Fourth of July 2014

Canada Day Fireworks

OK, It’s not Fourth of July, but Canada Day Fireworks photo by Ben_Senior

At some point I’m going to stop beginning my posts with “It’s been a crazy week.” It starts sounding like Garrison Keillor’s standard “It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon.” But…it has been a crazy week, topped off by a holiday weekend.

Chorale Concert

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the collaboration between the Furman Lakeside Concert Band and the Greenville Chorale. It’s of our most popular concerts, certainly the best attended. We had rehearsals Monday night, then Tuesday with the band. The concert was Thursday. (more…)

Garlic Shrimp a la Lazy Goat

Garlic Shrimp a la Lazy Goat

Garlic Shrimp a la Lazy Goat

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, and we’re still not done. I had big plans to post a 1 year review of retirement. That didn’t happen. I had several photo treks I wanted to take that didn’t get taken. It’s been a week of unforeseen circumstances – the death and funeral of an elderly uncle out of town, and now some serious health issues in our family. This is also a concert week for us – the Chorale is performing a Patriotic concert on July 3 by the Furman Lake, so we’ve had evening rehearsals for that, too.

Sometime in the midst of all this craziness we managed to make it to one of our favorite restaurants, The Lazy Goat. We have several favorite dishes, one of which is the garlic shrimp with tomatoes and arugula. we liked it so much that Laura wanted to see if she could reverse engineer the dish and cook it at home. Here’s our first attempt. (more…)

Artisan Pizza Night


My “Rustica” Pizza

One of our favorite pizza places in town is Brixx Pizza. It’s a regional chain that features brick oven artisan pizzas that are quite tasty. Laura usually gets the “Mexican”, which has chicken and jalapenos. I usually get the “Rustica” which has prosciutto, artichokes, mushrooms, and garlic cloves.

The only problem is that Brixx Pizza is located in the Shops at Gridlock on Woodruff Road, a place one does not drive if one wishes to keep one’s sanity. So, we decided to see if we could replicate our favorite pizzas at home. (more…)

Stuffed Poblanos with Chicken



This actually started several weeks ago. It was the weekend of the Super Bowl, and I was expected to bring my bacon-wrapped chicken jalapeno poppers. My usual routine is to go to the Augusta Road Flea Market on Saturday and get the peppers from one of the Mexican markets there.

This time things were…different.

First off, this place is always just a bit weird. This particular Saturday it seemed even more so. In addition to the occult stores, head shops, and other semi-legal endeavors, there seemed to be lots of “stripper wear.” There were lots of booths selling revealing clothing for women (or men, I guess). Some might call it club wear, but it looks like it belongs on a pole more than a dance floor. I guess I’m getting old. Not related, but I even found a mountain of bras.

image (more…)

Vegetable Cream Cheese Spread

Cream Cheese Spread

Cream Cheese Spread with
Sun Dried Tomatoes, Queen Olives,
and Kalamata Olives

I haven’t posted a recipe in ages. This one is more a simple concoction than recipe, but I like it.

Laura and I have been going to the fitness center together on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If time allows, we immediately undo all of that exercise by stopping by Greenfield’s Bagels. Lately my favorite has been a sun dried tomato bagel with olive spread cream cheese. I decided to try to replicate that at home.

Cream Cheese Spread


  • One package of cream cheese
  • One tablespoon of sun dried tomatoes
  • Roughly one tablespoon of large queen olives with pimento
  • Roughly one tablespoon of kalamata olives


Cream Cheese Spread

First take the tomatoes and reconstitute them a bit by soaking in water.

Cream Cheese Spread

Either with a knife or a food processor chop the vegetables finely. It’s OK if there are some large pieces.

Cream Cheese Spread
Cream Cheese Spread

Blend in the chopped vegetables.

Cream Cheese Spread

The result is a nice savory spread that goes great on toasted bagels.

O Tannenbaum


Greg and Paul

…or, the development of a theoretical cocktail…

The Christmas party for Furman’s Chemistry Department was looming, and my friends Greg and Paul thought that a new drink was needed to celebrate the season. Both had agreed that Bombay Sapphire gin would be the base. Greg had lots of rosemary left over from Thanksgiving, and wanted to find some way to use it in the drink. Because both of those components came from evergreens, they thought the name of the new concoction should be “O Tannenbaum.”

Paul didn’t have a real recipe, but he Googled the two ingredients. The recipe called for cinnamon and milk – not exactly what they wanted. Greg found another that used gin, Goldslager, and honey. The flecks of elemental gold in the Goldslager would add a festive air to the drink, but they needed to cut the alcohol content. Here’s the final recipe they decided on…

1.5 ounces of Bombay Sapphire gin
.5 ounces of Goldslager
4 ice cubes
2 ounces of Sprite
A sprig of rosemary

Combine ingredients except Sprite in a shaker and serve in a highball glass. Add Sprite as a final effervescent touch.

The thing is, the drink was completely theoretical. It had never been constructed until Paul mixed the first one at the party itself.

O Tannenbaum

Brian was the first guinea pig, and declared the drink excellent. Paul fixed more for the rest of us, and we concurred.

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum,
How lovely are they ice cubes..

Grits Guilty Pleasure


1. In a cereal bowl, dice a small tomato. Home-grown, garden-ripened with a higher acidic content works best. In this case I just used cherry salad tomatoes from the store, cut in half.


2. Add two packets of Quaker Instant Grits with Bacon Flavored Bits. (Yeah, blasphemous to most true Southerners.)


3. Add enough butter to make everything palatable.


4. Add about 3/4 cup of hot water and stir.


Of course, perfection would be real grits and real bacon with home-grown tomatoes, but this works in a pinch. It’s a great recipe for camping, especially if you substitute sun-dried tomatoes.

Carl’s Seafood Bisque


We first had this meal in Florida at Carl’s house.  He is a great chef!  He had caught fresh red snapper in the Intracoastal Waterway and used some of it to make this seafood bisque.  I unfortunately do not have fresh red snapper so I get tilapia from Publix and make this imitation of Carl’s dish.  Served over rice with a big side salad this makes a delicious dinner.  The recipe can be scaled according to the number of diners.  I use one small piece of tilapia per person and if I am making this for more than four people I add another can of the soup.  BTW, Tom always wants me to make enough so there are leftovers.  He uses them for breakfast served over a toasted English muffin or over grits :-)

ingredients for four servings:

  • one onion, diced
  • package of sliced mushrooms
  • one can Campbell’s Cream of Shrimp soup
  • one small package of tailless shelled shrimp
  • 4 small fillets or three large fillets of tilapia (or other white fish of choice) cut into large chunks
  • sour cream
  • grated mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

cooking instructions:

  • saute the onion in a small amount of olive oil until tender
  • add mushrooms, soup and shrimp
  • stir over medium heat until everything is evenly distributed
  • add the fish chunks and gently cover with the sauce
  • cover pan and let simmer until the fish is done, about 10-15 minutes
  • add a big dollop of sour cream and a large handful of the grated cheese, stir gently to combine
  • let simmer covered for another 5-15 minutes
  • add salt and pepper to taste

Serve over rice with a big salad and sliced warm French bread.

Beef Bouillon Fondue


Beef Bouillon Fondue

Last night Laura decided she wanted fondue for dinner. She wanted to try something other than the oil-based fondues we had done in the past, so she decided to try a bouillon-based one instead. It was a resounding success. Here’s what we did…


  • 2 14 oz cans of Swanson’s Beef Bouillon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 package Lipton onion soup mix
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 cups water

Combine all in a fondue pot and simmer on stove until ready to transfer to the table. Our little fondue pot wouldn’t quite hold 2 cups of additional water, so we added enough to fill the pot, then added more as the bouillon evaporated off during the course of the meal.


This works best for beef, but it also works well for seafood. Here’s what we used…

  • 1/2 lb beef (we used a couple of small ribeye steaks)
  • 1/3 lb shrimp
  • 1/3 lb small scallops
  • 1 bowl baby bella mushrooms

Shrimps and scallops we left whole. The beef was cut into bite-sized pieces. The mushrooms were cut depending on size, but we found that quartering them made them cook a bit better in the broth.

The flavors were spectacular. The beef and mushrooms worked best, but the seafood was also tasty. We found that it helped to have some additional salt and pepper available. We served this with a small spinach side salad.

Fondue Dinner

The unused broth can be refrigerated and reused. Take a small sliced onion and sautee’ it in a pan so that the rings fall apart and caramelize. Reheat the broth, adding the caramelized onions and slices of provolone cheese. This turns the leftover fondue into an excellent French onion soup.

Chocolate Martini


I’ve been tinkering with this recipe for quite awhile.  I think I might have finally gotten it right.   My previous attempts resulted in something that was too sweet, or just completely unpalatable.  My goal was to make something that still retained the characteristics of a martini, and not just be a chocolate shake with vodka.  Here’s the final result…


  • 1.5 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz Godiva Chocolate liqueur
  • 1/2 oz cream liqueur (Bailey’s, or similar.  Kahlua would probably work, too.)
  • 1 dash creme de menthe

Combine ingredients in a martini shaker over ice and shake.  Pour into a standard martini glass and garnish with shaved chocolate.

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