Southern by the Grace of God

Southern EatsI found a few things lying around the kitchen to make this southern dish. It consists of cooked white rice at the bottom, then layered on top collard greens that was cooked in spicy pickled garlic (5 cloves), balsamic vinegar, and lots of salt. Then on top of that I layered black eyed peas that cooked with stewed tomatoes, jalapenoes, and cilantro. To top it all off, I used a delicious pepper sauce (you can see the bottle behind the plate) that made the dish go from good to great. That’s as southern as it gets, folks.

Ate Dinner Alone

Tonight, I made a really delicious meal that took me around 2 hours to prepare, cook, and serve. It consisted of a creamy asparagus soup, and a bok choy salad to go with the soup. I was in a vegetarian mood, so I went with these choices, mostly because I never had neither. I had bok choy for the first time, and it was awesome.

Unfortunately, I ate it all alone. It was a meal meant for 4 people. For one thing, the roommate while taking the trash out which I normally do but I was tied up cooking, was bitten by something. Since it was dark, she didn’t know what it was, but it was likely an insect as the bite mark wasn’t big. The skin around the bite started swelling up a little, and the roommate feared it was something poisonous, so she opted to use a taser to “stun and neutralize the poison.” Since I have no idea if this really works, I had qualms against it, but she went ahead and did it anyways. She stunned the bite mark, and professed that she can’t eat dinner, she’ll have to do it later and focus on healing.

That leaves the 12-year old and an 86-year old (the roommate’s mom.) The 12-year old hates all vegetables, so she feigned fatigue to skip the meal and opted not to get out of bed when I called her to the dinner table. She’ll be there for the rest of the night, and will get served her meal tomorrow night, as far as I’m concerned. As for the 86-year old, she ate a couple of bites, but isn’t in a mental frame of mind to really eat much these days (which is why she has a feeding tube going into her stomach.)

There you have it, I ate dinner alone tonight. And not just any dinner, but a real gourmet one that, if it didn’t taste so good, I’d be in a real sour frame of mind right now. The asparagus soup featured pureed asparagus and onions, plain yogurt, vegetable broth, and lemon juice. The bok choy had a homemade dressing made from soy sauce, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and sugar. Once the bok choy was chopped up, I tossed it with toasted ramen noodles and walnuts, and the dressing. It came out real marvelous. I just hate eating it all alone. That’s like creating a website and noone visits it.

Aged Sumatra Coffee

Normally I don’t consider myself a coffee nut, but recently when I purchased a new coffee maker and grinder (see related post), I’ve been dabbling in gourmet whole bean coffee beans from Peet’s. It wasn’t until I ordered and am now enjoying the Aged Sumatra coffee beans that I’ve fallen in love with coffee all over again. It’s amazingly rich, aromatic, and mops the floor of any already ground coffee you buy from the local grocery store. It’s described as being a “very rich coffee with a slight hint of a tropical wood flavor, a concentrated dried fruit sweetness, herbal notes, and ample body.

The best part of waking up? It sure ain’t Folgers.

The Art of Good Coffee

One of the things that is a mainstay of happiness to most adults, me included, is hot coffee in the morning. However, the sludge we buy from the local grocery store, and drink from a can that has beans that are already ground up, and eventually put in the freezer, is nowhere near the quality that we can get by doing it right. With the proper research, I’ve discovered that a good coffee maker counts a lot, especially if it can brew the water to the proper temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Then a good grinder is ideal, preferably with burr blades for even, consistent grinding of the beans. Finally good, quality roasted beans are necessary to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

This is exactly what I did. I did research, and discovered the Zojirushi EC-BD15 Fresh Brew Thermal Carafe to be a good bang for the buck coffee maker. It heats the water up to near 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and it keeps the coffee hot without burning it using a heating plate. It also looks nice. Compared to the old coffee maker we had in here, it barely heated the water hot enough to enjoy (it was always warm unless I left it on the heating plate for a while, but then the coffee would have a burnt taste.)

For the grinder, I went old skool and got the classic KitchenAid KCG200TG Classic-Series Model A-9 Burr Coffee Mill, which is truly spectacular. In fact, it costed more than the coffee maker, but as it turns out, it’s well worth it. It grinds up the beans effortlessly, it is rugged and heavy duty, and it looks neat on the counter. I anticipate this thing lasting for a long time.

When ordering the beans, I’ve found that Peet’s Coffee & Tea is a good place for quality, fresh roasted beans. The price are reasonable, and they got a great selection to choose from. So far I’ve tried the Guatemala beans, which was real nice, very aromatic and flavorful. I’ve also tried the new African Blend, from Ethiopia, which is just as marvelous as the Guatemala beans, except a bit milder and more tangy.

I’m no expert at this point, but this new step has opened my eyes up to some real good coffee. Before, I used to put a ton of creamer and sugar in my coffee because it was so bitter, and in most cases, didn’t taste good. Now it isn’t necessary, in fact, I’m finding I can even enjoy the coffee without anything in it, and it’s just as enjoyable compared to a little cream and sugar. I never thought I’d be able to say that.