Thursday, March 29, 2012

Best Southern Buttermilk Buscuits

I am head over heels in LOVE with these biscuits! They remind me a lot of Cracker Barrel biscuits, so obviously, they're amazing! The recipe is so simple, but the key is in handling the dough as little as possible. I hope y'all enjoy these! Throw in some fried eggs and sausage gravy and you have the perfect Sunday morning pre-church breakfast.

2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6-7 tablespoons shortening
1 cup lowfat buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and spray a pan with cooking spray or rub with butter. Wisk the dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl, then cut in shortening with a fork or pastry cutter (or your hands)  until it is piecy looking. Add in buttermilk and mix until just combined, no more! I use my hands for this part, which if you do, either flour them or spray them with cooking oil before diving in. Flour a work surface and turn out dough.Gently pat the dough, using your hands, not a pin, until it is about half an inch thick, maybe a bit more. Using your biscuit cutter, cut the biscuits and place them on your baking sheet. I place my bisuits touching on the pan so that they'll bake more golden than darker. Bake 10-12 minutes and ENJOY! They are amazing!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gateway to the West~ Our trip to St. Louis

Our first trip to St. Louis came as a result of my husband attending a conference there. It isn't really a city I would have gone out of my way to visit before, but after having been, it's such a budget and famly-friendly place to go!
One of our Must-Do's was the Budweiser plant. As much as my husband LOVES beer, I absolutely do not, but it was probably one of the most interested parts of the trip. The architecture inside the plant was meticulous in it's detail and cleaner than most people probably keep their homes. I can honestly say, I have no interest in beer whatsoever, but I still found the tour really entertaining. And for all the beer-lovers, there were free samples at the end of the tour. Not only do you see the inner workings of the brewery, you also get up close and personal with the beautiful Clydesdale horses they keep in the nearby stables.

The pictures above iare from the top of the arch! On one side, you can see all the way to the Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis cardinals, and on the other side, you can see the Mighty Mississippi. While the view from the top was absolutely something to see...the method for getting up there left me more than a little bit leary. You take a 10-15 minute ride to the top in this bubble-like contraption with a low ceiling and tiny seats. Add in the fact that they cram at least 4 people in these little bubbles and 2 of the people in mine were 6-4 large fellas, you can imagine my claustrophobia kicking in, but I made it up without incident and the view was more than worth it. Just be warned going in! I want to say it cost maybe $10 per ticket to go up, plus to get through the museum there as well, which is free if you don't want to ride to the top. 

The Busch Stadium was absolutely an incredible experience as well. We were able to get tickets the morning of the game and they were pretty darn good seats at that, not to mention, very affordable. Once inside, we had to try the fried ravioli that we'd heard so much about and it did not disappoint.

The city also offers plenty of completely free options that would be great for the whole family. There's a few art museums, children's museums and the free zoo, home to the completely inappropriate but hilarious statue pictured above. It is one of the nicest zoos I've ever visited, and if memory serves, among the largest in the country. I just couldn't believe you didn't even have to pay to get in! We spent about half the day walking around checking out all the animals and exhibits.

Our last night, we had a scheduled dinner cruise on the Huck Finn paddlewheel boat. I don't know the company that does the tours, but I imagine they aren't hard to locate. The cruise lasted a few hours and took us up the Mississippi and back to dock. We had dinner, live music and great views! I would definitely say St. Louis should be on your list of cities to visit! Very walker friendly, good for those on a budget and a little something for everyone.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Charleston, SC~ My Favorite Place on Earth!

The Pineapple Fountainin Waterfront Park

The first time Juston and I made our way to Charleston, SC was in 2008. It was part of a trip through the southeast that included stops in Knoxville, TN to visit friends, then on to a state Park in North Carolina, followed by a stop in Charleston, before making the last leg of the trip through Hunting Island , SC and Savannah, GA. The initial reason for wanting to go on this trip was to see Savannah, home of my favorite lady, Miss Paula Deen and location of The Book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which I'd just read. I never imagined that I'd fall in love with Charleston the way I did. It has all the things I love in live in one place! Horses, history, shopping, amazing food and the beach! What more could a girl ask for?

 Poogan's Porch on Queen Street
We spent most of our first trip to Charleston just meandering through the streets, peeking through gates into the magical gardens of the old historic homes and just doing the 'musts' for first-timers; the horse drawn carriage ride, shopping on King Street, hitting the downtown restaurants (you can throw a rock and hit one that would be amazing), and hanging out at the Battery Park. 
 Historic Charleston City Market
At the time we made our first trip here, I was working as a personal trainer and had a client who owns a condo just outside of Charleston in Isle of Palms. He gave me a list of places we had to see and eat. The top of his list was the open air market pictured above.  There are so many local artisans selling their various wares in the market from stone ground grits to sweet grass baskets and tons of things in between. You could spend a whole day just in the open air market looking around.
Home on the Battery
We try to make it back to Charleston now at least once a year, but it if we're lucky, we make it more often than that. Every time we go, one of the first places I like to walk to is The Battery. No matter how many times I see the homes on the Batter, I never cease to be in awe of their beauty. The fact that these gorgeous homes have withstood everything from hurricanes to wars only lends to make them that much more impressive. I can only imagine what one of these homes looks like inside, but just the pleasure of looking in from the outside is enough to keep me coming back year after year.

 The Exchange
There is obviously something for everyone in Charleston. Above is a place we found on our most recent trip over Thanksgiving and needless to say, my husband was probably most thankful for this discovery. The place was called The Charleston Beer Exchange. We walked out of this place with more bage that I ever fill on King Street in the gorgeous shops!
Jestine;s Kitchen lunch, Pecan crusted chicken, fried okra, mac and cheese.
The plate pictured above was literally one of the most incredible meals I have ever had in my entire life. I'm sure just about anything you get from Jestine's Kitchen would be amazing, but I don't think I could ever make myself order anything besides this plate, unless we went for lunch and dinner, of course ;) Jestine's is a staple in Charleston and I would definately recommend it in addition to TONS of other places we've eaten over the years!
Downtown historic Charleston isn't all the area has to offer! We've also ventured out to the beautiful beaches of nearby Isle of Palms, The Boone Hall Plantation, where part of The Notebook was filmed, Fort Moultrie and so many other places close by. I can't say enough how much we love this place. If you ever get the chance to go to Charleston, do yourself a favor and don't pass it up. There is so much to learn, see and do that it will not disappoint you! It is truely like going back in time to be in such a preservation-minded place that values the past as much as the present and future. After all, that's what the South is all about.