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A Week at the Beach

This past week we took a little trip to North Carolina.  It was cut short by Irene and mandatory evacuations, but nevertheless it was wonderful to see friends & family.

A Week at the Beach from elena rosemond-hoerr on Vimeo.

Here’s what we did:

On Friday we drove to NC after work, taking the long (and rainy) route down 301 to my parent’s house in Durham.

Saturday was the main event of the weekend- my cousin Elizabeth’s wedding and (lots o’ fun) reception in Raleigh.

Sunday we had lunch at Geer Street Garden in Durham with my friend Julia and my mom, and then drove down Route 70 to Morehead City for a couples’ weekend.

On Monday we watched the rain from the porch and then, after fueling up the boat, headed out to Cape Lookout. That night my sister Lauren and her boyfriend BJ made us Louisiana shrimp and fish tacos (yum!).

Tuesday our fishing/diving trip was blown out, so we relaxed for a while and then took the dogs over to the Radio Island beach.  For dinner Dan and I made jalapeño crab cakes and whole stuffed pink snapper.  Afterwards, there was drinking and dancing.

On Wednesday (another blown out offshore day) we loaded up the boat and headed to Shackleford Banks. On the way we spotted some birds, put out fishing lines, and trolled for a while. Afterwards we took a little harbor cruise of the Beaufort waterfront. That night we got all dressed up and headed out to Beaufort for a special birthday dinner (the Capt’n was 53!). After an amazing dinner we headed back to the swamp house for peach and blueberry mountain pie.

Lauren & BJ headed home Thursday morning, so Dan and I walked around Beaufort watching people board up their storefronts, did some fishing, and went out for burgers with the parents.

After helping the parents with some hurricane prep, we headed home Friday.

It was a lovely week.

Music:

1- The Canals of Our City by Beirut
2- Ocean Grace by Jump, Little Children
3- Starman by Seu Jorge
4- In the Sun by She & Him
5- A Pirate Looks at Forty by Jack Johnson

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Tomato Basil Jam

As of five thirty yesterday afternoon, I am on my beach vacation. We left Baltimore Friday and headed to Raleigh for my cousin Elizabeth’s wedding. After a wonderful and fun filled wedding weekend and lunch with my sweet friend Julia and my mom, we packed up and drove to Morehead City.

Today we’ll take the boat out to Cape Lookout, eat burgers and pimento cheese, swim and laugh. I love the beach.

I wanted to share this tomato jam recipe before I check out for the week. It’s sweet and a little spicy, perfect on cheese, eggs, or burgers. See you soon!

Tomato Basil Jam

4 cups diced tomatoes
1/2 cup diced basil
3 cups sugar
Juice of 3 lemons
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt

After cutting down your tomatoes, combine them with the remaining ingredients in a non- reactive pot. Simmer for 1-2 hours, or until reduced by half.

About an hour before you want to can fill two large pots with water. I recommend that you have some canning equipment, at the very least a large pot with a rack and a pair of tongs. You’ll need a separate pot for sterilizing your jars and lids. Bring both pots of water to a boil. In one pot (the one without a lid) place your jars and the lids (not the screw bands). Allow them to boil for at least 10 minutes, but keep them in the pot until right before you fill them.

Use a spoon to fill the jars, leaving 1/4″ of room at the top. Use a spoon to make sure there are no bubbles in the jar, and adjust the headspace (space between the jam and the top of the jar) as needed. Wipe the rim with a sterile cloth and fish a lid out of the pot. Place the lid onto the jar and screw the band on tightly. Set aside and repeat with all of your jars.

Take the rack from the other pot and place the jars onto it. Lower the rack into the pot (whose water should be boiling) and process the jars for 10 minutes. Remove them from the water and (here’s the hardest part) wait for the ping. When they first come out of the water the jar should pop up and down, but when the jars seals you won’t be able to pop the jar any more. Some jars will seal immediately, some will take a little longer, and some may not at all. If jars fail to seal, store them in the fridge for up to two weeks. The jars that do seal, however, are good in a cool dark space for up to a year. Enjoy!

**As with any preservation process, there are risks. If you notice anything abnormal, discard the jam immediately. Botulism is no fun.**

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Steak & Cucumber Lettuce Wraps

Next Friday we’re skipping town and heading to the motherland. I cannot wait. Every inch of my body is dying for a break. I feel like the past few months have been nonstop. Nonstop work, yes, but also nonstop everything else. Summer is a busy season for us between water ballet and other social engagements and the result is two very drained Hoerrs. More than just feeling like we haven’t had any time to ourselves I’ve just felt so… burdened. The littlest things, like writing a blog post or sending in my article for Menuism (sorry Nikki!) have felt like too big a task. I just want to sit. Sleep in. Sip bloody marys and read silly books. Thankfully, that’s exactly what we’re headed for.

My biggest challenge the past few months has been coming up with things to eat every day for dinner. Dan and I tend to dive headfirst in love with a dish, eat it once a week for a month or two, and then say goodbye forever. Or at least until we can reinvent it a few years later. This summer we got sick of our old favorites quickly and it has been mentally exhausting coming up with new things to eat every day, new recipes to add to our rotation. I know, what a silly problem to have.

I decided to try my hand at homemade lettuce wraps after a few of my favorite bloggers wrote about going paleo. Now, I have no desire to go that route (biscuits being an integral part of what we do here at biscuits and such) but we have been reducing the amount of certain foods in our diets these past few months, so the concept appealed to me. For a while Dan and I have been opting for a vegetables & dip based lunch, and I thought it would be fun to extend the style of cooking into our dinner plans. At the very least, I figured it would mix things up a bit, perhaps even give us a new go-to recipe.

Based on what we had going on in the garden and what I was craving (grilled steak) we whipped up these quick and incredibly easy lettuce wraps. They were delicious, so good I believe they’ll be on the rotation for the rest of the summer. They were light, refreshing, and so packed with fresh vegetables that it was hard not to feel good about what we were eating. In a summer where cooking has felt like a chore, I needed the win. Lettuce wraps, you might be the new taco in this house.

Steak & Cucumber Lettuce Wraps

1 medium skirt steak

1 cucumber

1 tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes

1/2 red onion

1 jalapeño

1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Head of lettuce

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup chopped green onions

3 limes

Chop cucumber, tomato, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and green onion. Toss together with lime juice and cheese. Set a side.

Sprinkle steak with salt and pepper. Over medium heat on a grill or in a pan, cook the steak for 5-7 minutes per side, depending on its thickness. Let rest five minutes, then slice.

Peel leaves of lettuce off the head. Fill each leaf with a few pieces of steak and some of the salad. Serve.

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