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Posts Tagged ‘oysters’

It’s Saturday morning; I’m drinking my first cup of coffee; my window is open; I’m feeling the cool morning air and listening to the birds chirping in many different……hmmm….languages? What do you call that? I know so little about birds and I’m not sure if the different “chirps” between the species would be considered languages or dialects? Or maybe something else? Golly! The Starbucks freshly ground coffee I have mixed with my Folgers (my own favorite custom blend) surely has my mind thinking hard and wide already this morning!

You may ask, “why Starbucks?” Well, our daughter works part-time for Starbucks in North Carolina, and one of her benefits is a package of fresh coffee every week. She cannot drink it that quickly, so she shares with me. Plus, that company has been very, very good to her. Too many large businesses do not really show concern or even fairness to their employees, but Starbucks is different. Even though I enjoy very much my Radina’s Coffee House and Roastery here in Manhattan, when I travel, I love to go to a Starbucks.

Today I will be going back to the library for several hours to finish a deadlined project and perform mega chores at home after being away pretty much for three weeks. There is mail to go through, checkbook to straighten out, refrigerator to clean (oooh yuk), carpet to sweep and vacuum, and my usual cooking before the week. I also plan to get in some walking and make a drop-off at the recycling center. I hope I can complete much of those tasks today so I can relax and goof off tomorrow.

In my last posting I wrote about my mom’s cooking, but today I will try to bring us all up-to-date (including myself, before my tired and caffeine-induced brain forgets!) with all the tasty meals I have devoured recently.

During my two trips home and I had three delicious meals based on scrumptious fish. I met my public policy interested, world events follower, culturally curious friend, Luann, for lunch one day at the fantastic Molasses Grill in Halifax, VA. She enjoyed the cobb salad (remember? I wrote about that salad on this blog once before, loaded with creamy yet crumbly blue cheese and avocado – yum!), and I ordered the Fish ‘N Chips plate, which focuses on crispy, non-greasy, fried catfish. (OK, so they don’t describe it that way but they should!) They serve it with what I call a really good Southern cole slaw (sweetened with a little honey), a tartar sauce which includes capers and a little lemon, and French fries. [I had no idea the first time I tried this tartar sauce that I would enjoy it, because as much as I like capers, I just couldn’t imagine it in my tartar sauce. It was awesome! Totally. I was wrong. Again.] I had ordered this meal once before and it was just so delicious last time that I had to repeat the experience. Molasses Grill did not disappoint! I splurged on a piece of pecan pie that was absolutely out of this world! Plus, the serving was humongous! I enjoyed several bites with a cup of coffee and then took the rest home. It was gooey and sweet and drizzled with a little caramel and chocolate. I think next time I will ask for it without the chocolate drizzle, only I am sure there are many, many chocoholics that would love that little extra! I’m just not one of them. Oh, don’t get me wrong…….I definitely did not feel or taste the need to send it back! It was absolutely spectacular anyway – but you know I’m not the greatest choco fan out there.

One day Brent went fishing and brought back white bass, cleaned it, fried it, and then we ate and ate on that fish. There were a few bones to deal with, but since we were sitting at home, just the two of us, I just used my hands and took care of that with no problem! And the meat was so snowy white and flakey (duh. is that why they call it white bass?). I know we had a vege of some kind – maybe potatoes? I don’t remember the vege, I just remember the delicious white bass. Oh my goodness my man is such a grand fisherman and remarkable cook!

Oh yes! One night Brent and I met our high school friends Luann (yep! again.) and Amy for dinner at Four Oaks, the restaurant where my brother heads up the kitchen. I ordered fried oysters, and oh my goodness how delightful! The conversation was fantastic and relaxing. We tried to catch up on what our other high school friends were doing, talked about a few public policies, and sat there and ate and conversed for quite a long time. Four Oaks does not have the most extensive salad bar I have found in some restaurants, but for some reason it is one the best. Maybe fresher? Maybe it just offers all my favorite raw vegetables? I’m not sure, but it is quite a special place for a bowl of grazing goodies.

Brent’s mother prepared one of her usual “thrown-together quickly” feasts that would wow the most sophisticated entertainer! There was corn pudding, ham, deviled eggs, potato salad, green beans, corn pudding, butter beans, mac and cheese, and …..did I mention corn pudding? I think she prepared that pudding especially for me, because that is absolutely my favorite dish in the world! There were surely other delectables, but I can’t remember them all. There were at least two desserts in the kitchen, maybe more, but I only remember the piece of cake and the slice of pie I ate. Oh my goodness!! That woman is a master in the kitchen. For real. She invited anyone who wanted to experience her kitchen expertise to come to her home after my mama’s graveside service. I can’t explain my gratitude to her enough for all she did for me that day. She has had ear and throat troubles herself lately, but set it all aside just to fix us all a memorable and delicious meal. Giving us all time to relax and visit. She’s the best, I tell ya!

There were more tasty meals, but you know what? I really cannot remember. I recall going to the grocery store, and I know I myself cooked a few meals, but I’m afraid so much of that time is just a blurr. And I have no clue what meals I myself prepared. Age issues? Why absolutely not! It was just a busy time and a few sleepless nights that could confuse even the youngest of daughters. Word.

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Ten degrees here yesterday. Ahhh……how I remember my first full winter here, 2007-2008, my street holding ice from December 1 until the end of February. There was just a little bit of ice that fell on the 1st, but our shady street held that ice close and long! An ice storm followed on Monday December 10, 2007 that took out electricity for many days for many folks, and I’m so grateful I was not one of those. The K-State campus was closed the day after the storm, and once we were up and running again, there was snow. Cold and messy winter. But much beauty, as most ice storms often bring. I wonder what ‘ol Man Winter will bring Kansas this time around?

Oysters are an ol’ Virginia traditional food for this time of year. Those of you who have spent many years eating these really yukky looking but very tasty morsels know that we use to always say, “oysters are only available during the months with an ‘R’ in them.” Of course, now with refrigeration, oysters are available almost any month out of the year, but remembering the “R” criteria in the past kept us away from oysters when the days were too warm.

And the Chesapeake Bay was the place for Virginians to get their oysters, and it was like an additional Christmas present from God to the family to have oysters on Christmas day. And that tradition continued in my family until a few years ago when my uncle died, several years after my own father died. My uncle was the last of my father’s immediate siblings to pass over. Yes, some of us still eat oysters, but the large family gathering ceased, and the celebration of the oyster is just not the same.

Most of my life I hated to even get near one of those creatures my father would continue to bring from the kitchen to the table. We would gather around the table in our home and he would prepare not just fried oysters but also stewed. And what did he and his siblings eat while waiting for our large breakfast to make it to the table? Raw oysters. Oh my goodness I hated to even look at those things! But as I grew older and wiser, I discovered one day, when I actually decided to try one, oh my oh my!! Stewed, fried, or raw, love ‘em all!! I simply regret not trying them earlier. So much time wasted.

My uncle’s family lives in three different states now, and well, we know how spread out my own family is these days! So the coming together for all of us has ceased. I try to stay in touch with each of them occasionally, but………anyway……. Last year at Christmas time when I flew back to Virginia, I wasn’t able to stay too long because I was scheduled to work at the library the day after Christmas, so it was the first December in many years I did not get oysters. Back in October of this year, the second “R” month toward the end of the year, I inquired at the grocery store about oysters. Would I be seeing them in Kansas this year? The reply was, “yes, we will have them, but only around Christmas”. bummer. So I waited, and finally purchased a small container this weekend. I fried them and ate every last one! All by myself! I ate a few green beans, but other than those few little veges it was just me and the oysters. Our family always cooked them in cracker meal, but I just used the flour I had on hand, and this girl had no complaints! It’s not quite 6:00am on a Saturday morning, and right now I sure wish I had a plate full, along with a side of my own cocktail sauce with extra horseradish.

Sad, though, the oysters I purchased were processed in Virginia, but no longer taken from the Chesapeake Bay. Too polluted. It’s so easy in this country for some industries to pollute, pay the fine, and keep polluting, pay the fine again, and keep polluting. Thank you, EPA, for allowing another American food source to disappear. [uh, a little sarcasm there.] I hope you will do a better job of protecting our corn and wheat. OK OK, there is so much more I can say here, especially about recent added protection for energy companies to “change clean water into nasty dirty water so that too many citizens of Appalachia have to purchase water for use in cooking and drinking.” ugh. Yes, yes, I’ll shut up and for now leave that subject.

Today I will work at the library for a few hours, take my recyclables to the recycle center and mail a few Christmas gifts. I have one meal of turnip greens left (did I hear someone say, onions, egg, and vinegar, oh my!), and last night I prepared a delicious meal of the drumsticks I made for my son and daughter-in-law a few weeks ago. Creamed potatoes and fresh broccoli seasoned just right. And what does that mean I have today? Leftovers!!! Really good leftovers!

I also this week made my first tomato bisque since last winter. I learned my lesson, though. Last winter I became so enamored with heavy whipping cream, that I used only heavy whipping cream and tomatoes and a few seasonings to make my bisque. Every week. No mixture of heavy cream and a lower-fat milk. Just cream. And believe it or not, my cholesterol level skyrocketed!! Really! The doctor was very concerned, but I told him that when I came back in six months it would be back down, because I would not make my extra creamy tomato bisque. And I was right. No heavy whipping cream for six months and all my lipid levels were great! So this was my first bisque, but healthier and still oh so very scrumptious! I took a can of tomatoes, 1/2 can of low-fat milk, 1/2 can of heavy whipping cream, and one small can of tomato paste. I added a little fennel seed, sugar, salt, and dried basil, ran it through the blender, cooked until hot, and oh my goodness! Still a lot of heavy whipping cream, but I will not be eating it every week like I did last winter. Really, I promise!

I also have several honeycrisp apples, the best snacking apple I’ve ever eaten. I’ll make a Waldorf salad, using these apples, celery, and pecans. And I have everything to make a really good vege pizza with lots of cheese. Our son, the certified chef, suggested I salt the cheese when I make my own homemade pizza, and what a good idea! Lots of cheese over the tomato sauce, onions, green peppers, and mushrooms, and the extra salt really makes it taste better. Obviously not healthier, but certainly more flavorsome.

Dear me, I must stop writing now and get to the kitchen. I am so totally hungry!!

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