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Just a Small-Town Girl: Oldsmar’s Centennial Cookbook Challenge   

2 May

I always have and will always be a small-town girl. Once upon a time, I dreamed of moving to NYC to work as a fashion-magazine editor, and then I saw Times Square. Amazing and beautiful, yes, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea full-time. Originally from Granger, Indiana, I left that small town for another small town (Bloomington, Indiana) and eventually another small town (Oldsmar, Florida).

There’s just something magical about living in a small town. (Is John Mellencamp’s “Small Town” playing in your head yet?) I love knowing my neighbors, I love that my community feels more like a group of friends than strangers, and I love that we all wave to each other when we pass by.

And I particularly love living in Oldsmar — close enough to Tampa, Clearwater and Orlando so you get all the big-city fun but far enough of way that you retain the small-town charm in your everyday life. I love that I can walk to the library or to the water any afternoon, and I absolutely love the rich history of this area. Ransom E. Olds, the automobile pioneer, purchased nearly 38,000 acres of land in April 1916 to establish Oldsmar, and this year marks the city’s Centennial Celebration!

As part of that celebration, Oldsmar has been hosting themed concert events every fifth Friday of the month —and it was at one such event that I found an absolute gem: the Oldsmar Centennial Cookbook, featuring nearly 120 recipes from local residents just like me. The Friends of the Oldsmar Library put together this collection of treats, and I had to have one. $15 dollar later, I snatched up my copy and tucked it under my arm for safe-keeping until I could get home.

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On Sunday afternoon, I read the cookbook cover to cover, soaking in not only the recipes but a lot of wonderful history on Oldsmar and its residents. Each recipes has a notes area, filled with the lovely stories about the background of each dish, like the one Grace Kinane shared with the Stuffed Olives entry: “Longtime teacher at Oldsmar Elementary, Helen Scott, shared this after we swooned over them!” Or Bette Rae Maltinos’ submission for Brown Bread, “I have made this since my sons were very small and they could not wait to cut it and eat. I still make this for them even though they are now men.”

The cookbook is also filled with old photos documenting Oldsmar’s history like the town’s very first library and Mr. Olds and President Roosevelt in our streets among others. Who knew that Oldsmar hosted beach parties in the 1920s? Looks like quite a fun time from the photo! I wondered if they served any of these recipes there.

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The cookbook inspired me to start a challenge. I’m going to cook my way through each and every entry, starting with the very first one: Joan Wallace’s Bacon-Shrimp Bites. And so I did! Jumbo shrimp wrapped in bacon with a drizzle of barbecue sauce and honey make Sunday just that much sweeter. And with that first bite, I thought, “Yes, Joan. You were right. I should’ve planned for leftovers, because this was delicious!” Thank goodness for those notes.

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And as I continued read through the pages, I stopped thinking of this as a cookbook all together. It was so much more than a cookbook in my eyes. It was a book, filled with amazing stories. And it reminded me what recipes actually do — they let you gather as a family and make memories over some delicious meals. And within those note sections and among the old photos, there lied our real truth … we are neighbors who share, we are families that love, and we are a community with a treasured past. And that’s why I love being a small-town girl right here in Oldsmar. And that’s life in a nutshell.

Joan Wallace’s Bacon-Shrimp Bites

Jumbo Shrimp: As many as needed

Bacon Slices: Half the amount as shrimp

I cup barbecure sauce

1 drizzle of honey per shrimp

Toothpicks

Cut bacon in half and wrap around the shrimp. Secure with a toothpick. Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Broil 6 inches from heat for 5 minutes on each side or until bacon is crisp (we actually grilled these instead on foil). Drizzle with barbecue sauce and honey, and serve.

Note from Joan: I have been serving this for years. It is very quick to make and is low calorie (30 calories per shrimp). I love to have leftovers of this. Keep them in the fridge until the next day and have a few as a tasty lunch.

To purchase your own copy of the cookbook, visit the Oldsmar Public Library at 400 St. Petersburg Drive East in Oldsmar. You can also read more about it here.

MommaNut

 

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Friday Food Day: Peppermint White-Chocolate Fudge

17 Feb

Any day is a great day to make fudge in my book. I happened to make this little bit of heaven for Valentine’s Day but you can certainly make it for any occasion. Did you have a good week at work? Make this fudge. Did you have a bad week at work? Make this fudge. I think you get the picture.

It literally only took me about 15 minutes to put this together, and it was simply delicious. It is very rich, so a little goes a long way.

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 ounce) package of white chocolate chips or high-quality white chocolate bar
  • 1 (16 ounce) container vanilla frosting
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 8 drops red food coloring
  • 2 Tablespoons crushed peppermint candies

 Directions

  1. Line an 8X8 pan with waxed paper.
  2. Melt white chocolate chips in a double boiler or melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval.
  3. Stir in the frosting into the white chocolate chips.
  4. Stir in peppermint extract.
  5. Spread into prepared pan evenly.
  6. Drop 8 drops of food coloring evenly spaced on top of the fudge.
  7. Using a knife swirl the food coloring.
  8. Sprinkle top of fudge with crushed peppermint candies and press down slightly.
  9. Cool for about an hour in the fridge.
  10. Once firm, turn fudge onto a cutting board and cut into small squares.

 

 

And that’s life in a nutshell … fudge makes everything okay in the end. Enjoy!

MommaNut

Gobble Gobble: Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

24 Nov

It’s Turkey Day, and I wanted to wish all of you a very special Thanksgiving with your family and friends. Thanksgiving is that time to reflect on your life and take pleasure in the little things that are so wonderful. It’s also an important time to test your tummy capacity and your napping skills. And I hope to accomplish all of these things today.

I’ll start with the warm, fuzzy sentiments with my “MommaNut Is Grateful For” list. So, put the apple pie in the oven, place the gravy on the warmer and sit on down to enjoy!

MommaNut Is Grateful For

  • Having the most amazing husband in the whole world who can’t wait to spend the rest of his life right by my side, even when I’m not the easiest person to live with
  • The sweet kisses I get from Peanut and Cashew after a long day at work
  • Our thoughtful, supportive family and friends who love PoppaNut and I very much
  • Having a job that I love, where I feel rewarded by my work and respected
  • Documenting my life through this blog, which always me to walk down memory lane any time I feel like it
  • Living in Oldsmar, a town I have grown to love where everyone seems to know your name
  • My Way Fitness, because I have been able to watch PoppaNut achieve some of his greatest dreams, and I can’t wait to be along to watch the rest come true
  • All the recipes my family has shared with me, because it has ignited a new passion for in cooking and baking
  • Turning 30 this year, because I know the best is yet to come
  • Scrabble, a game that PoppaNut and I like to play a few times a week
  • Sunday runs near the water, where PoppaNut and I talk about your future
  • Delicious homemade sauce that I could literally drink by the jar (I know that sounds disgusting, but you can’t judge until you try the sauce. I count down every week for it!)
  • Being able to find time to read again, even if it is while I’m on the treadmill
  • Working out, because I’m feeling better than I have in a long time
  • Long naps in the afternoon with just the hum of the dryer in the background
  • Visiting our neighbor vendor for our Halloween pumpkins and Christmas tree, which we will be picking up tomorrow
  • That the Yankees Spring Training will be here soon, because PoppaNut will be so happy
  • Having a walk-in closet filled with more shoes than my little heart could have ever dreamed of

And the best part is that this list could go on and on and on because I have so many things to be thankful for. I’m the luckiest girl in the world, and I never want to take that for granted. I hope you won’t either, so make a list for yourself. What are you really thankful for? Think of that list today as you see your family and friends. Hug each of them a little tighter and say “I love you” more often.

And that’s life in a nutshell … Thanksgiving is really about recognizing what you have in your life and being thankful for it. The food is just a bonus.

MommaNut

Reading Rainbow

9 Jun

I’m an avid reader. Call me a book nerd if you want, but I just can’t get enough of the written word. Maybe it is because I love to write so much, maybe it is because I love finding a typo or grammar mistake in something published, or maybe I just can’t get enough of really interesting stories. Books keep my brain active and make me see things in a new way.

I had seen eReaders come out that allow you to read a book digital. At first, I was completely against this. “Nothing can replace the feeling you get when you have a book in your hand,” I thought to myself. I loved the way you flip the pages and the smell a book gets when you have had it a long time … don’t judge me.

But that all changed last Christmas when PoppaNut gave me a Sony Reader. This thing is amazing. You can download books, newspapers, magazines, audio books and more. It has a dictionary built in, so you can look up unknown words as you read, a feature this book nerd happens to appreciate. You can place notes in it or bookmark a page. It’s like a normal book on steroids!

And the best part: NO GLARE! I can read on the beach with no problem at all. In fact, I have taken it with me to the beach and read while PoppaNut took out the Jet ski. I’m obsessed!

The first book I downloaded was called “Barefoot.” I had never heard of the book before, but Sony graciously suggested it to me when I was on the downloading site. Brilliant, Sony. You are right. I do love this book. How do you know me so well?

Next, it was on to Bethenny Frankel’s “Place of Yes” book. Now, when I downloaded this one, I had no idea that it was a self-help book. After reading my comment about loving the smell of old books, you probably think I need a self-help book, but I beg to differ. Anyway, I love watching Bethenny Frankel on “Bethenny Ever After” and “Bethenny Gets Married” on Bravo, so I gave it a read. I loved this book too! She was funny while offering some advice. And I love that she didn’t pretend that she had everything figured out, something you know about her if you watch the show.

Next up: Tina Fey’s “Bossypants.” Now, funny is not even the word for this book. I could literally pee my pants reading this one, and you know that can happen in my family. It is about Tina’s life growing up and how she made it to SNL as a writer. I’m only about half way through so I don’t know how it ends … well, I know she becomes wildly famous, because it is based on her life … but I don’t know the rest of the stories she reveals. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

I’ve already downloaded the next book I’ll be reading. It is Shirley MacLaine’s “I’m Over All That.” I caught Shirley talking about her book on Oprah, and it sounds like she had one wild ride in Hollywood. I can’t wait to read that one. I also recently saw James Frey on Oprah (when Oprah was still on). He is the author of “A Million Little Pieces” who was put through media scrutiny when it came out that his book was not a true story as he had promoted it as. With all the press attention around that book, I have always wanted to read it to make up my own mind about it. Perhaps I’ll read that one after Shirley’s book.

And that’s life in a nutshell … curling up with a digital eReader is even more amazing than those smelly library books. You should try it too!

MommaNut

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