I am obsessed with two things currently: cast iron cookware and roasted vegetables. Instead of seeing them as a “tolerable” food I “should” be eating, I have discovered the joys of roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots. Ain’t it grand when good food is healthy for you too? That is a rhetorical questions, folks. I’m also trying to get my 10″ Lodge frying pan good...
Raisin Bread Pudding with Vanilla Caramel Sauce Mmmm, if you want a really decadent dessert/comfort food, what is better than bread pudding? Okay, there might be some things better, but it’s definitely near the top of the list. This is delicious even before the sauce, and downright heavenly with it. If you live alone, be sure to invite someone over so you don’t just sit and eat it all at once....
I’ve never been to Prague, Czechoslovakia, but it was love at first sight. It was back in the 80s, at the height of my obsession with INXS, and particularly, singer Michael Hutchence. If you’re at all familiar with their music and their videos, you probably know I’m referring to the video for the song “Never Tear Us Part.” Michael sang this romantic love song around...
Now, being a recent transplant to the south, proper (Arizona is technically a southern state, but not really a “southern” state, if you know what I mean) I’ve been embracing my new-found cultural heritage. And from a culinary point of view, you simply cannot be properly southern without eating — and making — fried green tomatoes. If a menu offers it, I gotta have it,...
The Garchen Institute in Chino Valley, Arizona is one of my favorite places to get away from everything, including TV, internet and even conversation at times, as some of the people there have taken vows of silence. High above the Prescott Valley, all you hear is the sound of the Buddhist prayer flags in the strong winds that blow on the mountain where the retreat is...
There are many benefits to traveling off-season besides the obvious: missing the huge crowds and the elevated prices. When you visit a town in its off-season travel, you get a rare chance to really get to know the locals, and hang out like they do. Normally, when you’re looking for restaurant, a crowded parking lot is a good sign that there is good food, if you’re willing to wait. But on this...
I have driven past this crazy roadside stop about a million times without stopping and decided it was high time to check it out. When you pull in the driveway it rings a bell and the proprietor followed me in to open up the shop and bathroom. She warned me about the mannequin in the bathroom, which is probably a good thing because yes, it probably would have spooked me. Actually it did anyway — I...
This post brought to you by Puerto Rico, The All-Star Island. All opinions are 100% mine. Photo by Breezy Baldwin, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons Winter is upon us, and baby, it’s cold outside. Do you find yourself dreaming of soaking in the sun on tropical beaches, dining on spicy exotic food and cocktails, exploring rain forests, or galloping on horseback with the wind flowing through your...
I'm a single woman traveling -- and living -- solo. It occurred to me there are a million "mommy blogs," but very few blogs for single women who aren't sitting at home waiting for Prince Charming or watching their biological clock. Consider this the "non-mommy" blog.
I am obsessed with two things currently: cast iron cookware and roasted vegetables. Instead of seeing them as a “tolerable” food I “should” be eating, I have discovered the joys of roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots.
Ain’t it grand when good food is healthy for you too? That is a rhetorical questions, folks.
I’m also trying to get my 10″ Lodge frying pan good and seasoned, which means oven cooked bacon everyday now that I’ve seasoned it a couple of times the conventional way. It occurred to me when looking at all that leftover bacon grease from a handful of slices I needed to be using it for cooking other things, and had already been planning on trying roasted Brussels sprouts.
There are a million recipes floating around online for roasted Brussels sprouts, and this particular batch was sprouts, crushed garlic, and pepper. As I cooked them in leftover bacon drippings with a little olive oil to stretch it and completely coat the sprouts, I felt it was salty enough. You may want to add a little salt yourself.
Or if you really want to be lazy efficient, pick up a pack of pre-seasoned and pre-cut sprouts at Trader Joes.
For thriftier folks, wash your Brussels sprouts, trim off any damaged outer leaves, cut the base off and slice the bigger pieces in half. I mixed the ingredients in my iron skillet since some of the oil I wanted to coat my veggies with was already in the pan after cooking bacon (400 degrees for 20 minutes FYI).
Add three cloves of crushed garlic if you are a garlic lover like me, a little extra olive oil to make sure all Brussels sprouts are coated in oil, and season with pepper and/or salt to taste. Mix those little suckers around to make sure they are good and coated with oil.
Roast your Brussels sprouts at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, stirring them 2-3 times to make sure to maximize the carmelization to all sides.
These smell downright heavenly, and have become a new staple of my diet. Sure, there is a little bacon fat in there, but it’s better than fixing up boiled veggies with no vitamins or flavor left, then drowning them in butter to compensate, right? Yes, that’s another rhetorical question.
There’s a huge gap between posts in here, and there are a lot of reasons for that. Primarily, this is set up as a travel blog, so I suppose my thinking has been if I can’t travel, there’s not much to blog about, right?
There’s been no opportunity to travel because of the extreme poverty I’ve gone through transitioning from a nursing career to freelance writing and work at home. I’m approaching almost two years of being (almost) nursing free and to say the road has been rocky is quite an understatement. I’ve gone through a couple of moves and find myself in Lexington, Kentucky, which has been an incredible surprise, in a good way.
I did briefly do some private duty nursing which is what brought me here, but as soon as I moved into my apartment, my private duty case ended. So I found myself in yet another new city struggling to make ends meet, even in my cheap apartment. There’s been no money for any kind of travel or hardly even eating out, which makes it kinda hard to work on a travel and foodie blog.
But in looking at the greater scheme of things, I’m coming to realize that travel is not simply moving from one place to another geographically. I’ve been on another kind of journey which is far more important than a weekend trip to the mountains or the ocean.
I’ve been on a quest to rediscover my true path of life and what it is that will make me happy. To get healthy again. To see if an old cynic like me can rediscover some sort of spiritual base, even if I’m no fan of organized religion.
In other words, midlife crisis is in full swing.
So even though my life is sorting itself out and I’m about to start making some trips again to write about travel proper, you can expect to see periodic blogs about the big picture. You know what I mean.
Plus those journeys are the kind that don’t require a lot of fancy photography, because on top of the insane bad luck I’ve experienced for almost a year, my camera is currently semi-out of commission with a 50 mm lens stuck on it that won’t come off. Not a lot of options in the photography department with a fixed 50 mm lens stuck on.
I’ll start writing up some dream destinations and reviewing restaurants, so this blog can finally get going again while I pursue… whatever it is I figure out I want in life. They say that all who wander are not lost, but I have to confess I’ve been more lost than wandering for the last year.
You probably know what I’m talking about.
So here we go again trying to relaunch what is really my favorite blog that sort of encompasses all the things I love. This is by far the most personal blog I write. I realize nobody’s reading this as nobody’s reading the blog right now, but if there’s anything I’ve learned after a year of writing professionally, sometimes you just have to sit down and write that shit out. In fact, that’s the only way to do it, and write your way through it.
Mmmm, if you want a really decadent dessert/comfort food, what is better than bread pudding? Okay, there might be some things better, but it’s definitely near the top of the list. This is delicious even before the sauce, and downright heavenly with it. If you live alone, be sure to invite someone over so you don’t just sit and eat it all at once. It’s that good.
You could use plain bread, but I say the more raisins the better. I love the vanillas from King Arthur, and I used a Mexican vanilla they sell for this recipe.
First, you combine the bread and raisins in a large bowl, then melt the butter in the milk before adding to the dry mixture.
Then you let it all soak up that milky, buttery goodness for 10 minutes. Add remaining pudding ingredients and pour into a greased 1.5 quart casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes until center is set.
It already looks pretty darned good, doesn’t it? Wait till you smell it. When I made this, my landlords also owned the house next door and had a man doing contracting work. He always commented about the heavenly smells coming from the kitchen, poor guy!
But now, it’s time for the icing on the cake, so to speak, or the sauce on the bread pudding.
Combine all sauce ingredients but the vanilla in a saucepan (1 quart) and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Add vanilla.
Then pour all that that warm, gooey love over bread pudding. To. Die. For.
Raisin Bread Pudding with Vanilla Caramel Sauce
This is not only dessert but comfort food in one warm, sweet treat.
I’ve never been to Prague, Czechoslovakia, but it was love at first sight. It was back in the 80s, at the height of my obsession with INXS, and particularly, singer Michael Hutchence. If you’re at all familiar with their music and their videos, you probably know I’m referring to the video for the song “Never Tear Us Part.”
Michael sang this romantic love song around various locations of Prague, including Charles Bridge. It was a perfect fit for the song and the man, and implanted a deep desire in me to see the city before I die, a desire that has not lessened one bit in almost 25 years.
Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and if you love that old school architecture and high Gothic embellishments, boy is this the city to visit! It was spared much of the damage that other nations received during World War II, and as such, now has one of the most varied and extensive collections of architecture you will find anywhere in the world: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Gothic, Art Nouveau, Cubist, Neo-Classical and ultra-modern.
I’ve often looked into taking a course to teach English as a second language, and when considering the classes in an international setting, product is my first choice destination. I obsess over it. Apparently I’m not alone, as Prague is now ranks sixth among the most popular cities in Europe for visitors behind London, Paris, Rome, Madrid and Berlin.
Lest you think this city is nothing more than a pretty picture, remember that before was the Czech Republic, it was Bohemia, and the birthplace of the term “Bohemian.” Aside From the obvious tourist attractions, some more unconventional sites to check out include Bunkr Parukarka , a 1950s cold war bunker turned techno night club. Housed underground in what was a 1950s nuclear bunker, this quirky nightclub welcomes revelers through a graffiti-covered door that juts out from a hillside.
And if you really want a rough things up after hours, go to the suburb of Zizkov, with more than 300 bars in the neighborhoods to square miles. No need to dress up for these dive bars, where you can expect your beer in plastic cups. That should give you little feel for the neighborhood.
For a more open space outdoors, ride the railway to the top of Petrin Hill, Which has an eclectic assortment of attractions in itself: a miniature version of the Eiffel Tower, a mirror maze, and the Church of St. Michael–a 17th century wooden building relocated from a village in the Ukraine.
And of course, there’s food. You knew that was coming, right?
In get your food, beer and accommodations all in one at the 550-year-old Hotel Midvikdu. As this is the home of the infamous X-Beer 33 with it’s alcohol content of 11.8% (the strongest in the Czech Republic), the accommodations will come in handy. They ferment this dark lager for six months in an oak barrel. Fortunately, they also have a menu that guarantees you won’t want to drink on an empty stomach: half of duck with potato, white bread, bacon dumplings, red and white cabbage; larded roast beef with rosehips sauce and croquettes; boar steak with baked apple cranberries and potato chips; and their signature Brewers pork steak with homemade beer sauce, bacon and fried onion, with a side order of french fries.
That almost sounds American.
Photos courtesy of La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise
Or if you want to go high-end La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise, but allow plenty of time for this six course tasting menu, which can take up to three hours to complete. It seems they no longer have the “gelatinous tomato meringue that melts to release honey and balsamic vinegar,” but I’m sure they have found plenty of suitable replacements surprise and delight your palate.
I found some fantastic images on Flickr by Moyan Brenn under CC ATTRIBUTION AND NO DERIVATIONS licensing, so I included a gallery below–check out the wonderful photos on his site. And, of course, the video that inspired me so much to add Prague to my bucket list.
If this sounds–and looks– good, you may want to consider a couple of great tour options to drink in Prague. Monograms offers independent tours of Vienna and Prague, over six nights. Your in country transportation, hotels, breakfasts and must see site admissions are included, as well as having your own city guide available to consult. And without the big herds of a traditional tour. If 2 1/2 days in Prague isn’t enough for you, you can add on a four-day Prague city package. Or just do the four-day package on its own. Vienna to Prague starts at $1497 pp, and the four-day Prague tour starts at just $663 pp.
What’s better than those Mississippi restaurants that serve up comfort food made from fresh produce and home-style cooking? One that also sells the produce, quirky gifts and a little liquid sunshine with a smile.
Now, I appreciate those fancy Mississippi restaurants as much as the next gal, and the kind of gourmet food where you aren’t really sure what it is, but you know it’s supposed to impress you. But I also enjoy a slice of down-home cooking served up with friendly service, and The Tomato Place in Vicksburg, Mississippi, has garnered quite a reputation for both in these parts.
I ventured in the first time on a lark, after I had done some shopping at the local Big Blue Generic Warehouse of Goods down the street to check out the place. First of all, watch for it closely as it’s literally just an extra-wide shoulder of the highway and you can easily drive on by. Second, you may not have much parking space, as this cafe stays pretty busy all day.
But if you find it and park your booty there, you’re greeted with brightly-colored buildings and very casual outdoor seating area. There might be some homemade pork rinds cooking outside, smoking up a bit. One building is cooks only, but the other is a produce stand and a wall of freezers full of delicious and nutritious smoothies to go.
Or stay, if you choose.
Inside you’ll find sauces (try the Mississippi Fever made with real tomatoes and fresh hot peppers) and containers of rice or beans for sale, but also hats, gifts and local-themed odds and ends, like the wonderful book I discovered there, “Eat, Drink, Delta,” full of lovely photos and stories from Delta restaurants and kitchens.
And of course, the cafe.
You know they gotta have fried green tomatoes, but also some other expected classics like fresh squeezed lemonade, po’ boys, fried catfish and burgers, but prepare yourself for plenty of surprises, like the meatball plate: Three large meatballs on a bed of stone ground cheese grits, with tomatoes, and your choice of squash or green beans. Or maybe get a southern-style BLT, as in BL and FGT (Fried Green Tomatoes) in case your arteries aren’t quite clogged enough.
But all that matters is dying with a smile on your face, right?
A decidedly non-southern popular meal is the Jamaican Burger plate, with fried yams and jerk sauce. And check out this list of available side items: fried okra, mac and cheese, cheese grits, fried yams and baked beans, just to name a few.
I had the Tomato Place Pie plate, and it sounds sort of lasagna-like or even a little pizza-like, but much milder on the spice, and shouldn’t kick up the ol’ reflux. As I had the misfortune of coming on a Sunday evening after the huge rush of the day, I had to go with okra instead of green beans. And the salad was a marinated cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, and… why, I believe they threw some watermelon in there.
I have to tell you, I’m not a big raw tomato or cucumber person, but that was a very good salad, and refreshing sitting outside in the heat. Personally, I think I’d kick up the spice just a bit on that tomato pie, but it was tasty, adn with all the food I had, I took a healthy portion home.
Perhaps I’ve watched one too many episodes of “Chopped,” but I “transformed” those leftovers into a nice breakfast hash the next morning, and that was mighty tasty. Alex Guarnaschelli would have been so proud. Or Geoffrey Zakarian, who I have personally dubbed, “The Silver Fox.”
I’m a lonely woman, okay. I use cable to window-shop hot guys.
Anyway, the fried green tomatoes here are very lightly breaded with mostly a cornmeal breading, and btw, if you want to make your own, this is one place you can find green tomatoes for sale. If they haven’t used them all themselves. But this appetizer here is light with a zesty remoulade sauce making it a nice start to any meal.
They have nice little indoor dining area, but plenty of outdoor seating if you can take the heat. Check out lots of photos below, and make a little trip south of Vicksburg on Highway 61 for some casual, comfort cuisine.
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