Friday, July 02, 2010

I want to own a nursery just like this!

During my trip to Wilmington, NC my mom took me to Zone 8, a fantastic nursery tucked away in the midst of strip malls and highways. Isn't that the best name? Love it. The property is a magical oasis jam-packed with really interesting finds and unusual combinations of plants. The greenhouse/store area in particular is like a dreamy wonderland filled with odds and bits that work together so well. My mom seemed to think it came under new ownership recently as it used to be a bit run down — but no longer! Have a peak…

I mostly took photos inside the space because I was so awed while wandering around outside. So I don't have a good "establishing" shot for you of the outside, but here's a wee little glimpse of some of the plants:

If you're ever in the area and need a little getaway, you should take a stroll through:

Zone 8 Gardens
3802 South College Road
Wilmington, NC 28412-2006
(910) 792-1118

Or maybe one day you'll be able to visit Zone 6 here in Ann Arbor!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Now I can Say I've Tried It: Lychees

lycheeslycheesYes, now I can say I've tried a lychee. I've probably had them in something somewhere along the line, but I had never bought one and just eaten it straight out. With their tough, lumpy exterior, you might not know how to tackle one. Just pierce the skin slightly with a sharp knife and the skin with come away from the juicy fleshy fruit quite easily. It has a hard pit inside and is incredibly juice, so take care when you bite into these beauties. You'll be greeted with a highly floral, very sweet flavor that I instantly loved and seemed vaguely familiar. I would love to try them in a cocktail: possibly gin, grapefruit juice and lychees pureed? hmmm? What do you think?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Highlights from Pile of Craft

Is this not the most awesomest show announcement? It's from last weekend's Pile of Craft show in Baltimore. The creature is from Cotton Monster who has the best web site -- and creatures -- in the world. I adore them. Clever, clever gal: check out her blog and Etsy shop, too!

Here's a little peak inside the show. It was in a beautiful old church with lots of cool details:

The nice thing about being so far from home was that I saw lots of new work and vendors I had never met or seen before. I fell hard for the illustrations by Jamie Zollars. I particularly like her silkscreens -- they boil down her work to beautiful linework and moodiness.

Detail from "Stirring" silkscreen.
Available here.
"Bird War" silkcreen

Some other faves were Pink Kiss Pottery, El Jefe Design, Paper Acorn and Needle Noodles -- so fun!

Monday, June 28, 2010

John's Perfect Chesapeake Fried Chicken

Chesapeake Fried Chicken recipeIt's been quite some time since I shared a recipe with you, and this one is about to make up for all that. My friend John has been working on perfecting his fried chicken recipe. This past weekend he treated me to a batch and let me in on some of his secrets and I'd say he's pretty much nailed it. I've always been a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of deep-frying, but John showed me just how easy it is. This chicken has a double layer of breading, is packed with flavor and I still can't get over how golden and beautiful it turned out! You won't believe how un-greasy it is — after frying up a whole batch, there is pretty much the same amount of oil left in the pot. Eat it hot or cold, packed up in that summertime picnic basket. I gnawed on a piece or two during my road trip back from DC to Michigan — delish!

John's Chesapeake Chicken
12 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/3 cup salt
1 (2 1/2 lb) bag all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons seasoning salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
6 large eggs
peanut oil (for frying)
Additional seasoning salt

The first secret is brining:

Chesapeake Fried Chicken recipe
Rinse chicken. Place it in a bowl and add salt. Add water to cover and let soak for an hour.

Chesapeake Fried Chicken recipe

Meanwhile, beat the eggs together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, seasoning salt and pepper. When chicken is done brining, rinse it. Dip each piece in the eggs and then in the flour mixture. Use one hand to dip in the wet and the other for the dry to avoid thoroughly gunking up your fingers.

Chesapeake Fried Chicken recipe
Set aside on a lightly floured baking sheet and let rest for about 20 minutes, or the time it takes to heat the oil. 

Chesapeake Fried Chicken recipe
Fill a dutch oven halfway full with peanut oil. Heat to 375ยบ.

Chesapeake Fried Chicken recipe
Enjoy a icy cold glass of peachy, lychee sangria while you wait…

Chesapeake Fried Chicken recipe
And by the time the oil is ready, the chicken will look like this with the flour kind of soaked into the egg and looking pasty.
Chesapeake Fried Chicken recipe
Next dredge each piece of chicken in the eggs and then the flour mixture one more time before placing directly and carefully into the hot oil.

Chesapeake Fried Chicken recipe
Fry the chicken in batches being sure not to crowd the pot.

Chesapeake Fried Chicken recipeAfter the first minute or two of cooking, gently run a spoon under each piece to be sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.

Chesapeake Fried Chicken recipeWhen the chicken is golden brown, 10-12 minutes, remove it from the oil and drain on a brown paper bag.

Chesapeake Fried Chicken recipeSprinkle the chicken with extra seasoned salt and let cool.

Chesapeake Fried Chicken recipeIf you've read all the way through to this point, then you are ready for the big reveal. John adds one other secret ingredient to both the flour for dredging and then right after frying instead of sprinkling with seasoning salt — I feel almost guilty revealing it, but he gave me the go-ahead. Here it is… Old Bay. Yup. That's the secret to Chesapeake Chicken. I didn't list it in the ingredients, because you have to read this far down to find out the true secret. So good! You would never guess that that's what's in it. It's not like it tastes like crabs or shrimp with Old Bay. It just adds that certain something. The best!

Wrapping up my whirlwind trip

Hello, hello! So sorry I dropped off the radar last week. Though I was on vacation, I did have a few posts planned for you. But I got hit midweek with a nasty cold that knocked me out cold. I'm feeling a bit better now and spent the weekend in Washington, D.C. with my friend John after coming up for the Pile of Craft show in Baltimore on Saturday (above). We spent plenty of time cooking, hanging out and exploring a few local hot spots like the incredibly designed Grace's Mandarin (below) in National Harbor.

One too many frosty watermelon, mint and vodka drinks led to John trying to steal from Buddha. Oy! I'll have more details about my trip, the Pile of Craft show and some new recipes later this week.