Sunday, February 17, 2013

A (Disgusting) Sunday Diverson

February in Minnesota screams for some sort of deviation from the endless white outdoors and something to stimulate the palate with a taste more daring than chicken and wild rice soup. Boredom sets in and a little excitement is necessary to get through this endless month. I took a culinary risk this afternoon, spending far too many hours on a recipe that looked and sounded delicious: a complete change from our dining routine.

Let me preview this by saying that my family is used to my experimenting with dinner. Roughly 95% of the time it turns out mostly edible. Tonight falls into that unfortunate 5%. Chicken Country Captain (a Georgia low country classic) didn't quite cut it around the dining room table.

After spending 3+ hours on dinner I unveiled my afternoon diversion to a starving family. It was fun to make and took my mind completely off a frigid February afternoon. It smelled good. It looked good. Taste was the problem as evidenced by the comments of my family.

"It's an explosion of tastes in my mouth, but not in a good way." "It tastes like something you would get off the menu in a foreign country."  "A valiant effort dear. I didn't think it was THAT bad." "Mom, hate to tell you but wine, curry powder, brown sugar, golden raisins, and tomatoes just don't go together."

I think my children are well on their way to becoming French food critics. Needless to say Chicken Country Captain will never come out of my kitchen again, and I'll not be sharing the recipe. Now what to do with the vat of this remaining culinary disaster. My son's advice is probably the best—"It's never a good idea to make a recipe from House Beautiful. Stick to Bon Appetite because it says bon appetite in the name of the magazine MOM!" The critic gets the final word.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Downton Addict

When a friend first posted on my Facebook page and chided me for not yet writing about Downton Abbey on my blog, I was a bit perplexed. I'd never even heard of Julian Fellowes' Downton Abbey or its premise. What's the big deal about this soap opera?

Now I know. The opening bars of the theme are enticing and then comes that view of Downton Abbey that immediately draws you in. I've now immersed myself in the life of the Crawleys.

The show is set outside of York, England but in reality it is filmed near Winchester, England. After watching a few episodes I thought that the countryside looked familiar. A bit of searching confirmed my hunch. The countryside looks so familiar because I've actually lived nearby! (Can you tell I love these strange connections that life throws my way?!) Downton Abbey is actually Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England not far from Winchester, England where I studied abroad back in the late 1980s. The castle was built over the foundations of a medieval palace once owned by the Bishop of Winchester. For all of my King Alfred's College readers out there . . . this place was right in our backyard!

Best of all you can actually visit Highclere Castle in Hampshire. So if you find yourself south of London you can stop by and take a tour. A few walk up tickets are available but it's probably smart to book a ticket in advance for the summer. I believe they are blaming us Americans and our Downton Abbey viewing habits for the sudden increase in Highclere Castle's popularity.

I don't think I've been gotten quite so sucked into watching a television series since Knots Landing back in college. That was a Thursday night ritual. Now that I've burned through the first two seasons of Downton Abbey I'll have to get caught up on season three on PBS.com this weekend. With a snowstorm on the way I cannot imagine a better way to spend my Sunday afternoon. If you've not yet started watching Downton Abbey maybe this snowy weekend is a good time to give it a whirl!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Super Bowl Sunday—Not All About Football

Unfortunately my favorite football team the Green Bay Packers did not make the Super Bowl this year. The blew it, and the 49ers took them out easily in the playoffs a few weeks back. Yet the Super Bowl will still be on multiple TVs at my house. It must be on as it goes along with all of the Super Bowl food, and we have quite the spread this afternoon!

I do actually know the teams playing—The Baltimore Ravens vs. the San Francisco 49ers. That doesn't really matter to me. It's not the Green Bay Packers so today's Super Bowl really boils down to watching the commercials. The game is just on in between and gives us time to fill our plates.

Winona Country Club chili with cornbread, chili con queso, buffalo chicken wings and blue cheese, the Central Wisconsin stand-by of Ruffles and French Onion dip, and plenty of choice beverages. This is the one day of the year when it really doesn't matter how much junk food you eat for dinner. Bring on those new ads and eat up!

And since I used to live near Baltimore, love Baltimore crab cakes, and their logo is just cool my Super Bowl team choice is easy . . . Go Ravens!!!