Tuesday, September 2, 2014

'Twas a Wild and Crazy Summer

Oh my poor little blog -- abandoned and untouched for three months. I'm back, at least for a moment. Truth is I've been on the road but finally back and ready to get settled back in on the homefront. Now that kids are back in school and the temperatures will soon be cooling (hopefully), I hope to get back to posting regularly here. For now, I thought I'd share a little bit of my crazy summer with y'all.

On the last day of May, we took off for Salt Lake City, Utah with our ultimate destination being Yellowstone National Park. Our main motivation for going was to visit my brother who lives in Gardiner, Montana just outside the northern entrance to the park. I also wanted to relive some memories of being there 19 years ago as a summer employee. It was so surreal to be back -- and so wonderful. I even got to meet up with one of my old co-workers. We saw countless bison, a summer snowstorm and even got caught up in a bear jam or two. Once we left Yellowstone, we headed over to Cody, Wyoming to take in a rodeo and then down to Jackson and the Grand Tetons. Along the way, we took in  miles and miles of roadway scenery in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Utah. It was simply amazing! As gorgeous as the sites were, we still had to beg the kids on several occasions to put down their electronic devices and look at the majestic mountains we were driving past. Sigh, kids today ...

A view of the Salt Lake Temple from behind.
Tons and tons of bison in Yellowstone Park.
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone - so beautiful it doesn't even look real.
Grand Tetons National Park. Put down the iPod, kids.

After 10 days out west, we returned to the Georgia heat both refreshed and exhausted. Then, I took on a big writing/editing assignment for Fodor's Travel guides. For the past several years I have written for their The Carolinas and Georgia Guide. This year they wanted me to conduct some site visits so we hit Dahlonega, Hiawassee, Rome, Athens, Madison, Columbus, Plains, Americus, Thomasville and more. On most of the trips, I drug the family along. We had so much fun visiting historic sites, trying new restaurants, and strolling down main street in some of Georgia's most scenic towns. We even got to meet President Jimmy Carter! Then, right before school started back (which is painfully early here), we went to Panama City Beach where I proudly purchased my first airbrushed tank top. I'm classy like that.

Just hanging with Jimmy Carter after church.

And now, here is September and the travels are over. Reality is setting in and I'm kind of in a rut. I just don't feel like recipe blogging much anymore. I can't think of what to cook for supper tonight. I'm even blah in the baking department. I'm thinking of taking this blog in a different direction -- maybe more travel and food story focused rather than recipes and kitchen experiments. What do you think? I also impulsively started a new blog a few weeks ago where I can muse about education, politics, history and all manner of things non-food related. Who knows what I'll end up doing when I grow up, but thanks for supporting me as I try to figure it out. Stay tuned for more detailed stories about my summer explorations soon ... and maybe even some food stories. I hope you had a memorable summer too!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Barbecuing with Bourbon

Grilled tofu for Barbecue Month! #BourbonBBQ
Things haven’t been going my way lately. Well, nothing terrible actually – just a string of bad luck I kind of have to laugh at. First of all, the kids and I got lice. Yes, lice (go ahead and scratch your head). Memorial Day weekend is supposed to be all about cooking out and spending time with friends and family, but ours was mostly spent doing laundry, vacuuming and placing items in plastic bags. I also agreed to foster a couple of kittens this weekend who turned out to have fleas. Great, more insect fun! And if that wasn’t enough, we got a flat tire in the family mobile.

Tuesday night was the night to have a peaceful family meal – to finally grill out and try the Four Roses Bourbon for which I was asked to make a barbecue marinade. In honor of National Barbecue Month, Four Roses asked select bloggers to create a barbecue recipe using their bourbon (#BourbonBBQ). I had been plotting my recipe all month and finally had a chance to tackle it.

We had a chance to barbecue after the chaos subsided. We bought some beautiful bone in pork chops and were set to go. I popped some sweet potatoes in the oven, whipped up a marinade and get the pork chops out to baste. I carefully unwrapped the paper and got a whiff of something funny. OK, this pork chops do not smell right! It’s past 5 o' clock and I’m on a mission to salvage dinner. The only other meat I had is in the freezer and there’s no time to thaw. What the heck can I grill with this marinade? After surveying the fridge, it looks like tofu is my only hope. Meat lovers may scoff, but I love tofu and my kids do too. Tofu with a bourbon marinade – who would have thought? Turns out it was pretty tasty. My husband, the grillmaster, grilled it with some veggies and we ended up having a nice dinner after all – albeit a little late.

Special thanks to Four Roses Bourbon who allowed me to try out their Single Barrel brand. It is simply delightful in drinks and marinades this one. Try out this marinade the next time to barbecue pork, chicken or yes, even tofu. Happy grilling! 

Bourbon Barbecue Marinade
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons of Four Roses bourbon
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sorghum syrup (if you don’t have this molasses will work)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon celery salt
Dash of sea salt
Pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until blended. Store any leftover marinade in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Tips on Grilling Tofu
·         Choose firm or extra firm tofu for best results.
·         Place whole tofu cube on a plate and cover with another plate. Stack two cans or heavy objects on top and allow tofu to drain for about 20 minutes.
·         Pour off excess water and cut tofu into four slabs.
·         Brush on marinade and allow it to sit for a few minutes while the grill warms up.
·         Grill on low heat. Allow to cook each side for about 5-6 minutes.