Friday, March 20, 2009

Chocolate Gravy???

This post may come as a shock to some, an intrigue to others, or perhaps just seemingly unappetizing. The idea of chocolate gravy is a curious one that I would guess the majority of people in the world do not entertain. I must admit that I thought it was a crazy concept upon my first introduction. Then, I discovered that cocoa, flour, sugar, butter, and milk are the simple ingredients that comprise this decadent "breakfast" treat.
If you must see it to believe it, below is a picture from my latest experience of chocolate gravy and biscuits. Directions: tear your hot, homemade biscuit; place it into a shallow bowl; ladle enough warm, thick chocolate to drown the biscuit in rich sweetness; enjoy every mouthful of the buttery biscuit drenched in gooey cocoa. It may not be the "Breakfast of Champions", but it will certainly make your morning a happy one!

I always call this dish "Maw Maw's Chocolate and Biscuits" because of my best friend, Elizabeth. We have been great companions since freshman year of high school, and she is the first person who ever mentioned this southern breakfast food to me. Her grandmother, Maw Maw, is the beloved cook of the chocolate gravy. Every time I have eaten breakfast with Maw Maw, (which has been many times now), I have enjoyed her chocolate and biscuits. It is a decadent treat that I do not have the opportunity to eat often and that is always thoroughly enjoyed by all!
Maw Maw grew up on a farm in Tennessee on which her family grew their own wheat to make flour, ground corn for cornmeal, milked cows and churned butter, raised livestock, and worked their land in order to provide a means of living. Therefore, meals were hearty and heavy to provide energy for all the laborious work that had to be done. Breakfasts including chocolate gravy were a frequent occurence for her growing up. It seems so indulgent in a time when we have desk jobs and have to make time to "work out". Then, it was just a method of getting the calories necessary for daily activities on the farm.
This unique, delicious meal is so special to me mostly because Maw Maw and Elizabeth are so very special to my life! I have now shared the chocolate and biscuit experience with other wonderful friends and family throughout the years. This most recent breakfast was with Maw Maw, Elizabeth, and my sister as a farewell for my sister and me...we are traveling to Thailand next week for a month-long adventure! It was such an enjoyable morning that faded into afternoon much to quickly! I absolutely cherish the times I get to spend with people I love like these three women, so the fellowship just added to the sweetness!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Warmer weather calls for ice cream EVERYDAY!

I recently took a trip to Gainesville, Florida with my boyfriend, Jordan. We escaped the 40 degree Tennessee weather to enjoy basking in the 80 degrees of sunshine in our destination. It was glorious! The vacation also provided some MUCH needed relaxation, quality time with friends, laughter, outdoor activity, and great meals. And honestly, I really did eat ice cream everyday...

ATHENA'S Greek restaurant in St. Augustine, FL. This gorgeous town was colonized by the Spanish and is the "oldest city" in the United States! The cobblestone streets, Spanish architecture, and the original fort give St. Augustine a unique feeling of going back in time.

At Athena's, Jordan and I enjoyed a lemon-chicken soup that had an interesting tartness contrasting with a light creaminess. Also, there were hard rolls with olive oil & oregano, big Greek salads with kalamata olives & feta, stuffed grape leaves, and I ordered the spinach & feta filo pie. All very delicious!

Our waitress at Athena's was just as authentic as the cuisine. With her olive skin, striking blue eyes, and interesting accent, we could see that she was the real deal. I loved how she said oregano "ory-ganno". Were we really in Greece?...

I have decided that this is my all-time favorite smoothie bar...sorry, KEVA Juice. They make a particular smoothie that I believe was made with me in mind. It has mango, banana, blueberries, almonds, and soy...some of my FAVORITE things! Also, some of the healthiest foods for you.
I am contemplating starting a franchise in Hendersonville. It would be nice to be able to enjoy the "Health Nut" smoothie more often than when I visit Gainesville. Or perhaps absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I will just enjoy them more when I have the opportunity.

This is what I consider to be the quintessential Gainesville establishment. Envision sitting outside at a mosaic table with a big umrella shading you from the Florida sun. There are random pieces of artwork surrounding you in the gardens in which your table is set. These are not your typical pieces of art - huge 10-foot sculptures comprised of baby dolls, kitchen utensils, and other random items all held together by cement. The sign to Satchel's is a wooden structure with flowers made of cans and windmills all spinning in the breeze. There is also an old VW van with two small tables inside that serve as seating for guests!

Besides being creative, ecclectic, and interesting, Satchel's also happens to produce some of the best pizza in the world! Probably the best I have ever tasted, but I have not tasted all that many pizzas in retrospect. We had a spread of slices: ricotta cheese & spinach, brocolli & roasted red peppers & garlic & artichokes, pepperoni & garlic. Each slice starts at a low $3 and you can add whatever toppings you desire - from tempeh to meatballs and vegan cheese to anchovies. The crispy crust is chock full of oregano and garlic which adds to the overall flavor of your pizza pie!

Upon our return to Hendersonville, we were welcomed home by a shocking 40 degrees outside and a party at a friend's house. He called the event the "Bacon Explosion" in honor of the two rolls of meat he had prepared for the occasion. Basically, he took spicy Italian sausage, filled the sausage with cheese, and wrapped the logs up in braided bacon before baking them. They were crispy, meaty, bubbling rolls of "exploding" carnivore treats.
This really sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen, but in all honesty, they were tasty! And I am not even the carnivorous type usually opting for vegetables or fruits. However, when put on a hot biscuit, a thin slice of the "Bacon Explosion" is quite savory. Much of the grease had escaped during the long baking process, and the concoction was delightfully spicy. It is not something I would care to eat much of, or possibly not care to eat ever again. I am glad that I tried it and that it gave a bunch of us a reason to get together. Food = Fellowship it seems!