Blog - biscuits and such
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Perfect Picnic Sandwich

For picnics, my mother always makes hoagies.  The sandwiches vary, but usually it is turkey, provolone, greens, pesto, and some sort of roasted pepper or onion.  These simple sandwiches were always fresh and delicious, paired with chips or fruit salad, soda and maybe even dessert.  Over the years we’ve eaten these sandwiches up and down the east coast and still they’re my favorite picnic treat, a testament to my mother’s sandwich making skills.

This mother’s day we met the Turcottes at the Wheaton Regional Park for a special picnic.  We ate sandwiches, pretzels, pickles, fruit, and whoopie pies and enjoyed what turned out to be a gorgeous day.  We took turns making Amelie smile and planned for when Meredith is old enough to read Harry Potter and make the trip to Orlando with her favorite Aunt and Uncle to GO TO HOGWARTS (Meredith has no idea what she’s in for).

Photo by Dan

Dan and I aren’t quite anywhere near ready to have kids (sorry Paps!) of our own so these days we rely on our sweet, wonderful nieces and a group of pretty amazing family friends to keep the little ones in our lives.  It was lovely spending mother’s day with the Turcottes, I feel so lucky to have them in my  life.

Perfect Picnic Sandwich

Loaf of French or Italian Bread

Smoked Turkey

Roasted Red Peppers

Provolone Cheese

Pesto*

Dandelion Greens

Combine all ingredients but roasted red peppers on bread.  Wrap sandwiches in parchment and pack with peppers in picnic basket.  Add peppers when you are ready to eat.

Basil Pesto

Combine 2 cups fresh basil leaves, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, 3 garlic cloves, and a pinch of salt in a food processor.  Blend until smooth.

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Jill’s Vanilla Mojito

This recipe for vanilla mojitos comes courtesy of my Aunt Jill.  Jill, my mother’s older sister, is a wonderful person, a caring aunt, and a huge supporter of this blog.  She’s the first to recommend recipes (she helped me think this one out), always tells me what she thinks of my dishes, and never fails to encourage and cheer me on.  She’s incredibly special and important to me, and this Mother’s Day I’d like to give her a big virtual hug.

Aunt Jill, not a particularly big rum fan, dreamed up this mojito recipe.  Now Dan and I are very fond of the classic mojito, so we were skeptical.  I wasn’t sure if vanilla would make sense with the lime and mint, and if I would be okay giving up rum for vodka.  We decided to do a side-by-side taste testing, one version made with vanilla vodka and the other made with rum + vanilla extract.  The verdict? Both are wonderful.  The vodka is subtle and very refreshing, perfect for a picnic.  I have every intention of enjoying some of these when we make our way up to New Jersey this summer to visit Aunt Jill.

From left: my cousin Taylor (five days younger than me), Aunt Jill, Uncle Ron, and my cousin Jessie

Christmas in our family. Note, please, both my Aunt Jill and my Mom (front row left and first in).  This is why I’m the way I am.  Also, Jessie’s total deadpan kills me.

Vanilla Mojito Two Ways

Vodka:

Slice two limes.  Muddle them with a handful of mint leaves in the bottom of a pitcher.  Combine 1 cup lime simple syrup and 1 cup of vanilla vodka.  Chill.  When you arrive at your picnic destination, add 16 oz of club soda to the pitcher and serve!

Rum:

Slice two limes.  Muddle them with a handful of mint leaves in the bottom of a pitcher.  Combine 1 cup lime & vanilla simple syrup and 1 cup of white rum.  Chill.  When you arrive at your picnic destination, add 16 oz of club soda to the pitcher and serve!

Lime Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Juice of two limes

Combine all ingredients in a medium pan.  Boil until sugar dissolves.  Cool.

Lime & Vanilla Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Juice of two limes

Combine all ingredients in a medium pan.  Boil until sugar dissolves.  Cool.

 

 

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Coke + Peanuts

I’ve always loved driving the stretch between Durham and Morehead, just me and my dad.  It’s the best time to talk to anyone, just the two of you alone in the car.  Those drives are how I got to know my dad as a person and one of the reasons we’re so close today.  The first memory I have of my dad pouring a packet of salted peanuts into a bottle of coke was from one of those drives.  I remember the horror at the idea and then, shortly thereafter, the the complete change of heart I had when he let me try it.

Coke and peanuts is one of those distinctly Southern combinations whose origins are unknown.  It’s a curiosity (not unlike boiled peanuts or a tendency to put mayonnaise on damn near anything) that people outside the South ask about.  They say “you guys don’t really put peanuts in your coke, do you?”  We do.  And you should try it, take the leap of delicious faith.

Last week the National Peanut Board emailed me to see if I’d like to be part of a mailing they were targeting towards Southern writers.  I said yes and in my head, expecting them to send me a package full of peanuts, decided I’d finally post about Coke + Peanuts.  It’s a bit of a blasphemy to have a Southern food blog and not have something about this salty combo on there, I’ve been meaning to post about it forever.  It was the perfect opportunity, I thought.  And then yesterday, waiting for me when I got home, was a package.  I made a mental note to send a tweet asking where I could get glass Coke bottles in my area and opened the box.  Inside was a glass bottle of Coke and a little packet of peanuts.  It’s like they read my mind!  Thanks for the delicious treat, NPB!

Coke + Peanuts

1 bottle Coke (or any cola), preferably glass.  Never a can.

1 packet salted peanuts.  I prefer a lot of peanuts.

Open your soda and take a swig.  Pour peanuts into the cola and enjoy.

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