Sunday, December 25, 2011

An extremely minimal Christmas

I've been so busy with my duties as Food Coordinator for the upcoming Extreme Makeover Home Edition build in Knoxville January 10-18, that Christmas sneaked up on me. I've never been one to do much decorating, but this year I out-minimalized myself. Here it is in all its glory--our Christmas mantle.  That's our little mercury glass Christmas tree (from Bliss Home) on the left and our wreath from Samuel Franklin. I rounded up some candles and glass bottles from around the house to complete the holiday tableau.

We're just piling the gifts in front of the fireplace. Looks like Santa did a lot of shopping at Bliss and Downtown Wine & Spirits. Didn't even have to move the sleigh to get that done.

Not very Christmassy, are we?

I am so glad we have friends who do it up in style. Yesterday we borrowed a little Christmas spirit by visiting Larry and Jane Martin. Here's their pretty tree ringed with beautifully wrapped packages.

Their mantle puts ours to shame.

There was a table full of goodies around a centerpiece of candles and magnolias.

(Here's what's currently in the middle of our dining room table:  A basket of apples, a few Christmas cards from the people who continue sending them to us though we haven't managed to reciprocate, and some random pieces of mail.)

Jane served lots of yummy stuff on holiday platters. Baked Brie.

Asparagus Rolls.

Ham Sandwiches.

Cheese Tarts.

And tons of sweets.

Look at this Cristmassy group in their red sweaters. Bill, Jane Martin, Bo Shafer, Jane Suffridge (or is it Jane Shafer now?), and Larry Martin. Bo & Jane, who recently married, look very happy.

Two of Bill & Jo Terry's two daughters are home for the holidays and dropped by with their father, Dr. Bill Terry. That's Elizabeth & husband Dallas on the left and Laura on the right. Julia stayed in NYC for Christmas. Grandma Jo was babysitting Elizabeth & Dallas's napping son.

Here's Bill with his Christmas gift from Larry--a 12 pack of Tab. As Tab lovers know, that stuff is hard to find.

Wonder how that Tab would look on our mantle?

A no-fuss Christmas. That's what we're having.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Smoked Salmon with Corn & Black Bean Salsa on live TV

Smoked Salmon with Corn & Black Bean Salsa was served at a Knox Heritage Summer Supper in 2006. I'll be making it for the first time--in front of a lot of people on live TV. Not that I'm nervous...

Here's the cookbook. You can buy one (or more!) for $20 at


Cooking in a 3-5 minute segment on live TV is tricky. I used to do it every other Wednesday on the Style show. It's been a while, but I think I remember some of the tricks. Number one is to do everything you can before showing up at the station. Your time on camera is all about assembly. Here's what I did to get ready for today's visit to Live at 5 at 4 on WBIR.

I got out sugar and spices, squeezed two limes, and measured some oil.

I flaked smoked salmon and drained and combined black beans and corn.

Caesar helped by licking the packaging the salmon was in.

I diced green chilies, a red pepper, and two scallions.

The cilantro and herb shears are ready to go. I decided I'd rather prep those during the segment.

Everything's ready to go.

Bet it'll look prettier all mixed together.

Smoked Salmon with Black Bean & Corn Salsa--that's what we're having today on Live at 5 at 4. Tune in & wish me luck!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What They're Having

Today was my friend Cynthia Moxley's annual cookie exchange party--always a fun time but a little bit of an anxious time for me. I love to cook but hate to bake. Everyone else brings great cookies; mine are not so good. 

The most fun for me today was making brunch for Bill and Alan to enjoy while they watched football and stayed away from the cookie party.

I made chocolate chip muffins.

Oops. Forgot to take a photo of the cheese grits. Trust me--they were good. But here's the smoked corn salad.

And the zucchini pie.

Here's the recipe for the zucchini pie. It's great. 

Zucchini Pie

1 ½ lbs. zucchini, grated and drained
1 medium onion, chopped fine
½ lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
¼ lb. swiss cheese, grated
4 eggs, beaten
½ c. half and half
1 T. flour
¼ tsp. salt
black pepper to taste

Saute onion in butter until golden. Mix cheese with zucchini and onion. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into a 9 inch greased pie plate. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until center is set. 

Note: Maybe the cooking time will work for you, but my oven is terrible. I bake it for about an hour and then broil it. 

The draining of the zucchini is a very important step. Zucchini has a lot of water in it. Here's what was in the bowl after I drained mine. Doesn't this look refreshing?

Actually, no. 

Anyway, that's what they were having. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A moment of happiness with the Knox Heritage Summer Suppers Cookbook

This afternoon, I finally got to hold in my hands the Knox Heritage Summer Suppers Cookbook--a three year labor of love. It is such a wonderful moment when something you've envisioned not only becomes real but looks exactly as you envisioned it. Kudos to Robin Easter Design for making it happen. And thanks to everyone who contributed a recipe or otherwise helped make this dream a reality.

Here it is--all 320+ pages of goodness.

You can purchase the book now at the Knox Heritage website. You can also purchase it at these upcoming events.

Thursday, December 8, 5-7 pm at Union Ave Books (refreshments from the cookbook provided)
Saturday, December 10, 12-7 pm  at The Holiday Market/Beth Meadows' booth downtown
Saturday, December 10, 4-6 pm at Bliss Home at the Gallery Shopping Center on Kingston Pike (refreshments from the cookbook provided)

From now through December 31, you can purchase a cookbook for $20. (In 2012, the retail price will increase.) All proceeds from the cookbook go to support Knox Heritage's mission: working to preserve structures and places with historic or cultural significance in Knox County.

And how's this for a deal? On December 8, 5-7 pm, for every Summer Suppers cookbook you purchase at Union Ave Books, you'll receive a 10% discount on an item at the bookstore. Thank you for your support, Union Ave Books!

Besides over 300 recipes, the book includes histories of the Summer Suppers, Knox Heritage, and the East Tennessee Preservation Association; vignettes about local treasures such as Savage Gardens, Cruze Dairy, the Historic Homes of Knoxville, Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams, and the Henley Bridge; reminiscences about Summer Suppers--and Lee Ingram's fabulous covers from the Summer Supper booklets.

Look for a story about the cookbook in the News Sentinel on December 1. Here's the dish I made for their photographer this afternoon.

Pesto Potatoes--a dish featuring sauteed potatoes, onions, green beans, and cannelini beans tossed with pesto--served at "Fresh from the Garden 2005." That's what we're having.

Thanksgiving with Friends

I do a lot of cooking solo--with just Caesar (hoping I'll drop something) for company, so it's always fun when I have the opportunity to cook with a friend who loves it as much as I do. This Thanksgiving, friend Janet Testerman and I spent the day cooking at her mother's house for a small group of family and friends. (For those who don't know, just so you don't get confused later, her mom's also named Janet.)

My first job was prepping the brussels sprouts. Janet's brother Ben announced that God must have taken the day off when brussels sprouts, beets, and peas were invented. Ha! I disagree because I love all three. I threatened to invent a dish including all three and name it after Ben.

 While I chopped, minced, sliced, and diced, Janet turned her attention to the potatoes.

And the stuffed pork loin, which we had instead of turkey.

Around that time Vicki Gillenwater arrived. She doesn't cook, but she joined us in having a drink we christened "champoms"--champagne, pomegranate juice, and pomegranate seeds.

While Janet and I cooked, Vicki visited with Ben Testerman and Francis Norris. That's Janet's dog Riley with them.

While waiting for the last few items to bake, Mama Janet, Janet & Vicki checked out The Blue Streak, Cynthia Moxley's blog. They were especially interested in the item about the Laikens and their reasons for leaving Knoxville. This led to quite a discussion about fashion and culture in Knoxville.

Dinner is served. Think we had enough choices?

Brussels sprouts with apples and bacon

Squash Casserole

Broccoli & Blue Cheese Casserole

Carrot Souffle

Green Beans

Mashed Potatoes

Stuffed Pork Loin

And even though we didn't have turkey, we had dressing

and cranberry chutney and gravy.

Mama Janet was first in line!

After dinner, Kevin Kampf and Vicki broke out the eggnog.

Ben opted for pumpkin ice cream--two bowls!

We also had peppermint ice cream, pumpkin cheesecake, and caramel cake.

Thanksgiving with friends. That's what we're having.