Thursday, December 3, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
identify yourself as a resident of a Southern state. When you say you are a Tennessean, it means so much more.
From wicked whitewater to the world's biggest fish fry, the
The Tennessean scoured the state for the 40 things every Tennessean -- native or otherwise -- should do while they live here. Here's the list -- in no particular order. ------
1. Travel the Natchez Trace, from
ile parkway meanders through the scenic South, connecting the lower portions of the
Nancy and Mom at the Natchez Bridge! (I took the picture so it counts!)
Nancy and Mom at the Natchez Bridge! (I took the picture so it counts!)
2. Rock on at Bonnaroo: It's hard to imagine having more fun in the middle of nowhere. This four-day, multistage music festival in
3. Go to a show at the Grand Ole Opry,
, having grown from a roaring '20s radio broadcast into a national music marvel. Its stage showcases country music legends and present-day performers. www.opry.com or (800) 733-6779 ------ I can Check this off my list! I have been a couple of times!
4. Visit Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge: Tucked amid the splendor of the Smokies, there's nothing
sleepy about this small-town experience. From go-carts to mini-golf, a bevy of family attractions line well-traveled streets flanked with stores galore. And Dollywood and Ripley's
Believe It or Not illuminate the cities' natural setting and offer tick-free entertainment in the middle of the great outdoors. www.gatlinburg.com www.mypigeonforge.com ------ I've been to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, but it was before I lived here. Does that still count? I would like to go back!
5. Dip a biscuit in gravy at Loveless Cafe,
6. Put a paddle in the Harpeth, Middle Tennessee: Don't be surprised to sight a snake or a sunbathing cow along this scenic waterway. This playground appeals to outdoor enthusiasts and escapists. ------ I have gone down a river in a conoe, I need to check and see if it was the Harpeth... I might get to check this one off the list!
This was my very first weekend in Tennessee!
7. Groove at
8. Pet a shark at the Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga: Fish are just the tip of the iceberg a
t this underwater adventure site, where a river and ocean journey offer a glimpse at more than 12,000 animals, including salamanders, octopi, otters and penguins. www.tnaqua.org or (800) 262-0695 ------ I went here with Allison this August... It was a celebration of our 18th Friendiversary... :)
9. Volunteer, statewide: Any true Tennessean ought to embrace the state's nickname, and the beauty of this must-do is that it can be done almost anywhere. Find a soup kitchen, an animal shelter or any other local nonprofit and devote a few hours helping others. You'll be glad you did. Volunteer information: www.hon.org or (615) 298-1108 ------ I have volunteered! I am well on my way to being a Tennessean... Humm... I am not sure how I feel about that, being a Tennessean that is...not volunteering.
10. Sport a spectacular hat at Iroquois Steeplechase,
12. Bow to Athena at the Parthenon,
I took this picture when Dad was in town!
13. Party in a pew at the Ryman,
14. Watch or run the Country Music Marathon,
15. Down a big beer on
16. Walk the grounds at the Hermitage,
17. Sign your name on the wall at Tootsie's,
18. Camp out in
19. Square dance at Mule Day,
20. Take a trip through history at Stones River Battlefield,
21. Hear the Fisk Jubilee Singers,
22. Meander around the mountain at the University of the South, Sewanee: Perched atop the
23. Buy a shot glass at Jack Daniel distillery, Lynchburg: The birthplace of Tennessee whisky is not too far away and a tour of the creation facilities is free. Don't expect to get a swig of the stuff when you're through, however -- Moore County has been dry since the days of Prohibition. www.jackdaniels.com ------
24. Battle the whitewater on the Ocoee or Little Pigeon, East Tennessee: Boasting a host of Class III and Class IV rapids, these lively waterways offer high-energy adventure. If you go with a guide -- and there are plenty just a Google search away -- there's no experience necessary. -----
25. Get a plate at the World's Biggest Fish Fry, Paris: More than 5 tons of catfish are cooked at this weeklong festival, which dates back to the 1960s. www.worldsbiggestfishfry.com ------
26. Tread the sidewalks on Music Row, Nashville: It's nothing flashy -- no more than a quiet collection of old houses and office buildings, really -- but this set of streets is where stars are made, and that alone makes it worth a visit. Numerous record labels and publishing houses hold residence here, along with famous recording sites like RCA Record's Studio B. ------ Check!
27. Satisfy your greasy desires with a Rotier's burger, Nashville: A massive mound of meat served between two pieces of toasted French bread? This burger is hard to beat. Swig a milkshake on the side in this vintage-style eatery. www.rotiers.com ------ I've been to Rotier's! I can mark this one off the list!
28. Sample the Music City microbrews, Nashville: Looking for a tasty beverage with local flavor? Yazoo, Blackstone and Bosco's all produce excellent ales that have been recognized nationally. ------ I have had beers from all three... I would have to say I am a Yazoo fan!
29. Dare the depths of the Bell Witch Cave, Adams: The historic haunting grounds of "Kate," the Bell Witch, these chilly caverns are said to be the doorway through which the spirit enters and departs our world. Lore also states it's the site of supernatural happenings, including mysterious electrical outages and movement paralysis. www.bellwitchcave.com or (615) 696-3055 ------
30. Jam at the Station Inn on Sunday night, Nashville: Known for a keen bluegrass sound, on these evenings well-known artists may mingle with local amateurs, blending their talents to create an unpredictable but highly entertaining performance. www.stationinn.com or (615) 255-3307. ------
31. See eagles soar at Reelfoot Lake bird sanctuary, Dyersburg: Home to one of the country's largest wintering populations of eagles, Reelfoot Lake is a draw for anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of the creature, along with the many other birds swirling around the sanctuary. If you go, bring your binoculars. ------
32. Indulge in a mineral bath, Red Boiling Springs: The Armour Hotel houses the state's only working mineral bathhouse. The smell is not savory, but the healing effects are said to be heavenly. www.armourshotel.com ------
33. Get into the goo at the RC and Moon Pie festival, Bell Buckle: A seed-spitting contest, synchronized wading, cloggers -- it's hard to imagine a more interesting festival itinerary. This June marks the event's 15th anniversary. www.bellbucklechamber.com/rcmoon.html ------
34. Hear the symphony in the Schermerhorn, Nashville: Music City may be a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll, but it's also a little bit choral, classical and even cabaret. Since late 2006, the Schermerhorn has been the perfect setting to sample another chord in Nashville's rich musical melody. www.nashvillesymphony.org or (615) 687-6500 ------ AMAZING! I love this place!
This may be an illegal picture!
35. Pluck some Prince's Hot Chicken, Nashville: Don't let the dDecor fool you; the chicken that comes out of this kitchen is delicious. Not for the weak-willed or tender-tongued, the fried fowl is fiery but also fantastic. Definitely a bit of Southern flavor worth sampling. ------
36. Peek in the men's room at the Hermitage Hotel, Nashville: How could you miss making a jaunt to the john when it could be in America's best restroom? Voted 2008's No. 1 in a contest held by the Cintas Corp., the onyx and lime green dDecor of this five-star hotel pit stop sets it apart from all others. ------
37. Snag a piece of history at Hatch Show Print, Nashville: This letterpress print shop delivers eye-catching creations that have visually logged local advertising and entertainment history since the late 1800s. The company, which sits just next to the Ryman, still churns out its unique art today. www.countrymusichalloffame.com/site/experience-hatch-today.aspx or (615) 256-2805 ------ Check!
38. Watch others bid big at a livestock auction, statewide: You haven't lived until you've seen a steer sold at auction. It's part of everyday farm life for many Tennesseans. ------
39. Rendezvous for ribs at Rendezvous, Memphis: Flame-broiled and rubbed with spices, the ribs here are what draws tourists to this joint. Secretly stashed down an alleyway, this treasure is somewhat hidden, but the search is worth it. ------
40. Sing karaoke in Music City, Nashville: Of course most locals would immediately think Lonnie's when looking for a place to put their vocal talents -- or lack thereof -- on display, but there are plenty of places to step on stage and sing. Who knows, you might just be discovered.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Makes about 5 dozen cookies (or more, if you cut them as small as I did)
Time: These take at least 11 hours from beginning to end, most of it inactive, but make sure you have a good 2 to 3 hour window to bake in
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 (8-oz) can almond paste
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
25 drops red food coloring
25 drops green food coloring
1 (12-oz) jar apricot preserves, heated and strained
7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
Special equipment: a small offset spatula, a heavy-duty stand mixer if you have one; a hand-mixer should work as well
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan and line bottom with wax paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 ends, then butter paper.
Beat whites in mixer fitted with whisk attachment at medium-high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed until whites hold stiff, slightly glossy peaks. Transfer to another bowl.
Switch to paddle attachment, then beat together almond paste and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until well blended, about 3 minutes. Add butter and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks and almond extract and beat until combined well, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, then add flour and salt and mix until just combined.
Fold half of egg white mixture into almond mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
Divide batter among 3 bowls. Stir red food coloring into one and green food coloring into another, leaving the third batch plain. Set white batter aside. Chill green batter, covered. Pour red batter into prepared pan and spread evenly with offset spatula (layer will be about 1/4 inch thick).
Bake red layer 8 to 10 minutes, until just set. (It is important to undercook. They’ll look like they’re not done, but a tester does come out clean.)
Using paper overhang, transfer layer to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Clean pan, then line with parchment or wax paper and butter paper in same manner as above. Bake white layer in prepared pan until just set. As white layer bakes, bring green batter to room temperature. Transfer white layer to a rack. Prepare pan as above, then bake green layer in same manner as before. Transfer to a rack to cool.
When all layers are cool, invert green onto a parchment or wax-paper-lined large baking sheet. Discard paper from layer and spread with half of preserves. Invert white on top of green layer, discarding paper. Spread with remaining preserves. Invert red layer on top of white layer and discard wax or parchment paper.
Cover with plastic wrap and weight with a large baking pan. Chill at least 8 hours.
Remove weight and plastic wrap. Bring layers to room temperature. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Keep chocolate over water. (Alternately, you can do what I did: melt the chocolate 3.5 ounces at a time just to make sure it doesn’t seize up between steps, though that shouldn’t be a problem if you only let it set for 15.)
Trim edges of assembled layers with a long serrated knife. Quickly spread half of chocolate in a thin layer on top of cake. Chill, uncovered, until chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes. Cover with another sheet of wax paper and place another baking sheet on top, then invert cake onto sheet and remove paper. Quickly spread with remaining chocolate. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Cut lengthwise into 4 strips (I cut them into more, because I wanted them 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide, as I remember them). Cut strips crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide cookies.
Do ahead: Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 2 weeks. They’ll keep even longer in the freezer.
Three important notes:
I struggled with three things in this recipe (the first two were mistakes, and both came back to bite me in the tuchus) so you won’t have to:
1. Don’t stack cooled cakes: Once my first two cake layers were cool (and still on their parchment liners) and I needed to make room on the cooling rack for the third one, I went ahead and stacked them, their liners between them. DON’T DO THIS. Not because they crush each other (they won’t) or because they’ll stick (they don’t) but because that paper liner is greased on both sides from baking and the chocolate shell never quite stuck right to the pink cake because of the grease accidentally left on it. I can’t tell you how many cookies were rejected because their chocolate fell off. It is too sad to discuss.
2. Be careful dividing your jam: I mindlessly divided the jam wrong/unevenly and ended up with too much between one layer and too little between another. Too little was no biggie, but where there was too much it oozed out and was particularly difficult to keep stacked when sawing through with a serrated knife. So, if you’re using a scale to make two six-ounce divisions of jam, remember that you’ve probably strained out a good ounce or so of jam solids, or in other words DUH. Your divided amounts will be less than six ounces each.
3. They’re easier to cut when frozen: Nevertheless, they tasted amazingly and I was all ready to do a victory lap around my wee kitchen counter, however, when I got to cutting them up and then it all went south. People, these were trying to cut. The problem lies within the differing textures of the layers — the top hard chocolate shell more benefits from a sharp serrated knife (a regular, even very sharp knife will crack the edges when you press down on it), the same serrated knife that gets gummed with jam and tries to pull the soft cake layers in between apart. It was exasperating. It didn’t go well. I packed up some for a party and stuffed the rest in the freezer, only to discover the next day that these cut fantastically when frozen. Seriously. Trust me. I have the gummy floor and gray hairs to prove it.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Emily and Max
Monday, February 2, 2009
Savory Sun Dried Tomato and Artichoke Cheesecake
Recipe by: Emily
3 packages Cream Cheese, at room temperature
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Sun Dried Tomato's in Oil, chopped
1 medium Onion, sliced thin
1 14 oz Can Artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped, reserve 2 Tablespoons of the liquid
4 oz Feta Cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded
1 tsp dried Basil
1 tsp Sugar
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 1/2 Tbsp melted butter
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1. Caramelize the sliced onion with 1 tsp of sugar over medium low heat for about 30 minutes in a pan. Set aside onions.
2.Mix the bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons melted butter together and press into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan.
3. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth with a hand mixer. Add the feta cheese and beat until well mixed.
4. Add the eggs, basil, salt, pepper, garlic, and the reserved 2 tablespoons of artichoke liquid and mix until just incorporated.
5. Fold in the sun dried tomatoes, caramelized onion, Parmesan cheese and artichoke hearts. Pour filling into the prepared 9 inch spring form pan and bake in a 325 degree preheated oven for 35 minutes. Allow cheesecake to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes on a wire rack and then chill for at least 4 hours before serving. To serve slice cheesecake into wedges and spread on crackers or toasted or crusty bread. Enjoy
So, the past couple of years I have made Allison a birthday cake. Last year I made cute Mini Cherry Chocolate Cakes with a cool whip topping and wrapped in a chocolate shell, take a look at last year's cakes.
This cake is INTENSE. Serve it in the thinnest slices possible, and keep a glass of milk handy.
Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake; serves 12 to 16 (the book says, I say a heck of a lot more)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle (I skipped this)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.
3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. (Deb note: These cakes are very, very soft. I found them a lot easier to work with after firming them up in the freezer for 30 minutes. They’ll defrost quickly once assembled. You’ll be glad you did this, trust me.)
4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. (Deb note 1: Making a crumb coat of frosting–a thin layer that binds the dark crumbs to the cake so they don’t show up in the final outer frosting layer–is a great idea for this cake, or any with a dark cake and lighter-colored frosting. Once you “mask” your cake, let it chill for 15 to 30 minutes until firm, then use the remainder of the frosting to create a smooth final coating. Deb note 2: Once the cake is fully frosting, it helps to chill it again and let it firm up. The cooler and more set the peanut butter frosting is, the better drip effect you’ll get from the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze.)
5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle.
Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups
10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)
1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
8 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half
1. In the top of d double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.