No, this is not what I’m planning for lunch today. Because that would be silly. You don’t indulge in this much rich & yummy frosted baked goodness for your mid-day meal. These gems from Sweet Treats Bakery, in Tupelo, Miss., strictly are breakfast items. (Note No. 1: Actually, lunch today is a leftover half of the Mediterranean Veggie Flatbread Sandwich from City Hardware in downtown Florence, Ala., home of the only balcony dining on Court Street. Note No. 2: I wouldn’t actually eat ALL of this for breakfast. Some crumbs would remain. And Note No. 3: Both of these places are locally owned and locally managed eateries that serve fresh & flavorful food accompanied by friendly smiles and welcoming attitudes. Highly recommended — and that’s a completely unsolicited and un-paid-for recommendation.)
We’ve talked about art in one of my favorite adopted towns of all time — Chattanooga, Tenn., here and here. Now, art is good. I like art. I like people who make art, which is convenient since I work (most days) in an art museum. But when it comes to other things Chattanooga really is good at, have to put “coffee” high on the list. I’m not sure if it’s the mountain or the river or that whole we’re-cool-and-hipster-and-still-a-little-bit-country thing Chattanoogians have going, but folks there sure love and know their coffee. Me, too. At least the “love” part. Chattanooga fans surely will recognize where these two photos come from. On the left, it’s Rembrandt’s Coffee House in the Bluff View Art District, identifiable by its awesomely wonderful desserts. It’s one of those bakeries where you just stare through the glass and say “I want one of those and one of those and …” And, yes, the foam on my macchiato is a bit too foamy, but really that’s a minor complaint for such a fun location and satisfying sweetness. On the right, nobody could mistake the sturdy recycled tables and skillful foam art of Camp House Espresso, a few blocks from both the burgeoning Southside Art District and bustling downtown Market Street. The Camp House building truly is multi-purpose, housing at various times during the week a church, an entertainment venue and a clothing mission as well as a coffee house. That is sooooo Chattanooga.
I know that Christmas is over and we’re all enjoying a break from Forced Holiday Baking, but I can’t stop remembering all that great Christmas food — mainly because a lot of it’s still in our refrigerator. As we were talking over our first Christmas in our new house, my husband commented that all the meals were good except that on Christmas Eve afternoon, when we set up a buffet of holiday goodies, there simply was too much food. But I ask you: Is cheese (good cheese) and crackers and pistachio nuts and hummus and cheese straws and cocoa-ginger straws and toffee bites and Pepperidge Farms Ginger Man cookies and cupcakes and walnut-espresso brittle and white-chocolate/cranberry/pistachio bark and dark-chocolate/peppermint bark too much? Plus Chex mix. Plus the sugar cookies we made and decorated. Plus assorted pumpkin and cranberry breads. Plus a yummily delicious fudge pie with homemade sweetened vanilla whipped cream — although we had that for Christmas Eve-dinner dessert. On second thought, never mind. I think I know the answer my question. But it wasn’t all my fault. Everybody contributed: Younger Daughter brought the excellent cheese and made the whipped cream. Older Daughter perfected the bark and brittle recipes, which I hope she’ll make her signature holiday dishes. And what’s Christmas without Chex Mix and decorating sugar cookies? So there.
And speaking of food, here are some recipes from friends and family for some cozy and warming hot drinks. I’m always amazed at the great ideas people have. Look here for ways to use up leftover holiday ingredients and tips for jazzing up instant cocoa as well as a recipe for homemade coffee liqueur and some wonderful tea punches. Now all I need is a roaring fire and a soft fuzzy blanket …
Hello, lovely fried pillows of crispy and melty Oreo goodness. Oh my cookies, as 2-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable says — literally, in this case. We were driving through our town of Florence, Alabama, when my husband casually says, “Look at that sign. It says,”Cold beer, hot wings and fried Oreos.’ We should go there sometime.” Since he and I each are obsessively devoted to finding the best of two of these three categories — the wings for him, the Oreos for me and the beer for both of us — I couldn’t believe I’d never noticed this Wing Shack of paradise before. Sadly, my husband had to go back to work or something after our discovery so I was left on my own to immediately indulge in an intense Oreo fried orgy objectively and calmly check this place out. All I can say is: Thank you, dear person who first had the radical idea of frying Oreos. I love you.