Friday, July 31, 2009

How to Cook Like Your Grandmother

Why are Grandmas always such good cooks? Just ask the folks who wrote How to Cook Like Your Grandmother. Unfortunately neither of my Grandmas lives close enough to teach me, but we still have time honored traditions. Summer means cookouts that must include one thing: corn. I will always associate sweet summer corn with cookouts at my Mem's (my Grandma on my Mom's side) house. There are other classics that always get served too, this year it was her baked fish with buttery breadcrumbs. Perhaps I can get her to share some of her recipes like one of my personal faves- peanut brittle.
What does your Grandma cook?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When in RI, Go With the Flo!

I think everyone was sick of hearing me talk about Flo's Clam Shack in the weeks leading up to my vacation. Like the Newport Creamery, it is steeped in family tradition and childhood memories. I was insistent that if we do nothing else on vacation we were going to Flo's. It's the experience of being by the beach and sitting down at a communal picnic table that makes it even better. Fried clams don't taste as good anywhere else in my opinion!

The fisherman's platter is a true New England experience. Heaping mounds of fried clams, scallops, shrimp, calamari, and cod over french fries and served with cole slaw. Washed down with a cold Corona it is maybe the perfect meal. If I'm on death row, this is what I'm ordering as my last meal.

Fred went with the ever popular fish and chips. Can't go wrong with that, but maybe next time I'll get him to try something new. I don't know why people are scared of whole clams. The bellies are the best part!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Awfully Good?

I love places that have stood the test of time. The Newport Creamery brings back memories, mostly of my Dad taking my brothers and I to get the beloved Awful Awful. I guess you would call it a milkshake, but not just any milkshake. Maybe my memories are skewed because I was small, but I remember it being the size of Andre the Giant's head. Anyplace that advertises "Drink 3 and get the 4th one free" has to be serious. It's 32 ounces of creamy lactose overdose inducing goodness. Just a reference, that's almost 3 pint glasses of milkshake.

Now you know I don't have a sweet tooth, so to me it's just awful. But because it's something of a legend around here I had to take Fred. I don't think he was quite prepared for both Awfuls so we got a Jr. to share. At least he didn't completely wimp out and get the reduced fat. Really, who orders a reduced fat 32 oz milkshake?

So maybe it is more dairy than one person should consume in a single sitting, but it's one of those things you just have to do.

The Ocean State

Our journey continued through CT and into RI with more rain and occasional glimpses of the ocean. I always get excited to see the familiar sight of the Newport Pell Bridge that means we're almost there. I can almost taste the clam chowder (or should I say "chowda") and feel the sand between my toes at 2nd beach. I couldn't wait to introduce Fred to all of my favorite places!

I wasn't about to let a little rain stop us from enjoying the sights. I spotted this rainbow over my grandparents' house in Newport, where we were staying. They have a spectacular old house that, like much of Newport, is full of history.

A view of the sun setting at Fort Adams, overlooking Narragansett Bay.

Warning: Don't Read While Hungry

Fred called the lobster bisque the best soup he's ever eaten. I concur.
Duck quesadilla anyone? I think anything tastes good in a quesadilla.

Ahhh lobster rolls. How I miss thee. I will be doing a side by side comparison of the lobster rolls I sampled on vacation.

Didn't know you could make salmon and shrimp in lobster sauce taste like hot dog. Strangely, it wasn't bad.

Bread pudding. Enough said.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Welcome to New England

Every year my family trip from MD to RI includes a stop in the quaint seaside town of Mystic, CT, recreated to resemble a 19th century fishing village. What do we do here every year you might ask? Do we visit the world's largest maritime museum or perhaps stroll through the wonderful shops filled with New England specialties? No. We eat at the local Friendly's. Yes, Friendly's.

As tempting and delicious as the Patty Melt is, I've always wondered if there is more to Mystic than our late night pit stop would suggest. After reading about the history of the town and the many attractions I decided that I had to see the town in the light of day. I'm sure they missed us at Friendly's this year. Sorry.

I had planned an afternoon strolling along the seaport and a romantic dinner on the water with live music. I think Mother Nature punished me for not going to Friendly's by unleashing so much rain that we could barley see through it. While we had to eat inside, the food at The Seamen's Inne was everything that I'd hoped for. Pictures will follow as I think they should stand on their own. This was easily one of the best meals I've had in a while.

PS- The Seamen's Inne also uses local ingredients and highlights local farms on their menu!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

French Potato Salad

When my dad presented me with a giant mound of potatos and my mom presented me with some green beans visions of a french potato salad with green beans came to me with a mustard vinegarette drizzled over the still warm potatoes. I don't take credit for this idea, it's probably the result of way too much Food Network...


Small potatoes (yukon gold or fingerling...)
Green beans
Olive oil
Dijon mustard
White wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Cut potatoes into even bite size chunks and place in a pot of water. Bring to a boil and let cook until fork tender. Also start steaming your green beans. (Note that I only steam the green beans until they are cooked but still have a slight crunch. The texture will hold up better with the potatoes and dressing so be careful not to overcook them.)

While potatoes and beans cook, make the dressing. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and pepper to taste. When the potatoes and beans are done cooking and drained, combine in a large bowl with the dressing. This should be done while the potatoes are still warm because they will absorb all of the dressing. Check for seasoning. This can be eaten warm or at room temperature, and the flavors will be even better as it sits.

More Reasons I Love the Suburbs

I think I gain a couple of pounds every time I go home. From the neighborhood parties every holiday to having a well stocked kitchen (that doesn't double as my bedroom) at my disposal, going home means cooking and eating. A lot. I do plenty of that here in Philly, but let's just say I'm not eating any tofu and cabbage at home.

Yes, I did eat spam in case you were wondering, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not as much as scrapple if we're talking about questionable meat products but spam certainly satisfies my meat craving. What I love about my neighbors is that you might find them enjoying some grilled spam and a mimosa, but they also make a mean gumbo and authentic beignets for Mardi Gras. Not to mention the holiday cookie exchange. Why did all of this have to develop after I left for college?

Not that I'm complaining. If my dad's recipe for mussels and prawns is any indication I didn't exactly starve growing up. My absolute favorite meal is my dad's grilled salmon and eggplant. The ingredients are simple: just olive oil and lemon pepper but maybe Papa Slaghoople will share some of his grilling tips?

We rounded out the meal with something called fuzzy squash (procured at the local asian supermarket that has all sorts of weird stuff) and a delicious potato salad. Recipe to follow.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Breakfast of Champions

What do you get when you grill up some spam and bacon and serve with mimosas? A 4th of July celebration of course!

Blueberry pancakes al fresco.

Not sure what you call this egg and cheese pie, but I call it delicious.

Festive cupcakes, a la Mama Slaphoople.

Home Sweet Home!

My vacation this year is an east coast road trip of sorts starting in good old Germantown, MD. Welcome to the suburbs!

This is Winston. He likes me the best.

Leonard, from the mean streets of Philly, is the Christmas gift that keeps on giving.

Sadly, my dad didn't plant his usual assortment of veggies and herbs, but my neighbors have a nice spread on the side of our house.