Not So Sweet Mysteries of Life

canesGood on the Carolina Hurricanes.  They’ve advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.  They won four in a row in a best of seven tourney.

The feat is referred to as a sweep.

The final match was held in Raleigh at PNC arena.  There’s a tradition of fans bringing props to games, such as a piece of fencing with a giant “D” attached to it (to promote D-fence, get it?).  To encourage the ‘Canes to accomplish a sweep, PNC and the team anticipated that attendees would bring brooms along with them.canes sweepThey quickly nixed that idea.

And, if you’ve ever attended a hockey match, you know why they forbad it.  I went one time, and I have never, in my life, felt the pure violent fury I felt that night.  If I’d had a stick in my hand?  I would still have been on the chain gang, paying my debt to society.

The Kid, who is normally a quiet, non-violent child, was told by strangers, more than once to hush—at a hockey game.  Think about that for a moment.  How loud and unruly must you be at a packed stadium full of unhinged hockey fans, to be asked to calm down?canes fightWhich brings me to my first mystery.

Why is it that it’s accepted, even expected, for the game to routinely and regularly break out into fisticuffs?

Can you imagine Coach K’s Blue Devils whaling away on the admittedly annoying Tar Heels?  They’d be hauling away those children in handcuffs.  What about robot quarterback Tom Brady getting sacked and coming at the Panther’s Luke Kuechly with the lid off a Gatorade cooler?

brady bot

Tom Brady can approximate all human emotions and totally isn’t a robot.

Wouldn’t happen.  But somehow, in hockey, it’s ok.

All longitudinal lines begin at the geographic North Pole.  Because of this, there is no time zone there.  So that means that for fans of imbibing spiritous beverages, it is always five o’ clock there.  I’ll bet elves drink a lot. drunk elfI admit my science knowledge is lacking, but I just can’t wrap my head around no time zone.

The Kid and I have an agreement.  I’ve washer, dryer, and time.  The Kid generates dirty clothes but has no personal laundry facilities.  So, my child buys supplies, and I wash, dry, and fold—for everyone.

But I absolutely refuse to match and bundle socks.  As I pull them out of the dryer, I toss them, orphan-like, into The Kid’s basket.  I decided a long time ago that I will not make myself insane looking for socks that may will never be found.lost sock

Over the years, I have lost more lids from more Tupperware, Rubbermaid, Ziplock, and various other plastic leftover vessels than most small nations have owned or will ever own.  How?  They should be either in the cabinet, sink, refrigerator, or dishwasher.  And yet, somehow, they disappear like a series of Atlantis’, Judge Roy Beans, and Amelia Earharts.

So, the question is: do the socks and lids go to the same domestic black hole?mr whippleWhat did we do before Google?  Sometimes it would take days before Petey and I could remember who that guy was in that thing.  I almost miss waking him up in the middle of the night yelling, “Mr. Whipple played the drunk guy in ‘Bewitched’!”.  Just now, Google found that info for me in 1.1 seconds.

Lately, at Chez Matthews there’s been a frequent, nagging mystery.  It happens a good three, four times a day, and if you, Gentle Reader can supply a solution I will be forever in your debt and bring the potato salad to every barbecue you have forever more.

What did I come in here for?Thanks for your time.

Sweden, By The Numbers

opening lineHere’s my opening line.

When I write a column, I have a topic.  Today’s topic is the Swedish meatballs at Ikea, and the copycat recipe I have.  Then the column begins to write itself in my head—which this one has, but in an uncharacteristically fragmented way.  The last thing that happens is that I come up with the opening line; often in the shower, or while walking the dog.

Today I both showered and walked the dog almost four miles and came up with bupkis.back pocketWhen this has happened in the past, and I’ve fretted about it to Petey, he’s suggested the opening line seen above.  I always laugh, thank him, and tell him I’ll keep it in my back pocket (Care & Feeding of Husbands-Chapter 1.).

And then come up with an actual opener that I use.

But not tonight; so Petey to the rescue.laplandI do though, have some crazy weather facts about the Lapland region of Sweden that I discovered while doing research for this piece.

Kiruna is in Lapland and the northernmost city in Sweden.  It lies ninety miles north of the Arctic Circle.  The warmest temp ever recorded was 88.9 (F) degrees, in July 1945.  The coldest was -45.9 (F) in January 1999.  The sun does not set for the fifty days between May 28th and July 16th and doesn’t rise from December 11th to January 1st (22 days).  Yikes.

Now, for the meatballs.meatballsFurniture Store Swedish Meatballs

1 cup homemade white bread crumbs

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 white onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

kosher salt, or to tastesw chef¼ teaspoons freshly ground pepper

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¾ pound ground veal or turkey

½ pound ground pork

1 large egg, plus 1 egg white, beaten

vegetable oil, for baking sheet

queen kristina

Queen Kristina of Sweden

2 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 ½ cup beef stock

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup heavy cream

kosher salt to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For service:garnished meatballs2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Lingonberry or tart mixed-berry jam

To make meatballs: Put bread crumbs in a large bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, allspice, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add milk and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer. Pour milk mixture over bread crumbs and stir to make a thick paste (called panade); let cool. Add ground veal or turkey, ground pork, egg and egg white to the bowl and mix until combined. Brush baking sheet with vegetable oil. Scoop meat with small portion scoop, then roll into 1-inch balls and arrange on prepared baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

swedish royal family

Not Ikea models.  This is the Swedish royal family–honest.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bake meatballs for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.

To make gravy: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking, until smooth. Whisk in beef broth, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce and bring to simmer. Add heavy cream and meatballs. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until gravy thickens about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with the parsley.  Serves six.meatballs w aspaServe with a simple starch like egg noodles or mashed potatoes and a dollop of jam.  You can also serve on toasted and buttered bread like a split baguette or Texas toast.

Because of the very rich nature of this dish, green vegetables as a side and post-prandial walk are highly recommended by me, your doctor, your arteries, and your Levi’s.swedish fansThanks for your time.

Shopping Smorgasbord

little swedenAfter having to reschedule at least four or five times, the Matthews Family Band finally made it to North Carolina’s little piece of Swedish heaven last week.

That’s right, we went to Ikea in Charlotte.ikeaThe Kid’s been before, and in fact, sleeps on an Ikea bed.  Petey and I were both neophytes.  I wasn’t expecting much, I mean, it’s a furniture store with meatballs—I’ve shopped for furniture and home goods, and Stouffers make perfectly fine Swedish meatballs.

But, sure, let’s ride three hours to Charlotte, for a lamp.

I’ve decided Ikea’s kind of like giving birth.rosemary's babyMothers: you know how everybody talks about how much labor and childbirth hurt?  And how the real thing is so much more painful than your wildest nightmares?  Like how there really are no English words that can adequately describe the scorching, soul-eviscerating torment you’ll experience?

Parents and Grandparents: Do you remember people trying to communicate how much you’ll love this baby?  And how shocked you were at how hard, fast, and total this tidal wave of love actually felt, and how it transformed every single thing about you and your life?

Yeah, Ikea’s sorta like that.13The place is huge. This isn’t Target with full grocery store.  This is original thirteen colonies huge.  The foyer is bigger than an airplane hanger.  There’s a nursery/kid jail that’s bigger than your average Chucky Cheese.

It takes up two floors.  When you walk in, there’s an up escalator, but no down.  I still have no idea why.  There are lots of partitioned areas, so you can’t see very much at one time.  Which is probably a good thing, because if I could’ve seen everything at once, I probably would’ve had a stroke from pure sensory overload.

ikea apt

An Ikea studio apartment.

The top floor is furniture.  They have it divided into rooms, like most other places.  But they also have these apartment pods of varying sizes for various customers in various life stages.

I discovered a kitchen that was so perfect it was like it had been torn right out of my mind.  It was big and bright with lots of tall work surfaces and spreading out room.closetThen I found my dream closet.  It was more of the Louvre for clothes, shoes, accessories and purses.  There was a beautifully upholstered slipper chair and even a glass of Champagne waiting for me on the luxurious dressing table.

The only problem is that 85% of my clothes were absolutely not fancy enough for it.  I just couldn’t picture my sweats and boring lingerie in such rarified surroundings.  I’d feel sorry for the bulk of my stuff.  Like flip-flops with a ball gown.

gown flop

…so evidently, that’s a thing now. 

Ikea’s first floor’s full of small home goods like linens, lamps, and kitchen gadgets.  Ingenious, unique items at a great price.  That’s where I picked out a blue gossamer summer throw, a snuggly gray one, steak knives, and various other items I couldn’t live without.

That’s also where they have a mini-grocery selling frozen versions of food they serve in the café, Swedish specialties and some candy (FYI-skip the chocolate bulk candy; it’s too sweet and not fresh).     swedish chicAnd throughout, everything is clean and bright with that Ikea blend of attractive casual yet super chic.

I still have no idea how the store’s laid out.  We just wandered around until we came to food.  We ate.  Then there was an elevator.  We went down.  Then we wandered around until we came to cash registers and left.

I’m not sure how they accomplish this tricky bit of auto-navigation.  I think they just use some sort of Swedish Jedi mind control tricks.swedesAnd PS, the meatballs were way better than Stouffer’s.

Thanks for your time.

Sweet & Salty, Salty & Sweet

shkreli

Pharma-Bro Martin Shkreli.  The line forms behind me.

Backpfeifengesicht.

It’s one of those nifty multi-syllabic German words that captures the meaning of a nuanced feeling or situation which doesn’t translate to just one word in English.  In this case the word means, “A face in dire need of punching.”

So, here’s a complicated, almost labyrinthine concept that could use one of those uber-efficient, Germanic portmanteaus: deeply understanding something for most of your life, but not knowing it’s even a thing.spoilerI’ll explain: (Spoiler alert: it concerns food.)

When I was a kid, we were living in Puerto Rico and my mom took cake decorating classes from Winnie Chazzarue.  The frosting they used in class became our go-to frosting; we use it for Mom’s Famous Christmas Cookies, cakes, and cupcakes.

I just recently realized one of the really special things about it. frostingThe recipe calls for a full teaspoon of salt.  Most frosting recipes, if they do contain salt it’s barley more than a pinch.  In our frosting, you can actually taste the salt, but in most delicious way. For years I’ve been enjoying the current flavor “It” girl of sweet-salty mashups.  I’ve been trendy since elementary school and didn’t even know it.

Last week, Petey and I accompanied The Kid to Charlotte.  Our offspring is in the process of tricking out a home craft station that ex-con Martha Stewart would shank a bunkmate for.

martha cut a bitch

The woman will cut a bitch.

Back in the beginning, when Mr. “Ikea” designed these brilliant, alluring villages of consumerism he decided to include a restaurant so that folks wouldn’t have to leave for sustenance.  Like the ‘no clocks’ thing in Vegas; people just wander around in timeless dream states, muttering, “I need a knarrevik (nightstand).  No, wait!  Maybe I really need an arv bröllop (cake stand).”

At said restaurant, we all had their famous meatballs, with mashed potatoes and gravy.  The food wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t palate-challenging, but it was tasty and soul-soothing.

ligonberryThe sweet in this cozy collab brought an unexpected touch of culinary sophistication to the meal.  It’s lingonberry jam, which next to Abba and Ikea itself, is Sweden’s most famous export.  They have it in the same vessel in which they put mustard and ketchup to dress hot dogs at Costco’s snack bar. costco hot dogIt’s red, with the translucent sheen of a perfect pigeon-blood ruby, studded with shards of fruit.  It’s sweet, with a sourness level comparable to Boysenberry.  The flavor’s as if cherry and cranberry made a baby.  I like it.  I brought home an Ikea-bought jar and have already had a lingonberry and sun butter sandwich on my homemade sourdough—the sandwich’s a keeper.  I’m trying it on biscuits next.daim torteI’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I loved everything, including the desserts we shared.  They have a crispy confection with almond toffee and drenched with milk chocolate ganache called a Daim torte and a treat with layered cream and cake, covered with marzipan that tasted just like bubblegum.

Did the food have that intentional mild carb-y blandness of large-scale preparers and purveyors of meals, like elementary schools and hospital cafeterias?    ikea school foodDon’t care, doesn’t matter.  I wasn’t a wife and mother of indeterminate heritage eating an early dinner over-looking a parking lot in Charlotte North Carolina.

This food felt so darn Swedish, I was Inga, a 19-year-old blond, blue-eyed, Nordic Goddess, enjoying a meal in my exquisitely decorated, perfectly weathered farmhouse thirty minutes outside Stockholm.

garbo

Garbo-the best Swedish export ever.

Next week I’ll have returned from Sweden, and returned to my boring normal self.

And I’ll have a recipe for Swedish meatballs so good and authentic that they just might send you on your own Nordic adventure.swe meatballThanks for your time.

Happy Birthday, Bud

birthday cakeIn one week, my little brother will be fifty-one(!) years old.

My birthday is twelve days before his special day.  For a million years, he would send me a twenty-dollar bill in a card, and a week later I would mail his card with a twenty in it.  Sometimes it was the very same twenty.

But, one year I had a thought.  What if we stopped the transfer of funds, and tried something new?  When it came time for Bud to send me the annual twenty, I gave my little brother a hundred dollar Monopoly bill (Hey, it’s pretend cash, we might as well go for it).  He could write happy B-day, sign and date it.monopoly hundredMy mom was not on board at first.  But we liked it, and it was our special little tradition.  In three years, the first bill got filled up, so we just took a new Monopoly C-note and stapled it to the first.  This year is the fourteenth year.  Other than a kinda sweet, kinda sappy sibling tradition thing, I love it for a far more important reason.

Bud has the later birthday so, when I send it to him, he’s got to hold on to it for a year.  I only have to keep if safe for about a week before I mail it to him.  If I had to hold onto it for a year, our sweet little tradition would have been a one and done.mailmanEach year we try to find cards that are so rude (Not dirty, just extra snarky), the only person you could send it to is a sibling—they already know you’re a jerk.  Shoot, they had a hand in molding your clay into jerk-like form.

This year my card from him advised me to hold on to all the wax from my candles as there would be enough to wax both my legs and my mustache.lady mustache 2Shows how much he knows; my mustache has gone gray, so I don’t have to wax it anymore.

He was born when we were stationed in Mobile.  When my parents brought him home from the hospital, they brought me a baton.

At the time, I liked the baton better.majoretteI had a few lessons in twirling, but I was never very good at.  It did come in useful when I wanted to whack something or someone on the head—not to hurt them, just to get their attention.

He grew up to be a mechanical engineer, but since birth my brother’s loved to tinker.  We were all sitting around one night watching TV when Bud was about three.  Suddenly, the coffee table collapsed, scaring the bejesus out of us all.  He’d removed all the screws from it, because he could.fixitWhen I was in college, I had some minor surgery.  One evening my folks came to visit me in the hospital, having left my fourteen-year-old brother at home.  The next night when they visited, they told me that the mirror in the bathroom my brother and I shared had shattered.  Nobody knew what had happened, but it was completely busted when they got home.

I looked over at Bud, who had accompanied them.blowtorch“Were you trying to make a blow torch?”

He’d been contemplating his shoes.  He looked up at me, with a sheepish expression, and no eyebrows.  I busted out laughing.

live and let die

“No, Mr. Bond.  I expect you to die.”

He’d seen the Bond movie, ‘Live and Let Die’. In it, 007 made a homemade weapon to kill a tarantula (that’s all the info you get from me; google it or rent the movie).  When my little bro gave it a go, he’d happened to have it aimed at the mirror, and the glass did what it does when subjected to open flame.

He actually did become an engineer.

Happy birthday, Bud.

glennieThanks for your time.

Fruit of Vroom

Crowley blogMy brilliant idea kind of all started when I inadvertently found a new treat for my Whirlpool-sized pooch, Crowley.

I’m a sucker for the word “Clearance”.  Honestly, I’d buy a case of the bubonic plague if it had a big yellow sticker and was marked down 90%.  I’ve actually found items this way that have become pantry staples (sunflower butter), and other items that I’d give one of my kidneys to find again (Oh, Mrs. Thinster’s Salted Caramel Cookie Thins, where are you?).

bubonic

But I got a great deal…

So anyway, I eat tons of dried fruit, and found some peaches on a huge markdown.  I eat the chewy kind of dried fruit, but these were of the freeze-dried persuasion.

Most dried fruit is dried by the sun or mechanical means, but with enough moisture left to make it sticky and pliable—think raisins or prunes.On the other hand, freeze-dried fruit is completely desiccated.  The process is known as lyophilization.  Think the crispy, crumbly Styrofoam-like food sold in camping and survival stores and used by NASA and the military.  What I had scored on the sale shelf was freeze-dried peaches.

When I bought them, I figured I’d eat them as little sweet snacks, like candy.  I like peaches.  But the flavor of these peaches shocked me.  I knew they were freeze-dried, I knew that meant that as the ice was drawn off the intensity of their “peach-ness” was magnified; but it must have been by about a million.peach trifleThey were like the taste of every peach I’d ever eaten.  Every can of fruit cocktail, every bowl of cobbler, every Hostess fruit pie had combined to create this huge peach punch to my taste buds.  One bite was my limit.

Thus, Crowley’s new treat—he loves them, in all their peachy glory.

blueberry meringue

A sight to rival Mona Lisa…

Then I saw a recipe for blueberry meringue.  Meringue is a chemical, physical reaction that doesn’t leave room for fiddling.  Add any type of fat, including egg yolk, and the whole shebang will probably never come together.  Add too much liquid, and you get bupkis.  You even need to be careful not to overdo it when adding extract or food coloring.

So, for blueberry flavor, the genius who came up with this recipe used dried blueberries!heliotropWhich is brilliant, because you get buckets of taste and also as a bonus, it becomes a gorgeous heliotrope color.

Yesterday I made one of my strawberry cakes for a friend’s Easter dinner.  After all this freeze-dried fun, I decided to conduct an experiment. cake 2Instead of plain jam added to the frosting, I added only two tablespoons of jam, and also a couple tablespoons of finely crushed strawberries.  It lowered the amount of liquid I needed to use, and made the frosting less likely to get soft and run if the cake was in a warm environment.  I also added a couple tablespoons of the crushed berries to the cake crumbs that I pressed into the sides of the cake.  This turned the crumbs a really pretty, springy shade of pink; almost Barbie-ville.

The success of the strawberry cake got me thinking about what else could freeze-dried fruit do.freeze dried buttersCompound butter.  Last week I talked about flavored butter and encouraged imagination and experimentation.  So, imagine making a fruit compound butter.  What about apples and cinnamon?  For those of you with death defying taste buds, how about habañero/mango?  Here’s one:  An Elvis; freeze-dried bananas, finely chopped peanuts, and crushed crispy bacon.

I believe I’ll have some of that butter on my toast.  Thank you very much.

I am no food genius and not the first person to come up with this idea.  I’m more of a village idiot who discovered something really cool, but also the town crier who’s telling you about it.idiotThanks for your time.

The Deer Hunter

sherlockedThe first time I met the man, it cleared up one mystery.  The second time, it initiated another mystery that’s never been solved.

I love the woods behind my house.  From October to late April I’m out there every chance I get.  It’s my happy place.  After spending so much time back there I feel kind of possessive.magic forestMostly, I’m the lone human of the forest.  So one day when I saw an ATV half hidden out there, it made me very curious.  I was sure I was alone.  Had it been stolen?  Where was the owner?  Was he ok?

A few days later, I saw a man riding on the ATV.  I smiled and waved and figured when we passed each other we nod and continue in our separate directions.atvBut as he approached me, he stopped.  And he asked me for a word.

He had bowhunting equipment.  He said hello, and then he broke my heart.

“I’m sorry.  This is private property, and there’s no trespassing.”

I was poleaxed.  “But I just walk around.  I don’t damage anything.  You own this land?”white hat“My friend’s father does.  I look after it, and he lets me hunt back here. When you’re here you disturb the deer with your white hat.”  The way he said hat, it was like I was wearing rabid badgers on my head. For some reason, he really hated my simple white baseball cap.

“I’ve never seen any signs.”“Every time we put ‘em up, someone pulls ‘em down.”

“Could I visit when you’re not here hunting?”

The answer was no, and it was final.

On the way home, I kept thinking about his words.  There had to be some way I could continue to go into my woods.  I decided I’d find the owner and ask him myself.After a couple hours of research, I discovered the man’s name and eventually found a phone number.  I gave him a call.  I explained who I was, where I lived, and asked if there was any way, under any conditions, I could keep going.

What he told me shocked the heck out of me.no huntingHe didn’t have a son and there was no friend looking after the woods.  Not only was I very welcome to visit his forest, he absolutely did not want somebody back there hunting.

Well.

So, I went back a couple of days later around the same time I’d seen him, and in the same area.  Honestly, I was kind of laying in wait for him.  I felt a stomach-churning mix of nervousness and righteous indignation.Finally, he rode up on his ATV.   He looked like he was going to scold me for coming back, but I didn’t give him the chance.  I told him about my conversation with the owner.

He looked angry, and then he said something I’ll never forget.

“It’s your world, baby, we’re all just living in it.”atv byeThen he rode off and I never saw him again.

Thus, the second mystery.  Why did he lie?  If he had just asked me not to come back there when he was trying to hunt, if he had been willing to share the land, I would never have talked to the owner, and discovered his deceit.

I still can’t figure that out.  I guess he must have thought I’d give up and stay away.give upBut there are two things about me he didn’t know.

He didn’t know how very much I love my woods would hate to stop visiting them.

And, he didn’t know how very dangerous an educated, motivated woman with an internet connection and time on her hands could be.she was warnedThanks for your time.

The Butter To Eat It With

rich kidsWhen the rich and famous are interviewed, very often they say the best thing about fame is the people they meet.

In the past, my response has always been just one word, “Hooey!”

Pu-leez! truck moneyTrucks full of money?  Oh no.

Designers competing to clothe and shoe you?  No sir.

People treating you like you’re a god, and a dating pool chock full of uber-attractive, interesting individuals?  Anything but that!beautiful datingBut people?  Yeah, sure.

Then I started writing about food and such for public consumption.  Ralph Lauren and Zak Posen aren’t yet arm wrestling for my attentions, but through my columns I meet amazing people every single day.  So now I must apologize for my earlier disbelief and the resulting impatience with celebrities.

Anyway; meeting people.costco lineJust about five years ago, I was in line at Costco, and met the sweetest couple, Victoria and Jefe.  They were Puerto Ricans and wonderful cooks of the island’s cuisine.  I went to their house for a cooking lesson for the column, and we became friends.dalaiThey very much remind me of my parents, whose own generosity is legendary.  Once they took me under their wing and decided to be my Caribbean God Parents, they went all in.  We meet for coffees and I almost have to wrestle Jefe to let me pay once in a while.  Every holiday that rolls around I have an adorable greeting note and gif in my email.  They shower me with tons of homemade Puerto Rican foods and extravagant gifts.crazy browniesSo, as often as I can, I make food gifts for them.  They’ve had my famous five-chocolate brownies, my brown butter chocolate chips cookies, and my mom’s magically addictive Christmas cookies.

Last week, we met and I brought them a loaf of my sourdough bread.  To go along with it, I made them Chinese five-spice honey butter.5 spice butterIt’s what is known as a compound butter.  It can be one of your most versatile ingredients in the kitchen.  The butter I made for Jefe and Victoria can be used on toast.  But it would also go great on carrots, sweet potatoes, anything with warm sweetish flavors.  Schmear it all over a ham biscuit.lots of butterI’ll give you the recipe for the butter.  But what I’d like to have happen is for your imagination to be inspired.  Use the butter on something new.  Even something as simple as tweaking the proportions of the recipe I give you.  Get in your kitchen and mad scientist some new butters.

Five-Spice Honey Butterfive spice butter

1 cup butter, softened.

¼ cup honey

½ teaspoon Chinese Five-Spice powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Put everything into bowl of a mixer with whisk attachment.  Whisk until smooth (3-4 minutes), scraping down sides to make sure everything’s mixed.  Check for flavor and add more honey, spice, or salt if needed.

Turn butter out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and roll it up.  Spin the roll holding the ends of the plastic until it’s tight and tube-shaped. Refrigerate until chilled and set.  Makes 1 ¼ cup.A compound butter is kind of like Meryl Streep—very versatile.  Butter is the vessel and the flavor can be anything.  It can be sweet, savory, or straddle the line between.

A Mexican butter with lime juice and zest, cilantro, and chili powder.  Toasted chopped pecans, apricot jam and cinnamon.  Nutmeg, lemon zest, thyme, and gray sea salt.  Champagne, vanilla extract, and crushed, freeze-dried strawberries.thyme butterTake these butter ideas and run with them.  Use the flavors that you and your family love.  Then put the butter on all kinds of interesting foods.

Play with your food.play food

Thanks for your time.

Bull City Brave

duke street explosionMany of you know that Petey, The Kid, and I call Durham home.

Today there was an explosion downtown that leveled most of a block.  One person died, and there were numerous injuries.  The Kid went to middle and high school directly across the street from the site, and in the early ’90s, I actually worked in the building.

The Matthews family is all accounted for and well.  Our larger family of Durham is shocked, hurt, and grieving.  So, as you go about your day, please send a few good thoughts toward the Bull City.bull city collage

Thanks for your time.