Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day weekend, and there is no better time to reminisce about my mom and why I always smile when I think of her.  I grew up during a time when she thought you had to cook the meat until it was shoe leather and you ate all of your vegetables out of a can.  Sorry Mom, but it’s amazing that I grew up loving food the way I do.

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My two younger brothers and I grew up without much money, but until I was older I never realized that we didn’t have anything because my mom always made us feel that we had everything.  We were recently talking about how I loved our Sunday night “picnics”.  Mom would put papers on the floor and we would have sandwiches or burgers in front of the TV while watching Walt Disney.  That would be the one night we could have a coke, so we thought of it as a big treat.  She told me they just did that because sandwiches were cheaper and she didn’t want us to think we didn’t have money for dinner.

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If someone asked me what foods were my favorite growing up that Mom made, I can name them on one hand. If you asked me if I would still eat them, the answer would be a resounding yes!  Fried chicken (that was actually baked in the oven), macaroni and cheese, onion dip and her pies.  I still love pie and I still love her onion dip.  My children love it so much we have to make a double batch because they will eat the entire bowl.

Birthdays were always amazing.  She made me feel as though I was the only one to ever have a birthday.  I would pull back my chair to sit down and it would be filled with wrapped packages.  The day was always full of surprises, love and the special cake she would make.   My favorite was the doll cake.  You know the one, the doll is in the middle and she has a cake “skirt”.  Mine would always have a frosting hat too, so I guess I was really special!

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No matter what was going on, she was always there for me.  From wearing the tissue corsage I made her in Kindergarten, going to all my plays and color guard events, kissing me goodby when I left for school and holding my hand and heart when I went through my divorce,  she was always the one I could count on.

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She is turning 80 in July.  It wasn’t an easy life, but it’s been a good one.  She was a devoted wife who adored my dad for fifty-five years, as he adored her.  She is a great mom, a friend and a caring Nana to my children.  There is no way I can ever repay her for everything, but I try everyday.  I try to be the person she wanted me to grow up and be.  I want to be as giving, as kind and as loving as she is.

I want to make her onion dip.

I love you Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day.

“Dishing Up Virginia”

A very dear friend of mine, Patrick Evans-Hylton recently celebrated the release of his new cookbook “DISHING UP VIRGINIA” at the Mariners’ Museum.  As a “foodie” there was nothing that would have stopped me from going.  The event was much more than I expected. It was elegant and casual at the same time, filled with his friends, fans and area chefs touting his recipes through their interpretations of yummy offerings for us to try.

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Once I had a chance to sit down and actually look through the book, I was amazed at the abundance of information and beautiful photography gracing the pages.  Not only are there recipes that are indicative of Virginia, but it is rich in history and stories and if I didn’t live here I would have enjoyed the book just as a tourist would when visiting a place of interest.

Every page I turned made me want to try the recipe or visit a place in Virginia I had not yet gone to.  The history behind each recipe was informative and entertaining at the same time.  This is a cookbook that I would actually sit down and read from cover to cover, just for the pure pleasure of reading.  The foodie side of me will want to make almost every recipe in the book, but if you aren’t into cooking don’t let that stop you from buying the book.

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If you are a Virginian, a transplant, someone who loves to cook or does not please go out and treat yourself to “DISHING UP VIRGINIA”.  You will fall in love with Virginia and it’s history all over again, just like I did.  And you’ll love trying the recipes too!  YUM.

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Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins

A lot of my friends have asked me to do something that is gluten-free.  I postponed it for the longest time because I wasn’t even sure how to begin with the process.  I had heard the baking time was different and you had to calculate the measurements…which would have been impossible with my math skills.  But in all honesty, I had not researched what actually had to be done.

I was reading through my Thomas Keller cookbook and in it he stated for gluten-free you should use Cup for Cup flour.  I put that in the back of my brain thinking I would look into it later, but I had honestly just forgotten about it.  A couple of weeks later,  I was speaking to a friend of mine at work who must eat gluten-free and she mentioned it, and the fact that it was a little pricey and that I could find it at Williams Sonoma.  One of my favorite stores ever, so of course I had to go and check it out.

I won’t say it wasn’t pricey, because it was, but the ease of the measurements was just like it said.  Cup for Cup. I used Ina Garten’s Blueberry Muffin recipe because since I was changing the gluten part  I wanted a recipe I could trust. The streusel was my little addition, just because I like a little crunch.  I did have to cook slightly longer, but that might have been just gluten-free awkwardness on my part, because the extra time was minimal.

I did think the texture was a bit different, but the taste was still there and that is what really matters.  So for all you gluten-free fans out there, try this recipe.  I think you will like it.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 24 muffins

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups CUP FOR CUP flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled 1 stick
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (I actually added 1 tablespoon because I like more of the lemon flavor)
  • 2 extra large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries (2 half pints)
  • 2 Tablespoons CUP FOR CUP flour
  • 5 Tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, diced

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

  2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and mix together. In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, butter, lemon zest and eggs. Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix with a fork just until blended. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Don’t overmix! With a standard 2 1/4 inch ice cream scoop or large spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared cups, filling them almost full.

  3. Combine 2 tablespoons flour, 5 tablespoons sugar and ground cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter in muffin cups.

  4. Bake the muffins for 25 minutes, until golden brown.

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