let's review: kayak kafe'

     Kayak Kafe', located at One East Broughton Street is an eclectic little place. Their mantra is fresh, local and organic food, cooked to order, keeping the flavors sharp and the colors crisp. They serve locally wild-caught Georgia shrimp.
Southwestern Wild Shrimp tacos
     Their commitment to the environment even stretches to their paper products... Here's a note from their website:  We use only biodegradable TFPP food containers & compostable PLA drink cups & we recycle all glass, plastic and cardboard.
     The salads they offer are imaginative, their tacos some of the best in town. Uniquely paired ingredients lend an eclectic flair that is easy to become addicted to.
     I've visited a few times, once for a late, after-theatre dinner date with my husband and most recently, lunching with the girls. You can never go wrong ordering their famous Roasted Tilapia or Lime-Chicken tacos. 
     This past time, I decided to try something new... Southwestern Wild Shrimp tacos. Seared local shrimp in a spicy adobo with sliced avocado, cilantro cream, Latin slaw and fresh pico de gallo. I may have a new fave!
     One of my friends ordered the Tomato-basil Bisque and Shrimp Quesadillas. They were loaded with wild shrimp, black beans, sliced avocado and melted pepper-jack cheese. Oh, my!
     Our other lovely but ravenous companion ordered the Greek Chicken panini. She wolfed it down so fast, I didn't get a good shot of it for you... It is SO difficult to train your friends not to start eating until you've photographed all of the food on the table! Gee whiz...
     Judging by the clean plate, I'd say she liked it. You'll have to order it for yourself. I really don't know why I don't eat here every other day!
 kayak kafe on Urbanspoon

tuck. pin. done: no-sew loveseat slipcover in 30

     I have a sweet little loveseat that sits in front of the dining room window. This warm, sunny corner is everyone's favorite spot. Unfortunately, the dogs are included in that group. Our furry girls believe this loveseat to be their lookout post. A place to watch over our house, to protect their territory... the sentries' headquarters.
 Consequently, the loveseat is stained and soiled. It stinks. I cannot stand it one. more. day.
     I will boldly admit that I am NO seamstress. I can make a rather nice duvet cover using two flat sheets or make simple drapes out of a tablecloth, but those are straight lines. No pattern. No real sewing.
     I decided to make a no-sew slipcover out of a couple of large, canvas drop-cloths purchased for another project. Yep... that's right. They are the very same ones you buy at Home Depot to cover your furniture in a different way.
     My family was skeptical. They've forgotten who they're living with... my super-power is saving money while making our home look FAB!
     The loveseat is a tight-backed, split, square-cushioned piece with rolled arms. I wanted it to look like the cushions were separately covered without cutting the canvas again. This way, the fabric can be removed, thrown in the wash and put back on. The entire thing is three pieces. After vacuuming and spot cleaning the existing cover, I jumped right in...

Here's how to have a brand new loveseat before supper:
     The drop-cloths I purchased have a seam in the center and are 9 ft. x 12 ft., 8 oz. weight. The label states that they're heavy-duty, washable and reusable.
     Begin by cutting one large cloth in half length-wise along the seam. Take half of the cut cloth and reserve for another project. Cut the remaining piece in half again, horizontally. This will be the two side and arm pieces.
    For the time being, I used large-headed straight pins... the ones that look like they have a large pearl on the end. If you're using these, be careful not to point pin upward. I tried to keep them from being visible. Corkscrew-type upholstery tacks would have more staying power. (I'll pick some up later.)
     Remove seat cushions. Begin with the outside arm first. Wrap the outside arm, making sure the bottom is straight. After pinning the underside bottom, smooth the fabric upward and pin under outside arm to secure.
     Lay fabric over the top of arm, making sure to pull it tight. Tuck into inside arm, between arm and seat, by the springs. Don't be afraid of shoving it down beside the springs. Keep it taut and tucked deep so it won't come out. This is the key to success! For arm front, I made a fan-like pattern, pinning and folding around the shape of the arm.
     After tightly wrapping and pinning the sides, I replaced the seat cushions and draped the second, uncut drop cloth over the center. I began by lining up the top of the cloth to the bottom back of the loveseat. In my house, the back won't be seen, but I wanted it to look neat. Pin the bottom back in a couple of key spot to keep it from sliding, then move to the seat back and cushions.
     The seam of the drop-cloth served as a center line for pushing down deep in between the back and seat cushions. That gave it a more fitted look. This will also prevent it from coming off. Tightly tuck fabric around each side of seat cushions and between back cushions. Lastly, spread it in far under the front of seat cushion, smoothing out and tucking into springs.
     The original did not have a skirt, but I had a bit of folded fabric remaining. Not wanting to cut it off, I took a little creative license with the design. The whole thing was finished in approximately thirty minutes. 
Tuck. Pin. Done... It's beautiful and clean. Sigh.

pinterest is a LIAR...

     My daughter, Hannah, an education major working at a local elementary school arrived at home, arms laden with baking supplies and a photo from the ever-popular photo-sharing site, Pinterest.
the inspiration
     She had plans to bake a Thanksgiving treat for the kiddies for her last day of classroom observation. Pinterest provided the crafty inspiration. An adorable tepee fashioned from a sugar cone, filled with cake. Sounds simple, right?
unhappy baker
     About halfway into the preparation she loudly exclaimed, "Pinterest is a LIAR!!"  Like any good mother would, I grabbed my camera before rushing to checking out the horrifying scene...
     Every counter was covered in something. Pie pans desperately trying to hold up batter-filled sugar cones. Cake batter dotting the counter, dripping down the cabinet, even splattered on the dog. The inside of the oven was reminiscent of a recently bombed war zone.
     Good lord, I hope she plans to clean this crazy mess up. At least the dogs are attempting to help, in their own lick-everything-clean sort of way.
     The lovely photos and abbreviated information on Pinterest made the project look easy. I'm here simply to dispel the myth... nothing but the messy, honest truth is good enough for you, Dear Reader.
  They eventually turned out to be very cute and the kids loved them.
    A sad footnote to the entire event: Around 26 sugar cones sacrificed their tips for this project. I tried to help out by eating all of them, but couldn't do it. The sugar was too much. (Of course, if it had been a bag of chips I would have persevered.)
     So next time you're pinning, just remember the illustrations in this cautionary tale. They're the rest of the story... Happy Thanksgiving!

madame m's magic cocoa

     The weather here in coastal Georgia is just right. A little chill in the air puts me in the mood to cook. All is quiet in the house. The girls are working and the hubs is watching football upstairs in the man room. I have a pot of cream peas simmering with a huge ham bone. Brown rice and a little salad will make a fine supper for the two of us in a few hours.
     It's a mere five days before my favorite holiday and I'm mulling over the menu. I have a crackling fire, pumpkin spice candles and a mug of Magic Cocoa to inspire me... what else could anyone want?
     A while back, I posted a link to my friend, Michelle's recipe for her famous Magic Cocoa. I provided a link to her blog, 99% Beauty. Just in case you missed it the first time, here are simple instructions for a little magic of your own.
Ingredients for one cup. Can be multiplied to share.
1 c. milk
1 T. good quality cocoa
2 T. sugar
a pinch of salt
real vanilla extract
Place milk in a deep saucepan. Whisk all other ingredients except vanilla into the milk. Heat until piping hot, whisking occasionally. Top with your choice of toppings... marshmallows, ice cream or our fave, Bourbon Whipped Cream. It's Madame M's secret to the magic.
one pint whipping cream
2 T. powdered sugar
a splash of Jack Daniels
a little vanilla
Beat whipping cream on high until almost firm. Add remaining ingredients. Beat until stiff peaks form. Dollop onto everything! ;)

jamaican grilled shrimp

     We had a few friends out to the homestead. The occasion was a casual, little birthday supper for my husband. I was serving grilled pork chops, homemade mashed potatoes, steamed veggies and the very first apple crisp of the Fall season.
     But... before dinner was served, a little snacking was in order as our guests slowly trickled in. This was our Intro & Get Acquainted portion of the night.
     I made my favorite hummus with home-baked pita chips and olive tapenade. I also prepared something new to my repertoire... spicy Jamaican Grilled Shrimp on top of a little appetizer-sized salad with homemade Orange-Cumin Vinaigrette.
     I kept the plates small and the green stuff minimal... so as not to frighten those strangest of creatures, the Veggie-phobes. Now seriously, how could you resist spicy, perfectly grilled shrimp perched atop a tiny green salad? It was very non-threatening!
     I purchased my fresh, wild-caught Georgia shrimp at our local farmers' market. They were amazing! For an appetizer serving, I gave each guest one skewer of five shrimp, served on a dessert-sized plate with a little salad. For lunch or dinner... just upsize it!
3 pounds large shrimp, washed and peeled
3 T. Jamaican Jerk seasoning (or less, if you want less heat)
zest and juice of one nice, fat orange
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
two bags, any type of greens to include: arugula, spinach, butter lettuce, spring mix or romaine
1 package julienned carrots
pear or grape tomatoes, halved
chunk of reduced fat feta, crumbled
bamboo skewers, soaked in water
Honey-Cumin Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Wash and peel shrimp. Be careful not to let the little spear-thingy at the back of the tail gouge you. (I'm currently typing with a bandage on my right index finger. Ouch.)
Place the skewers in a sink of water. Or a bowl. Or a bowl IN the sink... you decide.
In a container for marinating, (a zipper bag, Tupperware or non-metal mixing bowl,) blend Jerk seasoning, orange parts and oil. Toss in shrimp and move them around in the sauce until everyone is coated and happy. Mmmm. Place covered in the refrigerator until ready to skewer and grill.
Now prepare the green stuff. Combine lettuces, feta, carrots and tomatoes in a large bowl. Keep it cold while you make the dressing.
Drain the skewers and place five shrimp on each one. Set them on a sheet pan with sides or another comparable vessel. Discard marinade.
When people begin to wander in looking faint and famished, heat your grill and plate the salad. Make sure every plate gets a bit of feta, a tomato or two and some carrots. Pretty is very important, people!
Place shrimp on to sear. But, wait... Stop right there! Don't get distracted and mosey off... shrimp cook very quickly. Turn over to mark the other side, then remove to a nice platter.
When slightly cooled, place desired amount of skewers on top of salad. Drizzle sparingly with dressing and enjoy.
Orange-Cumin Vinaigrette
6 T. e.v. olive oil
2 T. white wine vinegar
2 T. sweet-hot mustard
1 T. raw honey
1/2 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 clove garlic, grated
2 t. ground cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Whisk together first five ingredients. Grate or press garlic into dressing. Add rest of seasonings and taste. Correct if needed. Serve over salad greens.
Leftovers the next day for lunch... Lucky me!

chicken sliders with apple and goat cheese

     I love a good burger, but the standard size of most are too much for me if a bun is part of the equation. Imagine how thrilled I was to find chicken sliders in the fresh meat department of my local Publix food store the other day.
     I love the fact that whole wheat slider buns are cropping up in the bread aisle. (If you can't find them, use whole wheat dinner rolls.)
     Marinating the patties in Worcestershire and Italian seasoning gave the meat a rich, savory flavor. Goat cheese provided a nuttiness that played well with the sweetness of apple. The peppery arugula added just enough of the bitterness that I love.
     Even my beef-burger-only nazi of a husband and anti-ground-meat daughter approved. There were no leftovers...
1 pkg of (6) chicken sliders or 1 pound ground chicken meat
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 t. Italian seasoning
lots of black pepper
2 t. garlic powder
2 t. extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
1 onion, thinly sliced
pinch of sugar
small log goat cheese, sliced
handful of fresh arugula or spinach
1 gala or Fuji apple, sliced horizontally and cored
1 pkg. small wheat slider buns
If patties are not purchased already formed, shape into small rounds. Place in shallow dish or marinade container. Splash Worcestershire sauce over patties. Sprinkle with seasonings. Set aside for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place small amount evoo in a saute pan and heat to medium. Place onion in hot pan and cook until soft. Reduce heat to low, sprinkle with pinch of sugar and simmer slowly, allowing onions to caramelize. While onions cook, slice goat cheese and apples.
Remove onions to a plate, placing burgers in pan. Brown on one side. When sides are beginning to look opaque, flip over and cover pan. Allow chicken patties to simmer covered for about five minutes. Remove lid, place onion on top of burgers, distributing evenly. Replace cover and cook five minutes more.
Place goat cheese on top of burgers, then cover with top bun. Replace lid to melt cheese.
On bottom bun, place spinach leaves. Place burger tops on bottom bun. Top with apple slice. Serve with steamed veggies or baked sweet potato fries.

happy 100th birthday, julia

     Today, foodie friends, would have been cooking icon Julia Child's 100th birthday! Although we never met, I like to think we would have gotten along famously.
     I love everything Julia stood for. She was a woman pioneering her way through a man's kitchen. She was fearless. (Did you ever see her wielding an enormous cleaver or swinging a meat mallet high overhead?) FEARLESS I say!
     In addition to making a mean bouillabaisse and effortlessly entertaining friends, she tackled the huge task of translating a French cookbook into English.
     It took years of writing, testing and rewriting. She was rejected more than once by American publishers, but bravely pressed on.
     And where would we be today without her contribution to food television? No Food Network. No celebrity chefs. No fun.
     Julia squashed stuffy, snooty attitudes and helped each of us to believe in possibilities... the possibility that we too could have a chef's hand and a critic's palate.
     She taught us to laugh at ourselves when we fail, but to always try again. The best ingredients and impeccable technique should be revered, but taking one's self too seriously, foolishness.
     She modeled a belief of never losing your passion for good taste...no matter your age, your location or your circumstance.
Happy birthday, dear girl... Je vous adore.

"... thinking back on it now reminds that the pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite – toujours bon app├ętit!" -Julia, My Life in France

blogiversary top ten

     Well mavenettes, on Tuesday I celebrated my TWO year blogiversary. I've learned so many new things since I started... Allow me to share a few of them with you:
10.  The very best picture needs to be above the fold, a newspaper term. (In bloggerland, it means the stuff you see without scrolling.) It entices a person to keep reading.

9.  I really don't have much to tweet about.
8.  The blog's original name, Nutritionista Diaries was way too hard to remember and even harder to explain.

7.  There are actually 433 things you can do with a rotisserie chicken while homeschooling.

6.  Michael Pollan ROCKS and his simple book, Food Rules is on the nightstand, with my Bible.
5.  In 2011, after writing for nearly a year, I discovered that I'm not the only Food Maven. I'm a little slow.

4.  You CAN train your friends to wait before eating so you can properly frame a shot of their dinner. Every time you dine with them.

3.  Sometimes, a reader might not understand your sense of humor... or maybe you're just not as funny as you thought. 

2.  Only the best people name their appliances.
Lady Gaggia

And the Number One thing I've learned is:
     Food is a beautiful gift from God. It tastes really, really good. I still love cooking, eating, shooting and writing about every single bite.

grilled peppered-peach melba

     Friends of mine were moving into their new house over the weekend. I've moved in the sweltering summertime heat and remember what it's like, (miserable.) After a few hours, your strength is sapped... you feel limp as a dishrag.
     I wanted to somehow make the day easier for them... especially since they didn't ask for our help in moving;) So, we invited them over for a quiet dinner. No moving boxes. No chaos. Lot's of air conditioning.
     I wanted to serve something simple and cold for dessert... a sweet treat that's light, colorful and really screams, "summer."
     A basket full of ripe, juicy peaches on the counter provided inspiration... You can't get much more summer than that around these parts. This is the Peach State, after all.
     This is SO easy and delicious. You'll have to try it... Here's the how-to:
fresh freestone peaches, one half per person
1 T. canola oil
2 T. sugar
few turns of the peppermill
vanilla bean ice cream
raspberry sauce, purchased or homemade
lemon-thyme leaves (optional)
About an hour or so before dinnertime, preheat grill, slice the peaches in half and brush lightly with a bit of canola oil to prevent sticking to grill. Place them cut side up on low heat and leave them for about five minutes.
Next, sprinkle with a little sugar and a bit of freshly ground black pepper and turn cut-side down. I left them just until lightly caramelized... not too brown.
Remove from grill to a plate and set aside until dessert. (It was very difficult for me not to sample one right off the fire, oozing hot sticky-sweet juice... what amazing willpower!)
When time to serve, place each peach half in an individual dessert dish and top with a scoop of good quality vanilla bean ice cream. Next, drizzle some raspberry sauce over the top and sprinkle with a few lemon-thyme leaves. Look at those colors. So beautiful...
Prop your feet up on the coffee table, turn the ceiling fan on and enjoy!

salt & light

     I'm far beyond excited! After months of praying and research, and praying... our church's Kitchen Ministry finally has it's very own name.
SALT Fellowship Ministry
     This simple name, taken from Matthew's gospel, chapter five, represents the ONLY reason we do what we do. 
     I love the way the Message Bible explains it so plainly... and in cooking terms. (If you don't salt your food during cooking, it has no flavor.)
     And as for the light... ours may come from the flame of the stove or from our big ole gas grill, but our mission is to pass out the Love of Christ along with each plate we fill.
     Read what it says... you can see why these words jumped off the page at me. ha

Matt. 5: 13-14 (The Message Bible)
"Let me tell you WHY you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? [Then,] you've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage."
"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a HILL." 
... Or, a city named Richmond Hill