More Winter in Southeast Texas: Birds in Gilchrist

I’ve said before in this blog that I’m just a little girl from a small town in Southeast Texas who is constantly surprised by her life.

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The subdivision sign was the first thing to be restored after Hurricane Ike; all the beach cabins are gone

Here are some pics from that very small town on the Bolivar Peninsula, which really isn’t a town any more since Hurricane Ike obliterated almost all traces of it in 2008.  I couldn’t bear to return to Gilchrist, Texas for several years after the storm, but a recent trip renewed my love for it.  Regardless of how a natural disaster can savage a locale, nature itself comes back to make use of it.  The birds were magnificent when we visited on a gray, overcast day in early January.  Folks who are in the Houston area for the Super Bowl and have time for a day trip should give the Bolivar Peninsula a look.

The Heron and the Barges

Below, a heron watches barges churn by in the Intracoastal Waterway from the little fishing area at the end of the road where I grew up.  Our little subdivision, aptly named Canal City – and the rest of Gilchrist – was sandwiched between the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal canal, with Galveston Bay just behind it.

Brown Pelicans and Seagulls

Aiming to get closer for really good pics, I startled several brown pelicans and their seagull companions.

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Sandpipers at Rollover Pass

On the back side of Rollover Pass in the shallow sands beside it, sandpipers search for supper.

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Seagulls at Rollover Pass

Seagulls contemplate the Gulf of Mexico from a cast concrete berm at Rollover Pass.

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Brown Pelicans at Rollover Pass

Brown pelicans are posing and preening on posts at the pass.

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These pelicans inspired me to post a haiku a couple of weeks ago, which is included in the resource links below.

Resources

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Lady Bird Lake at Dusk

If you can, try to imagine a European folk trio playing right underneath the bridge and you’ll have the entirety of the setting I took this in just now…

…said my son, via Instagram one night last week.  He’s loving his time at the University of Texas at Austin, studying jazz composition, life and beautiful Texas hill country skies.

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Lady Bird Lake, posted with permission from the photographer

It gives me joy that his deep sense of place gives him joy.

For a look at the music side of his joy, here’s A Little (More) Music for a Sunday Night.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Found Recipe – Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I don’t bake very often, but sometimes, you just gotta.  That was me yesterday.

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Photo from Epicurious

The backstory: my Aunt-Mom was responsible for the dessert at Christmas dinner this past year and found a terrific recipe on Epicurious for Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.  It was originally published in Gourmet magazine in 2000, and her execution of the recipe was flawless.

It got rave reviews from the Grill-Meister:

so moist! so tasty! dense like a pound cake! love the brown sugar caramel-like glaze on top!

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The neon cake of the past

In addition to all that food-gushing, I like that the recipe calls for fresh pineapple and forgoes the neon blast of unnatural color and flavor from the maraschino cherries that always came to the upside down pineapple party in the past. I was curious about when that strange addition became the norm for its poor pineapple partner and stumbled on a terrific history lesson about pineapple upside down cakes (see the link in Resources below).

I had an opportunity yesterday to support a friend with a food contribution for a family gathering after a memorial service and thought this cake would be just right.  The Grill-Meister agreed, with a caveat:  please, please, please make two and keep one at home.  (The cake at Christmas was that good, remember: “so moist! so tasty! dense like a pound cake! love the brown sugar caramel-like glaze on top!”)

Along with the Grill-Meister, I can highly recommend this recipe.  Aunt-Mom, you done good!  

My upside-down cooking experience is shown below, and the recipe from Epicurious is at the bottom of the post.

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Start with fresh pineapple
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Melt butter in a cast-iron skillet
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Add the brown sugar and it makes a glaze
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Arrange the fresh pineapple atop the butter and brown sugar mixture
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The batter is pretty thick and you have to spoon it over the pineapple
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After baking but before upside-downing
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I was in a rush and didn’t have time to garnish, but actually love the homey look of it
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You can see the glazy-goodness and freshness of the pineapple – no neon maraschinos!
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The Grill-Meister and I had ours with coffee on the patio yesterday afternoon

Notes

If you make the recipe, you might want to look at the reviews from other (very enthusiastic) bakers.  My recommendations are to bake the cake for a little less time than recommended, use slightly less cardamom, and don’t skimp on the rum drizzle at the end.

The cake travels well and is a good one to bring to parties.  Epicurious says it serves 8, but I think it’s about double that number, because the cake is so rich that you can reasonably serve smaller pieces than this shown above.

Resources

 

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: The Lineup was Announced Today!!!

The second post in a series about the New Orleans Jazz Festival covering food (restaurants and recipes), fun, music and travel tips.
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Official logo from the Jazz Fest

Hello Friends! As I mentioned in NOLA Jazz Fest 17 Post #1, we’re all jazzed up about going back to Jazz Fest after a hiatus of a couple of years, and have already made hotel reservations for the second weekend (May 4-7).

We said before:

Who’s on the playbill that weekend? We don’t know! Does it matter? Not really! The biggest problem with the New Orleans Jazz Fest is that there are too many good performances happening at the same time – and we can only hear one band at a time.

But now, we have the lineup.  Woohoo!

The lineup is GREAT!  Big bands, little bands, amazingly meaningful local bands…check it out here.  I’m as excited about seeing Stevie Wonder (for the first time) and Earth, Wind and Fire (for the second) as I am about seeing Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars (for the 5th time, because they are truly all-stars at Jazz Fest every year) and the variety of bands that play on the Jazz and Heritage Stage who inspire the second line dancers with their parasols.  And there will be a huge celebration of Cuban music and culture this year.  I can’t wait to learn more about our neighbors 90 miles off the coast of Florida.

Here’s the official video to announce the lineup.

We are getting a gang together to attend Jazz Fest this year.  Are you in?  You should make your hotel reservations NOW before they’re all sold out.

Click here to see Post #1 of this series, an affectionate memory of an amazing Jambalaya Pizza.

Ohhh, the anticipation!  More posts are coming in the near future to celebrate food and music and fun.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Haiku: The Sweet Start of a Beautiful Friendship

Sweet beginnings:
chocolate ice creams, hopes and dreams.
My new friend and me.

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A tiny dinner party with an international colleague of the Grill-Meister’s landed me a new friend in his wife, a luminous, authentic, lovely lady.  Learning more about her life, kids, culture and aspirations over Marble Slab’s chocolate ice cream a couple of days later – and sharing my one with her – I knew we’d be friends for a long time to come.  And thus the haiku.

Life is perfectly occurring, says another very wise friend of mine.  She’s right.

Read about our tiny dinner party here, and find more Glover Gardens haiku here.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Chipotle Chicken Salad

I first tasted Chipotle Chicken Salad on a multi-family road trip to the Rio Frio area of West Texas.  It was a marvelous concoction by my friend Theresa on her day to make lunch for the crowd. I never got her recipe, and she is cooking with the angels now.  I miss her every day.  But I devised my own recipe based on that taste memory, and it’s pretty darn good.  It’s also very easy, and quick. I made it recently as an appetizer for a football-watching party and aw, shucks, there was abundant praise.  This recipe is as foodie-worthy as it is appropriate for a tailgate party.  Hmmm, there’s a big game coming up…

 

Chipotle Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked chicken, white and dark meat, skin off, roughly chopped (one regular-sized rotisserie chicken should yield about 3 cups when deboned)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (red, white or yellow based on your preference or mood)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup jalapeño jack or jalapeño cheddar cheese
  • 1 minced chipotle chile and 1 1/2 tbsp. of the adobo sauce (from a small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 can of mild green chiles (4 oz.)
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ancho chile pepper (ground)
  • bread, rolls or crackers for serving, or you can put it on a bed of mixed greens
  • pepper jelly spread (optional), if you make little slider sandwiches
  • chopped cilantro for garnishing

Cooking Instructions

Combine the chicken, onion, cilantro and cheese in a medium bowl and toss.  In a small bowl, mix the chipotle and adobo sauce, yogurt, mayonnaise, green chiles, salt and ancho chile powder, then pour over the chicken combination.  Stir well to mix, taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary.  You can also add more mayo or yogurt if the mixture is too dry.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with crackers, slider rolls or on a bed of mixed greens.  Pepper jelly is a great condiment; I like the Inferno Sauce from Just Pure Flavors, a regular at our local farmers’ market.

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I took this batch to a football playoff party and let the guests make their own sliders
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We donated the (scant) leftovers of the first batch to the gracious party hosts, and were so sad to leave it behind that I made some more for us the very next weekend

About the Ingredients

I use a rotisserie chicken for this recipe, both the white and dark meat, which provides a broader range of taste and texture than just using chicken breast.

I go back and forth between using red, white or yellow onions – they are all good for their own reasons.  Red onions are apropos in Southwest dishes, and pretty.  Yellow onions are sweet and mellow.  White onions are crunchy, sharper and more pungent.  It’s all dependent upon your onion mood.

The Greek yogurt really gives the chicken salad a tart and tangy taste, while the mayo provides a sweet creaminess.  I like using them together for the balance.  You can use nonfat yogurt and light mayonnaise without impacting the taste, in my humble opinion.

If you have never used chipotle chies, it’s easy.  Just pop open the can and use the amount you need, saving the rest for later.  For this recipe, fish out a whole chipotle pepper, then mush your measuring spoon in the adobo sauce to get the 1 1/2 tbsp. you need.

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I like McCormick’s Ancho Chile Pepper for the dried spice-it-up kick.  If you can’t find it, cayenne will do, but it won’t be as multidimensional, taste-wise.

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As the “delivery device” for serving the Chipotle Chicken Salad, I used King’s Hawaiian Rolls this time, both jalapeño and regular-flavored, and of course the jalapeño ones went first – bring on the spice!  The slider-sized sandwiches are just right for a hearty party like the football-watching event we attended.  160212-jalapeno-rolls-framed-w-pkg-300x300

Wheat Thins or water crackers are also a great delivery device, more appropriate for snacking or an appetizer for a cocktail party.

 

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 

Decadent Chocolate Orange Pots

We had a tiny dinner party last night and I took a chance by making a new dessert for the first time.  If you’ve stumbled onto my About page, you’ll know that I’m just not much of a sweets enthusiast.  But my risk-taking paid off and the Chocolate Orange Pots delighted the Grill-Meister and our guests, who gushed their appreciation:

This is the best thing I’ve tasted in a long, long time.

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Banner from Recipe Reminiscing blog

The recipe came to me by way of the Recipe Reminiscing blog.  The author, whose moniker is TidiousTed, is doing a public service by resurrecting the ghosts of culinary classics.  I found the recipe he posted for “Chocolate Orange Pots” when I was searching for interesting things to do with our just-harvested Glover Gardens orange crop.

I adjusted the recipe and made it my own, most notably using semi-sweet instead of plain chocolate and Cointreau instead of Curacao.  I had tasted the Curacao before using it – thank goodness! – and found it to be cloyingly sweet and not very orange-y.  The Cointreau has more of the slightly bitter tang of orange peel.

The recipe serves between 4 and 8 people, depending on how large you want the portions to be.  It is very rich, but the orange zest provides a great balance to the mouthfeel of the chocolate and cream.  We served shots of freshly squeezed orange juice alongside the dessert, and it was heavenly.  If you have a need for an impressive, decadent, and yet relatively easy dessert for a dinner party, this one will not disappoint.  Be sure and make it a few hours ahead of time so it can chill nicely.

Decadent Chocolate Orange Pots

Ingredients (serves 4 – 8)

  • 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces, plus 1 tsp. grated semi-sweet chocolate
  • rind of 1 small orange, finely grated
  • 3 eggs, separated and whisked lightly with a fork
  • 3 tbsp. Cointreau
  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • juice of 1 orange
  • orange rind spirals

Cooking Instructions

Melt the chocolate, either by stirring in a metal bowl over a pan of hot water, or by following the instructions on the package to melt in the microwave.  Let cool slightly (removing from the pan of water if you used that method).

Stir in the orange rind, egg yolks and Cointreau. Stir well and set aside.  Using a mixer, whip 1 cup of the cream until thick, then in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold the cream and egg whítes into the chocolate mixture.  Pour into custard cups and chill.

Beat the other cup of cream with vanilla and sugar until it forms soft peaks and spoon it onto the chocolate pots after they are well chilled.  Garnish with orange rind spirals and grated chocolate.

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Assembling the ingredients first makes it go so much quicker.  That’s the recipe from Recipe Reminiscing on my screen.
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I love how glossy chocolate looks when it is melted
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These were generous servings, but we were glad when we realized how good this is!
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Serving the shot of freshly squeezed orange juice with the chocolate was a hit.  Plus, it just looks cool, doesn’t it?

References:

 

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook