Restaurant Experiences · Uncategorized

Preserving a Foundation for Living

(A reprint from the original The Gourmandista blog — July 3, 2006)

A couple of weeks ago, hubby and I spent a long weekend in Sarasota, Florida, to celebrate our anniversary and to re-live my childhood vacations to the Gulf coast. During my childhood vacations and re-lived as an adult, we discovered the small Amish community of Pinecraft Village. We ate at two Amish-style restaurants, Sugar & Spice and Yoder’s, and bought some home-style goodies at Troyer’s Dutch Heritage (very commercialized, but very tasty bakery items). In the weeks since, I’ve thought not only about the Amish style of cooking but also their sense of community.

The Amish are, of course, known for their practice of living in today with methods of the past and without our modern conveniences (such as electricity and automobiles). They also are known for coming together as a community to help each other, such as the practice of building a barn in a day. And while the men are building the barn and setting the foundation for the farm and cultivation of life, the women maintain the sustenance and cook a simple yet delicious lunch for all to enjoy together.

Inspired by the Amish community spirit and homemade goodness, this past weekend I made and processed in a water bath a few jars of spicy-citrus blueberry marmalade, blueberry jam, apple pie filling, and no-sugar-added strawberry preserves. And, since jam and preserves should not be eaten alone, I also made some blueberry and strawberry muffins. As hubby and I stared at the kitchen table filled with baked and canned goods, we knew that the only thing we had left to do was share. So we made up gift baskets and paid a few visits to new neighbors and old friends.

After this experience, I am in complete agreement with Nigella Lawson who said the following regarding home canning in How to be a Domestic Goddess:

There are few things that make us feel so positively domestic as putting food in store. “Putting up,” it always used to be called, the canning and preserving of the fruits and vegetables presently in glut but soon to disappear. Life’s not quite like that now, but I do preserve fruits and pickle vegetables for the simple reason that I love doing it. I feel I’m putting down roots, laying down a part of the foundation for living.

Next weekend. . . I’ll put down some more roots, make some Amish apple butter and homemade bread, and see if I can find someone in need of an Amish pick-me-up to lay the foundation of a new formed friendship.

Movie Inspiration · Uncategorized

Don’t Worry, I Saw the Movie

(A reprint from the original The Gourmandista — June 14, 2006)

I was at work thinking about what we would have for dinner when I remembered that we had some green tomatoes from the local farmer’s market in the fridge. I came home and told hubby I was going to make fried green tomatoes.

Do you have a recipe?

No, I don’t need one.

Well, then you’re not really making fried green tomatoes. Maybe I should make them; after all, I’m Southern.

After I finished chuckling: I can’t believe you still doubt my cooking after four years of eating it. Don’t worry, I saw the movie.


I saw the movie–Fried Green Tomatoes. I remember how she made them.

I sliced the large green tomatoes and lightly floured the slices. Then, I mixed some yellow cornmeal, half and half (we were out of milk), egg, salt, and pepper. I dipped the tomato slices into the cornmeal mixture and fried them in a hot skillet with oil.

Drawn by the scent of fried food, doubting hubby came to the kitchen to supervise.

Well, they smell good.

Of course. Honey, will you please get the cheddar and grate some.

What are you going to do with that?

I’m going to put it on top of the green tomatoes with some black beans.

I’ll have mine plain, like a true Southerner. Who ever heard of putting beans and cheese on fired green tomatoes, anyway?

It’s delicious. You’re missing out.

As we sit down to dinner with our tomatoes, mine of course garnished to the hilt, I turn to look at the “true Southerner,” who without my knowledge has placed shredded cheese mounds on top of his tomatoes. He takes one bite and his look of ultimate satisfaction lets me know that we really can just watch the movie to make a great meal. Of course, adding a bit of our own personality always helps. Seriously, try it with the black beans. Delicious!