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slow cooker

Southern Comfort for Strength

Southern Comfort for Strength

My absolute winter favorite is collard greens. I love eating them for their flavor but I love them even more for the irony that I associate with it. You see, for me, collard green is a distinctive Southern comfort. I don't get it often because I want to perpetuate the myth of its luxury that I have created for myself.  When I do, I inevitably slow cook it, overall hours, or even days, drawing out the flavors into the dish and building up the anticipation of that climactic first taste.

This dish here I cooked for 24 hours. No, that is not an exaggeration. My sincere gratitude to whoever invented the slow cooker. It is a cook's best companion any time of the year, but, particularly in winter. It is cheap, energy efficient and versatile. And, it is perfect for cooking collard greens. Your southern mama may not approve of this new fangled device but give her a taste of this Ham Hock Cured Collard Greens and I'll bet she will be wanting one of them cookers herself!

Read more and find out the story of this dish.

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Brunswick Stew Daring Cooks April 2010

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The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

This is indeed my first "make" of the month! I read this quote on Deeba's blog recently - "No man needs a vacation so much as the person who has just had one." by Elbert Hubbard. I don't think anything captures the essence of my feelings since I came back from Australia as that one-liner. Oh! Imagine, if only we actually did that! Life would be such perfection. No house cleaning, laundry, bill paying etc... just one happy discovery after another!

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Anyway (as the dream mists clear, I took off on a fantastic journey there....), since reality is no illusion and I don't have a trust fund, I find myself laboring under a heavy jetlag exacerbated by my sleeping through an entire day and all of 20 hours at a stretch and then staying awake unable to snooze for yet another 20 hour stretch. In my defense, it was completely accidental and I usually am not this badly affected.

**{Perhaps having spent the 9th hour of the day of April 6 in Sydney and then, once again in LA may have added to my disorientation??!!}**

So, my point is that I am rather glad for the choice of dish for this month's challenge :). It is a comforting dish that was fabulously easy to put together. I love stews in general; post-consumption contentment is such a selling point! I typically make my stews in a slow cooker. So, I thought I should give the Brunswick kid a fair treatment and made this stew in the slow cooker as well, which, rather drastically simplified the process. :-)

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As to ingredients, I used chicken as the main protein with potatoes, carrots, corn adn lima beans pulling the vegetable weight. I also crumbled up the crisp, rendered bacon. For garnish, I used apple vinegar pickled red onions, basil and fresh parmesan.

BTW, while I was away this city had magically transformed into a gorgeous place full of good cheer and warm (and at times too warm) welcome. I know, that the magic fairy responsible for this metamorphosis goes by the name "Spring" and I cannot tell you how happy she makes me feel (despite all the points in para above). The park, and a few lucky streets, are blooming with gorgeous cherry blossoms and tulips have been planted wherever they could be (see, tax dollars at work).

I even managed to get out for a walk, a jog and a few clicks while the stew was cooking away slowly. We returned for a sumptious and satisfying dinner!

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Brunswick Stew

** I sort of used the short version, which, I include here. If you are using a slow cooker like me, you can render the bacon and reserve; brown the chicken pieces in the fat; arrange all the ingredients in the cooker and wait for the magic! **

Brunswick Stew recipe from the Callaway, Va Ruritan Club, served yearly at the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival in Ferrum, Va.

Serves about 10

2 ½ lb TOTAL diced stewed chicken, turkey, and ham, with broth - yes, all three meats
3 medium diced potatoes
2 medium ripe crushed tomatoes
2 medium diced onions
3 cups/ 689.76 grams / 24.228oz frozen corn
1 ½ cups / 344.88 grams / 12.114oz frozen lima beans
4-5 strips crumbled bacon
½ stick / 4 tablespoons / ¼ cup / 56.94 grams / 2oz of butter
1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / .5 oz sugar
1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / .5 oz ‘Poultry Seasoning’
Dash of red pepper
2 diced carrots (optional)
Tomato juice

In large stock pot or Dutch Oven, mix all ingredients, heat until bubbly and hot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomato juice as desired. Cook until all vegetables are tender. Serve hot.

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