Monday, February 19, 2018


I haven't had much time to type anything up about the dinner. Just know that it was quite delicious, and as I've stated before Thomas Keller is a genius. Here's what we had:

Lobster broth:

Clearly we liked it,  and I forgot to take a picture. We sipped it right out of these coffee cups.

Foie Gras with Pickled Cherries:

Pate on brioche croutons.  I am once again amazed at how duck liver does not have a liver flavor. It's smooth and delicious and lovely.

Haricots Vert with Tomato Tartare and Chive Oil.

This is a repeat, and a favorite. So easy and delicious.

Five-spiced Lobster with Foie Gras and a Poached Fig sauce.

Y'all. The sauce on this one:  Coffee, chocolate, Port, figs. Need I say more?

Mahon with spiced carrots

Another repeat, but any excuse to eat Spanish cheese is welcome.

Finally,  the most stressful dish. Pineapple chops with fried pastry cream and caramel sauce. 
The pastry cream worked the second time. 

But there wasn't very much pineapple left on the chop, so I was honestly a little disappointed in this one. I also did something wrong when I made the caramel sauce so it wasn't really a sauce. It was like butter with a chunk of really hard caramel in it. So it tasted alright, actually it tasted really good, but the presentation wasn't exactly what it was supposed to be and I'm pretty sure Thomas Keller would not leave you with chunks of caramel sticking in your teeth. The good news is, that since the pastry cream worked the second time, and I only needed six little discs for the dessert,  I was able to fry up all of the scraps and serve them to the kids for breakfast on Monday morning.
The Leftovers are always a bonus.

Saturday, February 17, 2018


Sometimes all the following of directions in the world cannot prevent failure.  I have learned this recently while trying to master hollandaise sauce. I think I've gotten it right exactly once.  Thinking,  "whew,  that's done" after the one time I got it right,  I proceeded to screw it up the next time.  Still not a master. Leave it to hollandaise sauce. At least 4 of the 5 kids like, or tolerate,  eggs Benedict. The 5th one, the one whose name most closely resembles the name of the egg dish,  cries when I make it.  That's always encouraging.

Thankfully I did not have that kind of cheerleading when I failed on the pastry cream for dessert.  The directions say "bring to a boil,  whisking constantly,  and then cook for 2-3 minutes more to cook all the flour." I guess you're just supposed to intuitively know that the flour is all cooked or something.  Or maybe just mess it up real good the first time. At any rate,  you're supposed to be able to cut this after it chills. Like a biscuit,  I'm assuming.  This is what I have.

This folks,  is custard.  You cannot cut custard like a biscuit.  Certainly not FRY it.  Fortunately I discovered this this morning. I whipped up another batch and cooked it longer.  Because honestly that's the only thing I can even think went wrong here. I guess we'll find out in a few hours.  I threw the mess up batch in the freezer so if the second one fails, too, I'll figure out how to fry the frozen stuff.  It won't be pretty. But maybe it'll still taste good.  

I forgot to take pictures of most everything else, except the pineapple.  Which is also for dessert.  I figured I should record that for posterity.  Here is one picture of my attempt to make a pineapple look like a rack of ribs.

The table is ready. is on the counter. 

Let's do this.  

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day!

It's birthday time.  We've been doing this for a few years now,  so it's harder to find new, make ahead recipes.  I've made all the cheese courses at some point.  I've made all the canapes and first courses that don't have caviar, truffles, or foie gras. Mainly because I don't want to shell out $100 for one ounce of anything. What if I mess it up? All of the best desserts have been made. So the options are,  buy either truffles,  caviar, or foie gras, or repeat a dish.  Or maybe mix it up.  There are, after all, a great many main dishes that we haven't tried.  

So this year,  there will be 3 repeats and 3 new dishes.  It takes some pressure off, honestly.  There was less to make ahead though - which puts some of the pressure back on.  And then there's the issue of foie gras.  We'll worry about that later. 

Thus far, the prep has consisted of brioche. This bread is so delicious.  And easy to make.  I really wonder why I don't make it more.  I only needed part of one loaf,  so we have already consumed the second one.

I roasted some tomatoes yesterday... let them go a little too long and made tomato chips.  That's what I get for trying to do school with the kiddos and cook at the same time.  I think some of it is salvageable.  Oh well, there are some extra tomatoes. 

Fed Ex came. So that was exciting. 
D'artangnan was having a sale, the timing of which could have not been more perfect. However,  due to sale prices the one thing I wanted to order fell below the minimum order price, so I had to buy 2 items. While we're splurging let's just go big. 

We also went shopping yesterday.  I hate grocery shopping.  Truly.  I would rather clean out my chicken coop than go to the grocery store.  This particular shopping requires going to multiple stores, because who knew lobster was falling out of favor? Publix was the only store who carried them, but did not carry multiple other required items.  

The kids proceeded to name them.  

Maybe I'll relay my story of the first time I made lobster.  I didn't have TK quality instructions.  It goes much more smoothly these days. They do still try to escape, though.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

That's a wrap

I took some pictures and never uploaded them, so we'll just cut to the chase here.   The dinner went well!  There were a couple dishes I was nervous about,  but everything tasted so good. Thomas Keller is a genius.

For our first appetizer,  the only dish I've made before, were these little "shrimp with avocado salsa" bites.  They were a big bite,  but a bite nonetheless.

Next,  we had "warm fruitwood smoked salmon with potato gnocchi and balsamic glaze. "  This might have been my favorite dish.  There are leftovers of this that I cannot wait to eat. The only thing is,  it could have been prettier.  The salad greens were a little too big,  so they kind of covered the rest of it.  But it still tasted delightful.

For the 3rd course we had "pickled oysters with English cucumber "capellini" and dill." This was the dish I was most nervous about, and the most surprised by.  I don't like oysters.  Actually to my knowledge none of the people at the dinner were fans.  This was a trust moment between me and TK, and he did not disappoint.  It also featured caviar on top. I'm not sure if I've eaten caviar before,  but I've certainly never bought it.  I was supposed to use black caviar,  but it's about $100 an ounce more than the red stuff..... So we went with the red stuff. Thanks,  Dessa,  for delivering it all the way from Augusta.    Y'all,   this was so good we even chewed up the oysters! I have to admit that one of our guests was the brave soul to eat his first and thus pave the way for the rest of us.

For the main course we had "saddle of rabbit in Applewood smoked bacon with caramelized fennel and fennel oil." The bacon.  Need I say more. This dish did include a kidney,  which I was also slightly nervous about,  but tasted really good.  I think I'll start saving more of those instead of feeding them to my chickens.  There was no picture of this dish plated in the cookbook.  So we tried a couple different ways. Let me know what you think... choice #1:

Choice #2

Notice that we decided to use the oyster shells as table decorations for the rest of the dinner.  It was particularly exciting when we realized a couple barnacles were still alive.  Meet Barney.  

For the cheese course,  we had a good old "Grilled Farmhouse cheddar, tomato consomme,  and butter fried chips" TK's interpretation of tomato soup and grilled cheese.  The brioche.  It's also good with a fried egg on it for breakfast the next morning.  

Finally,  for dessert we had "chocolate cakes with red beet ice cream and toasted walnut sauce." Making this ice cream brought back some fond memories of a certain high schooler who thought I had made red velvet ice cream.  I can't remember now why I made only the ice cream for this dessert,  but it tastes exactly like beets, and so I have put off making this dessert for about 5 years because even though I knew it would taste good if I made the entire dessert,  I just didn't want to take the risk.  But after oysters and kidney,  a little beet was not going to scare me this year.  So it made the menu.  And the ice cream still tastes exactly like beets BUT, as I've said before TK is a genius and I just trusted in that and when you make the whole dessert, it's divine.  Right down to the salted beet chips.

There's more of this, too. 

Excuse me while I go eat the leftovers.  

Thursday, February 16, 2017

T-minus 2 days

48 hours from now,  we will be wrapping up dinner. In the meantime,  I feel like I've been doing a lot of cooking and no photographing.  The only two pictures I managed to take today were these.  

This is the rabbit saddle wrapped in bacon (the two little roundish things next to it are kidneys). We eat a good bit of rabbit,  and it's tasty. I'm pretty sure,  though,  that if you wrapped anything in this much bacon it would taste good.  Tomorrow, I have to figure out how to French rabbit bones. I'm not super good in this department on a more substantial cut of meat,  so I am hoping it's presentable. Because lets be honest, there is no meat on those little ribs. So that part is pretty much only for presentation.  

The second photo is of the tomato consomme draining.  This will be part of the cheese course. 

One of my children was upset at my choice in towel for this draining,  because it was his favorite, and now it's potentially stained.  One can only hope that this concern for cleanliness will one day carry over to other areas of life,  such as personal hygiene.  For now,  I'll be content with the hope that this conversation left me with.  

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The brioche is rising!!

 In exactly one week,  it will be birthday dinner time again.  We still live in the boonies, with no internet.  However,  we have slightly more data than last year, so we'll see how this goes.

For I think the first time,  I actually made in advance everything I planned to make in advance.

There is gnocci in the freezer.

There is brioche rising on the stove.

And the rabbits have been dispatched.  

This particular one was a little on the small side, so I'll use him for sausage.  We only need 3, but I had 5 so just went ahead and got it all done at once. 

 One of the fun things about the birthday dinner is finding creative, not labor- intensive ways to use up the extras.  We had shrimp & gnocci for dinner last night, one loaf of brioche will be making the best-ever grilled cheese sandwiches tomorrow night, and I'll use the legs and two extra rabbits to make some tasty sausage on the next week or two.  

Yum!! No more cooking until Wednesday.

Friday, April 1, 2016


So, it's been a while since I posted anything reflective on here, but as I sit outside in the middle of the day around my outside fire, I can't resist. Let's say the Spirit is moving me.

I would not call myself a campfire professional by any means, but I've built my share. Since moving here we've had at least 20. I have 5 kids who all like to throw stuff in the fire. So I'm careful. I check the wind. We don't build it big. I hose all the ground around the fire ring. No running inside the fire. Wear shoes. Wear gloves. You get the drill.

So today was no exception. Smallish fire. Pretty still. So when I threw the very last log on, and simultaneously a small gust of wind blew right in my face, I was a little surprised. Then I smelled burnt hair. I was in no pain, so I audibly said "please let that only be my eyebrows. Please not the eyelashes." I guess I was talking to the Lord but He had already made His decision at that point so I ran in the house to see what it was.  I'll relieve any suspense and tell you right now, it wasn't just the eyebrows.


So, life happens and I got halfway through my story and it's been two weeks. The eyelashes have started to grow back, and now I have poison ivy. On. My. Face. One of my boys is a little more concerned about my looks than even I am, and he asked me if my face was going to look like that "forever."  So, I'm having the same reflection that I had over the eyelashes.  That reflection is glorify God in all things. My eyelids and face weren't burned. Praise God. I would rather have poison ivy than head lice any day of the week. Praise God. I'm almost 40, my looks are not what is important. Praise God.  Sometimes you just need a few plagues to remind you.