Coffee, tea or cocoa? Name your poison! (A reprisal)

Last February, I asked the readers of the Record-Eagle this vastly important question and most of my responses came from family.  So I'm trying again with my 'Foodie' readers.  Don't get me wrong... I can listen to my family talk food all day and often do.  I just want some perspective.  Are we the only ones obsessed with our hot beverages?  It cannot be so...  I can't wait to hear what you all have to say to this:   Two very devoted coffee drinkers raised me. My Dad said he knew that he liked my then-boyfriend, now-husband the first time they met because Lindy offered to buy my Dad a coffee during the first period break at a hockey game. He did however, have reservations when my husband asked whether he’d like cream and sugar. Dad said, “Why would I want to wreck a perfectly good cup of coffee with that junk?” Dad likes his coffee really strong. In fact, he was banned from making coffee at his office because he was the only one who could drink it. My Mom drinks coffee so strong that it has, quite literally, given panic attacks to guests. Well, actually it only happened once, but I think my point is made. The son of one of her friends had palpitations, sweats and couldn’t sit still after drinking a demi-tasse of Mom’s joe. She occasionally drinks it with half-and-half (probably so that the coffee acids don’t eat through her esophagus and stomach lining…) Mom never measures. She doesn’t need to measure. If she fills the filter it’s probably almost strong … {Read on...}

Slow-cooker Vanilla Bean Tapioca

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In today's Record-Eagle column, I ran a recipe for Slow-Cooker Vanilla Bean Tapioca Pudding.  (I'll link to the full column when I'm back from vacation, but in the meantime the recipe is posted below.) Slow-Cooker Vanilla Bean Tapioca This pudding takes the perennial favorite tapioca pudding and dresses it up. Served warm, it’ll heat you up from the inside out on chilly fall days. Using a real vanilla bean gives the pudding a sumptuous velvet-like texture and flavor. If you don’t have access to vanilla beans, I weep for you, but you can still make a delicious version of the recipe by substituting for the beans with 2 teaspoons of real vanilla extract. Ingredients: ¼ cup fine pearl tapioca (not granulated) ½ cup granulated sugar ½ of one vanilla bean 2 cups milk** 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk, beaten in a medium bowl non-stick cooking spray or butter for greasing the slow-cooker **Low fat milk works fine in this, but it’s silkier and richer if you use whole milk or a combination of whole milk and half&half or even GLORY, GLORY heavy cream. Method: Heat milk in a microwave safe container until very hot. Spray slow cooker crock with nonstick cooking spray or butter generously. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and use the blunt spine of the knife to scrape the ‘seeds’ from the bean pod. Add the vanilla bean and ‘seeds’ into the crock along with the tapioca, sugar, and milk. Stir well, put cover on the slow cooker and cook for 1 1/2 hours on low, … {Read on...}

Blue, Blue, Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins

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  In an earlier post this summer, I raved about The Cornbread Gospels by Crescent Dragonwagon (that name always makes me smile) and the two versions of cornbread salad we had tried out, both receiving enthusiastic reviews. Well, since then, it’s been hard for me to NOT bake and cook without cornmeal. Cornmeal breads, muffins, pancakes, etc. And my latest favorite muffin is her recipe for Blue, Blue Blueberry Muffins.  All the blue is the result of using blue cornmeal  and serving the muffins with a Blueberry-Cream Cheese-Honey Butter. Okay, have I your attention now? Are you hooked? Shall I start reeling you in???   These are unbelievably tender and moist, and the main spice in the recipe, nutmeg, sets off the flavor of the blueberries and the cornmeal beautifully. (I am somewhat biased—most dishes are considered incomplete without at least a little nutmeg thrown in). And when you top the warm muffins with the meltingly delicious blueberry butter—moment of silence, please.   Now, if you are not able to find blue cornmeal, yellow is fine, and you end up with another lovely version, just less blue! Blue cornmeal is not easily accessible up here where I live in northern MI, so I’ve made these frequently with yellow cornmeal, as you can see here—         So if you have stockpiled a good amount of end-of-the-summer blueberries  AND you are a lover of corn AND need some muffins to warm you up on the crisp mornings arriving with the turn of the season, this recipe is … {Read on...}

Let’s play the “Where is Foodie?” game!

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I am on vacation as of... hang on... NOW!    Where am I?  Let me give you some hints.   The view from the driveway     Up over that little ledge in the previous picture     A whole lotta this brown stuff...     And there will most certainly be much of this type of action...     I'll be sitting on this front porch with many, many cups of tea.   So can you guess?  My access to the internet will be severly curtailed this week.  ...And that's just as it should be!   Because I had a backlog of posts to share with you I'll be scheduling them all for the next few days while I'm away.  It'll be like I never left (except that I won't be talking back until I'm home!)     … {Read on...}

Mango Custard

Gets nice and caramel-y on top...

Mangoes...I love them...just have a hard time finding a good one at times.   The first time I ate a mango, it was somewhat underripe, and actually cutting the mango up was a little bit frustrating, due to the monster pit waiting inside that lovely yellow flesh. But even under-ripe, the fruit was delicious, and that bit of piney undertone to the flavor was addicting.   Finally encountering a ripe mango, I was completely transported--I had no idea that fruit could send you to another dimension. Well, perhaps I exaggerate, but it was darn good. My problem over the years has been finding mangoes at that peak of perfection. I've discovered the color on the outside does not seem to be a good indicator, but the touch test is helpful--if the fruit yields to gentle pressure, you may be in for some good eating. If the fruit yields to the point of being able to touch the pit, it's been around a little too long. If it is rock hard, it may ripen for you, but may actually begin spoiling before it is ripe enough to enjoy.   If you are lucky enough to find good ripe mangoes, cutting them up is actually easy, if messy. Starting at the top of the fruit, with stem down, and with the narrow side facing you, bring the blade of your chef's knife down across the top and slice down through the fruit slightly off center; when you encounter some resistance, curve the knife out away from the pit a bit, and use the pit as a guide for your knife as you finish slicing through the bottom. … {Read on...}