IPC Youth Mission Trip 2010

This was our third year going on a construction mission trip for IPC youth group. Led by our Youth Pastor Brad Waller, about 100 of us went on this exciting and meaningful trip.

Last two years, we went to Allendale, South Carolina, but when the only motel in town big enough to house our large group closed down, Brad had to make a quick change to look for another economically depressed town to lend a hand. And this year, Brad was led to take us to Live Oak, Florida.

Working with Community Presbyterian Church and Love INC . three houses were chosen to be repaired and remodeled.

And our children worked! There is something so good about working hard to help those in need.

Roofs were repaired to stop the leak.

Wooded area was cleared to make better use of the property. Working in 105 degrees for 8 hours for three days is quite challenging for these youths, but not once, did I hear a complaint.
Their hearts were filled with joy in helping in Christ's name.

And it was my job to feed this wonderful group. My experience as a ex-caterer really is tested on trips like this. Breakfast was provided by the motel, thank goodness. But I had to plan lunch and dinner for 100 for three days. To go to an unknown kitchen can be quite challenging so the cargo van marked "FOOD" was packed with all the essential equipment and tools.

Right before the trip, I was told that Super Walmart would be right next to our motel. Oh, thank you, Lord! Caterer's Dream! So I didn't need to take as much food as I had planned. Breads, fresh fruit, and snack foods were purchased in Florida.

Day 1 Dinner: Grilled Hamburgers and Italian Sausage

Day 2: Low Country Boil

Here was our menu for three days during mission trip.

Full Breakfast before leaving IPC:

Bacon (180 pcs) & Sausage (60 patties)
Cheese Grits
Scrambled Eggs (90 eggs)
Biscuits (70)
OJ (4 gallons)

Each working day, six coolers were packed for three different job sites.
Deli Meat(40 lb) & Cheese (25 lb)
PB & J
Sandwich Bread & Condiments
Sliced Watermelons
Potato Chips (7 cases of 50)
Homemade Desserts provided by Mary Catherine and Fun Gobel
Salty and Sweet Snacks (250 bags)
GALLONS of Water and Gatorade, lost count how much

Day 1 Dinner Menu
Grilled Angus Burgers (30 lb)
Italian Sausage (18 lbs)
Buns for Meat
Three Bean Casserole
Watermelon Slices
Homemade Dessert

Day 2 Dinner Menu
Low Country Boil
(35 lb of shrimp, 21 lb of smoked sausage, 40 ears of corn: cut into 3, 25 lb of potatoes)
Watermelon Slices
Garden Salad with Ranch Dressing
French Bread with Pimento Cheese Spread
Homemade Dessert

Day 3 Dinner Menu
Fried Chicken (prepared by Winn Dixie)
Mac and Cheese
Yeast Rolls
Fruit Salad
Peach Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream

Sunday Lunch at CPC
BBQ Pork,Beef, and Chicken (provided by CPC)
Baked Beans
Asian Cole Slaw
Watermelon Slices
Cream Cheese Pound Cake provided by Mary Catherine

As you can see it takes a quite bit of food to feed construction crew of 100. And it couldn't have been done without my great friends to help in the kitchen : Miranda, Rose, Priya, and Jane. And mom helpers on site: Margaret, Kathy, and Pam!

My arms and legs feel like rubber right now, I am sure those who worked out in the sun feels worse. But ask any one of us if we would do it again next summer, and the answer is resounding, "YES"!


Lemon Bars

Another sweltering day here in Savannah and will be until end of August. The lunch crowd was so pleased to have this refreshing, lemony delight for dessert today.

Lightly sweetened short bread crust is patted down on foiled pan and baked for about 20 minutes. Oh, do remember to chill the crust for half and hour before baking.

For the custard like filling with a intense lemony flavor, use the real thing! Bottled lemon juice has bitter after taste so take a few extra minutes and juice the lemons. See this little wooden reamer? I love this little gadget. You can get one at Amazon.com for about $6.

Great thing about making lemon bars is you don't need a mixer, quick whisking of the ingredients will do the job.

Pour lemon egg mixture onto hot, baked crust and finish baking until it firms up, about 20 minutes.

Cool completely and chill for an hour before cutting for clean crisp squares, wiping the knife blade after each cut. Dust with powder sugar before serving.

Lemon Bars

The Crust
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12.25 oz)
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar(2.6 oz) , plus extra to decorate finished bars
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks or 6 oz), at very cool room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

Lemon Filling
4 large eggs , beaten lightly
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar (9.3 oz)
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest from 2 large lemons
2/3 cup lemon juice from 3 to 4 large lemons, strained
1/3 cup whole milk
1/8 teaspoon table salt

For Crust
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Take two sheets of foil, criss-crossing and line 13 by 9 baking dish, with a 2 or 3 inch overhang. Spray with oil spray.
2. Pulse flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in food processor work bowl fitted with steel blade. Add butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then pulse until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second bursts. Sprinkle mixture into lined pan and press firmly with fingers into even, 1/4-inch layer over entire pan bottom and about 1/2-inch up sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

For the filling: Meanwhile, whisk eggs, sugar, and flour in medium bowl, then stir in lemon zest, juice, milk, and salt to blend well.

To finish the bars: Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Stir filling mixture to reblend; pour into warm crust. Bake until filling feels firm when touched lightly, about 20 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to near room temperature, at least 30 minutes. For cleaner cut, chill for about an hour and cut, wiping the knife blade each time with damp paper towel. Sprinkle with powder sugar and serve.


Low Country Boil

One sure way to impress your friends from up north is to do a good ol' Southern Low Country Boil. So I prepared this shrimp boil for my friends from Chicago. Nothing compares to this simple, rustic flavor of shrimp, sausage, corn, and red potatoes.

Use the largest stock pot you own or borrow one from your neighbor! With my 30-quart stock pot with a basket insert, I fill the pot with water, an inch above the basket insert. Bring the water to rolling boil, add seafood seasoning (I used Old Bay), beer, and two halved onions. Add red potatoes and reduce heat slightly. I use small/medium potatoes and cook them whole, for about 15-20 minutes until a sharp, thin knife can be easily inserted. Add remaining ingredients.

I love the local Roger Wood Sausages, made right here in Savannah! Get the spicy ones! But you can easily substitute with any smoked sausages or kielbasa. Also, I get the fresh ground horseradish sold at Matthews Seafood retail store. For those who love to torture themselves with hot, spicy foods, this fresh ground horseradish is a must!

Good way to ruin beautiful, tasty shrimp is to over cook them. I cook my shrimp when they are slightly pink and form a loose "c". Shrimp will continue to cook after you take them out of the cooker, so slightly under cook them and by the time your guests are ready to eat, they will be just right.

Low Country Boil

Serves 10

1 Tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning per quart of water, taste the water to see if you need salt. The water should have slight salty taste.
Beer for flavoring
Salt to your taste
2 medium onions, peeled and halved.
15 small potatoes, or 8 medium halved
20 4-inch cut smoked sausage
8 ears of fresh corn, shucked and halved
4 to 5 pounds of fresh shrimp, 21-25 count preferably

Fill a large pot with enough water to cover all of the ingredients and bring water to rolling boil. I used 30 quart pot with a basket insert, which makes it easy to lift the ingredients later and drain.

Add seafood seasoning, onions, and beer. Adjust the seasoning to suit your taste. Add salt until water flavor has slight salty taste. Add the potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes, then add sausage. Cook on medium heat for additional 5-10 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Test by gently piercing the largest potatoes with a sharp, thin knife. If you do not have a pot big enough, make sure your potatoes are fully cooked at this point, take them out, put them on a serving table, cover with a cloth.

Add corn and cook for an additional 8 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp peel turns light pink and shrimp curves to a loose "c", 1-2 minutes. Drain and serve immediately with cocktail sauce. Sprinkle extra seafood seasoning.

Shrimp Cocktail Sauce
2 Cups of Ketchup, Heinz has the best flavor
Fresh Ground Horseradish to your taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.


Tomato Bruschetta

Here is a quick post for you today! We have friends coming to visit from Chicago and you know how it is when visitors come. Yard needs to be mowed, house cleaned, and children are instructed to like each other better than normal. You want a clean house and clean, smiling children? Have friends over.

Although, I can't imagine why anyone would come and visit Savannah in June from Chicago. These friends really like us a whole lot to endure the scorching Georgia heat. What great friends!

So I will see you next week. Off I go to clean the water closets!

Tomato Bruschetta

8 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and diced (lightly salted and drained in colander for 5 minutes)
2 cloves of garlic, freshly grated
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper for taste

2 baguettes, cut in 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/4 cup of olive oil for tossing
1 teaspoon granulated garlic

In a bowl, mix first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside covered, unrefrigerated, for about an hour for flavor to meld.

Heat oven to 400°F. Toss olive oil and sliced baguettes in a large bowl. Spread them on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with granulated garlic. Toast bread until lightly toasted on the edge but center is still slightly soft, for about 6-8 minutes.


Fried Green Tomato BLT with Wasabi-Basil Mayo

Back several years ago I had a terrible restaurant fever. It was pretty bad. I had a great opportunity to open a restaurant with a friend and was so determined to do it.

But God changed my heart and made me realize that it wasn't the right season in my life to marry a restaurant. I was already married to a wonderful man anyway and had four beautiful, young children. I am grateful to be available to my church and home families now, instead of being a full-time "restrauranteur".

Anyway, this was one of the dishes I had in mind to include in the menu. The epitome of Southern Cuisine with a bit of Asian flair. They don't call me Sneaky Asian Cook for nothin'.

Slice green tomatoes 1/4 inch thick and lightly salt them and let sit for 5-10 minutes to draw some liquid out. Dry well with paper towels before flouring. This extra step keeps coating extra crunchy without access water oozing after frying.

For cornmeal dredge, I added panko bread crumbs. I love panko. If you have never tried using Panko (click here for my favorite brand), please give it a try, you will fall in love with it, too. Everything you fry will be light and wonderful.

Typically tomatoes were fried in bacon fat , because that was most available back then. So I gave it a try. But after taste testing the ones fried in vegetable oil versus bacon fat, the ones fried in vegetable oil had cleaner taste. Bacon fat flavor was too overpowering and masked the fresh, tart taste of green tomatoes.

To balance the taste of fried food and to give it a little kick, I made Wasasbi Mayo. Wasabi alone was a little bland and a bit of garlic, fresh lemon juice and fresh basil added great flavor to a beautiful green condiment to these fried green tomatoes.

Fried Green Tomatoes

4 large green tomatoes

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, for sprinkling on sliced tomatoes

3 teaspoon Dry Rub, divided.
1 quart of vegetable oil


Slice tomatoes 1/4 inch thick. You will get four, nice slices per tomato. Lightly salt the slices and let sit on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes. Lightly press paper towels to dry them.

Whisk eggs and buttermilk together in first flat, container.

Scoop flour onto a second bowl.

Mix cornmeal, panko bread crumbs on another plate. Add 1 teaspoon of Dry Rub mixture in each containers. If you don’t have it available, substitute ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper in each mixture.

Dip tomatoes into flour to coat. Then dip the tomatoes into buttermilk and egg mixture. Dredge in breadcrumbs to completely coat. Place them on wire rack until ready to fry.

In a large cast iron skillet, pour vegetable oil (enough so that there is 1/2 inch of oil in the pan) and heat over a medium heat or until oil reaches 350 degrees F. Place tomatoes into the frying pan in batches of 4 or 5, depending on the size of your skillet. Do not crowd the tomatoes, they should not touch each other. When the tomatoes are browned, flip and fry them on the other side. Drain them on wire rack. Serve with Wasabi-Basil Mayo.

For BLT, add crispy bacon and lettuce.

Wasabi-Basil Mayo

1/2 cup Hellmann's Mayo

1/4 cup sour cream

1 Tablespoon already prepared wasabi paste, more if you want HOT

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 Tablespoon minced fresh basil

1 large clove of garlic, grated

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a food processor, pulse until all ingredients are smooth. About 1 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.


Rotini with Parsley Pesto

Rotini with Parsley Pesto and Corn Meal Fried Catfish

I will be making lots of pasta salads for Sunday dinners this summer for two reasons. One, as my friend Beverly quotes, "its hot enough out here to knock up a mule!" and the last thing my church family wants to eat is anything hot.

And two, Point Pleasant (where we meet for Sunday evening services for three months during summer) has a kitchen big enough for three people to squeeze in and two ovens which are just right for warming up corn dogs. Believe me, I am grateful to have a kitchen, but it is not quite equipped to prepare food for 250 people. All food must be prepared in downtown kitchen and transported to Point Pleasant each Sunday afternoon.

Under these not-so-ideal conditions, cold pasta salads are wonderful tasty options to feed a large crowd.

Let's talk about pasta a little. As you know there are hundreds of shapes and sizes. The most popular ones are macaroni and spaghetti. Pasta means "paste" in Italian, which refers to dough made with durum wheat flour, called Semolina, combined with water or milk. Sometimes eggs are added, but generally when only eggs and flour are added, it is called "noodles".

Click Here if you want to check out the shapes and names of pasta.

Pasta comes in fresh or dried forms and we will just talk about the dried pasta for now. Imported dried pasta has a bit of firmer texture when cooked because it is usually made only with Semolina, which does not absorb as much water as the American made ones. I use Ronzoni Brand, for most of my pasta salads. It seems to have a good blend of Semolina and cooks quite well.

Have you ever had starchy pasta water boil over the pot? Been there, done that! The reason is too small of a pot and water for the amount of pasta you are cooking. You need about a gallon of boiling water for about a pound of pasta. Bring water to rolling boil, add 1 to 2 teaspoon of salt per gallon of water.

When you serve pasta hot, you will want to cook it al dente (firm to the bite) , but for cold pasta salads, cook it a little longer so you won't have any resistance when biting but not mushy. Make a habit of reserving some pasta water to thin out the sauce or pesto.

Beet juice, spinach, carrots, quinoa, carrots, and even cuttlefish ink is used to color the pasta. These beautiful pasta can be purchased at Brighter Day in downtown Savannah or any local natural food stores. My children love these colorful pasta tossed simply with butter, salt and pepper.

Linguini with Asian flavor (click for recipe)

Farfalle with Lemon-Basil pesto

Orzo with Vegetables (click for recipe)

Here is a simple parsley pesto for hot or cold pasta. Of course you can use fresh basil, cilantro, or combination of these herbs, too!

Add colorful veggies of your choice.

Cold pasta salads are actually better when served room temperature rather than straight out of a refrigerator. Your taste buds will detect flavors better!

Parsley Pesto
(serves 4)

4 cup Italian Parsley, leaves only
2 Tablespoon fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 cups Pine Nuts, toasted and cooled
3 Garlic clove, finely grated with Mircroplane
3 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup Olive Oil, plus 2 Tablespoon of oil for tossing
1 tsp. Sea Salt or to taste
Fresh ground pepper

PureƩ parsley, nuts, parmesan, garlic,lemon juice, and oil in a food processor until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Serve with hot or cold pasta.


My Top 5 Favorite Salad Dressings

You know Georgia summer is here when you are sweating bullets while you are standing in the shade! My family is already on 14th watermelon for the season. We will see how many watermelons we go through before summer is over.

My home and church families have been craving crisp, cold foods lately and there is nothing like good salads with great, homemade salad dressings. Here are my top 5 favorite salad dressings, and I know you will love these, too!

1. Spiced Salad Dressing (like Catalina dressing but with wonderful flavor), see previous post
2. Savannah Mustard Dressing (Mustard, slightly sweet and wonderful)
3. Pacific Rim Caesar Dressing(No raw eggs! Caesar dressing with Asian influence)
4. Green Goddess Dressing (Ranch like dressing with lots of fresh herbs), see previous post
5. Greek Salad Dressing (Great basic oil and vinegar dressing), see previous post

Green Goddess Dressing (Click for recipe)

Greek Salad Dressing (Click for Recipe)

Pacific Rim Caesar Dressing

A wonderful dressing with an Asian flavor. I love the taste of fresh ginger and lime juice in this dressing. Great with any seafood dish.

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced lemongrass or lemon zest
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)**
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce**
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1large head of romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (about 15 cups loosely packed)
1 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)

Combine lime juice and next 7 ingredients in processor; process until well blended. With processor running, add vegetable oil in slow stream; process until slightly thickened. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Can be made 2 days ahead. Stir well before using.

Place lettuce in large bowl. Add dressing and 3/4 cup Parmesan; toss to combine. Divide salad among 6 plates; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and toasted sesame seeds.

* Available at Asian markets and in the produce section of some supermarkets.

Savannah Mustard Dressing (All time favorite dressing by church family!)

1 cup Yellow Mustard, French's
1 cup Red wine vinegar
1-1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon granulated garlic

3 cups of canola or vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Whisk first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Slowly pour oil and whisk until mustard mixture is well blended. Salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate.


Birthday Dinner for Friends

During my catering days, I had the blessing of rarely having to make desserts, especially birthday cakes or wedding cakes. It's something that I have always conveniently avoided by having my partner or other bakers to do it.

Growing up in Korea, I never saw my mother bake a cake; we did not have an oven in our kitchen. So when my friend asked me, "Oh, could you do a cake?", the word "yes" just rolled out of my mouth before I could think how stressful it would be for me to make one. Was I in a trance? My "yes" personality is still very alive even after forty-something age.

I wrestled with the cake and spent more time than the entire meal. And after completing the cake, I was completely exhausted. Baking is so hard for me.....I wish I liked baking.

With the left over batter and icing, I made some cupcakes for my four children. They were so happy to get such special treats. Glad that they enjoyed them because it will be a long~ time before they get something like these again!

But for the rest of the meal, I was HAPPY to put together a nice summer menu for my friend and her family:

Hot Crab and Artichoke Dip with Crackers
Tomato and Cucumber Sandwiches

For Entree:
Kabobs of Beef Tenderloin, Pesto Chicken, Shrimp, and Vegetables
Orzo Pasta Salad
Blanched Asparagus with Basil Cream Dressing
Fruit Platter
Assorted Bread with Boursin Cheese

Chocolate-Raspberry Ganache Cake with Chocolate Butter Cream
(aka: Why-Did-I-Say-Yes Cake)

Cucumber and Tomato Sandwiches

Beef Tenderloin, Veggies, Shrimp, and Chicken Kabobs

Cool, refreshing Orzo Salad with Lemon-Mustard Dressing (for recipe, click here)

Fresh Fruit Platter

Blanched Asparagus

Assorted Bread with Boursin Cheese


Monte Cristo Sandwich

A big thank you to Debbie Galle Frost of Life is Good Farm , who suggested this wonderful sandwich idea for our Wednesday Service Lunch! It was wildly popular with the lunch crowd today and several people had to wait until I could make more!

Monte Cristo Sandwich is a variation of Croque Monsieur, a French grilled cheese made with Gruyere and lean ham dated back in 1910. In the 30's, many American cookbooks featured this sandwich under names like French Toasted Cheese Sandwich or just French Sandwich. But in the 60's, Disneyland in Anaheim, California popularized eating of this sandwich.

There are so many variations of this sandwich, but most contain ham, turkey, and cheese. Then the sandwich is dipped in egg batter and deep fried or grilled. In this variation, ham and cheddar are on first layer and turkey and Swiss cheese on the second. Wheat bread slices held up better than white bread after frying.

For crispiest coating, use icy cold water and add corn starch in the batter.

Rather than dipping the sandwiches in the batter, smear the thick batter with gloved hands onto the sandwiches for better control of how much batter is put on.

I was told that powder sugar is a must, and so is the jelly. Strange as these sweet suggestions may sound, they really did enhance the flavor of this sandwich.

Monte Cristo Sandwich
Makes 6 very large sandwiches

18 slices whole wheat bread
6 slices cooked turkey
6 slices cooked ham
6 slices American cheese
6 slices Swiss cheese

1 egg
1 1/2 cup ice water
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup of corn starch
1 tablespoon baking powder
Vegetable oil (for deep frying)

Place turkey and Swiss cheese on one slice of bread and ham and American cheese on another slice of bread. Place third slice in-between and secure the double-decker sandwich in the corners with tooth picks.

Place egg in mixing bowl, add water and beat together. Add salt, sugar, flour, and baking powder. Beat batter until smooth.

Using gloved hands, smear batter onto sandwiches and carefully cover all the sides and surface.

Carefully place in hot oil, 375 degrees F and fry until golden. When sandwich has turned a warm gold color remove from hot oil and place on a wire rack. Let cool for a few minutes before removing the tooth picks.

Before serving slice into halves or fourths and sprinkle with powder sugar. Serve with Strawberry or Raspberry jam.