We make this vegetarian gluten free gravy every thanksgiving as a second gravy option because everyone needs gravy on their mashed potatoes and stuffing for Thanksgiving. I use vegetable broth instead of turkey broth and leave out the tarragon because I don’t like tarragon.
Mixed Mushroom and Tarragon Gravy
Bon Appetit – 2010
2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms (PJH: I use just 1/2 – 1 ounce as they are so pricey)
4 1/4 cups Ultimate Turkey Stock or low-salt chicken broth, divided (PJH: I use vegetarian broth to keep in vegetarian)
1/2 cup crème fraîche
5 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
Place dried porcini in large bowl. Pour 2 cups boiling water over. Let stand until soft, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Using slotted spoon, transfer porcini to small bowl. Cool porcini, then chop. Pour porcini soaking liquid into medium bowl, leaving sediment behind.
Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic. Stir 15 seconds. Add fresh mushrooms, thyme, and sage. Sauté until mushrooms are tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to bowl. Add vermouth to skillet; boil 3 minutes, scraping up browned bits. Add 4 cups stock, fresh-mushroom mixture, porcini, and porcini liquid. Boil 10 minutes. Whisk in crème fraîche. Stir 1/4 cup stock and cornstarch in bowl to dissolve; mix into gravy. Cook until gravy coats spoon, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Perfect, flavorful and moist chickens every time. We always do two chickens with one recipe of brine and one recipe of fruit/veg on our Weber smokey mountain smoker for 4ish hours at 250 degrees (and throw some sausages on the second shelf for last two hours). Definitely do the overnight brine. The trimmings and carcass make great smokey stock for soup.
Mix all of the ingredients together in whatever container is needed for the amount of meat you have. (PJH: two Costco chickens brined in big huge stock pot)
Add your meat and don’t forget it MUST be refrigerated. You can brine for a few hours, overnight, or for several days!
When you remove your meat from the brine, thoroughly rinse with cool water. Pat dry and your meat is ready for spices/rubs and off you go!
1. Brine the chicken – overnight if possible.
2. Chop the lemon, onion, apple and garlic cloves. Throw them in a bowl and mix together with salt, pepper and olive oil. Set aside.
3. Take your chicken out of the brine and rinse with cool water. Set on a tray. Now take the mixture you just made and stuff it inside the chicken.
4. Rub olive oil all over your bird. This will help give it a nice golden brown color. Then sprinkle salt and pepper all over, and a light dusting of paprika for color.
5. Set up your grill for indirect cooking (or use your smoker).
6. Place your bird away from the heat, and throw a bunch of wood on your coals. Stick with fruit wood – apple is a good pairing with chicken. Assuming your grill holds its temp around 250, and depending on the weight, your chicken will cook for 3 – 5 hours. You want an internal temperature in the leg of 170. If the bird is bigger or your heat is lower, it will take longer to reach this temperature.
7. Let the chicken rest for at least 20 minutes before pulling apart or slicing.
Courtney and I both took a needed day off for a long weekend adventure. We have been casually biking the Ohio and Erie towpath trail for the past two years. The only part we had left was the very southern end which is almost an hour and a half drive away. So we decided to make a weekend of it, find a nice place to stay and knock it all off at once. The furnace people showed up right at 8:00AM as scheduled for boiler maintenance and were gone by 9:00 and we hit the road. We stopped at the new Whole Foods that just opened up on Harvard/271 and stocked up with lots of goodies. Thank goodness it’s not closer or it would drive us to the poor house. We then kept driving south for a visit to Stan Hywett Hall in Akron – another item on our bucket list that we’ve always wanted to do but haven’t. Stan Hywett Hall was built in 1911 by F.A. Seiberling, founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. It was much bigger and nicer than we expected. It’s actually the 6th largest residence in the US. We went on a guided tour of the house that took about and hour and a half and then spent another hour wandering through the large well kept gardens. The house and grounds have been kept in great shape. Everything in the house is original to the family and the gardens are beautiful. We spent way more time than expected at Stan Hywett so we adjusted our plans on the fly, eating our Whole Foods sushi in the car instead of going out to lunch as planned. We wanted to get a loop in on the trail and a rain storm was forecasted to blow in around 5:00PM. We got to the trailhead in Clinton, OH where we previously left off and biked for about 20 miles. It was a hot and humid day – hopefully the last one – so we sweated like pigs but were happy to be on the towpath. We got to our Airbnb around 5:00PM in the middle of nowhere Navarre, OH and were very happy with our great little house. It was a teeny little stone house build in 1846 that has been beautifully restored. Original wood beams, great open floor plans. Really nice. Also just $80/night and 1 block from the towpath. Perfect. Check it out. We unpacked, took a shower, sat on the great front porch, drank (too much) wine, watched the storm roll in and watched the pick up trucks roll by. We were enjoying the house too much so again altered our well though out plans and blew off going out to dinner and ordered a pizza and played scrabble. Perfect night.
Saturday, September 22nd, 2018
After morning chilling and a leisurely breakfast we were on the towpath by 9:30AM to knock out our largest stretch from Navarre to Bolivar to Zoar to the anticlimactic end of the trail on OH Route 800. 30 miles total – the longest we’ve biked in one stretch. It was way cooler out after the storm which made it much more pleasant. We stopped on the loop back at Bolivar for lunch at a place called Sublime Smoke Fine BBQ and Craft Brew. It turned out to be a great place. We each had a beer, Courtney had a brisket sandwich and I had the pulled pork sandwich and we split some collard greens and Mac and cheese. All very good. We hit the trail again and rode back with no troubles. After relaxing for awhile we drove up to Gervasi Vinyard for dinner. A 30 minute drive up to Canton. We had a nice dinner in their dining room reconfigured from an old barn. We had wine flights, had some more wine for dinner and then a nice meal. They had a great patio that would be nice in warm weather and beautiful grounds. We headed back to Navarre and fell asleep watching a movie.
Sunday, September 23rd, 2018
We had about 20 miles left of biking to complete today. We did the first 10 from the house in the morning. We packed up, said goodbye to the house and then drove to the trailhead to finish off our last 10 miles. Hurray all done. We got a hold of Claire and Corey and met them for lunch at Mustard Seed Cafe in Akron. It was nice to catch up with them and had a nice meal listening to the duo that was playing good songs in the restaurant. We hit the road and made it home in the early afternoon.
Nothing better with good fresh corn. I like this recipe that we made recently with some local Ohio Corn
4ears of corn(or 4 cups / 750g / 1.5 lb frozen or canned corn, drained)
250 g / 8 oz bacon, chopped
2 tbsp / 30 g butter(use 3 tbsp if bacon is lean)
1garlic clove, minced
1small onion, diced (or half large onion) (yellow, brown or white)
5 tbsp / 60gflour
2cupschicken broth, low sodium preferred
3cupsmilk(I used skim milk and it was fine)
600 g / 1.2 lb potatoes, cut into 1 cm / 2/5″ cubes (about 2 large)
2sprigs of thyme OR 1 tsp dried thyme
3/4 cup / 185 mlcream
3/4 cupshallots, green part finely sliced (green onions / scallions)
Salt and finely ground pepper to taste
Cut the corn off the cob. Place a small ramekin in a large bowl. Place corn on the ramekin then cut the corn off. Keep naked cobs.
Place 1 tsp butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until golden. Use a slotted spoon to remove onto a paper towel lined plate. Leave fat in pot.
Lower heat to medium high. Add 2 tbsp butter, once melted, add garlic and onion. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes until onion is translucent.
Add flour and mix it in. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add broth, milk, potatoes, thyme and bay leaf. Break naked cobs into 2 or 3 and add into the liquid. Put the lid on and simmer for 25 minutes (adjust heat so it’s simmering energetically but not bubbling like crazy or super gently).
Remove lid, remove corn cobs. Add corn and cook for 5 minutes or until cooked to your taste.
Stir through cream and 3/4 of the bacon and shallots. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with remaining bacon and shallots.
Grace is doing a twelve week internship at Boyd Gaming in Las Vegas so Courtney and I went to visit her for a long weekend of fun and frivolity. We worked all day and caught the rapid to the airport to take an early evening flight. We got to Vegas with no problems and Grace picked us up and drove us to our hotel, the Mirage. We forced ourselves to stay up to 11:00PM Pacific time by walking around for a bit and having a drink in one of the many bars in the hotel.
Thursday, July 12th, 2018
We slept pretty well and didn’t end up getting up too early. We hit the Mirage buffet around 8:00AM as it was included in the good deal we got for the weekend. We don’t have much experience with buffets but this one sure seems awfully nice. Everything we had was great – except the coffee,(No it was really bad-cbh) but I’m a snob. I had fruit, cinnamon rolls, banana Nutella pancakes, bacon, pork belly, tamales on and on. Just a little bit of each but it was a great meal. We then took to the strip for a nice morning stroll taking in the sites: north past Treasure Island and then walked around inside the Wynn. Went back to the hotel and were at the pool by 10:30. The pool was awesome with lots of palm trees, waterfalls and Pina coladas. We had a lunch reservation at a place we wanted to go to but bagged it as we were enjoying lazing by the pool. We opted for a mid day happy hour meal later on instead. After a short siesta we hit the pavement again walking through the humongous Caesar’s palace and then looped back to the Venetian where we were meeting Grace. We had drinks and really good food at Canonita where Grace and her friend Julie eventually met us. We took off for the Mirage afterwards as we had tickets for Cirque De Soleil’s LOVE. I have been wanting to go to this show for years and years and was so excited to finally be able to go. It was great. The staging, acrobatics, lighting, music and everything was amazing. After the show we grabbed a daiquiri for the road and joined the throngs on the strip. We walked through the Bellagio, watched the fountains a couple of times and ended up back at the Mirage having pancakes for a late night meal. We said goodbye to Grace who lyfted back to her place and quickly crashed after a long day.
Friday, July 13th, 2018
We slept really well and were quickly getting acclimated to west coast time. We hit the buffet again for another breakfast feast and then walked some it off checking out other spots. We liked the Linq Promenade which was pretty new and found a nice store where we bought a few things. We ubered out to the Orleans – a casino off the strip- where Grace’s office was. Grace showed us around, introduced us to her colleagues and we had lunch at a place there with Grace and Julie. Grace was able to get the afternoon off so we went back to the UNLV dorm where she was living to get a few things and then headed back to the Mirage to spend the afternoon at the pool like good Las Vegas tourists. The pool was hopping but we managed to get a spot and had a good time cooling off in the pool, people watching and drinking too many pool drinks. We ubered over to Fremont street. We had tickets to see magician Mike Hammer at the Four Queens. It was fun. 50% magic and 50% comedian. He was really good though. Grace got pulled up to the stage for one of the tricks. After the show, we took in the crazy sights on Fremont street– people zip lining overhead, street performers, classy tourists… We checked out the Container Park, an area with repurposed containers turned into small shops, restaurants and bars. We sat outside at one of the bars. I had a very good Manhattan while we listened to a good Indigo Girls sort of band. We then went a couple blocks down town and had dinner at Carson Kitchen and a great late night meal. We sat on their roof top patio with the rest of the hipsters and split tempura green beans, gyro tacos, a butter burger and tater tots. We walked back down Fremont Street and each headed back to our separate places after a fun night.
Saturday, July 14th, 2018
We slept in past 8:00AM Vegas time. We got our stuff packed up and then headed down to the breakfast buffet which turned out to be a brunch buffet since it was Saturday and ended up having even more food… shrimp, prime rib, Chinese food, good desserts… can get used to this life. We checked out around 10:30 and rented a car to go exploring. We picked up Grace and headed to Mount Charleston – state park about an hour drive west of Las Vegas. It was interesting to see how built out Las Vegas is getting and then it abruptly ends at the mountains. The mountains were beautiful. The elevation was pretty up there. We stopped at the welcome center in the park and soaked in the views and then went on about an hour hike up up up the mountain that was supposed to end at a waterfall but we never were able to find the waterfall. It was fun to see something different – and so different than Las Vegas. The elevation made the hike tougher than we expected. We drove back to Las Vegas and went to Town Square Park – an outdoor mall place – and had late lunch/early dinner at Yard House – a sports bar with lots of beer choices. It was nice to get out of the heat as it was super hot out.–it felt like we were standing in front of an open oven. We still had some time to kill before we had to get to the airport so we did the Vegas thing and went to the Hooter’s casino and played blackjack for an hour. The only gambling we did all weekend except for 15 minutes before the show on Friday. Grace and I started with $20 each playing the cheap blackjack table and ended with a total of $100. It was fun. We said goodbye to Grace dropping her off at the nail salon to spend our $60 winnings and then headed to the airport to drop the car off and head back home on the red eye. The red eye is as bad as it sounds, as usual, but we made it back to CLE at 4:00AM, ubered home and were happy to be home after a fun long weekend.
Courtney went out to dinner with colleagues and I met Ellen and Wally downtown at Central. We had a nice dinner – had hanger steak et frites – and caught up with them which was great. I also stopped in for a peak at Trump Hotel in the old Post Office building that he RUINED. More security than actual guests and just as tacky as you would imagine.
Friday, June 1st, 2018
Saturday, June 2nd, 2018
Saturday, June 2nd 2018
We had a mid morning flight back to CLE and made it home with no troubles. Another great trip.
We haven’t been down to Miami to visit Grace all year so we planned a weekend getaway and it turned into a great party. Courtney and I, my Mom and Dad and Emily Jane took off from Euclid at 10:00AM with a car packed full of food and toys. We stopped at Wolf Ridge Brewery in Downtown Columbus for lunch. We had a great lunch: my Mom and I had the vanilla coffee cream ale -the reason to stop there, and Dad had the Heferweisen. Courtney and I split celery root soup and a salmon burger, Dad had an Italian sub and EJG and Mom had the chicken sandwich. A great place. It was just about a 2 hour drive to Oxford from Columbus and we checked into our two cabins at Hueston Woods. We each had a 2 BR family cabin and the Purcell’s also had one – we had our own cul de sac – perfect spot. We unloaded and drove to Miami to meet up with Grace. It was a perfect sunny Friday afternoon and all the coeds were out sunning and enjoying life. We took a nice tour of the amazingly beautiful campus and headed back to Hueston Woods. Claire, Corey, Jack and Sophie arrived about 5 minutes after we got back and we quickly settled in to cocktail hour, enjoying the beautiful sunny afternoon. Seamus, JP and pals all came over and Dennis and Penny who also rented a cabin for the weekend all came over for cocktails and a great dinner of Mom’s sloppy joes. We started the bonfire that stayed going for most of the weekend and relaxed in front of the fire. Jim, Patty P, Colin and Owen arrived around 8:00 or so. All the older kids took off for the bars around 10:00 and us old folks hung out around the campfire. Kathryn didn’t arrive until after 11:00 as she was with Shea at volleyball in Columbus.
Saturday, April 28th, 2018
Jack and I were both up early and got the fire going as it was really cold. It dropped about 20 degrees overnight. Everyone was really slow getting up and we didn’t really eat breakfast until around 10:00. The Purcell’s took off to campus to walk around and we went for a nice hike through the woods towards the lodge. We hung out at the lodge for awhile, played some ping pong and found out we could get $50 off per night because grace had A’s last semester. What a deal. Early afternoon we went to downtown Oxford and went to Steinkeller and had some great German beer, potato pancakes and pretzels. Dennis, Penny and Seamus met us there as well. Claire, Corey, Jack, Grace and I continued our day drinking expedition and went to Brick Street where hundreds of Miami faithful were having a fun Saturday afternoon. We met up with Rachel’s parents there as well and the Meaney’s were there too. We headed back to the cottages and got the fire going and happy hour under way. We ended up with about 30 people for dinner – grilling hot dogs, brats, hamburgers, salads, macaroni and cheese. Nice spread. Celebrated Mike’s birthday. Fun time. We stayed up too late enjoying the fire and good cheer.
Sunday, April 29th, 2018
We roused everyone up and gathered everything up. We had some breakfast casseroles, Penny brought bacon and sausage and we had a good breakfast on a sunny morning. We were all packed up and hit the road around 10:00 for the long ride back to CLE. Great weekend. We scored big time earlier this week and were able to reserve three cabins for graduation in May 2019. Apparently everything sells out in less than an hour so we were really lucky to get through.
Courtney, Sophia and myself left home at 6:30AM happy to be going back to the beach. We arrived at Decatur AL at 5:30PM. It rained the entire drive but wasn’t too bad. We stayed at the same Doubletree on the river as last year – in a nice big suite. We had dinner at Big Bob Gibson’s – our favorite north Alabama BBQ spot. I had Brunswick stew, pulled pork, greens and baked beans. Courtney and Sophie each had good platters and all was great. I had iced box lemon pie and Sophia had peanut butter pie and bought three bottle of their white BBQ sauce. I was asleep by 8:30PM.
Friday, March 30
We left the hotel at 7:30AM and arrived in Grayton Beach around 1:30PM. We headed directly to Red Bar as we had a couple of hours to kill, and the place was hopping. We had a few beers at the bar waiting for a table which is just fine! I had fish and chips for lunch, Courtney had some delicious smoked tuna salad and Sophia had a chicken sandwich. We stopped at house to drop off some stuff and then went to Publix to stock up for the week and checked into our house right at 4:00PM. They were very particular about check in time. We liked the house. Perfect. We moved stuff in and then I took of to pick up Claire and Corey at Panama City Beach Airport – 35 minute drive. Their flight was on time and made it back in no time and had late dinner of pan fried burgers, tater tots and key lime pie – of course.
Saturday, March 31, 2018
Claire, Corey and Courtney went to the bakery that we like around the corner as well as stopping at the grocery store again. We had cinnamon rolls, scones and some GF goodies for breakfast. We headed down to the beach where it was sunny and nice and started our daily routine: beach, lunch, beach. Tough life. Courtney and went to Goosefeathers during lunch break and got some nice looking grouper for dinner as well as shrimp and smoked tuna dip. The kids headed to Seaside for pickles pre-dinner which was super crowded and taken over by teenagers. It stayed that way unfortunately all week. Our house had a great patio looking over the state park land looking west so we got the late afternoon sun and sunset – excellent cocktail hour spot that we enjoyed all week. We had grilled grouper for dinner that was fabulous. We played dominoes after dinner to finish a great first day.
Sunday, April 1st, 2018
We had chocolate and jelly beans for breakfast to celebrate Easter – and a few other things. Sophie and I biked into Seaside after breakfast. The bike path between Grayton and Blue Mountain was under construction which forced us onto the road in that section which was a pain. But it wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. Amavida line was way too long so we just walked around enjoying the sunshine. The rest of the day was all beach on a beautiful Easter Sunday. We steamed shrimp and grilled chicken for dinner enjoying the patio in the evening and not eating until late. We caught the second half of Jesus Christ Superstar on TV that I thought was really well done.
Monday, April 2nd, 2018
Courtney and I biked to Seaside early morning. Stopped at Amavida and walked around. We biked all around Watercolor. Claire and Corey biked later in the morning and went out to lunch at the Oyster bar. Otherwise it was another beautiful day on the beach. We went to the burger bar for dinner which was packed. We were waiting at the bar for a table and ended up just ordering food and ate at the bar which was fun.
Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018
It was a foggy morning but cleared up pretty quickly and turned into another beautiful day. The previous days sand castle was still there so we added on for another good showing. Just another perfect beach day and stayed down until 6:00. We had tacos for dinner and tried to go out for ice cream but everywhere was too crowded.
Wednesday, April 4th, 2018
A strong storm blew through early morning and it rained pretty steady all morning. We decided to go to the Destin outlets around 10:00. So did everybody else. Big mistake. The traffic was horrendous and the outlets were packed. We tried to stop for lunch at Stinky’s and Perfect Pig but both were too crowded. We ended up at Black Bear, a new place in Grayton Beach which was very good. Courtney and I split carrot soup with shaved beets et un sandwich du jambon. Sophie’s friend from school whose family was staying a few miles down the road met us at lunch and spend the day and night with us. Miraculously it cleared up in the early afternoon and lo and behold it was a great afternoon on beach. We had a great dinner of grilled rib eyes, baked potatoes and more key lime pie.
Thursday, April 5th, 2018
It was a chilly morning. Courtney and I went for bike ride around Watercolor, through the back ending up at Publix and going back through a crazy busy Seaside. Way too crowded. We didn’t go down to beach until 11:30 or so. Another nice day. Super calm and hot even though it was in low 70s. We stayed down beach until 4 and then went to Seaside for shrimp, oysters and fried pickles. We had late night dinner of boboli pizzas and then played cards against humanity.
Friday, April 6th, 2018
Courtney and I went on an early walk on the beach. It was a beautiful morning once again. Clear water and blue sky. We spent the whole day down the beach with a quick break for lunch. We drove Claire and Corey to the airport around 4:00. We ended up going to dinner at a place called Boon Docks off the bridge by the airport just following a sign that was there. It turned out to be nice – on the harbor with nice view and lots of seafood. We had fried shrimp, oysters, grouper and more fried pickles. It was a good find. We got home and packed everything up as we were planning to leave at 3:00AM for the long drive home.
Saturday, April 7th, 2018
We left Grayton Beach at 3:00 AM and drove all the way. 16 hours. Harsh but we did it with no troubles. It was another great stay in FLA.
Biographical Fiction (is that a genre?) of the story of Christina in Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting “Christina’s World”. Going back and forth from the time Wyeth painted the painting to the back story of Christina’s family. Original, intriguing and hard to put down.