It was a quiet Thanksgiving 2020 in our house, a more subdued celebration with just the two of us. Although the year presented all of us with some challenges--from a bitterly contentious election to a crushing pandemic--we still had a great deal to be thankful for.  Rather than roasting the traditional turkey, we decided to experiment this year with cooking a turducken. It was a great success: simpler and easier and with still a lot of good leftovers.

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In September 2019 we celebrated a special birthday and anniversary with a three-week trip to Spain, France, and Italy.  Blessed with perfect weather, we returned to some old favorite places and explored other new ones. And, yes, we had some truly memorable food and wines along the way.  Watched part of the wine harvest in the Veneto region and found some new favorite Amarone and Valpolicella ripasso wines.

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On a trip to Belgium in May 2019 we wandered into a shop in Bruges to sample the country's famed Belgian waffles.  A totally indulgent breakfast!

On a trip to Maine in October for the fall foliage, we indulged in the seaside treat of lobster rolls.

Hurricane Florence came ashore here in Wilmington NC (the nerve of her--on my birthday) in September 2018.  Although we had a window blow out and a lot of water damage, we have a generator that goes on automatically when the power goes out so we lost nothing in our refrigerator and freezer.  House-bound for a few days due to flooding and downed trees, I created this grain bowl with what I had on hand: packaged cooked grains, canned black beans and corn, leftover cooked veggies, packaged ham, a hard-boiled egg, and crumbled queso fresco.  True comfort food!

A photo trip to Iceland  in late July 2017 afforded a wholesale indulgence in our favorite fish, arctic char, which is indigenous to glacial lakes and lagoons in the north.

June Wilmington NC-  The annual Bluberry Festival in neighboring Burgaw inspired the making of this dessert.  Yum!

Skillet Blueberry Buckle

4 cups blueberries

½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted butter, melted

¼ cup vegetable oil

½ cup white whole wheat flour

½ cup all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon salt

⅓ cup light brown sugar

¾ cup fat-free half-and-half

1 teaspoon vanilla

ice cream or yogurt as an accompaniment

 

Preheat the oven to 350⁰ F.  In a 10-inch cast iron skillet stir together the butter and the oil and put the skillet in the oven for 6 minutes.  While the butter mixture is heating, in a bowl combine the flours, baking powder, brown sugar, cardamom, and salt and stir in the half-and-half and vanilla.  Remove the skillet from the oven, pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture, and combine the batter well.  Pour the batter into the hot skillet, scatter the blueberries even over the batter, pressing them lightly into the batter.  Return the skillet to the oven and bake the buckle for 30 minutes, or until the batter has risen up around the berries, is lightly browned, and pulling away from the edges of the skillet slightly.  Transfer the skillet to a rack, let the buckle cool slightly, and serve it with ice cream or frozen yogurt.  Serves 6 to 8.