Nothing makes me feel like a Jersey girl than not being in New Jersey. When I’m at my parents’ house in north Jersey where I grew up, I will deny any claims that I’m a Jersey girl. I don’t go down the shore, I don’t know which exit I get off to go home, I hadn’t ever pumped gas until I was 21…but when I’m elsewhere, I get excited when I see other Jersey license plates, I miss swimming in the Atlantic, I’m snobby about bagels, I’m confused by people who don’t know what pork roll is.
I’ve moved again, further south than ever before, to attend grad school in New Orleans. The calendar tells me its September, and classes have begun, but it still hits at least 85 every day, more often 90. Fall is no where in sight. Doing fieldwork outside for class means sweating buckets, or getting poured on. I’ve never seen so much lightning, nor had it be so hot but have the sun set so early.
I took a break from this blog for a while, but I hope to get back into it slowly, starting with a simple goal of one recipe a month. I never understood bloggers who just quit posting without reason, but the truth is blogging is a lot more work than it may seem. Even though I haven’t posted in months, I’ve been cooking, and eating. Today, I want to share a quick round-up of my summer food-ventures.
I made these White Cupcakes for the Fourth of July, to much acclaim. I topped them with vanilla buttercream and fresh blackberries.
My mom and I had a fantastic meal at the recently-opened Ox Cart Ale House in St. Paul, Minnesota while on vacation a few weeks later. We started off with cheese curds, of course–my first ever. Perfectly deep fried, they were served with a wonderfully balanced spicy honey sauce. For the main course, I had a house made chicken and apricot sausage, which I could barely finish, and she had a delicious lambburger. We both had local brews, mine a summer ale and hers a cider.
I’ve realized recently that I love honey paired with savory dishes. I knew I liked it in some applications, like these goat cheese and arugula Flammkuchen drizzled with honey, based on a dish I had several times while living in Linz, Austria. But looking back over the past few months, there have been several sweet/savory honey combinations that have (ugh, not to sound cliche), inspired me.
Like the biscuit at Alabama Biscuit Company in Birmingham, topped with whipped goat cheese, toasted pecans, and honey. What a breakfast.
Or redfish beignets, drizzled with a light honey sauce and garnished with fresh green onions, like the Royal House Oyster Bar served at the Louisiana Seafood Festival, where I also had crawfish egg rolls. My first crawfish! Since I’m not a huge fan of shrimp and wasn’t sure how I would like crawfish, I went for an application that was relatively mild. I thought Goodfellas Seafood and PoBoys‘s riff on the egg roll was great.
My other exploits into local cuisine have included trying raw oysters (my second time, I still believe they taste like nothing), and a catfish poboy. I’ve had libations from Abita and NOLA Brewing, frozen drinks of various types, and barbecue with New Orleans-style sauce. Honestly, I don’t know if the NOLA East sauce is a true regional thing or one invented by McClure’s BBQ, who describe the sauce as–would you believe it, exactly what my palate is into right now–sweet and spicy.
Other culinary projects recently have included several iterations of these sweet potato burgers, this falafel (great flavor, but not structurally sound), these gooey Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies, and this surprisingly sweet Buttery Beer Bread, made with NOLA Brewing’s Brown Ale.
…though it took me some time to get around to writing about everything I wanted to share, I feel good about it.
I’ll be back soon, if grad school doesn’t consume my life.