Krazy for Kale

Kale. The luscious and leafy green vegetable that has been unceremoniously garnishing plates at restaurants across the country for decades. I can distinctly remember going out to dinner as a child and being so offended by that “green stuff” that was always on my plate – so offended that I would promptly pick it up and place it on the table beside my plate. Heaven forbid it actually touched any of the good food that was waiting for me. Of course, the kale was merely on the plate as decoration, or a garnish. it was an afterthought. A sad, sad afterthought. That’s how I felt about kale for all of my childhood years and many of my adult years. It never even dawned on me that you could actually eat the stuff! So, why eat kale? Well for starters, it actually does have a wonderful taste when it’s cooked properly. Perhaps even more importantly, it’s absolutely loaded with nutrients and vitamins. Also appealing to this penny-pinching cook, it’s extremely inexpensive. There are many different applications for cooking kale, but today I’m going to write about my favorite – the kale chip. These chips have brought kale out of the dungeon and thrust them straight into the spotlight.

Speaking of the spotlight, working in television requires me to keep quite unusual hours. On most nights I’m getting home just before midnight. Perfect timing for a true midnight snack! This is where the trouble begins. I’m always tempted to go for the potato chips (bet I can’t eat just one…bag). Obviously this isn’t the best habit to be in before my nightly slumber, so what if I could substitute my favorite potato chips with something a bit healthier? Something that would still give me the satisfying crunchy, salty bite that I crave at that hour, without all of the guilt. Kale now enters the picture. Stay with me.

Here’s what you’ll need to make the perfect potato chip substitute:

1 bunch of kale
Salt & pepper
Olive oil
A lemon wedge (optional)

Fairly simple and straightforward, no? First you need to get your kale prepped for the oven. Give it a nice rinse and pat the leaves completely dry. This is a very important step. If you don’t remove as much of the water as possible, your kale will get soggy instead of crispy. Nobody wants a soggy chip! Now you’ll want to peel the kale off of the big, thick stem running right down the middle. The stem isn’t edible, so remove the leafy green parts and discard the stem. Tear the leafy green pieces until they’re a little bit bigger than bite-sized chunks. They’ll shrink quite a bit in the oven once they start cooking. Place the torn pieces of kale on a baking sheet that you’ve lined with aluminum foil.

They’re almost ready for the oven, but we are missing one critical step. These guys need some seasoning to make sure they’ll taste super when you pull them out of the oven. Give them a healthy drizzle of olive oil and then as much salt and pepper as your taste buds prefer. If you want your kale chips to have a little bit of a bite, squeeze some fresh lemon juice on them at this point. Then get in there with your hands and mix it all together. Try to make sure that each kale chip has some of the olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

The chips are ready to be baked. Place them in a preheated 325 degree oven, but don’t go too far because you’ll need to keep an eye on them. There’s a fine line between creating a kale chip and a kale krisp. One is nice and the other isn’t. After about 8 or 9 minutes of baking, pull the pan out and give them a stir. They’ll need about 8 or 9 more minutes before they are completely finished. Once they have completed the cooking process, your baking sheet full of kale chips should look like this:


The kale has gone through a total transformation. The edges will be brown and crisp. The flavor profile will also be totally different. What once was a bitter green will now take on a nutty and caramelized flavor. It’s amazing what that 16-20 minutes in the oven can do! Now it’s time to plate them up!

They really won’t need much additional seasoning. If you want to glam them up a bit, you could sprinkle some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top while they are still warm. Otherwise, they are good to eat just like they are. You can make a big batch and then store the leftovers in containers, so when the urge for a salty, crunchy snack hits, you’ll be ready!

It’s time we stopped thinking about kale as a garnish. It’s a versatile, tasty, inexpensive, and healthy vegetable, so let’s give it the respect it deserves. Going krazy for something can be a good thing and this is certainly one of those times. Your taste buds will thank you. This Taste Bud will thank you.

Happy eating,

The Taste Bud


Hestia-who? What-a-phobia? I thought this was a food blog? What’s with all of the questions? Let me give you some answers…

Hestia was the Greek goddess of the hearth. The hearth is where most of the baking was done in ancient Greece, so those with hestiaphobia have a fear of baking. While I may not suffer from full-blown hestiaphobia, I certainly do have hestiaphobic tendencies. While I may be one of the first to gobble down some delicious fresh-baked goodies, I’ll be one of the last to actually cook them in my kitchen? Why the fear?

Baking is so methodical. It’s so calculated. It’s so precise.

Just add 1/32 teaspoon of baking powder – no more, no less! Wait, is that baking powder or baking soda? Uh-oh. Did you sift that flour? Is your butter cold enough? Are those eggs precisely room temperature? You’re going to try and make that today with this high humidity? Did you adjust your baking times for your different elevation? What is my elevation anyway? I’m practically breaking out in hives already. No wonder it’s a very rare occasion when I actually do decide to conquer my hestiaphobia and crank out some delicious baked goods.

Typically, I don’t shy away from recipes that require multiple steps, lots of chopping and dicing, and plenty of stirring and simmering. With baking though, all bets are off. For this cook, simple is best. The fewer ingredients the better. You can imagine my delight (and skepticism) when I stumbled across a recipe online that claimed you could make a light and fluffy cake with just two ingredients, with a cooking time of only 30 minutes. With more than a bit of doubt, but lots of hopefulness, I set out to the store to pick up the ingredients. Would I be able to satisfy my sweet tooth and quell my hestiaphobia all at the same time? If not, I had a bounty of ice cream in the freezer just in case, so there would be no love lost. Now time for Brantley’s Baking 101 – preheat and pray.

Here are the ingredients:

1 box of angel food cake mix

1 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple

That’s it! Now this is my kind of baking. You don’t need measuring spoons or measuring cups. You don’t need eggs or oil. For goodness sake you don’t need different kinds of flour and baking powder. All you need is a mixing bowl and a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan (sorry for that scary part). Let’s get started.

Empty the contents of the angel food cake mix into a bowl. Dump in the can of crushed pineapple with the juice. Mix it up. Don’t add any water. No eggs. No oil. Disregard anything on the box of the cake mix. You only need the mix and the pineapple with its juice. Interesting things will start to happen at this point. The mix will start to grow in volume and get quite foamy. This is perfectly normal. Once you’ve mixed it for about 30 seconds, it will look like this…

Is this easy enough so far? Believe it or not, that’s about as difficult as it gets. Now just spray your 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan (sorry for that again) with some non-stick cooking spray so your cake won’t stick and transfer the contents of your bowl to your baking dish.

Now just slam that stuff into a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. When it’s done, the top will turn a golden brown. You could insert a knife or toothpick in the center to see if it comes out clean. If it does, you’re good to go! If not, let it have another minute or two in the oven.

Remove it from the oven and slice it into pieces, squares, slices, or whatever shape you like. I served mine with a nice scoop of vanilla bean ice cream that I had waiting in the freezer in case this endeavor turned out to be a failure. I didn’t know what to expect when I had that first bite, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. It may not be the most amazing baked good you’ve ever consumed, but for what it’s worth, it wasn’t too shabby.

For this cook who suffers from mild episodes of hestiaphobia, it was comforting to know that I could pull this off. I think you could too. So are you ready to conquer your fear? If so, I think this recipe is the way to go. It’ll boost your culinary confidence. It’ll impress your family. After all, they don’t need to know how easy this was. But most importantly, it’ll satisfy your sweet tooth. For this hestiaphobic guy, that’s really all that matters at the end of the day.

Until next time,

The Taste Bud

I’m a Spud Man

Oh potato, love of my life. My feelings for you have only grown stronger with time. Over the years, my maturing taste buds have grown to appreciate you in new and exciting ways. Don’t worry though, I still haven’t forgotten to appreciate you in your more natural form every now and then. Sometimes I love you most, when you are simply baked in your own beautiful skin.

So apparently I write love letters to my food now. You mean this isn’t normal behavior? Perhaps that’s an issue for another day and another blog, because right now it’s time to get down to business and talk about one of my favorite vegetables of all time – the potato! What’s not to love about these starchy wonders? They’re healthy, they’re versatile, they’re cheap, and they’re easy to cook. I’ve been a spud man my whole life. In fact, if we could travel back through time and ask a four-year-old Brantley what his favorite food is, he would most certainly respond back with “fwench fwies” as his answer.

Coincidentally, my answer to that question 25 years later would remain the same. Although french fries may have stolen my heart at a young age, I’ve now grown to appreciate potatoes in many other ways. Of all those other ways, a perfect baked potato remains near the very top of the list.

I say a perfect baked potato, because there’s nothing worse than a bad baked potato. I’ve choked down one or two of those in my day and the experience was less than enjoyable. Maybe it wasn’t cooked long enough or maybe it wasn’t seasoned properly. Or maybe the biggest baked potato sin of all time was committed and the skin wasn’t given the proper attention that it deserved. I can remember always being encouraged to eat the skin of my baked potato as a child. I can also remember always thinking in my head that I would eat it, if it didn’t taste like a wet paper bag. Of course I didn’t dare speak those words out loud, as that wouldn’t have ended too well for my back side. But now I know that paying proper attention to the skin can make your potato sing like a rock star, so let’s get in the kitchen and turn that spud into a stud.

For starters, don’t even think about putting your potato in one of these…

…and if you do decide to go this route, please don’t tell me about it. Microwaves are good for many things, but cooking potatoes ain’t one of ’em. In my kitchen, this would be considered spud sacrilege. “But it’s sooooooo much faster!” you gently remind me. Yes, you’re correct. It is faster. Sometimes, faster isn’t always better. I’m a believer that investing a little bit of extra time in the kitchen can make your final product turn out exponentially tastier than it otherwise would have been. This is one of those times. Trust me.

Now that we’ve determined that the act of cooking a baked potato should only take place in an oven, let’s get that potato out and ready to go!

I’ve chosen a large Russet potato and that’s generally my potato of choice for this method of cooking.

Isn’t that a beautiful sight? Let’s just take a second to admire this enormous spud. You could easily make a meal off of one this size, which is something I’ve done on more than one occasion. All you need to do is give it a rinse and pat it dry with a paper towel. Now this baby is ready for a little pampering. It’s time for a bit of skin treatment.

It makes sense when you think about it. We do things every day to take care of our skin, so why shouldn’t we do the same for our potato. A little care now will go a long way during the cooking process. Place the potato on a square of aluminum foil that is large enough to completely wrap around the potato. Before you wrap it up, cover it with a healthy drizzle of olive oil. Rub the olive oil all over, making sure to cover every square inch of its surface. This will probably take about a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Then sprinkle some salt and black pepper on the outside, being sure to rub it all over the skin. It will adhere nicely to the olive oil coating that you just gave your potato. Let those seasonings permeate the outside. You want every part of the skin covered with flavor. When you’ve finished the pampering phase, your potato should now look a little something like this…

It will be glistening and shiny from its coat of olive oil and you should be able to see the salt and pepper on the outside. If you can’t see the salt and pepper, it means you didn’t use enough. This is no time to be shy about seasonings. Now it’s time to wrap this guy up nice and tight and get it ready for its trip to the oven.

Place your potato in a preheated oven set to 400 degrees for about an hour and a half, or until it’s completely cooked through. The cooking time may vary just a tad depending on the size of your potato. Yes, this is a major time investment, but it’s absolutely worth it. When you take it out of the foil, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see the skin has crisped up a bit, while the inside will be soft and flaky. Since you took extra care with the skin before cooking, the outside of the potato may just become your new favorite part of the eating experience!

Of course, we can’t neglect the inside of the potato! This would also qualify as spud sacrilege, which we do NOT want to commit. The things you put on the inside are just as important as having that nice flavorful skin on the outside. This is where you can get creative. The possibilities here are endless. Butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon, salt, pepper, and chives are only some of the usual suspects. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the potato sack on this one. I’ve seen people put chili in their potato, or even adorn it with sauteed mushrooms and onions. The sky is the limit, so take a risk and see what happens!

I’ve tried many different combinations, but my all-time favorite involves butter, cheddar cheese, homemade bacon bits, salt, and pepper. To me, it just doesn’t get any better. A piping-hot potato, straight from the oven, with a crispy skin, that is oozing with delicious things on the inside makes my heart happy, especially since I see a heavy, wet snow falling as I write this blog.

Once again, the spud has saved the day. It has warmed my soul and stomach on this snowy Sunday afternoon, just as it has for nearly three decades. Now you know why I am, and always will be, a spud man. Let the carbohydrate coma commence.

How do you like to jazz up your potato? Share your ideas with me in the comments section!

Happy eating,

The Taste Bud (say it fast and it almost sounds like “The Taste Spud”)

Something’s Fishy Around Here

Something’s fishy around here, in more ways than one. Where in the world have I been? What happened to my (somewhat) regular blogging? Did I throw in the towel and give up on food and photography all together? Well, unless pigs have started flying, that’s certainly not the case.

Simply put, life got in the way. When you run that statement through the Brantley-to-English translator, you actually end up with this:

Eating. Sleeping. Sleeping some more. More food. Spending time on the couch. Hibernating for the winter. Doing anything but writing. Definitely not writing. Still taking pictures and eating, but certainly not writing.

All of that changes today, on this Tuesday, as sunshine finally streams through my blinds and reminds me that a new season will be upon us on Wednesday. Spring officially begins and with it being a season of new beginnings, I decided to breathe some new life into this extremely malnourished blog. I’m out of hibernation, like a bear emerging from his den after several months of deep, heavy slumber. When that bear surfaces, there’s one meal that is probably on his mind. Look out, because things are getting fishy again…

It happens to all of us. That dreaded moment when you just can’t think of something good to make for dinner. You’re starving and in the mood for a certain something, but you just can’t come up with anything except for the same tired meals you’ve been eating all winter. After a winter of nothing but comforting, heavy, stick-to-your-ribs kind of meals, I wanted to break out of my rut. So, I did the unthinkable. I went to the grocery store without a game plan and decided to do something that not only would challenge my culinary skills, but would feed my frugality at the same time.

The game is simple. Walk around the store and see what items are on sale. Challenge yourself to create a dish out of those items. If you’re going to play this game, you’re obviously feeling a little spontaneous so go ahead and take some risks. As soon as I walked through the doors, there was essentially a light shining down from the heavens on a huge display of magnificent mangoes. Angelic choirs began to sing as I drew closer to this display. What? You don’t have this kind of religious experience when you go to the grocery store? At any rate, their song spoke to me and said that at only a dollar, I would be a fool to pass up on this item, so the mango became purchase number one. Big bunches of asparagus were also on sale, so that quickly became purchase number two. I knew that I could roast them up very nicely with only some salt and pepper, creating a simple and easy side dish to accompany my mango masterpiece. Going down the aisle, enormous red bell peppers were at a deep discount, beckoning me from afar. I placed one of these colorful, red beauties into a bag and placed it beside my mango. Lemons were looking good and on sale, so they joined the gang as well. The puzzle pieces were beginning to fit together and all of a sudden, I had my food epiphany. “Eureka!” I exclaimed, much to the dismay and bewilderment of nearby shoppers. Reminding myself that I was indeed in a public space and that outbursts of culinary clarity were generally not appreciated, I decided to slink off toward the seafood counter, where I could regain a bit of my self-respect and dignity.

Everything was coming together perfectly as I raced toward the seafood counter, picking up a can of corn and black beans along the way. A mango, corn, and black bean salsa was in the works. My only hope was that a delicious and fresh fish would be available to me at a reasonable price. In another magical moment, sea bass was available that day, at quite the deep discount. I had the fish monger cut two nice-sized portions for me, wrapped neatly in crackly parchment paper. Now things are really starting to get fishy. And fishy is good. As I was in the check-out line, I was planning everything in my head. The mango, corn, and black bean salsa would sit on top of the sea bass, which would be pan-seared until it was perfectly cooked. The roasted asparagus would serve as the side dish to the very colorful and flavorful fish dish. Now time to get home and get cooking!

Back at home now, proud of my accomplishments at the store, I get to work making the salsa. To make it, here’s what you’ll need:

1 ripe mango
8 ounces of yellow corn
8 ounces of black beans
1/2 red bell pepper
1 tablespoon of chopped flat-leaf parsley
1-2 cloves of grated garlic
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Dice the mango and red bell pepper into small cubes. Since this will sit on top of a piece of fish, you don’t want the pieces to be too big. The mango will have a big pit in the middle, so you’ll have to work around that, but it’s worth the maneuvering. The mango flesh will be sweet and tender and a perfect contrast to the other flavors. Mix the diced mango, red bell pepper, corn, black beans, and chopped parsley together. You’ll want to make sure you give the black beans a rinse, to get rid of the dark liquid that would give your salsa an unappetizing color. Grate a clove or two of garlic into this mixture. Make sure you grate the garlic as opposed to chopping it, since the garlic will remain raw. Nobody wants to chomp down on a hunk of raw garlic – that’s just not nice. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the mixture and add your salt, pepper, oil, and sugar. Taste it for seasoning. You may want to add more salt or pepper. You could also add a little diced jalapeno pepper if you wanted to add a kick to this party. Otherwise, the salsa is done. Put it in the fridge and let those flavors marry together. The more time they have to mingle, the better the flavor will be! At this point, your salsa will look like this:


Colorful, huh? It’s quite the photogenic salsa. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost. Now we need a nice piece of fish to serve as the base for this colorful creation. I prepare the sea bass very simply. A sprinkle of salt and pepper on each side. In a pan, heat up a tablespoon of olive oil and a tiny amount of butter over medium to medium-high heat. Make sure it’s really hot before you place the fish in the pan, otherwise you won’t get that nice sear. You’ll get a nice steam, which won’t have the same effect, or flavor. A few minutes on each side and you’re good to go! The fish will start to flake apart nicely when it’s perfectly cooked. It should have a nice golden-brown color on both sides. Now let’s assemble this plate!

Place a piece of your fish on a plate. Put as much salsa on top as you’d like to eat. I put a spoonful on top of the fish and then sprinkled a spoonful around the fish. Place a big pile of roasted asparagus (there’s a blog from a few months ago on how to do this) next to your fish and salsa. I had some leftover parsley, so I made a puree out of it, with nothing more than parsley, a grated clove of garlic, salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of olive oil. It made for a nice splash of color on my plate and the fish tasted great dipped in it. The entire dish all came together to look like this:


All of the flavors came together so beautifully. The salsa provided the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and salty. The fish was so fresh and absorbed the flavors of the salsa so well. The roasted asparagus (which could be substituted with your favorite vegetable) was great as a side dish, and the parsley puree was an unexpected and fun surprise. The best surprise of all would be how affordable the meal is – coming in at a whopping $6-7 per person. Try and get this in a restaurant for that price. You can’t. I don’t even think you can go to McDonald’s these days for that kind of money.

I challenge you to do something like this the next time you’re in the grocery store. Take a few risks. Use ingredients that you haven’t used in a long time. Look out for those deals. Sometimes when you have no idea what to make, the grocery store will practically scream what you should cook. All you have to do is listen. And there’s nothing fishy about that.

Until I “sea” you again,

The Taste Bud

Feeling Crabby

Feeling crabby? Hey, it’s Monday. At least you can take some comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. Mondays have been bringing a crabby feeling to folks all across the world for years, decades, centuries, possibly even millennia. Some scientists even theorize that this crabby feeling on a Monday can be traced all the way back to our dinosaur ancestors in the Jurassic period. Meanwhile in 2012, those in the work force are desperately clinging on to their good memories from the weekend, while deadlines and projects loom on the horizon. I’m reminded of that old saying about making lemonade out of lemons, except I’m going to apply it to crabs. When life gives you crabs, make crab chowder! (Something about that doesn’t sit well with me, but let’s just go with it…)

A nice, hearty chowder that is sure to lift your spirits on a Monday (or any day of the week, for that matter) is just a few simple ingredients away. Technically, it’s a crab AND corn chowder, but the crab really is the star of this show. Here’s what you’ll need to get started!

16 ounces of crab meat (I used claw meat)
3-4 slices of bacon
A few stalks of celery
1 onion
3-4 Yukon gold potatoes
Frozen corn kernels (yellow or white)
2 cups of seafood stock
1 cup of heavy cream
1 1/2 cups of whole milk
4-5 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning
2-3 tablespoons of flour

Gathering the goods

As with all good things in life, this crab and corn chowder starts with BACON! That crabby feeling is already starting to disappear, isn’t it? Take a few slices of bacon and give them a rough chop while your big pot heats up on the stove.

Bacon gets ready to fry!

When your pot is nice and hot, throw that hunk of meat in there and listen to it sizzle!

Bacon getting crispy

After a few minutes in the pot, the fat will render out and the bacon will get crispy and brown. When it’s completely cooked, take a slotted spoon and lift your bacon out of the pot, being sure to leave as much bacon grease behind as possible. This bacon grease will eventually be used to cook your vegetables, allowing the bacon flavor to perfume its way all throughout the chowder. Set your cooked bacon on a plate, lined with some paper towels to soak up any excess grease. The bacon will be used to garnish your chowder at the end.

Crispy, crunchy, salty goodness!

Now that we have the bacon all crisped up, it’s time to turn our attention to the vegetables. Take a few celery stalks and an onion, giving both vegetables a fine dice. You don’t want the pieces too large, so it’s important to remain aware of the size of your vegetables here. Take your Yukon gold potatoes and cut them into cubes, which should be larger in size. If you cut the potatoes too small, they’ll turn to mush in the chowder and ultimately lose their shape and texture. I like using Yukon gold potatoes for this recipe because of their beautiful yellow color and their creamy texture. Be honest, did you nibble on some of that bacon while you were chopping? That’s all right. So did I.

Organization is key!

Remember all of your bacon drippings back in your big pot? They should be beckoning at this point and pleading for some company. That company would be your diced onion and celery. Add those two ingredients to the pot and let them cook over medium heat for a few minutes until they soften and get a light golden brown color.

Cooking the onions and celery

Once the onions and celery have softened, it’s time to get some spuds into the mix. Add your cubed Yukon gold potatoes and give everything a big stir.

Yukon gold potatoes

Let the potatoes cook with the onion and celery for 7 or 8 minutes. The potatoes won’t be cooked completely at this point, but that’s all right. There will be plenty of time for them to simmer once the liquid is added. At this point we need to think ahead. We are about to add a lot of liquid, but we don’t want our final product to be too runny. It’s time to add a thickener. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of flour on top of your celery, onion, potato mixture and stir. Leave this on the heat for about 2 minutes, to help cook out some of that raw flour taste. Now that we have added the flour, when the liquids get added to the party, everything will begin to thicken slightly to the consistency we want.

Flour will thicken things up

Now it’s time to get some liquid into this chowder, in what will begin the final stages of our meal! First, add in 2 cups of seafood stock. Luckily these days, you can find seafood stock readily available at most larger grocery stores. The stock gives a nice depth of flavor to your chowder and will give the impression that it has been bubbling away on the stove all day long. After adding the seafood stock, add several bay leaves, and a heaping tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning. The bay leaves have a nice floral aroma and the Old Bay will make you feel like you’re out on the beach at a crab boil.

Ingredients mix and mingle

So at this point you might be wondering when the crab makes its glorious appearance. That time would be right now! I used claw meat from the grocery store, but you could certainly boil and pick your own crabs, if you’re feeling ambitious. I opted to take a little bit of help from the grocery store and make things a bit easier on myself. Even if taking the simpler route, be sure to pick over the crab meat because stray shells can sneak their way in and ruin your chowder, bringing that crabby feeling back. Not good. Once you’ve looked over your crab meat get ready to dump it into the pot.

Sweet, delicious crab

The crab meat is sweet, tender, and carries a briny flavor that will make your chowder taste like the sea. Corn is a perfect addition because it mirrors some of the same sweetness that can be found in the crab. I used a few cups of frozen white corn, which is typically a bit sweeter than yellow corn kernels. Add your corn into the pot right behind your crab. When you thought this couldn’t get any better, it’s time for the addition of some dairy. We need a cup of heavy cream plus 1 1/2 cups of whole milk. This isn’t the place to skimp. Don’t think about the fat and calories. Think about the crabby feeling that prompted this whole cooking endeavor and how satisfying it’s going to be when the first spoonful passes through your lips. After all, that’s why exercise was invented, right?

Time to simmer

At this point, everything is in the pot and now it’s time to be patient and let it simmer. Partially cover your pot, lower the heat, and let the chowder simmer for about an hour or so, stirring occasionally to keep things from sticking. After about an hour, the chowder will have thickened, all of the flavors will have had a chance to marry, and the potatoes will be perfectly tender. It will be a nice creamy color, with a hint of pink from your Old Bay seasoning. Now all you need is a big bowl, a big spoon, and a BIG appetite. The big appetite won’t be a problem, because after you’ve smelled this chowder bubbling away for the past hour, you will be ravenous. Ladle out a generous portion into your bowl and don’t forget to top the chowder with a few pieces of your crispy bacon from earlier. That will be the perfect salty, crunchy finish to such a sweet and creamy chowder. The first bite is pure perfection. You get a nice hunk of hearty potato, the celery and onion singing slightly in the background, while the sweet crab and corn step up to be the stars of the show. All of those ingredients swimming in a sea of cream, milk, and stock, infused with bacon, bay leaves, and Old Bay. As a grin of total satisfaction washes over your face, the crabby feeling you had just a bit more than an hour ago will be replaced by a nicer crabby feeling. That feeling will only intensify, as each bite you take will be better than the last. So the next time Monday gives you crabs, get into the kitchen and make some chowder!

Chowder is finished!

Happy Monday and happy eating,

The Taste Bud

Getting Sauced!

There are few aromas that stick out more in my mind than going to my Grandma’s house and smelling her simmering pot of spaghetti sauce on the stove. I can still see that big, yellow pot sitting on her electric stove which contained the sauce that could make my mouth water. It was comforting, cozy, and familiar. Many good times were shared around the dinner table, while the sauce stayed warm over on the stove.

Before it was time to eat and I knew the coast would be clear, I’d take a spoon and have just a nibble to get a preview of what was to come. The taste was consistent every single time. There was never a bad batch. You could taste the warmth that she poured into the sauce with each lovingly selected ingredient. As I grew older, I was determined to learn her secrets to making the most delicious and flavorful spaghetti sauce. I still don’t claim to have worked out all of the details, because nobody can do it quite like Grandma. Regardless, here’s my attempt at recreating a classic meat sauce that will ever so deliciously adorn any pasta on this planet.

First, gather your ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

1 bell pepper
1 yellow onion
1 pound of ground beef (could substitute with ground turkey for a healthier option, or omit for a vegetarian sauce)
2 jars of whole button mushrooms (yes, from a jar – not fresh)
12-ounce can of tomato paste
29-ounce can of tomato sauce
5 or 6 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of ground cloves
5 or 6 cloves of fresh garlic
salt and pepper
pinch of sugar

Some of the ingredients you’ll need

To get started, take your pound of ground beef and add it to a skillet over medium heat, stirring and breaking it apart with a spatula.

Raw ground beef hits the pan

It’ll take several minutes for the beef to cook up and get browned, so while that’s going, turn your attention to your peppers and onions. You’ll want to dice them into cubes. I choose to go with a rough chop here, just because I like for the peppers and onions to be able to hold their shape and texture when they being to simmer. If you dice them too small, they’ll simply disintegrate into the sauce while they cook. After dicing the peppers and onions, give your garlic cloves a nice mince, using as many as you like in order to attain a wonderful garlicky goodness.

Dicing and slicing

Once you have gotten your peppers and onions diced up, your ground beef should be cooked perfectly. When it’s all done, it should look like this:

All ready!

Take your cooked ground beef and drain off the fat that was rendered out during cooking. Draining the grease is an important step because you don’t want your beautiful sauce to look like it has an oil slick on top of it! Put the strained ground beef aside and turn your attention to those veggies you have so diligently diced. Add a big splash of oil to a large pot. This pot will ultimately contain your finished sauce, so make sure it’s large enough to handle all of the ingredients and liquid that you’ll be adding. To the heated oil, add your diced peppers and onions.

Peppers and onions start to sizzle

Let them cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. After a few moments, add in your minced garlic and allow the mixture to continue cooking. After about 10 minutes, the vegetables should be starting to brown nicely and they’ll look like this:

Peppers and onions getting nicely browned

As everything begins to brown, it’ll develop a more intense flavor and trust me, it’s worth the wait! Now it’s time to bring this sauce together. Turn the heat down low and add your cooked beef to the peppers, onions, and garlic. Then take your can of tomato paste and add this to the vegetables and beef. This will add a deep, rich tomato flavor that will permeate the entire sauce.

Combining ingredients

While we are on the topic of tomato paste, do you ever have trouble getting all of the contents out of the can? Here’s a trick! Take a can opener and use it on the top AND the bottom of the can. Then just push down on the lid and ALL of the tomato paste will slide right out into the pot, without having to scrape endlessly with a spatula or a spoon. Here’s the proof of just how handy this trick is:

A neat trick to get *every* last bit!

Cool, huh? Now dump in your 2 jars of mushrooms and the 29-ounce can of tomato sauce. Finally, take the empty can of tomato sauce and fill it all the way up to the top with water and add that to your mixture. Then fill it once more, about halfway this time. Add the additional water to the sauce as well. This liquid will thin things out quite a bit and give you some room to let your sauce simmer and reduce, which will allow the flavors to really mingle and concentrate.

Adding the mushrooms to the mix

Thinning out the sauce with some water

Then it’s time to add a few seasonings to give this sauce some zip and personality. I like to add a few bay leaves (remember to remove these later, because they are most certainly NOT edible!) and a teaspoon or so of ground cloves. The cloves will bring a warmth and coziness to your sauce and keep people guessing about what exactly is in the sauce they’re eating! As with nearly every dish, add some salt and pepper to suit your personal taste and then a pinch of sugar to balance out some of the acidity that the tomatoes naturally contain.

Adding some spice

Our secret ingredient

Preparing to simmer

Now, all of the ingredients are in the pot and your sauce is ready to simmer! Partially cover the pot with a lid, but allow some room for steam to escape as the liquid evaporates and the sauce thickens. Crank up the heat until it comes to a low boil, then turn the heat back down to low so it simmers gently.

Simmering and thickening

Stir the sauce every 20-30 minutes, to prevent any sticking on the bottom of the pan. The longer you let this sauce simmer, the more it will thicken and the better it will taste. I recommend a good two hours of simmer time to get things just right. Your home will be perfumed with the delightful smells of the spices as the sauce’s flavor continues to intensify. When my kitchen starts to smell like Grandma’s house, that’s how I know it’s ready to go! When it has thickened to your liking, just ladle some on top of your cooked pasta and enjoy! Here’s a look at my final product that was served with some toasted garlic bread.

The pasta gets some of the thick, flavorful sauce

You can see how thick the sauce has become after all of the simmering. It will cling to your pasta and your bread as you sop up what is left over on the plate. The sauce freezes beautifully, or it can easily be transformed into another meal the following day. Take any remaining sauce and add some beans and chili spices and you have a quick and easy meal! Not only is this meal inexpensive and easy to make, it brings back some terrific memories for me. I am transported back to my Grandma’s kitchen on a cool autumn day, when leaves are piling up in the backyard. As I smell this sauce cooking in my own kitchen, I can close my eyes and go back to those moments from my childhood. This sauce reminds me that although time continues to march along and things change all around me, some things will always stay the same – just like a Grandma’s love.

Birthday celebration with Grandma!

Happy eating,

The Taste Bud

So Long, Summer!

It was 3:30 in the morning. I heard the alarm clock going off in my parents’ bedroom. I knew by 3:31 my dad would be coming down the hall into my bedroom to find an 8-year old me, head buried beneath a pillow and several dinosaur-covered blankets.

“If you’re coming with me, you need to get up now,” he would say in a very firm voice.

“Ok, ok, I’m waking up,” I would mutter back, still very much half-asleep. Pulling myself away from the comfortable bed on those early summer mornings was nothing short of barbaric, but I knew that a sweet reward wasn’t too far away. As I threw on a shirt and some shorts and made my way downstairs, my dad would already be jingling his keys, signaling the beginning of our pre-dawn trek. Where could we be going so early on a July morning? The produce market of course!

Once or twice a week, my dad would make the hour-long journey to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables for a few small produce markets closer to our hometown of Burlington. The produce markets would expect their deliveries around sunrise or shortly thereafter, which is why such an early departure time was required. Somewhere along the way, my presence was requested on these visits – but what 8-year old child would willingly spend a day of his summer vacation waking up at 3:30 in the morning? He had to find a way to entice me, to make me feel like this trip would be worth my while. He did this through watermelon. Yes, watermelon.

After we had picked up the produce from the hub in Winston-Salem, he would always take the biggest, sweetest watermelon he could find and smash it open. There was no finesse here. The melon was very unceremoniously dropped in the parking lot, shattering into bite-sized pieces for us to enjoy. The sweet, juicy melon tasted so refreshing on those early summer mornings, when the heat and humidity were still hanging in the air from the previous day. With hints of sunlight on the horizon, we made fast work of the watermelon, leaving nothing but some rind and seeds behind. It was then time to get back to Burlington to deliver the goods we had picked up.

Now, I realize those mornings were about more than just slurping down watermelon in the parking lot of a produce hub in Winston-Salem. They were about spending quality time with my dad. Bonding over delicious food in such a non-conventional way is something I wouldn’t trade for the world. This experience inspired the recipe that I will now share below.

Just the other night, I found myself craving watermelon – but in more of a grown-up way. The gears in my head started turning. How could I quickly transform watermelon into something even more vibrant and flavorful without losing the integrity of the melon? With a few simple ingredients, I think I figured out the answer to my question.

I like to start this recipe with a seedless watermelon. If you’re feeling ambitious and don’t mind picking seeds, go for it. I opted for the easier solution this time. I cut the watermelon flesh into bite-sized cubes. I arranged those cubes on a plate. Then it was time to dress the melon up a bit by adding some citrus to the party. You should take three small limes and zest them. Zesting a lime refers to the process of scraping off the outermost part of the lime – the bright green part. If you start scraping down too deep, you’ll run into the bitter white portion of the lime, which you do NOT want. Using a fine grater should be able to achieve the results you want for this recipe. Once you have gotten a tablespoon or so of the lime zest, add that to a small saucepan. Then it’s time to juice those three limes for all they’ve got! Squeeze ’em hard and get all of that juice. Pour the juice into the saucepan with the lime zest. Now to add a little spice, get out a piece of ginger root. You’ll only need about a teaspoon of very finely grated ginger root. All you need to do is peel it and then grate it until it’s almost a paste. You don’t want to bite down on a big hunk of ginger, because it would totally overwhelm your taste buds – plus, it’s spicy! Add the teaspoon of finely grated ginger to your lime zest and juice.

Now to add some sweetness, take about 1/4 cup of your favorite honey. I used a local wildflower honey that I found in Rappahannock County. The honey will very nicely balance out the tart flavor of the limes and the spicy heat of the ginger. Stir the ingredients over very low heat on the stove just for a minute or two until the honey has thinned out and everything is evenly mixed. It’s ok to pull this off the heat as soon as all of the ingredients are incorporated.

In a small pan, pour in a handful of your favorite nuts. I used walnuts, but you could certainly use sliced almonds, pecans, or even pine nuts. Toast the nuts in the pan, just for a few minutes until you can start to smell them. It should only take a few moments over low to medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally. While the nuts are toasting, take a few basil leaves and roll them up, like a cigar. Then take a knife and start shredding the basil into ribbons. Now you’re ready to assemble your watermelon salad.

Take a few spoonfuls of your dressing and drizzle it over the watermelon cubes. You should see a few flecks of green as the lime zest clings to the watermelon. The honey will almost seem to shine over the chunks of melon, giving everything a nice glossy sheen. Then for a bolder green color, sprinkle some of the basil ribbons over the watermelon. Add some of your toasted nuts on top of everything to give a nice crunchy component to your salad. Think of the toasted nuts as the croutons for your salad – giving a vital crunch to an otherwise soft dish. Finally, add a dash of salt and a tiny amount of fresh black pepper. The color contrast will delight your eyes and the flavor profiles you’ve combined will tickle your taste buds.

Juicy and bright!

It’s the perfect dish to make during the summer season and it can serve as a light lunch or a snack to carry you over until dinner. It only seemed fitting to make this on Labor Day, a holiday that many people view as the unofficial end to summer. It’s a dish that combines so many of our favorite summer ingredients into one simple, but elegant dish. So as I bid this summer a fond farewell, I’ll do so by giving a tribute to my favorite melon. As I do this, my mind will be transported to those early summer mornings spent with dad in the produce truck. So long, summer.

The colors of summer

May all your melons be sweet,

The Taste Bud

Pasta Opera

Nothing makes my taste buds sing quite like the combination of tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Combine that with some pasta, olive oil, and a few mushrooms for good measure and there’s a full-fledged opera going on in my mouth. The kind of opera singing that’s going to crack your wine glass, so do make sure you’ve taken the necessary precautions – those broken shards of glass are no fun! By no means am I suggesting to forgo the wine entirely. You may just need to use a plastic cup, so when the opera begins and the fat lady starts to sing, you’ll be fully prepared. Safety first.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

One box of your favorite pasta. I’ve found that angel hair works very well here. It cooks quickly and I’m impatient.
One container of grape or cherry tomatoes.
One container of pre-sliced, pre-cleaned mushrooms.
Quite a few garlic cloves. I generally use 5-6 cloves of garlic for this dish.
A nice handful of basil leaves.
A generous amount of olive oil.

Let’s get down to business. First, I like to get a big pasta pot and fill it up with water. Add a good helping of salt to season your pasta and a tiny splash of olive oil to keep it from clumping. Put that pot on the stove and bring the water to a boil. If you’re quick, by the time your water is boiling, the rest of the dish will be ready to go!

Next, it’s time to prepare the ingredients that will very soon be adorning your perfectly cooked pasta. Give your cherry or grape tomatoes a rinse and then slice them right down the middle. I love these little guys, so I use a full container. They’re such a vibrant shade of red and have a beautiful sweetness.

Couldn’t you just look at them all day? Of course, these are too good to simply admire. Let’s get ’em ready for the party! In a large pan, add a healthy pour of olive oil. Add enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. Over a medium heat, bring your oil to a warm temperature. Once the oil is hot, dump in those tomatoes and let them sizzle away! Every minute or so, give them a shake or stir so they don’t get too cooked on one side. We want an even cooking on our tomatoes. Once they’ve been going for about five minutes, they’ll start to release some of their juice. At this point, they’re right where we want them. The juice they release will help to make your sauce that will stick nicely to the pasta.

Now that the tomatoes are cooking and developing a wonderful flavor, it’s time to add your minced garlic. Again, use as little or as much as you’d like. I typically go buck-wild with garlic and like to add at least five minced cloves. Don’t expect a smooch after this meal, unless your sweetie also partakes in this garlicky concoction. Let the garlic soften and cook gently. The flavors will mingle with the tomatoes and the juice that is developing in the bottom of your pan. Is your mouth watering yet? We aren’t stopping here!

It’s time to add some mushrooms to the mix. Obviously if you don’t like them, don’t add them. Get creative. Add whatever kind of mushroom you like. I opted for the simple button mushroom, but you certainly could try any variety of mushroom that’s looking good at the store that day. Dice them up and into the pot they go!

The mushrooms will only take a few minutes to cook. At this point, the opera singer is warming up her voice. Can you hear it yet? Your wine glasses are safe…for now. Your pasta water should be boiling by this point. Drop in the pasta and cook it according to the directions on your box, with one minor adjustment. You’ll want to stop cooking the pasta just a hair before it’s completely cooked. Sounds crazy, right? By removing the pasta from the boiling water 30 seconds before it has completely cooked, you’ll allow it to finish cooking in your pan with the delicious goodies that you’ve been nurturing so carefully. Drop your pasta into the pan with the tomatoes, garlic, and mushrooms. Mix everything together thoroughly until the pasta and other ingredients have combined.

We are almost at the finish line but we wouldn’t dare serve this meal as is. Don’t forget about your basil! That’s the ingredient that will tie everything together and give it a vibrant pop of color and flavor. You’ll want to add this at the end so the basil doesn’t completely wilt and turn a dismal shade of brown. We want that bright pop of green and freshness to join us at the dinner table. Mix one more time over the heat until everything is incorporated. Add another generous splash of olive oil for flavor and then you’re finished! Grab a plate and get ready to chow down. Not only was this meal easy to prepare and inexpensive in cost, but it will also look quite elegant on your plate. You’ve transformed simple ingredients and dressed them up for the opera – which you should be hearing by now! Of course you don’t need to dress up for this opera experience. A pair of jeans and your favorite t-shirt will do just fine. Can you hear it?

A piece of toasted crusty bread will go nicely with this dish. Of course you could also add some protein to the mix and toss in some grilled shrimp or chicken to make this meal even heartier. A bit of grated Parmesan cheese just before serving will add a delicious salty finish. Grab your plastic wine cup, a fork, and get ready to enjoy the opera!

Happy eating,

The Taste Bud

Longing For Lobster

It’s no secret that I simply adore seafood. I go bonkers for it. In nearly three decades of living, I haven’t come across a single crustacean that I haven’t loved. A big part of this appreciation for seafood goes back to my childhood. Large seafood meals were rare, but when they occurred, they were quite the extravaganza. Seafood dinners were prepared for celebrations, milestone events, birthdays, or for that exemplary report card that showed stellar grades. I think even to this day I still associate seafood meals with that sense of celebration and accomplishment, which may be why this type of food holds such a special place in my heart.

Simply put, seafood reminds me of happy times growing up, spent with my family, sharing big hearty laughs around a dinner table. It’s food that makes you feel comfortable. Utensils are nice, but not necessarily required – your fingers will work just fine! As the shells fly and crack, you may just accidentally send some of the crunchy crustacean exterior sailing toward your neighbor across the table. But that’s perfectly fine. Have a good chuckle and keep cracking.

Recently, I found myself thinking about the absolute best seafood meal I’d ever had. There were many top contenders. In the end, the big honor had to go to a lobster dinner that I shared with my mom on the coast of Maine in June of 2011. This was a particularly special trip that the two of us shared. We spent a few days in Maine riding up and down the coastline in search of the elusive perfect lobster dinner. Guess what? We found it!

Driving out to Bailey Island about an hour north of Portland, we arrived at Cook’s Lobster House. It was rustic. It felt comfortable. We felt hungry, so inside we went.

Once inside, we looked over the menu. It all looked so delicious, but we had one thing in mind. Lobster. As we placed our order, big cups of delicious lobster chowder were served. The chowder was spilling over with huge chunks of fresh lobster meat. The broth was creamy and savory. It got our taste buds revved up for the main event that was yet to come…

After a relatively short wait, I saw our waiter out of the corner of my eye. He was carrying a large tray with two large lobsters, each one a brilliant color of red. I knew that my perfect lobster dinner was about to begin. I grabbed my napkin in anticipation. Then it arrived. Right in front of me. An entire lobster that was as fresh as they come. This poor guy had been swimming a mere few hours before. Now it sat on my plate and I couldn’t wait to see if the highly-touted Maine lobster really was all that it’s “cracked” up to be. Sorry for the crustacean humor.

The condiments are simple. A squirt of lemon and some melted butter are the only things you need to truly savor this catch from the sea. This allows the true sweet flavor of the lobster to shine – and shine it did. After a mishap that involved my mom nearly dropping her lobster on the floor (talk about a heart-racing moment!), it was time to dig in. Shells were getting cracked and lobster meat was being separated. Large dunks into the generous helping of butter accentuated the sweetness perfectly. We had finally found the perfect seafood dinner. We were able to now say we had eaten a truly authentic Maine lobster in the most beautiful of settings. Sitting out there on Bailey Island, feeling completely removed from civilization, spending that crisp June evening with mom will always stay in my mind. It also reinforced just how special seafood dinners have been to me in the past, and how important they will remain to me in the future. In the end, it’s about more than the food. It’s about the memories – and those memories will last forever.

What’s the best seafood dinner you have ever had? Share your stories in the comments section of this blog!

Time for this meteorologist to get crackin’. Storms are popping up, so it’s off to work I go.

Until next time,

The Taste Bud

Ready To Roast!

Nothing makes me feel more accomplished in the kitchen than when I’m able to turn somebody on to a food that they thought they could never like. When the pickiest of eaters come by for a meal, it’s time to pull out the big guns. One weapon in my culinary arsenal that can transform an ingredient like no other is that of roasting. Using high temperatures and just a few basic seasonings, you can create a depth of flavor that will make a believer out of the harshest of critics. Did I mention that it’s E-A-S-Y?

Here’s what you’ll need:

Vegetables that you’d like to roast. First up, I’m doing broccoli and cauliflower.
Olive oil
(Did I mention it was E-A-S-Y?)

Give your veggies a nice gentle rinse to get them ready for their trip to roasting town. After the rinse, make sure you dry the vegetables off VERY well. I can’t emphasize this enough. If you put these vegetables into the oven covered with H2O, they will simply steam instead of roast, meaning you will miss out on lots of flavor. This will cause lots of sadness and tears. For goodness sake, pat those suckers dry! Get every ounce of moisture off of them. When they’re dry and cut into bite-sized pieces you’re ready to put them on the roasting pan. A cookie tray lined with aluminum foil will do the trick just nicely. By lining the pan with foil, you’re creating a clean-up process that will take you the amount of time it takes to wad up a piece of foil. Now that’s what I call doing the dishes!

When your veggies are on the tray, give them a good drizzle of olive oil (this isn’t the place for vegetable, canola, or any other kind of oil). Also hit them up with some salt and pepper. That’s really all you need. Did I mention that this was E-A-S-Y? Give them a nice mix with your hands and you’re ready to slam them in the oven. Place your roasting tray with vegetables into a pre-heated 425 degree oven and just wait. Watch some TV. Read a good book. Sip some wine. After about 10 minutes, take a look inside the oven to see what’s happening. You should start to see the edges of the vegetables getting nice and brown. The broccoli will start to get a little crunchy looking. Take your pan out of the oven and give the vegetables a nice shake to give the other sides a chance to get nice and brown. Cooking at a high temperature like this allows the natural sugars in the vegetables to caramelize, giving them an entirely different flavor. Even the biggest broccoli haters might be surprised at just how different and exciting the flavor can become when roasted. Yes, I just said broccoli can be exciting. After another 10 minutes or so, you’re going to have perfectly roasted and caramelized cauliflower and broccoli. Your cooking times may vary slightly depending on the whims of your oven. Your nose and eyes will tell you when it’s done. You don’t want to burn it, but don’t be afraid of letting it brown. Here’s what it should look like when it is perfectly cooked:

That brown color you see there is pure flavor!! It’ll melt in your mouth and make your taste buds do back flips. Of course now all you need is a plate and a hungry mouth. There’s always a hungry mouth, or two, or three in my kitchen.

For an extra pop of flavor, you could add some freshly grated Parmesan cheese while the vegetables are still piping hot. These roasted gems make a hearty side dish that can stand up next to some bold flavors on the dinner table!

Next up, a vegetable that has a bit more of a following…asparagus! Don’t you dare touch that steamer. We are roasting today!

Using the same procedure as before, line the asparagus out in a single layer on your roasting pan. Make sure not to have them too close together. They need room to breathe! If they’re too close together, they’ll steam. Remember the sadness and tears that will cause? Don’t make me cry. We want caramelizing and optimum flavor building to take place. Like your teenager who is becoming increasingly independent, give those things some space!

Give them a generous drizzle of olive oil, then a hearty helping of salt and pepper and they’re ready. Sometimes to give an extra burst of freshness, I like to liven things up with a squirt of lemon juice. You’d be surprised how a squeeze from one wedge of lemon will brighten up the party. Give it a try, but don’t go overboard.

Now put those asparagus into a pre-heated 425 degree oven and leave them alone. Let them develop their flavor undisturbed for about 10 minutes, then give them a check. They may need a little shuffling. Let them go for about 5 more minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus.

Now you’re ready to eat! When they’re finished, they’ll look like this:

Again, the brown you see there is pure flavor! When you roast asparagus, it will take on a nutty type of flavor profile. The tops will get all crispy and crunchy. The flavor will be totally transformed and amplified. Asparagus cooked this way will stand up nicely to your favorite steak or seafood. It’s ready to eat just the way it is. By the way, this doesn’t have to be dinner food. Feel free to serve it up with your scrambled eggs in the morning. It can make a wonderful addition to your breakfast!

Now, armed with this new knowledge of how wonderful roasting can be, get into the kitchen and be creative! The possibilities are endless and you just might be able to make a believer out of even the most discriminating of eaters. I’d love to hear your tips and comments on roasting success stories. Leave your comments at the bottom of this blog!

Happy roasting,

The Taste Bud