Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Electric Table Top Roaster: Too Valuable and Too Cheap to Pass Up

Our oven , already way-ancient, "gave up the ghost" just as we were arriving at our home in NY state to ready for Thanksgiving supper that we were hosting several days hence. Fortunately, before leaving our home in Florida and having realized that the oven might likely be inoperable for Thanksgiving, we spotted an electric, table-top roaster on sale at a fabulous price, 29 bucks. We scarfed it up and stored in the car's roof-top carrier for the trip north.

The roaster saved the day and we swear by them now. We popped it out of the box, bought the turkey, brined it, and away we went to a fine Thanksgiving meal. I over-estimated the cooking time, but was able to nurse the bird along and it came out moist and tasty.

Due to another miscalculation (all part of the joy of collaborative holiday cooking), we ended up with a second turkey that had been purchased too close to Thanksgiving to defrost adequately (shhhhh!). Fortunately, I never tire of turkey so we cooked the second turkey several days later and it too came out beautifully. The 20 pound bird took about 3 hours to cook. We did not brine it and it came out of the roaster quite moist and delicious. All is well that ends well.

The beauty of this device is that for a small amount of money, you essentially end up with a second oven freeing the main oven for other dishes or, our case, saving the day by being a prime baking vessel. The roaster has other uses: a steam table to serve from; large soup cooker, etc.. This week we are roasting a tenderized ham in it for seven hours and I expect (hope) that it will come out savory and falling off the bone.

I thought I had everything, but this is a device you should buy. It is too valuable and too cheap to pass up.
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Sunday, December 06, 2009


Last summer, while passing through Chapel Hill, NC, we stopped at Crook's Corner restaurant (operated by Bill Smith). It was the depth of summer and the air was hotter "than your mama's stove." We had our dog, Kody, with us and we were dying to try out their two signature dishes: the tomato/watermelon salad and the shrimp and grits. We had read about each recipe in that month's Southern Living.

We needed to figure out how we both could eat and take care of Kody who was not allowed in the restaurant. To accomplish this required a creative strategy. I asked for a table for two by the window and asked that our orders come in series, not at the same time, but one immediately after the other. Our plan was to each have dinner in succession with the other sitting outside the window with the dog. We flipped a coin as to who would go first and I won!

My wife sat just outside the window with our dog and I received my order of the two famous dishes. The dinner was fabulous though I was sure to eat without undue dawdling. As soon as I was finished, we swapped places and my wife enjoyed her meal (and the air-conditioning). Our dog survived fine with cold water brought by the waiters to fill his water bowl and the affection of customers leaving the restaurant who diverted his attention away from the blazing heat.

The staff seemed touched by our efforts to enjoy their food and recommended the proprietor's cookbook to us. It included the recipes we had just enjoyed.

Needless to say, Bill Smith's cookbook is now front and center in my massive collection of books on Southern cooking. The recipe for Ham for a Crowd is an essential part of my repertoire. Easy and the perfect dish to serve for guests.

Thanks, Bill. Your book along with Moreton Neal's rememberance of Bill Neal sit near the door. If the house catches fire, I save my wife, my dog and those two cookbooks!

CFF designated as a Featured Blog on WHERE THE LOCALS EAT!

I am honored that Cross Florida food has been made a featured site on WHERE THE LOCALS EAT. I hope all will visit both my blog and their site for more food info around the US. I invite visitors from WHERE THE LOCALS EAT to explore my archives and links to access the several years of articles I have posted. Thanks again for featuring my blog.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND: Cranberry-Orange Sauce: try this for a sure hit on Thanksgiving

In the mid-90's, my friend, Gail Carr, prepared Cranberry-Orange Sauce at an outdoor Thanksgiving dinner at the Carr farm in Micanopy. Frankly, it stopped me in my tracks and I have prepared it for every Thanksgiving since then to consistent applause. If you do not try this dish, you will "need to have your head examined." This recipe is abundantly easy.



1 large orange or 2 tangerines
1 bag of cranberries, 12 oz.
1 package of frozen raspberries in syrup
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons, fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons, orange flavored liquer such as Triple Sec

1. From the citrus fruit, zest 1 teaspoon of peel and squeeze 1/2 cup of juice

2. In saucepan, heat all ingredients (except the liqueur) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered until most of the cranberries pop and the mixture thickens slightly. Stir as needed.

3. Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the liqueur.

4. Stir into serving bowl and refrigerate for three hours before serving.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Crock Pot blog worth diving into

Take a look at

I was looking for a crock pot recipe for the stone-ground grits that I bought fresh from a mill and had found were taking a very long time to cook. A Google search led me to the above blog and rekindled my respect for the slow cooker as an important part of my cooking tool collection.

In the late 90's, my mother was ill and in her last days, my work was calling me to travel over several regions of the state, and I was cooking for care-givers. I was stressed and spread ice-thin. I allotted myself seven minutes for supper (that was the long version). I had to find ways to ease the stress of responsibilities and the little time I had to meet them.

I turned to the crock pot as a time-saver cooking tool. Soon, I was able to put together meals that were a treat, easy to make, and no-fuss at the back end (or the front end for that matter). Dan, the head care-giver, even scheduled his shift when he knew I was cooking with the crock pot!

I developed a few recipes that became favorites when served with rice and steamed veggies, but the simplest was to take Boston Butt, trim off the excess fat and squeeze it into the slow cooker. Pour a jar of barbecue sauce over the butt. Add chopped onion, salt, pepper, cajun seasoning. Put it on high for 45 minutes or so to get it good and hot and then drop it to low and let it cook all day. It was so good, I imagined accolades of "Genius, genius!"

Back to the subject: the young woman who put together her blog with the self-challenge to use the crockpot daily for a year has put together an entertaining and helpful series of entries worth reading and returning to often. As she works her way through the varieties of uses for the crock pot she parlayed the experience into a book contract and television appearances. Well worth diving deep into her blog. Take the leap.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


In the mid-70's, my dear friend, Robin Heil (now from Colorado) and I shared a house in Earleton, Florida with her then-boyfriend, Michael. Robin's cooking is, in my opinion, divinely endowed and she makes cooking look easy.

In those days, Michael and other acolytes of Robin's cooking eagerly stood in line for her fried chicken and other fixings including a dynamite creamed corn recipe. Decades later I was able to coax her east for an encore cooking demonstration so I could study her every move at the stove.

During her visit a year or two ago, I inquired how she developed into such a fine Southern cook considering she was born raised in south Florida. When she first came to Gainesville, she dated a local boy (we all were younger then), John Freeman, whose mother imparted to Robin many secrets of Southern cooking.

In addition to fried chicken, Mrs. Freeman taught her to make a peach cobbler that I can attest is first-rate. Robin wrote recently that it always comes out of the oven in a state of fail-safe perfection. Robin makes this cobbler recipe once a week when the Colorado peaches are in-season. It is no wonder her children have turned out well and her husband has a perpetual smile on his face. It may be that peach cobbler is the answer.

Here is Robin's recipe (thanks to Mrs. Freeman):


3 teaspoons, baking powder
1 cup, milk
1 cup, flour
1 cup, sugar
1 stick butter
6-8 peaches, peeled and sliced

Melt butter in pan (13 x 9 x 2) while oven is pre-heating to 350 degrees. Combine the milk, baking powder, flour, and sugar and pour on top of the butter. Watch the pan carefully to avoid scalding anything. Cover all with sliced peaches. Put in oven and cook for 35-45 minutes until golden.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Alachua County video on the Alachua County Farmers' Market

This video is well done. I did not realize that the Alachua County Farmers Market near the Highway Patrol station is a growers only market. Everything sold there is grown by the farmers staffing their booths.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Green Drinks at Satchel’s Oct. 7!

Posted by Trish Riley, October 5, 2009
October 7, 2009
6:00 PMto8:00 PM


Got Something Green Going On? Bring your info to our next Green Drinks meeting to share with like-minded neighbors so we can support one another and find ways to work together to create a sustainable community.

Green Drinks Gainesville will meet at Satchel’s Pizza, 1800 NE 23rd Ave., 6-8-> p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 7. We’ll convene in the lounge – the screened room in back. Wednesday is New Song Night in the lounge at Satchel’s, so if you’re a musician, you might like to bring along your instrument and entertain us a bit. Check here for more info:

Satchel Raye will take the stage during a musical intermission at 7 p.m. to share his experiences running a sustainable business and why he feels it’s the best way to operate. Afterward, the music will resume. Those of us who wish to network can migrate to the picnic tables and tree house areas outside, where, at about 7:45, Melissa DeSa of Florida Organic Growers, David Reed, who’s working to develop a virtual food distribution system for local farm products, will share information about the exciting work underway to develop a strong local food network in our community. Ed Brown will share research he’s done on the potential impact that increasing our local food consumption could have on our local economy: it’s huge.

Remember – If you’ve been to Green Drinks before, you’re an ambassador! Please help introduce newcomers to help us all learn about one another’s green interests and activities so we can help each other grow our green community.

*Bring Your Own NAMETAG*

Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Check out WWW.FOOD52.COM and enter their weekly contests that will yield a cookbook

Here is the gist of what these women are up to:

  • We created food52 to celebrate the best cooks in the world: home cooks.
  • Every week we'll hold recipe contests. After a year - 52 weeks - Harper Studio will publish the winning recipes in a beautiful cookbook.
  • We'll also share discoveries from the worlds of food, wine, and cookware so we all become better cooks together.
  • Exchange recipes with others. Cook. Vote. Contribute. Welcome to food52!
  • Amanda & Merrill

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Glades Ridge Dairy Farm explains how they were excluded from the Alachua County Farmers Market

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Glades Ridge, Inc.
Date: Sat, Sep 19, 2009 at 11:35 AM
Subject: Alachua County Farmers Market

Dear Friends:

The reason that I’m sending you this email is to let you all know why Glades Ridge Dairy is not at the Alachua County Farmers Market.

Yesterday I received a call from Helen Emery, the president of the Board of the Alachua County Farmers Market. Helen informed me that we were suspended from selling our milk and cheese until the next Board meeting in October, when it will be decided whether or not to suspend us permanently. The reasoning behind this decision was not because anything bad had occurred, and is as follows – we are selling unpasteurized dairy products and the Board fears that, if anyone became ill from eating our products, they would be liable and sued. Helen told me that they had consulted with a number of attorneys and other scientific experts. The conclusion of these experts was that the sale of our dairy products at the Alachua County Farmer’s Market was a liability due to the inherent dangers of raw milk, and because our customers may not be fully aware of or educated about what they were purchasing. [Note that we are in full compliance with all Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulations and possess a fully executed permit to sell raw milk/dairy as long as it is properly labeled.]

I responded with the following points:

* Our products are prominently labeled as “pet food, not for human consumption”. The label/warning is on our signs, packaging and literature. We point it out to our customers when we sell.
* E. coli or salmonella can contracted from many fresh food products, and the sale of raw vegetables and fruits at the market holds similar liability.
* We maintain a valid permit from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to sell dairy products “for pet food only”, and also have liability insurance as required by the Farmers Market.
* There has never been a reported illness due to the sale of raw dairy products in FL.
* We could not continue to farm if we had to extend our resources to pasteurization, and besides, unpasteurized products are not what our customers want.
* That pasteurization did not provide fool-proof protection against illness.

After I spoke with Helen, I called Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund and spoke with Pete Kennedy, FTCLDF attorney and Tampa resident. Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund was established a few years ago to defend farmers that were legally selling raw dairy and vegetable products and also to protect the right of consumers to purchase these products. Pete agreed to contact Helen Emery. I will let you know how this transpires. Pete also told me that this was the first case in the US that FTCLDF was aware of where a dairy that complied with all state regulations and market requirements was prohibited from selling by the market itself.

We sincerely hope to be back at the Alachua County Farmers Market soon. Until then, our products are available for pick-up from the farm. We are located north on SR 121 to Worthington Springs, and then about five miles west on CR 18. If you’d like to pick up at the farm, call me at 386-266-7041 for directions and to arrange a pick-up time. I’ll be glad to introduce you to the dairy herd too, and you can also see first-hand where the does are milked and cheese is produced. We are committed to producing quality products for you, and want you all to know that we will do everything that we can to be back at space #20 selling milk, cheese and eggs as soon as possible. If you go to the market and are so inclined, let the market manager, Jared Sweat and any of the board that happen to be there, know what you think. Your support is vital to helping us resolve this. You can also contact the market via email: Jared Sweat’s email is and Helen Emery’s is

Thanks very much, and we hope to see you soon.

Joe Pietrangelo for Glades Ridge Dairy

Joe Pietrangelo and Greg Yurish, owners/operators

p.s. – I’ve included a few informative links, below:.


Glades Ridge Dairy Farm

Lake Butler, Union County, FL 32054


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Note from Gainesville Farm Fresh's James Steele

I want to send out a thank you to Slow Food Gainesville's, Anna Prizzia and Melissa DeSa for hosting a wonderful potluck in support for the National Time For Lunch campaign to bring awareness and support to the school lunch program. The turnout was excellent and what a great assortment of dishes we had to choose from and enjoy!

We listened to Maria Eunice, director of food and nutrition services for Alachua County schools discuss the details of trying to feed students on 0.94 cents a day and the great benefit it would bring to have our legislature double the amount offered to the school lunch program.

Sean Mclendon also spoke on issues related to establishing a secure local food economy for our area, with discussion also from the attendees.

Thanks you for an enjoyable Slow Food event and do not forget, if you haven't filled out the petition, please do. You can find it online here

Start marking your calendars for September 27th, for the Fall for Local Food Expo. Citizen's Co-op will be hosting this event in coordination with that Sunday's showing of Food, Inc. See details here..

Let's all get out and support this Citizen's Co-op fundraising event and make it a success!


Gainesville Farm Fresh

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hog Town Creek Smoked Brisket

The brisket I smoked yesterday was heavenly and I could almost hear Peggy Lee singing "Fever" when I took my first bite.

Before I forget, this is how I cooked it:

I prepared Java-Cinnamon Spice Rub from the excellent cookbook on cooking grass-fed meats, "The Farmer and the Grill" by Shannon Hayes ( Her recipe is superb as is the rest of her cookbook. Buy it.

2 T. ground coffee
2 T. chili powder
2 t. black pepper
2 T. sea salt
2 T. ground cinammon
2 T. unrefined, or partially refined sugar

Rub the spices all over whole brisket pressing the spice mix into the meat and fat. Wrap the brisket in clear cellophane wrap and refrigerate for 2 days or more.

Remove the brisket and bring it to room temperature when ready to cook.

I get started at 4 a.m., though 2 or 3 a.m. would be better. Allow an hour to crank up your wet smoker before putting the brisket in the smoker. I usually do this stage with minimal sleep and go back to sleep once the meat is cooking.

Prepare the wet smoker by lighting the coals in a chimney coal starter. Do not use any lighter fluid. Let the coals go to full flame and, as they begin to settle down, add them to the coal pan 3/4's filled with briquettes.

Fill the smoker's liquid pan in the smoker with 1 liter of Coca Cola, fragrant spices/herbs, topped off with water. Place brisket on top rack fat side up and cover. After fire burns down some, add oak or hickory. I use fallen limbs and twigs from my back yard trees. Soaked chunks or chips would work. You want a healthy head of smoke. I add wood and stir my coals as needed during the smoking process so that I can maximize the smoky flavor. Check your liquid every two hours or so to be sure it does not boil away.

I smoked my brisket for about 8 hours. I removed it and put into a heavy cast iron casserole and poured some of my favorite barbecue sauce over the brisket. I use the famous sauce from Archibald's Barbecue in Northport, AL (I buy it by the gallon when traveling through Tuscaloosa.). It is not available in markets so, if you are not able to buy it in person in Alabama, use a vinegar-ish red sauce or make your own. I would not use a sweet sauce. Depending on your tastes and your guests, apply just a small amount of sauce for Texans and more for everybody else.

Set your oven or grill to a consistent 225, maybe 250 degrees and cook the meat another 4-6 hours depending on your schedule. Cook the covered brisket until about 45 minutes before serving.

Remove the brisket and let it sit at least 30 minutes. Many let is rest longer from one hour to 2-4 hours. Others carve at 160 degree temp.  Carve with an electric knife and always cut across the grain as you slice.

Apply sauce as you see fit at the table. Bring the brisket to the table and sing a few bars of "Fever" as your guests serve themselves.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Review: Harry's.....5 stars

Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille

110 SE 1st St
Gainesville, FL 32601
(352) 372-1555
5 star rating

I have to tell you that I study and immerse myself in the cuisines of Louisiana and have generally considered Harry's to be a poor facsimile of the real thing. Only their portion sizes redeem the restaurant.

I dined there recently with neighbors and was very surprised. All of the dishes we ordered were first-rate. I had a dish composed of scallops and shrimp over a grits cake that was splendid. Two of us had the shrimp and grits and one had jambalaya.

I have developed and honed recipes much like each of these dishes and I hate to admit that they may be as good as mine or better. It kills me but, for this night at least, Harry's kicked b&tt, big time.

Oh also, the salad was superb and the bread served with the meal was crisp on the outside, soft in the middle and served hot with flavored butter. Perfection.

I would never have believed that Harry's could serve such a flawless meal. I am not easily pleased with Gainesville restaurants, but I plan to return to Harry's....soon.

What a fine surprise. Keep it up Harry's.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Reheating in the Microwave Oven

* Cover foods with a lid or a microwave-safe plastic wrap to hold in moisture and provide safe, even heating.
* Heat ready-to-eat foods such as hot dogs, luncheon meats, fully cooked ham, and leftovers until steaming hot.
* After reheating foods in the microwave oven, allow standing time. Then, use a clean food thermometer to check that food has reached 165 °F.

Containers and Wraps

* Only use cookware that is specially manufactured for use in the microwave oven. Glass, ceramic containers, and all plastics should be labeled for microwave oven use.
* Plastic storage containers such as margarine tubs, take-out containers, whipped topping bowls, and other one-time use containers should not be used in microwave ovens. These containers can warp or melt, possibly causing harmful chemicals to migrate into the food.
* Microwave plastic wraps, wax paper, cooking bags, parchment paper, and white microwave-safe paper towels should be safe to use. Do not let plastic wrap touch foods during microwaving.
* Never use thin plastic storage bags, brown paper or plastic grocery bags, newspapers, or aluminum foil in the microwave oven.


Researcher Dispels Myth of Dioxins and Plastic Water Bottles
Rolf Halden, PhD, PE

The Internet has been flooded with email warnings to avoid freezing water in plastic bottles so as not to get exposed to carcinogenic dioxins. One hoax email has been erroneously attributed to Johns Hopkins University since the spring of 2004. The Office of Communications and Public Affairs discussed the issue with Rolf Halden, PhD, PE, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and the Center for Water and Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Halden received his masters and doctoral degrees researching dioxin contamination in the environment. We sat down with him to set the record straight on dioxins in the food supply and the risks associated with drinking water from plastic bottles and cooking with plastics.

Office of Communications and Public Affairs: What are dioxins?

Rolf Halden: Dioxins are organic environmental pollutants sometimes referred to as the most toxic compounds made by mankind. They are a group of chemicals, which include 75 different chlorinated molecules of dibenzo-p-dioxin and 135 chlorinated dibenzofurans. Some polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) also are referred to as dioxin-like compounds. Exposure to dioxins can cause chloracne, a severe form of skin disease, as well as reproductive and developmental effects, and more importantly, liver damage and cancer.

OC&PA: Where do dioxins come from?

RH: We always thought dioxins were man-made compounds produced inadvertently during the bleaching of pulp and manufacturing of pesticides like Agent Orange and other chlorinated aromatics. But dioxins in sediments from lakes and oceans predate these human activities. It is now generally accepted that a principal source of dioxins are various combustion processes, including natural events such as wild fires and even volcanic eruptions.

Today, the critical issue is the incineration of waste, particularly the incineration of hospital waste, which contains a great deal of polyvinyl chloride plastics and aromatic compounds that can serve as dioxin precursors. One study examined the burning of household trash in drums in the backyard. It turns out that these small burnings of debris can put out as much or more dioxins as a full-sized incinerator burning hundreds of tons of refuse per day. The incinerators are equipped with state-of-the-art emission controls that limit dioxin formation and their release into the environment, but the backyard trash burning does not. You set it ablaze and chemistry takes over. What happens next is that the dioxins are sent into the atmosphere where they become attached to particles and fall back to earth. Then they bind to, or are taken up, by fish and other animals, where they get concentrated and stored in fat before eventually ending up on our lunch and dinner plates. People are exposed to them mostly from eating meat and fish rich in fat.

OC&PA: What do you make of this recent email warning that claims dioxins can be released by freezing water in plastic bottles?

RH: No. This is an urban legend. There are no dioxins in plastics. In addition, freezing actually works against the release of chemicals. Chemicals do not diffuse as readily in cold temperatures, which would limit chemical release if there were dioxins in plastic, and we don’t think there are.

OC&PA: So it’s okay for people to drink out of plastic water bottles?

RH: First, people should be more concerned about the quality of the water they are drinking rather than the container it’s coming from. Many people do not feel comfortable drinking tap water, so they buy bottled water instead. The truth is that city water is much more highly regulated and monitored for quality. Bottled water is not. It can legally contain many things we would not tolerate in municipal drinking water.

Having said this, there is another group of chemicals, called phthalates that are sometimes added to plastics to make them flexible and less brittle. Phthalates are environmental contaminants that can exhibit hormone-like behavior by acting as endocrine disruptors in humans and animals. If you heat up plastics, you could increase the leaching of phthalates from the containers into water and food.

OC&PA: What about cooking with plastics?

RH: In general, whenever you heat something you increase the likelihood of pulling chemicals out. Chemicals can be released from plastic packaging materials like the kinds used in some microwave meals. Some drinking straws say on the label “not for hot beverages.” Most people think the warning is because someone might be burned. If you put that straw into a boiling cup of hot coffee, you basically have a hot water extraction going on, where the chemicals in the straw are being extracted into your nice cup of coffee. We use the same process in the lab to extract chemicals from materials we want to analyze.

If you are cooking with plastics or using plastic utensils, the best thing to do is to follow the directions and only use plastics that are specifically meant for cooking. Inert containers are best, for example heat-resistant glass, ceramics and good old stainless steel.

OC&PA: Is there anything else you want to add?

RH: Don’t be afraid of drinking water. It is very important to drink adequate amounts of water and, by the way that’s in addition to all the coffee, beer and other diuretics we love to consume. Unless you are drinking really bad water, you are more likely to suffer from the adverse effects of dehydration than from the minuscule amounts of chemical contaminants present in your water supply. Relatively speaking, the risk from exposure to microbial contaminants is much greater than that from chemicals.

And here’s one more uncomfortable fact. Each of us already carries a certain body burden of dioxins regardless of how and what we eat. If you look hard enough, you’ll find traces of dioxins in pretty much every place on earth. Paracelsus the famous medieval alchemist, used to put it straight and simple: it’s the dose that makes the poison.--Tim Parsons

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Lowe at 410-955-6878 or


Review: D'Allesandro's

I hope my next trip, if I make it, is better than the first. In these economic times, I can not make multiple trips hoping a restaurant will be better on the second or third try.

The good news: Allesandro's is very attractive and tastefully decorated with soft, mellow light shades bearing their logo. The waiter was well informed about the menu and very pleasant. The bread was warm. My main dish, Pollo Rosamarino, was tasty.

The rest of the story: No side of pasta served or offered. The olive oil for dipping bread was as bland as tap water with no spicing. My main dish, while tasty, consisted of pounded chicken breasts, with faint sprinkling of chopped rosemary served over riced potatoes said to be mashed.

The portions were small. The mashed potato serving was about a 1/2 to 3/4 cups. There was no color on the plate except a scant sprinkling of rosemary. White meat, on a white plate, with white potatoes. It was the most unimaginative way to serve the dish that I could possibly imagine.

The salad that came with the meal was served without any choice for salad dressing. The dressing served was a mediocre balsamic dressing of no significant merit. Maybe a restaurant of this stature should offer several home-made dressings. We were offered no choices. Balsamic dressing was all that was served.

In such an elegant surrounding, I expect something that is more than border-line bland, poorly presented, and of modest taste. I expect something more than an average salad and, lastly, turn the music down!

I will not be back even though the restaurant has its good points.

The Hungry Mouse: Photos accompanying recipes sparkle

Do check out The Hungry Mouse in my links section. The photography that accompanies each step by step recipe are stellar, as good as it gets. Don't miss this one!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Subscribe to this magazine

I think Eating Well does a service to humankind and I recommend that you subscribe. Read it cover to cover every month and then take action for yourself, your family, and your world.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Pass at Merlion, 3610 SW 13th Street: Lovely Restaurant, Tasteless Lunch....Can I Afford to Give Them a Second Chance?

The decor of the restaurant is superb and the staff is friendly but that is it for high marks. My dish at lunch today, Pineapple Fried Rice with Chicken, had the least flavor of any dish I have ever had in a restaurant.

The chunks of pineapple were finger-nail size and hard to find in the rice. The chicken pieces were more like shavings, not enough to taste in the dish. I finally used the dipping sauce served with my spring roll (tasty) to bump up the rice. Without it, there was no flavor. Minute rice tastes better.

Two tiny flowerettes of broccoli and one snow pea pod constituted my vegetable ration accompanied by one small slice of orange as the garnish. I knew the meal was not up to snuff when I thought to myself, "Thank God for the orange slice."

If decor is what you are after, this restaurant is first-rate. If you are looking for good food, do not buy the rice dishes, but try one of the curries and cross your fingers. Personally, I will wait for new ownership.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tips on How to Cook Grass-fed Meat from Slow Food Gainesville

A note from Anna Prizzia of Slow Food Gainesville:

Some of you who were a part of the recent cow pool, and others that
have purchased grass-fed meat in the past have asked me if there are
tricks to cooking this meat to bring out its full character and
flavor...the answer is YES! Grass-fed meat is quite different from
it's grain-fed cousin. It is leaner and denser, and therefore cannot
take the high heats and rough handling that we have learned as
standard for industrial meat. In fact, for a while I thought I could
not eat meat because one alternative was a meat that did not meet my
philosophical beliefs and one would not satisfy my palate. Luckily, I
learned that with a few simple tricks, I could have my steak and eat
it too...

I highly recommend Shannon Hayes books, especially the Farmer and the
Grill. She has studied the art of cooking grass-fed meat and has lots
of great tips and info. Her website is

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is this- for reliably
sourced grass-fed meat, ideal internal temperatures (get a meat
thermometer, its worth it!) are lower than many of the USDA
recommended temperatures for meat....Shannon's recommendations based
on her research are (Fahrenheit):
Beef/Bison- 120-140
Ground meat- 160
Veal- 125-155
Lamb and Goat- 120-145
Pork- 145-160
Chicken (unstuffed)- 165
Turkey (unstuffed)- 165

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Michael Pollan article in today's NY Times mag is a must-read


Monday, July 06, 2009

Plant vendor site a pleasant surprise for its information

Bonnie Plants, located in Union Springs, Alabama provides seedlings to many of our local feed and plant stores. We pass through Union Springs once or twice a year and always lean on the horn at the cut off to their business. We may stop in sometime.

Their site is an excellent source of information for using their products. Frankly, I was surprised at how useful and comprehensive it is. Check it out.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Note on new issue of Hogtown Homegrown from Slow Food Gainesville

The July issue of Hogtown HomeGrown has been distributed around town
and is online at this link -

Be sure to make the Blueberry Buckle - an old-fashioned cake bursting
with blueberries!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Colonel Sanders handwritten recipe for barbecue sauce from the original KFC in Corbin, KY

Colonel Sanders’ Barbecue Sauce Recipe

[from handwritten recipe on display at the original KFC in KY]

1 gallon, ketchup

12 c., Worcestershire sauce

3 c., allspice

2 c., red pepper

6 c., liquid smoke

15 c., smoke salt

2 c., chili tang

4 c., cumin powder

2 c., ground mustard

10 c., beaded molasses

5 c., black pepper

1 c., cinnamon

1 c., cayenne

1 c., ginger

1 c., celery seed

4 c., ground sage

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


My dear friend and room mate from the 70's, Robin Heil, is a superb cook and her fried chicken was often requested by her ravenous room mates and friends. I have been begging for her to cook it again and, when she visited Gainesville from Colorado, we were lucky enough to coax her to our stove to do a rendition of her much-loved fried chicken. We were thrilled with the result.

Robin grew up in south Florida and came to Gainesville for college. From the mother of a Gainesville boyfriend, she encountered Southern cooking and learned many recipes. For someone from south Florida (hardly known for its Southern fare), Robin's cooking astonishes me because she has mastered many Southern dishes as if she were a fourth generation resident of Georgia, north Florida, or Alabama. Her chicken is a prime example.

Her fried chicken recipe (which follows) may look simple, but d&mn, it is tasty....among the best I have tasted.


Place lard and bacon fat (or peanut oil) in skillet to a level one-inch deep. Heat to smoking point.

Prepare flour and corn meal in equal parts for dipping. Season mixture with 1 tablespoon of Bell's Poultry Seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Dip chicken into flour/seasoning mix to cover all sides. Shake off excess.

Place gently in pan and cover to keep oil from splattering.

Cook for 10 minutes and turn over. Try to only turn the chicken once.

Cook for 10 more minutes and remove chicken to paper towels or flat paper bag to drain.

Serve hot.


The American Medical Association Family Health Cookbook
The American Medical Association Family Health Cookbook
by Brooke Dojny
Edition: Hardcover
Availability: Out of Print--Limited Availability
59 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars I DON'T TRUST DIETITIANS TO BE ARTFUL WITH FOOD, June 30, 2009
Frankly, many cookbooks of this type that are written by dietitians or doctors produce recipes that are more clinical than tasty. I expected that this one would be one more in that style.

Boy, was I surprised and impressed with this cookbook. The recipes are easy enough and ambititiously touch on the many cuisines that make up our American melting pot. Plus, all the ones I have made are very tasty.

Southern cuisines, for example, are often left out of these cookbooks, but not here. The Yogurt Corn Bread is an ace of a recipe and lead me to believe that these authors know how to say "ya'll" and cook that way too.

This is a superb cookbook that not only has consistently excellent recipes but also has cooking tips that are well beyond what could be expected from the American Medical Associaton.

Bravos to the AMA for putting out this cookbook. Buy this cookbook. It is a steal of a deal.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

New local web sites

Gainesville is quickly becoming a leading community for sustainable, healthy agricultural goods. It is important that we all patronize the pioneers for healthy food in our community.

In my links section, I have added the new web site for Ward's Market. Long overdue, I am delighted that Ward's is making its presence known on the internet. Also, the Sun reported on two sites that I recommend to you: and

Again, patronize local markets, vendors, and farm stands. The vitality of our community depends on a healthy relationship between purveyors and customers. Do your part.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Heat Sinks: a thought from my buddy in Alabama

My good friend, Chesley, in Tuscaloosa, AL is an engineer and approaches barbecue with dedication, perseverance, zeolatry, and methodical thinking. Over the last few years, he and I have corresponded about a sauce that we both love and how we might come close to duplicating it. He has also shared grill set up ideas that have intrigued me. 

He applied one idea to his two barrel grill/smoker. In the cooking chamber, he placed fire bricks to serve as a heat sink to sustain and even out the temperature fluctuations. Pizza ovens often do something similar.  I look forward to using the same technique in other barbecue/smoker applications to see if I can improve their performance.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Wonder where your food comes from?

Check out the Global Grocer tool from Food and Water Watch in my list of links or copy and paste the following into your browser: You will be amazed at how much food is shipped over herculean distances. 

No wonder we are deep in hock to oil-producing countries. We have the carbon footprint of King Kong on steroids.  

Buy locally!

Three newly discovered web sites I like

Today's New York Times Dining section is once again a treasure trove of new ideas and approaches to the world of food and its preparation.

WWW.MIDTOWNLUNCH.COM is a great site for the off beat, streetside food vendors in New York City. 

WWW.HERITAGERADIONETWORK.COM is an in-depth audio approach to food. Great stuff. Digs deeper than the best of the foodie podcasts and e-mail newsletters. 

WWW.CUPCAKESTOP.COM intrigues me. How can any passer-by resist buying a cupcake?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Grits Epiphany: Grits Cakes Perfected

I have been working on making grits cakes that I tasted first at the A1A Ale Works in downtown St. Augustine. They arrived at the table browned, warm, and crispy/crunchy, a perfect foil for a shrimp salad, salsa, or served with freshly broiled fish. Their consistency first reminded me of the mashed potato cakes my mother made on the day after Thanksgiving (provided there were any mashed potatoes left). I have also seen and tasted these cakes (or toast as Paula Deen calls them) also made with polenta. I prefer the texture of the more coarsely-ground grits to polenta.

My versions, cooked in skillets, required too much tender lovin' care to make sure they did not stick, were browned properly, and cooked through enough. Here is my solution inspired by a recipe on Paula Deen's program.

Basically, I cook a double batch of grits the night before. Sometimes I add cheese, sometimes I don't or I augment the liquid with any kind of stock. I add a few tablespoons of butter or Healthy Start margarine. No trans fats allowed!

A standard grits recipe calls for 4 parts liquid to one part grits with some salt added to the liquid. I prefer stone ground grits first, quick grits second, and NEVER instant grits. Bring the liquid to a boil and slowly stir in the grits. Turn fire to low and put lid on the pot. Stir occasionally. When grits begin to firm up, I pour them off into a cookie sheet or rectangular casserole and place them in the refrigerator over night.

When I am ready to cook the cakes the next day, I use a large biscuit cutter to cut out rounds. I place them on a greased cookie sheet sprinkling on seasonings such as paprika, creole seasoning, salt/pepper, or smoked salt. Don't over do it.

At this point, I had tried every-which-way to cook them in a skillet with only mixed results. My best version was in a non-stick skillet. Nothing was easy and nothing finished as consistently as I wanted. I was seeking fool proof, fall-off-a-log simplicity that would knock people out every time with little cost or effort. Plus, most of the work (if you can call it that) is done the night before.

Paula Deen cooked some that caused me to see the light and solved my problems! Thank you Paula.

Instead of cooking them in a skillet, she baked them at 400 degrees for approximately 40 minutes until they became golden brown, flipped the cakes, and did the same on the other side. Using this method your grits cakes will come out perfectly every time provided you check on them to make sure they don't burn up in the oven.

This is an ace-in-the-hole recipe that will make you look like a genius chef. I guar-an- tee it!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Lighter Ono Burgers

When visiting the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands, we kept the Hawaii for Dummies guide at hand for the whole trip because the tastes of the writer were very much like our own. Getting off the beaten path to find local cuisines, art, and gardens was our mission and the book led us to a few gems that the average tourist would never find.

An outdoor burger shack, Duane's Ono Char Burgers, located on the Kuhio Highway en route to the north shore of Kauai, was highly recommended and we found it to be a slice of road-side heaven. Their hamburgers, named Ono Burgers ("ono" means "good" in Hawaiian), were simply marvelous. The red open-air stand located next door to the Anahola Post Office and General Store has picnic tables under trees and all the food is cooked on a wood fired grill.

The recipe below was inspired by one of their offerings but is "lightened" up to lower fat calories somewhat.



Ground turkey, one pound
Ground turkey breast, one pound
One sweet onion (Maui, Vidalia, or St. Augustine Sweet), chopped
Salt and pepper
Creole seasoning mix or seasoning mix of choice, one tablespoon or to taste
Hamburger buns (choose good ones that have body to them)

Take fresh pineapple and slice into half inch thick slices. Marinade in teryaki sauce for several hours.

Fire up your charcoal grill, letting the coals turn to a solid gray. Add some oak or hickory to the fire after the coals have been ignited and the flame has died down. Basically, you want to produce smoke, but not a blaze, so time the addition of the wood to allow it to burn down but not burn away. You want enough smoke to flavor the meat without overwhelming it. I do not recommend mesquite in this instance.

Place your pineapple slices just off the heat so that you will not burn them. You want to grill them so that you create a darkened, caramelized finish. Flip once.

Mix a pound of ground turkey with a pound of ground turkey breast adding one onion, chopped, a tablespoon of creole seasoning or spice blend of choice, and salt/pepper. Be careful not to overwork the meat when forming into patties. Make an indentation with your thumb into the top of each patty. This will keep it from ballooning as it cooks. Spray lightly with Pam and put them on the gill over the coals. Pour some teryaki sauce over each burger.

Cook until a crust begins to form and you see the meat changing color about a fourth of the way up the side of the burger. Flip and cook for a few minutes and then move the burgers to the edge of the grill away from the direct heat. Pour more teryaki sauce over the burger and top each burger with blue cheese or a slice of Swiss cheese. Cover the grill and let all continue to cook for less than five minutes.

Place opened buns on the grill to toast them slightly, then assemble your burgers and enjoy!

Monday, March 09, 2009


Welcome to WALK4HEARING!

Progress: 5% Raised: $ 54425 Goal: $ 1000000 Note: We are currently experiencing technical difficulties with the progress meters on the walk pages. Please check back later.
Since 2006, thousands of people nationwide have joined the effort to end the stigma associated with hearing loss and provide support and resources for hearing loss prevention and education programs through the Walk4Hearing™. The Walk4Hearing™ , produced by The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), is the largest series of walks of its kind, held in the spring and fall in major cities throughout the U.S. Click on a walk near you to participate!
Returning Walkers: You will need to register again. First find your walk by going to the Walk Locations page then follow the instructions on your walk's page.
Featured WalkerTeri Wathen Says “It’s All in the Family!” Teri Wathen, from Stafford, Texas, is co-president of the HLA-Houston Chapter. She talks about her hearing loss and her involvement in the Walk4Hearing. Read her story.
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Saturday, March 07, 2009


I pour over book sales for cookbooks in much the same way I did for rock and roll records in the 60's and 70's. Many titles appear and re-appear making me wonder whether they were over-printed or the owners became uninspired with their recipes and culled the cookbooks from their collections.

My library system in Gainesville, FL has two mammoth sales annually and takes in over $300,000 from the two sales. The sale's cookbook section (like all of the other sections) is voluminous and full of gems for the informed shopper. Sometimes, however, I come across works that I have never heard of, but intrigue me nevertheless.

One Cajun cookbook author, Jude Theriot, caught my eye and I bought his excellent cookbook, La Cuisine Cajun, for a pittance. I was immediately intrigued with his take on Louisiana cooking that exceeded many of the standard ideas found in that genre. Plus, he seemed to have a eye on producing Cajun cuisine in as healthy a fashion as possible.

When I read further on Theriot, I found he had some low-carb and healthy-type cookbooks and I ordered a used copy of Cajun Healthy from Amazon. I was not disappointed and am spending the winter working my way through it along with Paul Prudhomme's, A Fork in the Road.

You will not be disappointed by Theriot's works. Recipes like Cajun Nibbles, Banana Crepes, Chicken and Andouille Gumbo, Ground Round Stroganoff, a cache of seafood recipes, and fabulous sides will keep me busy well into the summer. With some work and creativity, Southern food can be healthy and tasty at the same time. Jude Theriot's cookbooks are living proof of that.
Check out Theriot's cookbooks. I will add Cajun Healthy to my Amazon sidebar on the left of the blog to make it easy to access.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Just in from Slow Food Gainesville folks

The Inaugural membership meeting for the new local food co-op will be held in two weeks, on Thursday, March 5th. If you'd like to be involved in this process, purchase a membership here- Payment plan options are available. Help then reach their goal of 500 members by the summer. Forward this newsletter to 10 friends! It is only through positive action that our deepest desires for change will occur. It is a true sign of change that we will have a community owned market place in Gainesville . . . The question is - Do YOU want to be a part of it? Mark Your Calendars for these other upcoming events to benefit the co-op:April 25th - Spring Concert for the Co-op @ The Garden, 2-10pm. Helpus Celebrate Earth Day and the Bounties of Spring! Local music, food,beer, and businesses will be represented. Contact if you'd like to be involved.May 2nd - Citizens Co-op Yard Sale. Start your spring cleaning now and prepare to donate any unused household items, clothing, books, etc. to the cause! Drop-off days and times to be determined.

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