Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Excellent Adventure

Dr. C. and I are in Tulsa visiting my brother and his family.  They wanted us to have the true Tulsa experience, and I'm up for BBQ anytime, so we headed to Burn BBQ.  Up until about 6 months ago, this was a tiny place in another part of town, now it's a huge place, with communal tables and some of the best BBQ you will eat on the planet.  The special side today was creamy cheesy corn with bacon, and as we all know everything tastes better with bacon, and corn is a match made in culinary heaven with bacon!
This is the menu; short and sweet, and the "happy plate" is a mix of almost everything. 
Obviously this one is to share; or maybe not! 

There is some amazing food coming out of this small kitchen, and the ribs were dry rubbed, and appropriately smokey. 

Diners line up and order, then they yell your name when your order is ready--trust me, you are so happy to get these plates, it doesn't matter who you are sitting with.  While waiting in line you might be lucky enough to get a free sample--we got a rib each, and that settled my choice of lunch item. 

There is also a meat market here, and the products looked awesome.  I'm not so sure about the "fatty burger"  but  I have to say anything pork that is wrapped in bacon has to a be a star.
Donald was nice enough to let me take photos.  Thanks D!

Dr. C. far right, my niece Megan and SIL Ann
The chicken
Pulled pork and slaw

Ribs and the cheesy corn and slaw

that is a fatty burger in the forefront---through the fuzziness--not really facile with the cell phone for taking photos

At the end of our meal, after we'd tucked the leftovers into foil and paper bags that they provide, I took a few more photos.  Thanks Burn BBQ for a great Tulsa experience.  You all rock!  I told my sister-in-law that I'd have driven 50 miles out of the way just to do this!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

On the Road Again

Dr. C. and I left San Diego this morning with my car loaded from front to back. 

We are headed East to NYC to give this car to our daughter who is expecting twins.  Along the way, we will be seeing family, and friends, and I'll be teaching in West Lafayette, IN a week from Monday at KitchenArt.

The scenery on this part of the trip (San Diego/Barstow/Flagstaff on I-40) is mind numbing; nothing but barren wasteland, or cactus, and the temperatures are outrageously hot.  Outside of Barstow, the traffic was slowing, and we were watching truckers, leave the highway in droves, and so we followed them.  We got onto the old Route 66---the Mother Road. 
Dr. C. has long had a romantic notion that he'd love to drive Route 66; but he thought he'd be driving in a sporty car like these two guys instead of a Mazda 5. 
Most of you are probably too young to remember this TV show.  Two guys in a corvette, driving Route 66.  Today, while we were driving on the Mother Road, Dr. C. was cured of ever wanting to drive this road; unfortunately, it needs some mothering.  It was more like driving a washboard, than a road, and the scenery, was even worse, with ramshackle places, that have been abandoned over the years.  Fortunately, we missed being stuck in the 10 mile long traffic stop; my three words to you if you are traveling on the Interstate:  follow the truckers. 

This is what we saw for miles and miles---we might still be there, if we hadn't followed the truckers. 
We are in Flagstaff for the night; on to Albuquerque tomorrow. A month ago today, I did this drive in reverse with our son Ryan. The light at the end of this tunnel is seeing our granddaughter Poppy and her parents when we get to NYC.  Then I am off to Italy for 2 months, and Dr. C. will come for October.  I'll be gone from home for 4 months....seems like an eternity, but I will be blogging as time and energy permits, and will share what's going on in each place, for now, enjoy your Sunday.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hanging out in Bloomington

Dr. C and I are in Bloomington, IN with our son Ryan who graduated in 2006 from Indiana University.  Ryan lived here for 9 years, three of those in school, and the rest working remotely after graduation, and we came to know and love this little college town.
Last year we came to watch an IU basketball game and had so much fun (I am a rabid college basketball fan!) that we decided to try and make it an annual event, so we met up yesterday and had lunch today at the world famous Nick's English Hut
After having lunch in the John Mellencamp booth at Nick's,  we walked to our car and I saw this
So I have to tell you that Indiana has some of the best pork on the planet, and when I saw this pork in this smoker, I was over the moon.
Think hickory smoking and succulent pork and you get the picture.
This gentleman is the kindly pit master who didn't close the lid till I got the photos on my phone.  So if you are in Bloomington, I would say the place to get some amazing pulled pork would be Chomp's, located on Dunn between Third and Kirkwood, it's a tiny place, but I think the BBQ should be something special!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Believing in Miracles

At this time of year, most of us are pretty stressed with holiday preparations, and working to get that one last project finished before we celebrate with family and friends.  Push into the season news of a friend's husband who is ill with cancer, or the joy of a cousin's wife giving birth to a healthy baby girl, and we don't know whether to laugh or cry. Psychologists say this is one of the most trying times of the year for people; we deal with a lot of happy and sad.  We miss those who aren't with us, and we celebrate with those who are still here.
For me, I look for the little miracles that happen everyday.  Many would argue with me that they aren't really "miracles" in the true sense of the word, but I would say anytime we can see something as a gift, it's a miracle.  It could be the parking space right in front of Whole Foods, or it could be the amazing report a friend with brain cancer got from her doctors at Duke last week. If I couldn't look for the miracle, then I would lose hope, and for me, believing that there is hope is a huge part of who I am. 
No matter what your faith journey, the miracle of each day is a gift.  Make it count, make it matter, and make sure to tell those you love that they matter.  When I spoke with my friend whose husband has cancer, I told her "I don't know what to say"---me, a writer, with nothing to say.  What I did say was that I love them, and what I am doing is praying for them.  The miracle for them is that they are surrounded by the best medical care and friends who care deeply for them, that gives me hope.
As you celebrate the New Year, remember that miracles are all around you, you just have to take the time to look for them.  Take time to inhale, and look around and find the little miracles that happen to us each day.  Whether it's the wonder of a child seeing the lights of the tree, or the company of good friends, make the most of the time you have and count each minute as a gift.

Webster defines a miracle as: a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Changing My Mind

Growing up, my family would always receive fruitcake from friends, relatives or my Dad's business colleagues.  Stuffed with green and red candied fruits, that tasted like sugar balls, there was nothing redeeming about that fruitcake that could be used as a doorstop it was so heavy.  For years I had a pin that said, "friends don't give friends fruitcake", and I truly believed it.  The fruitcake has been the butt of jokes, just like the ugly Christmas sweater.
Just trying to figure out what is in it is intriguing

Pretty gross
My pals at Specialty Produce thought it would be a great idea to offer a mix of fruits and nuts, along with a recipe for fruitcake to their customers for the holidays.  Always game for a challenge, and since I don't like fruitcake it was going to have to pass the acid test here at Chez Phillips. I read tons of recipes, culling the ones that had candied "green fruit" and citron, because they would take away from the flavor of the cake and the recognizable fruits.  I love dark rum, but many people soak these cakes in so much rum, so you never really taste the cake, all you can discern is rum, so I decided that Amaretto was going to be my liqueur of choice, and then found a great sour cream pound cake that you add fruits and nuts to.  
I was still not convinced, but the proof was in the eating, and this cake is good---even this fruitcake hater was nibbling it while it was still warm.  Then I took it to Specialty Produce, and there wasn't a crumb left (love when that happens) 
So I'm changing my mind, this is a fruitcake you will want to make and to eat.  Make sure to buy the dried fruits and nuts at a market that has them in bins (they are fresher), or if you are in San Diego, stop by Specialty, they have this mix all ready for you with a cute recipe card (you don't even have to make it--give it as a gift!) and you'll be on your way to great fruitcake.

Specialty Produce Amaretto Fruitcake
Makes three 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 loaves
Feel free to substitute your favorite liqueur (Grand Marnier, Limoncello) dark rum or brandy for the Amaretto.
5 cups dried fruits (use an assortment:  pineapple, apricots, dried peaches, dried pears, dried apples, dried sweet cherries, and golden raisins are all good choices)
1/2 to 3/4 cup Amaretto di Saronno
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 large eggs
1/4 cup Amaretto di Saronno
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups sour cream           
2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
1.       In a mixing bowl, stir together the dried fruits and 1/2 cup of the Amaretto, and stir to coat the fruit.  If the fruit is very dry (read that as old) you may need another 1/4 cup of Amaretto for the fruit to absorb the liqueur.  Let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours for the fruit to absorb the liqueur. 
2.       Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and coat the inside of three 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray. 
3.       In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, salt and nutmeg.  Add the eggs one at a time, and beat until fluffy.  Beat in the Amaretto. 
4.       Add half of the flour to the mixture alternately with the sour cream, beating well after each addition.  Continue to add the flour and sour cream, and then add the fruits, and the nuts.  

5.       Divide the batter evenly between the three pans and bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until golden brown, and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. 
6.       Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool in their pans for 10 minutes. 
7.       Remove from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.  Brush with additional liqueur if desired, wrap tightly and store at room temperature for 1 week.  Serve thinly sliced. 
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

I think this fruitcake would be delicious toasted on Christmas morning and slathered with mascarpone or cinnamon butter. 

The poor maligned fruitcake; if the commercial makers of fruitcakes would just use quality ingredients, we'd all love fruitcake.  I hope you'll try this one, it's changed my mind!