knock, knock…

Knock, knock, who’s there?  This sounds like a joke, but I am not kidding when I say today is already October 30th and November is just two days away.

It is hard to believe how quickly Fall comes to our doors.  Didn’t school just start yesterday?  I swear I haven’t even put away our pool bag from the summer yet.  Never the less, Halloween is here tomorrow, which means Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  I adore this time of year and it has been so much fun seeing so many of you at the kitchen the day before Thanksgiving the past two years.  Last year there were snow flurries in the air, and it couldn’t have felt more like a Holiday if I had been plopped down in a Norman Rockwell painting.  As I anticipate the month ahead, I know you are doing the same and making your plans.  So, news flash, my Thanksgiving dishes to help you out for 2014 are now listed on the side link under “For the Holiday Dinner table”, or just click here.

Thanksgiving orders must be placed by Noon, November 19th.  Quantities are limited, so please be sure to get your orders in sooner than later.  Menu items listed under  “For the dinner table” may be prepared in your serving dishes, please inquire.  Pick up for these orders will be Wednesday, November 26th, time to be announced.

As hard as it is to be thankful when that rude person breaks in front of you at Thruway and steals your parking space, remember we are all just human.  As we hurry around with our errands, our  “to do” lists, shopping lists, and so much more, be sure to take time and remember why you are doing all of this.  It is thanks giving, giving thanks for all we have in our lives.  Family, friends, a roof over our heads, and food on our tables.   Enjoy each moment, the best of our lives, savor each day.   


“Look at the world, everything all around us: look at the world, and marvel every day.  Look at the world: so many joys and wonders, so many miracles along our way.” 

Lyrics, timeless and beautiful.  It would be hard to discern if the quote above is from a 2013 One Direction album, a hit from the fifties or sixties, or something else.  I am not sure of the date, but I can tell you it is from a hymn by composer John Rutter.  A few weeks ago my daughter, who is in choir for the first time, sang in the church service with the “big” choir.  This was the hymn they performed.  I probably don’t need to tell you I had tears in my eyes.  Without quoting it all, the song goes on to talk about our world and blessings, a poignant reminder how fortunate we are.

Often, we need this reminder.  Every time I turn on the news it seems full of stories of death, disease, politics, and in one word, despair.  Yes, ISIS and Ebola are certainly very important news of the day.  However, I’m beginning to think having a busy schedule that makes staying up to date on current events a challenge, really isn’t such a bad thing after all.  I mean, if there is really something I need to know, I am certain my phone will start chiming and I will quickly be brought up to speed.  I am so ready for the November election to be here so I can stop listening to Kay Hagan and Tom Tillis bash each other, I might be the first one in the voting line.  Ok, exaggeration right there, but you know what I mean.  Is too much news a bad thing, or a good thing?  When does sensationalism begin, or end?

Call me ignorant if you like, but I prefer sensational days over sensational news.  A nice glass of wine with a good meal, enjoyed with family or good friends, and if it’s really sensational enjoyed with both family and friends.  The simple things, like reading a new Halloween book to the kids at night, decorating with pumpkins, the simple things that make my days bountiful, enriched, meaningful…sensational.  The funny thing is, sensational things are always around us, we just have to look for them, or allow them.  Sometimes we just have to stop, and realize it is in front of our eyes.

Enjoy, the best of food and life, and the sensational moments all around.






pressing issues…taste of fall, in the South, in a glass.

apple season

Let’s get to the core of the matter here, we’re talking about apples.  It’s October and they are plentiful.  Fuji, Staymen, Rome, Winesap, Jonagold, Gala, Red Delicious, Mutsu.  Sounds like  the fruit version of “Fifty Shades of Apples”.

After a beautiful Fall weekend in the NC/Virginia Mountains, I simply have apple on my mind.  We spent a fabulous morning in the orchards, and to rest my feet I sat by the fire in the afternoon and caught up on some of my magazines.  Garden & Gun has become one of my favorites, and while drooling over half the contents I happened upon a recipe for apple cider cinnamon syrup.  Can you say meant to be?  The recipe was given as part of a bigger recipe, one for a cocktail called a Sir Isaac Newton, made with apple brandy.  It sounds really good, but I can’t stop thinking about how the apple cider syrup might taste with one of my local favorites by Piedmont Distilleries, Cat Daddy, a spiced moonshine.  Well, I was so curious that I sampled it.  If you think spiced moonshine, sweet with the syrup and tangy with lemon is an enticing combination, give it a shake.  Sweet enough as an after dinner drink, and a good pre-dinner sipper as well.  For anyone wanting some different non-alcoholic options, I also have some fresh hibiscus flowers, and I think a cinnamon apple hibiscus tea sounds pretty enticing on a chilly morning, too.

Any who…the apple cider cinnamon syrup is a breeze to make, it really is just a matter of reducing the cider and adding cinnamon.  Watch it carefully though, this would be a sticky mess even a brillo pad would shy away from if it started to burn.  The recipe follows, but naturally I had to adjust because I thought it sounded like it made more than I needed…and I am out of cinnamon sticks.  So, I added a dash of ground cinnamon to one cup of cider, and the results yielded a little over 1 ounce of great syrup.  The perfect amount for a drink later on tonight.

Pressing issues, the demands of the daily grind, all the curve balls life can throw our way.  Stop, enjoy, relish the moment of the season, and right now that is apple season, southern comfort in a glass.  Enjoy, the best of food and life!

Apple Cider -Cinnamon Syrup,

courtesy of Garden & Gun Oct/Nov. 2014

To make apple cider-cinnamon syrup, bring 4 cups of good quality apple cider to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, add a cinnamon stick, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes, or until the cider has reduced to the consistency of syrup.  Bring to room temperature, then refrigerate in a tightly covered container.  This yeidls about 4 ounces.

apple cider syrup

(Pictured above, apple cider cinnamon syrup once reduced, now cooling.)

“The Mac Daddy Apple Sipper”

courtesy of Julia Chandler


1 oz apple cider cinnamon syrup

juice of 2 fresh lemons, or about 1 oz

1 1/2 oz Cat Daddy

2 generous dashes Angostura bitters


Combine the syrup, lemon juice, Cat Daddy and bitters over ice in a cocktail shaker.

Shake vigorously, then pour with ice into a highball glass or mason jar, preferably chilled.

Garnish with lemon twist, or, as I happened to have fresh hibiscus flowers I used that.

The Julia CHandler fixin's

Sir Isaac Newton,

courtesy of Garden & Gun Oct/Nov. 2014


1 oz, apple cider-cinnamon syrup

1/2 oz lemon juice

1 1/2 oc apple brandy

2 dashes Angostura bitters

1 very thin apple slice for garnishing


Combine the syrup, lemon juice, brandy, and bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice.

Shake vigorously, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Float the apple slice on the drink for a garnish, and serve.

final product, the julia chandler

a sticky situation…


I am not really a crock pot cookin’ type of gal.  I don’t have anything against crock pots, I just strongly prefer my Le Creuset and that whole process over slow cookers.  I use them occasionally for a chuck roast, a whole pork shoulder for carnitas, or a few other things.  But then came along Sticky Caramel Pumpkin Cake…in the crock pot.  I even followed the recipe, every ingredient and step as called for.

This cake was y.u.m.m.y.  Similar to pumpkin bread but less dense in texture, and the caramel sauce you drizzle on while warm was the icing on the cake, literally.  So, I just had to share it to help you with your Fall menu planning.  Made from scratch, easy goodness that tasted as moist as if Betty, yes as in Crocker, had made it.  The mistake I made was my crock pot was larger than called for, and since I couldn’t wait for it to cool well, the bottom of the cake stuck to the pan.  Didn’t matter one bit, I just lumped it all on and the kids dug in!  I do think the next time I will try it in a cake pan and in the oven instead of the slow cooker, I will let you know the results.

So here it is, the recipe and probably the only post you will ever see from me with the crock pot involved.  Go for it, spice it up, enjoy the best of sticky caramel pumpkin cake each bite at a time!

Sticky Caramel Pumpkin Cake- slow cooker style!


2 cups all-purpose flour                                                   1 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder                                           1 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon baking soda                                                   4 eggs, at room temperature

½ teaspoon salt                                                                  1 can (15 oz) pumpkin

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon

1 jar (16 oz) caramel sauce or ice cream topping



Coat 4½ quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray, turn to “high.”

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in mixing bowl.

Beat sugar and butter in large bowl with electric mixer for about 3 minutes, until light.

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one.

Add packed pumpkin, blend until well mixed.

Gradually add flour mixture and beat at low speed for a minute or so until smooth.

Spread evenly in slow cooker and cover.

Cook on high setting 2 hours or until center-inserted tooth pick comes out clean.

Let cake stand, uncovered 10 minutes.

Invert onto wire rack, invert again onto serving plate.

Drizzle half of caramel sauce over cake. Serve warm with additional sauce.