Sandi is blogging from the WhistleStop Cafe kitchen. It's all about good home cooking; food, family and fun. Thousands of posts . . .

~In the south and around the world.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Artichokes, Roman Style

I spent yesterday in the kitchen... and trying to learn a new blogging system. I will say that 'blogger' may have it glitches, but it is very user friendly compared to others. I will be getting a 2 for 1 post~ since that is how I've set it up. Or should I say Y'aLL will get a 2 for 1 post!

This is my first recipe from our Pomodori e Vino cooking challenge, and luckily it is one of my favorites when eating at a Roman trattoria. Carciofi alla Romana~ or Artichokes, Roman style.

The first of many weekly challenges... to find the right ingredients here in Alabama. I managed to find the large globe artichokes, which are not exactly the stout, tender artichokes found in Italy. Allora. These will just have to work.

Most of the essentials of Italian cooking involve the 'process' of cooking. Marcella goes into details about the proper way to clean and prepare the artichokes... which is essential for most dishes using the fresh artichoke.

First~ remove the outer leaves. If at first this seems wasteful, she says it is more wasteful to cook something that can't be eaten.
Continue until you reach the tender inner leaves. Cut the tips of the inner leaves off.Rub all of the cut surfaces with lemon to prevent browning.Mean while, mince some mint, parsley, garlic and mix with salt and pepper.Rub the chokes well with the herbs and place tops down in a pot and cook until tender~ the smell is amazing! I served mine with a nice bowl of fennel risotto.Don't forget to follow us with a new recipe everyday on Facebook or at Pomodori e Vino.
Buon Appetito y'all,

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March Madness &sea shells

31 days~ 31 posts.

It is not as easy as you think. I'd admire all y'all who find a way to blog day after day. I was good for the month of March. It helps when there is a road trip involved.
I continue to post as frequently as I can... when I have something worth blogging about. Like this~I picked up some sea shells while at the beach. There is a thrifty project in the future here... I'm not exactly sure what to do with them.
Any idea's y'all?
I'll link up with Linda~Coastal Charm for some thrifty love. She'll know what to do with these sea shells.


Dont forget our Friday's Favorites ♥Linky Party♥

Monday, March 29, 2010

This Day

The sunrise at the beach has dawned bright and clear. The wind is fierce. The gulls are floating in formation... in spite of the crosswinds.


This morning at 10 we will say our final goodbyes to 'The Colonel'. We had our family ceremony in December, but this is the service with the pomp of a full military sendoff. Just what he deserves.

Y'all keep us in your hearts today.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Slow Suppers~ Tuscan Roast

It was my turn to pick our supper this Sunday. I immediately thought of a Sunday Roast.
So that is what we have~ a Sunday roast with a Tuscan twist. This recipe for a Tuscan roasted pork is adapted from Once Upon A Plate.

Tuscan Pork Roast
2 teaspoons fresh chopped sage
3 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 pound pork tenderloin
1 loaf crusty baguette
kitchen string
Preheat oven to 375°.
Mince sage, rosemary, pepper, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper together. Sear the tenderloin in a frying pan over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of oil for 8-10 minutes, rotating to brown all sides. Roll the pork in the herb mixture and set aside. Next cut, or slit the baguette in half the long way and scoop out most of the soft insides. Brush the inside of the baguette with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and any spices that may not stick to the meat. Set the pork inside the baguette so that the pork is well enclosed. Trim off the excess ends of the bread if needed. With string, tie the bread to secure the pork at 1 to 2 inch intervals. Place the pork on a baking sheet and roast until done (when instant read thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloin it should read 155°-160°) About 25 to 35 minutes.
Remove from the oven, allow to rest 10 minutes.

Remove the strings and cut into slices. Either serve it warm or at room temperature.

It was A-Ma-Zing! It smelled and tasted wonderful. You really have to give this one a try.
Bon Appetito y'all~

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Photo Hunt ~Fresh

The photohunt for this week is 'fresh'. I'm not sure who is looking forward to the fresh catch more... the crane or the fisherman?
A fresh cup of coffee with the sunrise.

Happy hunting y'all,

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday's Favorite ♥Linky Party♥

Welcome to our Friday's Favorite Linky party~

Y'all leave your link, and let us know what your ♥favorite♥ is this week.
My favorite is Skinny~ precisely Gina's Skinny Recipes She always has fabulous recipes, that are low in fat and calories. The girl rocks!
This recipe for a Diet Soda Cake sounded to good to be true. I tried it... and Gina's Right! It is to good and true.

Diet Soda Cake
1 dry box cake, any flavor
10 oz diet soda, any flavor
2 egg whites
Baking spray
Preheat oven according to box directions. Spray 9 x 13 pan.
Beat cake mix, diet soda and egg whites. Pour into pan.
Bake as directed on box, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
Let cake cool about 10 minutes before cutting. Cut into 12 pieces. Top with fat free whipped cream if you wish.
You can also make 24 cup cakes which would be only 1.75 points each
I used a devils food cake mix. (yes Jerry, a mix!) and a can of diet Buffalo Rock Gingerale (I have sung the praises of Buffalo Rock Gingerale before). They puffed up to 12 beautiful large cupcakes. They were light and chocolatey with a hint of ginger. I topped each with Raspberries and a raspberry glaze.
Fabulous Favorite!
Y'all link up with your favorites~ and grab a cupcake :-)

Thursday, March 25, 2010


What is it about the coast?~ the sound of the waves, the clean ocean breezes. It refreshes the soul.
We need a little refreshment.

It'll be a sad/happy weekend.
I'll have my laptop~ if I have time for bloggin.
Y'all don't forget our ♥Friday's Favorites♥ Linky Party tomorrow.
Come by for a cupcake.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Light and crunchy granola

I have posted a recipe before for a really yummy Nutty Granola. It is good with yogurt, or just by itself as a snack.
Since we've been trying to shave calories and shed pounds I went on the search for another, lighter variation.
Light and Crunchy Granola
4 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 Tbs butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup dried fruit
1/2 cup orange juice
Preheat to 350
Soak the fruit in OJ and set aside. Melt the butter, and toss all ingredients together. Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake until golden 20-25 minutes. Stir once or twice.

The result? Good. Not Great.
But not as good as the nutty sweet and crunchy granola. I wonder why?

Good enough to sprinkle on my yogurt for that bit of crunch.
Yall enjoy,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Cooking Challenge~Pomodori E Vino

This is the biggest, and possibly craziest challenge I have ever been a part of. I am among a group of 9 who are going to cook our way through Marcella Hazan's cookbook Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

For those of you who may not know who Marcella Hazan is, she has been credited with bringing true Italian cooking to America. She has won numerous awards, including a knighthood from her home country of Italy.

Amacord is her autobiography, and a fascinating read. Her life growing up in war torn Italy and the beginnings of her cooking schools in America. I admire her, and hope one day to meet her.
(Which is why I hope we can get through this challenge without slaying her recipes and techniques.)

We have decided to post our recipes daily on Facebook in a group called Pomodori e Vino~ which means tomatoes and wine. I hope that all y'all will become friends and follow along this process.
We get started this sunday.
Wish us luck.
Ciao y'all!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lemon Risotto

I am craving spring, like someone craves chocolate. We have had just enough sunshine, amongst the showers, to make the daffodils all raise their heads, the forsythia is blooming and the robins are back.
My Limoncello is brewing, and I still have lemons to use. I decided to try this lemon risotto. This is a spring time comfort food~ if there is such a thing.

Lemon Risotto
1 lemon
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups boiling chicken stock
1/2 cup frozen Petite Peas
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese or creme fresh
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Saute diced onion in olive oil until tender, add rice and stir to coat. In another pan, heat chicken stock to a simmer. Zest and juice lemon and set aside. Once the rice is clear in color, add white wine and lemon juice. Cook the risotto in the traditional way by adding the broth one scoop at a time. Add the last of the broth with peas to the risotto as you normally would, giving a stir and cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed. Just before serving, briskly stir in lemon zest and mascarpone, salt and pepper to taste. Top with fresh parsley.
This goes great with seafood, or shrimp, or just like it is. It is light and fresh... just like a taste of spring.
Y'all enjoy,

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Suppers ~Braise

Our Sunday Supper this week is from Jan. She is a slow travel buddy who's blog is Keep Your Feet in the Street. (one day I am going to do a post on great blog names~ her's is one of them!) Her recipe is Braised turkey thighs.
~which by the way would be much easier to find in November than in March~

Braising is a technique used typically for tough meats like a pot roast. First the meat is seared, then put into a pot with liquid and cooked at a low temperature until tender.
Braised Turkey Thighs
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 turkey thighs
1 cup dry white wine
2 large onions, diced
4 medium carrots diced
3 medium stalks of celery diced
8 oz. Mushroom, sliced
4 medium cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
2 bay leaves
1 28 oz. Can crushed tomatoes
parmesan cheese rind (if available)
¼ cup chopped parsley for garnish
Pre heat oven to 325°
Heat 2 tbs oil in a Dutch oven, over medium high.
Salt and pepper both sides of the thighs.
Brown them, about 6 minutes each side, in the oil.
Remove from pot. Pour off all the fat.
Add the next 2 tbs to the pot to get hot. Then add the onions, carrots and celery and cook about 7 or 8 minutes until soft. Add the mushrooms and garlic for another couple of minutes. Add the wine and deglaze the pot (scrape up the brown bits left on the bottom).
Mix in the stock or water, the crushed tomatoes, bay leaves and more salt and pepper. Add the cheese rind, if you have one. Remove the skin from the turkey thighs and return them to the pot, nestling them down into the liquid. It should just cover the thighs. Bring it up to a boil and then put into the oven.
Cook until the meat is falling off the bones—about an hour and a half—maybe 2.
You can get all the meat off and serve it in the sauce or just cut large pieces off. Don’t forget to remove the cheese rind and the bay leaves.
Great over hearty pasta, or polenta, sprinkled with the parsley and some grated parmesan cheese
This made a wonderful hearty meal.
Y'all enjoy!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Photo Hunt ~Three

The photo hunt for today is 'three'
I immediately thought of the 3 wines at the beautiful winery in Tuscany, Al Paradiso di Frassina . They have a beautiful Brunello de Montalcino, 'Do' is a musical blend of Tuscan grapes, 'Gea' is named for Carlo's youngest daughter.
This is the beautiful winery where the grapes grow to the constant sound of music. If you are anywhere near Montalcino, it is an experience. I now see that they also offer apartments for rent~ the grapes wouldn't be the only thing waking up to Mozart.
Happy hunting y'all,

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday's Favorite ♥Linky Party♥

It's Friday~ time for a party.

Lets have a Linky Party.

Y'all share your Friday's Favorites... anything goes.
My favorite this Friday has to be the daffodils that are popping up in the yard.
I ♥ anything that comes back year after year, and puts such a smile on my face.
Now what is your Favorite?
Y'all link up~

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wash, Dry, Fold, Repeat

I applied my thrifty skills to our laundry room, and didn't it clean up good?
The painting is by my friend PalmaBella, who's talents never end. I used a frame from Old time pottery (which I like to call the Barn of Pottery~ as opposed the more expensive Pottery Barn).
The lettering, a quick applique from TJMaxx.
Now if I could just get caught up on the laundry. I am to busy visiting all the Thrifty Thursday friends from Bloggeritaville .
Y,all don't forget our ♥ Friday's Favorites ♥ linky party tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St Patrick's Day

I'm Irish (today!)
Then again~ aren't we all?
And here is a recipe for a hearty beef stew~ made with Guinness. Is there anything more Irish?
Guinness Stew
1 tablespoons oil
1 onion
2 pounds Beef
2 Tbs flour
2 carrots (large)
2 potatoes
1 cup Guinness
1 cups beef stock
1 bay leaf
Use a cheaper cut of beef, cut into bitesized chunks, coat with flour. Cut the onion, potatoes and carrots into largish chunks.
In a large pot, saute onions lightly in oil. Add beef and brown on high heat without crowding. Lower heat and add Guinness, beef stock and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Add carrots and potatoes. Cook until thickened and carrots and potatoes are done. Serve with fresh bread.

St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time - a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic.
Adrienne Cook

Sláinte y'all!
Y'all don't forget to come back for my ♥Friday's Favorite Linky Party♥ ~if you aren't all partied out by then.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Warm smiles~

May your day be touched
by a bit of Irish luck,
brightened by a song in your heart,
and warmed by the smiles
of the people you love.

Sláinte y'all!
Don't forget about our ♥Friday's Favorites♥ linky party!

We've been featured at Virginia's BirminghamDailyPhotoBlog, pop in and say thanks~

Monday, March 15, 2010

Luck of the Irish

I love St Patrick's Day... It must be my Irish blood.
I was looking back through old posts and found some great Irish sayings. I guess I was on a roll last year. These are worth a second peak!
An Old Celtic Blessing
May the blessing of light be on you—
light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you
and warm your heart
till it glows like a great peat fire.

Sláinte y'all!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A little history

Usually my sunday's are full of recipes. We are taking a day off from our Sunday Slow Suppers~ since all the other cooks are in San Diego for the great get together. We will resume with our sunday suppers next week.

My friend Virginia and I met at the WhistleStop Cafe in Irondale a week or so ago for lunch. It got me to thinking, and I remembered to ask Bill about how his family came to own the cafe. His dad was a railroad man, his mom was raising 3 kids... neither knew much about running a resturant.
So the story goes~~ Mr. Mac ate at this little cafe by the tracks in Irondale frequently. He loved the meat and veggies and sandwiches that Bess served. Miss Bess Fortenberry ran the small cafe with her friend Sue and a black cook named Lizzie. It was a thriving business, although small, with only enough seating inside for 31. Mr. Mac had talked to Bess about buying her cafe... before she would agree, she insisted that he have his wife come and talk to her. (smart woman!)

Mary Jo was busy on the other side of town raising kids and really didn't know much about Irondale or the cafe. She remembers walking into the tiny dim cafe to meet with Bess and was a little surprised. The cafe was in a small green framed building, with four booths and a counter for seating. There was a big Coca-Cola sign over the door and a couple of small dingy windows. Bess asked her "what in the world do you want to buy this cafe for?" Mary Jo assured her it was Mr. Mac's idea and she would only be working with him.

She remembers thinking she knew nothing about running a business but Dad was insistent. She drove back to Huffman, and prayed that Bess would decide to sell it to someone else. Instead... They became the owners of a cafe in Irondale. (or as Bill would say... the cafe owned them) Soon after they took over, the manager became sick and had to shorten her hours. The 'batter was made' and Mary Jo became a full time cafe owner/manager. Someone else's dream, became her reality.

By the 1980's the cafe was a booming success, the old building had to be torn down to meet health department standards, and a new cafe was built. This new building seated 100 and had an automatic dishwasher, 5 deep fryers, and a modern kitchen. It wasn't long before they were busting at the seams again.

Then... one day in 1983, a local TV personality and author, named Fannie Flagg walked in and said she wanted to write a book based on her Great-Aunt Bess and her old cafe. Many of the stories from the novel 'Fried Green Tomatoes at the WhistleStop Cafe' are based on real life stories from the early days at the cafe.
Our family sold the cafe in 2000, but Sunday's at Mom's still involve lots of yummy food and occasionally some Fried Green Tomatoes.
Y'all enjoy!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Photo Hunt ~Spiral

The photo hunt for today is 'spiral'
These are the stairs at the Residenza Canali in Rome. Our favorite hotel, just steps from Piazza Navona. A nice reminder to pack light!
Happy hunting y'all,

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday's Favorite ♥Linky Party♥

It is time for our Friday's Favorite Party. Everyone get's the chance to share their favorites.

When I am in search of something I know I can't find at the local Piggly Wiggly I head 'across town' to my favorite grocery store.
Whole Foods
I don't do my daily shopping there... but I love to spend some time wandering. I love the fresh tulips in the colors of spring.Just the place to go if you want piles of organic fruit and vegetables.
Where else will you see a display like this of Parmigiano Reggiano?
I wan't the only one who sat outside in the sunshine and enjoyed something cold to drink.
Now, y'all share your favorites... anything goes!

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