We’ve been making a variation on Gai Paht Bai Graprao from Nancy McDermott’s Real Thai
cookbook for awhile, but tonight it came out even better than usual thanks to the addition of coconut butter: I don’t think we’ll ever go back; it was that good.

  • 1.5 lbs chicken, cut into small, bite-sized pieces
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs garlic-chili sauce
  • 2 Tbs fish sauce
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs brown rice syrup (you can substitute brown sugar, but if you have rice syrup on hand, it provides a subtle sweetness that blends nicely with the jasmine rice)
  • 2 Tbs coconut butter
  • 2 cups sweet peppers, seeded and thinly sliced into rings
  • 1 cup basil leave, coarsely torn
  • Jasmine or long-grain rice to serve

Prep veggies, then chicken (to minimize opportunity for cross-contamination). Put rice on to cook.

Heat wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, and when hot add coconut oil. Add garlic and chili suace. Stir-fry for a few seconds to heat the garlic and chili and infuce the oil, then add chicken. Stir fry the chicken until it changes color and is nearly done.

Add fish sauce, water, and soy, and cook for a minute or so. Add rice syrup (or sugar) and stir fry for another minute. Add peppers and stir fry until they soften slightly, then add coconut butter and basil and cook until the basil wilts and the coconut butt incorporates into the sauce.

Remove from heat and serve over rice. Serves 4 (or 2 with leftovers for lunch.


Bastard succotash


Bastard succotash

This recipe combines the Hot and Hot Succotash with my earlier Andouille Succotash, because the only thing better than veggies with bacon is veggies with bacon AND sausage.

    • 1 TBS melted lard
    • 3 slices coarsely chopped bacon (the thicker & smokier the better; we used bacon from our Snow’s Bend 1/2 hog)
    • 1 diced yellow onion
    • 2 cups sliced fresh okra, about 1/2-inch thick (use frozen if necessary)
    • 2 cups frozen butterbeans
    • 1 lb smoked sausage (we used Conecuh Spicy & Hot)
    • 2 cups seeded and diced tomatoes (you could peel ’em also, but I’m too lazy)
    • 2 cups freshly shaved sweet yellow corn (or use frozen silver queen)
    • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 1/4 cup chiffonade of sweet basil

Heat the lard in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 3 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Do not allow the onions to brown. Increase the heat to high, add the okra and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Reduce heat to medium, add sausage and butter beans, and cook 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and corn and cook an additional 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the butter and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper and add the chiffonade of basil.

Great during the winter, when you can use frozen okra and sausage.

  • 1 lb bulk sausage
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 3 ribs celery. diced
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups sliced okra (about 1 lb)
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme sprigs
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • Freashly ground black pepper, to taste
  • File powder

Saute onions, green pepper, celery, and bay leaves in olive oil over medium heat until soft and translucent. Add sausage, and continue cooking until sausage is browned. Add okra, stock, thyme and peppers and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered until okra is done, 20 to 30 minutes.

Serve over rice and sprinkle with file powder. For extra deliciousness, serve with cornbread or corn pones.

N.B.: Claire strongly suggests that this should have tomatoes. YMMV.

margarita by ted_major
margarita, a photo by ted_major on Flickr.

I’ve been trying on and off to make a good margarita, with limited success. My paramaters are fairly narrow: I can’t stand frozen margaritas, so I’ve focused on the less forgiving margarita on the rocks. I never really liked margaritas until I went to Sol y Luna, and since then I’ve been spoiled. BitterOldPunk gave the sage, if slightly impractical, advice to make three, because the third one will always be perfect. I recently came across Alton Brown’s margarita recipe, which was close, but not quite there. Shortly thereafter, I came across a habanero grapefruit margarita recip in Bon Appetit that was OK, but still not superb. I borrowed Alton Brown’s method of muddling orange and lime to release the aromatic citrus oils and added the grapefruit from Tulum to come up with the following recipe, which if I do say so myself, isn’t half bad.
Makes 2.

  • 1 Valencia orange
  • 1 pink grapefruit
  • 1 lime
  • 3 ozs tequila blanco, divided (Don’t skimp! I used Patron because that’s the best available here; you may have other options.)
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • coarse sea salt

Use 2 small plates to salt the rims of your glasses. In one plate, pour 1/2 oz of tequila, and in the other pour out some sea salt. Dip the rim of a glass in the tequila, drain for 10 seconds, and then dip in the salt. Gently add ice so as not to knock the salt off the rim. Repeat with the other glass.
Cut each of the fruits in half horizontally. Cut one half of the orange and one half of the lime into quarters and put into your cocktail shaker. Muddle for at least one minute to release the juice and citrus oils. Strain and return juice to the shaker. Juice the other half of the orange and lime and both halves of the grapefruit. Add these juices to the shaker along with 2.5 ozs tequila plus the tequila left over from salting the rims of the glasses. Add 1 oz simple syrup and ice. Shake for at least 30 seconds, until the shaker is covered in condensation, and then strain into the salt-rimmed glasses.

fried zucchini blossoms by ted_major
fried zucchini blossoms, a photo by ted_major on Flickr.

We were late getting the garden in this year, so we’re only just now getting any blossoms on the zucchini plants (and still no tomatoes). Here’s a quick and tasty way to serve the blossoms, if you’re willing to forego some squash later on.

  • zucchini or other squash blossoms
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • oil for frying (I used good old-fashioned lard; use the oil of your choice)

Heat oil in a deep skillet or deep fryer to 375F. Mix flour, salt, and beer, and whisk together. Don’t worry about a few small lumps: you don’t want to over-stir and make the batter go flat. Dip blossoms in batter and fry, turning once when the underside is golden. It’ll only take a couple of minutes. Eat ’em while they’re hot.

Barbecue by ted_major
Barbecue, a photo by ted_major on Flickr.

A few weeks ago, I fired up the smoker to cook a Boston butt, a few turkey breasts, and a slab of ribs. I usually use the Chez Panisse brine recipe to smoke turkey, but I did a search to see about brining a Boston butt. I found that butts are commonly brined, and even found brine recipe from Alton Brown. I decided to do one brine for everything, and gave Alton’s recipe a shot. It was great for the Boston butt, but the turkey was a bit too salty, and the ribs were WAY too salty. Live & learn.


  • 4 gallons water
  • 48 oz. salt
  • 1 pint molasses

I put all the meat and the brine into a cooler with some reusable ice packs, which kept it at aroung 40F overnight.

The next day, I rubbed the butt with a rub made of roughly equal parts dried parsley, black pepper, garlic, and paprika, and put it and the turkey breasts on to smoke early in the morning. I don’t usually use a rub for turkey. After about 8 hours, I took the turkey off. Then I rubbed the ribs with a mix of paprika, cumin, ancho chile powder, allspice, garlic, and enough olive oil to make a paste and put them on for a couple of hours.

I smoked the butt until it reached an internal temp of 190F, which took about 16 hours.

I seved the pork with some slaw and some Cholula chipotle hot sauce for a barbecue sauce. (N.B., I like a hot, vinegary sauce, and can’t stand thick, sweet, tomatoey sauce; YMMV.)

Every year about this time, when the weather gets hot and the peaches are ripe, my mind turns to Granny’s Peach-Gin freeze.

Unfortunately, this year our local grocery store has stopped carrying the 6-oz can of frozen limeade that is the base for so many frozen drinks. Not to be deterred, I figured out a substitute.

No-concentrate Peach-Gin Freeze

  • 3 peaches, washed, pitted, and cut into chunks (no need to peel)
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup (recipe below)
  • 6 oz (3/4 cup) gin
  • Ice to fill blender pitcher

Add peaches, lime, simple syrup, and gin to blender and puree. Add ice and blend until smooth. Enjoy.

Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar (turbinado or demerrara gives an extra bit of color and flavor)
  • 1/2 cup water

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to boil while stirring. Remove from heat and let cool.

Based on a recipe from food52: I don’t like arugula all that much–hop-head that I am, it’s just a little too bitter. In this recipe, however, with the dressing and steak juices, I went back for seconds on the arugula even after I’d eaten all the steak.

  • 1 NY strip steak
  • salt & black pepper
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 1 lemon
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • parmesan, shaved into strips with a vegetable peeler

Preheat oven to 275F (if you have 2 ovens, preheat one to 275F and the other to 375F).

Salt and pepper steak, then rest in oven 20 mins.

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot (about 4 mins) and sear both sides of the steak. While the steak sears, turn up the oven to 375F. When the steak is browned on both sides, put in the oven for 10 minutes.

Take the steak out of the oven, put on a plate and tent with foil. Let rest 10 mins. before slicing.

Meanwhile, deglaze pan with 1/4 cup water and boil to reduce slightly.

To serve, thinly slice the steak. Put arugula on the serving plates and drizzle with olive oil and lemon, then sprinkle with coarse sea salt and fresh black pepper. Put steak slices on top, and drizzle both plates with pan juices. Add another drizzle of lemon juice and then top with parmesan shavings.

Food52 recommends a red italian table wine, but we enjoyed it with an Alamos Malbec from Argentina (one of the BFF wines from the Splendid Table).

P3306509 by ted_major
P3306509, a photo by ted_major on Flickr.

This is Christopher’s favorite snack, which we make from a recipe in a copy of The Kid’s Cookbook – Yum! I Eat It. given to Claire by her Aunt Brenda & Uncle Charlie when she was a girl. (I usually make it with whole wheat flour & reduced sugar, but Claire told me to blog it “the right way”). Makes 2 loaves or 36 mini-muffins and one loaf; half recipe to make one loaf:

  • 2 cups pumpkin (1 can pumpkin, NOT“Pumpkin Pie Filling”)
  • 1 cup Canola oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups sifted flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • Preheat oven to 350F (depending on your oven, you may need to reduce the temp to 325F to prevent burning before the loaf cooks all the way).
    In a big bowl, mix pumpkin, oil, eggs, water & sugar. Combine dry ingredients and gradually add to wet ingredients. Pour into greased loaf pan, and bake for 1 hour or until it passes the toothpick test.

DIY lame by ted_major
DIY lame, a photo by ted_major on Flickr.

Not that lame, this lame for baking. I saw a picture of Peter Reinhart in Whole Grain Breads
holding a lame that looked like a double-edged razor on a stick. I had a razor blade, but I didn’t have a coffee stirrer that would fit in the slots in the blade, so I carved a popsicle stick down to the right size, and found that it worked well, certainly better than the kitchen knife I usually use for slashing dough. Maybe next time I’m near a coffee shop, I’ll grab a couple of stirrers and see how they work.