The book club I’m in meets once a month. The person who picked the book for that month gets to pick the restaurant we meet at. Last night we ate at Augusta – owned by a couple of displaced New Orleans residents and a short 15-minute drive from our house. I had heard very good things about Augusta’s food and was looking forward to it.
DECOR: Usually I really like the mix & match chairs/tables/decor thing. Last night I just wasn’t feeling it. Maybe it was because the table cloths were plastic and some of the chairs weren’t sized right for the tables. I’m not quite sure.
MENU: I’ve been on Weight Watchers – yep, counting my points! – for the last couple weeks and have been doing pretty good, so seeing almost everything on the menu being deep-fried or sauteed in butter was a little disappointing. I decided on a house salad and a cup of gumbo. At a restaurant with owners from New Orleans, the gumbo should be excellent, right? I was so sure it was going to be awesome I even ordered a cup to-go for Mike. It wasn’t like any gumbo I’ve had before. You can interpret that however you want. Mike’s opinion? He took a few bites of it and threw it down the garbage disposal. The mustard vinaigrette dressing on my salad was good, though!
SERVICE: Super, super slow. There were 3 other tables there besides our group of 6. It was the owner’s 40th birthday so she was chatting away with some friends at a table. The place is small so it doesn’t take much for it to get pretty loud. Someone in my group said they had been there on a night when there were more people and the service was faster. My theory: the staff had a lot of time on their hands with so few people in the restaurant that they because preoccupied chit-chatting with each other and not paying attention to the patrons.
LONG STORY SHORT: I was very disappointed in Augusta after all the excellent things I had heard. Glad Mike and I didn’t try it out for a special occasion.
Because of the ease and quickness of posting directly to Facebook & Instagram, I haven’t been posting new things very often. The recipe from dinner tonight will make up for all that. At first I was skeptical because usually when I bake something that’s supposed to be deep fried it turns out mediocre at best. I found the recipe on Pinterest which led me to therecipecritic.com. Even Audrey ate it! You should make it, too. Or let me know when you want to come over for dinner and I’ll make it for you.
Friends of ours received a new Ninja blender as a Christmas present. We got started on talking about making smoothies and it kind of renewed my interest in the fad that just won’t go away. Of course I turned to Pinterest for some recipes to make besides the standard orange juice/strawberry/banana combo and came across this website. There was a link to sign up to take a 30-day GREEN smoothie challenge so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try it. Each week I get an email with the shopping list and recipes for 5 different smoothies. Today was our first green smoothie: “Gorilla Punch.” It had kale, almond milk, banana, apple, cocoa powder and a little peanut butter in it. It wasn’t too bad! The Ninja blender I bought about 5 years ago did a pretty good job of blending everything together, but it wasn’t great since it only has a 400-watt motor. We MAY be in the market for a new blender now. Any recommendations?
We didn’t host Thanksgiving at our house this year. We didn’t host Christmas, either. Didn’t even made Christmas dessert. What I DID make, though, was this delicious garlic bread. You should make it, too.
When we lived in Milwaukee, we’d sometimes have dinner at my mom’s. When it was time to eat, she’d start pulling out dish after dish from her kitchen. This was usually one of those dishes. When I cooked it for dinner tonight it smelled like her house. Mike really liked it and told me he didn’t think I’d made it before. I had notes on the recipe in my cookbook though, so I must have. I told him I probably left the Chinese mushrooms out if I had made it before since I don’t like them. He however, LOVES them! I always try ONE bite of mushroom to see if maybe, just maybe, this time I’ll like them. This time wasn’t it. I know I’ve used them cut up pretty small in other recipes, but in this one, they were left in larger pieces. They come dehydrated and you have to soak them in hot water for 30 minutes to make them usable again. I added this soaking liquid to the pan when the chicken was braising instead of plain water. I think that did the trick.
The dish is pretty easy to make: Soak 6-10 whole Chinese mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes to soften. Brown 1 whole, cut-up chicken on all sides in a deep skillet with some oil, garlic and ginger. Add the Chinese mushrooms, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup (or so) water or liquid from rehydrating your dried Chinese mushrooms, 1 Tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp salt. Cover and cook for 30-45 minutes. Mix together 1 tsp cornstarch and 1 Tbsp water and add to braising liquid along with 3-4 green onions cut into 2″ lengths. Stir sauce until slightly thickened and serve.
Mike went fishing at a friend-of-a-friend’s farm pond last weekend. He didn’t bring any fish home but he DID come home with a huge paper grocery bag of apples. The farm pond owner’s wife told Mike dashed his hopes of a fresh-baked apple pie when she told him the apples were not good pie-apples and that she mostly used them for applesauce. Heeding her advice, I peeled & chopped up about a dozen apples and put them in the crock pot on low with a little water, sugar and cinnamon. Two hours later we had warm, chunky applesauce that we spooned over vanilla ice cream and ate with pie crust strips (store-bought pie crust cut into strips, sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar and baked at 350 for about 15 minutes). This tasty little topping only used up about one-quarter of the apples, though. I cut/cooked up the rest tonight and found recipes for an apple cake and apple cookies, so stay tuned!