I am an eater

britts

I like to eat. No, scratch that. I love to eat. Most of the time, food that is really good for me, once in a while treats that are probably not so good for me but undeniably delicious. Just look at those beauties from Britts Donut Shop in Carolina Beach. Two donuts once every two years are not going to kill me or my waistline. They make those babies from scratch while you watch. Cash only. Each donut $1, including tax. Sister Moo, Favorite Niece and I decided to sit at the counter and eat ours this year (so we could watch them being made– all that lovely sugar coating dripping after they come out of the hot oil). Mercy me.

I have become quite picky, though, in my use of ingredients when I cook at home. No more cake mixes, very little in the way of prepackaged food. Bisquick is no longer found in my cupboard nor is Crisco. King Arthur’s all-purpose flour, aluminum-free baking powder, butter and whole-fat milk, cream or buttermilk are used to make my biscuits. Cooking for others is a labor of love. Eating really good food is one of life’s great pleasures, in my humble opinion. Homemade mac and cheese, pound cake, beef stew, vegetable soup, cornbread, rice and tuna salad… my favorite recipes tend to be rather eclectic. A mix of Appalachia, the South, and France. I have a ridiculous number of cook books. The only magazines I subscribe to are Our State and Cooks Illustrated. They test all of their recipes several times so I don’t have to! (I am also admittedly a bit lazy.) I don’t watch cooking shows on TV. I do sometimes watch a French series Qui sera le prochain grand pâtissier? I have a thing for pastry chefs, I guess… especially French ones. What can I say?

Pierre Hermé is my favorite (if you read this blog, you already know that!)–

His macarons are divine. Seriously, he will be the macaron-maker for angels someday. Not any time soon, I hope, though. In January, I had a chocolate-foie gras one (why didn’t I buy at least a half dozen??) that was one of the best things I have ever eaten. I may not watch cooking TV shows, but I do watch chef movies. Pierre is one of the judges in Kings of Pastry. (My 7th graders LOVE this film!)

A second favorite is Christophe Adam, king of éclairs, in my heart.

In March, I sampled his lovely framboise and vanilla cream éclair while at Galeries Lafayette. Miam.

While at Carolina Beach last week, Sister Moo, Favorite Niece and I went on a mission. To find the best crab dip. Niece loves crab and, well, I love eating. We tried it at four different restaurants. Each was quite different, served on different types of bread.

#1 Michael’s Seafood– good, Dijon-mustard taste served with soft pita bread (the best thing on their menu is the Seafood Chowder)

crab1

#2 Sea Witch- nice melty cheese on top, served with buttery toasted pita (my favorite)

crab2

#3 Havana’s- least favorite bread- fried pita?- dip with a strong mayo taste

crab3

#4 The Deck House- good dip, served with garlic toast- not bad, dip baked with bread crumbs on top (I prefer the cheese), bit of a spicy after taste which I liked

crab4

I am now at Sunset Beach with the Ex-Ex. We tried the dip at Crabby Oddwaters night before last. Served in a bread bowl, with toasted baguette slices on the side. It is good- the crab taste comes through on this one.

crab sunset

So there you have it. I have no crab dip recipes. Maybe I will try one when the crowd arrives in a couple of days. Bill’s Seafood is just across the bridge and I will be going there to buy shrimp for Frogmore Stew (thanks Uncle Beano and BFF) and Shrimp and Grits (boy, looking at the posts and various renditions of this recipe brought back some memories!) later this week. Anyone have a crab dip recipe to share??

Bon appétit! I hope that you have something delicious to eat today with someone you love. Feed people good food. It is a sure fire way to show them that you love them. Everyone on this earth should have access to good, healthy food. If I were in charge of the world…

Bits and pieces

shells

I used to roam the beach looking for whole, perfect shells and sand dollars. I spent more time looking down than looking up. Now I just pick up whatever I happen to see that strikes my fancy.  Bits and pieces. Odds and ends.  Kind of like last night’s dinner here at the house we are renting for the week.  Cheese and crackers, blackened sausage, hummus, carrots, peppers, cucumbers and broccoli with ranch dip and leftover Frogmore Stew. Really good at the end of a long day spent sitting in the sun and trying to hit 10,000 steps on the Fitbit by walking to the end of the island.

Cooper, the Wonder Dog, was relaxing and hoping for a bit or piece of something tasty to come his way. Cooper belongs to Son #2’s girlfriend.

cooper

There has been some great first-thing-in-the-morning play time with the Cutest Baby in the World for both Granddad and Gramma.

kennedy steve

kennedy

Some fireworks in the distance, at Ocean Isle, on July 3.  All the beauty, none of the noise.

fireworks

Fireworks are illegal on Sunset Beach due to fire hazard, but that didn’t stop some of our neighbors. The police cruised by multiple times trying to find the culprits. The Ex-Ex and Brother-in-law were questioned when they decided to go out and check out what was happening, but they didn’t come home in handcuffs in the back of a squad car so I guess they were believable.

The Ex-Ex captured a lovely shot during a moonlit walk towards the pier.  Sort of Starry Night Over The Rhône-ish with the reflections on the water, I think.

pier

Son #1 and his two beautiful girls had to go back home because he has a follow up job interview this morning.  Fingers crossed. They will return in a few hours.

At this very moment, the Ex-Ex is still sleeping, as are Son #2, Cooper and his owner. Best Sister-in-law-in-the-World is checking out what’s happening on her iPad. Brother-in-law has gone out for a long bike ride.  When he comes back, he will turn on the TV to check out Stage 4 of the Tour de France. Vittel to La Planche des Belles Filles.

route17

I have to admit that I don’t care who wins.  I watch for the scenery.

I am an early riser, even when on vacation. I have been washing clothes, turning on the dishwasher, pitting cherries and making muffins, and reading my beach week book, See Me by Nicholas Sparks. I am getting attached to Colin, one of the main characters, and I am afraid that something bad is going to happen to him. I will hope for the best.  It is set in Wilmington, a city in North Carolina only about 50 miles from where I sit right now.

Life comes in bits and pieces.  Not perfect, but sometimes perfect for me. My week at the beach is just that. Surrounded by the people I love, my family once again under one roof, no plans, nothing that has to be done, the smell of warm muffins filling the house. And a view of the Atlantic Ocean from where I sit writing this.  Life is good. Every bit and piece of it right now.

muffins batter

Cherry Vanilla Muffins

makes 12

1-3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/3 c. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 large egg, beaten

1/4 c. oil or melted butter

3/4 c. milk (this time I used a mixture of vanilla Greek yogurt and milk)

1-1/2 c. pitted, chopped cherries

Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top, if desired, for a nice crunch

Prepare the muffin tin by lining with paper cups or spraying with non-stick spray. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the middle.

Add the beaten egg, milk (and yogurt, if using), oil (or melted butter). Stir just until combined. Fold in cherries. Sprinkle sugar on top, if using.

Spoon the batter evenly into the 12 muffin cups. Bake for about 15 minutes or until muffins test done.

muffin

Sister-in-law said spreading butter on top of a warm muffin was pretty tasty.

Bon appétit and have a lovely day.  If you can’t be with your favorite people, let them know you are thinking about them. The beach is calling and I must answer.