Wednesday, July 15, 2009


My apologies for not continuing the blog over our vacation – I actually did post one new blog, but forgot my email list, so most of you probably missed it. Check out that June 26 post though, as it includes a great, well, BERRY GOOD PIE recipe.

We usually manage to eat well on our vacations, as it is important to most of us. I was thinking about it, and I think one thing that makes the food so good is that we’re eating locally. We get the local produce and the local fish (or goat as the case may be) and for the most part just grill everything and have it with a green salad. Highlights (besides the goat)
included Hogfish and Sheepshead fish. The Hogfish came from a great seafood market on Oak Island in NC called Haag & Sons – recommended by the owner when we asked. It can’t be caught on a line,; the owner has a friend who spearfishes for fun and then sells the fish to pay his expenses. It is an amazingly flavorful fish and James grilled it to perfection. Then, James, our kids, their cousins and my sister-in-law Emia went fishing on a charter one day and caught a boat load of Sheepshead fish. We had to look them up on the internet as we’d never heard of Sheepshead. They are an oily fish, like Spanish Mackerel, so they are only good very fresh. We had them within hours (after the kids watched Captain Jeff gut them, and they examined the stomach contents – whole barnacles!). My mom rolled the smaller ones in egg and cornmeal and pan fried them and James grilled the fillets. The texture was almost like lobster and the taste was so rich.

James also made his famous BRUSCHETTA twice that week and I made GREEN BEANS FROM THE BRITTANY COAST as a side one night. We ended up with about a bushel of NC peaches which we ate all week – I bought one bag from the Chapel Hill Farmer’s market, James bought a bag when his carload stopped for NC BBQ and saw a farmstand and my mom bought another bag when she saw a farmer selling them on the side of the road. They were recently picked and not quite ripe, so we stored them on the counter in brown paper bags and they ripened all week long. We ate them for breakfast, lunch and dessert.

Emia has a habit of setting out vegetables for her kids to eat when they are playing before dinner – sliced carrots, cucumber, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes – whatever is on hand. The kids are usually hungry at 5 p.m. and all four cousins gobbled up everything we gave them. This does not transfer to life at home for my kids for some reason, but we will try again this year.

We were renting a house at the beach, and we knew it was reasonably well-stocked with pots and pans and things, so we brought with us basic baking stuff: baking soda, baking powder, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cumin and Old Bay seasoning (a southern combo of a bunch of spicy things). This way, we were able to make biscuits, CORNBREAD (two recipes below, SWEET and NOT SWEET, just like Southern iced tea), pancakes and cobbler without using mixes. I’ll include more STUFF FROM SCRATCH in future recipes. Although using baking mixes may seem easier, they are often full of hydrogenated oils, preservatives and other nasty things that you don’t need. If you keep basic baking stuff around and get used to a few basic recipes, you can stop spending money and let go of a few more processed foods by cooking your sweet breads, pancakes, waffles, cakes and cookies from scratch. And kids love to help with this stuff.

We didn’t cook absolutely every night and the kids had their share of chicken nuggets and French fries over the course of 3 weeks. BUT, we also had so many shared meals (cooking and eating) where just about everybody tried new things. (I’m sure Audrey must have, just can’t remember what it was at the moment). These meals are always a fond part of my memory of our family vacations.

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