Gratin Dauphinois- The Best Potatoes!

Food is essential to romance. Regardless of where the food comes from- a fancy restaurant, a cool dinner, or from home. The old saying “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” has a lot of truth to it. I don’t know many women who are impervious to a man who cooks for her- or at least brings her tacos.

In A Marine for Christmas, Lucas is no different. Dixie blows his mind with Gratin Dauphinois and Beef Carbonnade. What good love story doesn’t have good food? I love cooking, I love growing food, and I love serving that food to those I love. So, my characters do as well. I hope you enjoy the recipe I have included for you!

You could call these scalloped potatoes, but Gratin Dauphinois has so much more flair!  It is hard to go wrong with potatoes, they are a humble food from the earth that need only a little dressing up.  You will be hard pressed to find a menu that can’t be complimented with a potato dish.  With the potatoes cooked in the oven with milk/cream, butter and a little garlic, the simplicity is deceptive.  This taste is subtle but engaging, the texture is smooth, and the experience is wonderful.

This dish complimented the Beef Carbonnade the family greatly enjoyed at our Christmas Dinner.  There was not a bit left after dinner, always a compliment to the cook!  Unless of course there is none left because the cook did a poor job of planning for her guests, but that was not the case- this time.

The humble potato!

Gratin Dauphinois

3 pounds of boiling potatoes– peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick (the food processor works great for this)

1 cup of whole milk – I like to mix 3/4 cup whole milk with 1/4 cup cream- adds to the richness and wonderful texture.

1 clove garlic– pressed and spread on bottom of a buttered flame proof baking dish- I prefer a deep dish 9 inch cast iron skillet

3 tablespoons of butter plus more for greasing the bottom of the dish.

Once you have buttered the cast iron skillet and spread the pressed garlic, place the potatoes in the skillet spreading in layers.

Season the milk with salt and pepper, pour over potatoes.  Add more cream until the milk is 3/4 of the way up.  Place on burner and heat just to a simmer- this is a very important step so that the liquid and potatoes come together in the oven.

Distribute 3 tablespoons of butter (real butter, not margarine) on top of potatoes.

Bake in a 425′ oven for about 25 minutes- until the liquid is absorbed and the potatoes are tender.

Serve and be happy!  That is some flat out good food!  Great food does not have to be complicated to be wonderful.

Cornbread- It’s So Good

Just Good Cornbread
Golden and Good!

I shared a bit of the love story between Brett Bentley, the heroine, and Alex, the hero in The Way to A Man’s Heart. Both love their southern heritage and their food but don’t agree on taking freedoms with the recipe.

I thought I would share the cornbread recipe that Brett was using. As you can imagine, the possibilities of variations are endless but nothing beats a good pan of cornbread.

My bunch likes their bread on the sweet side.  This corn bread has a fluffy texture, a nice crumb and it holds together even with a nice slice of butter on it.  No more boxed mixes, this is too easy!

One note on the honey- buy your honey locally from an individual if possible.  The honey found on the shelves at most grocery stores has been cut and diluted with corn syrup.  YUCK!  Most farmer’s markets and health food stores have REAL honey.  Plus, when you eat honey made by local bees you will get the health benefits and help with allergies.  Not to mention, you are helping a local farmer and businessperson.

I hope you try this, you will be glad you did.

Holly’s Corn Bread

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup of corn meal

3 tablespoons of honey

1/2 tsp salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter (real butter- not margarine)

Heat oven to 425′

In a mixing bowl stir together the dry ingredients.  In small bowl or 2 cup measuring cup- combine all the liquid including the eggs and beat together.  Stir liquid into the dry ingredients just until mixed- do not over beat.  Pour batter into a 9X9X2 greased baking pan or a 9 inch cast iron skillet- my personal favorite.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Mmmm, now that food.
Mmmm, now that is food.

Enjoy!  The wonderful aroma of fresh cornbread cooking will warm your soul and satisfy your hunger.  What do you like to eat on a cold day?

The One Thing The Food Industry Won’t Tell You

Slate’ Criticizes the ‘Home-Cooked Family Dinner’: Joel Salatin Responds

Tags: Joel Salatin, family dinner, home cooking, Slate

Victimhood escalates to stratospheric whining with Amanda Marcotte’s recent Slate post titled Let’s Stop Idealizing the Home-Cooked Family Dinner.

Joel SalatinThe piece concluded more often than not family members (especially the male ones) were ingrates and, generally, home-cooked meals were too stressful, expensive, time-consuming, and utensil-dependent to be worthy of the trouble.

Marcotte’s indictment of what she considers a romanticized cultural icon certainly speaks volumes about where our cultural mainstream food values reside. Indeed, the average American is probably far more interested and knowledgeable about the latest belly-button piercing in Hollywood celebrity culture than what will become flesh of their flesh and bone of their bone at 6 p.m.

In the circles I run in and market to, the home-cooked meal is revered as the ultimate expression of food integrity. The home-cooked meal indicates a reverence for our bodies’ fuel, a respect for biology, and a committed remedial spirit toward all the shenanigans in our industrial, pathogen-laden, nutrient-deficient food-and-farming system.

I would imagine most of the ungrateful males in these families watch TV or see a lot of food ads on their computers. You won’t find integrity food advertised on TV or pop-culture web sites. It’ll be a steady brainwash of junk food, convenience, highly processed food-like materials. That we can physically chew and swallow the stuff does not make it desirable for our bodies.

Further, since when are women the only ones who are supposed to shoulder the burden for integrity food? Why doesn’t Marcotte, rather than whining about unappreciated women, write instead about families who seem to think sports leagues and biggest-screen TVs are more important than health? Who think pharmaceutical companies are responsible for wellness?  Who think no difference exists between factory chickens and pastured chickens?

Here’s the question I would like to ask these families: “Are you spending time or money on anything unnecessary?” Cigarettes, alcohol, coffee, soft drinks, lottery tickets, People Magazine, TV, cell phone, soccer games, potato chips . . . ?  Show me the household devoid of any of these luxuries, then let’s talk. Otherwise, you’re just unwilling to do what’s more important, which is provide for the health of your family and your environment. That’s a personal choice, and one that’s entirely within your control.

I’m amazed at the difficult situations I hear about in which people do indeed rise to the occasion. Whether it’s sprouting mung beans or alfalfa seeds in a quart jar on the windowsill or buying grain by the bushel, resourceful, can-do people committed to changing their situation figure out a way to do it.

For Marcotte to accept irresponsibility this easily underscores a profound courage deficiency. Turn off the TV, get out of the car, get off the phone and get in the kitchen — men, women and children. The most expensive potatoes in the nation are cheaper by the pound than the cheapest potato chips. Ditto healthful ground beef from pastured cattle versus fast-food burgers.  

With slow cookers, indoor plumbing, timed-bake and refrigerators, today’s techno-enabled kitchens allow busy people to cook from scratch and eat with integrity far easier than during Great Grandma’s time. She had to fetch water from the spring, split stove wood, start a fire and churn the butter and she still managed to feed a large family very well. If our generation can’t do at least as well with our 40-hour work week and kitchen tech, then we deserve to eat adulterated pseudo food that sends us to an early grave. I don’t know that anyone’s children deserve this, however.

While extreme hardship does certainly exist — and my heart breaks for impoverished people who truly have no resources — let’s not excuse the other 98 percent from their responsibility on that account. If everyone who could do something would do it, perhaps we would all have enough left over to help the egregious hardship cases. Soccer moms driving their kiddos half a day one way to a tournament, stopping at the drive-by for “chicken” nuggets, and then dismissing the kitchen as “too stressful” is an upside-down value system. And how many of the men whining about not liking what they’re being fed spend their Saturdays on the riding mower managing a monoculture, fertilized ecological-dead-zone of a suburban lawn, rather than using their resources to grow something nutritious for their families and wholesome for the planet? When do we start talking about them? Hmmmmm?

Photo by Richard Lord: Joel Salatin raises pastured poultry and grass-fed beef at Polyface Farms in Swoope, Va.

Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/slate-family-dinner-zb0z1409zsie.aspx#ixzz3Ckxhk96M

Sweet Corn Bread- So Good.

Golden and Good!
Golden and Good!

With the  weather turning cold here in Texas, now is the time for chili, soups, and stews and of course- corn bread.  My bunch likes their bread on the sweet side.  This corn bread has a fluffy texture, a nice crumb and it holds together even with a nice slice of butter on it.  No more boxed mixes, this is too easy!

One note on the honey- buy your honey locally from an individual if possible.  The honey found on the shelves at most grocery stores has been cut and diluted with corn syrup.  YUCK!  Most farmer’s markets and health food stores have REAL honey.  Plus, when you eat honey made by local bees you will get the health benefits and help with allergies.  Not to mention, you are helping a local farmer and businessperson.

I hope you try this, you will be glad you did.

Holly’s Corn Bread

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup of corn meal

3 tablespoons of honey

1/2 tsp salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter (real butter- not margarine)

Heat oven to 425′

In a mixing bowl stir together the dry ingredients.  In small bowl or 2 cup measuring cup- combine all the liquid including the eggs and beat together.  Stir liquid into the dry ingredients just until mixed- do not over beat.  Pour batter into a 9X9X2 greased baking pan or a 9 inch cast iron skillet- my personal favorite.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Mmmm, now that food.
Mmmm, now that is food.

Enjoy!  The wonderful aroma of fresh cornbread cooking will warm your soul and satisfy your hunger.  What do you like to eat on a cold day?

Savannah’s Sweet Pie Crust

My daughter, Savannah, inherited her daddy’s sweet tooth and from me, she inherited the love for cooking and baking.  Savannah has always been in the kitchen and it didn’t take long for her to start wanting to bake the sweets that her daddy loves.  It started with sugar cookies and then went to cherry pie.  The first rattle out of the box, she made a perfect crust.  I was thoroughly impressed.  Of course, she couldn’t leave well enough alone- did I mention her sweet tooth.  The crust just wasn’t sweet enough- so she made her own recipe.  She did the same with the sugar cookie recipe, but that is for another post.  As it turns out, her dad like her version of cherry pie better!  So, the race is on- can the master stay ahead of the pupil?  It is fun to share this friendly competition with her.

This crust is great for pies or cobblers, I find it too sweet to go with a savory recipe like chicken pot pie.

For detailed directions for preparing and rolling the dough, along with step-by-step pictures- go to:     http://homesteadblogger.com/farmonthehill/269/

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup unsalted butter

5-6 tablespoons of cold water.

Mix dry ingredients

Cut in the butter till the bits are pea-size

Stir in water, 2 tablespoons at a time, stir with a fork until all the dough is stuck together and forms a ball.

Divide dough in half and form a ball

Pat the ball into a flat circle.

Roll each circle out until the dough is roughly 1 inch larger than the pie plate.

Follow pie recipe for the crust preparation.  If you only need a single crust, the second half of dough can be refrigerated or frozen.

Savannah the pastry chef