• Gone fishin’

    A friend in Tennessee sent this along, and I thought the sheer ingenuity behind it was worth sharing. This is a fish-stick I wouldn’t mind eating. (I ate enough of the other kind in elementary school). As he noted, these are “stockers”, so unlike wild-caught trout (catch and release), these are fine for all-you-can-eat grilling. Yum.

  • 3 years ago
  • Friday Shout Out: Back from Whence We Came

    We’re not dead yet, to borrow from mighty Monty Python. Just kind of sick, tired, and overwhelmed to get back into the swing of things post-holidays.

    Anyone else feel like a total slug getting back to work after ringing in the New Year? So. damn. painful. Well, I’ll stop my griping and promise you this: we turned it OUT this holiday season, taking lots of photos and making and eating our share of tasty holiday yum-yums.

    And by that I mean we stuffed our face with:

    - Shrimp & Grits (made by Sir Scott, coming soon to a blog near you!)

    - Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust (made by yours truly madly deeply…I rocked it - post coming soon.)

    - Southern goodies like pimento cheese (pronounced “puh-menna" if you can get your Southern drawl going) and boiled peanuts

    - A new thing I credit my mother dear for showing me: Pickled Okra! Holy cow, they are good with cocktails. Or just eating them straight out of the jar at 2am , barefoot, as you try your hardest not to get pickled juice all over your feet and kitchen floor. (Or something.)

    These are delicious, mmmkay?

    I’ve taken drastic measures already in 2011 - merely seven days in - to say adieu to my other blog. I definitely love this HTT blog the most, and hope to devote more time to making it hungrier and better.

    Here’s to getting hungry in this new year - seize it and chomp on it!

  • 3 years ago
  • Sticker Shock

    It’s surreal, y’all - Scott and I are now a one car household! What the what!

    It all came down to money - we want to save more of it. No we will have waaaaay less of an insane car insurance premium and I now have no car payment. Also, we longer will suffer the embarrassment of being car twins. We went from double Matrices to ein silver Matrix.

    I’ve always driven Toyotas, so I always gave my cars Japanese names - Yoko for my old green Camry, and Yoshi for my recently departed blue Matrix. Scott’s not a fan of nicknaming his - I mean, OUR, silver Matrix - so when I pressed him for suggestions, he came up with…Momo, Japanese for peach. I kind of love it. What do you think? The other was a non-Japanese moniker - Dot, as in Dot Matrix. Kinda ridiculous, yes?

    I think we’re going with Momo.

    Sidenote: To celebrate our newfound one-car-ness, we hit up Sardi’s, our favorite Peruvian charcoal chicken joint in the area (so far.) Their churasco de pollo will cure what ails you. Love, love love it!

    Side note to the side note - we tried out the famed Pollo de Rico over the weekend - also a Peruvian chicken joint, endorsed by our fave bastard chef/author/TV show host Anthony Bourdain. Located “in the ass end of the universe,” as Bourdain aptly says, it’s an Arlington, Va. institution. We thought it was…okay, for marinated chicken and plain ol’ steak fries and ehhhh slaw. No caramelized plantains, yummy green beans, fried yuca, or spicy and luscious churasco de pollo as Sardi’s delivers. Just chicken and fries. Mr. Bourdain, and all the DC metro area acolytes of Pollo de Rico, you’re loco. Ditch Arlington and come to Beltsville, Md. for finger lickin’ chicken!

    Anyway, the crux of this post all comes down to this - saying goodbye to one hell of a bumper sticker, one that I believe has earned me maybe a few stare downs and more than a few quizzical remarks. I ripped it to shreds getting it off the rear windshield.

    Check it out:

    Purchased from the Southern Foodways Alliance, it was the best statement I ever declared on an automobile - even the “Bad Cop, No Donut” or “Farfrompuken” ones my mom made me remove from my car in high school as she knew it would incite the police to pull over and ticket my insolent teenage tail.

    Scott says he may buy another one for me and put it on his car. Now that’s sweet & Southern true love.


  • 3 years ago
  • Timeless: Gary’s Barbecue

    Here’s one mystifying, frustrating and yet occasionally beautiful thing about the Southern U.S. - change comes slowly. I find it even more beautiful when, after decade, some things don’t change at all.

    By this I mean Gary’s Barbecue, an institution I grew up on in the 1980s and 90s in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. Its provenance is China Grove, NC - a funky-named place between Kannapolis and Salisbury, and pretty much in the backwoods where somehow, someway, the subdivisions and ho-hum strip malls invading the greater Charlotte area haven’t caught up with little China Grove.

    I hope they never do. I hope Gary’s remains untainted by growth and development so it can continue as the best damn Lexington-style barbecue joint out in the middle of nowhere.

    Anytime pork on a bun comes up in conversation, Scott’s probably learned by now to tune out my odes to Gary’s glory, in the nearly nine years (!) we’ve discussed the finer points of barbecue. He grew up on South Carolina style, sadly - they drench the pork in a sweet/spicy mustard sauce. What is that all about?

    I finally showed Scott REAL BBQ last weekend, during our drive down to my Grandmother Carrie’s funeral in Concord, NC.

    We pulled in to the parking lot off of Hwy. 29 and I immediately became giddy, nearly leaping out of the car before it completely stopped. I gabbed about their vinegar sauce and the ice pellets they use that I loved, the way the pork wasn’t dry or plain, but moist and perfectly seasoned. The tin signs of memorabilia - Grape Nehi, Coke, Wonder Bread, etc. - lining the walls, and the three 50s-era Chevys with the bad-ass fins that they kept well preserved in a special room in the back. (This is NASCAR country, ya know.)

    We seated ourselves in a booth and as I grabbed the menu, I realized it was probably five years or more since I last ate at Gary’s. I pondered the weight of those years.

    What if they didn’t have that ice that I liked? What if the pork was just so-so and their fries weren’t crinkle-cut like they used to be? What if, God forbid, they were out of Cheerwine?

    When the waitress took our orders, I had to ask her what came on the BBQ platter versus the BBQ tray. I didn’t remember. I ordered the platter - which came with pulled pork, slaw, fries AND hushpuppies (oh, those warm little carbs o’ the South) - and Scott ordered a large sandwich and onion rings. As when in Rome, we ordered two small Cheerwines to drink.

    The food came quickly, almost as soon as the Cheerwines, which luckily were poured over the ice pellets I recalled fondly. My eyes bulged at the amount of pork loaded on my plate, along with a generous scoop of slaw cut with red pepper and vinegar (no mayo), and several golf-ball size cornmeal hushpuppies.

    Scott was confused to see slaw on his sandwich - I reminded him this was, of course, “Carolina Style.” Nonetheless, it didn’t prevent him from digging in, and after one bite, he grinned widely and uttered the highest compliment he can possibly give - “Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.”

    That’s right. Gary’s hadn’t changed a bit. The pork was still moist, the fries still crinkle cut, the slaw still piquant and slightly red, and the Cheerwine flowed freely from pitchers. Thank you, oh benevolent gods of the barbecued pork.

    I don’t know what I would have done if the meal hadn’t been up to my expectations. I suppose I would have paid the tab and drove off, wishing for the “good ol’ days.” But I can say for sure that at Gary’s, the good ol’ days, and nights, are better than ever. And that, my friends, is truly a beautiful thing.

    Gary's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

  • 3 years ago
  • Friday Shout Out: The Rice Is Right

    Last night while dining at the Korean place and Washingtonian “Cheap Eats” pick Lighthouse Tofu in Rockville, a discussion came up over cooking rice.

    (Sidebar: I had bad Korean food once in San Francisco - beef tasted “off” and the hot tea was like licking shoe leather. Not good. Long story short, Lighthouse Tofu redeemed Korean food for me - beef bulgogi is now the jam. YUM. Get some.)

    I can’t seem to figure it out, but ever since I tossed out my non-stick cookware and switched to my All-Clad pot (the awesome one we found in the backyard of our first rental house in Nashville, but that’s another story), rice at our house continues to be a rocky deal.

    I’ve tried lowering the heat on our gas range or upping it just a tad. I’ve played with the water to rice ratio, now working with a one and a half cup of water to one cup rice situation. I’ve washed the rice in a strainer, even.

    Sadly, sometimes the result is too sticky/gluey. Often the rice dried out and stuck to the bottom of the pan. It’s a suck situation, folks. No one likes to eat bad rice. That can screw a whole meal plan quite quickly.

    Our friends’ recommend buying a rice cooker. Until the Genie grants my wish for extra storage space or we get the hell out of our teensy apartment, I’m stuck using the All Clad pot.

    Any suggestions for the right rice? As the owner of a Charleston Rice Spoon, THE gift for brides who know their rightful place in the kitchen, I feel like a Southern Belle who’s lost her “clang” if I can’t make solid rice again.
    Hope everyone has a marvelous weekend! We’re headed to Baltimore for a Greek Festival. OPA!

  • 3 years ago
  • Friday Shout Out: Cheerwine

    Yes, it’s super sweet and chock-full of high fructose corn syrup and Red 40 food coloring, and I should eschew all of that, but hell, I’m a North Carolina girl and one of the best things to come out of the state - other than (in no particular order) Mr. Andy “Matlock" Griffith, public radio’s Carl Kasell, author Thomas Wolfe, musicians Tori Amos, Ben Folds, Nina Simone and James Taylor; Duke basketball, and Krispy Kreme doughnuts - is Cheerwine.

    Don’t know about Cheerwine? Bless your little ignorant heart. Check it out, please, if you’re ever in North Carolina. You’ll be glad you bypassed the Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Sprite and whatnot for some carbonated cherry yum-yums. (I love that http://www.cheerwine.com/ converts into http://www.itsasoftdrink.com - it’s kind of a weird-ass page. Do take a look-see.) Made by Carolina Beverage Corporation of Salisbury, North Carolina, since 1917, it’s a fine tasting soft drink, indeed.

    A friend who hails from Long Island asked us to bring him some when we visited friends in Raleigh over Labor Day Weekend. We happily obliged, hauling back a 12-can pack to split with our foodie comrade. Scott discovered it makes a fantastic ice cream float and I tried it with bourbon for a little Friday night cocktail last week. Amazing!

    However, the best way to enjoy Cheerwine is with a Lexington-style BBQ pulled pork sandwich. I grew up eating Gary’s BBQ in China Grove, N.C., but in the Piedmont region of N.C. you can’t ball up a paper napkin and sling it without hitting some sort of eating establishment that claims to have the best barbecue in the South. And most likely you’ll find they have Cheerwine on the menu.

    We’re fresh out of Cheerwine now, but I foresee a trip back down in the near future for the holidays - yay, Santa and Baby Jesus and turkey with all the trimmings - so we’re not terribly bummed about it.

    Hope you have an excellent weekend lined up - we’re going apple picking on Sunday. A great blog post in the making, I know it!


  • 4 years ago
  • Tea For Two

    What did I have two, no….make that THREE, cups of today? It wasn’t gravy, or Coca Cola, or Bourbon, or Cranberry Juice. It was TEA, wonderful tea.

    Ever since I was younger, tea has been a pleasure to enjoy, both hot or cold, sweet or unsweetened, as long as it’s not adulterated as that Fruit Tea business you know I can’t get behind, or Jasmine (too much like drinking Potpourri water to me). But - Japanese Green Tea, English style, Chai, Thai Iced - it’s all pretty much marvelous to me.

    Luckily, Scott shares my love of tea. We jokingly have “tea and book time” (in bed too, but I swear, it’s totally PG-13 rated) as our British alter-egos Russell and Margaret — our first names, as we both go by our middles. Ol’ Russ and Mags are just simple homebodies who like scones, a spot of tea, a good historical novel or quaint little series on the Public Television station, and a nice gentle rainy afternoon. Or something like that. Can you tell we’ve really thought this out?

    So, as I digress (my bad, my bad)…. we like the tea. So it was no surprise (or WAS it? *eyebrows thoroughly arched*) that Scott took me to Charleston Tea Plantation for my birthday. This is the ONLY tea grown in the U.S., folks, AND their tea is used to make Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka.
    (Cool sidenote: Sweet Tea, the theme song on the Firefly web site, is by none other than Scott’s cousins Whitt and Jim and their band, The Bushels. Look ‘em up!)

    Located on Wadmalaw Island south of Charleston, it’s a gorgeous 120+ acres of Lowcountry

    With thousands of tea plants…

    And huge trees with Spanish Moss draped so languidly in their branches.

    We took both the trolley tour and the factory tour. The trolley was a fun way to see a LOT of acreage.

    Scott liked the tractor they call the “Green Giant.”

    I liked this sign.

    On the way home, we stopped at the Angel Oak Tree, per the advice of our friend Shaloot. It was absolutely MASSIVE. Even Handsome Tall Blond Man looks teensy in its wake!

    That is one BIG ASS tree - it covers 17,100 square feet of ground.

    Scott and I have visited the Charleston area now for about eight years - it was there in April 2002 where we decided we kinda sorta liked each other a lot and had that major dating discussion every semi-serious couple will have where the awkward/amazing “L” word comes up. Yep, the L-Bomb was dropped in Charleston, SC. So, it’s a special place for us, not to mention we married there too.

    This trip was really fun because we branched out (no pun intended) and visited new places. Big thanks to Scott for thinking this one up - you are always just my cup of tea! (Ok, pun intentional, and wow, it was cheesy, but so worth it!)

  • 4 years ago