Furloughed Meals………by Eric

Anyone who knows us or reads this blog will not be surprised by this particular post.  One of my husband’s hobbies, is cooking.  No he’s not a chef – that’s real work.  He sees cooking as (1) research, (2) a process and just as important, (3) tasty results.  He has r.e.a.l.l.y stepped up his game!  While at home I’ve been working in the garden and doing crafts, Eric has been reading & watching videos about cooking.  For at least a week, it was pretty intense and these are the results.

……………Spoiler Alert – it only lasted a week…………..

There have been several purchases within the last 15 years in pursuit of this hobby.

Gas Stove:


Two Burner Camp Stove:


I was ambivilent about getting a gas stove – grew up with electric – but after a year of using it, I was sold.  Using the camp stove was nice since it keeps the heat (and mess!) outside.

Let’s start with breakfast.

After a number of days with eggs, bacon, grits…….eggs, bacon & bagel………eggs, sausage, grits………..pancakes…………I needed a change.  Love all of the aforementioned combos but eating them every day versus the weekend turns them into routine.  Florida blueberries were in season and we took a morning to go in search of U-pick bluberries.  I had planned on making a blog post just about that excursion, but, we were too late.  With the season being so warm AND everyone staying at home, U-pick farms had a fabulous spring.  Great for them, not so great if you planned on doing a blog post.  😦  We ended up finding some blueberries at a local farm and they were now incorporated into breakfast.


After a few suggestions (mine),  Eric went to the internet and found inspiration.  He made lemon ricotta blueberry pancakes with lemon curd sauce.


Another morning we had blueberry stuffed French toast with lemon curd.


I really thought we had a jar of lemon curd in the pantry – doesn’t everyone – but neither of us could find the jar.  Eric made his own.  OMG – this may now turn into a necessary staple in the Darden household – just saying.  It was absolutely delicious.  Leftover curd was put into these cute jars and kept in the fridge.


I also found some blueberry inspiration visiting the internet and made blueberry popovers.  Eric says he doesn’t like sweets.  I brought him one – he finished his before I did.  This recipe is a keeper.  Man – how great would it be with a drizzle of lemon curd?!?

Next up lunch & snacks:

Grouper fish sandwich was a hit one day.  We had picked up some certified grouper fillets (FYI – a lot of grouper fillets are not actually grouper), which was so big we had two separate meals.


When we caught a bluefish earlier in the week, he immediately thought of smoked fish dip.


Hour and a half on the charcoal grill ensured a nice smoky flavor throughout.  Add in some cream cheese, celery, shallots, jalapino pepper, crème fraiche, cayenne pepper & lemon juice and you end up with some of the BEST smoked fish dip he’s ever made.  Wow – didn’t realize it had so many ingredients until I asked Eric for a list.  Sometimes simple is better – this time not.  Smokey almonds pair nicely.


Florida sweet corn was in season.  Eric made a chowder base with the leftover cobbs.

Top the finished corn chowder with fried shrimp and you have a complete meal.


Shhhhhh.  Top Secret info coming.  Eric shared that for most every soup he makes this is his ‘secret’ ingredient, adding a depth of flavor enhancing what already exists.  Who knew?


Hummus – another thing most people pick up at the grocery store in a tub.  We never have.  Although we normally use canned chickpeas in the past, Eric found some dried chick peas at Winn Dixie.


After a day of soaking and stove-top cooking, they were ready for processing using all the ingredients seen above.

This is a great snack in the afternoon when the munchies hit.  Eric grilled some lamb, chopped it finely, added a few pine nuts and a mid-afternoon snack took us through dinner that night.


Finally, dinner, or some call it supper:

The remaining part of the fresh grouper we picked up turned into grouper with a seafood Veloute sauce.  Yep – never heard of it either.  This idea was a result of watching all of those videos.  While roasting the shallots, he poached the fish in a homemade court’boullon under parchment, with the plated meal as the last photo.  Roasted potatoes rounded out the meal.  Oh yeah, and a glass of white wine.


Oom, pah pah – one night it was decidedly a German focus.  Jaeger schnitzel (fried pork)  & hunter sauce with braised cabbage (from our own garden!) and German fried potatoes.


This was another meal where the meat was fried on the camp stove, along with the potatoes.  Smell of oil cooking was kept outside, along with the mess. Yeah!!!

One of Eric’s hits was Steak au Poivre with pomme frittes (French fries!).  Let’s start with the pomme frittes.  After cutting the potatoes, he soaked them in water for at least 2 hours, pulling out starch which also keeps them crispy when fried – Secret #1.


Secret #2 – double frying.  Here’s the first fry on the left and the second fry on the right once the meat was done and resting.

Secret #3 – duck fat.  Enough said.


Now the steaks and au Poirve ingredients were readied (clockwise starting top left): butter, stock, steaks, shallots, cream and sea salt.


Steaks are seared in the iron skillet to get the base of the sauce.



Add in the butter and shallots to build flavor.


Next up the ‘fun’ part of the process, a douse of brandy then f.i.r.e.

Throw in a littlel cream for smoothness.


What a perfect combo – steak topped with au poirve sauce and pomme frittes.


More food is coming, but not quite this intense.



















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