road trip epiphanies

The timeline is a bit of a blur.

Barbeque in Memphis. Shrimp and grits on Florida’s gulf coast. Ramen at some hole-in-the wall restaurant in Some Carolina.

I couldn’t tell you what we did in every city – but I can certainly tell you what we ate. Somewhere between the 93 hours in the car and the 6,500 miles we spent traveling the country, a great awakening occurred.

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you can pickle anything!

my mom loves coffee; she drinks it all the time, even late at night before bed. i have this really distinct memory of being four years old, and us drinking from matching coffee cups. in hers — folgers. in mine — pickle juice. i guess the point of that, is there’s a special place in my heart for pickles.

a couple weeks ago, steven and i took a day trip to the new river gorge in west virginia to go zip lining. it was a lot of fun and it’s so beautiful there, but in true chef fashion i think he was most concerned with what we’d be having for lunch. after much googling and pressure from a control freak friend (hi, bill!) we settled on gumbos cajun restaurant. i had a fried crawfish po’ boy with the most delicious pickled okra on the side! i mean, this okra seriously tasted like a dill pickle. i ate mine and his. i guess it may be a no brainer to some people, but it was an epiphany to me: you can pickle anything.

i didn’t believe him at first, but trust me… these pickled brussels are worth the wait!


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road trip favorites: boudin balls

Boudin – /bü-ˈdan. n. A style of sausage popular along the Gulf Coast incorporating meat (commonly pork, gator, or seafood) and rice. Or the most delicious deep-fried, truck-stop vittles to be found south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

I spent this past summer watching it melt away in the rear view mirror of a Saturn Ion named Sandy. The girl and I racked up something approaching 100 hours in the car traveling across the country and back. I lost track of the number of miles and the gallons of gas. And the billboards, enormous swaths of peeling paint and splinters devoted to roadside attractions that no longer rank even among the world’s top 10 largest gophers.  But there is one sign I hope I never forget.

In the heart of Cajun country, off of interstate 10 somewhere between Baton Rouge and the Texas state line there is a sign that says, “Shrimp! Gator! Andouille! Boudin! Go left, then 2.5 miles!”  But to her, the most important thing was inferred: “Restroom!” Sign after sign eventually led us to a dingy little shop — part truck stop, part country store, part plate-lunch diner. As she hurried off to use the facilities, my life changed in an instant.

Fresh from the fryer, glistening under a heat lamp like tourists at Myrtle Beach in July, were perfectly formed spheres of Boudin sausage, battered and deep fried. Three for two dollars. The expression on her face changed from disgust that I would consider eating something made in that rickety old market, to disbelief as i implored her to try it, to elation as she came into the fold: a believer that there might not be anything better in the world than deep fried sausage.

The following recipe is my first attempt at recreating that moment of pure bliss.


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hollandaise for days

dating a chef has changed my life — and i’m not always happy about it. a while back, he handed me a book, “kitchen confidential” by anthony bourdain. “read this,” he said. “you’ll love it.” it is a great book, but there are some pretty upsetting parts. especially the truth about hollandaise. it has to be kept at a pretty precise temperature or it’ll go bad and chances are, your restaurant of choice isn’t putting in the effort. bourdain won’t order hollandaise at a restaurant, and that guy eats blood sausage and bugs and who knows what else.

so it was decided. if i want hollandaise, it has to be made at home. we use it to garnish re-purposed breakfast. this morning: last night’s brisket with avocado and a poached egg. enjoy.


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the best peach cobbler

i have a sweet tooth.  in fact, i suspect that every molar in my mouth has a sweet predisposition.  to my dentist’s chagrin, i always get a hankering for something sweet right about when the dinner dishes are put up to dry.  once we started dating, I struggled to find something that would tempt her into sharing my late night dessert dalliances: lemon meringue pie, apple tartlettes, cantaloupe gelato.  but it was to no avail.  I could slave away in the kitchen for hours on something and she wouldn’t take more than a taste.  and then she tasted this cobbler.


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first date pasta

i fell in love pretty quickly — somewhere between the starbucks coffee/hours of conversation and the first dinner date at my house. when you’re dating a trained chef, it just doesn’t make sense to go to a restaurant. i wanted to know what i was getting myself into. he came over with a backpack full of tupperware containers, each filled with ingredients to make the perfect pasta. turkey stuffed agnolotti, topped with fresh parmesan. he had me at the first bite.


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