  I use my common sense that I have been given (which isn’t always grandiose), the little bit of knowledge I have (no high IQ here), my eyes (20/20), my taste buds (pretty damn good) and how I feel a couple of hours later (personal preferance).  To me, some organic products taste better (like an organic strawberry or tomato).   Some organic products are more readily available (like organic spinach).  However, some organic products are (in my humble opinion) not worth the money (like organic phyllo dough).

Pimento BLT

Pimento BLT

I try to keep the quality of my food exceptional.  I don’t want to sell anything that I wouldn’t want my children to eat or myself.  If I am making a BLT for family or to sell and there are no good looking tomatoes at the local Publix or Kroger, then I will take my happy self to Whole Foods and proudly drop a few extra dollars for some beautiful heirloom tomatoes.  It is worth every penny.  I love Holeman & Finch‘s breads, and I will spend a little extra to buy that too.

That is my dealio.  I hope it helps you to feel a little more comfortable in throwing down that extra dollar!

Pump the Brakes

Pasta with Tomato Basil Chicken and Feta

Pasta with Tomato Basil Chicken and Feta

I am a full speed kinda gal.  I get going on one thing, get pretty fixated and BOOM, realize I need to “pump the brakes”.  I really need a lesson on pumping as well.  It is usually a full on slam!

I have been focussing all my energies on getting my business up and running.  It has only been a little over a couple of months that I have been going full time with Grits and Honey.   In my irrational mind, I think I should be opening my 100th franchise.  In my realistic mind, I couldn’t be happier with what I have accomplished.  Companies  wanting to include me as a full time weekly vendor.  Clients wanting to me to cook for them personally twice a week.  I still have to pinch myself.  Me?  Don’t they know I do not have a clue and that I am just following my heart that doesn’t think.  I am a romantic.  It really is a strange concept.  I hope the bank will be so loving when I ask for that business loan.

So, in order to go enjoy lunch with a friend, I decided to make a simple meal of Pasta with fresh Tomato, Feta and Basil for the girls.   I made a little extra for them to take to lunch the following day.  This is also a favorite on the catering menu.   I like to add grilled chicken, kalamata olives or fresh grilled squash and zucchini.  This can be made in advance so if your lunch goes to two glasses of Pino you don’t have to sweat what is for dinner.  It is already done!

All you do is cook your pasta of choice.  Add fresh chopped tomato, fresh chopped basil, chop some grilled chicken, chop your olives, and mix it all together with extra virgin olive oil.  Sprinkle the top with crumbled feta and Viola!

I need reminding to enjoy life through the hectic day to day as mother and business owner.  We can all get smothered with stress.  I hope you will be reminded to take a moment and enjoy whatever it is that gives you peace.  Pump your brakes!

I am no Detective!

I have never been a good detective.  I have been known to be a little clumsy.  I was searching a particular someone when my cursor scrolled over the “Add as Friend” button.   If I take my finger off the key pad and so much as whisper, the button seems to be hit.  I have done this accidentally to someone before that I didn’t know.   This time, I knew the person and it could have been ugly if they had known, not to mention extremely embarrassing on my part.  What would have happened to my image?  Ha!  My stomach hit the floor and my heart sank into the empty cavity.  I cautiously looked to see if  the “friend request sent” was highlighted.  It was not.  I carefully scrolled around the safari page to click it off.  Oh, dear God thank you!  Lesson learned.  I am not a good detective.  I am clumsy.  And I have NO business stalking anyone.  Back to the kitchen I go…

Wrapped Italian Sandwich

One luncheon I catered this week I made my Italian Sandwiches.  They have fresh pesto, fresh mozzarella, and Italian meats.  These are wonderful to make ahead for a day at the park.  Adding the Italian Panzanella as a side and the Brownies with Ganache Icing for dessert is the perfect combination.  I do love a this meal for a picnic with the girls, although, we have been having daily rain this summer here in Atlanta.  It does make a good lunch at the office, too.

I am excited to say, the luncheon went wonderfully, and I am going to be catering for them again.  I really should stick with what I am good at doing.   Here’s to more picnics and less stalking on FB!

Boxed Lunches

The first Box Lunches have been sealed, taste tested and there is not a crumb to spare.  The picture below is the chicken salad sandwich.  It is made with a whole chicken that I simmer with vegetables.  This retains a lot of the moisture and I get to keep the broth for soups.  I add mayo, sesame oil, cilantro, scallions, and celery.  The combination may sound strange but the taste is amazing.  I have been making this recipe and selling it since I lived in Charleston, SC., which was over 10 years ago.  I would sell the salad by the pound then.

I will begin delivering sandwiches next week.  Get those orders in.  Mandy@gritsandhoney.com My arms are wide open for the universe to guide me.  This is such a treat to be home with the girls, working from home, creating wonderful meals for old friends, and making new friends that I am now cooking for.  Thanks to all of you for your support and love as this next chapter begins!!

Box Lunch With Chicken Salad Sandwich

Box Lunch With Chicken Salad Sandwich

Pressed Italian Sandwiches

Pressed Italian Sandwich

       I needed something simple but delicious for a party I was catering for this weekend.  This puppy would be great for the pool, beach, or sunday picnic.  And, it makes me feel all giddy inside because of the simple technique.  I discovered this from a great website www.crepesofwrath.net.  The very very best part, drum roll… it doesn’t heat up the kitchen and it is blazing hot this summer!

    I went to my local farmers market where they make the best ciabatta bread, italian meats and cheeses.  I bought a loaf and cut it along the center, lengthwise.  I also bought Sopressata, Genoa Salami, Hot Capicola, Prosciutto, Provolone, Mozzarella.  You don’t have to use all these meats, in fact, for my catering party I did a vegetarian one with sundried tomatoes and cheeses.  You can be so creative with what you like!  I topped the sandwiches with fresh basil from the garden.  Then, I  wrapped it with plastic wrap and placed a book on top to press overnight.  No grilling or extra oils for this pressed sandwich.  The next day, I have nothing to do but cut it and eat it!