Welcome to “G’s Kitchen”

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No…I haven’t decided to abandon journalism to go into the restaurant business.

After long days of working in the city..my wife Karen takes great care of me and sees to it that i have a fabulous meal when I get home.  We’re not complicated here.  My wife always tells me when it comes to meals, “I do simple well.”  but the meals are always great!

Some weeks ago..I decided to return the favor.  So, on my weekday off day, I open up what I call ‘G’s Kitchen’..and make a meal for her..because she works long days from here at home.

Part of the challenge for me is not going back to old habits.  My wife has called me the “Crock Pot King” because I have done many a meal in the slow cooker (but I did go back to the familiar for one of them).  The other challenge is my wife doesn’t do a lot of meat (beef, pork, etc.) so it’s a test for me to see what I can come up with.

One of the meals I was most proud of was the pizza I made…well, sort of.”

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Greek Pizza (photo credit: KReative Works)

It’s really just a store-bought cheese pizza..but Kalamata olives, marinated mushrooms and feta cheese placed on before baking put it over the top.  My thanks to Whole Foods for the ingredients.

I did go back to my crock pot roots for this tortellini dish.

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Cheese Tortellini in Vodka Sauce (photo credit: KReative Works)

The vodka sauce goes in the slow cooker along with fresh mushrooms and oregano.  Again..my wife is getting away from meat.  A company called Gardein makes a ‘beefless ground’ that — if you season it right — you’d never know the difference. Set the crock pot on high for 3.5 hours.  Add in store-bought tortellini of your choice for the last 15 minutes to warm through and …Viola!

One of the more recent meals had a daunting centerpiece:  swordfish.

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Baked Swordfish with Zucchini Noodle Salad (photo credit: KReative Works)

I seasoned the fish and put each one in a foil packet to steam in a 425-degree oven for 20 minutes.   Whole Foods again came through with zucchini noodles, marinated mushrooms and artichokes that I put together.  It turned out great.

I’m not a cook.  But..every time I can make my Karen a meal she can enjoy after her hard day at work..and it puts a smile on her face..my work in ‘G’s Kitchen’ is well worth it.

By the way…a glass of wine with dinner never hurts either.

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On A Scale Of 10: Eleven Clinton

Even though we live in New Jersey, my wife and I are Southerners through and through.

Shortly after we moved here, we discovered a restaurant just around the corner from us that whenever we needed a fix of ‘back home’ food, we could always count on them for it.

I raved about Duke’s Southern Table in this very blog after we ate there.  Here’s a reminder.

Since then Duke’s closed its doors..and we longed for someone to come in and take up the mantle.  We got our wish.  And guess what?  It’s in the very same restaurant space that Duke’s was.

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Courtesy: Eleven Clinton

Eleven Clinton opened late in 2017 and gave us back our taste of the South.
My bride..the lovely Karen.. ordered the Fried Catfish Platter with a side of collard greens.  She was quite pleased.

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Courtesy: KReative Works

As for me..it’s become somewhat of a tradition that if I go to a new restaurant and they have Shrimp and Grits on the menu…I will order it.  After all..when you are a native Charlestonian..there is a standard all bowls of Shrimp and Grits must meet.  I must say this one measures up.

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Courtesy: KReative Works

We topped it off with a Red Velvet Souffle.  It’s baked to order..so we had to wait a bit.  It was indeed worth it.

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Courtesy: KReative Works

The evenings are also filled with live jazz and blues.  After all..if the phrase ‘smothered blues’ is under your name on the awning, you have to live up to it.

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Courtesy: KReative Works

We are so pleased that Eleven Clinton is finally open..and adding to the ever-evolving Newark, NJ restaurant landscape.   You can see the website and menu by clicking here.  If you pass through Newark..plug 11 Clinton Street into your GPS and you will not be disappointed.

The Kitchen Chronicles (Kind Of)

I’m not a chef..nor do I play one on TV.

But because I work into the early part of the evenings during the week, every so often I like to step into foreign territory for me — the kitchen — to help my wife (or at least that’s what I call it) whip up a little dinner.

This past weekend was one of those weekends.

On Friday..we decided to cook up a couple of salmon steaks for dinner.   I had the idea to use the foil packet method to cook it.  So after Karen let the salmon sit overnight in Lawry’s Baja Chipotle marinade…we broke up some ramen noodles on the bottom of the foil, dropped in some shallots (a bit milder than an onion), added some lemon juice and popped the salmon on top.  We closed it up and baked it at 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.

SalmonbeforeThe salmon before cooking (Courtesy: KReative Works)

Below is the magic..and it was yummy!

SajmonafterThe salmon after (Courtesy: KReative Works)

On to Saturday.

Because of my tendency in my pre-marriage life to fire up the slow cooker on many occasions, my wife has taken to calling me “The Crock Pot King”.  I decided to try something: beer brats..in the crock pot!  I browned the brats first with some shallots and minced garlic.  Then they went into the slow cooker with two bottles of beer poured over (any brand will do).  Set it on low for about 6-7 hours (or do like I did and go on high for 3-3.5 hours.

Karen put together a nice black bean and chickpea salad and …Viola!

bratsCrock Pot Beer Brats (Courtesy: KReative Works)

I love cooking with my wife.  I don’t do it often enough.

I have learned that if I don’t pull out the crock pot more often, they may make me abdicate my throne.

We can’t have that.

A Little Bit of South..In My Mouth!

No one told me…and I’m a bit disappointed by that.

I’ve lived in Charleston, SC; Raleigh, NC and Memphis.  Each city..when it comes to food..has a taste all its own.  I’ll stack Charleston’s seafood up against anybody.   Raleigh — which is the center of a state founded on agriculture — has some of the best farm-to-table delicacies you’ll find.  Memphis: pork barbecue…period!

When my wife and I moved to the northeast, we were afraid it would be a few times a year (at best) that we would get a home-cooked meal.

Then we discovered Duke’s Southern Table..one block from where we live.

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It’s not expected in the New York area that you’ll look at a menu and see Fried Green Tomato BLT Sliders, Red Wine Ox Tail Stew and Southern Style Smothered Turkey Wings.   Take a look at the menu for yourself.

We’re Charleston natives so..naturally..I went for the Shrimp and Grits.

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The lovely Karen had the Southern Fried Pork Chop.

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Did I mention the Cornbread?

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Needless to say..we’ve found a place that gives us the taste of the South Carolina Lowcountry we’ve been looking for.

Karen described it better than I ever could..calling it “a little bit of homesickness on a plate.”

I believe she dropped the mic after that.

But she will have more to say in an upcoming post in The KReative Corner..so stay tuned

 

Let’s Hear The Health Experts Explain This.

I was at work last week when I — unfortunately — saw this story reported by the Associated Press:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Just days after becoming the world’s oldest documented person, 116-year-old Gertrude Weaver has died in Arkansas.  The Williams Funeral Home confirms that Weaver died Monday at the Silver Oaks Health and Rehabilitation Center in Camden, about 100 miles southwest of Little Rock.   Weaver became the oldest person in the world after the death of a 117-year-old Japanese woman last week, according to records kept by the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group. Weaver was born on July 4, 1898.  Weaver told reporters last week that the key to her longevity was being kind to everyone and eating her own cooking.   She also said she hoped President Barack Obama would come to her 117th birthday party in July.

It got me to thinking.

We hear so many times that African-Americans and even African descendants are either too unhealthy – or more specifically too obese – and are thus dying at a younger age.   One of the reasons we hear that is attributed to the early demise is a lifetime of eating fat-laden, sugar-loaded, salt-saturated Southern and/or ethnic food.

I went to Wikipedia (because Wikipedia knows everything) and found this little tidbit.   After Ms. Weaver passed, the seven oldest, verified people as of April 13th were:

1.  Jeralean Talley;  115 years, 325 days; born in Georgia, African-American

2.  Susannah Mushatt Jones;  115 years, 281 days; born in Alabama, African-American

3.  Emma Morano; 115 years, 135 days, lives in Italy, Italian

4.  Violet Brown; 115 years, 34 days, lives in Jamaica, Jamaican

5.  Antonia Gerena Rivera;  114 years, 329 days;  born in Puerto Rico, U.S. citizen

6.  Nabi Tajima;  114 years, 252 days, lives in Japan, Japanese

7.  Blanche Cobb;  114 years, 217 days; born in Georgia, African American

All women I might add.  Four of the top seven American; four of them of African origin.

To all you big brains out there…I issue a challenge.

Tell me why — despite the conventional wisdom — that so many minorities are defying the odds and living well beyond the century mark.

And to all you (as Wikipedia terms them) Supercentenarians out there..keep showing them that there is nothing wrong with the collard greens, hamhocks, jerk chicken, tostones, sticky rice and a nip of the hard liquor every now and again to keep the body going.

I want to be just like you folks when I grow up!

 

What Were We Thinking??!!

Every so often..my mind is jogged by things from my childhood.  Many of them are the foods I used to eat — which leaves me at times thinking:

WHY WOULD I POISON MYSELF LIKE THAT???

There are some I’ve seen in the past year or so,  White Chocolate and Peppermint Pringles and the Lays Cappuccino Potato Chips come immediately to mind.  I ran across a site recently that showed me some of the foods of days gone by.  Some I remember.  Some I don’t.  Some I wouldn’t admit if I did.  Here are just a few of the more …shall we say… unusual ones.  Special thanks to the site ‘Gone But Not Forgotten Groceries’.

1.  Kellogg;s Raisins, Rice and Rye:

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I actually remember this one from the ’80s.  I think I even ate it once.  Funny..I don’t remember the taste of whiskey with my raisins and rice in the morning.

2.  Kellogg’s OJs:

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Yep.  Just what I need in the morning.  An orange-flavored cereal mixed with milk.  That’s enough to get the stomach rumbling when you’re off to school.

3.  MicroMagic Shakes:

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Let’s see.  Take frozen concoction…place in microwave for a few moments…instant shake.  Wait..won’t that happen with any pint of ice cream you put in the microwave?

4.  Hubba Bubba Soda:

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Great as a gum…but hell no as a drink.

5.  I Hate Peas:

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Many kids did not fall for this (thank God).   Some Einstein had the inane idea to take vegetables and mix them with potatoes, shape them into sticks that looked like French Fries and expected kids to gobble them up.   Not on your life.  Thank you, kids of the past, for not letting this catch on.

By the way..there were varieties of this using corn and beets too.  I’ll pass.

And finally..

6.  Bacon Creme Oreos:

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Let this one sink in for a bit.

I know they say “Everything is better with bacon”.

No!

Just..no!   This was around for about 24 hours before they were yanked off the shelves.  And I’m sure..with good reason.

Those are just a few you can find at the main website.  Just click here.

 

 

 

Can I Offer You A Drink? Give Me Two Minutes!!

Sangria can be a complex drink.  Or..so I thought.

My lovely wife Karen and I stumbled on a recipe for Sangria that requires only three (as in 1..2..3) ingredients. The concoction has made us big fans of the drunken fruit that it leaves behind for us to devour.  Yummy!  Let’s build this concoction, shall we?

First start by putting some frozen fruit into a pitcher.  The combination doesn’t matter.  You can use the tropical stuff (mango, pineapple, etc.) if you’d like.  We used frozen mixed berries, frozen peaches and some grapes we had in the fridge.

Photo by: KReative Works Photography
Photo by: KReative Works Photography

Next if you have a World Market in your town, they sell their own brand of Italian soda.  We used the Orange, Passionfruit and Mango flavor.  They also have Blood Orange flavor as well a Pomegranate choice.  Any would work.

Photo courtesy: World Market
Photo courtesy: World Market

Last..any red table wine completes the drink.   You can drink it right then.  The frozen fruit immediately starts to chill the Sangria.  We recommend combining the parts and letting it sit in the fridge to marry the flavors of the wine, soda and fruit.

Photo by: KReative Works Photography
Photo by: KReative Works Photography

It is simply outstanding..and even better the second day once the fruit starts to break down.

For your next party..I dare you to pull this treat out of you arsenal.  Your guests will be hooked.   We’re so taken by the combo that we’ve devised our own spin on a Green Tea Sangria that we’re going to try.

We’ll let you know how that turns out.