Treats Say Thank You Better Than Cards

January 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

I made this lemon bar for a friend I call Lemons. Well, not just this bar. There were more, a whole pan full. This one just looked so pretty by itself that I wanted to show it off.

Lemons gifted me Melissa Murphy’s cookbook for Christmas, and I wanted to thank her.

I have had lemon bars before that were quite tasty, but these, true to Murphy’s passion in her book for making “everyone’s favorite desserts better than they’ve had them before”, brought more to the plate, so to speak. Almond extract in the filling and crushed up almonds in the shortbread crust did the trick here. Next time, I need to pulse my almonds finer in the food processor, I think, but besides that, this recipe turned out outstanding. Or, so says my mom, who loves lemon bars, too.



Snow Day(s) 2011

January 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve felt pretty full all week. Don’t worry; I don’t mean in a bloated, food-baby kind of way, more in the way of being filled with love and fun and life.

Last weekend, I visited my brother in north Alabama, hoping to see the 5 to 8 inches of snow being vigorously forecast for the area. For us in the South, forecasts like that can be accurate or like tales of the one that got away. Sometimes they undersell it, but exaggeration is usually the name of the meteorologists’ game. I mean, why miss a chance to send people scurrying to the grocery for milk, bread, and eggs? You can make a tasty French toast dish while you’re trying to stay warm. Or, you can watch it all slowly expire when your power goes out. Such perishable items have always seemed the oddest choice to me.
(Maybe they’re in league with the supermarkets! Wait…wait…let’s save the food industry conspiracy theories for another day.)

Back to the reason for my post. This time, they were actually right! The white stuff started falling on Sunday night. I kept peering out the window every half hour starting at 6 p.m. sharp (when the official winter weather advisory began) until it appeared. And, it wasn’t ice or sleet; it was snow! The fluffiest, floatiest flakes whirled and billowed as if this was an everyday occurrence in Alabama in January.

We went out in it later that night, just my brother and me, making the first tracks in the snow in his neighborhood. I showed him how to make a snow angel…after I got over my surprise that he didn’t know how.
The next day we really reveled in it. We built a “snow-body” with mulch for eyes, a sliver of wood for a nose, and drywall screws for a mouth. Oh, and rope for a scarf.  Necessity, you know.

My brother does not have kids as this picture suggests. The playset belonged to the previous owners of his house.

We trekked almost 4 miles through it, wishing we had sleds, boogie boards, or, heck, even a piece of cardboard when we saw kids and adults turning even the slightest slope into a sledding central. When we weren’t out in it, I amused myself by running to the door/window and squealing “Snow!” I might’ve even sung the “Snow” song from White Christmas a few times. (People who live or have lived up north and who are tired of the mountains of snow they have or have had to shovel out from under, feel free to gag and roll your eyes.) I just really like the stuff.


The snow was great too because I got to spend so much time with my brother, which doesn’t happen much now that we’re grown up. Over Christmas, we had unearthed our old Nintendo gaming system and discovered that it still worked, to our amazement and glee. Being “snowed in” gave us ample time to polish up on our skills in “Heavy Barrel”, “Super C,” and my favorite, “Dr. Mario.” (The games with the guns frustrate the mess out of me because I’m always the one dying. I can’t seem to aim, run, jump, and shoot simultaneously.)


When we could tear ourselves away from our childhood, we cooked and baked, the two of us splitting 24 cupcakes in four days. (I hope he ate more than me.) We He grilled burgers out in the snow (seriously), and we concocted two kinds of pizza.
By Wednesday, when we deemed it safe for me to travel, I was full up on food and frivolity and acting like a kid with my big brother. Which, let’s face it, we still are.

menu poetry: Over Easy

January 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Doesn’t reading about food make everybody’s mouth water? For me, it often doesn’t matter if I even like the food described, but the way in which it is described or how the words evoke an intense desire to eat whatever it is. Describing food well and specifically isn’t as easy as you’d think, but when it’s good, it’s gooooood. Especially if the food itself lives up to the exotic culinary lingo and mouth-watering adjectives.

Such was the case with a recent breakfast item I purchased at a pretty new restaurant called Over Easy in Birmingham.

“Italian Eggs Benedict: Poached egg, crispy proscuitto and housemade pesto on a polenta cake”

Oh, Over Easy, you had me at “crispy proscuitto.” 

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