A quick trip to Music City

My sister-in-law, Diane, turned 60 this month and she decided that for this momentous occasion she would like her sisters, mother, and sisters-in-law to meet for a girls’ weekend in a city to which she’d never visited. Nashville won the bid so the 7 of us traveled there from New Mexico, Texas, Florida, Wisconsin and Illinois a couple of weekends ago for a fast & furious 48 hours.

The weather was a bit chilly but warm for the upper midwesterners. We stayed at a boutique hotel in downtown Nashville, attended a concert at the Ryman, caught live music at Robert’s Western World, toured Andrew Jackson’s home, The Hermitage, and dined at a restaurant whose chef’s recipe was featured on the March cover of Food & Wine magazine.  It was a fun, informative, tasty weekend but my biggest takeaway…

Nashville is THE bachelor/bachelorette party destination for 2017 weddings.

I have never seen so many brides-to-be and gangs of guys on Pedal Bars in a single downtown area. Not that they were especially wild or obnoxious but that the sheer number of party vehicles was astounding. Traffic flow was definitely inhibited by their slow progress so our Uber to dinner was a 25 minute ride when it should have been 10. The positive is that all of the partiers were having fun with no risk of DUI...

But back to food. I think my favorite meal of the weekend was breakfast at a restaurant  in the Omni Hotel. We didn’t plan to dine there but when our driver tried to deliver us to Biscuit Love and we saw the line down the block (it was cold, remember!) we quickly checked our smartphones for “breakfast near me” to find an alternative. Kitchen Notes was a hit. I ordered hot chicken and waffles. Yum-yum-yummy. The chicken was tender and spicy and the waffles, buttery but substantial. Good stuff.

I hope to visit Nashville again but next time, I think I might:

a) stay off the beaten path a little

b) take the river cruise to see more of the beautiful natural surroundings

c) spend more time seeking out live music

d) go with my best friend and hubby! <3

My breakfast at Kitchen Notes

My breakfast at Kitchen Notes

Red wine + Chocolate

Could there be a better match made in heaven? I mean seriously. Forget about coffee with dessert—I adore dark chocolate with a glass of red wine or port. So why not combine the two? Have you tried Red Wine Hot Chocolate?!

I made a batch for Boxing Day and it was a straight-up treat. So rich and creamy and can I say it? Sexy. This is the perfect beverage to serve your sweetheart after dinner this week. And according to our Dallas forecast, Tuesday (Valentine’s Day) has 100% chance of rain so this lovely, warm drink will make your toes all cozy too.

Red Wine Hot Chocolate

Serves 4

2.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups whole milk

Pinch of salt

3/4 cup fruity red wine, such as Merlot, Shiraz, or Zinfandel

Whisk the chocolate, cocoa powder, sugar, and cinnamon together in a medium saucepan. Add the milk and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until hot and smooth, about 5 minutes. Stir in the salt.

Remove from the heat and add the wine. Divide among 4 small glasses or mugs, (or 2 large!) garnish with a cinnamon stick and a dusting of cocoa powder, if desired, and serve. (recipe adapted from thekitchn.com)

Speaking of romantic meals, my husband and I don’t really go out to dinner for Valentine’s Day. The crowds are crazy, service is often sub-par and the food is predictable. We like to cook dinner together on nights when all the other couples are struggling to get out on the streets . One year we made lobster risotto and some seared sea scallops with champagne-butter sauce. Another time it was Barolo braised short ribs with pimento cheese polenta. This year I’m feeling Italian—because I think it’s romantic. I want to open a nice bottle of chianti and share a big plate of spaghetti & meatballs a la Lady & the Tramp! I’ll snap a picture for y’all… Hope you too have a fun, safe and delicious week!

lady and the tramp

lady and the tramp

Love, hate, crave - the intensity of food relationships

Broccoli, broccoli, wherefore art thou broccoli?
Ah, chocolate, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Pork chop loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not…

So I am on about day 20 for Whole30. I decided to try this health reset plan for January because 1) I way-over indulged during the holidays and desired not to drink wine/spirits for 30 days; 2) my daughter & son-in-law were also participating…you know, strength in numbers; 3) I wanted to see if the change in diet would affect my rheumatoid arthritis; and 4) let’s be honest: although it is not truly a “diet” I was hoping to shed a few pounds.

Surprisingly, the shift in my food choices has not been as difficult as I’d anticipated. It was not easy to eliminate the cream from my coffee (and I use half & half because what’s the point if you use that weak milk stuff?) but that suffering only lasted for 2 days and now I’m okay with black. We had already been trying to incorporate more vegetables into our daily meals so that was cool. I think the hardest thing has been to make sauces and dressings that didn’t use any soy, sugar or unacceptable fats but once I stocked my pantry with the funky staples that are utilized in so many of the W30 work-arounds, it’s been easy to whip up what I need to make a salad or recipe delicious.

I’m not sure if I’ve lost much weight. Probably a few pounds but one benefit that I had not anticipated and is a huge plus: my blood pressure has come down. Although throughout my adult life my bp has been almost vampire low, in the last year, it has spiked dangerously. My doctor had prescribed meds but I found they made me put on even more weight so I was avoiding the pills. But in two weeks time, my readings have ticked down to an acceptable level!

So now I’m a little afraid. Of wine. Of cheese. Of sugar. Of grains. Of soy. Will I learn to love my waffles again? Have I said goodbye forever to sushi rolls and chocolate chip cookies? Nah. Because just as in real-life relationships, the key to a satisfying, healthy relationship with food is moderation. So I will be back enjoying a cheese plate and a glass of wine with my husband on Friday nights. But I’m going to continue making extra veggies to fill our plates. I may even try to maintain Whole30 compliant meals during the week with a return to a “regular“ menu on the weekends. And honestly, I’ve been so impressed with the recipes that my daughter and I have found and creatively put into our weekly menus that I’ll make them again. The Whole30 Cookbook is filled with many delicious (albeit labor-intensive in many cases) meals so I will continue to cook from it.

I love food. Period. Though it’s not the center of my life, it should be the vehicle by which I add nutrition to my being and if I derive pleasure as well, then that’s a bonus. So what am I craving most after the end of these 30 days? Stay tuned…

 

Real Life Kitchen Adventures

Our college sophomore is just now heading back to school this weekend. His break was nice and long—four weeks to hang with friends, eat a lot of home cooking, chill out and even squeeze in a ski trip. He made the most of the time and is headed back to TCU ready for the semester, albeit not quite as excited as he was in August.

Snowboarding &amp; GoPro, such a multi-tasker

Snowboarding & GoPro, such a multi-tasker

His fraternity brother has a home in Park City, Utah, and my son joined his buddy and 3 other friends for the coldest, powder-filled week he has ever had. What an adventure! Snow-boarding through pristine powder and filming it on a camera is an experience I can only imagine. I jokingly told my friends that I wish I had his life. And I have heard that same sentiment from many other parents. Our children have access to amazing experiences and adventures that we did not have in our youth.

Tres amigos

Tres amigos

However, I don’t really want his life. I kind of like mine. After all, his ski trip was just one week but every week I get to have Kitchen Adventures! Like refilling my gigantic rolling flour bin with a 50 pound sack of flour and spilling about 5 pounds on the floor. Or, locking myself out of the kitchen and having to run around the building to get in. Or, pouring the wrong kind of broth into a pot pie gravy and scrapping it to start over. These are real life adventures, people!

Just this past holiday season the Butterfield Gourmet team and I: rolled out 82 pie crusts in one week; shipped 212 gift boxes around the country; made 106 pounds of savory nuts, 76 pounds of chocolate bark, 852 caramel bars, and 68 pounds of pecan pie bar candy; baked 36 chocolate-pumpkin breads; rolled out and baked to buttered perfection 22 dozen dinner rolls. Mmmm-mmm, those were the best!

Thanksgiving dinner rolls

Thanksgiving dinner rolls

So I want to thank each of you, my loyal and hungry customers, for giving me the joy and pleasure to experience so many kitchen adventures in 2016. I obviously love what I do and I look forward to another year of excitement, peril, and delicious adventures with you via Butterfield Gourmet.

Gobble, gobble! Don't be a turkey and miss your chance for Thanksgiving pies and sides

For all of my rambling about being organized, I must confess that I have not yet planned the menu for our family feast. It will take a little time for me to review what I’ve served in years past and which things I want to repeat and the new dishes I want to introduce.

But what are you serving? That’s the real question. If you’d like Butterfield Gourmet’s help with pies or sides, please visit the online store to order, asap. I would love to have your orders by Thursday at 5pm but the absolute deadline is Friday at noon.

If you were not able to stop by one of our tasting events, let’s talk pie! Our all-star options include, but are not limited to:

- Salted Caramel Pie is a decadent dulce de leche in a graham cracker crust and pretty piped whipped cream on top. – Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline takes the tried and true one step further with a sweet topping. (best seller) – Chocolate Custard Pie belongs on every Thanksgiving buffet because someone always needs a bite of chocolate. – New Mexican Apple Pie brings a savory note to piles of apple slices with green chile and pine nuts. Want to bring something different? This is your pie. – Chocolate Pecan Pie with Salted Caramel is almost too beautiful to eat but don’t miss the dark chocolate filling studded with toasted pecans.

pies as far as the eye can see

pies as far as the eye can see

See the rest of our goodies online and place your order today! (Please.)

For this week’s dinner table, I have all favorites planned for you. Making menu items that I know you all love and that I have made many times will ease my team’s transition into preparing Thanksgiving sides and pies for the coming week. Because of the busy days ahead, I’m asking that all menu orders be placed by Tuesday at noon, even if you are not picking up until Thursday. Thank you for your cooperation!

Check out the menu here (pickup times are listed on this document as well). Order online here. Please order Thanksgiving items separately from the week’s menu. Call me with questions at 214-675-1932. I am thankful for each of you! But…I gotta run now, I have a menu to plan!

Picky eaters of the world unite!

True confession: I was you. My pickiness was legendary among our relatives and my mother’s circle of friends. “Ruthie is so picky! She won’t eat pancakes or eggs or ham sandwiches!” My mother, ever intent on getting substantive food down my esophagus, would warn that she would reheat my breakfast at lunchtime if I didn’t finish the morning meal. I perfected the chew-then-spit-in-napkin move to the point it was undetectable even by my brother, who loved to watch me like a hawk. I was a pro.

Obviously, I haven’t been a picky eater for years. All of those “no thank-yous” of the past have become “yes, please” and “more, please!” Much to the detriment of my figure. Do you realize that your metabolism rate decreases 5% every year after the age of 35? How are we supposed to combat nature working against us?!!

But back to the subject at hand: individuals with narrowed taste preferences. There really is no formula to creating adventurous young eaters. In my parents’ house, we were berated to clean our plates because it was a crime to waste food. Conversely, when my children were young, without pressure, I constantly made a variety of foods so that they became accustomed to always eating something different. But the outcome was the same from my upbringing to my brood. We all love food and try almost anything and everything. We associate good meals with family, comfort and communicating. If there is a celebration to be had, it’s going to involve a great dinner.

So be patient with your picky eaters—they’ll come around eventually. And if they decide never to eat coconut, pickled herring or raw onions, cut them some slack. Take it from a reformed picky eater, some things are still worth avoiding!

Cowboy Pot Pie

Cowboy Pot Pie

SAVETHE DATE: Holiday sides, pies & gift tastings will be on November 3-4. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to try our line-up of yummy offerings for your Thanksgiving & Christmas tables as well as gourmet gifts to make your life so easy in December.