Please forgive the bad title pun. I am slightly sleep deprived. In all seriousness, if you’re a fan of easy, quick side dishes that come together in fewer than 15 minutes, this post is for you. It’s just a bonus that my 4-year-old adores chickpeas. In fact, when I told him chickpeas were for dinner, he ran around the house screaming, “Chickpeas! Yes! Chickpeas! Yes!” So I made this up on the spot: Chickpeas with Arugula and Bacon. And he actually ate his whole serving. The addition of bacon helped a bit, I think. (No, I don’t put bacon on/in everything, despite its presence in almost all of my posts so far). Continue Reading
Mobile, whose motto is “born to celebrate,” is a city of revelry. Visit us during Mardi Gras, and there is no doubt. One of the things I love most about the Gulf Coast in the summer is our seemingly unquenchable thirst. Sweet tea, mint juleps, lemonade, rum Old Fashioned, Sazeracs, Planter’s Punch, cocktail or mocktail, we will drink it all, especially when it’s still ninety degrees by the time the sun calls it quits.
For as long as I can remember, my family has vacationed on the white-sand beaches of Fort Morgan, Alabama. The little beach cottage, affectionately dubbed Déjà Vu and destroyed by hurricanes and subsequently rebuilt, has been in my family since the late 70s. In 1988, we celebrated my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary in that house, crammed in like happy sardines in the front room. In 2002, my parents bought the house from my uncle and aunt, who built a gorgeous house on the lot next door. In 2006, I hosted my bridal party at the cottage before heading to our nuptials in Natchez, MS (ten years to the day this Friday). It’s safe to say that this house, and its surrounding coastline, has more sentimental significance to me than most of the things in my own home (people excluded, of course). Most people don’t realize that Alabama has a coastline, (and that’s fine–it’s crowded enough) but with the Hangout Festival held annually in Gulf Shores, our little “Redneck Riviera” is getting more and more popular, evidenced by the gobsmacking Saturday summer traffic on Highway 59. Continue Reading
Shrimp and grits is by far my most requested dish. Friends routinely email or text for the recipe, and my sister
demands requests it every year for her birthday. If ever I named a signature dish (which I won’t because I don’t play favorites), this would be it. Shrimp and grits is a dish of lowcountry origins, associated with the Carolinas, but has spread far and wide across the Southeast. It is most commonly seen on brunch menus, but I could eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner (or all three). Continue Reading
There are two fathers who feature prominently in my life: my own father, and S. and Lemon Baby’s daddy (also known as my husband). They are vastly different men in trait and temperament, but one (very important) thing they have in common is the ability to drop everything and play. My own father demonstrated it countless times while I was growing up, and still to this day, when his grandchildren want him to chase them on all fours, roaring like a fearsome beast, he complies without hesitation. My husband, when asked to tell his nephew, niece, and son a bedtime story, grabs our stuffed Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat and enacts the storyline, complete with an inflatable tire float. (For those who don’t know who/what Mr. Bear is, it’s a ridiculous children’s story from back in the day about –you guessed it– a bear who squashes little woodland creatures’ homes). The ability to play on demand is reason enough to make whomever you (or your kids) call “Dad” a special meal on the third Sunday in June. Continue Reading
On the Gulf Coast, we get a beautiful (albeit short) spring before cool mornings and dazzling sunshine yield to the searing, unrelenting heat of summer. If you’ve never experienced July in Mobile (or New Orleans, or Tallahassee, or some other as-south-as-you-can-go-before-you-hit-water city), imagine going into the sauna at the spa and not being able to leave, even when your eyelashes start to sweat. A few things help us survive the onslaught of buggy, muggy 95-degree evenings: our gorgeous beaches, front porches (friends mandatory), air conditioning, and delightfully fresh and crisp wine like rosé and vinho verde. This Blackberry-Rosé Granita helps a bit, too.
I named this next recipe “Rhubarb Anytime Cake” because in my research of recipes for something using rhubarb and yogurt, I came across rhubarb “snack cakes,” “breakfast cakes,” and of course, just “cakes”, but this beauty is one heck of a multitasker. Inspired by smitten kitchen‘s “snacking cake,” Rhubarb Anytime Cake is perfect for breakfast, an afternoon pick-me-up, or some post-dinner sweetness. It’s pretty simple to put together, too. You just macerate the rhubarb (only, please don’t be tempted to add strawberries) with a little sugar and lemon for a few minutes while the batter whips up, then top with the fruit and a little crumble topping. Oh, and it has the most beautiful nooks and crannies. You just want to get up in there and crawl around in it. Continue Reading
This recipe for Littleneck Clams Steamed in White Wine and Tomatoes has a special sentimental significance; it was the first article I wrote for my food column for a Montana newspaper, almost ten years ago. I grew up in Brookline, in metropolitan Boston, and had just moved to a landlocked (albeit gorgeous in its own right) Montana town, and I was feeling desperately homesick. Summer, to me, meant clams and lobster, and I yearned for a taste of home.
As luck would have it, the local grocery store stocked gorgeous Pacific shellfish at shockingly reasonable prices (alas, no lobster). Imbued with garlic, tomatoes, and a slightly spicy broth perfect for sopping, this recipe saw us through four blissful summers in Montana. Continue Reading
I have a truly negative habit of overanalyzing almost every social interaction, after the fact. Always after. Perhaps we had a fantastic conversation, but when you walked away, you gave me an odd look (when probably the sun was in your eyes)? Chances are I’ll be dissecting that look for days to come. The funny this is, I’m actually an extrovert. When I teach the MBTI to my college students, I explain that their preconceived notions about introversion and extroversion are awry. What matters is from where you draw your energy, or recharge your batteries. If you need to take a break from people and seek “alone time”, you are an introvert. If you need to get out and socialize after too much time on your own (me), you’re extroverted. But extroversion doesn’t stop me from being paranoid about having said the wrong thing in a social situation. We can never, ever turn back the clock and unsay (most often unintended) things that sting, offend, or cut to the quick.
Yesterday was my birthday. I might be one of the only people you know of who wants, truly wants, to spend his or her birthday cooking an elaborate feast with the ingredients that are usually regarded as too complicated for everyday meals. Lobster, chateaubriand, octopus. Yes, octopus. I have never actually cooked octopus before because, frankly, my sweet, Southern city had never been quite cosmopolitan enough to have a store that stocked whole octopus in the seafood case. Enter Whole Foods. Continue Reading