Spring is well underway here in East Texas. On a walk yesterday, I noticed the blackberry bushes are in full bloom. Soon berries will replace the blooms. In the 1950s, when I was young -like grammar school young – this was a really big deal. I would head for the “bottoms” along the creek on our place in South Carolina to gather the berries. I’m not sure bug repellant had been invented back then, but I am sure we didn’t have any. One knew one would be in misery from chigger bites.
Before getting into the nuances of preparing a grilled cheese, it is illuminating to briefly review a few interesting and less-well-known facts about this classic American dietary staple—facts which are, perhaps surprisingly, expounded upon in some detail on a dedicated Wikipedia page that someone felt compelled to create. For example, the cheese sandwich in general, and the grilled cheese in particular, got its start only as recently as the 1920s with the introduction of widely available sliced bread and processed cheese. Even more surprisingly, there is, in fact, an annual grilled cheese invitational cook-off that takes place in Los Angeles during which numerous trophies are awarded for grilled cheese excellence of one sort or another, presumably in multiple categories, though what these might be is never made clear. And most recently a grilled cheese sandwich made international news with the discovery of one purportedly containing an image of the Virgin Mary, an item which subsequently sold on eBay for something like $28,000
The NOLA Locavores, a local foods advocacy group that strives to inspire New Orleanians to take advantage of the rich local food realm of the city, is especially excited for their 2013 Eat Local Challenge. This better-than-ever event kicks off June 1st and entails registrants committing to eating only food grown, caught, or raised within …
I grew up cursed with a very picky set of taste buds and a stubborn mind. As soon as I could make conscious decisions about what I wanted to eat, I had opinions on just about everything, even if I’d never tried it before. Asparagus was out because it looked dangerous, no brussels sprouts because everyone said they were gross, and onions were just obviously disgusting because my dad loved them. I saw a “list of foods Kelsey will eat” left at my grandmother’s from when I was about 10 years old. It included macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, vanilla yogurt, raw carrots, and not much else. As I’ve grown up and thankfully out of indiscriminate pickiness, I’ve started to realize that taste is, for the most part, something that goes through trends and adaptations just as everything else in this world does. I’m constantly surprised at how much I can change my tastebuds with the right application of time and a sense of adventure.
There are few sweets more closely associated with New Orleans than beignets. Almost all tourists (and quite a few of the locals) stop in to the Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter for an order of beignets and a café au lait. After tasting Tracey’s beignets, I can say it is well worth trying your hand at making them at home. These were the best beignets I have ever had. Tracey loves doughs (a woman after my own heart), and enjoys tinkering with recipes until she’s completely satisfied with them.