Saturday, November 2, 2013

October Instagram

How is it November already? HOW?! 2013 is almost over! October (apparently) came and went in a whirlwind of food and travel. Here's what it looked like.

The very FIRST week of October I spotted Christmas decorations for sale already in Target. Even though it doesn't mean what it used to (since I don't work in retail anymore), it still gave me a shiver of exhaustion.

I would however, totally buy that Santa. Too adorable.

I had a BIG career challenge this month, my bosses went out of town and left me and the Sous Chef of Biscuit Love to run a wedding event in the boonies. I was super worried the whole time whether I was doing a good job, but everything went wonderfully and the ceremony was gorgeous!

I got really wrapped up in school projects this month, here we were practicing fruit and vegetable carving. Clearly this is my calling.

We have a catering project for school that's due in November, it involves planning menus, cooking food, and table decoration. As a blogger, I fixated on the visual aspect of the project and sort of got carried away with my prop shopping.

Still totally usable and kitchen safe, right?

Recipe testing for our catering project it went pretty well until I somehow melted the top to a ink pen in my oven (wtf?!). That made me feel really professional!

My brother turned 22 on October the 9th, he requested muffins instead of a cake this year (?). I included some Lego block candles because they were his favorite once upon a time...

We tried out quite a few new restaurants this month. We went to Burger Republic in Lenoxx Village to have dinner with my boyfriend's parents.

Fondue Tots 

Banana Split Milkshake

The  "Eat The Farm" and Bacon Mac and Cheese

Later in the month we tired out a Greek Lunch place called Kouzina Cafe,  I had the falafel gyro, it was sooo good but HUGE!

I also tried out a brand new food truck in town Churro Queens! 

Things have been slowing down a bit on the truck lately now that we're getting into the fall and winter, but we've been to a lot of fun events.

Attack of the Scarecrows at the Franklin Farmer's Market. All the vendors displayed themed scarecrows. This one was ours, modeled after our head chef and  notorious cookbook hoarder, Karl.

Square dancing with Yazoo brewery at Bells Bend Farms. This event was SO much fun, every one had such a good time, and the music was awesome too! The only bad part was that the temperature suddenly dropped down to 40 degrees while we were out there! I was really glad I was working so close to an oven and a fryer. Cold or not though those people keep on drinking and dancing.

Halloween was a bit of a bust this year, with Tornado speed winds and thunderstorms all night. Lucky for me my running club has a costume night  that day before the storm hit so at least I got to dress like a goober in public ( which as I'm sure you're aware, is one of my favorite pastimes). I went as Fionna from Adventure Time.

Only people with kids of a certain age even really knew who I was supposed to be, but I didn't care!

And that was the month of October!

If you want to follow me on Instagram I'm madame_magar

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Midweek Marvels - Kern's Pear Nectar

Unlike some people I happen to love pears, and the very sudden arrival of the freezing cold fall temps in Nashville has put me in a very pear-y mood. So I thought this week I would pick out something very pear-y that I've seen around for years but never tried; Kern's Pear Nectar.

It comes in these teeny tiny cans all sealed together in a little wholesome six pack that made me feel like I was buying brewskies for a barbie doll. It was a weird situation. I was in to it.

Turns out though, that in all these years of passing Kern's Nectar by, I wasn't really missing much. It has the texture of orange juice concentrate plopped into water before a good mixing. And there isn't much impressive taste to speak of (pear or otherwise), and I think part of me was disappointed that it wasn't carbonated ( conditioned expectations with cans and all that). I guess if you just wanted a can of juice-y substance to hand a kid to keep him quiet this would work. But for this pear lover, it was really nothing special.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

It's Sunday I'm In Love

My ability to care about anything else has hit an all time low, I am way, way too caught up in this food truck life. I'm in the last few weeks of my last semester of culinary school and I don't care, self set blog posting deadlines keep coming and going and I haven't done a wonderful job of keeping them up, but this day job of mine has become way too much fun.

This job came along at just the right time for me. I've always been so obsessed with rules and schedules and meticulous details and this chaotic changeable work situation is so very much the opposite of all that. The very nature of taking this job on a food truck has put me in the position to take work when there is work to be done regardless of notice and it's done wonders for my uptight Capricorn sensibilities.

Just a little Saturday night square dancing
Working the truck has been a bit like having a wild, no good, motorcycle riding boyfriend, that you can never pin down to set up a date. He just shows up at all hours of the day or night, randomly, asking if you want to go out in an hour (or worse, right now), and your instinct is to say "no boo, plans are necessary" and yet you know that if you say yes and go that you will without fail have a marvelous, unforgettable time.
So you make a choice, do you say no, stay home, and get a full night's sleep? Or do you roll with it, buy yourself some leather boots, pull all-nighters, and learn the time saving benefits of drinking coffee in the bathtub? Some weeks I say to myself that this is too much, it can't possibly last, and that I will die young from lack of sleep, but every Sunday morning I find myself with stories to tell.

Bluegrass in the boonies
Even my hours spent baking, away from all the action are blissful. I put on a spotify playlist in the empty commissary, get elbows deep in biscuit dough and sing and bake all night, (or morning, or afternoon) until 300 or 400 or 600 biscuits are buttery golden brown and wrapped. Then roll on out to the next chaotic shift of bluegrass parties in the middle of the woods, brushes with country stars ( just keep it cool, don't let on that you know), and the inside of more port-o-johns than any sane person should see.

The problem of course now is finding a way to break free from the snake charming skills of the 'no good boyfriend' to deal with things like swiftly approaching finals, blog post deadlines, etc. I know that somehow, some way I will find a balance...

All the same, it's very lucky I get paid to do this. Food Truckin is one hell of a drug.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Midweek Marvels - Daelman's Caramel Wafers

This week has been a BEAST. It's brought visits from almost in-laws, emergency rooms, and a brief encounter with a film crew. I am exhausted and it's not even Friday yet! Sometimes on a week like this, all that can help me is some quiet time to myself to enjoy a good cookie (or six). Luckily this week I found the perfect one.

Daelman's Caramel Wafers taste remarkably unlike I expected them to. I imagined something crispy and sickly sweet. It turned out though that these tasted like neither of those things. The caramel brought a soothing savory richness and the wafer cookie  had a satisfying chew that I really needed. Yes, I said  needed. And I meant it. Did things just get weird?

The overall flavor combination reminded me of one of my favorite guilty pleasure foods; super processed  still warm snicker doodle cookies from the food court in the mall. You know what cookies I'm talking about. The ones the size of your head (and yes they must be this size). Sooo relaxing after a long day of wandering around in chaos. I guess that's what made these caramel wafers the perfect stress reliever after the week that I've had. They hit those sweet/chewy/salty therapeutic cookie spots just right. 

If you find yourself having a week like mine, give these cookies a try. They just might help bring your center back. And if not, you can always add booze. 

Or wait... I mean milk. Milk goes with cookies...right? *cough*Kahlua does too*cough*

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Midweek Marvels - PB2 Dry Peanut Butter

I had never before heard of powdered dehydrated peanut butter until I saw it on the shelf this week. And even now it has intrigued me to the point of confusion.

I've been having a really hard time understanding the idea behind the creation of this product. The label boasts that through this dehydration process that they have removed the bulk of the oil and fat from the peanut butter so that you may enjoy it in peace and light calories. But that just leaves me thinking, well... without the healthy fats, protein and creaminess that comes with a nut butter, what the hell is the point? I tried my best, though to reserve judgment. I mean, it could still be delicious, right? Peanut butter in new and unfamiliar form? At the store I saw two kinds, one traditional, no frills, dehydrated peanut dust, and another, chocolate flavored. I went for the chocolate to maximize the potential for success.

Once I purchased, bagged, and brought this strange item home, I read the directions on the back; "1 tbsp water for 2 tbsp peanut butter dust.". I tried it out, just as they said, 2:1 ratio, and found it still runny. So I abandoned the directions and attacked it by eye, Ovaltine style. Don't stop adding dust until it's thick enough to cut with a knife! About three to four more tablespoons later, I was satisfied with the thickness, and was ready for a taste. With quivering spoon I brought the strange paste to my lips, and tasted.

It was...uneventful. I thought, being dehydrated and ground, that it would have a highly intensified peanut flavor! But all I found was just the faintest hint of vague "roast". I didn't really get a peanut taste that satisfied any part of my creamy desires, and I didn't detect a chocolate flavor at all! It just sat there, in all it's disappointing blandness, slowly turning blacker, strangely oxidizing in the open air.

So...what's one to do with a 6 ounce container of dehydrated peanut dust?! I guess a trip to pinterest in in order....

Friday, October 4, 2013

Hello friends! I've been murdered by midterms this week ( like, with an ax)!
So... regularly scheduled posts will resume next week (Wednesday)
See you then!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

September Instagram - Life On The Road

September was a wild month, I feel like I was all over the place! Here's what the past month looked like through instragram.

The month started out with a rare date night with the boyfriend. We went to see Midsummer Night's Dream at Shakespeare in the Park which was amazing as always. Nashville's Shakespeare in the park has been around since I was a kid, it's a free event, wonderful quality and I always try my best to go every year that I can make it.

While we were there we tried a strange new food truck for dinner, ( how can you pass up a truck that's so eye catching?!)

Later in the week I received a unique tip from a customer. It's supposed to bring me good luck if I don't spend it.

 Found a friend at the Franklin Farmer's Market 

More eye candy at the Farmer's Market.

 We had a wedding one cool Saturday night way, way out on a plantation. The moonlight was so beautiful way out there in the middle of nowhere that I didn't want to leave.

The truck was at the Zac Brown Southern Ground Festival last weekend. I however was working the night shift at the commissary cranking out biscuits like there was no tomorrow ( there was another two rooms of tables covered in biscuits like this by the time I was done!). I made 1,400 that weekend! Whew!

Our new food truck is finally finished! We rolled out our remodeled 1974 Airstream the weekend of  Zac Brown, then took it on a road trip to Birmingham, Alabama last Sunday ( it was my very first solo road trip!).

The drive from Nashville to Birmingham was gorgeous! Although the rest areas on the way down were a little... eccentric...

I made it home from my long road trip just in time for October to start.

And that was September!

If you want to follow me on instagram I'm Madame_Magar

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Midweek Marvels - Jammie Dodgers

I know that it's ridiculous but I had a full on fan-girl freak out moment when I spotted these Jammie Dodgers for sale. As I mentioned I have a life long obsession with British things ( television shows in particular), and Jammie Dodgers are mentioned in an enormous percentage of them ( not to mention over and over in Doctor Who) so I have always wanted to try them.

I didn't really know what to expect flavor-wise other than the obvious 'jam' part, which the back label perplexingly classifies as "raspberry flavored plum jam filling". There's a familiar quality to the jam filling that I really enjoyed, something a little like the filling in a pop tart ( though a little less sweet?). As far as packaged shortbread cookies go, I thought they were a little on the bland side, but it's possible that the combination  of a highly flavored cookie with that jam filling would just be an overwhelming amount of sugar in one cookie. The overall taste combination kind of grew on me, they didn't strike me as particularly delicious on the first bite but the more I sampled the more I wanted to eat them. They reminded me in a way of how I think I would experience Oreos if I had never had them at all growing up. If I tried an Oreo for the very first time as an adult, I would find it to be a satisfying cookie to munch, with a sort of unassuming chocolate outside, and a sickly sweet cream filling, but not an earth shattering kind of good. Your history with the cookie I think adds a bit to your perception of it, I imagine I would love these Jammie Dodgers to pieces if I grew up sneaking them into school lunches, swirling them into ice cream, and demolishing sleeves of them at slumber parties.

That said, I didn't have any problem polishing off an entire package of these babies on shooting day, and even found myself making a special trip on the way home from school with a second package in mind.

It's not Oreo love yet, but I think we're halfway there...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Kind Of Love - Apples by Grace Schulman

Rain hazes a street cart's green umbrella
but not its apples, heaped in paper cartons,
dry under cling film. The apple man,

who shirrs his mouth as though eating tart fruit,
exhibits four like racehorses at auction:
Blacktwig, Holland, Crimson King, Salome.

I tried one and its cold grain jolted memory:
a hill where meager apples fell so bruised
that locals wondered why we scooped them up,

my friend and I, in matching navy blazers.
One bite and I heard her laughter toll,
free as school's out, her face flushed in late sun.

I asked the apple merchant for another,
jaunty as Cezanne's still-life reds and yellows,
having more life than stillness, telling us,

uncut, unpeeled, they are not for the feast
but for themselves, and building strength to fly
at any moment, leap from a skewed bowl,

whirl in the air, and roll off a tilted table.
Fruit-stand vendor, master of Northern Spies,
let a loose apple teach me how to spin

at random, burn in light and rave in shadows.
Bring me a Winesap like the one Eve tasted,
savored and shared, and asked for more.

No fool, she knew that beauty strikes just once,
hard, never in comfort. For that bitter fruit,
tasting of earth and song, I'd risk exile.

The air is bland here. I would forfeit mist
for hail, put on a robe of dandelions,
and run out, broken, to weep and curse — for joy.

Apple and Sausage Tarts with Cheddar Cheese Crust

While these tarts aren't the most attractive treat to be wrapped it buttery pastry (read:FUGLY), the combination of flavors is just too intriguing to miss out on. The sweet+savory combination of apples and sausage would, I think, make these wonderful for breakfast. Do give them a try. Although I will confess, the next time I make them, I'm going for a double crust!.

For the crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 pound extra-sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated (2 1/2 cups)
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 to 8 tablespoon ice water

For the filling

2 1/2  to 3 apples ( I used a mixture of Envy, Macintosh, and Golden Delicious), peeled, cored and diced
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup Sour Cream
salt to taste ( about a 1/8 tsp or so)
8 ounces of pork breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled ( I used Jimmy Dean)

For the crust

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt, butter, shortening, and cheese and blend together either with a pastry blender or your fingers ( guess which one I prefer!), until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, with some smallish pea-sized butter lumps. Add the ice water, a tablespoon at a time, to the flour mixture, until the dough holds together when you squeeze it between your fingers. Divide the dough into two round, flat disks and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

For the filling, 
In a large bowl, toss the diced apples with the sugar, salt, cinnamon and flour. Then add the vanilla, sour cream and sausage and toss to combine.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

Roll out the pastry dough to about 1/8 of an inch thickness and cut a 5"x 5" square for each tart*. Fill each tart with 1/4 cup of the filling and fold the points in towards the center until they meet.

Bake at  425 for 10 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 350 and continue baking for 35-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling is hot and bubbly.

Yeild approx 8 tarts

*A note on the tart design, only half of my tarts maintained the above shape with all that filling inside, the other four sort of did as they pleased with some corners flopping all around and others tight in place like soldiers. Were I to make this recipe again, I would be likely to either make enclosed hand pies or utilize a tart pan for uniform results.