ft. lauder-ate it.

Well, it’s time to share about our last day in the Sunshine State.  By the time I was out of bed and into the kitchen, there was already a huge pork shoulder dry rubbed with BBQ seasonings in the oven.  We had plans for this guy to cook low and slow all day long.  We started cooking it at 325 degrees, and later turned it down to 225 for the duration.  The menu requested: Adam’s pulled pork with my super slaw and corn and tomato salad.  The side dishes were items that I cooked up for a wedding shower a few weeks back, which were both a huge hit.  They are relatively quick and easy to put together before the meal, so we were free to move on to breakfast!

We had pecans on hand for the slaw, so we decided to make pecan pancakes and bacon, which we had leftover from our Beef Bourguignon.

We made the pancake batter from scratch and stirred it briefly, leaving the lumps, and let it sit for ten minutes or so before doing any ladling.

The cakes came along quickly, and they looked beautiful!  Bacon was ready, and it was time to enjoy.

I was having a little fun playing with my food.  I knew there was still some blueberry sauce left from the previous day’s french toast extravaganza, so I heated that up for us to enjoy with the pancakes.  Look out, Aunt Jemima, that sauce puts you to shame!

I’m always talking about utilizing ingredients wisely to stretch a dollar.  Just at breakfast, I used three ingredients intended for other ends to make the meal really special.

And then…off to the beach!  It was a beautiful, sunny day, albeit a bit chilly.  It was the kind of day where you see some people on the beach wearing only bathing suits and playing in the water, while others are covered from head to toe.  And one guy was skiing on the beach.

I couldn’t resist including that photo, and I knew you wouldn’t believe me if I just told you!  Cross country skiing on a beach is hard work!  I would imagine.

On our third day, we decided to hang out in front of a restaurant called Aruba in Lauderdale by the Sea’s little downtown area.

This place is always hoppin’, no matter what time of day.  Being right on the beach draws all kinds of folks to come and dine and/or drink at Aruba.  They have a giant menu with everything from Coconut Shrimp and Bamboo Chicken appetizers to a sandwich stuffed with meat called the Soprano to a Greek Tuna Salad to Fresh Florida Mahi Mahi.  They also have an extensive drink menu, with a whole page dedicated to Margaritas, and their bars get super busy at night.  I expect that it is pretty expensive to own a beachfront restaurant, and that is reflected in the prices of their food.

So, Adam and I went on a little waking adventure to see what we could find in the way of interesting, affordable lunch.  We wandered around the area and noticed many menus with inflated prices…until we stumbled upon a little gem of a hole in the wall.  Just the way we like it!  Keese’s Gourmet American – Mediterranean Food has been run by family since 1953.  Personally, I think that they could ditch the two-thirds of their menu that offers American staples like BBQ ribs, buffalo chicken fingers, and burgers and just focus on their Mediterranean offerings like falafel, kibbe, and various meats cooked on a vertical rotisserie and thinly sliced for each order.  A giant menu has certainly been a downfall for many restaurants trying to do too many things, but I guess it’s  been working for Keese’s for over fifty years.  We liked the prices and decided to give it a whirl.

We went with the gyro, which of course was offered as a “meal deal” with fries and a coke.  We carried it back to the beach, so we could check out this view while we shared our lunch.

The gyro was delish.  The tzatziki sauce was perfect, as were the lamb and flatbread.  The fries- frozen, straight out of a bag- were good- like standard frozen steak fries, but I wonder why they choose to sell frozen foods when their homemade options are so tasty.

After a while longer on the beach, we ventured over to Aruba’s patio where we were able to listen to a real, beach town, one-man-show play guitar and sing beachy tunes.  He gave us that quintessential beach experience- Margaritaville, Everything’s Gonna be Alright, and Escape (The Pina Colada Song) while we enjoyed a signature margarita.  I had pineapple and orange juice in mine, and it hit the spot!

And then I had to say goodbye to the beach, which is never easy for me.  Ugh.  Hurts every time.  I’ve lived at the beach in several different towns before, and I never ever tire of the sights, sounds, and feelings of peace that the ocean evokes in me.  One day, my friends, Adam and I hope to own a Bed and Breakfast and Dinner right by the beach.  That way, we will be able to have the best of both worlds- the goodness of the ocean, paired with the ability to share our home cooked foods with travelers and locals alike.

Adios, beautiful Mother Ocean.  Thanks for the love.

When we walked in the door of my mom’s house, the smell of slow cooked pork hit us right in the face.  Mmmmmm.  Time to prepare the sides.

I started by candying and spicing up some pecans.  Brown sugar with a touch of water created a syrup, and then I added cayenne, paprika, garlic and salt and pepper.  Then, I spread them out to dry.

Next, I cut apples, cabbage, and red onions, grated carrots, and sliced up the cabbage.  Adam made the tangy, spiced dressing and we were ready to toss it all together.

The corn and tomato salad is very easy.  Just shallots, garlic, roasted corn, tomatoes, and fresh basil.  Fresh, simple, and delicious.

When I tell you that the pork was the most tender and juicy that Adam has ever made, I am speaking the truth.  We usually serve the Pork Butt with barbeque sauce, but this piece of meat was too delicious to cover with sauce.

Oh wonderful combination of sweet and tangy spiced up slaw with light and fresh roasted corn and tomatoes dancing with fresh basil, paired with savory, deeply flavored meat.  This meal made our mouths happy, while my heart was feeling pangs of sadness.  I am terrible at goodbyes.

We had a fabulous weekend in Florida.  Getting away from the cold and gray Atlanta winter was a perfect respite for Adam and I.  We packed in lots of cooking, eating, and enjoying local goodies and sunshine.  Being at my mom’s always brings such comfort and happiness.  And a full belly.  I’m glad I got to share it with y’all.

Back to Atlanta.  Back to work- which is pretty awesome since that means growing my business.  Back to sharing my culinary adventures from my own kitchen after a much needed rejuvenating weekend.  Great things are happening for me and Plan to Plate.  I’m feeling very lucky and excited about what is to come.  I hope you’ll stick around for the ride!

Best wishes to all of you,



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