Monday, November 17, 2014

A(muse) Restaurant Review and News

A(muse) * Inspired Food and Drink* in Rohobeth Beach, MD

The whole story...

My beloved and I decided to take one last trip before my bariatric surgery scheduled for mid-November. A few friends who've had it had talked about a last hoorah before my eating is even more restricted than last December when I embarked on what I now know is called 'Liver Shrinking Diet'- low carbs, sugar free (not foods, just no sugar), and low fat eating. I lost 32 pounds, only gained back 8.

Hubs and I have been together 17 years, and are still going strong. This man is very supportive through my daughters illness, death, and now my gaining more weight, to the point of being diagnosed with diabetes last year. It was time to make a change. I am for the good, but it's not for everyone. Eating healthy on a constant basis is what we should do, eating small portions, healthy choices, and exercise on a regular basis. Also I recommend counseling, something I do.

After back and forth talks with my doctors, the health issues have gone against me, so I opted for surgery. I will miss the great foods from establishments like A(muse) and Chef Hari Cameron- A(muse) restaurant in Rohobeth. Hubs loves our foodie adventures over the years, but he knows the high calorie foods have gone against my health. There might be chances of tasting the Chef's food again one day, but not tasting menus like we did last week. It was fabulous, his restaurant is fantastic, something others should try. We give it 5 stars out of 5, and includes the wine pairing.

Normally they do a 4 or 7 tasting menu, and an 11 (we were told) in the fall. Once being seated we saw 4 and 7 offered on menu, so we asked and were told it was allowed, 11 course tasting menu. I will simply show photos of our plates, and apologize a few are missing because we began eating and realized no photo was taken (only pieces of food were left).

Amuse Bouche- smoked anchovie

1) Liver and Onion Sorbet

there's more...


2) Foraged Soup (maitake and hen of the woods mushrooms, Japanese Maple leaf with a hot tea soup poured over ingredients)- this was my favorite, the flavors just were perfect!

3) Seared New Jersey Scallop, lentils, beets, and radish,

4) Roasted brussel sprouts, sliced beets, goat cheese, spaghetti squash, pumpkin puree, and elderberry sauce with sumac powder.

5) Lobster with rapinni and chili oil- my second favorite (I loved them all!)

6) Crispy Sweet Breads  celery - blue cheese - chili garlic (surprisingly I do not go for this, but it was good)

7) It was...NY Duck Breast and grilled vegetables with cauliflower puree

8) 48 hour braised beef (orange sauce), reminded me of a Chinese dish, but mild.

9) It was...Dunbarton Blue cheese with roelli (fruit and granola type mixture)

10) Rice pudding with apple cobbler, streisal, and orange thyme jam

11) Bone Marrow Oreos with Parsnip Milk- it was yummy and you could detect the flavors of both. 
Sweet and Savory

Chef Hari and the staff, 
Thank you so much for making our anniversary great!
Also, your wine, beer, and dessert wine pairings were fantastic!
It was nice to have such a knowledgeable crew answering our questions.

You can see by the look on my face, I was a happy wife!

Thanks readers for following my blog since 08, I am and always will be a foodie, but will be eating smaller portions and exercising my way back to health! 

See you in 2015...

Elizabeth Akin Stelling
a Texas poet, author My South By Southwest
Managing editor, Red Dashboard LLC Publishing

(1st photo taken from A(muse)'s website, Chef Hari Cameron preparing dinner)

PS- If you have a weight problem, are obese, or overly obese, then we recommend you see your doctor and consult about eating habits and how they have affected your over all health. My circumstances dealing with my daughters death years ago did affect my sleeping and eating habits, as well as an increased drinking habit that resulted in my situations. Everyone's situation is different and a change in diet should be consulted with your family doctor, we are not recommending you try any kind of diet or eating at high end restaurants. My diet was under supervision of a dietitian and nutritionist during 2014. Nor did A(muse) provide any compensation for this post.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A North Carolina Gem- Shub's Cooking by Shelby Stephenson

This is not just a poetry book, it is a viable cookbook. Shelby Stephenson is a North Carolina Poetry Hall of Fame writer. He has put his memory to good use here and recorded many of his mother's recipes from his youth. If you are a cookbook collector and love to read this is a must have!

Everyone of us she put our mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother's recipes into a book like this. When Shelby sent me the manuscript via Red Dashboard LLC Publishing, I had to have it. As a Chef and foodie, fellow southerner, and country farm girl I knew it was a valuable addition to our catalog.

"Poems do not need forms, they need recipes, and Shelby Stephenson’s poems cook. They inter-weave ingredients with metaphors to create delicious poems that entice our palates and our imaginations. Stephenson uses ingredients such as flour, sugar, butter, and eggs to bake enormous poetry cakes, cakes packed with memories and sensual flavors for all."

~ Andrew Jarvis, editor, poet, and author of Choreography, Sound Points, The Ascent, and The Strait

Here are just a few of the things you will find inside...

Banana Split Cake
Collard Culture
Holiday Cake
Mama Maytle's Fried Chicken 
Southern Chess Pie
Tar Heel Barbeque

Some of the titles bring back memories from my own childhood. If you remember something your own Aunt made, your grandmother, and even a neighbor then you are likely to find it in Shelby's book.

"Shelby "Shub" Stephenson's collection of Poetry, Shub's Cooking, presents what seems like a series of recipes for Southern cooking in alphabetic order; however, like a Faulkner novel, these poems morph into far more than recipes and become hymns and memorials to a way of life long gone. Shub recalls the fried chicken and corn bread we would expect.  But there is coconut pie and the celebration of the bullace grape. He recalls the hunting of squirrel with the single shotgun he purchased and the fish he caught in the creek. He includes a sauce for dove even though he never seems to have shot one.  He leaves one with the sense of life drawn from the land through his mother's efforts and his own, then reshaped into love by his mother's hand in her kitchen."

~ Tyson West, author of Home-canned Fruit

You can purchase Shub's Cooking via

Shelby Stephenson grew up on a small farm near Benson, in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina. “Most of my poems come out of that background,” he says, “where memory and imagination play on one another.  My early teachers were the thirty-five foxhounds my father hunted.  The trees and streams, fields – childhood – those are my subjects.”  After leaving the farm for college, he was graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He has worked as a radio and television announcer, salesman, right-of-way agent, and farmer. He retired as professor emeritus from the University of North Carolina-Pembroke, where he edited Pembroke Magazine from 1979 to 2010.  The state of North Carolina presented him with the 2001 North Carolina Award in Literature. In 2014 he was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.  He has received the Zoe Kincaid Brockman Memorial Award, the Oscar Arnold Young Poetry Prize, Playwright's Fund of North Carolina Chapbook Prize, Bright Hill Press Chapbook Award, and the Brockman-Campbell Poetry Prize.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mammaws Pimento Cheese

Yes, it's that good! AVA Wine Bar's Pimento Cheese Dip

However I did promise not to leak out her recipe, most chef's hold these things close, but if you make a good recipe yourself, great!

It was creamy, just the right amount of cheese blend, but I wanted a bit more pimentos (roasted red peppers). Okay, I know to stop complaining, but I like perfection.

The bread was just as good. I forgot to ask if she had a bread machine in the back, some of the plating and food had a homemade feel, but it was soft and toasted and all was good.

AVA Wine Bar in Staunton (pronounced Stanton), VA. We plan to go back in mid-Jan for a poetry festival and will be returning to Marybeth's restaurant to see what her new locally grown menu produces.

If you haven't checked out the post before this to see what those little cuties are on the plate, Watermelon gherkins (pickles), then get over there!

Do you have a favorite pimento cheese recipe to share? It's a great recipe to make for the fall and holiday gatherings, so get busy!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Are These The Worlds Smallest Pickles?

Watermelon Gherkins. Visiting Stauton, VA we had dinner at AVA Wine Bar. We ordered toasted bread and pimento cheese appetizer, and I have to admit it was the best since my grandmothers when I was a young girl, awesome. These little beauties had been bought locally (locally grown) and pickled by Marybeth, the owner.

The food was great, but if you are expecting high end presentation, there is none. The cuisine is like homemade, eating in a friends kitchen, and all around they treat you like family and friends. The waitstaff was so accommodating. Marybeth offered to give me a handful of these cuties to try before the pickling process, and they were still yummy.

They cater to meat and vegan eaters, hubs had seared duck, I had vegetarian Greek pie, and we both shared a dish of sweet potato fritters. My nosy chef interests would recommend they cut down the portion size of the fritters, it was almost too much as they were huge (two on a plate). Although, I had them for lunch at the hotel the next day, both portions of pie and fritters were just as tasty!

If you get a change, sample them, grow them, and pickle them. I read the seeds are easy to prepare for growing. It doesn't seem like they need a huge space.

The pimento cheese we tried, that will be my next post. I have been a bit MIA lately, but as I said in the post before this, I've been struggling with eating a specialized diet for my Barrett's, but my latest test came back negative, so I am having Bypass surgery Nov. 19th this year and will try and post about the journey. Eating very small portions has paid off, but with my diabetes diagnosis I have to get serious.

Happy Holidays and peace to you all...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fruit Jello, Just Like Grandma

Back to basics, of a childhood, and soft foods. My new eating lifestyle and the fact I was told there would be a chance of no bariatric surgery due to esophagus damage, I had to turn around quick. Did some research and found out some of it could have been caused (well it is from acid reflux) by not chewing food well. I'm guilty.

I feel like after turning 50 I went from spouting idioms of my mom (and dad) to making jello with fruit like my grandmother. Has life gone down-hill from here? I hope not. But the jello is good, sugar free with water packed fruit. The pineapple is a no-no, due to acid, but hubs loved it.

Coffee table clutter compliments of my grown son who has decided to enlist me in repair of thrift store finds he can't live without. That is a whole other conversation, less is more, clutter that is...maybe it is all parallel. Finding a ying to our bad yangs.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Curried Cauliflower Supreme

What's going on since the holidays?

 It has been a while. My new eating lifestyle changes are working. I'm losing 2 lbs a week with a high protein, all green veggies, and low carb (2-3 T a day, sometimes more). No sugar and junk (fast or processed) food. Only water and flavored water (no sugar and carbonation). No soda and alcohol (at least until my weight goes down dramatically). I've done diet eating before, and failed.

But the options were, live with diabetes/live in hell and continue to hit highs on weight gain, and I have become less mobile. Not working full time hit me hard. The eating is not as boring as I had initially thought.

Actually I posted this today on Facebook...

 "Funny how when you eat healthy, each bite taken, chewed slowly as you go, becomes more intense- tasting salty, flavors pop, and the senses aren't dulled by crap foods" - Chef E

 I am up for bariatric surgery in May, and am going through the hoops, and had a few tests done. It is recommended you eat a pre-surgery diet to become accustomed to the portion size and restrictions. Mostly the same as above, accept for veggies have to be soft, and meats pretty much the same- low fat and ground meats are suggested.

Your stomach will not be able to digest the same as the once full sized. I began in December and am doing well. Recipes like this one are the key to flavor and enjoyment. Basic curry powder (turmeric gives yellow appearance), head of cauliflower, and some oil for a drizzle.

Clean the head of cauliflower; pat dry, and cut into small to medium pieces. Spread onto a baking dish. The one I use is large, but old as the hills (was my moms), so I cover it with foil for easy clean-up. Drizzle oil (whatever you prefer), and then sprinkle as much curry powder on top. In my house we love spicy, though this curry powder does not have the lingering bite a smoked chili powder might have, but it is pungent. No salt is needed, at least in my house.

 BAKE (preheated over): 375 30-45 mins (texture is your preference)

 My hubs gave his thumbs up approval, and he is not a vegetable eater. He told a friend that if he had been served cauliflower this way years ago, he would have eaten it more often. I'm sure this is not original, but was a fabulous discovery.

 I took the leftovers the next night and pureed them in almond milk, unsweetened, a bit more oil and a pat of butter, topped with almond slivers, voila! Soup was fantastic. Enjoy.

 Also, my 1st book is finally out- My South By Southwest: A Cast Iron Tempo Recollection (see, I've been busy!)

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year Meal- Blowfish, Chilean Sea Bass, and Tuna

Blow what? Yes, while visiting hubs mother he got nostalgic and wanted Blow fish. His mom and I wanted sea scallops. We had to settle with Chilean Sea Bass and seared Tuna filets. It was all good, since I made a Grand Marnier cream sauce to accompany all three.

To juggle the cooking of our three seafood New Year's Even meal- prepare prep of diced red onion, seasonings in small bowl for seafood, butter, oil, half slices of cherry tomatoes, heavy cream, juiced and zested orange, taster bottle of Grand Marnier, and anything else you think you will need, such as platters. Then pan sear tuna, sear sea bass second, add a bit more oil for blow fish, wipe out pan to make Grand Marnier cream sauce.

I followed this sauce recipe- Grand Marnier Sauce. Saute red onion in olive oil; then add zest of 1 small orange (about 2 T) and seasonings of choice and stir in; add tomatoes, then orange juice from 1 orange (about 1/2 cup), 1/2 cup cream, and let boil for about 3 or 4 mins. There will not be so much, but it is primarily for flavor. Save a few tables spoons for garnish, but spread most of it onto platter and lay fish on top. Spoon tomatoes around platter and on top for garnish.

I simply salted and peppered the tuna and pan seared to a brown state on both sides on medium-high heat, remove and set aside for platting; set pan off burner until next step. Next you want to rub the seasoning mix you prepared onto one side of the sea bass, and you only want to sear one side of the Chilean sea bass, both of these fish will lift away from pan once seared to a brown state. After you brown on side of the sea bass set it into a non-stick oven dish and cook in preheated 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, remove and set aside.

In the same pan you seared the tuna, add a bit more oil, 3 T of olive oil if need for the next step. This was the second time I prepared Blow Fish. They are often sold small, like a large tiger shrimp (hubs caught them fresh growing up near Bayport, NY sea shore) at the local fish market (see far left pic above). Simply prepare some flour with seasonings of choice, soak blow fish in buttermilk, heavy cream works, but doesn't stick as well. Dip in flour and shallow fry.

Steamed broccoli and potatoes were the sides of choice for this meal. Simple, since the flavor of the sauce and fish dominate this night. The real celebration took place miles away in New York City.

A bowl of goodness, just in case you want more sauce above.

Left to right below: blow fish, sea bass, and seared tuna steaks.

A bottle of White Burgundy was served with this seafood meal. Enjoy!