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.