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Peach Soup

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When Dan and I first started dating, after three years of friendship, I was in my last semester at the Maryland Institute College of Art.  Dan had already graduated, and since he was in Philadelphia much of our first few months together were long distance.  For those of you who have ever been in long distance relationships, you’ll understand that the majority of your time is spent on the phone, reading emails, writing emails, ichatting, video chatting, and of course, sending handmade letterpressed cards to each other.  Okay, that last one might be a geeky art school thing.

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My point is that when you’re spending hours of the day talking to another person (because at the beginning of a relationship you can literally talk for hours), you have to scramble to come up with new and interesting things to talk about.  Shortly after we started dating Dan and I started playing a story telling game.  Essentially, we would tell each other little made up stories about our hypothetical future.  The stories were serious and whimsical, funny and emotional.  I think it started as a way to admit to one another that our intentions were genuine, and it became an easy outlet to talk about hot button relationship issues like marriage, kids, and whether or not to get a dog.  Dan will ultimately win that last one.

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It’s been a long time since those long distance days, and a lot of our stories have come true.  However, since we’re still urban apartment dwellers, the one big dream of ours that has yet to be realized is a garden.  And let me tell you do we have big garden plans. Our first apartment in D.C. didn’t have air conditioning, and when we moved in our potted herbs took up most of the dining room.  And they flourished!  Unfortunately, that apartment was satan’s playground (read: bedbugs) and we were moved out by early fall.  Our current apartment also has good light, in addition to heat/air conditioning units.  Once again our plants were happy, as they spent the winter sitting on top of the heater.  To them, it was as good as summer.  And then real summer came.  And with it came the harsh realization that the only windows were also where the air conditioner sat.  All of our beautiful, delicious, fabulous herbs and vegetable plants suffered as D.C. got hotter and our apartment got colder.

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Fortunately I was able to steal one of our baby tomato plants away from our chilly apartment and plant it in full sun at work.  Dan harvested the seeds from a farmer’s market heirloom tomato last summer and this week we got to eat the first fruit of our labor.  Because so much went into the creation of this tomato and because we are experiencing so much angst about our dead indoor garden, we wanted the full flavor experience.  That meant not cooking it, but eating it raw- in all of it’s juicy heirloom glory.  A few weeks ago we had dinner at my brother & sister in-law (to be)’s house, and they served us prosciutto, mozzarella, and tomato sandwiches with peach soup.  It was so good that we decided to copy it.

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The Turcottes are aficionados of the fruit gazpacho.  They told us that this soup, the peach soup, was mostly  just peaches, yogurt, and some almond extract.  So that’s basically what I did.  Instead of toasted slivered almonds (which I forgot to get), I topped the soup with toasted pine nuts, and I think it turned out almost as well as theirs.  It was a great compliment to the main attraction- the bacon, avocado, mozzarella, and tomato sandwich.  One of the best tomatoes I’ve ever had.  Made even better by the fact that we made that tomato.  WE MADE IT.  (If at this point you’re going “that post was not even kind of about peach soup” please just let it go.  Because I’m still sick and it’s impacting my ability to do anything but whine and watch Top Chef.)

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Peach Soup
Source: Intellectual Property of Megan & John Turcotte

3 peaches

1/3 cup yogurt

1 tsp almond extract

2 tbsp pine nuts/slivered almonds

Salt & pepper

Peel and dice your peaches.  Blend them in a food processor until smooth.  Add in extract, yogurt, and salt & pepper.  Blend again.  Chill in refrigerator 1 hour.  Toast nuts and sprinkle over soup.

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Serves 2.

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Hush Puppies

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Usually when I write posts I try and come up with a charming or funny story to regale you with.  Using this formula I tell a story about my life, something that happened, whatever, and then when you’re not even expecting it (except you totally are) I tie it back into the recipe.  And then I tell you why I made the recipe, what I liked/didn’t like about it, and usually end it with words like “delicious.”  Because cooking wise, I’m lucky enough to have more delicious nights that fail nights.

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Tonight was a fail night.  First of all, I have been sick for 8 days.  With a cold.  WITH A COLD*.  I’m going to admit something that is not going to help my street cred, but on a regular basis I come into contact with 4 people, with few exceptions.  Three  people at work, one fiance.  If any of them gets sick, no matter how minor it is, I am sick within hours.  And for five or six times as long as them.  Imagine what my life was like when I was a preschool teacher.  Awful.  That was also the year I got shingles.  It’s almost as though karma is paying me back for all those kids I dunked under when I was a swim instructor.  And all those times I dressed my brother Ryan up like a girl.

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Anyway, so I’m sick.  But I go to work because I’ve missed a few days and I need to go to work.  It’s a long day because my cold has moved to my chest and I have this cough that makes me feel awful.  When I get home I get start making a recipe that I am planning on sharing tonight.  Seared (organic) yellowfin tuna with jalapeño, cilantro, ginger, avocado, and lime.  I am going to tell you about my father’s winter as a commercial tuna fisherman.  Instead, the tuna was bad.  And after a little breakdown on my kitchen floor I thr0w together a pizza (with a tomato from a seed that we harvested last year, which would be more exciting if I weren’t sick and pissed off about the tuna) and pour myself a glass of wine.  And posted this hush puppies recipe.  Because I’m sick and I’d been storing it for the night when I needed to get a post out but just couldn’t.  Which is tonight.  Plus, hush puppies are awesome, you should make them.  Delicious.

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*Turns out I am sick with an acute upper respiratory infection, plus a dash of bronchitis and a hint of sinusitis.  At least my body keeps it interesting, right?

Hush Puppies

1 cup corn meal

1/2 cup flour

1 egg

1/2 cup buttermilk

Pinch of paprika

Pinch of cayenne

Pinch of garlic powder

Salt & pepper

Peanut oil for frying

Begin by mixing dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk together egg and buttermilk.  Combine wet and dry ingredients, and use your hands to form 1/2″ round balls.

Heat your oil in a large skillet.  You want your oil to be deep enough that the puppies can be totally immersed.  You’ll know when your oil is hot enough if bubbles form around a wooden spoon.

Drop each ball into the fryer.  Use a spoon to push them around so they’re sure to get cooked on both side.  Cook until golden brown- 3 or 4 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels so they can dry through and through.

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Water, Butter, Wine

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People often make rash assumptions about me.  For instance, people often assume that because I’m tall, I should play basketball.  Then I fall in front of their face and they reconsider.  But until they see me fall/drop something they believe me to have wasted years of potential talent.  Talent I promise I do not have (much to the chagrin of my high school history teacher, the basketball coach).  Another assumption people make about me is that because I cook well and run a food blog that I am knowledgeable about all food.  People, I am a SOUTHERN food writer.  I can also talk comfortably about Mexican and Italian food, but that is only because I eat a lot of Mexican food and my mother is Italian.  She’s also Irish, but I can’t say I’ve ever been served a traditional Irish dish.  If you met my grandmother, you’d understand why.  She doesn’t even make my poor grandfather cookies, let alone potatoes (just kidding, Grammy.  Wink, wink, Poppie.)

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One of the things I’ve noticed about the south is that European ancestry is not as important within the caucasian population as it is in other parts of the country.  In the northeast people define themselves by their immigrating forefathers, holding tight to their customs.  In the south it seems that people have shed a lot of those ties to Europe and are simply southern.  The southeast was heavily settled before the Civil War, but after 1892 people were funneled through Ellis Island in New York City.  As a result, the northeast had an influx of immigrants more recently and more heavily than the rest of the country.  On my father’s side the name-bearing European immigrant was a man named John Kwiatkowski.  He was Polish, and he immigrated indirectly to North Carolina, where he eventually married into a settled family.  When he arrived, he changed his name to Rosemond, because Kwiatkowski meant “man of the flower.”

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As a participant in all the hype surrounding Julie & Julia, I keep being asked a) what my favorite Julia Child recipe is and b) questions about French cooking.  Questions that I can’t answer because I don’t know the first thing about French cooking.  The only Julia Child recipe I’ve ever cooked are her biscuits.  This usually makes me feel like a foodie fraud.  Which I don’t think I am, I never claimed to know the first thing about French cooking.  I write about what I know, which is southern cooking.  Though I do love moules frites.

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This is all a round about way of admitting that another thing I know very little about is wine.  Dan and I have been trying to educate ourselves, but we are totally guilty of buying wine based purely on the label.  What do you expect, we went to art school. While I’ve had sips of white wine here and there over the years, I’ve always preferred red.  However on a recent trip to Williamsburg I realized how refreshing a glass of cold white wine could be in the summertime.

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There is a Polish proverb that says “fish, to taste right, must swim three times- in water, in butter, and in wine.”  So this week I made dolphin fish sauteed in lemon and butter, and served with a cold white wine. And an arugula salad, which is so Italian of me.

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Lemon-Butter Dolphin Fish

1 dolphin steak, skin on

1/8 cup butter

1 lemon

Salt & pepper

Rinse off your fish and pat dry.  Sprinkle the meat side with salt and pepper and squeeze lemon juice over.

In your pan, melt your butter.  Place skin side down and cook 8 minutes.  Flip and cook an additional 8 minutes.

Serve.  The fish should flake easily off the skin, you should not eat the skin.

Serves 2.

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