Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Amish Fried Tomato Slices (UPDATED!)

Bobalu's Florida Keys
One of Mom's favorite restaurants in the Florida Keys was Bobalu's Southern Cafe' on Big Coppitt Key on US Route 1. When she and my stepdad Barry lived in Key West, they would often go there for lunch. It was a favorite restaurant of mine as well when I would visit. I would always get their conch fritters and upon the urging of my Mom, it was the first place I ordered fried green tomatoes. Mom said she loved them and so did I.

Bobalu's still exists and has been open for over 20 years. It has changed owners since Mom and Barry lived in the Keys but still has the great carefree Key West atmosphere which has attracted years and years of tourists and locals. Even though this recipe is technically an Amish  one, I still thought of Mom and the Florida Keys while making it.

Now I can only surmise that Mom had chosen this recipe so she could make them on her own when she came up North to her home in Lake Wyononah. Well unfortunately she never made them for me and I honestly don't know if she made them for herself or Barry. I do know that she liked them and had intended to make them one day as I found this recipe tucked away in one of her recipe boxes.

Ingredients!
The first substitution I have made is that I used Panko bread crumbs instead of using cracker crumbs. I couldn't find any cracker crumbs at the supermarket and didn't feel like making my own. Panko seemed like an acceptable substitute. I also used butter flavored cooking spray instead of butter. I tried one batch using butter and everything fell apart, or maybe I just wasn't patient enough. I didn't want the tomatoes and coating to get bogged down with butter yet I still wanted them to have the butter flavor. The second batch came out better using the butter spray.

Final verdict:  While tasting really good, I wouldn't make this recipe again. The tomatoes and breading still kind of fell apart while sauteing them in the butter spray on medium heat. The outside also cooked too quickly. Perhaps a lower heat would've worked better. I would also try using cracker crumbs per the original recipe instead of the Panko bread crumbs. In a nutshell, I was very happy to make this recipe in honor of my Mom but ... once and done. I'd rather make the return trip to Bobalu's in the Florida Keys and have some authentic southern style fried green tomatoes!

UPDATE:
My friend Troy, who is the cook at the Lake Wynonah Lodge, told me what went wrong. Mom's found recipe down below did NOT include dredging in flour. When you fry pretty much anything, dredge the food item in flour BEFORE dipping into the egg mixture. The flour acts as a binder to help the crumb coating stick to the food! I knew this but forgot it. He also stated to salt the tomatoes prior to dredging in flour to draw out excess water. I added both points to the recipe below. I maaay just try this one again. Thanks Troy. :)


FRIED TOMATO SLICES (Amish Recipe)
As selected by Abby Deeds

2 firm almost ripe tomatoes
1 egg beaten
2 Tbsp milk
FLOUR
Amish Fried Tomato Slices
1 cup cracker crumbs
1/4 stick of butter or margarine (2 Tbsp)
salt and pepper

1. Slice Tomatoes into 3/4" slices. Salt for a couple minutes to draw out excess water.
2. Combine egg and milk
**DREDGE THE TOMATO SLICES IN FLOUR
3. Dip tomato slice into egg mixture and then into cracker crumbs
4. Melt shortening and fry coated slices
5. Brown on both sides, turning once
6. Season with salt and pepper

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mom's Potato Salad

A summer pic-nic staple is the potato salad. It seems as if everyone's family has their own recipe. As with many of the recipes that I have posted, there are just so many variations out there. My mother's recipe is a family favorite and below, you will see that I have chosen to tweak it to suit my own tastes.

I had always wanted to make potato salad and when I started this project, I was pretty excited to discover my Mom's recipe. She made this for our spring and summer pic-nics and barbecues.

While preparing the ingredients, I have such a new found respect for my mother and sister Sheryl. It's not that it's hard or difficult, it is just a bit time consuming. And you gotta love a recipe with only four basic commands: boil, chop, mix, chill!

In retrospect, it did seem like Mom was making it for hours in our 70's kitchen in my childhood home. Always chopping and mixing and then ordering us kids to get out of the kitchen. Like the previous recipe I posted for Shrimp Macaroni Salad, my sister has taken this one and perfected it.

For my variation, I changed things up a bit. I love my Mom's recipe but I wanted to leave my own imprint on it. Instead of white onion, I used red onion. I like their milder flavor. They are not as pungent as the other varieties (minus the sweet vidalia or walla walla of course). I also substituted Hellman's Olive Oil Mayo for regular mayonnaise. My Mom was a big fan of Miracle Whip. I love the mayo's out there today made with olive oil. Very flavorful.

I also opted for smaller potatoes because that's what I had on hand. In retrospect, I wouldn't use small potatoes again. I had to leave the skins on because they were so small and the skins just got in the way while cubing them. I'm surprised there wasn't a chopped off finger floating around the finished recipe.

For mustard, I remember my Mom using French's Yellow Mustard in this recipe. Ummm, I really only use that mustard for my hot dogs. LOL. I wanted something different so I chose French's Dijon Mustard. It definitely has a more tart vinegary flavor than regular yellow mustard. Much more complex flavor which added nicely to giving the potato salad. It definitely gave it more depth.

Lastly, the pickles. I searched the fridge for a jar. I always have them on hand and I had none! I really wanted to get the recipe completed that night so I went from the fridge to the pantry in search of a jar. Lo and behold, I found a just purchased jar of  Vlasic Bold and Spicy Sweet Chipotle Pickles, I thought to myself, why not? After all, I switched up the mustard. Why not give a little bit more kick in flavor with some sweet pickles with heat? I noticed a flavor kick but it wasn't overwhelming at all. The mayo tempered any heat.

Mom's original recipe appears below. Searches can be made online for other variations that you, as the home chef, can try. I'll let my sister Sheryl make the original one perfectly while I will continue to mix it up a bit!



Mom's Potato Salad served in John's Mom's Serving Dish from the 50's
MOM'S POTATO SALAD
By Abby Deeds

Serves 6
1 cup mayo
1 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
4 cup cubed cooked potatoes
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped pickles

1. Combine mayo, mustard, celery seed, salt and pepper. Mix well.
2. Add potatoes, eggs, onion, celery, and pickles. Mix and chill.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Evolution of the Word Bitch

This is a great article from the April 2015 issue of The Atlantic entitled "Meet the New Bitch" by writer Britt Peterson about the origins of the word "bitch." I really enjoyed it and wanted to share. It makes you think of how words lose old meanings and gain new ones over time.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/04/meet-the-new-bitch/386246/

The biggest example that I can think of is the word "awful". This word once referred to the inspiration of awe, fear or wonder. These days, it refers to something so horrible or unpleasant. How it got from one to the other beats me. I didn't get that far. LOL

Another word that I remember which once meant something else is the word "myriad." I specifically remember this word from my SAT vocab study courses back in high school. It's a noun meaning a great number but it once meant 10,000 of something, such as a myriad of troops.

So the next time you are saying something, realize that it once may have meant something else or had an entirely difference connotation!