100 Dishes in Alabama: Amsterdam Cafe’s Crab Cake and Avocado Sandwich

Last weekend, in addition to my Women of Faith gig, my big girl had a soccer game in Auburn. It worked out really well, because we just stopped in Auburn on our way home from Atlanta to play a double-header. I’d never taken J and the girls to my alma mater, so it was fun. I really wish we could have spent more time, but that just gives us a good excuse to go back.

We snuck in a wee visit to campus before the games started. We timed it perfectly and got to hear the chimes at Samford Tower strike noon and play the fight song.

Obviously, we were dressed for three hours of soccer – not for cute pictures on campus. Don’t look too closely or you’ll see that I cut myself out of the picture. Sitting through three hours of soccer games means Nike shorts and a tank top are in order, not cute clothes that would be appropriate for campus pictures. Oh, well. Another good excuse to go back to Auburn soon!

After the soccer massacre games, we headed over to Amsterdam Cafe to wind down and strike another dish off of our list of 100 Things To Eat In Alabama Before You Die. Back in the day, Amsterdam was one of my favorite places in Auburn. My roommates and I were regulars there. We’d go for dinner and stay a while playing shulbok, a game sort of like skee-ball. We loved it! We thought their turkey wrap was the best sandwich ever created. Apparently, we were easily impressed. Jonathan and I ordered a turkey wrap, just for posterity’s sake, and while it was good, I’ve had equally good turkey wraps many times since our Amsterdam days. I think it’s safe to say that my memory of the turkey wrap was bigger and better than the actual wrap. And the shulbok game I was so excited to play with my family? They took them out. Sigh.

Amsterdam Cafe has definitely become more upscale since I was a college student. The dish that landed them a spot on the list is their crab cake with avocado sandwich. I can assure you that they didn’t serve crab cakes when I was there or Pop would have seen many more charges to Amsterdam on his credit card. Unlike the turkey wrap, the crab cake sandwich is quite remarkable. I actually could have done without the croissant and the avocado, but the crab cake was excellent. It was full of lump crabmeat, not too much breading, and delicately seasoned. I’d have to say that it was one of the finer crab cakes I have ever eaten. I wish I’d just gotten it as an appetizer or dinner, without the sandwich fixings, because I could have eaten six of them! They were delicious!

Because the girls love hummus, we ordered the hummus appetizer for them. It was one of the most creative, artsy displays I have ever ordered. Truly, the presentation on this dish was amazing.

It came with a generous serving of hummus, pepperoncini peppers, black olives, fresh red bell peppers, and lovely artichoke hearts. While the food combination was perfect, and I will definitely serve this at my next party, the quality of the actual ingredients fell flat. The hummus was obviously homemade and quite fresh, but a little bland. We typically enjoy a little more garlic flavor to our hummus. The artichokes were a really nice complement. The black olives were canned and lackluster. I would definitely have gone with a nice kalamata olive instead. The flatbread was marvelous and beautiful. I believe it was homemade as well, and I’d love to know how they did it. It was the best part of the dish.

So overall the trip to my favorite eatery that I was so excited about actually got mixed reviews. It’s okay, Amsterdam! You still hold lots of wonderful memories for me!

Sping is Springing in the Ham

The girls wanted to eat their lunch at the Botannical Gardens today since the weather was so warm and pretty. So after gymnastics, we took a picnic to Mountain Brook to the Birmingham Botannical Gardens. The gardens are in full bloom and they are breath-taking. There were tulips in so many varieties, and they were all gorgeous! The impatiens, daffodils, cheery trees, confederate jasmine, begonias, and the lorapetalum were all bursting forth in color.

Leaf and Petal at the Gardens is the gift shop located on the Gardens grounds. They have a really eclectic assortment of things in the shop. Occassionally they will also offer plants. I bought several herbs for the planters on my deck. I can’t wait to cook with the fresh basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and mint that we got.
Hope you are enjoying spring wherever you are!

My Blue Angels

Okay, boys and girls. This post is going to be short and sweet because we have had a long, full day and I have a little one who is bucking me on bedtime tonight. Today we went with my dad to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. The museum has been there forever, but I have never taken the girls. I have heard about it, but never knew what it was about. Well, hello Dolly! They have over 150 restored airplanes inside this thing, and it is HUGE! As soon as you walk in the door, you are greeted by a full-size replica of the Wright brothers’ plane that they flew at Kitty Hawk. Very cool!
Of course, since the Pensacola Naval Air Station is home to the Blue Angels, they have tons of Blue Angels memorabilia. They have planes hanging from the ceiling in the exact pattern they fly in. You cannot imagine  how close together those planes fly! It’s a miracle that they don’t crash into each other. No kidding, they are only feet away from the next plane while they are flying at top speeds through the air.
Little Bit got in every aircraft there! I think she has a new profession on her horizon! She’s a big, big fan of the planes.
And now, I bid you goodnight. ‘Cause this mama is worn OUT!

Somebody Has A Birthday

The whippersnapper on the left is 91 years young today! I love this picture taken of my girl and her great-grandfather at his garden last summer. He had just picked a ton of tomatoes, corn, okra, squash, and green beans to send home with us. Nobody can deny that Papaw Hill is a hard worker. He and Grandmaw have been married close to 70 years, and that takes work of a different kind! Since he’s never owned a computer, he’ll never see this. In fact, there is a high probability he doesn’t even know what a blog is. He’s one of a kind, for sure!
 Happy birthday, Papaw!

Sweet Shot Tuesday

The girls and I had friends to play with yesterday. Our friends DeeDee and Emily were in town, and we met up with them at Aldridge Gardens to feed the ducks and fish and to have a picnic. I snapped this sweet shot while the girls were gazing at the lake.
I’m linking this post to Sweet Shot Tuesday on www.my3boybarians.

What a Day! What a Day!

It was simply gorgeous in Birmingham today. We woke up ready to hit the books and start our school week. We had good intentions. We really did. But then we looked outside. The sun was shining, which hasn’t been the case in weeks. It was 65 degrees, a full 40 degrees warmer than this time last week. Our spirits just couldn’t be contained. We packed a school bag full of book work, put the bikes and trikes in the car, and headed to the park. I don’t regret it one bit. Sure, we’re paying for it by doing grammar homework at 7:08, and we still have writing and history to go. But it was so worth it! The weather could not have been more perfect. Look at the sky over Briarwood that Patti and I enjoyed while Bitty was in ballet.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Psalm 19:1

Sweet Shot Tuesday

I’m participating in Darcy’s Sweet Shot Tuesday. If you’re visiting from Life With My 3 Boybarians, welcome! Please feel free to browse my other posts. I do hope you’ll come again!
This is a shot that I took last fall at the botanical gardens. Pitter Patter found a quiet spot beside the lake to enjoy her lunch. She looked so serene and peaceful, which I wanted to capture with my lens. I had to lie on the grass to get the angle I wanted. Shooting into the sun is never a god idea, but it was my only option this time.


We had a little birthday in our house yesterday (more about that later), which was good cause for us to try out a cupcake bakery that we just found out about. I didn’t know that such a place existed in Birmingham. I mean, walking in to the storefront is like being a judge on Cupcake Wars. You get to mull over the yummy treats and make your top selections. We walked away with a half-dozen assorted treasures. Here, in their own words, is what we tried:

Mississippi Mud: Chocolate cake with a chocolate fudge filling, topped with marshmallows & a drizzled fudge frosting. A staff favorite!

Caramel Sea Salt Mocha: Chocolate cake with a mocha frosting, topped with a caramel drizzle, a coffee candy & a sprinkle of sea salt. (This one had quite a reputation to live up to. I’d heard a lot about it. I mean, sea salt? In a cupcake? Well, you wouldn’t believe how succulent the sweet and salty combination is.)

Birthday Cake: (This was MA’s choice. I couldn’t find the description online, but it was a yellow cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. There was a luscious chocolate filling, and it was topped with colorful sprinkles. Just right for a birthday!)

Paparazzi: Melt-in-your-mouth sour cream butter cake studded with poppy seeds & topped with our famous almond buttercream.

Naughty and Nice: Chocolate and vanilla marble cake, topped and filled with vanilla and chocolate frosting.

Simply Strawberry: Delectable strawberry cake with a strawberry buttercream filling & frosting. (This one was my favorite!! The frosting tastes like fresh strawberries. Divine!)

Y’all, if you haven’t been to Dreamcakes, go the next chance you get. They are located on Oxmoor Road in Homewood in the cutest little storefront! Lots of exposed pipes and original brick. Very cute cafe tables and chairs. It is such a quaint little neighborhood place. You’ll love it!

Christmas in List

We’re (almost) back in our regular schedule this morning. It’s sad to see the holidays go, but we like a good routine in this house, so I guess we are ready. Don’t get me wrong, we loved EVERY MINUTE of having our Daddio home with us and were heartbroken to send him back to work this morning, but we are choosing to be thankful that he has a great job to go to so that we can stay home doing our thing.

It’s hard to recount the entire Christmas vacation in one post, but since I like a challenge, I’m going to attempt it. And because I know you don’t have all day to read my ramblings, I give it to you in list form. You’re welcome.

  • Finished school on Friday, just short of our goals for the year. No big deal. We’ll just hit the books a little more diligently in 2011 and knock it out.
  • Had a friend over to make reindeer cupcakes and spend the night. I (big heart) my girls’ sweet little friends. Have I mentioned that before?
  • Did several days worth of Christmas baking and candy-making. I must say, it was one of my best years yet: fudge, peanut brittle, mini red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing, carrot cake muffins.
  • Hours after sending our friend home, MA and I came down with the stomach virus. While no stomach virus is ever fun, this one was particularly brutal. At one point I considered a trip to the ER. Whew! Glad that’s over.
  • The girls had planned to spend a few days in Meridian with their Gran and G, but… see the above bullet.
  • Threw out all the food I had spent days cooking so as not to spread the”love” with our family.
  • Spent two days recovering, and while I was barely strong enough to stay upright, I packed suitcases, gifts, and food for four people to spend five days in Mississippi. Did I mention that this required moving all of our Christmas gifts? Are we crazy?
  • My father-in-law called to say that the bike Santa delivered for our little girlie-girl was in fact a BOYS red dirt bike. Mad rush to replace it on Christmas Eve ensues. My poor father-in-law drew the short straw and had to go to Geoffrey and Wal-Mart to correct the mistake. Did I mention it was Christmas Eve?
  • Finally rolled into Meridian on Christmas Eve night, just in time to miss the Christmas Eve service at church.
  • Unpacked for what seemed like hours while trying to keep the girls awake so that we could do our family Christmas Eve service. Mary Anneliese read from Luke 2 and I read The King’s Christmas List. Our family does this every Christmas Eve, and it’s one of my favorite traditions.
  • After the girls went to bed, we did the mad Christmas Eve dash that parents with small children do.
  • Had a fabulous Christmas morning. Opened gifts at leisure and played with our new toys ALL DAY.
  • The Hill family started arriving and we had a lovely Christmas dinner of charred fried turkey and all the fixings. It really was fabulous, and we all ate way too much.
  • Jonathan woke in the night with the stomach virus.
  • Spent two days nursing him back to health.
  • Packed up all our STUFF and started the trek back to Birmingham.
  • Put away Christmas decorations. Organized closets. Made room for Christmas toys. Gathered Hannah Home donations.
  • Made over Pitter Patter’s room so that she can have a big girl bed. She has stayed in it for two naps and two nights. I can’t believe how smooth the transition was, and she LOVES her new bed. I’m still mortified that she might get up in the night and walk around the house, but so far so good. Unless I’ve slept through it.
  • Dropped MA off at a friend’s house yesterday and haven’t seen her since. She called to stay for dinner. Then she called to spend the night. Then she called to stay for lunch. Fun times!

While reading through this list, I realize that the sickness would be enough to turn a good time sour for some people. This year, since I’m going to focus more on the good and less on the bad, I will choose to see the joy and good times in our holiday. It was a great time with our extended family and friends. And we have reason to celebrate because…

Our King was born.

Top 2010 Posts

2010 was a great year for the Hill Hang-Out. We had lots of new readers this year, and I’m so tickled you all decided to take a peek into our little lives. As you know, this blog is about a little of this and a little of that, and my most-read posts reflect that. I am nothing if not a jumbled mess of unrelated topics. “Eclectic,” I prefer to call it. Judging from the list of Hill Hang-Out posts you read most often, you are an eclectic bunch as well. Maybe that’s why we get along so well. 🙂 Here are your 2010 favorites:

10. Sweet Shot Tuesday

9. Five Favorite Gifts

8. My Mississippi Day

7. Book Review: Jesus Calling For Kids

6. This Little Lady Got A Makeover

5. The Only Thing I’m Committing To Is Being Non-Committal

4. Home Is Where Your Art Is

3. The Decorating Files

2. Old Made New: Thrift Store Finds

1. Hill Preparatory Academy for Girls: Curriculum Choices

Several of these most-read posts were posted on blog linky parties, and many of my readers have come to the Hill Hang-Out from these fun events. Many thanks to Darcy and Emily for sharing their success with others!