Eat Me. Drink Me.

Why We Eat. Why We Drink. Why We Write.

Month: May, 2009

Tis the Season…to Go Outside (a post by Josh)

by lyzpfister

The sun is finally shining through the April showers, and shorts are more than appropriate. Now a few weekends ago (oh how the time has flown on my adventure through the South), my house christened our new grill. Our house came with a few downers – the electricity, water and gas all getting cut off within the first week of us living there – but a few uppers too. We have a porch, some rocking chairs, a spacious kitchen and a grill. We had all taken advantage of one of those perks except for the grill until that weekend. It was only fitting though, for us to have a bunch of people over to enjoy the luxuries of our massive grill. We wanted to fill up the grill with as much as possible.

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Savannahrama (a post by Lyz)

by lyzpfister

It’s not that I’m following Josh around the South, but after an uneventful, rainy graduation, I drove down to Savannah to spend a week with some friends (Josh included) on the sunny coast. Though uncharacteristically rainy (a graduation curse?), Savannah remains one of my favorite cities to visit.

I love the hospitality of the South, and the role food plays in welcoming people. Everywhere I went, it was, Hi, nice to see you again or Hi, nice to meet you, can I get you something to eat? Fresh fruit, white wine, pecan shortbread cookies first – and if a meal followed, it was always more than we could possibly eat.

I was there for the meal Josh described at the end of his post. Simultaneously crunchy and moist fried chicken, tangy okra stewed with tomatoes and corn over rice, firm yet buttery field peas, all finished off with a butter-flecked biscuit so light that wildflower honey just disappeared inside it. I may not be doing any research, but it seemed to me that despite the peach cobbler and ice cream for dessert, the most Southern part of the meal was the gossip bantered over the lunch table. Apparently, so and so, who’s very wealthy and over such and such an age, is being courted by so and so who just met her two weeks ago, and so and so’s children are having so and so sign some papers. And so and so, who owns such and such, just sold this and that to what’s his name. Bless his heart.

Savannah is definitely a foodie city, but it is a strange one. You can find everything from infused balsamics and olive oils from Italy to mass marketed celebrities like Paula Deen and the Girl Scouts (think cookies). And everyone has an opinion on what’s real Southern cooking. Paula Deen, for instance, “is just the nicest lady you’ll ever meet, but oh, no, don’t bother eating at her restaurant.”

We’ve eaten well in Savannah, perhaps in part because we’ve been doing a lot of our own cooking.  i love our expansive breakfasts that start around ten with nibbles of crisp bacon and fresh fruit and finally come to fruition around lunchtime with French toast and cheese grits or omelets stuffed with mushrooms, spinach, and cherry tomatoes and syrupy buckwheat pancakes.

The dense chocolate-raspberry cake baked by Laura’s father for my faux birthday party and the homemade chocolate ice cream still lingers on my tongue.  As does a silky cappuccino (although, who are we kidding, there was definitely more than one) from Gallery Espresso, or a hummus, olive, feta, and spinach laden Panini from The Sentient Bean.Savannah is probably the most summer I’ll have this year, since the rest of June involves finding a job and moving to New York.  But I have mementos of my trip – a slight tan from boating through the channels around Tybee Island, black cherry infused balsamic vinegar, a couple extra pounds, and two four-week old kittens (oops).For the sake of Josh’s research, we’ve been trying to eat “Southern,” and I think it’s a fitting way to end four years of study in the South.  Though I’m sure I can find grits and hushpuppies in New York, I doubt they’ll be quite the same.  But, as Miss Sallie Ann Robinson, a Gullah cook from Daufuskie Island, says, “Keep it simple.”  So here’s four years in the South and however many years to come in the North, simply put.  Good friends, good food, and family.

If On a Summer’s Day, I’ll be Traveling (a post by Josh)

by lyzpfister

This summer I take off. I take off from school by not studying until I can’t read anymore.

But I don’t take off from researching. I am taking off to drive, run, and bike around most of the Southern States to look deeper into how food can shape, affect, or even define a culture. I believe that the foods we eat really do shape how we interact with our surroundings more than we think they do. So I’ll be checking out three different regions in the south: Low-Country (Georgia and South Carolina), the Bayou (Coastal Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana), and inland a bit with Southern Appalachia (Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia).

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Briefly, A Method (a post by Lyz)

by lyzpfister

I have to share this recipe, mostly because I was sure it was going to taste awful. It’s another child of the experimenting I’ve been doing with the leftover food in my pantry slash fridge slash freezer, and like the last fifteen things I’ve made, features feta cheese from the farmer’s market. It was delicious.

Method: Pasta with Hot Italian Sausage and Feta

Per package directions, boil as much pasta (or as many lonely strands left in the box) as you want. Remove skins from two hot Italian sausages (preferably ones that have been hiding in the back of your freezer for five months) and break up meat in skillet over medium-high heat. Add a few pearl onions (leftover from Spring Break when you sent boys to buy scallions), some berebere spice (a Christmas gift), cinnamon, and brown sugar. When the meat and pasta are both fully cooked, add the pasta to the skillet of sausage and drizzle some olive oil on top. Continue to sauté the pasta until coated with spice. Add some shredded parmesan cheese (but only from a mostly rock-solid block) for good measure, and toss until the cheese melts. Serve in a bowl and garnish generously with feta cheese. Make your roommate eating Easy Mac jealous.

The Mother of Invention (a post by Lyz)

by lyzpfister

As my college career draws to a close, I find myself running into one problem more consistently than any other. I have no food. The budget is low, time is tight, and the tamarind paste to usefulness ratio is completely out of whack.

There have been some successes in my quest to empty the pantry, but there have also been some definite mistakes. Pasta, cottage cheese, red pepper flakes. Not so good. Lasagna with curry sauce. Not so good. Today, however, I came up with one of my greatest wins. Steamed greens topped with a fried egg and crumbled feta cheese.

Last Saturday was the opening of the Farmer’s Market in Davidson. I love the market, because it’s the best place to buy produce in this area. The meats and some of the cheeses are a little expensive (though delicious), but you can’t beat a big bag of mixed greens for $2. I found a new vendor at the market selling some of the best feta I’ve had – crumbly, yet thick and salty with a finishing bite of brine. In addition to the greens and feta, I bought baby cabbage, freshly picked strawberries, kohlrabi, arugula, tomatoes, and a basil plant. A good day.

My Farmers Market purchases have been seeing me through the past week. One day I had toasted flatbread with tomatoes, basil, and feta. On another, boiled kohlrabi tossed with butter, rice wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. But today’s invention has definitely been the best.

I’d never cooked greens before this batch – partly because I’d never eaten greens before coming to school in the south. I decided to try a variation on steaming, which involved sticking wet leaves into a skillet with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then covering the skillet with another skillet. (Don’t judge the improvisation – it’s college.) Thinking that the wilted greens seemed a little lonely, I grabbed one of my last two organic, free-range eggs and fried it lightly enough for the bright yellow yolk to be runny. As a last minute touch, I crumbled some feta over the whole thing. It was so pretty, I had to take a picture of it, even before I’d eaten any. Luckily, the taste lived up to the picture.

I wish I had more greens to go with my last egg and the last block of feta, but I guess this is how using up the pantry goes. Who knows where those leftovers will take me?

A Fixed-Price Tapas Affair. For Three. (a post by Josh)

by lyzpfister

I think I’ve become predictable. Every birthday, holiday or Sunday (for that matter) my gift will always relate to food. It could be a cook book from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Syracuse, NY or Olive Oil (freshly pressed in the heart of Tuscany) or even a Simply Carrot Cake for Brenda. No matter what though, I always give food. My most recent, and dare I say “innovative,” gift was a cooking class gift certificate for an upscale restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina. And not only for my friend, but for myself as well.

And I lucked out. Because not only was it a cooking class in a classy restaurant, but that day the menu was Tapas. That may not sound so “lucky”, but these were not your ordinary get-these-ingredients-in-your-local-store type of Tapas, but more of the I’m-in-a-fancy-restaurant-spending-far-too-much-money Tapas. But it wasn’t too much money, since the price was fixed. I’d call that luck.

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