Bowls of Comfort

When Bobby G. cooks it is nothing short of excellent. Try his Chicken Noodle Soup. It’s rich yet healthy. The secret? Cooling the soup and skimming off the fat from his homemade stock is key. You just can’t get any better than this recipe.

Recipe for Bobby G’s Chicken Noodle Soup

His recipe hit the big time when it was published in the winter issue of Celebrate Home Magazine (page 42). Download the magazine for free here.

Photo by Cindy Dyer.

South-of-the-Border Hospitality

Now, that all depends on your definition of “south of the border.” In this case, it’s south of the Virginia border into Raleigh, North Carolina. We were off to visit my niece Megan, her husband, Sean, and their two girls, Kiera (7) and Riley (3). And, Murphy the dog.

Fussing a bit, Megan said to her husband before we arrived for dinner and an overnight stay, “I want everything to be just right. “

“Why’s that?” he said.

“Because every time we go to Aunt Barb’s, everything’s perfect!” (I didn’t realize I was such a hard act to follow).

Sean said, jokingly, but with validity: “Last time we were at their house, I was almost killed by a tree and the air conditioning went out with the power.

The tree that missed Sean.

I cannot deny that. They were here during a bad storm and a mighty oak fell away from the guest room into the street instead of on the roof where Sean was sleeping. And, yes, the A/C did go out with the power outage. We slept (or not slept, rather) in sweltering conditions. Let’s just call that episode a hospitality challenge.

Back to Raleigh: I offered to cook dinner when we arrived to spare them the trouble. My brother (the famous Bobby G), who also lives in Raleigh, also offered to come by and cook. But, Megan insisted that she was doing it all. She sound motivated so we backed off.

Truth be told, Megan doesn’t need to cook or set the pretty table with wedding-gift linens to show us hospitality. She and Sean and those little girls roll out the welcome mat no matter the menu or who is cooking (or ordering the take out). After all, what more do you need than two darling little girls, Murphy the mellow mutt, and two cute grown-ups who greet you at the door and make you feel like you landed on the right spot.

Riley (l) and Kiera (r) always happy to see you!

Late into that night, a horrendous summer storm came through Raleigh. Sean and Megan were up with the crashes of thunder. The comforting food, the soft bed, and kisses from the little ones put me into a deep slumber and I never woke until morning. After all, it wasn’t my house and I didn’t have to worry about any trees. Now, that’s hospitality!

Corn and Bean Salsa (Pictured above.)
Easy! These are ingredients you can have stocked in your pantry for a quick appetizer.

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can shoe peg corn, drained
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Mix it all and serve with tortilla chips.

Mexican Lasagna
This dish is easily made ahead and held in the refrigerator, then heated in the oven for about 30 minutes before serving. It’s also a great dish to deliver to a  family in need of meals. Who doesn’t like Mexican food?

  • Cooking oil – any kind
  • 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1/2 or 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 8 ounce jar taco sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn (do not thaw)
  • 1 package whole wheat or white tortillas, any size, cut into quarters
  • 1 package shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
  • Salsa and sour cream for serving on the side

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In your biggest sauté pan, cook the onions in a little oil (a couple of spoonfuls) for about five minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until it’s brown throughout. Stir in the next two spices. Add the next four ingredients (beans through corn) and cook a few more minutes.

Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray (or wipe it with cooking oil on a paper towel if you don’t have spray). Put about one-third of the beef mixture in the bottom. Layer on enough pieces of tortillas to cover, then sprinkle one-third of the cheese on top. Repeat this two more times.  Cook in the oven for about 12 minutes. If taking from the refrigerator, cook longer. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

We’re glad you came!

Bobby G. Creates “Almost Heaven”…in Raleigh, North Carolina

This is the first time we welcome a guest blogger to Kelley Hospitality. But he is not just any blogger, he is” Bobby G.” (Not to be confused with Bobby F[lay] who both Bobby G and I really like!)

Some of you might know I have an ongoing research study about whether or not hospitality is nature or nurture? Is there a hospitality gene? I have volumes of anecdotal evidence, but I will say this: my brother, Bobby Garneau, a.k.a. “Bobby G,” also inherited the gene.

Bobby Garneau and big sister Barbie Garneau Kelley. He is the brains and she is the flash!

So, without further adieu, I welcome my first guest blogger who just happens to be my brother. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I present: “Bobby G

Bobby’s Blog Entry

The seeds were planted last winter when my friend Todd Reider asked me if I could make him a great BBQ sauce for a chicken and pig roast that he was having. Todd has had some of my dishes but quite frankly he gives me more credit than I deserve. Todd is a great cook in his own right so I could not resist making him the best sauce that I could.

Now you have to know one thing. We live in North Carolina where barbecue is a noun (not a verb) and barbecue sauce is vinegar based…period. The sauce turned out great, in fact, so great that Todd started testing it with various people to see if they thought it was as good as he did.

Our discussions turned to how best to market this most excellent sauce and we agreed that we had to start to do some pig cookin’s and serve barbeque with our great sauce. We started researching pig cookers, talked to folks on Craig’s List, looked at others alongside the road, and visited various pig roasts to see what the different setups were.

We ended up finding a guy in Pikeville, North Carolina, which is about 10 miles outside of Goldsboro. Many would argue that the best barbecue in the world is in Goldsboro which is home to Wilber’s BBQ for more than 40 years. Wilbur cooks whole hogs on an oakwood fire, and serves true Eastern NC BBQ, using the whole pig and chopped…and it does not get any better than that. BBQ and pig cookers is a way of life in these parts, and we found a guy named James Ballance that has been custom building pig cookers for more than 10 years.

When we went to see James, he had about three cookers that were in various stages of “manufacturing.” He had steel drums of various sizes and shapes to choose from. We chose the biggest one he had—a five-foot long, by four-feet wide drum that was shaped like it was flattened out a bit (instead of round). We then chose to have the grill open to the side. We wanted two side burners spaced far enough apart so we could fit two big pots on them at the same time. We wanted room for two propane tanks, a smoke box the size of the smoke stacks under the grate, and a complete trailer lighting package and title so it could be licensed for travel.

Bobby G takes delivery on his custom-made cooker. Now he's a real North Carolinian!

We took delivery on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend 2011. The next day we put the word out for an impromptu pig pickins’ for that same Sunday evening. We could not wait to break in the cooker and start making some BBQ like real North Carolinians. With such short notice we did not try to cook a whole pig, but rather opted for pork shoulders (Boston Butt), country ribs, and chicken.

"With such short notice we did not try to cook a whole pig, but rather opted for pork shoulders (Boston Butt), country ribs, and chicken. "

BBQ Tip: We coated the shoulders in seasoning and brown sugar, wrapped them and let them sit in the fridge overnight, and cover the ribs and chicken with a generous coat of dry rub.

Now we were ready for the christening of the cooker. It was Sunday of Labor Day weekend. We went to church and rushed home to fire up the grill to a constant temperature of 250 degrees.

So just for the record, it does not get any better than that—God, a holiday weekend, a pig cooker, lots of meat, and beer…a glimpse of heaven, no doubt!

Along with the pork shoulder (BBQ), the country ribs, and the chicken, we made a pot of beans and potatoes and baked beans. For an appetizer, we served deviled eggs. Have you ever noticed that anytime deviled eggs are brought somewhere, they are the first to go? Everyone loves deviled eggs! (Recipe below.)

"We chose to have the grill open to the side. We wanted two side burners spaced far enough apart so we could fit two big pots on them at the same time."

The meal turned out terrific, and we definitely learned much stumbling our way through preparing dinner for 30 neighbors. Now, about that BBQ sauce…that was our excuse for purchasing the pig cooker, so I guess we need to start planning some pig pickins’…not sure I’m up for all that work, though!

Bobby G’s Deviled Eggs

  • 6 eggs—hard-boiled (TIP: the absolute key to having eggs that peel easy are to NOT use the freshest eggs. Let them sit until they are a week or two inside their expiration date. Cool eggs in ice water, peel, and slice in half. Scoop out cooked yolks)
  • ¼ cup mayo
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons fresh chopped chives
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Key Ingredient: I take 1/2 lb of bacon and fry it up crisp (I cut the raw bacon before I cook it.) Make sure it is crisp and soak the fat off by pressing with paper towels…add the cooked bacon to the egg mixture!
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped olives

Mix cooked egg yolks with all ingredients and stuff back into egg haves. Place a piece of sliced olive on top of each egg, then sprinkle with paprika.

Editor’s Note: Read more about Bobby G and the family Thanksgiving he orchestrated and hosted. And, don’t believe what he said at the end of this blog about “not sure I’m up to all that work.” Another event will be right around the corner! What about that sauce?

(Photos provided by Bobby G.)

Thanksgiving 2010 – Going Back

Barbara's update on the traditional green bean casserole.

Since I am starting this blog in January 2011 I feel I have to comment on the two big holidays that just passed. The Garneau siblings, their families, and Dad, met in Raleigh this past Thanksgiving. Both Bobby (brother) and family, and Megan (niece) and family, live in Raleigh so it was a good mid-way point for those of us from Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania to meet.

A few weeks ahead, Bobby passed out assignments for the food with him stuffing and making the bird (he is an expert!). Everyone contributed delicious Thanksgiving fare but when I reviewed the assignments everything looked typically starchy and beige (although very yummy). I decided to do my quick saute of fresh green beans and cherry tomatoes in olive oil and a few scallions. Let’s say I put a new twist on the traditional green bean casserole. It added the needed color and crunch. Note the red and green colors of the beans and tomatoes also look perfect on a Christmas table.

As usual we played a game of two-hand touch football while the feast was cooking. Dad (aka PapPap) enjoyed the spectacle from the porch seats! I think Mom probably viewed it from heaven and taste tested all our creations. There was a variety of jerseys — Carolina Panthers (Steve Smith), Miami Dolphins (Ronnie Brown), Pittsburgh Steelers (Hines Ward), and Washington Redskins (Reed Doughty and Santana Moss). — A day to remember.

Bobby Garneau, head Thanksgiving chef in Steeler's garb meets his match in the kitchen-- his sister, Barbara