Blog - biscuits and such
southern food blog
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Iced Black Coffee

Last night, as I was trying to work up the energy to brush  my teeth and go to bed, I was looking at the pictures I’ve posted recently on flickr.  As it turns out, most of them are of iced coffee.  I decided I might have a problem.

In addition to mango smoothies I am drinking a copious amount of iced coffee these days.  Homebrewed, black, very strong iced coffee with coffee ice cubes.  I’m addicted.  It might be the only thing getting me through the day lately.  Between practicing for the water ballet, my attempt to be a runner (again), and a crazy work schedule, I’m beat.

And this stuff?  It’s liquid gold.

Iced Black Coffee

The thing about iced coffee is that you can’t just brew coffee and then chill it.  Coffee that has been heated and then chilled gets bitter, which ruins the delicious coffee flavor.  So for iced coffee you need to steep the coffee at room temperature.

3 cups coffee grinds

6-7 cups of water

1 cup of water, to be added later


In a large bowl (I like to use my 8 cup pyrex measuring cup that has a lid) combine water and grinds.  Stir and cover.  Let sit overnight.

Strain coffee mixture through a fine mesh strainer that has been lined with cheesecloth.  Add another cup or two of water to dilute to your taste.  Chill.

Coffee Ice Cubes

Combine 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup coffee.  Free in ice cube tray.  Use to chill your coffee without diluting.

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Watermelon Vodka Tonic

watermelon vodka 1

Internet, today is my 25th birthday. I can now rent a car, I am officially in my mid-twenties, and there’s a little bit bigger gap in age between myself and our slew of summer interns. Or at least, so it feels. I’ve been looking forward to this birthday for a while, and I am so excited it is finally here.

As far as gifts, this has been a great birthday season (as a July birthday I tend to celebrate all. summer. long. It drives Dan insane). In May, Dan surprised me with the most adorable clutch from North Carolina native Holly Aiken. Then, in June I got my birthday tattoo. And then in July I put the money I’ve been squirreling away, plus some birthday money, plus some surprise refund money towards a new iPad! My dear friend Dana and her sweet guy Emerson surprised me with one of her adorably unique plush folkies, Leo. Not to mention the bagel sandwich I treated myself to this morning. Best birthday ever, in my opinion.

Tonight should be exciting, too. My coworker Rachael and I applied for a grant a while back to start a series of young adult programs at the Museum, and that series kicks off tonight. We’ll be eating falafel, listening to live music, and the (amazing) artist, Loring Cornish, will be giving tours of his exhibition. All in all, it’s shaping up to be an incredible birthday. Unless it rains or nobody comes, in which case, MORE FALAFEL FOR ME! All in all, this summer so far has been wonderful. Dan and I are loving our jobs, loving our home, loving our garden, loving our life. We’ve been surrounded by friends and family, there hasn’t been a moment that I don’t feel so fortunate and so loved. Toast with me, if you will, to this wonderful summer.

P.S. All I’m toasting with are these watermelon vodka tonics. They’re amazing. Refreshing, light, delicious, and oh so summery.

Watermelon Vodka Tonics

1 medium size watermelon
1 750 ml bottle of vodka

Slice your watermelon. Place in a large sealed container or multiple zipped plastic bags. Pour vodka over the watermelon so that it is partially submerged. Let sit 24-48 hours in fridge.

Remove the watermelon, place in a separate container or serve. Pour liquid into an air-tight bottle. For a stronger drink, add more vodka to taste. Chill.

Mix 1 part watermelon vodka to two parts tonic. Serve.

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Picking Crabs, Maryland Style


Since I moved to Maryland in 2004 I have not eaten a whole crab. I’ve eaten plenty of crab cakes, more crab dip than I’d like to admit, a few crab pretzels, and a fair amount of crab laden sushi. But no whole crabs. In fact, the only time I’ve ever had a whole crab was at my stepgrandfather’s house in high school. We were there for Pop-Pop’s birthday, and in tribute to his Baltimore roots we ate crabs. Or, rather, my family ate crabs. I got as far as a lung (nobody told it was the lung!) and decided I preferred hot dogs.



Enter my friend Jamie. Jamie comes from a long line of proud Marylanders, people who spend as much time picking apart crabs as us Carolinians do picking apart pigs. They’ve refined the process to a science, an art, and Jamie was willing to teach it to us. I had this post scheduled for later this month, but last night Pop Pop passed away. Pop Pop, or Al Hlavin, Sr, was my stepmom Jan’s father. He was a smart, kind, and much loved man. So, in honor of Pop-Pop and thanks to Jamie, I would like to present a step-by-step guide to picking crabs, the Maryland way.



Step 1: Start with a whole, steamed crab. Preferably one that has been steamed in copious amounts of Old Bay.



Step 2: Rip the claws off. Eat any meat that comes off with them.



Step 3: Use a knife, mallet, or your fingers to crack open the claws. Eat the meat inside.



Step 4: Locate the apron. This is the monument-shaped area on the underside of the crab.



Step 5: Pull the apron off by the tip. Discard.



Step 6: Pull the top of the shell off, from the top.



Step 7: Remove the organs. This is everything offcolored, squishy, etc in the middle of the crab. Next, remove the lungs (see where Jamie is pointing). Growing up, Jamie was told the lungs were called the devil. Number 1 rule of crab picking? DON’T EAT THE DEVIL.



Step 8: Break the crab in half.



Step 9: Use a knife to cut the half again.



Step 10: Enjoy! Eat the white meat, drink lots of beer!


update: the jamie keffer method of steaming blue crabs.


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