Finally Friday!

I know it’s Georgia/Florida weekend, but that isn’t keeping me from sharing one of my favorite menus with you all.  This menu is perfect for Fall and the cooler weather we are all enjoying.   Whether you are entertaining guests, family or having a quiet dinner for two, this is a delicious combination of courses, flavors and textures.   Come with me to foodie land and enjoy!  Here’s the menu:

Scotch Mists with a Lemon Twist

Gougere (little cheese/pastry appetizers)

Chopped French Salad with Apples, Walnuts and White Wine Vinaigrette

Pork Chops, Pan Seared with Port Wine Sauce and Served On A Bed Of Wilted Fennel and Shallots

Creme Brulee

Pinot Noir

scotch

Any cocktail will do, but somehow, a good single malt scotch poured over crushed ice with a twist of lemon just seems perfect with the Gougere appetizer.  A good Amantillado Sherry would be delicious as well.

gougeres

For the Gougere*:

1 1/4 cup water
10 Tbl butter
1 tsp salt
1 c all-purpose flour
5 large eggs
1 c shredded Gruyère cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbl fresh thyme, chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the water and salt.  Let it come to a rolling boil and  immediately add flour, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon.  Keep mixing until the flour absorbs all the liquid and pulls away from the sides of the pan.  You want to cook the mixture  for about 3 minutes to dry out the dough.
Put the flour mixture in to the bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attachment.  On medium-low speed, mix for about 30 seconds to cool it a little.  Add eggs one at a time, making sure that it’s fully incorporated before adding the next.  Once the dough is all combined, it should be slightly thick, shiny and pasty, add the cheese, black pepper and thyme.
Pipe onto a parchment lined baking sheet in your desired size. (Note: I have made these by simply dropping a small spoonful onto the parchment paper and it works well.)  If you want them as appetizers, pipe 1″ rounds.  For breakfast size gougères pipe the rounds about 2 1/2″.   Sprinkle grated Gruyère on top.Bake until they are puffy and nicely browned, about 25 minutes for the small ones and 35 minutes for the large ones.
*Thanks to the wonderful blog “Treats” for this delicious recipe!
french green salad
Chopped French Green Salad with Apples, Walnuts and White Wine Vinaigrette
2 heads Endive
1 head Raddichio
1 head butter lettuce
1 head frisee
2 honey crisp apples
1 cup toasted walnuts
Wash the greens and spin them dry in a salad spinner.  Loosely chop the lettuces and raddichio.  Slice the endive or, if you prefer, break the spears apart and toss whole in the salad.  Wash and core the apples.  Slice them about 1/8″ thick.  Toast the walnuts on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about five minutes, just long enough to let the oil and flavors release.  Toss the greens together and place on four chilled salad plates.  Arrange the apples on the top and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts.
White Wine Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
6 tablespoons good quality olive oil
a Big pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
Whisk the vinegar, salt and dry mustard together in a small bowl.  Continue to whisk as you add the olive oil in a steady stream.  Blend in the pepper and pour a bit over each salad.
pork loin with shallots cropped
Pork Chops with Port Wine Sauce, Served On A Bed Of Wilted Fennel and Shallots
4 bone in pork chops, about 1 1/2 inches thick
Sea salt
Ground black pepper
1 cup port wine
1 bulb fennel
3 shallots
2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
Slice the top off of the fennel bulb and thinly slice the bulb.  Peel and slice the shallots.
fennel & shallots cropped
Place the olive oil in a heavy saute pan and heat for 3 minutes.  Add the fennel and shallots with a pinch of sea salt and pepper.  Saute for five minutes.  Remove from the heat and place the mixture in a bowl, covered with foil to keep warm.  Salt and pepper the pork chops.  Return the saute pan to the heat on medium high.  Place the pork chops in the pan and sear for five minutes, turn and repeat on the other side.  Remove the chops from the pan.  Carefully pour the port into the pan over high heat and allow to boil for one minute.  Turn the heat down and return the pork chops to the pan.  Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and let simmer very slowly for 20 minutes.  Just before serving, add the butter to the pan to incorporate into the sauce.  If needed you can had 1/2 cup chicken broth to the sauce.   To serve, place the fennel mixture on the plate and top with a pork chop.  Spoon the sauce over all and grind a generous amount of black pepper over all.  Note:  I serve this with tiny yellow potatoes that have been roasted at 425 degrees for one hour, toss them in a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt before roasting.
creme brulee

Creme Brulee*

My all time favorite dessert, hands down.
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup half and half (light cream)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 300F. Arrange 6 custard cups in a large pan with sides at least 1 1/2 inches deep.

Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl until they turn frothy and bright yellow. Slowly whisk 1/3 cup sugar, the creams, and vanilla extract into the beaten eggs. Beat the mixture for 90 seconds.

Pour the eggs and cream through a medium-mesh sieve into a large (4 cup) liquid measuring cup. Divide the mixture between 6 custard cups and fill the large pan with hot water half-way up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake the custard in the hot-water bath for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until the custard is set, but still moves a bit in the center when jiggled. Cool the custard in the water bath for 20 minutes, and then refrigerate them until they are chilled.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar over top of the custards and caramelize the sugar with a small, handheld kitchen torch. Serve immediately.

This classic crème brulee recipe makes 6 servings.  We always have two left over so that Mr. T and I can have one the next day.

*Thanks to About.com:  French Food for this yummy recipe.

Dear Millie

Mildred Huie Wilcox Collection

Mildred Huie Wilcox Collection

Anyone who lives on St. Simons Island and hears the name Mildred Wilcox, known to her friends as Millie, thinks of art.  The Left Bank Art Gallery is closing its doors on November 1st after almost forty years of providing locals and tourists with artistic greatness.

PicMonkey Collage Millie 1

Millie grew up on St. Simons Island.  Her connection to the history and the land are deeply rooted.  She loves nothing more than to talk of Coastal Georgia and how her life has been enriched by living here.

PicMonkey Collage Millie 2

In the 1950′s Millie left the area and pursued a fashion career in New York City, where she worked with Madame Eleanora Garnett’s Fashion House, selecting fabrics for the great designer’s line.  Then on to Rome she traveled, working as a high fashion model.  Her great beauty has not diminished to this day.  Millie has a “joie de vivre” that is second to none!

PicMonkey Collage Millie 3

Mildred Nix Huie Collection

She returned to the island in 1966 where she met and married her husband, Robert Wilcox. Having been born in France, Robert’s knowledge and passion for all things French ignited Millie’s desire to travel and expand the portfolio of artwork showcased at Left Bank.  But along with the French artists she has always integrated artists from all over our area into the galleries offerings.  Millie continues to promote and preserve the beautiful artwork that her mother, Mildred Nix Huie, created.  Such finely detailed pieces that show the plantations, from bygone days, that stood here on the island.

millie 5

Left Bank Art Gallery has been the place to be displayed for local and European artist’s as well.  Millie has a passion for France and to this day makes trips to see and purchase artwork that she then brings home to share with us all.  I had lunch with Millie last year when she returned from her last trip to France.  A friend and I asked what her doctor said when she asked him about taking the trip alone, since she had been experiencing some minor health problems.  Her response…”I sent him a postcard”.  That’s Millie!

PicMonkey Collage millie 4

Her tireless work to promote and exhibit the work of fine artist’s has brought the world to life for so many of us.  The art openings at Left Bank Art Gallery have always been a place to be, milling about, enjoying the beautiful paintings and connecting with friends and others.

millie 7

Without fail, when I ask any of Millie’s friends what they love the most about her it is undoubtedly her knowledge of art and her joy for life.  On Saturday, November 1st, Millie celebrates her birthday.  This post is in honor of that great occasion.  Millie is a treasure to me.  She has always believed in my writing and encouraged me to continue.  She has been a guest on my radio show and will be many times to come.  She taught me to raise my head high when looking into the camera and smile with confidence.  She is the quintessential Southern Lady in every way.   Dear Millie, we’ll miss the art gallery, but I have a feeling you’ll be sharing art in many other ways for all of us enjoy!  We love you and look forward to the new chapter you are beginning in your fascinating life!

Letting Your Imagination Fly!

marsh island witch

When I received the invitation to attend last Saturday’s Witches Hour event my mind began to swirl around what to wear.  Would I be a good witch or a not so good witch?  Should I wear white…or should I stay with the traditional black.  I went so far as to order a couple of pair of leggings that were totally outrageous and colorful, thinking they would be fun to use as a starting point.  There always has to be a place to begin when thinking of design.  As fate would have it my decision was made for me when the leggings did not arrive on time.  I’m writing this post today because I so enjoyed creating what my final costume turned out to be.  Totally unexpected and anything but the norm, in keeping with most things that I do….I let my imagination go and used things I already owned, wandered along the edge of our property which is next to a forest and found all sorts of things that got my mind whirling with possibilities.

Outside Glynn Visual Arts

Outside Glynn Visual Arts

I think what I want to express most of all in this post is the importance of PLAY in our lives.  We have a tendency, at least I know I do, as adults and parents with responsibilities to get bogged down in the every day moment to moment of our lives.  We tend to take ourselves way too seriously.   We forget to stop and take periods of silence, to go to beach we are surrounded by here on the island and sink our toes down into the sand.  We let stress and turmoil be our guides instead of letting spirit guide….listening to our inner voice and truly hearing what it has to say.  That still small voice we’ve heard about all of our lives is really there if we just take the time.

PicMonkey Collage marsh island witch

What I came up with for my costume filled me with positive, happy energy.  I had one of the best days I’ve had in a very long time.  I realized how I have let the things that will never matter in the long run take precedence over the things I know to be important.  Time with family….time to really listen….time to be creative and free!  TIME OUT TO PLAY!  And most of all time to love.  When it comes down to it love is all there really is.  Our love for family, children, spouses and friends is what we leave behind as our imprint on their lives.  That is what is never, ever forgotten.

me as a marsh island witch

So my costume of a Marsh Island Witch that came straight from my imagination, with a little help from my friend, Judith,  came together and I’m sharing the finished product with you today.  Thanks to Nancy Kirkpatrick, a wonderful local photographer who was at the event to snap photos!  And as I put the whole costume together, writer that I am, I heard a little story about the character I created going through my mind.  I’m sharing that with you today…humor me.  And after you’ve finished reading this post, take some time to consider how you can integrate play into your lives!  It is so very important.  Let me know what you come up with!  We might just find the need to resort to “play dates”….just like when were children!  Enjoy!

The Marsh Island Witch

She lives in the forests along the marshes

sailing down lazy waterways that meander to the sea

in a small boat she made from a hollow tree.

At daybreak she dines on fresh seaweed and bits of toast

coated with honey from bees that she tends.

She fashions beautiful jewelry out of shells picked up on

her morning walks as she strolls blithely along the shore, 

kicking up sand and splashing at the ocean’s edge.

At days end she sups on seafood she carefully roasts

on an open fire

she builds from pine straw and gathered twigs.

She lies in a hammock made of forest fern and soft moss

she has woven with bits of string and other found objects.

She sleeps in the moonlight

dreaming of voyages to distant places

as forest fairies and other furry creatures gather close by.

This magical being spreads love

wherever she roams, leaving little fairy villages, nestled among the trees

and driftwood she crafts by hand to mark her way.

If you listen very carefully

you may just hear the wind carrying her name to you.

You can repeat it as you make a wish while gazing out to sea.

Her name is Merelda.

A Civilized Thing To Do

Echo_Logo_Text_Blue_Print

Sunday Brunch or a late morning breakfast has always been one of my favorite times to gather with friends and enjoy a relaxing meal.  My dear father has always referred to this social event as “a civilized thing to do”!  I received a special invite to meet my dear friend, Leigh Cort, at the fabulous newly renovated King & Prince Resort for breakfast this past Sunday.  I am so delightfully impressed with the work that has been done to transform this historic resort into, what I would term, a casually elegant seaside getaway!

K&P 4

The new entrance, with views straight through to the oceanfront, are spectacular as you enter the lobby.

Lobby - ECHO entrance, bar and living room

Cozy seating areas greet you where a swimming pool was once located.  I cannot wait to go on a cold winter day and sit by the fire with a couple of my girlfriend’s, sharing a bottle of good red wine.

ECHO - Bar

The new Sea Shack bar area is perfect for any evening or weekend, with outdoor seating as well.  Is there anything better than sitting outside with a tall, cool drink, watching the waves come in and roll back out to sea.  Total relaxation!

PicMonkey Collage K&P

Our delicious breakfast, created by Executive Chef John Palacio, arrived at our table, beautifully presented.  Eggs Coastal?  So yummy, served atop a crisp grit cake, fresh salmon and dill sauce…..Eggs Benedict, the classic favorite that always pleases…..or select eggs anyway with grits, sausage, bacon, potatoes….you decide!  The breakfast menu is well rounded and very appealing, you’ll find your favorites from pancakes to french toast and then some!

ECHO Oceanfront. Food. Drink.

And those views from the new ECHO dining room are spectacular.  Nowhere on St. Simons Island can you have the pleasure of this view while dining unless you are lucky enough to live right on the beach or have a friend who does.  The perfect combination of good food, wonderful service and a relaxing atmosphere is hard to beat.

Chef John Palacio

Chef Palacio’s menus are all well thought out with selections to please any food lover.  His background in French cuisine brings a special touch to the fare he prepares and offers to guests of the resort as well as local clientele.  Prior to joining The King & Prince the chef worked in the Westin hotel group from Los Angeles to Tucson where he catered to the stars.  He was honored with the coveted”Apprentice of the Year” award from the American Culinary Federation while working at the famous Westin Bonaventure in LA.

ECHO Patio and Historic Bldg

This is a winner!  Try ECHO or stop by for a drink and a delicious snack at the Sea Shack bar.  Handcrafted cocktails….a fabulous view…..perfection!

Witches Hour!

PicMonkey Collage witches hour 1

Paige Funkhouser and Donna MacPherson

It’s time for all goblins, ghosts and ghouls to gather together!  Friday night is Halloween!  We got a head start on Saturday at the Witches Hour luncheon hosted by my friends, Donna MacPherson, of photography fame, and Paige Funkhouser, owner of the wonderful Golden Isles Olive Oil shop in Redfern Village.

PicMonkey Collage witches hour 2

The place for all of the festivities was on of my favorite local restaurants, Coastal Kitchen.  Owner, Jeff Montaigne,  greeted us all with a bar full of bubbling, smoking libations to kick off the event.  You might have thought you were walking into a local “coven” instead of a party, everyone came dressed as their favorite witch!

witches hour food 2

The meal began with “Chicken Wands”, spicy chicken, corn and potatoes wrapped in a flour tortilla, flash fried and served with a delicious cilantro honey emulsion…..can I just say YUM!

witches hour food

In keeping with the occasion the next course was “Eye of Newt Milk of Goat over Arugula” a tasty salad with a herb crusted goat cheese fritter served over a bed of Baker’s Farm arugula, topped with basil vinaigrette and “newt eyes”.

witches hour 10

Next, we feasted on “Cake of Gecarcinus Quadratus”, a delicious crab cake served atop Boursin cheese grits with haricort verts and a zesty remoulade sauce on the side.

PicMonkey Collage witches hour 3

We took a break from food while awards were presented for various categories.  Everyone was in full party mode by now and the prizes were fabulous.  Jan Carpenter took the microphone to emcee with Paige and Donna as local photographer, Nancy Kirkpatrick, snapped pictures of the going’s on.

witches hour 5

Dessert followed with a delicious pumpkin cheesecake……the perfect end to a wonderful meal.

witches hour 1

With full bellies all we made our way outdoors for Nancy to snap a group picture of us all in full dress with Jeff and our servers in two.  These guys were having a great time with us all!

witches hour 2

That isn’t all…..oh no…not nearly.  In our car’s we went to pay a visit on our favorite produce guy “Uncle Don”, whose lovely wife, Hollie, won scariest with for her spider witch costume.  We swept him away with our costumes and high flying party moods!  Yes, that was a rainbow witch you saw waving at traffic if you drove by late Saturday afternoon.  I learned that Paige Funkhouser knows how to have a good time.  I already had a clue from other lunches we’ve attended together.  This lady knows how to party!

most authentic witch

And finally here’s my award for most authentic witch.  I’m not showing pictures until Wednesday.  I put my costume together with a bit of help from my daughter and friend, Judith Paixao, who was unable to attend the event since she was busy with a room of ladies attending her wonderful “Salon” at Glynn Visual Arts.  Bermuda Sea Glass Jewelry has had a great week and the fun continues through Friday…if you haven’t been in to see Judith, it’s not too late!  Tonight is ladies night….the champagne will be flowing!

A good time was had by all!  You do NOT want to miss this event next year!

Many thanks to Donna, Paige, Jeff and his wonderful staff!

 

 

T

Simple Sundays

I’m enjoying discovering more and more of the fabulous video work being produced.  I am constantly amazed at the effects that are possible.  One of my favorite artists, Kate Bush, has several videos I really love.  Today, I’m featuring one of them for your Sunday enjoyment, “Somewhere In Between”.  Mellow and beautiful, just right for starting a special day of relaxing and enjoying life!  I hope you like her music and the video that accompanies it as much as I do.  Do something fabulous today…..just because! Notice the magic that happens somewhere In between breathing in and breathing out.   Happy Sunday!

On The Radio

 

mark and sal

Have you heard of the Bella Italia club here on St. Simons Island?  Founded by Mark Gagliano, the wine guy, and his buddy Sal Cenicola of local pizza fame, this club is growing and thriving.  I spoke with Mark and club president, Joanne DeVincenzo about the club, it’s activities and how it’s plans for the future.  Want to play Bocce ball?  This is the group.  They meet every Sunday around noon at the tennis court area near Epworth for a high spirited match!  Listen to our conversation, you might find yourself wanting to join!

 

Finally Friday!

It’s chili weather and I’ve got my first pot brewing….literally!  I begin with a basic recipe that my family has used for years, but I cannot leave it alone.  The original had pinto beans on the side or in the mix.  Since I’m always interested in healthy eating and lots of fiber I’ve played with the recipe over the years until it became what it is today.  And….knowing me….it will change again as the years go by.  This is a delicious recipe that I hope you’ll try and enjoy!  Ice some good beer, make a pan of cornbread and enjoy!

first chili

My Best Chili!

1 1/3  pound meatloaf mix  (I buy this at our local Harris Teeter, but I think most markets carry a meatloaf mix or will make one.)

1 pound ground beef

2 bay leaves

6 tablespoons good quality chili powder

Sea salt, to taste

5 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dry marjoram or oregano leaves

1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon raw, organic sugar

3 tablespoons ground paprika

3 tablespoons flour

3 – 5 tablespoons cold water

6 tablespoons stone ground corn meal

1 can diced tomatoes with peppers (I use the original “Rotel” brand)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can white hominy, drained and rinsed

shredded cheese, your choice

1 sweet onion, finely chopped for garnish

Brown the meats until lightly browned.  Pour four cups water over the meat, cover and simmer for two hours.  Add the next eight ingredients….bay leaves – paprika.  Stir well, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Mix the flour with the cold water and stir in the corn meal.  Use enough liquid to prevent lumps.  Add to the chili and mix well.  Simmer for 10 more minutes.  Serve in large bowls with shredded cheese of choice and chopped fresh onion.

Note:  I usually serve this with homemade buttermilk cornbread.  Let me know, in the comments, if you would like the recipe and I’ll see that you get it!

 

 

The Flowers that Flourish in Fall…tra la!

Fall-Flower-Garden-pic

I love the weather we’re having now!  My energy level is way up, I’m in the kitchen cooking again and planning my fall/winter garden.  I talked with a lovely lady at our local Ace Garden Center to find out her best suggestions for Fall bloomers.  I’m sharing them here with you today and making my way to the store to purchase some of each as well!  Enjoy the colorful photos and get out your trowels!  It’s planting time!!!

pansies lg.

First on the list is one of my favorite flowers….Pansies.  The fact that they are considered “winter” flowers here delights me no end.  I love their happy little faces and especially love using them in containers.  Pansies make me smile so I’ll be putting dozens in this fall.

snapdragons4 lg

Next on the list are Snapdragons.  These tall elegant bloomers are perfect in any garden.  There are dwarf varieties as well.  The colors are spectacular and add such a vivid touch of color to fall gardens.  I love a bed planted with deep fuschia snapdragons, ornamental cabbage and a border of alyssum…fall and winter perfection.  If you don’t have flowerbeds but rely on containers, you can use the same combination in large pots.

dianthus

I think that Dianthus are so pretty.  The color variations of pretty pink shades look lovely.  I especially like this garden where mounds of dianthus have a backdrop beautiful of white snapdragons.

petunias

Petunias are next on the list of lovely cool weather blossoms.  Whether they are the traditional or wave variety they make such a dramatic show in containers and gardens alike.

Muhly Grass

Last, but certainly not least, is one of my favorite plants.  It’s not flowering, but the fall color that Muhly Grass gracefully shows off in cooler weather is such a wonderful addition to any garden.  I love watching it sway in a cool ocean breeze, it almost looks irridescent in the sunlight.

fall containers lg

There you have it.  I’ve got the gardening bug and I think it’s contagious!  Visit the fine folks at Ace for advice in selecting just the right plants for your garden and get planting!

The Songster

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Phil King 1

I met Phil King when he taped a segment for the radio show.  I instantly liked him.  He is a very friendly person, open, intelligent and easy to talk with.  Today I am writing about his music.  If you combined Harry Chapin, Jim Croce and a bit of Neil Diamond, well, you’d have Phil.  WWEZ, The Island’s Easy radio has been playing several of Phil’s songs.  Listener’s love his easy going style and the fact that his music brings a smile to their faces.  You may have heard and enjoyed “In The Golden Isles” and “American Made”, a song which celebrates our country.

Phil King 2

Unlike so many performers these days, Phil writes, plays and sings his own music.  You won’t hear the music of other artists when you attend his local engagements.  Phil tells a story with his music.  There may be a reprise that repeats through the song, but this is not music that goes on and on with the same words repetitively going through four to five minutes of what I have difficulty calling music.

Official Press Picture

Official Press Picture

Georgia born and raised, Phil’s musical journey has taken him from coast to coast, appearing at the famous Roxy Theatre in California, back in the day.  He’s rubbed shoulders with the best throughout his career.  He spent years living in Atlanta, holding the position of president of the Georgia Music Industry Association, Inc.  I believe Phil is a master at what he does!

Click to hear “Gorgeous Day”  

His newest release is Gorgeous Day.  It’s a happy go lucky tune that makes you want to get in that convertible he sings about and head for the beach.  If you want to hear Phil in live performance you have the opportunity on the first Wednesday of each month at Sea Palms.  I’ve got November 5th on my calendar!