Coffee and Hibiscus Ribs

Coffee and Hibiscus Ribs©RhondaAdkinsPhotography2015-7I’ve turned into such an inconsistent blogger, my life has been railroaded with a platter full of work and activities.  After retiring from the Air Force I was trying to find my way, I loved food, any thing and everything to do with food.  So I blogged, then went to photography school, then volunteered as a board member of our community gardens (now I’m the President), got involved with a downtown business women’s group (that has done amazing things), started a cafe, stopped a cafe and took over a cooking school…oh yeah and I shoot and write food articles for magazines.   I don’t make much but I love what I do, after all, everything has to do with food one way or another, except that I just don’t have time…

That is my lead into and poor excuse(s) for not having my Secret Recipe Club post up in time.  I can’t believed

I orphaned someone.  I’ve been doing SRC almost since it’s beginning, it’s the one consistent part of my blogging.  It’s my lifesaver, it brings me back and keeps me focused.  This is how it all started!

I was so judgmental of other bloggers who orphaned someone, who couldn’t post on time.  I mean really, you just don’t leave people hanging!  For me especially, with 22 years in the military, you can just imagine how goal/deadline focused I can be. There’s been more than once when I’ve stepped up and covered last minute to prevent this very thing!


Triple Truffled Deviled Eggs

Triple Turffled Deviled Eggs©RhondaAdkinsPhotography2015I have never ever seen an episode of Mad Men. It’s true. It’s on my list, but lately I just don’t have time to watch T.V., case in point I have chopped recorded and haven’t watched an episode since January…it’s filling up my DVR.

So why am I posting a recipe for a Mad Men group post?  Because my favorite blogger, Debra fromEliot’s Eats invited me too and that’s reason enough.  I may be eons behind in what’s hip and in vogue on T.V. and movies but that doesn’t make me completely ignorant.  I keep up enough to hold up a cocktail party conversation “wow, can you believe that it’s the last season of Mad Men, only seven episodes left” (I just read that in the paper last Sunday).

Although the baby boy swears that I’m a ‘hipster’ despite my protests that I am far too old to be classified as one, he also seems to ignore the signs that I am not really ‘hip’ at all.  Actually at my age, although I didn’t experience the Mad Men era, I am a by-product of it.  I am sure that I was conceived after some post cocktail and hors d’ oeuvre evening… It could explain my love for both now.


Red Apron Butcher Tour and more – IACP 15

RedApronButcher©RhondaAdkinsPhotography2015Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending my second IACP conference, once again it was a fun time and a great way to network! I learned scads and enjoyed eating and drinking the whole weekend.  Don’t know what I like more…the food or the people?

Here’s my mostly photographic weekend.  Photos taken at Red Apron (mostly) were taken with my D800, after a while I ditched it for the freedom of my iPhone (which amazes me constantly…)

My first day started off with a charcuterie tour and wine pairing at the famous Red Apron, then a meal at Chef Nathan Anda’s restaurant The Partisan.


Maryland Fried Chicken

Maryland Fried Chicken ©RhondaAdkinsPhotography

I’ve had some cooking nemesis in my day, you know the dishes that you just can’t seem to get right? For many years I struggles with making a good flour based gravy, it is simple to make but I just was trying too hard and would come out with lumpy flour-y gravy. Yet I could make a béchamel sauce, when I realized a flour based gravy is really the same as a béchamel/white sauce the pressure came off and those bits and baubles on the bottom of my pan didn’t freak me out, they got easily incorporated…well anyways, I just kept trying till I got it right.Consistently poaching eggs is still a nemesis of mine. I’ve tried all techniques, new and old eggs etc. I get a nice one every now and then but sheesh, I want it perfect every time! I’ll still keep plugging away at it (even ugly poached eggs still taste good so it’s not too much of a hardship).

The other nemesis has been fried chicken. Real fried chicken. For the life of me I just couldn’t get the damn fried chicken right. Maybe it’s because I never grew up with it (we always had the Colonel or Banquet frozen fried chicken). Truthfully I just don’t fry much with the exception of eggs and bacon. Sauté, boil, simmer, roast, bake, grill, sear…those are my cooking world. Problem is, sometimes I get a hankering for fried chicken and there just isn’t a decent place around here for fried chicken (although Popeye’s on base is fairly close). Most certainly no one in Montana is serving Maryland Fried Chicken.

Never heard of it? Not surprised, it hasn’t rocked the fried chicken world like the traditionally southern buttermilk fried chicken, or Louisiana style fried chicken, or chicken and waffles. I think that fried chicken and spaghetti is better known. Obviously Maryland Fried chicken is the norm in Maryland, as matter of interest, I used to live in Maryland. Attended grades 1-3 in Waldorf. Then later in life I lived in Virginia, which isn’t Maryland but very close. It’s this military brat/life that’s made me a culinary mish mash and why I don’t subscribe to any one style of cooking.

Anywho, let’s keep to the subject at hand. Maryland Fried Chicken. What makes it different? First off this is a pan fried chicken, not oven fried, not deep fried…pan fried. It’s a simply seasoned flour based coating but then it’s finished off with Old Bay seasoning (Maryland – crabs – Old Bay seasoning – chicken…see how it’s all connected). Lastly this chicken is smothered in a rich and creamy chicken gravy. Hells ya, and it’s good too. There’s nothing like taking some deep fried meat and slathering cream based gravy over it to harden up those arteries and take a few years of your life. And you know that I had cream left over so I went ahead and made some mashed potatoes with butter and cream and slathered it with more of that cream based chicken gravy. The only thing that kept us from keeping over right there at the dinner table was my home canned green beans, they had to counteract all the fatty goodness somehow.


Pressure Cooker {Venison or Beef} Enchiladas

Pressure Cooker Enchiladas ©RhondaAdkinsPhotographyWhy did I ever buy canned enchilada sauce? And how come no one ever told me that making your own enchilada sauce was so easy? Doesn’t anyone love me? Don’t you think I had a right to know? Thank goodness for Secret Recipe Club!

This month I was assigned cook with Sara, a Midwestern girl who’s loved cooking ever since she was a little girl. With Cinco de Mayo just around the corner I’ve had Mexican on my mind. I immediately honed in on her shredded beef enchiladas and her dolce de leche chocolate bars. In the end savory won over sweet. Plus I really, really wanted to make my own enchilada sauce!


Avocado and Egg Salad Sandwich

Avocado and egg salad sandwich ©Rhonda Adkins Photography 2014-Did everyone remember to spring ahead?  I certainly did not which only makes springing forward that much more difficult to adjust to.  Falling back is easy, nothing like feeling like you have a bonus hour.  Springing ahead, what?  I already don’t have enough time in the day and now I’ve lost an hour?  For the first week or so I play the game of, well it’s really 10:00 not 11:00 so I’m not staying up that late or it’s really 7:00 not 8:00 so I didn’t sleep that long…

Of course the realty is that the world lives by time, a clock, schedules and such.  As much as I’d like to march to my own time the world demands other wise.  Speaking of time, Easter is not far from now and Easter usually means a plethora of hard boiled eggs.  With hard boiled eggs comes the usual deviled eggs and egg salad sandwiches, of which you’ll get no complaint from me.


DIY: Organic 3-Ingredient Coconut Sugar Body Scrub

Organic Coconut Ginger Lime Body Scrub ©RhondaAdkinsPhotography 2013Two weeks ago I was assigned Mangia! For my Secret Recipe club assignment. I mentioned that a couple of things caught my eye. One in particular was Chelsy’s 3-Ingredient Coconut Body Scrub. I didn’t make it because I didn’t have coconut sugar and, well, it really isn’t a food recipe (even though it’s completely edible). During my next shopping trip at our natural food store I found coconut sugar…yay! Time to get my scrub on.


Buttery {Food Processor} Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttery Buttermilk Biscuits ©Rhonda Adkins Photography 2014Some things have become a quest for me, perfect mac-n-cheese, the best pie crust and a buttery yet light biscuit.  It seems that I goof around with recipes, tweaking them here and there hoping to hit that sweet spot of right ingredients and technique.  By what I mean when I say technique is: can I make this easier?

I’ve conquered the mac-n-cheese (which has also been confirmed by my Café Paris customers as the best), I’m still searching for the perfect pie crust recipe (butter or lard or both, vodka, vinegar or water, eggs or no eggs, etc.).  I’m quite happy to say that I’ve developed a recipe that is easy and produces buttery yet light biscuits.


16 uses for Cilantro Pesto with Essential Oils

Cilantro Pesto ©Rhonda Adkins Photography 2014Life is full of lessons.  Some lessons are good and some are bad.  Sometimes the bad ends up being for the best because you make the best out of a bad situation.  Despite careful planning, things don’t always work out as expected.  Actually it seems like the more carefully I plan the more likely my precision planning is a bit off.

There are times when I want to plan, to be exact and I don’t have the knowledge or skill to do it properly and I just take a wild guess…err, I mean I loosely calculated guess, you know, try to at least get it in the ballpark.  This may sound like I’m talking about some life changing event but I’m actually talking about food, recipes, serving sizes…

Now that I’m running a café I have to plan very carefully my menu, I need to make sure it’s coherent, that items marry well together from beginning to end and I have to watch my food costs.  For example last week I served macaroni and cheese made with super expensive cheeses, I off set the cost and the heaviness with a nice apple and walnut salad and then a chocolate cake with a chocolate walnut frosting.  I even used walnut in two elements, smart right!

Too bad I bought way too much mesculin salad mix.  I figured out how many cups I needed to serve 40 people, now I’m at the store and find out that it was being sold by the ounce…16 ounce packages.  This bulk package did not have a “serves…”, or serving size, so I guessed.  The package didn’t seem that big so I bought 4, serves 10 per package in my head.  I can tell you that one pound of lettuce is a lot and it’s amazing how compressed salad greens are in a plastic package. Fortunately they are also cheap so it wasn’t much of a waste.  Needless to say I’ll be eating salad every day, twice a day.

When I made Pho, I actually did really well except I didn’t think about the size of the bowls and how they would limit all the goodies that would fit into the bowl.  As a result I ended up with way too much cilantro, I would have had too many bean sprouts also but my little town here didn’t have enough (I wiped out every grocery store in town) where I thought I’d be short I ended up just right.

This was one of those times when I planned carefully and it just didn’t work out, lesson learned, I made myself notes and adjusted my recipe.  Since I’m one to make the best of a bad situation (bad may be a little dramatic for over shopping on cilantro) I made cilantro pesto.  Actually I had a little green onion, garlic, Serrano’s and limes left over also.  The pesto almost made itself with the leftovers.


Coconut Cream Cake | Café Paris

Coconut Cream Cake ©Rhonda Adkins Photography 2014-1I did it. I done did it.  Have you ever made a decision, a commitment and wondered “what the hell have I got myself into”?  As my time drew near to opening the café I was asking myself that very question.  Oh why do I jump in with both feet?  I mean this is work!  It’s stressful, it’s down right crazy.  Why do I do this to myself?

And then I feed. My heart and soul, my dreams and my talents are fed to customers.  And it brought them joy, pleasure, a new taste of life.  My ego is massaged, my self doubts vanish like they never existed and I thrive and grow, basking in praise.  I have made people happy, I have fed and satisfied, this is why I did it.  I am a feeder, a sharer of all that I am passionate about, it completes me.