There is a lot to be said about a love that can touch a broken soul and make it whole again. The deep sigh of relief you expel knowing you've found someone you can forever hold on to and they in turn will hold you back.
Yet, sometimes we get so caught up in the misrepresented idea of what love and happiness is, we walk right past it, like an abandoned house down a lonely street, in search of a dream that seems more fitting for the pages of a romance novel.
I can say that I've done this, taken that road; a road that lead me to Louisiana following behind a beautiful man with strange eyes and creole blood. Whose daddy was an oysterman and his mama told me I should go back to where I came from. However, being young and infatuated that didn't matter.. all that matter was that he called me "Bebelle" and spoke a strange language when he was angry, making him even more intriguing. This was the makings of an anti love story, one that would never have ended happily, just painfully, as it did.
With the end result creating a curious little girl with the same strange eyes and sometimes-angry temperament when she's frustrated. In spite of all that, a year or so later, this same winding road would lead me to a stranger that happened to be visiting for work and thought to ask me my name. Which I'd angrily refuse to answer and turn the other way but he'd follow me anyway and ask me my name again.
"What's the harm in telling me your name"
So I'd tell him and many years later, as I typed a post about sweet lemon biscuits and he sat beside me watching t.v.
I'd tell him just how happy I am that he didn't let me walk away...
With that special day of Love coming up, I thought I would share a recipe for what I love to eat the most.. Biscuits. I also have a deep affection for sunshine, which has been lacking lately with this gloomy Atlanta weather. Luckily, I was able to obtain a little brightness via globs of lemon curd spread between the layers of my biscuit dough. The outcome producing fluffy clouds of biscuits tinged with the sweet tart flavor of lemon in each bite. It was also my daughter's idea, that took flight after making a lemon meringue pie and her protesting the thought of eating the remnants of left over filling with a spoon.
"We should save it for something"
Save it we did…
Sweet Lemon Biscuits
Prep Time: 20 Mins Cook Time: 10-15mins Yields: 1 dozen
3 cups self-rising flour
2 ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup lemon curd (I use this recipe )
1 tablespoon cream
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
In a large bowl, add the self-rising flour. Make a well in the center and pour in heavy cream. Stir together just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the sticky dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and sprinkle the top with a light dusting of more flour, Using floured hands, fold the dough in half and then pat into about ½ inch thick. Flour again if necessary and fold the dough in half for a second time. If the dough is still clumpy, pat and fold a third time. Now pat the dough out into about ½ inch thick rectangle, spread the lemon curd on top of the dough.
Fold the dough in half gently pat down keeping the rectangular shape. At this point, you can use a knife to cut them into squares or use a biscuit cutter if you want to stick with the traditional circular shape. Place cut biscuits onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 1 inch apart.
In a small bowl, mix the egg with the cream and brush the tops of each biscuit with the egg wash. Sprinkle each biscuit with a light dusting of Turbinado sugar. This step is optional but it gave the biscuits a nice golden color with a bit of a sweet crunch on the tops.
Bake biscuits in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve while hot.
Do you enjoy a good story? Something left uncovered, only to be rediscovered when someone is in need of a good tale.
One that will lift your spirits, to captivate your audience or maybe because it's too intriguing not to share.
When I think of the beach, I think of standing in the sand as the water waves over my feet, and the tide threatens to pull me in like some invisible surfboard that tingles between my toes. Looking into the distance at the fading sails and bright rays of sun, I think of Freeman Beach.
Freeman Beach or Seabreeze, a coastal town in Wilmington North Carolina, was a popular beach resort for African Americans in the 1920s to the 1960s, as they were unable to visit any other beaches in the state during the Jim Crow era. Founded by a free man of color named Alexander Freeman, it's origins are a story in and of itself. There's an account of a great Seminole nation war chief, born of Native and African blood, who Alexander Freeman and his family supposedly descended from.
That I'm unsure of, however I do know of Doris and the love she found on Freeman Beach.
Due to it's popularity gained somewhat out of necessity, thousands flocked to Seabreeze. During the summers, church groups and school camps came on buses and took root on the shores of what was commonly knows as "Bop City". All in search of fun and vacation, a place to relax and escape the despotism of segreation. Doris was a young woman (some distant cousin of mine) spent time in Seabreeze with her family, which consisted of 4 sisters including her.
One summer somewhere on top of the wooden dance floor of a local piccolo (Juke Joint) she met Sam, a tall man who had all the right moves. His smile was infectious and his appeal was hypnotizing. They would spend the entire time Doris was there…together, riding Ferris wheels and hanging off boat piers, her sneaking away from family gatherings and him always being on time.
When it was ultimately time to leave, they made plans to meet again on the shores of Seabreeze, to which they did that next year after numerous exchanges via long love letters. Sam introduced her to Ms. Sally Wade’s hot clam fritters, while they sang along to Fat's Dominos "Aint that a shame", streaming from the Juke Joint a few steps away.
Alas, things must come to an end. They departed again with plans to reunite. Then like an angry mob, Hurricane Hazel blew through the beloved seaside town, leaving devastating demise in its wake. Places were destroyed and ultimately places came down. Doris went on continuing to write to Sam, who’d since enlisted in the Army.
At first a reunion seemed hopeful. Then letters eventually went unanswered and Doris became the last of her sisters to be un-wed. A year would pass with no sign of Sam and much like what used to be the bustling shores of Seabreeze, their relationship became desolate, nothing but an old legend for folks to share. But there’s truth to this story, just like there’s truth to the account of Freeman Beach. All past down from person to person within my family, along with the recipe for cousin Doris’s warm molasses bread.
The town of Seabreeze is an actually place, a small strip of land that runs alongside Carolina Beach in Wilmington, NC. Being from North Carolina, I heard numerous tales of Freeman Beach/Sebreeze, but to my astonishment, the history of this place seems to have washed away like the debris left behind after the hurricane.
I never had the pleasure of meeting the lovely love-struck Doris, however her recipe for warm sweet bread with hints of molasses and the rich flavor of chocolate is one that I use often.
And so can you…
Warm Molasses Bread
Prep Time: 30 mins Cook Time: 1 Hr Yield: 6-8 servings
Adapted from my grandmothers hand written notes.
2 cups self-rising flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick of butter, melted
½ cup molasses
½ granulated sugar
1 cup boiling water
2 eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 350
In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine the butter, molasses, and sugar. Pour the boiling water over molasses mixture, stirring to combine all ingredients. Once the mixture has cooled, add in the flour mixture and the eggs, mixing to incorporate all the ingredients together. Pour the batter into a 1lb loaf pan and bake at 350 for about 1 hour. This bread is best served warm, but you can allow it to cool on a wire rack before slicing.
"Running away. Go to it.
Where did you have in mind?
Have to take care.. Unless there's a where
You'll only be wandering blind.
Just more questions.
Different kind. "
-"No More- Into the Woods"
Which they left out of the movie
Did you see Into The Woods..?
There might've been this long post about the baker and his wife from the musical (turned movie) . Then I might've realized that a lot of folks might not know what in the world I'm talking about and decided not to go on this rant about how that movie didn't really do the musical justice.
So just picture me sitting in a theater (because my daughter made me) watching Johnny Depp's Tim Burton-ish Big Bad Wolf and trying not to be that person that points out everything that is different from the musical.
Just as a side note. I am that person.
It's a magical fairy tale story about 4 different characters, one being a Baker (and his wife) and their quest to have a family and all the drama that entails when you're in debt to a witch who sends you on a journey between fairytales.
Hold On while I start singing….
My first experience visiting Broadway and all it's grandeur and intrigue was to see the play Into the Woods with Berdnette Peters who just gave so much to her part as the witch.
So while I love Meryl Streep I think I was just ruined for all other remakes of that play.
Because dammit Bernedette Peters..
What does that have to do with potatoes? Absolutely nothing
I'm just unable to think of anything else but the Baker , his wife and Chris Pine as the prince, when trying to come up with some compelling story about Baker's Wife potatoes.
So let's get on with it.
Essentially this dish puts you in the mind of an au gratin, with it's thin sliced potatoes layered in a baking pan. I've always made this with a milk base, making those potatoes creamy and unbelievably rich when scooping them up and dolloping them on your plate.
Are you a dolloper? Is that even a word?
The red squiggly lines are telling me no but let's play pretend and say it is.
No this is not a dance move, its when you place an obscene blob of food on your plate when everyone else is using nice small spoon like proportions.
So I'm a dolloper… Ok so that sounds strange when I say it out loud..
A few years back when attempting to try this recipe sans milk (because whoever said milk does a body good has not been around my husband after he eats a bowl of ice cream-- OMG open a window), I ran across an article about Pommes Boulangére which is a French potato gratin. It uses stock in the place of milk along with herbs and hints of butter. Keeping with my old school recipe I added in the pork (cause I'm southern), more than a hint of butter (cause I'm southern) and some sautéed onions with a little garlic (cause a dish isn't really worthy unless it leaves you with bad breath and makes you wish your pants had an elastic waistband)
Which means you're in luck cause this does both.
So "Into the woods and out of the woods and happily ever after"… with potatoes?
I'm such a weirdo...
*P.S I might've skipped my step of adding foil to the pan to keep the potatoes from browning to fast. Don't do that*
*P.P.S or is it P.S.S… I might've also tipped the pan over when in the oven causing the juice to spill over the side into the bottom of my oven. Don't do that either.*
Prep Time- 30 mins Cook Time- 2 hours Yield 6 servings
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 oz pancetta (optional)
3 cups chicken stock
8 medium size Yukon gold (or other waxy potatoes), peeled
½ cup butter, unsalted, cubed
½ cup fresh parsley chopped
kosher salt fresh ground pepper
Heat oven to 350
Using a mandolin, thinly slice each potato into a bowl and set aside.
In a large pan over medium heat, combine olive oil, onions and garlic. Cook until translucent making sure not to brown the onions, about 6-8 minutes. Warm the stock over medium heat. In a casserole dish, alternately layer the potatoes with the onion mixture, pancetta, a few cubes of butter, and a sprinkle of parsley. Add a little warm stock to cover each layer and season each layer with salt and pepper to taste. Bake uncovered for about 2 hours or until the potatoes are tender. If they start to brown to quick, cover with foil. Serve while warm adding more fresh parsley to garnish if desired.
-I would suggest placing the baking pan on top of a baking sheet pan to keep any juice from spilling over into your over.
I just feel some type of way about pie..
All the good feelings one would expect when slicing their fork through those flaky layers of pastry and mountainous piles of apples or blueberries or whatever your flavor.
I'll take it.
Unfortunately, I also feel some type of way about pie crust or more precisely the dough that is a required step in the process of making pie crust. It just reminds me too much of a guy I once dated.
Yes making pie crust reminds me of a relationship.
Just follow along.
For the sake of the story, let's say his name was Darren.
Because his name was Darren.
A real smooth stalker with traces of "nutcase" swirling in his personality. There were times when it would be so easy, the relationship I mean. Then there were the turbulent times, they came often. After working so hard to smooth everything out, get it all in line, just as you are turning things over to a different pan of life... it all falls to shit.. I mean pieces.. no no I mean shit.
Like that dough and a pie pan.
It never rolls on smoothly for me, perhaps I'm just too anxious. Perhaps I'm thinking of Darren and his drama and may just be adding too much pressure in my frustration. Perhaps after 20 years I should just get over it.. the relationship I mean..
But listen, I'll roll that pie dough out all nice and smooth almost to perfection.
Darren was like that, nice and smooth.
Then when it's time for me to place it neatly in the pan, there's always an edge or two that just doesn't want to be confined to the rims of a pie dish.
Darren was like that too.. had issues with being confined.. although I never tried to imprison him to a pie dish...just a monogamous relationship.
After I get the dough in the dish and patch up the broken spots, I fall flat around those edges.. It's like I've got crooked bionic fingers that just won't form those same pie crimps like the video tutorials on You Tube.
Darren didn't have crooked evil villain hands like me.. but everything else was a mess.
I know you wondering where the hell I'm going with this and since I have no clue let's talk about this pie. Nathalie Dupree is the Culinary Grande Dame of southern cooking and one of the funniest women I've ever met. She's also the master samurai of biscuit making. When asked to share one of my favorite recipes from The Local Palate, I knew I wanted to challenge my pie baking deficiencies with one of her killer pie recipes from an issue published a few years back. This Caramel Cream pie with pecan crust is legit with a smooth custard like filling that has a delectable caramel flavor. The crust is a pecan short crust that even the most novice of pie makers can handle. Big thanks to The Local Palate Magazine for featuring me in there Dec./Jan issue. I'll also be over there this week talking more about my love of pie and my Grandma Dip.
Click link below for the recipe to this mouthwatering Caramel Cream Pie Dream and even more from The Local Palate.
Caramel Cream Pie with Pecan Crust
"These ain't nothing but Sunbeam"
Of course I have a story..
Of course I have a story..
A peculiar tale of a lady and her flaky dinner rolls. As well as her inexplicable disappearance.
Let's start at the beginning.
Back in the late spring of 2011 I joined a women's league at a local church. Every Wednesday at 7pm you could locate me sitting on a hard plastic orange chair in the fellowship hall of a church that I'd never attend on a Sunday.
Around 2 weeks into joining we had a potluck with everyone bringing in a "prize-winning" dish.
Just as I placed my potato salad on the table, I was hit with the strongest aroma of white diamonds perfume and spearmint .
Being 6 months pregnant at the time, you could say my sense of smell was at superhero levels. It was also the cause of much distress because everyone and thing smelled awful. Including spearmint.
The woman behind the strong aroma introduced herself as Lorine Murphy, a short round lady with dark rimmed glasses and gray hair that would shine of purple when she sat under the light..
"but you can call me Ms.Murphy" she quickly added, all the while sitting 2 baskets of these golden brown rolls with specks of salt gleaming like crystals on the tops..
Ms. Murphy it is then, I thought…
Ms. Murphy it is then, I thought…
I'd never seen her before and remember there being only 2 other ladies that she spoke to.
The potluck began and soon I was lost in a haze of chicken salad that only Duke's mayo could've made and dinner rolls.. 3,7, possibly 10 of those damn rolls..
Good Heavens how did she make them..
"they’re store bought"
"um hum, these ain't nothing but Sunbeam"
Said the haters in the seats to my left...
I wasn't convinced though, they had a taste that only homemade could produce, not packaged bread that's been sitting on a shelf.
Ms. Murphy kept to herself during the dinner, only speaking when spoken too..
She carried around a blue tote bag that read "Whitefield Co YMCA"…
Why would you come to an event and not talk to anyone? Was she a friend of one of these ladies, just being nice and attending because she was invited?
I have no idea... She left just as quietly as she came...
No one seemed to know who she was..
She just shows up every now and then, is what I was told..
That following Wednesday, much to my disappointment, Ms.Murphy did not show to the meeting.
So in the passing weeks, memories of buttermilk rolls and pregnancy heartburn kept me up at night and had my husband at just about every local bakery in Atlanta and one about and hour away in Conyers GA after a false tip sent us there on mission.
The month changed Ms. Murphy never showed and my stomach got bigger.
So as I shuffled my way into that fellowship hall for the next potluck, I almost cried when I saw a little blue bag leaning against the table..
It read "Whitefield Co YMCA"
My enthusiastic greeting was a bit much.. she told me to calm down or I'll go into labor and then walked away..
This was fine with me as I went about my way in a different direction with 3 rolls in my hand...
The potluck was a time to meet and get to know the other ladies in the group, some met at different times during the week but we would all come together to enjoy this meal.
You could hear the plastic chair creak as I sat beside Lornie Murphy on this particular day. She gave me a side eye but said nothing so I continued to sit down my things..
"How do you make these?" …was the first thing I said..I just couldn’t help myself..
"How far along are you?"... was her response
"Ummm... 7 months.. do you use buttermilk.. all-purpose flour?"
"this your first child" .. Ms. Murphy continued
"no my 2nd.. self rising flour" … I responded with determination.
"it's gonna be harder for you to lose that weight after the 2nd one".. she told me with her upper lip curled in disdain..
That was our conversation, right before she left just as quietly as she came..
Certainly I sat there with my mouth hanging open thinking what the hell just happened.
A month would go by, my stomach got bigger and the doctor changed my due date..
All of these things and the lack of Ms.Murphy or her dinner rolls to be honest, had me in a very bad mood with too much time on my hands..
Too much time, so much time that one day I sat in my car looking across the street at the house of one Ms.Lornie Murphy..
Of course the women's league has an address directory..
"This is insane" is what my husband told me from the drivers seat.. always the voice of reason.. well, I'd told him we were just going to the store..
"I just want to make sure she's ok", I said in return
"Erika..you don’t just go to a strangers house.." was his reaction.
"This is the south, there is no such thing as a stranger"
As I sat there with the AC on full blast to combat the June Georgia heat, while simultaneously trying to figure out how I would explain to this woman why I'm at her house, I came up short.
Then said to hell with it and walked up and rang the door bell.
When the door opened and a woman that was not Ms. Murphy greeted me with a confused look, I wondered how fast I could run to the car, then thought better and introduced myself.
All the while my husband is standing behind me apologizing..
"Well, Lornie left a few weeks ago.. sorry" said the strange woman at the door.
I remember asking where she went and when she would be back, decorum be damned.
Of course she didn’t tell me, which earned her the side-eye bitch resting face of all side eye bitch resting faces as I walked back to my car.
"She's hiding something". I said to my husband as he looked at me with a blank stare.
"I can't believe.. just get in the damn car" was his angry response..
Driving away I looked out the window, thinking how clean the inside of that house was.. everything so nice and neat as the lady explained that Ms. Murphy was long gone..
Everything nice and neat and in it's place, except for one little blue bag.
A blue bag that was leaning by the sofa that read "Whitefield Co YMCA"
Ms. Murphy's whereabouts are still unknown.. It’s been 3 years and still no sign of her. Even after an extensive Facebook search done by the queen of Facebook searches..My Mama
These buttermilk rolls are a close runner up to the heavenly dinner rolls she made but not quite the same. I've made them several times to appease my yearning for hot flaky rolls that have a sponge like texture with a tangy taste of citrus.. yes citrus.. they were amazing and so are these..
So I guess I didn’t need her recipe after all..
But I'd still like to have it..
Ms. Murphy.. if you're reading.
Buttermilk Dinner Rolls
Prep Time- 3 Hours Cook Time- 15-18 mins Yield- 16 dinner rolls
Adapted from The Bread Bible
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 F)
1 cup warm buttermilk (105 to 115 F)
2 tablespoons honey
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, room temp
2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Egg Glaze: 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of cream (or milk) whisked together
Flaky sea salt for dusting
In a small bowl combine the yeast, honey, and warm water and stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy. (about 10 mins)
In the bowl of an electric mixer (with paddle attachment), combine the buttermilk, zest, melted butter, egg, and salt. Stir in the yeast mixture along with 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Mix for about 3-4 minutes or until mixture is smooth.
Add remaining dough 1/2 a cup at a time mixing until a soft dough that just clears the sides of the bowl is formed.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and springs back when pressed about 4 to 7 minutes by hand. (3 to 4 minutes by mixer using the dough hook)
Place the kneaded dough into a lightly olive oil greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Then cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temp until doubled in size. (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours)
Gently deflate the dough, turning it onto a lightly floured surface.
Grease or parchment paper 2 baking sheets (or grease a cast iron skillet which is what I like to bake my rolls in)
Divide the dough in half, then roll each half into a cylinder shape that's about 2-3 inches. Now cut the cylinders into 8 equal portions. (giving you 16 rolls).
Shape each piece into a small oval placing in pan. Cover again loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temp until doubled in size.(about 30 mins)
While bread is rising preheat oven to 375. Brush each roll with egg glaze and sprinkling each with flaky sea salt (like Maldon) if desired.
Place rolls in the oven for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve rolls while warm.
Take that Ms.Murphy…