Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving and Brown Bread

I've been neglecting this blog but I swear it's for good reason. I just launched KNG Sommers Photography (my new and improved photography business) mailed out two weddings and two baby sessions, photographed two family sessions, (um, is two the magic number?) went to a beer canning for the Heavy Table and hung out with some cattle down in Cannon Falls, MN for Simple, Good and Tasty (I'll make sure to post a link when that article publishes) and all of that normal other day life stuff too. Sound like I have a problem saying no?

The other big news is that as of December 1st this blog will be moving to a new domain! I'm keeping it under wraps until then, but will go live on Tuesday with a month of fun culinary giveaways and much more frequent blog posts. Until then I'll keep you occupied with a delicious stuffing recipe and tempt you with the experimental purchase I made this week.


I was so looking forward to this holiday weekend. With very few obligations and nothing immediately on the chopping block Kyle and I spent all day on Wednesday doing nothing. Yesterday while I was working from home Kyle prepared "2nd Thanksgiving" which is a fun excuse to cook and drink two days in a row.

I don't care much for Turkey. It's fine I suppose, but I certainly don't obsess over it and Thanksgiving without turkey would be fine with me. What I really look forward to is the stuffing. And let me be clear, I really don't like most stuffing either. That mushy stuff that looks like baby food? Keep it away from me. I like southern cornbread and sausage stuffing. And no, my cornbread did not come in the form of dehydrated croutons (that is sacrilegious if you ask me). For my stuffing you make a good, hearty and savory cornbread. Mix it with onions, sausage, heavy cream and sherry and you have a little dish of heavy worth being thankful for.


It is also the best leftover because it is SO good for breakfast. Just fry an egg or two, put them on top of your reheated stuffing and voila, instant southern breakfast! Being a "stovetop" stuffing, you can really make it as a side dish any day of the week with the roasted bird being entirely optional.

Cornbread Stuffing From Time Life Foods of the World: American Cooking

  • 8 T butter
  • 1 1⁄2 c finely chopped onion
  • 1 lb sausage meat
  • 1⁄2 t salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 t fresh thyme leaves
  • 1⁄4 c finely chopped parsley
  • 1⁄4 c dry madiera or sherry
  • 1⁄4 c heavy cream


Cornbread for stuffing

1 ½ C. yellow cornmeal
1 C. all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
1 T. baking powder
2 eggs
½ C. melted butter
1 ½ C. milk
Preheat the oven to 400º. Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Beat the eggs lightly, stir in the milk and add the melted butter. Pour into the bowl of dry ingredients and beat together for about a minute, or until smooth. Do not overbeat. Lightly butter an 8-by-12 inch shallow baking pan and pour in the batter. Bake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the bread comes slightly away from the edge of the pan and is golden brown.

While your cornbread is baking:
Melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet, add the chopped onions and cook over moderate heat for 6 to 8 minutes, or until they color lightly. Scrape them in into a large mixing bowl. Add the sausage to the skillet, now set over medium heat, and break the meat up with a fork as it cools. When the meat is lightly browned, transfer it to a sieve set over a small bowl and let the fat drain through. Combine the drained sausage meat, cornbread crumbs, salt a few grindings of pepper, the thyme and parsley. With a large spoon, gently stir the ingredients together, then moisten with the sherry and cream. Taste for seasoning.

(The original recipes calls to brown the turkey liver in butter, then to chop and add it as well, but my mom always puts it in the gravy. I on the other hand usually end up with a Kosher Bird which doesn't include the innards)

Then there was dessert. We made a normal pumpkin pie, which is great and all. But then we all had to try this New England delicacy I found at Byerly's this week


Apparently brown bread was created when most people New England didn't have ovens and cooked everything in a fireplace. The bread is essentially steamed rather than baked. I found a recipe so you can try it at home here, or you can go to the baked beans section of your grocery store and keep your fingers crossed that they too carry brown bread.

Taste profile: Well, it reminded me of eating really bland gingersnap cookie dough. It's definitely sticky and was pretty challenging to slice. I followed the recommended serving methods of toasting and microwaving along with serving it in its' raw state and I followed the suggestion of putting cream cheese on it. In summary, I wouldn't buy it again for any reason, but I might be inclined to try making it as a novelty if I had a lot of spare molasses on hand for some reason.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Its time again to vote!

I was SO busy last week. In addition to putting in my normal 40 hours at my day job I launched my new photography website, KNG Sommers Photography.

I also had fun on shooting at the farms of 1000 Hills beef cattle (article to be released on Simple Good and Tasty soon). I

Then shot, edited and wrote about the canning of 21st Amendments new beer Monk's Blood for the Heavy Table

Finally, I met my deadline for submitting my photo for the Marxfoods Vanilla Bean Contest. I know you feel compelled to vote for my pretty picture!


Today I brought a can of Brown Bread because it looked too terrifying to NOT try it. I plan on preparing it in all of the recommended ways listed on the can. Baking, toasting microwaving and slathered with cream cheese. Since the purchase I've been warned the stuff is awful, and this may actually be the end to my Cream Cheese Challenge

If all goes well, I'll be inviting you all to follow me over to my new domain name by the end of this week! I'm stunned that I got the domain name I wanted, and can't wait to bring my blogging to the next level (whatever the hell THAT means)!

In summary, be sure to check out my new photography website (and subscribe to the blog while you're at it) and vote for Kate Sommers at Marx Foods!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pressing the reset button

Everyone once in a while it's really good to sit back and take a good look at the way your life works. Reflection (as some cheesier than me might call it) is really important when major life changes happen. Like you get a new job and your husband starts school full time. WHAT A GREAT TIME TO REFLECT. Clearly things have been different in my life since I started my new job.

Like the fact that I have a social life. I honestly can't remember the last time this was really true. Fall of 2005? That sounds about right. Since then I was inundated with overcommitment (not that I'm not overly committed now, because trust me, I am!) a brief stint at returning to school, working 2 jobs, starting a business, planning a wedding, getting married, buying a really old house and preventing the fixer-upper work that surrounds me everyday. But now I actually work normal hours (for the most part) and have more time to do things like edit during the week so that I can see people on the weekend.

Additionally, I have a normal sleeping and eating schedule. This has actually been the most difficult transition I've had to make. I have to plan my meals, and I actually have time to cook. When I was working at Trader Joe's, sometimes I would just eat one meal during the day, and stuff my face with sliced mango and candy cane Joe-joe's during my work hours. I would sometimes go to sleep hungry because I was just too tired to eat. I often had things people would consider dinner foods for breakfast because I had my lunch break at 9am.

Ultimately I think this has made my cooking extravaganzas less interesting, which is probably why this blog is suffering. I also work for a prepackaged food company so for product knowledge sake (and the 25% discount helps too) I was eating a lot of frozen foods.

Then something just switched in me and realized I felt like crap. My clothes didn't fit the right way anymore. I didn't like ANYTHING I owned. I KNEW I had gained weight, and even though training for a 10 mile run this fall, I really wasn't in very good shape. At Trader Joe's I was on my feel 10 hours a day and lifting 40 pound boxes fairly frequently. Now, the heaviest thing I lift is my messenger bag. Pathetic.

So I re-upped at the gym (I took off the summer months because I don't like to lie to myself and pretend I would go) and I'm purging my body of my sugar cravings. I know that I am very sensitive to sugar and it's nearly impossible to control unless I start from scratch. One of my least favorite words in the English language is "carbs" but yes, I am for all intents and purposes denying myself of SIMPLE carbohydrates for two weeks. That doesn't sound so bad, but then when you realize wine, all forms of bread, pasta and cookies fall into that category, well shit.

It's actually been remarkably easy this time around. I did have a bit of a "holiday" from my cleanse (as I like to call it) last Saturday. I also cheated last night because I attended the March of Dimes Signature Chef Auction last night thanks to the lovely Crystal of Café Cyan, and you just can't attend those things without a glass of wine and a bite of potato. But otherwise it's been great. I have more energy, I'm happier and I'm way more productive. Weird how eating healthy has more than just physical side affects. Now, to get back to my pre-married weight... hmm

For lunch today I thought I'd share. I pretty much ate entire bunch of rainbow chard. No, not JUST chard, but chard with butter and leeks, salt and pepper. Unlike spinach which can sometimes get chalky when sauteed, chard retains its crunch and is SO good for you not to mention delicious and gorgeous. According to the iPhone locavore app we have two more MONTHS of chard season in Minnesota (I'm pretty sure mine came from California... what's the deal Wedge? Where is my local chard supply when I want it?). I'm not sure where these leafy greens are going to be coming from in the middle of January, but I do know the Kale hanging out in my garden has survived quite a few frosts up until this point.


That's about all I have for today. I'll keep you posted on my healthy goals and think I just poured about a months worth of words into this post, so I'll conclude it by saying "Hi" to my newest connection, Summer from Summer Harsh Botanical Artistry. Check out the centerpieces she donated to the March of Dimes Dinner last night


I just love the whisk!

And make sure you check out Crystal's blog over at Café Cyan. She's always coming up with great ideas in her kitchen. And she's also very awesome... even if she lives in the suburbs.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Two more things

A few things I forgot to mention in my earlier post.

1) Marxfoods is having another contest. This time it is photography related, so all you budding (or professional) photographers out there that have blogs, here is a great opportunity to stock up your pantry with delicious vanilla beans right in time for the holiday baking season. What more could you ask for? Read the details at their blog

2) I just contributed to this new magazine based out of Brooklyn Remedy Quarterly. There are various incentives for contributing, and I love the vintage look and illustrations they feature on their site. Get involved and help them meet their financial goal!

Return of the Omnivore

I made this delicious recipe on Wednesday night.

It called for leeks, and it just so happens we have a bunch of leeks we never harvested from our garden. Mostly because they are pretty lame leeks, the largest having a one inch diameter, most only hovering around half an inch. I was determined to use at least a few before the frost got to them and this yummy pork chop recipe allowed me to do that. So I went outside, grabbed four, shook off the dirt and game inside. After their initial rinse I put them on the cutting board to cut off the long tails and roots.

Then this happened


Sam reigns supreme as Omnivore of the Week!

The leeks were only on the cutting board for 20 seconds before he decided to nibble at the greenery. He hasn't seemed very interested in any of the winter squash we've been hoarding from our last CSA. Probably because they aren't feathery and delicious the way kale, corn and leeks are.

And just for the sake of it, here are some leaves covered in yesterday morning's frost. It's just a matter of time before they are covered in a different cold white substance. Ugh.