Blog - biscuits and such
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Barbeque Song

So I have a few recipes planned for later this week but had to share something with you first.  As many of you know, barbeque is a big part of southern culture, and where you’re from totally dictates how you eat it and what your opinion of it is.  I myself prefer the vinegar based barbeque of eastern North Carolina.  Last night my good friend Julia had dinner with us and showed me this incredible video that I can’t believe I haven’t seen before.  It’s amazing and I wanted to share it with you.  Note the part at the end, for my non-southern readers, where it points out that “barbeque” is a noun, not a verb.  That is a very important fact to understand.  And that North Carolina’s is best.  Obviously.

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Seafood Stew

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One of the things I learned at art school was that I’m not special.  That sounds a little harsh.  I mean, specifically, that my life story, the things that have happened to me and the challenges that I’ve faced, aren’t unique.  When I was growing up I was one of the few people I knew that had divorced parents.  But every one of my close friends from college (save Dan) are the products of divorce.  For the first time since I was eleven I had a group of friends that totally got what I was going through, who knew what it was like.  Some of them have parents who still have a friendly relationship, others (like me) have parents whose relationship is rough, at best.  Swapping war stories with them was healing, made me feel like people beyond my  brothers understood what I was going through.

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This Thanksgiving was a demonstration of how things can play out in a funny way.  My parents live just a few miles from each other in Durham, which makes visiting both of them around the holidays easy since we can toggle back and forth from their houses.  This year, my dad and stepmom were supposed to be in Northern Virginia for Thanksgiving, so we made plans to spend the holiday with my mom.  Then we were invited to my Aunt Lori and Uncle Kevin’s house, my father’s brother and his family.   Just before Thanksgiving my dad and stepmom cancelled their trip, which meant they spent the holiday with her family while we spent it with my mom and my dad’s family.  Complicated.

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My dad has a section on b&s called “The Captain Cooks.”  So I was only mildly surprised to get a text (he just got an iPhone and started texting) from him on Thanksgiving morning inviting me to come over and take pictures of him frying a turkey.  Unfortunately we were due at our dinner, so I offered to document his meal for the Friday night dinner we’d be attending, a seafood stew.  I will, however, absolutely have to share his turkey recipe with you soon, because it was delicious.

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My dad does soups and stews really well.  Brunswick stew, chili, seafood boils, they are rich and full of flavor.  I used to love when he would make a few gallons; my sisters and I would just curl up in bed with a big bowl and allow ourselves to be filled with its warmth.  This stew was no different.  Full of flavor, perfect for a big family dinner over a family game of dice.  The biggest conflict on that Black Friday?  The difference between soup and stew.  Thoughts?

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Seafood Stew
Source: Captain James Rosemond

1 pound sausage

1 pound cod

1 pound shrimp

1 onion

2 cups carrots

4 potatoes

2 16 oz cans crushed tomatoes

1 4 oz can tomato paste

1 cup celery

2 16 oz cans green beans, canned

1 bottle V-8

Cayenne pepper

Salt & pepper

2 small cans clams (with juice)

2 small cans oysters (with juice)

4 tbsp olive oil

Chop celery, carrots, onion, and potatoes.  Set aside.  Parboil potatoes.  Drain.

Heat oil in a large stock pot.  Saute sausage until brown.  Add celery and cook 5 minutes.  Add carrots, onions, and potatoes, one at a time.  Stir in the juice from the clams and oysters, but not the fish itself.  Cook 5 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, green beans, and V-8.  Add salt and pepper and cayenne.

Simmer for 2-4 hours.  30 minutes before you’d like to serve, bring heat back up and add seafood.  Cook for half an hour, stirring occasionally, and serve.

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Gingerbread Cookies

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I think one of the biggest challenges facing couples that are starting out (and cohabiting) is the blending and merging of traditions, especially holiday traditions.  Every family celebrates a different way, and it can be tricky to protect the traditions that are most important to you while respecting the way your partner feels.  It can also be hard to establish new traditions, to make the holiday your own, when so much of what we feel around the holidays is prompted by the way things were done while we were growing up.  Half of the time you’re fighting the urge to say things like “well the way my mother did it…”

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Dan and I have worked really hard to be respectful of each other’s wishes, traditions, and beliefs.  But, as in most cases, there are some things we just won’t ever see eye to eye on.  For one, I hate surprises.  I usually manage to keep half of what I’m giving him for Christmas a secret.  He loves surprises.  I could put his presents unwrapped in the closet and he would never peek.  We also like totally opposite kinds of cookies.  I don’t mean that he likes chocolate chip and I like sugar, I mean that he likes soft, chewy cookies and I like them to crunch.

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This was a problem when I made gingerbread cookies last week.  You see, I like very thin very crunchy gingerbread cookies.  Snaps, if you will.  He likes them soft.  And… I forgot.  The first batch I made were super crunchy, the kind of cookie that you have to dip in a mug of hot chocolate to eat.  Dan gave me sad puppy eyes while he was gnawing on one, so I made another batch of very soft sugar topped ones, just the way he likes them.  See, the holidays are about compromise.  And cookies!  Lesson learned.

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Gingerbread Cookies

4 cups flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

2 tbsp powdered ginger

1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp cloves

1 stick butter, room temp

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

Beat sugar and butter until fluffy.  Add in egg.  Beat in molasses and vanilla.

Mix together all remaining ingredients.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

Divide, wrap in plastic, and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.

Roll out on parchment paper.  Your dough should be 1/4 inch thin.  For snaps roll the dough out as thin as possible.   Put back in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Heat your oven to 350.  Cut into circles or whatever shapes you want and bake 8-10 minutes for soft cookies, 20 minutes for crunchy.  Let cool on a wire rack.

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