{ Vinegar Salad }

July 19, 2014

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One of my dad’s classic summer side dishes is tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions that have been marinated in vinegar and salt for a few hours. Served cold, it’s a tart and fresh salad that pairs wonderfully with all manner of easy summer dinners, particularly those whipped up on the grill and enjoyed on the porch.

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As part of my Farm to Fork dinner at Greenlands Farm I mixed together a variation of the salad with green and purple beans, dragon’s egg cucumbers, onions, and garlic all from the farm. Served in lemon squash boats with a dollop of herbed goat’s cheese over a bed of kale salad, it hit the spot.

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Vinegar Salad

2 cucumbers

2 dozen green and purple wax beans

1 small green onion

1 small red onion

2 cloves garlic

4 cups apple cider vinegar

1 tsp sea salt

Mince garlic and chop cucumbers, beans, and onions into bite sized pieces.  Toss in vinegar and salt, cover, and refrigerate at least two hours (though overnight is better). Serve chilled alongside the best of what your grill has to offer.

{ Lovely Internet 7.18.14 }

July 18, 2014

7.18.14

1. Amy Sedaris on loving bunnies. I’ll admit, I never knew how much I could love a bunny until they were lounging around my life.

2. I’ve been making T-Rex motion detection jokes for decades! I refuse to accept this debunk.

3. THIS IS AMAZING (he will always remind me of the 90s).

4. Why do we feel the need to attack each other for everything?

5. This is the best article I’ve read on the subject.

6. Let’s stop pressuring our kids (and everyone else) to be competitive.

7. This guy had some gall. Hilarious. (unrelated- is the “gall” in the aforementioned expression related to the gallbladder? JFGI, Elena)

8. Hillary is everywoman.

9. I wonder if the other species out there are also looking for us or if, as we launch new telescopes into space, they’re like “Shit guys, hide! They’re looking this way!”

10. I remember reading the original “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” article and having the realization that these characters that exist only to serve the male lead’s enlightenment were not real people, that no woman was or should strive to be a one dimensional support character in a man’s life. I’ve been surprised by how oft-referenced the MPDG trope has become, but I’m not sure the idea should be apologized for.

For more tidbits from Elena the person, follow me on twitter (@elenabrent or @biscuitsandsuch), instagrampinterest or facebook. Follow along with MissElenaeous for thoughts on everything other than Southern food.

{ Goat’s Milk & Pimento Cheese Squash Blossoms }

July 14, 2014

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Dan and I talk often about how lucky we are to have surrounded ourselves with so many incredible, inspiring, and caring friends in Wilmington. In the two years since we made the move back South we’ve become part of a supportive and encouraging community that continues to grow. Our friends introduce us to their friends who introduce us to their friends and on and on to the point where I’m convinced that Wilmington is a city of 100,000 amazing people doing inspiring things.

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A few months ago I was talking to one of our Wilmington friends and he mentioned that one of his friends was starting a new event series at their farm, Greenlands. Greenlands is a farm located in Bolivia, NC, that grows organic heirloom fruits and vegetables, raises chickens for eggs, goats for milk, llamas for… llamaing, has a petting zoo, a summer camp, a country farm store, and much more. It’s a farmstravaganza!

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Greenlands is a true family operation, founded by Heather and Henry Burket and operated alongside their daughter, Maud. Their dinner series, Farm to Fork, allows people to come and see the farm, learn about them and the operation, and taste what Greenlands and the surrounding area have to offer. A mission I support completely. When our friend connected Heather and I it felt like a great match, so I agreed to come on board for their very first dinner in late June.

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A week before the event Heather sent me a list of everything that was going to be available from the farm and we started to scheme up a menu. We decided on a five course meal that started with something I’ve never tried before- fried squash blossoms. Because when you’re cooking a plated dinner for 15 it’s absolutely the time to edge out of your comfort zone.

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photo (left) by luke; my cousin elizabeth let me know that the blossoms were a hit!

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photo by luke

As the guests were arriving I stuffed a few dozen beautiful fresh squash blossoms with pimento cheese, dipped them in a goat’s milk and red pepper batter, and lightly fried them. I was nervous, but any anxiety I had about them turning out well vanished when I took a bite out of the first blossom. They were light and crispy and the tangy goat’s milk was the perfect balance to the rich pimento cheese and the delicate blossom.

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This dinner also happened to take place when a lot of my family was in town for a beach vacation, so I was able invite my cousin Elizabeth and her husband Luke to join us. Luke was even kind enough to snap some pictures of the tour they went on of Greenlands, which is something I wish I’d been able to see for myself! The reports from the diners (and my insider info from Luke and Elizabeth) were all incredibly positive, which was thrilling. I am not a chef by any stretch of the imagination and I have no experience cooking for people outside of dinner parties at my home, so this was a big leap. I am so thankful that Greenlands took a chance on me (thanks, guys!), and I’m relieved that everything went as seamlessly as it did!blossoms 6

photo by luke

I’d also like to take a moment and give Dan kudos- he took a half day from work so that he could come to Bolivia with me and be my sous chef. He brought his A game and completely kicked ass- making the melon soup, sous vide-ing the steaks, and taking care of every thing that needed to be taken care of with no complaints. When we met 9 years ago I’m sure he had no idea that one day he’d be frantically charring and stuffing peppers on a farm in rural North Carolina, but he’s a natural. A gem, that one.

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Goat’s Milk & Pimento Cheese Squash Blossoms

24 squash blossoms

2-3 cups of pimento cheese

2 cups all purpose flour

3-4 cups goats milk (add as needed)

2 tsp sea salt

2 tsp red pepper flakes

Peanut or sunflower oil for frying

Mix together your pimento cheese (recipe & instructions here). Stuff each blossom with 1 tablespoon of cheese and crimp the flower petals around the cheese to secure.

Heat oil to 375F.

Mix the goats milk slowly into the flour until the consistency is approximatley the same as pancake batter- thin enough to pour easily but not soupy. Dip each blossom into the batter so that the bloom is coated almost to the stem. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side or until crispy and golden brown. Allow to drip and firm up and then serve hot.