Kathleen Phillips of Grits and Gouda (Transcript)

Season 1 - Episode 6

October 16, 2018

Transcript - Kathleen Phillips of Grits and Gouda

Nicole:                     Welcome to BFF with the Chef. I'm your host, Nicole Schwegman. Aloha, friends and foodies, and welcome back. Today, I'm getting to interview food stylists, cookbook author, and the blogger behind Grits and Gouda, Kathleen Phillips. Kathleen's blog features a delectable array of gourmet southern recipes, but, with a healthy and frugal twist.

                                    Her recipes and food styling have been featured numerous times in southern living and cooking light cookbooks, as well as Christian Woman, Coastal Living, and Parent's Magazine. Kathleen's goal is to inspire us to get into the kitchen, where she'll show you how to cook with fresh, seasonal ingredients, and encourage you along the way to share hospitality with others, all while on a budget. Her book, Magic Cakes, on sale now at Amazon, simplified the cake baking process and gives home bakers invaluable tips on how to easily make a layer cake. Hi Kathleen, welcome to the show.

Kathleen:                Hello. Thank you much for having me.

Nicole:                     It's exciting. Okay, first of all, Magic Cakes, we're going to talk about that later. So I'm excited. Whenever I hear about someone who has a book about cakes, I'm like, yes, this is amazing. I know, right? I'm excited. All right, but, as everyone knows by now, I start off this podcast with three questions. So are you ready?

Kathleen:                Yes.

Nicole:                     Okay. So, what's the last meal you cooked for yourself?

Kathleen:                My last meal started with peach marmalade chicken, and that may sound fancy, but it is so not. Simply sear the chicken and the end, you know I'm all about shortcuts in recipes. So the shortcut there is to add, typically it's apricot preserves from a jar. But I just happened to have some of my peach marmalade that is freezer jam, so easy, you just throw that in there, in a little bit of chicken broth, let it cook down a tiny bit, and you have a sauce to go with your seared chicken. So that was the chicken.

                                    Then it's summer here in Alabama, so we have okra galore. I love to barter with my friend from church, he brought me a big sack of okra. So I made baked, fried okra, because I am kind of on the healthy side, but I'm still southern. So you coat the sliced okra in an egg white, and then that allows the cornmeal to hang onto it, and then you bake it with very little oil. So you have fried okra, because it's crispy, crunchy, but you don't have all that oil, like a fraction of the oil. Then lemon parsley potatoes, parsley from my garden.

Nicole:                     Wow. Okay. This is what happens when you have a flair for passion. I can't even match that. It sounds so delicious. Okay, I have to ask you real quick. You said you had a freezer jam. What do you mean by that?

Kathleen:                Well, instead of the long, drawn out process of water bath, or canning in the pressure cooker, I make a lot of freezer jams. So just uses the sure jell pekan, you stir that into fresh, mashed fruit, whether it be peaches, or love the strawberry jam, it tastes like fresh strawberries. Then you just put it in the freezer until you're ready for it. You thaw it in the fridge, and you use it that way, and you don't have to go ... You get to have the homemade jam without a long, drawn out process, which is again, what I'm all about, shortcuts.

Nicole:                     All right, Kathleen. So what meal brings you back to your childhood?

Kathleen:                Well, that was not a hard question at all, because immediately, I have flashbacks to Sunday lunch, coming home from church, walking in the door and the whole room is filled with the smell of roast, roasted potatoes, and the best part of that was the onions that would just fall apart. We'd all fight over which one got the onions. Then ... The other one would be fried chicken in the big cast iron skillet with this big, huge, heavy lid my mom had.

                                    Three things that were always, always a part of our weekday meals, fried potatoes, that my parents grew in the garden, cornbread, and pinto beans. Basically, anything else with those three things were just added on. Sometimes we would haVe meat, and sometimes we wouldn't. But those, and then sliced tomatoes from the garden, cucumbers soaked in vinegar water, and then a chopped salad, which, basically whatever mom found in her garden, she'd chop it up and then she had black raspberries. She'd make raspberry vinaigrette, and to this day, she still brings raspberry vinaigrette to the holidays. So childhood meal would be fried potatoes, cornbread, and pinto beans, and then add ons.

Nicole:                     Girl, you are killing me.

Kathleen:                I'm telling you, my mom could cook.

Nicole:                     My mouth is watering right now. Oh. My grandma was from the south, and the things you were describing is things she used to make. It sounds so good. There is nothing better. One of her favorite meals, in fact, was cornbread and pinto beans. Yes. I mean, actually-

Kathleen:                [inaudible 00:05:50]. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Nicole:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative). Just love it, you know? Yes. Oh my gosh. Okay. I gotta' ... I'm really imagining that blackberry vinaigrette. The fact that she made it fresh from the raspberries in her garden is just ridiculous. You have to, at some point, share that recipe with us, because that sounds so good. So maybe I'll get it from you afterwards and then put it up, 'cause I don't think I can live without that now. The child is out of it, blackberry vinaigrette sounds so good.

Kathleen:                Gotta' have it.

Nicole:                     I know. Okay, all right. Finally, what is an ingredient that you can't live without?

Kathleen:                That is a harder question, because there are so many.

Nicole:                     I know.

Kathleen:                I've got it down to two. Of course butter, immediately, comes to mind, because butter is in baking and cooking.

Nicole:                     Amen.

Kathleen:                You know? Butter makes it better, right?

Nicole:                     It does. I know that there is this thing, I know you've got to be healthy, and I know there are people like, right now somebody is like, you're killing yourself with butter, and I'm like, it's a great way to go. But, I'm not like just slapping it down, you know. It's just, it's strategic. It's strategic use of butter. Sometimes you need a lot for a cake, sometimes you don't need as much. But it is a great ingredient. It's such a good fat. I don't know.

Kathleen:                It is a good fat. Yes. That is exactly right. So butter is not unhealthy. It's everything in moderation. You know, if you go to the state fair, and you eat deep fried butter, then yeah, that may be bad. But-

Nicole:                     I mean, you know, if you do it every day, I mean, I'm not going to judge you if you go eat butter once in a while at the state ... I mean, 'cause I may or may not have eaten deep fried butter. It was one time, and it was a very different part of my life.

Kathleen:                Another one would be eggs. You know, butter absolutely, but then eggs, because you also can use eggs. You can make a cake, which you can't make a magic cake, without eggs, but then on the flip side, you know, I am obsessed with my instant pot hard cooked eggs.

Nicole:                     Oh, wow, yeah.

Kathleen:                My eggs on my salads, on my homemade egg McMuffin in the morning. So eggs and butter. I could pretty much live on eggs and butter.

Nicole:                     Yeah. I think I could too. You're right. Those are two ingredients that you ... You're completely right. Those are two ingredients that I use a lot in my house. Not even just a ton of butter, it's just more that it's just a great fat. I know, look, if you're pouring gallons of olive oil into something, you might as well use butter. It's ... Especially grass fed butter. It's very ... Fat is fat. So you can dress it up if you like, but you might as well use butter, it's delicious. Just be strategic about it.

Kathleen:                Or combined with olive oil. I love to put a tiny bit of butter and a tiny bit of olive oil together to sear chicken. So you [crosstalk 00:09:06] the batter, but then you get the higher smoke point of like vegetable oil, olive oil, and then that makes the perfect searing of chicken.

Nicole:                     I'm going to try that, that sounds delicious. That's a great idea. What a great tip. Oh my god, we haven't gotten to the tips yet, and that's already a great tip. A little bit of butter and olive oil together to sear chicken. Okay, I'm going to try that next time. I'll let you know how that goes for me.

Kathleen:                Okay.

Nicole:                     All right. So you've been in the food world for 29 years. You have to ... That's a-

Kathleen:                Yes, I'm old.

Nicole:                     That's a long time. So how did you get started?

Kathleen:                Well, I got started when I came to Alabama from Arkansas, about, actually, January will be 30 years I came to work at Oxward House Test Kitchen, as a test kitchen professional and food stylist. Then I was the test kitchen director, then I became a freelance food stylist. That's how I got started with that. But how I started the blog was Running Press contacted me, asked me if I wanted to do this cookbook called Magic Cakes. It was a phenomenon out there on the internet. I said, yeah. It was the first cookbook I authored, even though I worked on hundreds in the test kitchen. Then once I was working on the cookbook, I was like, hmm, I need some kind of a platform to promote it, and tell about it, and that's how the blog got started. The name Grits and Gouda might sound a little crazy, but it means southern, with a pinch of gourmet. Then I throw in with dashes of healthy and frugal, because that's how I am, short and southern.

Nicole:                     I like that. We're going to talk about that book in a moment. But I kind of want to talk about your blog for a second. You know, you're a food stylist, and you said you got your start being in food styling. I see a lot of your blog photos, which are lovely, especially, I saw one for copycat Krispey Crème donuts.

Kathleen:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Nicole:                     Yes, girl. So those specifically, what recipe, you talk about shortcut recipes, what's a great one that you think, on your blog, that people can do to start out with some of those shortcuts?

Kathleen:                What I would point them to is a very fun and kind of a surprising thing. Two ingredient biscuits, and that is not from Bisquick, that is not from a mix. It is self rising flour, which already has the baking powder and salt in it, and the other ingredient si whipping cream. The reason I would point them to that, number one, it's southern, that's just who I am. The other one is people cannot believe they can make a tall, flaky biscuits without cutting in the butter. So many people don't even know what a pastry blender is. Hey think, blender, is that like a Nutribullet? No, it's not a blender, it's they don't know that it's something that cuts up butter into little bitty pieces.

                                    So all you do is you take that self rising flour, and you pour it in the heavy whipping cream, turn it out, fold it over a couple of times, and cut it out. It, of course I put it in a cast iron skillet, but you can also do it in a cake pan. That picture is on Instagram, and my blog. I had some ... I love to teach, and I had some girls, young girls, that would help me make it. They made these biscuits, and they were fantabulous, and they were so proud of themselves. So if these young little girls can make it, anybody can. So that's one of my first recipes to direct someone in to get in the kitchen.

Nicole:                     You know, I like the idea that you're using whipping cream, because it's the same ... Actually, it's pretty much just butter that's in liquid form, in a way.

Kathleen:                Yes, I [crosstalk 00:13:35] butter on my blog too. By shaking whipped cream.

Nicole:                     So that ... You know, it's actually, that's a really great tip, a really great way to make biscuits. I never thought about doing that. I have a pastry cutter, but look, we're those weirdos who have all that stuff. A lot of people don't, a lot of people are like, come on. But I never thought about using ... That's really genius in a way, whipping cream and self rising flour. I had never ... That is super genius. Not only that, that's super easy and unintimidating. You have those two ingredients, you've got biscuits in the morning. Who doesn't love a warm, fluffy, delicious biscuit?

Kathleen:                With freezer jam. Strawberry and peach freezer jam.

Nicole:                     Yes. Talk to me for a moment, we talked about freezer jams. So I guess you have a garden, or do you have a garden at your home?

Kathleen:                Yes.

Nicole:                     Are you growing a lot of the fruit that you're making the freezer jams in the garden?

Kathleen:                I have fig trees, but I do not have strawberries, or the peaches. I do buy those at the farmer's market. There is an adorable little market down the street, I buy from him. Or, one of my favorite things is to barter. If one of my church friends has, like he has a plum tree, I might make him a frozen dinner, casserole, and let him pull that out at his convenience. So I'm all about bartering. We all have different skills in this life, and share it with other people.

Nicole:                     I like that. It's a sense of community.

Kathleen:                Yeah.

Nicole:                     People sharing food. I think that's one of the things I love most about cooking, and sharing, and giving people food is that sense of community. I've never had anyone not be delighted when I brought them a plate of cookies, even if they couldn't eat cookies. They're going to give them to somebody else, but it's just nice to have that. I think food brings us together, and it allows us to, despite our differences, when you share a meal with somebody, that's very intimate. It's really a way for people to kind of break down those walls. We have so many walls up nowadays, that just sharing a meal with people, I often say, I love having dinner parties, I love sharing meals with people, because despite your differences, man, you can both agree that you both love biscuits.

Kathleen:                That's exactly right. When we have a new neighbor move in, I am still that old fashioned, I am going to be that person that brings you a plate of Mississippi mud brownies and welcome to the neighborhood.

Nicole:                     I'm moving. I'm moving right now, to be next to you. I'm on my way. I'll be there. Yes.

Kathleen:                I'd be happy for you to be my neighbor.

Nicole:                     That's it, I'm definitely going to be your neighbor. All right. I want to talk about your book, now, speaking of Mississippi mud brownies and all good things baked. Okay, why Magic Cakes? I know why you wrote it. But what was it about cakes, because there is such an array of baked goods, all of them of which I love. But why cakes? What is ... You seem to have a passion about cakes. So I want to explore more about that. So tell us about why you wanted to write this book, and what it really is about.

Kathleen:                Magic Cakes is ... Yes, they are three layer cakes, but when you first think of a three layer cake, you think of a birthday cake, right?

Nicole:                     Of course.

Kathleen:                With frosting between. But, this incredible, and they are called amazing layered cakes, it all comes from one thin batter, and it is not hard. You pour that thin batter in the pan, and then it's the low temperature in the oven that the magic happens in the oven. It separates into three distinct layers. On the bottom it is a dense, fudge-y layer. Then you've got a custard layer in the middle. Then the egg whites that you folded in to the flour, we talked about the amazing egg, that mixture rises to the top, and gives you kind of the chiffon angle food cake type top layer.

                                    So three different layers, and all you did was pour the thin batter in and the oven did the work. So that, alone, was just amazing to me. When they asked me to do it, and I needed to come up with 40 different flavors or kinds of magic cakes, I sat out on my back deck and just ... I couldn't stop thinking about the combinations of possibilities. Dulca Daleche, and key lime magic cake, and gingerbread with orange curds, felled dark chocolate, peanut butter and light berry jam. I mean, I just couldn't stop. So I was beyond excited to dive in and make these cakes.

Nicole:                     So I've got to ask you about, like, I want to make sure that we all understand what you mean by magic cake. So are you making this batter, and then pouring it into one pan, and then baking it, and then cutting that one cake into three layers? If so, what kind of pan are you ... Yeah, what kind of pan are you using? How did you come up with that? Because that seems kind of impossible, I'm going to say it. But I want to know more about this, tell me about that.

Kathleen:                That's why they are called magic cakes. I did not invent the magic cake, but hopefully I perfected it. So you do, milk and egg is a very thin batter, because of lots of milk. You do fold in egg white into that very thin batter. You do pour it into a spring form pan, or a removable bottom pan. I love the Fat Daddio pan where you can just push the bottom and remove it that way. When you cut it, and you do cool it, chill it, and that helps the layers. When you cut into it, it reveals those three layers inside. You can make it in a square pan, and then serve them, the basic chocolate magic cake is fantastic. Just sprinkle it with cocoa or powdered sugar, no icing, in your squares, or you can make it in a round, like the Crème Tramele magic cake, make it in a round pan, and then when you cut them, they're like pie slices. Then you drizzle the crème caramel on it.

Nicole:                     But you're saying when you take it out of the spring form, so like the basic vanilla cake, when you bake it, it's in the spring form pan, and then you take it out of the pan, and then you can see the three distinct layers of the cake?

Kathleen:                When you chill it and then slice into it, yes. Sometimes you can see it from the outside, but when you slice into it is when it really reveals the magic. The curtain is drawn, and you can see the magic when you cut into it.

Nicole:                     So it is really, you're just baking it into one big pan, because a spring form pan, for those of you that don't know what that is, it's a taller cake pan, like ... 'Cause when you think of your traditional cake pan, it's actually not that tall, because you're usually pouring batter into three distinct pans so that you can have a three layer cake. This way, what you're doing is you're using one batter, right? But you're pouring it into a spring form pan, so that way you cut that one larger cake into three layers, and those three layers are kind of distinct so that you can kind of tell what they are once you cut into that cake. But you're still cutting it to make a three layer cake, and you put a jam, or frosting, or whatever in between those layers, like you would do on a-

Kathleen:                You don't put it in between, you put it on top. Yeah, you don't put it in between, because the magic happens in the oven. That thin batter turns into three. It separates in the oven. No more work. You don't have to do any more work.

Nicole:                     So in other words, you don't need to cut that cake into three layers?

Kathleen:                No. When you cut it, you're [crosstalk 00:22:12] it. So when you slice into it and pull it away, there it is. The magic has happened in the oven, and you see three distinct layers.

Nicole:                     I see, I see. Okay. See, I was thinking that you had a cake, and you were just baking it, and slicing, like you would normally do a three layer cake. You're saying no, you just bake on pan cake, and then you frost it, and that cake has three layers within side of it.

Kathleen:                Yes, that's the magic.

Nicole:                     Oh. I get it now. Now I get it. So that's why you're making ... That's why the flavors come in, because you can do all these different things once you have those three layers. Have you ever tried to, like, is it possible to put fruit at the bottom layer, you know what I'm saying?

Kathleen:                Yes. In there, there is ... I love to eat cake for breakfast, so in there is orange, and there is a blueberry blence, uses ricotta cheese, so the blueberry has a sauce on it. But the fruit will sink to the bottom. You don't have to place it on the bottom. So yeah, I highly encourage people to eat cake for breakfast. You can feel good about it, because it has the dairy products, right?

Nicole:                     Right. Shoot, you don't eve have to put dairy products for me, I'll eat it for breakfast no matter what. I'm a cake eater for breakfast and I'm proud of it. I always joke, I'm like, I need to get more cake in my life. There is somebody out there, there is somebody screaming in their car right now going, ugh, this girl and cake. I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid to eat cake. It always saddens me when I hear women say, especially, or anybody, honestly, but especially women, when they say, oh, well, you know, I can't really have that, or I can't eat dessert. I'm like, what are you doing with your life? Eat more cake. It's okay. You don't have to eat cake all the time, but you should definitely eat cake more than you think you should eat cake.

Kathleen:                That's exactly right.

Nicole:                     I do exercise, so I don't exercise because I love it, I exercise so I can eat more cake.

Kathleen:                I know. Me too.

Nicole:                     I'm like, you know, I always ... We had this missile scare in Hawaii back in January. One of the things I regretted was, oh my gosh, I'm going to die, and I didn't get to eat bacon. That's a true story. That was my first thought. I just thought, you know, I'm going to die not getting to eat something delicious. I'm like, and that's why I told my friends, that's why you should eat the carbs. You never know when it's your last day, so eat the carbs, and have fun.

Kathleen:                That is exactly right.

Nicole:                     Okay. So, I want to ask you what your favorite thing to cook is?

Kathleen:                My favorite thing to cook ... This might be a crazy answer, my favorite thing to cook is ... This sounds crazy, but what's in the fridge. One of my favorite shows is Chopped. I am obsessed with, I love the idea, this basket of random ingredients, and what can I create? That's kind of the recipe developer in me. I love to open my refrigerator and see what I can make. Again, I go back to that chicken, this seared chicken. I love to put the apricot preserves on that. If I don't have that, then I might put a teriyaki sauce on it, like any shortcut recipes. Then I am just ... I love the comfort of soups, and my husband and son are huge hunters. We ... I'm not just a farm to table girl, I'm a woods to table girl.

Nicole:                     I like that.

Kathleen:                Venison ministroni, or venison stroganoff.

Nicole:                     Oh, yeah.

Kathleen:                We have a freezer full of venison backstrap, which is basically the same thing as tenderloin. So bacon, we have a recipe for bacon wrapped venison tenderloin. My husband loves to grill that. So those are things I like to cook. Then the Parmesan artichoke chicken salad that is on my blog, I love that because I use rotisserie chicken, a shortcut, and just a tip, if you've got a Sams close around, they have the biggest and best, and best price, rotisserie chicken. I can get five cups of chicken off of that one bird.

                                    So I love to make the Parmesan artichoke chicken salad. Not just because I love to eat it, I love to give it. It is the perfect thing to give someone, you know, here in the south, everybody has got their funeral recipe, their funeral go to. My mom's was goulash. But I love to make chicken salad. Someone recently passed away, and I took them the chicken salad. They were so grateful, you know, they said they'd had barbecue for days. That's something you can put on a croissant, or dip with the crackers, or throw it in your lunchbox. So the ... Sometimes if I leave out the artichoke, I might throw in chopped, or halved grapes. So I could just go on and on. Stop me anytime.

Nicole:                     No, I love it. I'm just thinking to myself, well, even ... When you mentioned the funerals, that's a, I know that's a big southern tradition. When my grandma died, we had ... It's funny, like, someone dies, and then there is this huge feast and smorgasbord for the family afterwards of just delicious, wonderful food. It's just a way of comforting people. I love that about the south. I love that about my family, that we did that. My grandma, I could just hear her when she died, in my mind, going, mm-mm. I would love to have some of them grits.

Kathleen:                Casserole.

Nicole:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative). She was like, that looks so good. Yes, she loved cake, too. My love of cake came from her. If you had a cake, she was gonna' have a little piece of it. Yeah. She was not afraid to have her cake. So she inspired me, she's a great lady. Super strong, wonderful. I'm so glad that I got to spend as much time with her as I did. Yeah, your funeral story just reminds me of that and some of the great meals that we had, even before she passed away. So yummy.

Kathleen:                That food brings you together.

Nicole:                     It does.

Kathleen:                When you decide to eat with someone, you are inviting them, and you're kind of making yourself vulnerable. A lot of people think, oh, I can't cook for Kathleen. I tell them, I like hot dogs just like the rest of you. I don't want people to feel intimidated. One thing I want to do is tell people to just start. Just get in the kitchen, and start, and don't feel like you have to put on the dog, and impress someone, even if you have a meal every ... What is it? Bean and weenies.

Nicole:                     Beans and weenies, yep, it's a meal. You're feeding somebody.

Kathleen:                It's hospitality.

Nicole:                     Yeah, people feel that way about me. They say they're afraid to cook for me, because I won't enjoy it. I'm like, you're cooking for me. It means I'm not cooking, it means I get to relax. I don't care. I don't care if it's cheese and crackers. It's the ... I want to spend time with you. What we eat is irrelevant. Yes, I would love it if it had some butter in it, but that's okay. So, I want to ask you about, I know before we started the show, you quickly mentioned that you were going to be at a show in November, and that you were going to be, I think, teaching a class, or presenting? Can you talk more about that? Because since you bring up the fact that you definitely want people to get in the kitchen and just start, I want to talk a little bit when you actually go and teach folks. So talk to us a little bit about this.

Kathleen:                Sure. It is a Habe cooking show, and it'll be at the Gardendale civic center here in my hometown, Gardendale, Alabama. It'll be southern shortcut recipes, your shortcut to the holiday dinner table. So whether that's Thanksgiving or Christmas, it's going to be a fun, entertaining ... I mean, I plan to laugh a lot. We will have door prizes, and we will stop ... Just, I want ladies and gentlemen to come out, and have fun, and learn how they can put on a spread during the holidays. It doesn't have to be, like I said, the long, drawn out, like one will be instant pot turkey breast.

                                    So you know, maybe you feel intimidated and you can't make the same roasted turkey grandma did, and you love your instant pot. So it'll be tips like that, but the main thing, you talked about community. This is a fundraiser for my husband and son's nonprofit called Outdoor Ability Foundation. My 18 year old son has Spinabifida, and he is, like I said, an avid outdoors man. When he got his action track chair, which basically looks like a tank, it's just a power wheel chair with tank treds. When he got that, and it gave him the freedom and the ability to get out in the woods and hunt, and hike, and he's an Eagle Scout, he and Scott said we have got to get other young, disabled kids out in the woods. So it is ... They each cost like $11,000.

Nicole:                     Oh my goodness.

Kathleen:                Yeah. So they have given six of those tank chairs away to kids in four different states. So this cooking show has, yes, I'm teaching people how to cook with shortcut southern recipes. But we're also going to give away one of those tank chairs that night.

Nicole:                     Oh, that's going to be amazing.

Kathleen:                Yes.

Nicole:                     Wow. Say the name of your son's charity again.

Kathleen:                Outdoor Ability Foundation. They do have a website, outdoorabilityfoundation.com. You can go and look at the ... There is a page for the cooking show, and on my gritsandgouda.com it'll say cooking show, and click on that. You can read all about their foundation, and Grits and Gouda at the same time.

Nicole:                     Oh my goodness. Well, I definitely will put a link to that in the show notes, because that's just amazing. 'Cause you know, when you said your son hunted, and then you said he had spinabifida, I was like, hmm. How does that work? Then I felt bad, because I'm like, he's getting out there and hunting, and I can't even be bothered to dissect my own fish.

Kathleen:                He's a daily inspiration.

Nicole:                     Yeah. So I'm feeling really lazy right now. It gives new inspiration to going out and getting your own dinner. So if you've always wanted to hunt out there for your own food, and I'll tell you, I've wanted to learn to hunt. My father-in-law hunts, which is hilarious, because my husband does not. But he always come back in the winter, and he makes deer jerky, and he ... I've been deployed, and he sent me deer jerky. What a sweetheart, right?

Kathleen:                Aww.

Nicole:                     Isn't that sweet? I love deer jerky, it's so delicious. I was like, you should take me hunting. He just kind of pats me on the head. Actually, I think he would take me hunting, I'm just never around in the winter, because I also hate to be cold. He's like, well, you either want to go hunting, or you want to be warm. But you can't be both.

Kathleen:                It works out great, they go out and get it, and bring it home to me, and I cook it. But I've gotta' be busy. I can't sit still that long.

Nicole:                     No, I probably couldn't either. Also, I'd be like, when is this deer showing up?

Kathleen:                I've got things to do.

Nicole:                     I've got an appointment. No, but that's really inspirational, and that's a really great thing that you're doing. So I definitely want to link to that. For anybody who is interested in that charity, please take a look at the show notes, and visit. So, what is one tip that you can give to that home cook out there that's been invaluable to you? I know you've given several already. But is there one killer tip that you haven't shared with us that you think you could give to that home cook?

Kathleen:                Well, kind of going back to the Magic Cake cookbook, one thing I share in there is how to bring things to room temperature, like butter, and let's keep talking about butter. So many recipes call for butter, softened, right? Well, that is ... A lot of people say, ugh, I can't make cake right now because I don't have 30 minutes to wait for the butter to come to room temperature, it's like watching paint dry. So in the book, and I'll tell you that in order to make a stick of butter, which is a half cup, come to room temperature in a jiffy is to microwave it for eight seconds on high, flip it over twice, so it's on the other side, microwave it for eight seconds, and you have perfect room temperature butter.

                                    Then, keep going with the room temperature tip, the eggs, they'll say eggs, since you a cake lover, you know that the eggs work better at room temperature, because the proteins are tight, and they need to be loose. So, and I love food science. So eggs at room temperature, instead of letting them sit on the counter forever, put them in a very small bowl of not boiling, but hot temp water for five minutes. Your eggs will be at room temperature, and you can rock on with making your cakes.

Nicole:                     Wow. That's a great tip. Actually, okay, that's actually ... You just taught me something, because I am always like, ugh, I don't want to have to wait for an hour while my eggs and my butter come to room temperature ... Forget it, I'll just go buy a cake. Even though there are many great bakeries out there, they're never open when I want to buy a cake. A grocery store cake, I don't know, it's just not the same.

Kathleen:                It is not the same.

Nicole:                     It just doesn't taste ... I don't know what they're doing with those cakes, and even I've gone to Whole Foods and I've bought a cake, and I think a Whole Foods cake is probably the best grocery store cake you're going to get. Still not the same as a home made cake.

Kathleen:                You love to eat what you cook. I have found that teaching people, these kids will eat things they will never have eaten before because they made it.

Nicole:                     Exactly. When you make something, and you know it's good, my husband says I smack when I eat when I know it's really good. He's like, we know, it's delicious. Can you stop smacking?

Kathleen:                You hear it's delicious.

Nicole:                     Exactly. He's like, we get it. He's really funny. He puts up with a lot.

Kathleen:                We love our husbands.

Nicole:                     So where can people find you?

Kathleen:                Okay. I am at gritsandgouda.com, but I am on Instagram, Grits and Gouda, Facebook, Grits and Gouda, Pinterest, Grits and Gouda, and I've ventured out to Twitter, I am not a big tweeter, but I am out there, and the Magic Cakes, my cookbook is on my blog, gritsandgouda.com, under professional. Yeah. Just go there, and read all about my little charming life here in Gardendale, Alabama.

Nicole:                     Aw, your life sounds charming, and delicious. I still can't get over that blackberry vinaigrette.

Kathleen:                Yes.

Nicole:                     I really can't, I can't. Your book sounds really good, and what a great way to get a delicious cake, but with not a lot of work. So yes. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. Really, really had a great time. Guys, out there, if you are interested in making a magic cake, check out Kathleen's book.

                                    Okay. So you just finished hearing me basically drool while Kathleen Philips talked about all of the amazingly delicious things she's been making, both on her blog, and just for dinner. Peach chicken, can you stand it? I cannot. Oh my god, that sounded so good. I need to make that. Okay. So, a few corrections. So Kathleen, while she is basically making me die with envy of all the yummy things she's had to eat in her life, she starts talking about her grandmother's black raspberry vinaigrette.

                                    At some point, I don't know, I just start calling it a blackberry vinaigrette. Nope. It's a black raspberry vinaigrette. Even better, honestly. I kind of just go back and forth in calling it both. Look, they both sound incredible. Kathleen said she would share the recipe with me. When I get it, I will share it all with you. It's her grandmother's recipe, she's been kind enough to tell me that she would share it. Of course, I will share it all with you guys, who are in the Facebook group. That's right, if you want that recipe, you should join the Facebook group. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

                                    All right, also, this is not a correction, but I just wanted to let you know that Kathleen's book, Magic Cakes, is available on Amazon. I think it's kind of funny that it took her three minutes to explain to me what the heck a magic cake was. I just wasn't getting it. She's like, no, no, no, you're putting too much work into it. She was really patient, and I'm telling you right now, for a person that doesn't ... You want a layered cake, but you're not a person that really likes to take all that time to bake a layered cake, they can be intense, try a magic cake. This might be the solution for you. So check out Kathleen's book. It's called Magic Cakes, and it's on sale now at Amazon, and I'll have a link to that in the show notes.

                                    You know, in addition to Kathleen being so patient, she's also really giving. She's going to be teaching at the holiday show that she mentioned in her home town of Gardendale, Alabama, on November 1st. As she mentioned, the really cool thing about this show is that her son, his nonprofit is going to be giving away, from Outdoor Ability Foundation, they're going to be giving away a fully action track chair as she mentioned.

                                    I think that's really awesome, and that's a great reason, if you're in Alabama, to get in the car, take the family, go to that show, because you're not only going to get a chance to hear Kathleen give away a truckload of chef-y tips and cool things that you can try for the holidays, you're also going to have a chance to see a charitable action, a charitable event in action. I mean, what is that, like a Hallmark movie? 'Cause I'm watching it, and if you're interested, there will be a link to the show page of where you can go find that show in the show notes. Can I say show one more time? Whatever.

                                    All right, finally, don't forget to think about joining the Facebook group. I promise you, we're not a cult. We are just a bunch of people who love to talk about food, and honestly, you know, it's the only place where you can go where you're not going to be judged by both eating bacon and vegan mac and cheese on the same day. Vegans don't hate me, don't tweet at me, don't @ me, I've done that, I'm sorry. But vegan mac and cheese is really good, so is bacon. Some choices.

                                    Finally, if you like this podcast, please consider leaving me a review. Those reviews really help the podcast be found by other people who also want to listen to me obsess about pancakes for the umpteenth time. So, do your fellow pancake lovers a favor and rate the show. So, until next week, this is BFF with the Chef, wishing you a great week, and hoping that you've been inspired to go and make something delicious. Goodbye.