Thursday, August 16, 2012

EastMont Tomato Festival!

Just taking a minute to remind all of my pals in southwest Virginia and thereabouts that it's Tomato Festival time again! Already, you ask? Yep, it's been a year since the last one and now's your chance to enjoy plates of fried green tomatoes, perfectly seasoned and hot out of the pan. I'm especially excited to go this year because I've been invited to judge tomato submissions - good thing I've got a clean white shirt!

This Saturday, from 10 to 4, at the Meadowbrook Center in Shawsville, they'll have live music pretty much all day and there's a Tomato Pageant as well as a silent auction, plus vendors with lots of goodies, and plenty of that ultimate Southern favorite, the Tomato Sandwich!

Here's the place to find out more about the festival and download contest entry forms:

You could be the next Tomato King or Queen, or your winning recipe could find its way into the festival cookbook!

Friday, July 27, 2012

BLT Cornbread Salad

Once, when it was my turn to bring salad to our supper club, I asked the host for his favorite ingredients. His reply? "Anything but lettuce!"

That comment hit home as I was not a big fan of lettuce myself and it made me realize I did like all the other things you could put in a bowl and splash with dressing.

Whether you like salad or not, I'm betting most of you can't resist a pan of warm cornbread right out of the oven. Hopefully, you have a pleasant memory associated with it, like your Grandma or a favorite restaurant that brings biscuits or cornbread to the table for starters.

Recently, I came across a dish that was not familiar but I felt should have been - cornbread salad. Now, I've seen people do pretty much everything with cornbread: soak it in a glass of buttermilk, dowse it with honey, crumble over a bowl of soup beans, even make a barbecue sandwich! But never in salad. Since I had made a loaf of Moonshine bread, which is a yeast-risen, flour and cornmeal mixture, with a kick of Virginia White Lightning in the dough, I thought it was a good time to try this recipe.

Essentially, cornbread is cubed and baked into sweet/savory croutons. Fifteen to 20 minutes at 425 with a hit of Broil at the end and mine were golden and crunchy.

While it may have fallen out of favor with the availability of so many artisan lettuces on the market, iceberg is my green of choice since it holds up under the pressure of heavier ingredients like these:

Since it's July and my local market is loaded with regional tomatoes and onions of all colors and sizes, they went in next, followed by crispy bacon bits that I cut with scissors and fry that way so I don't have to get my hands greasy, breaking it up later. Because this salad looks so traditionally American to me, that meant orange-y good cheddar cheese, as well. This version got topped with a homemade honey-mustard dressing that satisfied my love for the sweet and tangy.

Honey Mustard Dressing:
Whip together,
1/4 C mayonnaise
1 T yellow mustard
1 T honey
1/2 T lemon juice

For the salad,
1 head of very fresh iceberg lettuce, cut or torn into bite-size pieces
1 medium red or yellow tomato plus a handful of any variety cherry, grape or pear tomato
2 slices of cornbread of choice, cubed and baked at 425 for 20 minutes, tossing midway
3 slices of bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
1 small red onion, sliced
Optional: 2 boiled eggs, cooled and sliced

This recipe fed 3 of us for supper! I hope you find a salad recipe you love, lettuce or no lettuce, and try making your own dressing, if you don't already.

Friday, June 29, 2012

LINKY PARTY via Foodie Friends Friday!

My pals at Foodie Friends Friday and I are having a party! Won't you join us? In honor of this day and of the day my little brother gets himself wedded in September, I made you a cupcake.

It's a chocolatey, rich and yummy cupcake with coffee in the batter and a swirl of cocoa frosting on top. What does this have to do with September weddings and Foodie Friends, you say? Well, this little cupcake just happens to be vegan! Just like the bride and groom, who are anxious to share the deliciousness of a plant-based way of life. So this Friday, I'm spreading the animal-free love.

If you're curious about baking without butter and eggs and all the usual suspects, give this recipe a try. Then give a cupcake to someone, let them ooh and aah over its gorgeous texture and flavor, then watch when you tell them it's vegan. "No way!" they'll say.

Read on for the recipe, which is courtesy of Chef Chloe, the vegan baker whose Ginger Nutmeg Spice recipe won Cupcake Wars.

Chocolate Cupcakes:

1-1/2 C all purpose flour
1 C sugar
1/3 C cocoa powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

1 C cold coffee or water
1/2 C canola oil
2 T white or cider vinegar
2 t vanilla extract

In large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Pour wet mixture into dry and whisk until just combined. Chloe admonishes not to overmix!

Fill cupcake liners two-thirds full and bake 16 to 18 minutes at 350. Cool completely and frost.

I used this Simple Vegan Icing from and added 1/3 cup of cocoa.

1/2 C vegetable shortening
4 C confectioner's sugar
1/3 C cocoa
5 T soy milk
1/4 t vanilla

Beat shortening, sugar and cocoa until incorporated and clumpy. Add soy milk and vanilla, beat until smooth.

Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes, share, and voila, someone is likely to fall madly in love with you!

Now for more kitchen inspiration, please pay a visit to the following Foodie Friends and see what they're cooking up this happy Friday!

Robyn's View
A Lil' Country Sugar
Saucy Girls Kitchen
Passione Per Cucina
Everything In The Kitchen Sink
What's Cooking In The Burbs
Busy Vegetarian Mom
From Calculus To Cupcakes
This And That
Cookies, Cakes And Bakes
Cupcakes And Kale Chips
Wife Of The Colonel
Chef Picky Kid
Family Food Finds
Bringing Pleasure To The Kitchen
Cindy's Recipes And Writings
DJ's Sugar Shack

Friday, June 22, 2012

You had me at lemon and lavender!

Meet Michelle:  Teacher, baker and creator of the blog, "From Calculus to Cupcakes." I was introduced to her over at Foodie Friends Friday, a wonderful recipe collective web page. These are her lemon lavender shortbread cookies:

One of my favorite treats is this herbilicious shortbread and Michelle has taken hers to the next level by adding a cream cheese filling. How delightful!

If you haven't eaten or tried cooking with lavender, I really hope you will. It intrigued me for sometime before I had a chance to use some locally-grown buds here in the Blue Ridge, and when I did, it was everything you can imagine. Floral, yes, but not overly perfume-y, and the addition of citrus is brilliant.

I recently purchased a half-pound of dried lavender buds for 11.49 via and they are lovely, delicately scenting the whole house when I opened my package. I make a delicious, rustic ciabatta-type bread using lavender and walnuts, but beyond culinary uses, you can also sprinkle the buds in bathwater for a relaxing soak.

I don't know how Michelle finds time to be a teacher, bake yummy shortbread AND write about it, but I'm glad she does. Check out her blog for more recipes of delicious treats like Teacup Muffins, homemade ice cream and lots more.

Happy Foodie Friends Friday, everybody!

Friday, June 15, 2012

This and That

Welcome to week 2 of my Foodie Friends Friday featured blogs! I was fascinated by Marlys' introduction of herself on "This and That" - "A little African, a little American and a whole lot Canadian." Being wholly inexperienced in 2 of those cuisines, I was drawn to her recipe for African sauce first. In the Capozzi-Speaks households, red sauce is something usually readily available or easily whipped up on short notice because we eat it often. As a result, we're always on the lookout for variations that we haven't tried.

Interestingly, Marlys' African sauce recipe starts the same my grandmother's marinara did - cooking the tomato paste in the olive oil. The addition of meat is also a (traditionally, when affordable) similarity. What I found intriguing was her inclusion of anise and ginger - exotic and alluring spices I probably would not think to serve on pasta but her suggestion of rice and beans went instantly on my to-make list (it's long and constantly shuffling but only the good stuff qualifies!).

If you're like me and want to know more about African cuisine and especially the region of Togo, check out Marlys' blog and follow her journey - lots of pictures included!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Foodie Friends Friday

Meet my newest blogging friends - web and Facebook pages put together by Tracy, aka Busy Vegetarian Mom - where foodie writers visit and talk about each others' blogs and recipes:

This week I was invited to check into Fit from the Inside Out, written by Anna, a 20-something college student. My first thought was that I didn't have much in common with Anna, aside from blogging about what I like to eat. She's much younger and has a much, much healthier approach to life. In fact, Anna does all those things I should be doing: eating lean meals, getting plenty of exercise and drinking lots of water every day. And she keeps a pretty good record of her efforts - maybe that's the key, something I should incorporate.

One thing I already do that Anna recommends (and tells you exactly how) is drinking "green" smoothies. Just throw a handful of spinach, kale or whatever you have on hand, into your usual fruit mix. I find that greens do not change the flavor of a smoothie and I have the comfort of knowing I've had a serving of nature's healthiest food before I even start the day.

So check out Anna's healthy blog and visit Foodie Friends Friday when you get a chance. And don't forget to drink your greens!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Sunday, baking friends! Have I told you about my new project yet? After years of working in and learning about the baking business, I'm making the leap - the lease is signed and my daughter, Laura, and I have set up an IndieGoGo account and we are looking to open our own cafe & bakery in my hometown. Here is the building, which was constructed in 1911, and is being lovingly restored by its current owner, Bob Poff:

We've got a little blog going about the venture, which we have decided to call Mockingbird Cafe & Bakery and you can read it here: Kirk Carter, a sweet and talented friend (whose work you can see more of at, was kind enough to take lovely pictures of us and a few of our goodies:

If you live in southwest Virginia and would like to facilitate having a bakery nearby, you can help here: There are great rewards if you do! Not only would you have our undying gratitude and affection, but $25 will earn you a cookie or cupcake a month for a year, $50 will keep you in goodies every week and $100 will get you a cake a month and an invitation to our friends and family grand opening party. Woohoo!

We hope you'll come see us when we open in June and meanwhile, enjoy Spring and give everybody you love a hug (or at least a cupcake)!