Archive for Recipes

Not so Spicy Kim Chi

I discovered Kim Chi at Korea House in Austin, Texas September 2006. It was an odd experience. I had never been to a Korean restaurant before. I ordered something I never tried before: beef bulgogi and in an instant I had a server coming out with a push cart putting 12 small bowls all containing different side items such as pickled cucumbers, sweet beans, pickled carrots, bean sprouts, and the new object of my interest: Kim Chi.

Kim Chi and I have a love/why-did-I-eat-that-bite relationship. I have never met a Kim Chi I didn’t like, and at the same time I never met a Kim Chi that I could eat alone without rice to back up that oh so spicy flavor.

Kim Chi is basically spicy pickled cabbage. Its made by fermenting the chopped up cabbage with various spices. My friend Cho said her mother used to burry it in the back yard and let it sit for two weeks to ferment in a glass jar.

I searched online and decided to combine some ideas and ended up with this concoction:

Soak 1 pound of cabbage with enough water to cover it and 3 tablespoons of sea salt. I use pink Himalayan salt in most of my cooking. Let it sit in the fridge for a day.

Rinse the salty water off the cabbage.
Add 1 cup warm water
2 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger or 1+ tablespoon of ground ginger to taste
less than 1 tablespoon of chili powder or red pepper flakes.
You could also had garlic, but I didn’t add it to mine, because it was already had an interesting flavor.

Pack all this in a jar or container and let it sit in the fridge for two more days. We ate some of our freshly made, since we couldn’t wait. I expect it to get spicier the longer it sits.

**update, unfortunately my husband cleaned out the fridge and thought my Kim Chi was “stinky” so he threw it out. Note to self, label your food now that you live with someone.

A wonderful day for watermelon

I hope everyone is enjoying these last days of “summer vacation.” Dave and I are trying to beat the heat with watermelon this afternoon. Lucky for us, there are plenty watermelons here at the farmers’ market, even yellow ones!

Here’s to the last few weeks of summer! Enjoy it while it lasts :) Don’t forget to come and get your watermelons from us at the farmers’ market today!

Southern Muscadine (Scuppernogg) Jelly


Living in the hot and humid south eastern US has one perk in August: Scuppernoggs almost ripe and ready to be picked. I grew up calling this southern grape scuplin, but the proper name for it is muscadine.

The week before my baby was born last year I went out to a friend’s vine and picked a cooler full of scuppernoggs that were so ripe, they fell into my hands when I touched them.

The day before my son was born, I made 24 jars of jelly. Thus, my mom refers to this batch as “Nesting Jelly.”

I used a recipe from PickYourOwn.Org . I recommend using their site for instructions, as they are very detailed.

The basic instructions for making jelly are:

1) put your scuppernoggs in the food processor, pulverize them.
2) Cook the grapes.
3) Strain the juice from the grapes.
4) Cook the juice with sugar and Sure-Gel
5) Jar

For cute labels, Check out Jessica Jones’ of HowAboutOrange’s label download. I printed them on a sheet of card stock, cut them into circles, and used my sticker maker to make them adhesive.

If you live in a region that is sadly without scuppernongs, you can find some jelly to send from our farmers’ market here in Paxton!

Lemon Cheesecake

Before I met Dave, I think he would have lived off of Captain Crunch, ice cream sandwiches, Little Debbie Zebra Cakes, and black licorice if left to his own devices. People that know me think I am keeping Dave from sugar for some reason. Maybe this is because he posts status updates on Facebook about how he waited for me to leave for the office before pulling out his Captain Crunch so he could eat it guilt free. Even my mom buys him ice cream sandwiches or chocolate because she thinks he needs a sugar fix.

I rarely eat sweets. I don’t have a taste for them, and quite honestly I feel sick when I eat store bought processed treats. I do however, love a tiny sliver of a good homemade southern seven layer cake. If you can’t have homemade cake, Dean’s Cake House in Andalusia, Alabama is still considered homemade around these parts.

The Seven Layers of Southern Alabama Bliss

Dave’s Great-Grandmother Mertice was from Montgomery, Alabama and was apparently quite the baker. When we got married, his Aunt gave us a recipe file box with some of her famous goodies inside.

Dave remembers her making a caramel cake and a lemon cheese cake specifically. He says that both take so much time to make, to recieve one is to receive a true labor of love.

I don’t have time these days to lovingly labor over a stove making caramel or lemon icing…but I do have time to write a check to Dean’s Cake House of Andalusia, Alabama and have one delivered by a friend.

I took the cake out of the plastic box and placed it on a platter for Dave when he got home from work. I even cut a 1/2″ off the styrofoam plate so when it sat on the platter so you couldn’t tell it was store bought. Dave walked in to door and responded, “You got me a cake from Dean’s!?!” *Note: he’s never had a cake from Dean’s before and only talked about getting one from there* There’s no fooling that man.

Amazingly enough Dean makes a Carmel Cake and a Lemon Cheese Cake. We have wondered if the recipe was close to his grandmother’s since church ladies often shared recipes and Montgomery and Andalusia are not that far apart.

Seven Layers of Lemony Goodness by Dean’s Cake House of Andalusia, Alabama

My friend Stacey’s grandmother owns and operates Dean’s Cake House. I remember the day I found out was her birthday when we worked together at summer camp in high school. She had this massive sheet cake to share with us all in a Dean’s box. I said, “Wow, Stacey! Your cake is from Dean’s?” She smiled, “She’s my grandma.” What a lucky duck!

Dave cuts the largest slices of seven layer cake I have ever seen. In my family you are given a 3/4″ skinny long piece. This is the cake after Dave cut 3 pieces! I was shocked at the wedges he cut out for himself and me, but I didn’t say anything and allowed him to enjoy his cake. Up until this day I didn’t even think about the art of cutting a seven layer cake. Maybe my family cuts the cake slices so small because there are so many of us around and only so little cake. My granny has always cut cake that way, but there were always 10 people around at any given time in and out of her house.

I can’t share these pictures of this beautiful cake with you though and not share Great-Grandma’s sacred recipe for making your own labor of love. So here it is, probably the first time it’s been shared online. I wasn’t told it was secret though, so you all get to benefit from that ;)

Mertice’s Lemon Cheese Cake Recipe

What’s interesting about a Lemon Cheese Cake is there’s no cheese in the cake. It’s named that simply because it looks like a huge cheese wheel…at least that’s what Dave told me. Leave it to a southern to name it that.

The recipe doesn’t go into how to bake the different layers, but to make a seven layer cake you need a 9″ round cake pan, preferably several round cake pans. You put a thin amount of batter, say 3-4 tablespoons into each pan and bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until done. Repeat until you have your desired amount of layers.

When you ice the cake, just ice in between each layer and then coat the whole cake with a icing on the outside when the cake is assembled.

My brother once asked someone to make him a 13 layer cake when he was 7 years old, not being sure how many layers he should ask for. The lady laughed, promised him she would, made it, and then swore up and down that she would never make a 13 layer cake again since it took her several hours to complete all 13 layers.

Cake Ingredients:
3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
2 cup sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoon baking powder
6 egg whites beaten stiff (add last)

Icing Ingredients: (This icing is more like a glaze then a true icing.)
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
juice and grated rind of two lemons

Cake Directions:
1) Mix all ingredients for cake except egg whites.
2) Beat egg whites and fold into cake mixture.
3) Bake at 350° until when a toothpick is stuck in the center of the cake it comes out clean (Sorry, I can’t be more specific. That’s what the recipe says)

Icing Directions:
1) Mix  all ingredients and cook over medium heat until thick. Stir to keep from sticking or cook in a double boiler



Floridian (or Hawaiian) Tuna Sandwich

So Dave and I tried something new the other day. It’s a new twist on a tuna sandwich:

Floridian (or Hawaiian) Tuna Sandwich

Mix the following Ingredients:

2 small cans of tuna, drained

1 large can of pineapple crushed, drained

1 cup shredded carrots

Mayo consistency to your liking

Cheddar cheese to top if you wish.


While Dave and I like it, we do both admit that this is:

A) Kid food

B) Something you make when you have nothing else in your cabinets.



Lavender Lemonade

My friend Tasha Brieger owns Hill Country Lavender which is the first, and in my obviously biased opinion, the finest commercial lavender farm in Texas. Her farm is located in Blanco, Texas which is also home to the annual two day Lavender Festival. You can also buy Tasha’s Lavender at my online herbal pharmacy

With such a close friend that has a lavender farm, you want to support them and come up with ways to use their product. One such way I enjoy is using it in lemonade…

Lavender Lemonade

Items needed:

6 lemons,

1/2 cup sugar, or two spoonfuls of Stevia spoonable sweetner

1 tablespoon lavender

enough water to make a gallon


Boil 2 cups of water. When it comes to a boil, add the lavender, turn off the burner, cover a let it sit. If you are going to add sugar, do it now while the water is hot. Stir until sugar is dissolved, strain lavender and pore into glass pitcher once cooled.

Juice the lemons. Add the juice to a glass pitcher with the lavender mixture. Add enough water to make a gallon. Sweeten to your taste.

*We added “sugar in the raw” to our lemonade, which made the color brownish. You can add purple food coloring if you want a light purple color to be festive.

Lavender Dark Chocolate Brownies

Lavender Brownies sitting on a plate made by Hodgson & Hodgson Studio

Lavender Brownies sitting on a plate made by Hodgson & Hodgson Studio. 

These brownies came from a box, I must admit the truth.

What I did was just add 1 tablespoon of Texas grown Hill Country Lavender’s Dried Culinary Lavender (available at to the brownie mix after it was well blended and then sprinkled some on the top.

Hill Country Lavender

Hill Country Lavender is Texas’ first commercial lavender farm and family run in Blanco, Texas.

Dried Culinary Lavender Grown by Hill Country Lavender

Dried culinary lavender grown by Hill Country Lavender

The lavender flavor complements dark chocolate brownies the best I think, because the darker the chocolate the more intense the flavor to balance the strength of the lavender.

I baked the brownies in our perfect edge brownie pan. A lot of people have told me they wouldn’t like this pan, because they love the middle. Though its difficult to imagine, this pan makes every part of the brownie taste like the middle if you watch the brownies closely while they cook. I only baked the brownies for 20 minutes, but I probably should have taken them out at 15 minutes.

All done!

The perfect edge brownie pan awaits the oven…

Lavender Brownies sitting on a plate made by Hodgson & Hodgson Studio

20 minutes later, the brownies are ready to serve!



Granny’s Biscuits

There is something I’m not shy about saying.

I have the perfect Granny. Just look at her. You can’t deny it. She is the epitome of what you imagine in your mind when you hear the name Granny.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a Granny, but I do. I have a real southern legit Granny.

She taught me to clean a catfish, a bass, a brim, make friend cornbread, and most importantly biscuits.

I will share this recipe with you now, but you have to promise to not become discouraged. I say this, because while I give you her recipe, you will not have her skill. She’s been making biscuits now for 70 years. My dad told my mom before they married that she had to learn to make these biscuits. She tried. She’s a yankee. She made bricks. It’s an easy mistake.

Here’s Granny’s biscuit how to with step by step instructions to a perfect southern Alabama biscuit also known as cathead biscuits.

1.) All good southern cooks keep a bowl of flour handy in their pantry to make biscuits. Choose your bowl wisely. You need to have one large enough and tall enough to make a well in the middle of. Contrary to how most biscuits are made, these are made in a well. You don’t add a certain number of cups of flour, but continuously work out of your bowl. The biscuits will pick up the needed flour as you go.

Granny chose the bowl below with a tubberware lid. Before the biscuits are made each time she sifts thru the flour to get out the remaining dough from the last time she made biscuits. She doesn’t sift through the dough directly after making the biscuits, because the dough is still soft and will clog her sifter. It’s easier to pick out those hard pieces when they are hard pieces and not soft pieces. If you are going to keep a bowl of flour, this is an important step. If you don’t sift the flour, you’ll have little pebbles in your biscuits when you make them later. If you sift the flour directly after, your sifter will look like mine when my roommate thought she would be nice and wash my sifter for me…it got clogged and had to be trashed in the end.

2) With your flour in your bowl, make a well in the center, this is where you will pour all your ingredients into. Do not make your well too deep, you don’t want to scrap the bottom of the bowl later when you are kneading the biscuits. Granny uses Lily White Flour to make her biscuits.

3) Pour 1/4 cup oil in the center of your well. Granny uses vegetable oil, I use coconut oil. Thus, my biscuits are denser and coconut flavored and hers are lighter and crisp.

4) Pour 3/4 cup milk in the center of you well. Granny always uses buttermilk. If you don’t keep buttermilk around, you can add a spoonful of vinegar to regular milk, stir, and let it sit. It will turn to buttermilk.

5) Now for the tricky part, you are going to knead the ingredients. Be careful  to take a little flour from the side each time. This is where your well building becomes very important. If you made a deep well, you will gather too much flour from the bottom of the bowl and your dough will be on the bottom in a mess. With time, you’ll learn your well making skills. It’s better to be more wide then too deep.

At first the dough will be a sticky mess, but with skill you will be like Granny and only give it a few turns and be finished and have a nice looking dough. The first time I attempted this in front of her, she called my dough “ragged.” With time, hopefully you won’t have ragged dough. I am always amazed at her ability not to have mounds of wet dough on her hands as she works the dough and makes the biscuits.

It’s also important during this step not to add to much flour to your dough. If you add to much flour, your dough will be overworked and you will be making rocks like my mom did before she married my dad.

6) When your dough has made a nice ball in your well, you need it 3 times or 4 times, but not 5. You don’t want the dough to pick up too much flour. Also, its best to knead it in the bowl.

7) Now the fun part begins. Shape your biscuits! Granny uses a “choke” method. She squeezes a corner off the dough and “chokes it off” to get enough dough to form a biscuit.

Above is a picture of Granny “choking a biscuit off.”

8 ) Pat your biscuit to give it that round shape, but don’t overwork the dough. Place in a greased baking pan or pie plate. We usually use metal and not glass at Granny’s house. Once the biscuits are all in the pan, Granny pats the tops of them down with fingers coated in oil.

9) Now the hard part…waiting. Bake the biscuits in an oven at 425°F for 15-20 minutes. Then Granny always broils for a minute or so until she can tell they are golden. It is best to broil with the oven door open. Don’t walk away, or else you will have black biscuits in a flash.

My mom prefers gooey biscuits and I have caught her taking biscuits out of the oven, because she is in fear I will broil them. To save my mom’s fingers and make the gooey biscuit eater happy, I never broil the biscuits when I make them for her now. They are still wonderful.

10) Behold: the perfect biscuit. Perfect with an filling you want, or even just plain.

Two Southern Sandwiches: Tomato Sandwich and Pineapple Sandwich

Today I decided that a nice southern tomato sandwich would hit the spot. Dave and Tank agreed so we spent lunch at my mom’s enjoying some local flavorful tomatoes.

There is nothing more savory to my taste buds on a summer afternoon then a locally grown tomato sandwich.

Dave informed us (my mom and I) that he was going to put ham on his tomato sandwich.

My mother, the transplanted yankee, quickly put him in his place and told him his sandwich would no longer be classified as a “tomato sandwich” if he did that. She then asked him if he had ever had a pineapple sandwich.

“Oh sure,” Dave replied.

My mom shuddered. She thinks pineapple sandwiches is gross. Maybe its because she was pregnant at the time I started asking for them. I do have to thank my childhood friend Jasmine for introducing me to pineapple sandwiches during our lunch breaks all those afternoons I spent at her house searching for rolly pollies under cement blocks in her backyard.

I have decided through swapped stories that you are not a true Alabama Southerner if you have never had a tomato sandwich or a pineapple sandwich. The recipes for either are simple, and will make any true Alabama Southern child happy, or any adult daydream about being a child again.

Southern Alabama Tomato Sandwich:

2 pieces of “flat bread” as it is called in my Granny’s  house  (sandwich bread, usually white in most households)


1 thinly sliced homegrown tomato

salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Assemble sandwich. Its important to salt and pepper your tomatoes to get the full flavor the tomatoes have to offer.


Southern Alabama Pineapple Sandwich:

2 pieces of “flat bread” as it is called in my Granny’s  house  (sandwich bread, usually white in most households)


1 can crushed pineapple, pressed, drained of liquid -or else you’ll have a soggy sandwich (some people say there use sliced pineapple, but we are a fan of the crushed in my family.)

Directions: Assemble sandwich. Eat immediately. Do not pack this ahead of time for school lunch or a picnic. You’ll be sorry and your kids will have a soggy mess on their hands.

Roasted Chicken with Red Peppers and Tomatoes



Roasted Chicken with Red Peppers and Tomatoes


1 whole chicken, cut into pieces. You can learn how to do this from Mark Brittman in his amazing cookbook, How to Cook Everything (and he does mean everything).

olive oil for cooking

2 red peppers, seeded and sliced

1/2 onion, peeled and sliced

3 large cloves of garlic

1/4 teaspoon pepper, salt, mint, thyme, parsley

5 or 6 tomatoes, sliced and sliced again, or diced

pasta, rice, quinoa, or another grain to serve the chicken with


1) Place the chicken in a roasting pan, cook at 450° for 15 minutes uncovered (put a little olive oil on the bottom of the pan to help with sticking).

2) While the chicken is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Cook the red peppers, onions and garlic until tender. Probably 7-10 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and spices. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and the herbs are blended. Probably about 10 minutes.

3) Carefully add the vegetables to the chicken in the oven.

4) Carefully cover the pan with a lid or foil.

5) Cook for an additional 25 minutes.

6) While that is cooking, make your grain of choice.

7) When your chicken is done, serve over rice, quinoa, pasta, or other grain.