Tag Archives: fourth of july

Reader Questions: Your Kitchen Dilemmas, Solved

Gentle Readers, hopefully you’re busily slathering on SPF and not actually reading this, or at the very least you’re joining me after a day full of red, white, and blue food. Regardless, we shall endeavor to answer 3 reader questions. Here we go, in no particular order.

July 4th Cupcakes (not made by me, definitely from a box)

July 4th Cupcakes (not made by me, definitely from a box)

1. Can you cook a large batch of grits in advance?

Yes, but only as baked grits. Unfortunately, grits change texture as they sit, so large or small batch, if you’re looking for the traditional grits texture we all know and love (sorry, moment of personal reverie there), you have to make them and serve them in fairly short order. The good people of Waffle House can keep the pot going, but they have magical powers.

Baked grits, particularly baked cheese grits, are a great alternative. They can be made in advance, portioned evenly to serve a crowd, and reheated with ease. I don’t have a favorite recipe for this, so I’m heading into the test kitchen to work on one. Great question, thank you for asking!

Breakfast for Dinner: I almost forgot, I bought more grits too.

Breakfast for Dinner: Featuring grits!

2. Are brownies from a box delicious?

This one’s easy: Yes. Admittedly, if I can only choose a handful of desserts to eat forever, brownies would be on the short list. Brownie box mixes are easily doctored (buy the plainest one, and add your own mix-ins). Ideas include: chopped up leftover candy (there’s always some around the house), toasted nuts, a spoonful or so of strong brewed coffee, a teaspoon of cocoa powder, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, coconut and toasted almonds, melted peanut butter swirled in, and I digress. I’m in a bit of a dream state right now.

Can these brownies be saved?

Can these brownies be saved? (Yes, but not for long!)

3. Should I get a new grill?

I’m wrestling with this one myself. I have had a gas grill for years, but I find the maintenance and upkeep to be painful. The ease of use is great, but I’m thinking it may be time to jump to the less expensive and simpler piece of equipment, the charcoal grill. In my former life, I had the benefit of assisting with a grilling community site, and when I purchase, it will be a simple Weber kettle grill.

Signs you need a new grill: yours is sputtering or otherwise shooting off more fireworks than a professional display, there are holes in it, chunks of your grill drop into your food while grilling.

Pork Barbecue (as if there's more than one in NC) Sandwich from Pik-N-Pig, Winner!

Pork Barbecue (as if there’s more than one in NC) Sandwich from Pik-N-Pig, Winner!

What are you cooking up for the 4th? Post a comment below! And as always, please feel free to email, Tweet, or post a comment with any and all questions.

Send your red, white, and blue foods to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up on Friday, Mayo Controversy: Duke’s vs Hellmann’s (Miracle Whip need not apply).

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Filed under Kitchen Philosophy

Weekly Menus: July 4th Edition (week of 7/1/2012)

Gentle Readers, so this week we shall break tradition at The Practical Cook. Yes, there are so many places to go to find recipes for red, white, and blue food. If that’s your quest, I encourage you to go forth and prosper. If you have a minute and a cup of coffee, let me tell you my strategy.

Celebrate your independence from hothouse tomatoes! Bring on summer!

Celebrate your independence from hothouse tomatoes! Bring on summer!

I plan to buy the following this week:
trash bags, a gallon of milk, dishwashing detergent

I am putting the the CSA on hold and leaving much to chance. There will be some field research conducted at an undisclosed location. I plan to file reports. Yes, it is time to take a break for a week! I am going to eat picnics, put myself in the hands of friends for guidance, and celebrate my culinary independence.

Chocolate with Ancho Chile Powder FTW! It was like fireworks in my mouth.

Chocolate with Ancho Chile Powder FTW! It was like fireworks in my mouth.

One of the things I love about food and being a food blogger, there are no borders. I get to chitchat about my favorite topic with colleagues (more guest posts coming from the world of high-tech), and pastry chefs in bars (new idea borrowed from her, coffee ice cream with candied bacon, the chocolate above is her brilliance), and even while I have a beauty moment (step by step instructions on making Pho and the differences in Vietnamese food culture and American food culture).

Here’s my July 4th Weekly Menu Guidelines:

1. Watermelon. Sliced, chunked, in a salad. Whatever. Best eaten outside. As was the below, to celebrate the launch of The Local Palate, a new regional food and culture magazine. It was inspiring to be amongst my Southern foodies, fan in hand.

Watermelon Salad with Feta from Fearrington House.

Watermelon Salad with Feta from Fearrington House.

2. Grill out. Do I need to elaborate? This picture of the grilled burrito takes me to a happy happy place.

Chicken Paqueta (aka Grilled Chicken Burrito)

Chicken Paqueta (aka Grilled Chicken Burrito)

3. Dine al fresco when possible. That’s fancy for outdoors.

Even macarons taste better outside.

Even macarons taste better outside.

4. All coffee will be iced.

Iced coffee is my iced tea. Not sweet, never sweet.

Iced coffee is my iced tea. Not sweet, never sweet.

5. Tomato Sandwiches.

My first tomato sandwich of the season. Southern bliss.

My first tomato sandwich of the season. Southern bliss.

Are you declaring freedom from the kitchen? Post a comment below, or Tweet my way. I will be mobile, remote, and ready to field questions for Wednesday!

Send your queries, questions, and challenges to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Up on Wednesday, Reader Questions Answered!

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Filed under Weekly Menus