Life. Revelation. Expectation. Disappointment. Fulfillment. Tears. Inspiration. Reality. Peace. Torture. Clarity. Love. These are some of the words I think of. I find they go hand in hand with each moment that fills the days we are given. They are alive, rhythmically shifting beneath a cover of organization, planning, and perceived control. The kind of control we all believe we have. And yet every bit of life is fragile beyond comprehension.
That's why memories and the moment are so profound. What will we make of life and the time we have left?
I was once asked if I had a “sense” of how many years I would live. Whether it is naïve or not, I have always believed it would be at least 100 years. It is a reasonable assumption since the life span of dozens on my ancestors has been well over the age of 90 over the last 300 hundred years. So after turning 60 this year, I can expect 40 more years of “life.”
What can I do to make it what I want it?
These 3 salads + 9 more recipes below = twelve mouth-watering downloads!
Ask a physicist about control. It is the most false claim of all. Called the “Observer Effect.” In physics, the observer effect is the theory that simply observing a situation or phenomenon necessarily changes that phenomenon.
Let me explain using a food metaphor: I want to see how my cake is faring during a bake. I open the oven door and … boom! I have changed the environment. So to discover what the cake was at the time I was curious is impossible, since I opened the oven door and shifted everything. But then, that's part of the dance, yes?
I have always said that food and your interaction with it is THE metaphor for life. Like a successful soufflé, you only know elation the second you take it out of the oven. And you only get to enjoy the show for about 5 minutes. Then, all of that work begins to deflate into a cavern of lost excitement leaving only the exquisiteness of the memory. So you better enjoy the moment.
I find that the way I cook changes from day to day, month to month, and circumstance to circumstance. We have moved twice since I started this blog. So my comfort zone of oven, lighting, and surroundings has changed drastically. The size of my kitchen has changed. My health has changed. And my countertop space has shrunken. This last year I have done more recipe development but less posting. More refining of technique but less concentration on hashtags or followers.
But that doesn’t matter. I still have a passion for all of it. I still feel like I can answer all of life’s questions during cooking. And I have been able to have so many, many, many more new friends around my table to nourish. And that makes life perfect for me.
Philosophy lesson is over. Now it is time to browse through and enjoy TWELVE, yes that is TWELVE new recipes. Lots of comfort food with my twist, a tasty side dish, several salads, and one terrific dessert.
#1 RECIPE: Slow Cooker Citrus Carnitas Burritos
My husbands' eyes always light up when he smells the pork slowly simmering in the crock pot since he knows his favorite burritos are on their way. The addition of lime and orange provide the perfect backdrop for cheese, and enchilada sauce, along with a cold margarita!
3 lbs. pork shoulder roast trimmed and cut into large chunks about 3” around
About 3 C organic apple cider*
2 clementines (can use small oranges) quartered
1 lime quartered
1 lime sliced for garnish
1/3 c large diced sweet onion
4 medium cloves garlic rough chopped
2 t kosher salt
1 t black pepper
1/2 t coriander
1/2 t good paprika
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2-3 T oil
1 small can Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce
1 C cheddar cheese grated
Handful fresh chopped cilantro
6 small flour tortillas slightly warmed
Place meat, onion, citrus, and seasonings in slow cooker (Crock Pot). Toss all with a little oil to cover.
Cover with organic apple cider up to a level just below ingredients but not totally covering. Cook on low 7 hours. When done remove citrus, take out meat reserving juice and shred meat with fork. Put shredded meat back in juices. Heat small can of Old El Paso red enchilada sauce.
To assemble place large amount of shredded meat in center of tortilla. (Use tongs to remove meat and let it drip so meat isn’t full of juice. Ladle several T of heated red sauce on top of meat. Roll up. Put more enchilada sauce on top, then top with extra sharp cheddar cheese. Put under broiler until bubbly. Serve with a slice of lime and cilantro.
#2 RECIPE: Baked Pineapple Chicken Meatballs
I feel the hint of cool weather approaching. Green leaves, once firmly affixed to branches heavy with the canopy of summer, have begun to gather in small but growing, amber piles. I don’t mind it, really. I love being outside in late August, and it makes me appreciate the beauty of the Carolinas and the promise of autumn. Gone is the heavy mugginess so evident just this last week, making cooking in my kitchen that much more pleasant.
After arriving and saying hello to my friends at Evans Coghill Homes and touring their amazing homes (I want one of the Villas!), I unhinge my bike, throw my lunch across my shoulders and ride slowly towards the river. Passing tree lined streets dotted with colorful cottages, and charming front porches, I then wave at my fellow pedalers -- those more ardent in their cycling passion than myself who are racing away at the adjacent and world-class Giordana Velodrome -- and settle in for lunch beside the river. The spot I choose is in the middle of the budding Town Center parcel. Among other exciting additions it will feature its own micro-brewery, a YMCA, shopping, dining and enhanced open spaces.
Spreading out a blanket and noshing on some carrot sticks and asparagus, my first course is a nod to cyclers everywhere. Check out my BMX-CELLENT SPIRAL PASTA SALAD WITH CHICKEN AND ORANGE GINGER DRESSING which pays homage to the Novant BMX Supercross Track soon to open here in Riverwalk. Using ready-made and fresh ingredients, this colorful salad is packed with protein and vegetables, and surprises with a kick of chili flakes and the heady satisfaction of ginger and orange. Replacing the usual sandwich fare as the centerpiece, this salad comes together in a flash, and qualifies easily for one of my #fabin40 recipes. It goes great with chips, apples, even holding its own next to your favorite baked beans, or a generous slice of watermelon. “This salad will taste even better tomorrow!” I think, as I wipe the last vestiges off my chin, and place the leftovers in my back pack.
I’m now ready for something sweet, and inspiration is only a few yards away. Watching the currents in the bend in the river swirl around the base of aging trees, I see the brightly colored kayaks come into view, paddling peacefully along the banks of the Catawba just inches from my traveling lunch. Warm and soothing, the muddy waters urge me on to dessert. My first bite of my CATAWBA INSPIRED DARK CHOCOLATE, CREAM CHEESE AND CARAMEL SWIRL PARFAIT wows with the dizzying satisfaction that only chocolate provides. Crowned with a caramel filled Ghirardelli wafer planted in the middle of swirling dark chocolate ganache, I dig deep to get a spoonful of caramel, and sweetened cream cheese in one, decadent bite. These are easy to make in advance and keep in the fridge, covered until you put them into your cooler. Yeah, I know. I’ll have to paddle a few hundred miles to mitigate the calories, but it’s chocolate, caramel, and cream cheese for heaven’s sake! Plus, I need energy for the hike I have planned later, right?
Speaking of hiking, the Carolina Thread Trail is another huge amenity here in Rock Hill. Eventually it will connect 15 communities and over 2.3 million citizens, and features miles of meandering pathways. Not to mention a way to get your pulse respectably up to speed. I even created a beautiful, take-along snack for the trek. My CAROLINA THREAD CASHEW CURRANT TRAIL MIX is pumped up in flavor with the addition of crunchy organic raw sugar, and earthy cinnamon. White chocolate makes it rich, golden raisins make it pretty, and peanuts make it familiar. I declare! Pack some in your pocket next time you sport those hiking shoes and you won’t regret it.
“Hey! You want someone company?” A low voice chants from behind, interrupting my slow attempt to gather my belongings and head for home. As I turn to identify the callers, I see four bikers, 10-speeds in tow, headed my way for a rest after 30 miles or so at the track.
“Sure! Come on down!” I shout. And turning to my leftovers, I know just what to offer them on this lazy, comforting, delicious, No-Labor Day.
#caminecooks #riverwalkpicnic #catawbainspired #fabin40 #caminewrites #c-and-company #evanscoghillhomes
I guess I gravitated to the evil choice first. Lucky you.
Speaking of tradition, we just returned from a short trip to see my best friend in Indiana, reconnecting with friends and gorging on a plethora of tastes and textures. Her daughter, Kaitylyn, is now also a budding cook, her 12 years belying her maturity and intuition for things. A lot of her passion for food has come from her grandma, Mary Ann who spent nearly all her time during our visit, hunched over the stove lovingly wrapping savory golumpkis, rolling dozens of veal meatballs, and even cooking one of my husband's childhood favorites, the beloved Chrusciki (a fried pastry dough that is served covered, and I do mean covered, with powdered sugar). I share the recipe and the moments with you here today because we all come from something, and the way to find that connection is surely through the recipes and foods we love.
Chruscikis (Polish Crullers)
½ pint sour cream
9 egg yolks
4 T sugar
Pinch of salt
½ t vanilla
3 C flour
Powdered sugar for sprinkling
Beat yolks, add sugar, salt and vanilla. Add sour cream and mix. Add flour all at once. Knead dough, and then let rest for at least 10 minutes before rolling out. Roll out to 1/8 inch thick or less, making VERY thin so that when they cook there is a bit of a snap when you bite them. Slice into 1 and a half inch by 5 inch strips. Invert one end and pull through the hole. Lay on wax paper. Preheat a pan with at least 2 inches of hot oil. Add the dough, cooking only a few at a time so that each can roll and cook quickly in the hot oil. Turn over after a minute or so and cook on the other side. Take out and place on paper towels. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar. Store out, in a bowl.
Yeah, you're saying, "whine, whine, whine. What could be so hard about making pizza." Well, nothing is hard, really, but there are a few details here and there that are rites of passage. And last night, because of two wonderful friends and a husband who agreed to do the dishes, we have a couple of stories to tell and photos to share.
We started this a few months ago; gathering innocently enough to make a slew of Turkish recipes courtesy Margaret Rossetti and her recent trip to the cradle of civilization, and now we're hooked on mastering some of the simple but important culinary techniques we haven't, well, mastered. A pizza seemed like a tame conquest. But wait until you scatter a bit of corn meal on a 500 degree pizza stone, without protective eye wear, and you will get a feeling for the ups and downs of dough, determination, and deliciousness.
It started with the basics: bring dough (some from Fresh Market, some from Trader Joe's...gotta say Fresh Market's dough is hand's down easier to work with and roll out), and the fresh fixings of our choice. When you're cooking at Margaret's there is no, "good enough." So our pizza sauce, olive oil, and accoutrements including the pizza peels, were all top notch. I encourage you not to skimp on any of these details.
As I arrived with my bread board and my grandmother's rolling pin in hand, we wasted no time before beginning on appetizers. Delving into a lovely group of zucchini, we began by slicing them lengthwise, then grilling, then cooling them, and rolling them up with a filling of feta, olive oil, lemon and fresh herbs. We topped them with lemon zest and ate them for energy. (You'll see the photos and I will get a copy of the recipe to acknowledge and share). It was a good way to warm up to the main course.
Now preparing the toppings is just plain fun. From funky mushrooms to whole milk mozzarella, to spinach and herbs from the garden and gigantic summer tomatoes, all that was missing was a bit of Italian music and local red wine. (We quickly found a CD with a bit of Andrea Bocelli so all was not lost!) Even rolling out the dough was pretty easy. We topped it with a layer of olive oil and a layer of the finest pizza sauce and then stacked away with all the pretty stuff. You can omit the sauce and add ANY TOPPING YOU WOULD LIKE. We especially moaned with pleasure over the addition of macerated fresh garlic. Now that is the BOMB.
However, the fun waned a bit when it was time to cook them. Why? Well, when it was time to schlep our pies into the oven, we underestimated how tricky it is to slide it off the peel or the board and into the oven. (We later learned that you use corn meal like water when it comes to greasing the pathway. We got the hang of it by the 4th pie!) Oh well. That's when you get out the pizza cutter and simple pre-slice and serve. No one need know you inverted a good half of the first pie onto the stone nearly blinding us with smoke and enlisting a "what's burning?" from the peanut gallery in the next room. "Everything is fine, drink your wine." we shouted, and sure enough, after 9 to 12 minutes we were in cheesy, herby, tomatoey, meaty and crusty heaven.
WINE: Just so you know, we served it with a Layer Cake Primitivo Zinfandel. Transcendent...
Watch my short video about getting comfy in the kitchen.
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.
Want to get spontaneous with me? It's pretty exciting. Let's all find out what happens when, "I Feel Like Cooking."
12 Winter Recipes
Apple Butter Walnut Spice Cookies
Apple Rice Salad
Artichoke Stuffed Chicken
Bad Experiments With Food
Bing Cherry Cookies
Bourbon Bread Pudding
Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Brown Sugar Chicken
Brown Sugar Pork Ribs
Cantaloupe And Oranges
Cheese Stuffed Chicken
Coffee Chili Steak Rub
Cognac Roasted Veggies
Cold Vegetable Salad
Cooking With Friends
Cooking With Wine
Cranberry Chocolate Cookies
Creamy Zucchini Soup
Enchilada Hand Pies
Fire Roasted Tomatoes
Fried Green Tomatoes
Granny Smith Apples
Grapefruit Pear Slaw
Herb Butter Roasted Chicken
Herbs De Provence
Lake Norman Magazine
Lemon Cream Sauce
Lemon Crumble Bars
Lime Ginger Honey Syrup
Maple Bourbon Plum Sauce
Mini Pepper Poppers
Mint Caper Salsa
Nectarine Spice Cake
No Bake Cookies
Orange Cheesecake Squares
Orange Rosemary Glazed Tri-color Carrots
Paula Deen Quick Rolls
Peanut Bean Sprout Fried Rice
Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut Butter Mousse
Pesto Mashed Potatoes
Pork Or Chicken Salad
Pork Ramen Stir Fry
Port Wine Reduction
Pumpkin Buttermilk Cake
Pumpkin Buttermilk Glaze
Purple Sweet Potatoes
Radish Fennel Salad
Rice-a-roni Beef Soup
Roasted Beet Salad
Rules For Dieting
Slow Roasted Chicken
Sour Cream Raisin Pie
Southern Fried Chicken
Speculoos Cookie Butter
Spicy Orange Chicken
Stuffed Puff Pastry
Sweetened Condensed Milk
Sweet Pickle Vinaigrette
Sweet Potato Pancake
Thai Peanut Sauce
Turkey And Ground Beef
Twisted Puff Pastry Rounds
White Wine Cream Sauce
Yellow Split Peas