I had an opportunity to attend a workshop recently in Hershey, PA, at The Hershey Company. Wow, I’ve gotta tell you, that whole town stays in character: super-sweet, squeaky clean and family-friendly. Hershey is Disney-esque and is truly “the town built on chocolate”. The street signs are shaped like chocolate kisses.
I didn’t get many pictures because I was quite busy, but here are a few that will give you a feel for the place. There’s a hotel, a golf course, gardens, a zoo, Chocolate World, the Hershey Museum, a fabulous gift shop and lots more stuff to do in this small town that reeks of middle America wholesomeness. Reeks in a good way, that is…everything smells like chocolate. Really.
The Hotel Hershey is immaculate.
I would come back here and spend a little more time. It’s a very sweet place.
For more about Hershey and a plethora of pictures, visit this blog.
This morning when I saw this post by Kim at Glover Gardens about a dish called Tuscany-Texas Goat Cheese Spread, I knew I had to experience it, and the sooner the better. (The original post with the recipe is on this page). All the ingredients are normally staples in my pantry and/or growing in the garden, but I happened to be out of goat cheese. A trip to the grocery store was immediately worked into my morning schedule, with goat cheese at the top of the list.
I don’t always do well at following instructions, but I think I fulfilled the intent of the recipe. I wasn’t even tempted to attempt improving on it.
I assembled all the ingredients except for the goat cheese in a bowl and tossed them together:
I love it when folks make my recipes! We had a big wedding in our family late this summer and celebrated ahead of time with a shower here at Glover Gardens. The nuptial couple took on the task of making one of the appetizers, my Tuscany-Texas Goat Cheese Spread. Their version was better than mine! (I think it was the love.) I’m revisiting this recipe right now because it is perfect for fall parties.
So – a little bit about this dish. It is salty, tangy, creamy, super-garlicky and fresh, with the brightness of fresh tomatoes and herbs. As you’ll see in the original post, I’ve seen guests fight each other for the last few bites. Really.
In addition to being an uber crowd-pleaser, this dish is easy to make! It is perfect for cocktail parties or wine tastings.
A friend posted a picture of his Mom’s Mexican cornbread on Facebook, and started something. Dave’s peeps (including me) took notice of this good-lookin’ comfort food, with loads of comments, like:
That looks heavenly ~ I’ll be right over ~ Can almost smell it from here ~ Moms make the best food because they really don’t want us to move out!
So of course I begged for the recipe. And lucky for all of us, Dave’s Mom shared! We decided on Mary’s Mexican Cornbread as its moniker. But now that I’ve made it, I’ve changed it to Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread. Why? Well, I’ve had lots of really good Mexican cornbread in my day, but never one with meat in it. The ground beef is added as a filling between two layers of jazzed-up cornbread batter. This adds a welcome heartiness, kicks it up a notch on the comfort food scale, and elevates the dish to a main course that’s easy and quick enough to make on a weeknight.
The meat layer in the middle sinks into the bottom layer of the cornbread and creates a strata with different textures from the bottom to the top; the result is almost like a tamale pie. In fact, you could substitute masa for the cornmeal and it would be very close to a tamale pie. The dish is so filling that all you need to finish out your dinner plan is some fruit or a quick salad.
Note: I made two minor additions to the recipe. First, I preheated the cast iron skillet; I learned to do that years ago from the back of a cornbread mix package. The preheating gives the cornbread a really brown crust, and we like that here at Glover Gardens. The second minor change was to use a bit of chorizo with the ground beef (this got the Grill-Meister really interested).
There are lots of other things you could do with this marvelous recipe – use fresh corn shaved off the cob instead of creamed corn, use canned green chilis or poblanos instead of (or in addition to) the jalapeños, or go a different direction with the peppers and use canned chipotle chilis, or substitute diced pork or venison for the ground beef…but don’t get me wrong, folks, this recipe is just right as-is. And trust me, it is so easy, so good and so versatile, you might just want to make two while you’re at it. As you’ll note at the bottom of this post, there are lots of other ways to serve Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread, and you’ll wish you had leftovers.
1 to 1 ½ lbs. of hamburger meat (or a mix of 2/3 hamburger and 1/3 chorizo)
1 cup cornmeal
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup chopped Vidalia or 1015 onions
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 can cream corn (14.75 oz.)
4 chopped jalapeños peppers (take out seeds and ribs if you want mild)
Preheat the oven to 400°. Optionally, put a 10″ or 12″ cast-iron skillet into the oven once it is preheated, and let it get really hot while you’re assembling the rest of the ingredients (don’t grease it until after you preheat it). Otherwise, spray a 9 x 12 baking pan (glass or metal) with cooking spray and set aside.
Fry the hamburger meat (and chorizo, if you’re using it), drain, and set aside. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the eggs, oil and milk and stir well. Add the chopped onion, grated cheese, chopped jalapeños and creamed corn and stir until just blended. If you’ve preheated your cast iron skillet, pull it out of the oven and spray generously with cooking spray. Pour half of the cornbread batter into your greased pan or iron skillet and spread it out smoothly, then sprinkle the meat evenly on top. Pour the rest of the cornbread batter on top of the meat, spreading it evenly. Bake in the oven at 400° until brown. Serve hot.
The Grill-Meister is a big of Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread, and had some great ideas about other ways to serve it. How about topping it with some of my Glover Gardens Chili? Brilliant! It made a great one-dish lunch.
Or how about transforming this into Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread Breakfast, with a fried egg? Double brilliant!
Try this rockin’ recipe, and let me know what you think. I’ll be sure to pass your compliments along to Dave and Mary.
Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook (except the original recipe, which belongs to Mary)
Looking through some of my photos, I found a couple of an abandoned building in the Cline Ranch State Wildlife Area near Como, Colorado. I took them in February of this year, and forgot about them.
I’m sure the horseshoe was reason I snapped the picture of the door below; it speaks to the hopeful mindset of the cabin’s inhabitant, whoever and whenever that was. When I looked closer and saw the dried flowers (put there by someone else later, right?), I knew I had to write a haiku about the still life they form together.
I realized the haiku would make the most sense on the door itself. Enjoy.
Click here for another post with lots more photos: Cline Ranch State Wildlife Area. But beware, if you love a winter scene, these photos will stir your wanderlust and you may find yourself searching for discount airfare for Colorado in February…
Today was a great day for me. Let me set the stage for you: My jaw / mouth / face / ear has been hurting since mid-February. I have seen three dentists and one doctor during this time and have received multiple conflicting diagnoses. Grinding my teeth. Jaw strain from an unknown cause, perhaps “biting down wrong on an almond”. TMJ. Fibromyalgia (chronic pain / heightened nerve activity). Old silver filling that might be loosening. Recommendations not to open wide, not to eat popcorn or almonds, to use a fork with a hamburger so I wouldn’t strain my jaw. A couple of the diagnoses were handed out BEFORE the “medical professional” even examined me. They didn’t check out my medical history, look at my charts, ask me what was going on. But they prescribed lots of meds, most of which I never took, because I didn’t believe the diagnoses. Two dental night guards were created for me, one of which wasn’t fitted properly and had to be discarded (although I paid for it), and the other which (I assume) is still at the dentist’s office, no one ever having called me to say it was ready.
I had a crisis of confidence, for seven months, while I also had escalating pain in my face. It might have made me a bit grumpy.
Today, a marvelous and extremely professional full-scale dentistry practice spent time listening to me, evaluating my input, and doing a deep and time-consuming examination. And then they dug in ~ literally! ~ to fix my issue. It turns out that I had a crack in a back molar, a condition that doesn’t show up on x-ray and requires an intensive visual examination. Cracked molar syndrome is hard to diagnose and requires a dedicated, thorough professional to find it. The crack extended to the nerve cavity, my whole tooth was dead, and the infection was into the bone. I had a root canal today and got a crown, and am so very happy to finally have: a.) a medical staff that cares enough about figuring out and solving the problem to spend time on it (I was there for 5 hours) and b.) a solution! I didn’t realize how much the chronic pain in my jaw was weighing on me.
There’s no “poor pitiful me” in this saga, simply a realization and cautionary tale that you have to aggressively seek solutions these days when you have a weird or unresolved medical issue. The burden of investigation and tenacity about solving the problem has shifted from the medical professional to the patient. Sometimes you have to seek help from multiple sources before you get an answer. And you have to listen to your gut. I somehow knew that my problem wasn’t just grinding my teeth or wasn’t anywhere close to being fibromyalgia.
My jaw is throbbing a bit this evening from the oral surgery and the infection from living with that cracked tooth for over 7 months, but my heart is soaring with the knowledge that my issues have been diagnosed and addressed. The oral surgeon even called me at home at 7 pm tonight to make sure I was doing ok. Really! When was the last time that ever happened, a medical professional calling you at home to make sure you’re ok? I’m jazzed about that charming “bedside manner”.