Saturday, March 29, 2014


Once a year for the past 14 years a group of eight friends (including us!) have been going on a weekend trip together.  We cook, we shop, there may be golf, there may be a dinner game mystery; but we have really enjoyed the fun time together.  The location has typically been within a two hour drive of our homes, to a VRBO, a bed and breakfast, or to a lake cabin or lake home.  Since this year we are celebrating our 15th get together, we decided to do something special.  After a lot of thought, we decided to spend four (or more!) days together in Savannah, Georgia.  Although we are all well traveled, we found that this is one of the places that none of us had been to previously.  More on that in a later blog post.

We needed to get together to do some advance planning, so I decided to host a potluck "Southern Dinner" to include us watching the movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" which takes place in Savannah.   For the dinner I decided to prepare Shrimp and Grits.  You can immediately tell that I am a northerner since southerners will tell you that Shrimp and Grits is a breakfast entree, not a dinner entree.  Oh well...

*  4-1/4 cups low-salt chicken broth
*  3/4 cup whipping cream
*  6 tablespoons butter
*  2 garlic cloves, minced
*  1 cup corn grits (or corn meal)
In a large heavy saucepan, bring broth, cream, butter and garlic to boil.  Gradually whisk in corn grits.  Return to a boil, whisking constantly.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, whisking often, until grits thicken - about 15 minutes.
*  4 ounces of bacon, cut into thin strips
*  1/2 cup butter
*  1 whole fresh red pepper, seeded and cut into pieces
*  2/3 cup finely chopped shallots
*  2 large garlic cloves, minced
*  4 pounds uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
*  1 cup dry white wine
*  28 ounces canned, diced tomatoes in juice, drained (juice reserved)
*  1 teaspoon seasoning such as Penzeys "Ozark"
*  1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
*  1/2 cup chopped green onions

In a large, heavy skillet, fry the bacon; then remove the bacon and most of the bacon grease.  Add 1/4 cup butter to the skillet.  Saute red pepper, shallots and garlic for about 2 minutes.  Add the shrimp and saute another two minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp to a bowl.  Add white wine to the skillet and boil until reduced to a glaze, about 5 minutes.  Add the drained tomatoes, the Ozark seasoning, and half of the fried bacon; simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  Add parsley, green onions, and cooked shrimp and simmer until the shrimp are warmed through, about 2 minutes.  If desired, thin the sauce with the reserved tomato juice.  Test and add salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon corn grits into shallow bowls.  Top with shrimp mixture, and garnish with the remaining fried bacon.  Serve immediately. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


This has been a very harsh Minnesota winter, and an escape was necessary.  The first time I was in Barbados was about 40 years ago, and the last time was a single-day stop when we were on a Caribbean cruise quite a few years ago.  It was a good time to return.  

The contrast between Minnesota's colors (black, brown, gray and white) and Barbados' (brillant, tropical) is dramatic.  The gardens in Minnesota have been covered with snow for months; but the gardens in Barbados were spectacular.  

Huntes Gardens, created by Anthony Hunte, a noted horticlturist,  is centrally located in the parish of St. Joseph, in an unusual sink hole-type gully.   The garden is less about horticultural species and their nomenclature, and much, much more about dramatic landscapes.  Enjoy these photos from our visit.  For more photos and information visit Hunte's Gardens website.  Click on a picture to enlarge it.  

Monday, March 3, 2014


This was the dessert for our Cooking Club lunch last Thursday.  It tasted as good as it looks!  Below is the recipe from Club member, Barb.  You can see that she made these in larger, heart-shaped tart shells:

*  Tart Shells (recipe below)
*  2 packages (3 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
*  1/4 cup powdered sugar
*  1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur
*  1 can (16 ounces) red cherries, drained; reserve liquid
*  2 or 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
*  4 teaspoons cornstarch
*  Dash salt
Prepare Tart Shells; set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and liqueur; beat until light and fluffy.  Spoon or pipe with a pastry bag about 1 teaspoon cheese mixture into each tart shell.  Measure reserved cherry liquid.  Add water, if necessary, to equal 3/4 cup.  In a small saucepan, combine cherry liquid, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Stir to dissolve cornstarch.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and clear; cool slightly,  Place 2 cherries on top of filling in each tart shell.  Spoon glaze over tops.  Optional:  Add a dollop of whipped cream before finishing with cherries and glaze.

TART SHELLS.  Makes about 39 shells.
*  2 cups flour
*  1/4 cup sugar
*  1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
*  3/4 cup butter
*  1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 400ºF.  Stir together flour, sugar, and orange peel.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until particles are the size of small peas.  Blend in egg with fingers until mixture forms a ball.  Press a scant tablespoon of dough into 2-inch round tart pans.  Place pans on a baking sheet.  Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden.  Cool in pans.