Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Yankee or Southerner? How you like your cornbread tells all.




"Them's Fightin' Words Son"

 No self respectin' Southern cook worth their grits would consider adding sugar or wheat flour to a batch of cornbread. Over 150 years ago the Civil War split this country in half because of the attempted secession of eleven southern states from the Union and the issue of slavery. The battle to preserve authentic Southern cooking is not quite as contentious but is still fought to this day. Arguments are heated over what defines true southern BBQ, fried chicken, pies, cakes, cobblers, and yes, cornbread. The sweet cake-like cornbread confection that many of us are familiar with has nothing in common with the coarse, cracklin' savory cornbread made without wheat flour and sweetener but with tangy buttermilk, bacon, and cornmeal that you will find in many a southern kitchen. If you're a fan of one kind, it's a pretty good bet you won't like the other.



My mother and father grew up during the great depression. Mom on a dairy farm in rural New Mexico and dad in a small town in east Texas. My Southern roots run deep. Bossy on the other hand hails from upstate N.Y. and as Yankee as they come. When I want down home soul food I boot his uppity Northern butt out of the kitchen. "The North thinks it knows how to make cornbread, but this is a gross superstition," Mark Twain wrote in his autobiography. Bossy can whip up a lovely bernaise or bordelaise all day long but get him outta the way when there's Southern food to be cooked.

There are three key components to making great cornbread:
1. Cornmeal
2. Cast iron skillet
3. Cooking method

1. Cornmeal, the single most important component of the three. Today, good cornmeal is as hard to find as a family run farm. In the early part of the 20th century a huge shift occurred in the cornmeal industry, one that changed the very nature of cornmeal and forced cooks to alter their cornbread recipes. During the 19th century, toll milling was the way most farm families got the meal for their cornbread. Farmers took their own corn to the local mill and had it ground into enough cornmeal for their families, leaving some behind as a toll to pay the miller.
The mills were typically water-powered and used large millstones to grind the corn. Starting around 1900, however, new "roller mills" using cylindrical steel rollers began to be introduced in the South. Unlike stone mills, steel roller mills eliminate much of the corn kernel, including the germ; doing so makes the corn shelf stable but also robs it of much flavor and nutrition. The friction of steel rolling generates a lot of heat, too, which  further erodes corn's natural flavor. The most significant difference, though, is the size of the resulting meal. With stone milling you get a diverse particle size. Steel roller milling creates a finer meal with all of the particles being the same size. When cornmeal's taste and texture changed, cooks had to adjust their recipes. Hence, the addition of sugar and flour.

To the rescue:  Glenn Roberts of Anson Mills in Columbia, South Carolina.


 Beginning in the 1990's, Roberts embarked on a mission to revive and rediscover the heritage grains that were all but lost since the advent of the industrialization of agriculture and food production that we have today. He's developed a network of farmers to grow heirloom corn, rice, and other grains and he built Anson Mills to mill them in the traditional ways and distributes them to restaurant chefs and home cooks. To order products or read more about what they're doing go to: www.ansonmills.com

If ordering Anson Mills products is not practical, seek out the best stone ground cornmeal that you can find, as it will have the single biggest impact on the final cornbread.

2. Cast iron skillet. This is non-negotiable, it's what cornbread is cooked in, just get one. Period.

3. Cooking Method:  To get the outside golden and crunchy and inside moist and crumbly, you have to pre-heat the skillet so that it is screeching hot, (450 degree oven) then pour about a tablespoon of fat into the hot pan, either bacon drippings, butter or oil, get that hot, then you pour in the cornbread batter and send it all into the oven to bake.





James Beard award winning chef Sean Brock, owner of three acclaimed Southern restaurants grew up in the coalfields of Virginia not far from Kentucky. His obsession for exploring Southern foods and preserving and restoring heirloom ingredients are legendary. He admits that he's a cornbread snob, and believes that the muffin-like cornbread served in most restaurants isn't worth eating, he won't touch the stuff. His cornbread is savory, crunchy, a little smokey from bacon and very dense, no sugar, no wheat flour. He's a huge fan of Anson Mills products.

I have to admit, as Southern as my roots are, I do like a little sweetener and touch of flour in my cornbread. Not so much that I'm having dessert alongside my dinner, but just a little to mellow out the savoriness of hard core Southern cornbread. Like Goldilocks, not too sweet, not too savory, juuuust right!

I'm going to share three recipes with you. The first is Sean Brock's Cracklin' Cornbread, from his cookbook 'Heritage'. The second is the sweet, cake like type that kids love, our granddaughter Macy will eat it all day long. And the third is a recipe that I've adapted to make a cornbread that is somewhere in between.

Copy and paste the link below into your web browser to access the recipes in PDF form

https://db.tt/Ig8Pttyi

I hope you enjoy these, cornbread is very forgiving so feel free to adjust the cornmeal / flour ratio as well as the honey / sugar ratio to your liking.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share with your friends and family if you think they would enjoy this blog. If there are any special food topics you would like to see let me know!

Lastly, if you have any real estate needs or questions please give me a call, I would love to help and be your Realtor of choice!

HAPPY EATING!!


Real Estate

Becky Goldsmith
720-979-3184
Becky@beckygoldsmith.com








Sunday, May 24, 2015

Cooking from the heart









An incredibly sweet man and the husband of one of my dearest friends recently passed. But before he left this earth, he gave me the most amazing gift. He showed me what it means to cook not just for the fun and pleasure of cooking and eating, but to cook from the heart.

During a recent visit while he was still feeling well enough for company, the three of us sat and talked about everything from the weather and politics, Rockies baseball, and of course.....food. Although Lee had not had much of an appetite during the last several days and  had eaten very little, talking about food was something he still enjoyed. Somehow we got on the subject of fried chicken. Not just fried chicken, but all of the side dishes that go with a proper fried chicken dinner; biscuits with butter and honey, corn, mashed potatoes, gravy, and apple pie.  This calorie loaded, artery clogging American classic was one of his favorite meals. His smile grew as we chatted about each course, remembering a meal that had brought him great pleasure in years past.



I asked him if he thought he could eat it I would love to make him a fried chicken dinner. "YOU BET!" was his reply. We decided on an evening three days away and I began planning a fried chicken dinner that I hoped would be something he would really enjoy.

On my way home that night I called the Bossy Chef and filled him in. Of course he was on board instantly, but due to his busy work week he wasn't going to be able to help with the actual cooking. I was on my own. However, he researched fried chicken recipes from his arsenal of cookbooks helping me choose one that would be great.

Now, I've been making fried chicken just about all my life, and I've tried more recipes than you can shake a drumstick at. The one thing I can say with absolute certainty, is that if you are not frying food regularly you'll loose your touch.  I've tried to abide a healthier lifestyle for the past twenty years give or take, so I rarely fry foods these days.  But years ago while married to Cowboy Bob, I fried dinner at least 3-4 nights a week.  I was good at frying. Chicken fried steak, pork chops, chicken, vegetables, even home made donuts. Cowboy Bob loved fried food so that's what I cooked.

 It takes practice and skill to keep the temperature of the oil just right so the food browns evenly and cooks through. With chicken, this can be a challenge. If the oil is too hot, the outside will brown and darken before the meat is fully cooked. If the oil is not hot enough, the outside will be greasy, not crispy. Tricky stuff. You can follow a recipe to the letter but if you don't have a practiced touch with the oil you'll be disappointed with the results. That said, I threw myself into dinner preparations not just a little anxious about how my chicken would turn out.

I wanted everything to be special. I bought Boulder Natural chickens, I riced Yukon Gold potatoes with heavy cream and Irish butter for the mashers and made the chicken gravy from stock and a roux.  I used pastry flour for the biscuits (makes them extra light), and I made an apple pie that would make your grandmother weep. It took me three days and I had the most wonderful time.



I packed it all up and headed to their home to put it together for what I hoped would be a great dinner.

Bossy Chef, Barbara; Lee's beautiful wife, and I got everything ready. We laid dinner out on pretty trays, grabbed a lovely bottle of wine, and took everything upstairs so we could all eat together.

If I'd had any doubts as to whether Lee would be able to enjoy the food, they vanished quickly. He sat upright in his bed and proceeded to devour everything on his plate. Barbara said the she had not seen him eat like that in weeks. Too full for dessert? Not a chance. He gave me a huge smile and two very enthusiastice thumbs up for hot apple pie with burnt sugar ice cream. Dinner was a success!




That night I learned what it means to cook from the heart.  To cook for love, and why we love to cook. It was the last meal that he was able to enjoy, and it was an honor and a privilege to share it with him, his loving wife, and my wonderful husband. I will remember that dinner for many years to come. Not because of the food, but because the food brought joy and pleasure to someone who needed it. Lee doesn't know it, but he gave me a life lesson in love and a gift beyond measure. I will forever be grateful to him.

So, are you curious about how my fried chicken turned out? I have to tell the truth, the pieces that were cooked were damn good!! But because I'm out of practice, my oil was too hot and the larger pieces browned before they were done. (Yuk) Thankfully, I was the only one who had picked out one of the under done pieces that night. The remaining chicken (I had fried two whole birds) could be reheated in the oven, and finish cooking before offering to friends and family who would stop by over the next few days. Was everything cooked perfectly? Not even close. Was it a perfect meal? Yes, and so much more.


The fried chicken recipe I tried was wonderful. I've made it available for you in a printable pdf, click on the link below. Home made fried chicken is off the charts incredibly delcious, no relation to the heavily breaded, chemically pumped, industrial mystery meat found in those large paper buckets. It takes a little planning, patience and a willingness to destroy your kitchen but it is so worth it. The next time you want to show someone that you love them, make them a proper fried chicken dinner. You'll earn a special place in their heart for ever.

Copy and paste the link below for a printable pdf of Michael Ruhlman's Buttermilk Fried Chicken.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/dyol1f83y868az7/Rosemary-brined%20Buttermilk%20Fried%20Chicken.pdf?dl=0

Your referrals are the best compliment I can receive. Thank you for reading our blog and please keep me in mind should you or your friends and family ever need the services of a professional Realtor.


Becky Goldsmith
 Broker, GRI, CNE
Becky@beckygoldsmith.com
720-979-3184







Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sharlotka







 FALL

Yowza, where did the summer go? We had such a mild summer this year compared to the last few years that were unbearably hot for weeks on end. This year summer in Colorado was warm, beautiful and oh so lovely, and now fall is here with old man winter fast approaching.
But I will strive to practice the be present philosophy of yoga. Rather than allow my mind to dwell on thoughts of the coming snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures, I will instead try to be in the moment of each and every glorious day the fall season has to offer.
Gone for now are the juicy peaches from the Western Slope, the addictive sweet corn from Olathe, Colorado, sun ripened tomatoes, and lazy summer evenings under warm, starry skies.  These fleeting pleasures are now replaced by one of  the many delicious gifts that comes with fall, apples. Apples, in their vast array of flavors and varieties become the versatile fruit that help ease our sense of loss for a summer now past.
Colorado is not typically thought of as an apple producing state as is New York or Washington, so it may come as a surprise to many that Colorado's climate is actually ideal for growing apples.
Apple trees need a combination of hot and cold weather to produce fruit, making them a natural for our state. Most apple trees like to have a minimum of 600 hours below 40 degrees during the winter to encourage them to set fruit. Then they need at least five or six hours of full sun a day once they've blossomed.
Apple trees also blossom later than some other types of fruit trees making them more likely to avoid an April killing frost. Add to that fact is that many types of apple trees are hardy to about 8,000 feet or growing zone 4 therefore most Coloradans have the perfect prescription for a bountiful apple harvest. There are several varieties that do very well, but some should be avoided as their maturity date is later and you risk loosing your crop to an early freeze. The varieties that do well in Colorado are: Red and Yellow Delicious, Mackintosh, Gala, Honey-Crisp, Cortland, Granny Smith, and Jonathan to name a few.
There are plenty of orchards in Colorado where you can pick your own apples and even press your own cider. A few top spots are YaYa Farm and Orchard, 6419 Ute Highway in Longmont. Camelot Farms, 15911 Black Bridge Road, Paonia. Happy Apple Farm, 1190 1st Street, Penrose. Delicious Orchards, 39126 Highway 133, Hotchkiss. And Apple Valley Orchard,448 K Street,
Penrose.



You'll find more than just apples at most orchards, most have country stores selling everything from fresh pressed cider to pies, berries and other seasonal treats.




So what to do with all these apples?  How about a yummy Apple Sharlotka? Apple Sharla what??  Shar-lot-ka, it's a Russian apple cake, quick, easy and delicious. Top a slice with vanilla ice cream and you have yourself a seriously delicious dessert. A girl friend gave me a sack of fresh picked apples and I made a Sharlotka this last Sunday. It was a hit, even Bossy liked it. Below is a link to the recipe from Chef Matt Danko from Cleveland's Trentina Restaurant as published in this months issue of Food and Wine.


Copy and paste the link below to your browser for a printable PDF recipe for Apple Sharlotka

https://db.tt/vtShPXG4

Thank you for reading, we hope you enjoy the changing seasons as much as we do along with all of the wonderful comfort foods that come with the cooler temperatures!

And I hope you keep me in mind when you're ready to think about selling your home or buying a new one. It would be a privilege to be your Realtor of Choice.

Happy Eating!

Becky Goldsmith

Real Estate
720-979-3184
Becky@beckygoldsmith.com





Monday, June 23, 2014

Incredible, Edible, Spain!





Glorious.

The food, the wine, the people, the city. I left my heart in Barcelona. Many of you know that Bossy and I recently returned from a trip to Barcelona, Spain. We posted pictures of our meals and excursions on Facebook, and from the comments we received it must have seemed as though all we ate was pork, pork, and more pork. Indeed, that swine would be the legendary Jamon de Iberico, and we made it our mission to indulge in this extraordinary meat each and every day.  Iberico is one of the most famous Spanish delicacies and is as rare as it is expensive due to the lengthy and costly production process. I will write more about the pata negra in a later blog.





We dined on and devoured all of the deliciousness that Barcelona has to offer, and folks, that is a considerable amount of deliciousness!

Spain has become the destination for foodies from around globe. Many maintain  that Spain has surpassed France as the undisputed leader in culinary excellence. You'll get no argument from me. From the culinary genius of the Adria` brothers, whose food challenge the senses, to the convivial tapas bars tucked into crowded spaces off the beaten path; food, wine, beer, friends, family, and the exquisite simplicity that make up the finest pleasures in life are the rule in this most charming city; not the exception.

Barcelona is a thriving, vibrant, multi layered city that considers itself independent from the rest of Spain. It is the capital city of the autonomous community of Catalonia and the second largest city in the country. Catalan is the official language not Spanish, and signs of the economic and political struggles that plague the rest of the country seem not to exist here. A new King? Meh, who cares.

 Trendy restaurants and bars are full, expensive hotels are booked and the wildly popular architect Antoni Gaudi tourist sites typically have long waiting lines. It's a young, cosmopolitan city with a respected University, adventurous galleries, numerous museums and cutting edge stores.  Barcelona is a transport hub with the Port of Barcelona being one of Europe's principle seaports and busiest European passenger port. That said, we ate as much seafood as was humanly possible but never had enough.

There is so much to share about our nine incredible days in Barcelona it's difficult to know where to begin. But I'll start by sharing two of our favorite dishes that we have reproduced here at home with great success. Both of these are perfect for summer and ridiculously easy to prepare. Simplicity truly is best, and no place proves this concept more deliciously than Spain.

At most every meal through out the city you'll be offered Catalan tomato bread. It varies slightly in execution from one restaurant to the next but the basic concept is the same. Crusty sliced bread, grilled or toasted, rubbed with garlic, then rubbed with a fresh tomato that has been cut in half, then sprinkled with sea salt and drizzled with olive oil. So simple yet so delicious. With summer tomatoes coming into season you have to give this a try. It's important to note, use really good crusty bread (Denver Bread makes an amazing boule), vine ripe tomatoes, and a high quality olive oil. Don't be stingy with the olive oil, it makes all the difference! This is great on it's own or you can top with cured meats, anchovies, cheese or olives.







The second dish I would like to share with you is a roasted vegetable salad called Escalivada. Vegetables are plentiful, gorgeous and a huge part of the Spanish diet. Escalivada is a roasted vegetable salad, traditionally the vegetables were roasted over coals which gives them a slightly smokey flavor, but now most restaurants roast the vegetables in a hot oven. The salad is served at room temperature allowing for maximum flavor. Roasted red peppers, eggplant, onions and tomatoes, doesn't sound very exciting but when done right it's incredible.






Copy and paste the link below in your browser for a downloadable PDF recipe for Escalivada

https://db.tt/7r60H8Fr



Thank you for taking the time to read our blog, Bossy and I hope you'll try these simple pleasures that we found so delicious while in Spain. There is more to come!!




And if I can ever be of service to your or your friends and family I hope you will keep me in mind should a Real Estate question or need arise. 

Real Estate

Becky Goldsmith
GRI, CRS, CNE
720-979-3184
Becky@beckygoldsmith.com







Friday, February 28, 2014

Crack Biscuits






Crack biscuits. That's what bossy chef calls them. They're so darn good they're as addictive as crack cocaine.

I've tried hundreds of biscuit recipes, always looking for a lighter, more flaky and flavorful version like the ones my grandmother used to make. My grandmother Johnnie Reagan, was the ultimate biscuit maker. She and my grandfather John, lived on a 1200 acre farm in rural New Mexico, not far from the Texas panhandle. As both their names were a version of 'John' my grandfather renamed my grandmother 'Bill' so no one would be confused as to who was who.

 When my brother and sister and I were young we had the good fortune to spend several summers on the farm. We learned to ride horses, take care of chickens, milk a cow, slop the hogs, and many other daily chores that keep a farm running. We also gained about 5-10 pounds each during those New Mexico summers. It wasn't for lack of activity, because we were running around like wild Indians from sun up to sun down. A 1200 acre farm is a great place for kids to run amok.

Our summer weight gain occurred because of Grandma Bills' abundant and delicious southern cooking. Breakfast was a hearty meal, usually bacon or ham, (from hogs raised on their farm), eggs, (from their chickens of course), and either pancakes or biscuits, usually biscuits because they were fast and easy. We drank milk at each meal which came from their dairy cows. Grandmother would skim the fresh milk, and make butter with the cream. Some of the cream she would set aside and allow it to sour, she called it 'clabbered' milk. That's what she used in her biscuits. Most biscuit recipes today call for buttermilk,  you can't buy clabbered milk that I know of and unless you have a dairy cow you can't make it at home because all of our heavy cream is pasturized.

 She made biscuits so often, never using a recipe, just by the sight and feel of the dough. Once when I was about 10, I asked her to teach me how to make them. I really wanted to learn, as I loved being in the kitchen even back then. But she was all business, cooking was just one more chore on a very long list that had to be done each day. She quickly became frustrated with my ineptitude and shooed me away, afraid that I had ruined the dough because it looked too dry. I'm pretty sure she fixed it though, and the biscuits turned out fine, but she wasn't about to have me waste a whole batch of biscuit dough just so I could play. She had raised three daughters during the great depression and wastefulness of any kind was never tolerated.

Grandma Bill set the bar pretty high when it came to biscuits, and as I mentioned earlier I've tried many recipes. Some with excellent results and some were dismal failures. I've learned a few basic techniques that apply for making a good biscuit with any recipe. In no particular order:
1. Your butter or lard has to be very cold. And it doesn't hurt if your flour and other ingredients are cold too.
2. The dough should be JUST dry enough to handle, a little sticky is good
3. Do not over work the dough, the more gentle you are the more tender your biscuits will be.
4. For proper southern biscuits purists use soft red winter wheat flour, low in protein and gluten – traditionally White Lily brand or Southern Biscuit brand. These can be found and ordered on the internet. I've used them and they do make great biscuits.


Bill, aka Grandma Johnnie  has been gone for quite some time now, but the memory of those incredible meals on the farm will never fade. And since I never learned how she made her biscuits my quest to find a biscuit that equals hers continues. The recipe I'm sharing with you today comes pretty darn close. Click on the link below for a printable pdf copy of 'Crack Biscuits' from Max and Eli Sussman from their book 'This is a Cookbook Recipes for Real Life'. (Jack added the 'Crack' because they're that good!)







Thanks so much for reading our blog, we hope you try these tasty little buttery orbs of deliciousness soon, I"m sure you'll enjoy them as much as we do.


Remember I am always here for your Real Estate questions and needs. Financing has changed dramatically since the first of the year, if you would like information as to what a buyer's qualifications and requirements are today don't hesitate to contact me as the lending climate has become one of the great challenges in our industry today.


Uniquely Different.....Simply Better!!


Becky Goldsmith
720-979-3184
Becky@beckygoldsmith.com