Dining High on the Hog

So let’s get the bad news over with first. The Dutch lost to the Danes today in their first match in the 2012 Euro Cup. Ouch. I won’t go in to a lot of detail about it; I really don’t want to have to relive it. I will say I learned an important lesson, though: I am so going to call our insurance agent before the 2014 World Cup and take out a new life insurance policy on the Dutchman. As much as he yelled and cussed out the boys in orange on the TV today, he might just stroke out if they play like that again. Holland’s loss might be my financial gain. Hello early retirement!

Just kidding.

However, all was not lost today. We headed over to the First Annual High on the Hog BBQ Contest at Whitehall Plantation on Lady’s Island. All the barbecue samples you could eat, beer, ice cream, and ice cold slices of watermelon; with all proceeds benefiting Lowcountry Habitat for Humanity.

Ladies and gentlmen, swallow an extra cholesterol pill, put on your stretchy pants, and get your plastic forks out because it is time for some ‘que!

We tried out more than a dozen samples of ribs and butts today from pit masters from all over South Carolina, North Carolina and coastal Georgia. Not actual butts, mind you, just a cut of meat called “Boston Butt.” We do eat some weird stuff in the South like fatback and boiled peanuts, and we put enough sugar and ice in our tea to make your cavities freeze but we aren’t THAT crazy.

The Dutchman and I thought S’Lowcountry Q was hands down the best barbecue. Their Carolina Gold mustard-based sauce was phenomenal. I know some barbecue experts think it is blasphemous to drinch the meat in sauce but I couldn’t help it. This sauce was awesome! I think other people must have agreed with us, too. When we went back for seconds they had run out of barbecue and the Carolina Gold sauce container was almost empty.

We even took Marley, our sweet old beagle with us. I think she thought we took her to Doggie Disneyland or something. People played with her and rubbed her ears, she got to eat barbecue galore, and all of this involved her favorite activity besides napping: riding in the car!

So how was it all? I think Marley’s expression during the car ride home speaks for itself:

Stick a fork in me, I’m done. It’s time for a nap.

 

 

Happy Girl

1. Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV by Warren Littlefield 2. Speculoos Cookie Butter from Trader Joe’s 3. Queen Elizabeth II

Summer is finally here! Actually, here in Beaufort, South Carolina, it has been here since mid-March. We really didn’t have much of a spring (or a winter for that matter), we just went full steam ahead into summer. And when I say steam, I mean steamy. South Carolina really isn’t much hotter than my hometown of Athens, Georgia. It’s just a heck of a lot more humid if you can believe it. Hello big frizzy hair!

Despite my bad hair and scary electric bill, here are a couple of things that have made me a happy girl lately:

I just finished reading Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV by Warren Littlefield. Who wants to read a book by a former TV executive? Not me really, but it discussed some of my all-time favorite TV shows: Cheers, Fraiser, Friends, ER, Will and Grace, and Seinfeld. This book isn’t going to become a classic or anything. However, it was actually a fast easy read.  It was nice to turn back the dial and get all of the goods from behind the scenes with some of my favorite actors and learn how these shows came to be on our TV screens each week. I don’t watch reality TV shows except for No Reservations and Housewives (I know, I should be ashamed to admit that last one openly), so reading this book made me long for the days for a place where everybody know’s your name; the doctor is listening; an ugly naked guy lives across the street; yada, yada, yada…

I stopped by Trader Joe’s the other day when I was in Charleston and was immediately drawn to the big sign that said “Cookie Butter.” It was like a beacon in the middle of the store with two of my favorite words in big bright letters: Cookie. Butter. What’s not to love? I also noticed the word “speculoos.” Granted, I only know about a dozen Dutch words, but I do know what speculoos means. Delicious gingerbread-like cookies with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger cardamom and white pepper. I grabbed a jar and brought it home to the Dutchman. The verdict? Stop whatever you are doing and go. Go now to the nearest Trader Joe’s or as I like to call it, the place to blow a paycheck on cheap wine and dark chocolate pistachio toffee. Grab a jar of Speculoos Cookie Batter and get ready to spread it on anything and everything. Better yet, why waste time with a vehicle for the spread? Just eat it with a spoon out of the jar when no one is looking.

Last but not least, congratulations to you, Liz. Sixty years on the throne and still counting! I bet Charles and the Rottweiler are peeved.

Hello again, and Hello Summer!

So a lot has transpired since my last post from months ago (insert embarrassing shame for taking so long to post here), but I am back again. Now on to what’s on my mind…

I love trying out new dishes at home from around the world. Aside from the Dutch and German food I cook for the Dutchman, we have feasted on traditional Irish, Jamaican, Thai, French, and Austrian fare, along with the usual Mexican and Italian food. I have to admit I have always shied away from attempting Chinese cooking at home, though. I have enjoyed watching Ming Tsai try to show me a thing or two and I can make a decent Chow Mein, but when it comes to Chinese cooking I am a bit intimidated by some of the ingredients and some of the cooking methods. However, I have recently discovered Ching-He Huang, the cook behind Chinese Food Made Easy on the Cooking Channel and BBC 2. Now I am sure there are a lot of Chinese food purists who would say that her food is not “real Chinese,” but I am just a home cook looking to expand my dinner repertoire, not set the world on fire with my version of Egg Fried Rice.

I recently tried Ching’s recipes for “Pork and Prawn Dumplings” and “Chicken and Vegetable Spring Rolls.” Not only were the recipes easy to follow and did not require a trip to the Asian market located an hour away from home, they were fun to make! I also like that Ching makes substitutions for traditional Chinese ingredients with ones that most home cooks have in their pantry. The dumplings were really great with a dip I made from light soy sauce, rooster sauce, rice wine vinegar, fresh ginger and sliced green onions. The spring rolls were light and crispy, and the five-spice powder that was mixed intro the chicken and mushrooms gave these spring rolls a slightly smoky flavor that went well with the red chili and ginger sauce I served them with. Add an ice-cold beer on a hot Friday night in June and you have a great dinner for the start of summer!

Ching-He Huang