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Thoughts Like Music
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Food Friday: Potluck 
15th-Jun-2007 06:44 pm
Today the high was 12C/54F here. That's the official reading. However, I know that while I was in town earlier that it was only 9C/47F.*

It's bizarre to be this cold in June. JUNE!

Where I grew up** it's 33C/90F today.

Hot summers in flatland Carolina meant lots of potlucks. Some were just sort of 'in the area' ones, but my favorites were the church potlucks.

When you grow up in the South as a vegetarian, you don't eat a lot of the things that are considered staples of the cuisine: pork, chicken, and fish.

But, that means that you get to spend more time with mashed potatoes, fried okra, black eye'd peas, succotash, nut loaf, biscuits, iced tea and a never ending array of desserts.

Desserts are something of a religion in the South. They've taken a toll, collectively, on the waistline of Southerners in recent decades, but back in the days of all day field work or mill work they were no problem.

Because of the heat of the South, dessert was the chance to cool down after any hot items consumed during the main part of the meal. Even if you're served hot apple pie, it'll come with some cool (and hopefully homemade) vanilla ice cream.***

There are the redeemable desserts...those containing fruit. Cherry or peach cobbler, blueberry buckle, apple pie or dumplings.

Then there are the ones that are completely an indulgence.

Of course, those are the best: homemade moon pies, brownies, blondies, seven layer bars, sugar cookies...and my particular favorite, chocolate pudding pie.

When I was about 7, we attended a little church in Wilson, North Carolina, roughly 60 miles from our tremendously rural home.

A lady named Betty Lou**** made a chocolate pudding pie in a graham cracker crust with meringue on top. It would sit in the heat of the kitchen during church and the meringue would sweat and form little orange beads on the surface. I thought that was how meringue was supposed to be...and I secretly miss that when I get 'proper' meringue.

When we moved away from North Carolina to Georgia, Betty Lou gave my brother and I a whole chocolate pudding pie as a going away present.

We couldn't have been happier with diamonds.

Any nostalgic stories about food?*****

* Degrees Celsius were observed, degrees Fahrenheit are my own half-assed conversion.
** We actually lived further out, but this is the closest city town hamlet.
*** You've got to know that redthought makes some mean homemade ice cream.
**** Really her name. :)
***** I'm okay with being a sap on my own, though.
15th-Jun-2007 05:57 pm (UTC)
you have an off-by-one error in your footnote numbering.
15th-Jun-2007 06:24 pm (UTC)
Cheers, Marn. :)
15th-Jun-2007 06:01 pm (UTC)
Love, love, LOVE topics such as these. it's so very neat to hear food nostalgia and memories other than what's local to me.

Having grown up in the northeastern US, I don't have quite the amount of local color in my native cuisine.

However, I do have something of an oddity in my background: my grandfather owned a Greek diner. No one else knew what moussaka, baklava, or dolmades were.... let alone avgolemono soup :::drools::: Or stuffed cabbage in an egg-lemon sauce, rather than a tomato one? Divine :D And who else got to celebrate Easter twice?

He's been gone ten years now, and the diner much longer than that, but my food legacy is to teach all these bluenoses in Connecticut about feta cheese and Kalamata olives. Thankfully, my fiance has been a willing convert.
15th-Jun-2007 06:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, I love Greek diners. It was the happiest time of the week for me to walk up the blocks from my dorm at U.Chicago to the diner and have breakfast (or an early lunch!).

I think I could live on tyropita. :)

Was your grandfather Greek or did he just happen to really like Greek food?
15th-Jun-2007 08:01 pm (UTC)
So you're a Southern Belle!
What I love about LJ is that I come across people from all over (I know you're in the UK now)it's so fascinating!
15th-Jun-2007 08:11 pm (UTC)
Heh. Yes.

Although, my paternal grandmother dispaired of me...I speak far too quickly for a Southerner.

Blame it on my parents' 11 year sojourn in California. :)
15th-Jun-2007 09:22 pm (UTC)
Odd as it may sound, my grandmother's name is Betty Louise, and some of her friends call her Betty Lou. That's a product of a deep-south background. The high in St. Andrews today was 50F (9C) and the wind off the North Sea was brutal. I wore what I'd wear in October! I took the inlaws around Scotland this week, and we were outside all day today. Definitely odd for June (even in Scotland), especially considering they came from Alabama, where today the high is 96F. -Jake
15th-Jun-2007 09:26 pm (UTC)
My parents owned a pit beef restaurant, then a Chinese restaurant, then a Greek/Italian/American restaurant, so I grew up around food. I remember snapping snow peas and putting together eggs rolls, then helping layer baklava and stir rice pudding. Daddy's always been a fan of television cooking shows, long before the Food Network ever existed, so I watched Yan Can Cook and Galloping Gourmet and the Cajun guy who was drunker than a skunk while he cooked!

Two of my favorite desserts are specialities by my aunts: chocolate pudding pie from Aunt Joyce and cheesecake brownies from Aunt Cheryl. One Thanksgiving, Aunt Joyce didn't make her pie and I almost burst into tears. It's a ridiculously simple thing to make thanks to the magic of Jell-O pudding, but I never made it at home and looked forward to it every year at Thanksgiving dinner. She's since made sure to bring it every time. Aunt Cheryl always takes her brownies to potluck gatherings, and I always threaten to walk off with the entire plate.

Homemade moon pies are something I've never had or, really, given any thought to. Immediately after I gave birth to Mia I went on a Moon Pie binge and my Mom was bringing me boxes constantly. I had to force myself not to let them in the house anymore for fear I'd add to my already-considerable weight.
15th-Jun-2007 09:36 pm (UTC)
I'm finding out that so many people come from restauranteur families. I'm so interested in the process. It's a pipe dream of mine to open a restaurant. :)
15th-Jun-2007 11:27 pm (UTC)
Corned beef hash. It was one of my favourites when I was little. Mum used to make it in the big metal dish, to feed our family of five. I could probably eat the whole thing myself now.

When I was about 12 me and a friend used to make cheese and golden syrup sandwiches.

I have strong early childhood memories of food that has made me ill. Like the time I picked and ate a bean from the garden. It turned out to be one of those that are really toxic and need to be cooked thoroughly. Or dipping my finger in something marinading in tikka sauce, which turned out to be raw chicken. I was a reckless child.
16th-Jun-2007 06:02 am (UTC)
Cheese and golden syrup? Sounds like something Tom would do. :)

16th-Jun-2007 12:18 am (UTC)
Oh, I have Betty Lou's recipe.

Mom and I found it last time we went through the recipe book cabinet.

How much'll you give me for it? :)
16th-Jun-2007 06:03 am (UTC)
How about I won't kill you? :D

I lost all my recipes in the last computer crash. Man!
16th-Jun-2007 12:26 am (UTC)
Mine isn't a nostalgia memory, but more a Carolina memory. I had, a few years ago my first taste of vinegar pork bbq, hush puppies, cornbread and sweet tea all at the same cook-out of a friend in Chapel Hill, NC. My life was forever altered - definitely for the better!!
16th-Jun-2007 06:04 am (UTC)
Carolina BBQ is definitely different than any other BBQ. :)
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16th-Jun-2007 12:54 am (UTC)
Today the high was 12C/54F here.
Oh, suuuuuuuure, rub it in. ;) *is melting*

My parents have been making cucidati every Christmas for as long as I can remember. They're not specifically a holiday cookie, but they take so much work to make properly that we only do them from scratch once a year. Every year, my mom would take a day off work (she's a teacher) and just spend the whooooole day in the kitchen, but the cucidati would come last. You have to grind the fings up, which takes ages (or at least, it seemed like it took ages when I was little) then cook the filling, then make the dough and bake the cookies. Then frosting and sprinkles on top! I remember vividly sticking my finger in the pan of filling to sneak some when my mom "wasn't paying attention". Hee.
16th-Jun-2007 06:06 am (UTC)
I've never had those...but anything with figs gets my vote!

I think it's going to be colder today, even. *blows some of the cold your direction*
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16th-Jun-2007 06:07 am (UTC)
I bet it was raining there, too.

We've gotten rain, but it can't seem to commit...so we get 1500 drops at a time. That's just irritating.
16th-Jun-2007 11:12 pm (UTC)
Sounds so tasty that I just have had a night meal!
From my childhood I remember how I spent summer-time in the village where my grandparents lived. This is unforgettable memories – everything is bright and enjoyable. And my grandmother’s cuisine is the best. (Only my mother’s can compare with it =)

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17th-Jun-2007 01:28 am (UTC)
Banana bread. *drool*

Yes, I will be in Aberdeen this fall. My phd doesn't end until 2010, so I'm here until then.

I love, love, love that icon.
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17th-Jun-2007 06:41 am (UTC)
When I was a little girl, my mother used to cook some weird kind of omelette or scrambled eggs for me, especially when I was ill. I still don't know what it exactly it is that she makes, but it consists of eggs and looks like a yellow cow dung. (To give you a slight impression of how one has to imagine this. *lol*) I love it. And I still would choose this way of making omelettes over any other, more proper way.
17th-Jun-2007 10:05 am (UTC)
Sounds kindof like a frittata. I like those better than omelets as well. :)
18th-Jun-2007 06:38 pm (UTC) - Since I never got back to you with cookie recipes, here it is a week late!
I have lots of food-nostalgia, but as it's so similar to yours (growing up as I did between VA and Montreat NC), I'll spare you.

The cookies, though!

Chocolate-Almond Macaroons with Rosemary (my own invention, using Nigella Lawson's Pistachio Macaroons for inspiration)

1/3 c. ground almonds
1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
1/4 c. cocoa
2 large egg whites
1 tbsp sugar
generous bit (I like tons - maybe 2-3 tbsp?) crushed rosemary (my mortar and pestle is maybe my favorite kitchen device ever in the world)

Marzipan for sandwiching

Preheat oven to 180C/350F

Whisk egg whites until stiff but not dry, sprinkle sugar over and whisk until very stiff. Mix confectioner's sugar, cocoa, and ground almonds in a separate bowl, then gently fold into whites.

Pipe small rounds (with plain nozzle) onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper (the paper is important), let sit for 10 minutes so that a skin can form, then bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on sheets.

Sandwich with marble-sized balls of marzipan.

They're a pain in the posterior, but boy they're tasty. And super-impressive, if you ever have company over that you want to wow.
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