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Tasting North Carolina

tasting nc

 

When I started this blog in 2008 it was because I was feeling totally alone in a strange place, a strange life, and I missed home. I needed tastes of my childhood to help me remember who I was and why I had chosen this path. In the years that followed the blog became a haven during jobs that I hated or when I felt creatively stunted. And as I continued to live in the Northeast it became a way to stay connected to my home state, to assert my North Carolinian identity. Through all this, the cumulative eight years I spent in Maryland, I always knew I wanted to come home. And as Biscuits and Such grew and became a part of my routine and a part of me, I didn’t ever stop to consider how it would change when I was no longer a displaced Southerner trying to find pieces of home in a Northerner’s world.

These days I’m surrounded by the things that I love and missed. If I wanted to I could eat grits and biscuits every day and I wouldn’t even have to make them. I no longer have to recreate home because I am home. And in a lot of ways, because of that, the blog has changed. I’ve felt uncertain of its direction, uncertain of its purpose. I’m sure you’ve noticed it, this hasn’t really been a settled space in months. The process of moving, taking time for the holidays, and settling in has given me a lot of time to think about what I wanted out of this website. Asking myself the age old question (that I usually hate), what’s next? We are in a new house that we love, we have new jobs (that I’ll talk about soon enough, I’m sure), we’re feeling happier than we’ve ever been. I want that enthusiasm and love of this place to seep into every part of my life, especially Biscuits and Such. I want this blog to become more than a tribute to the South I remember, I want it to become a celebration of the South that is.

So, with that, I’m excited to launch a new project, Tasting North Carolina. My goal is simple, over the next few years I’d like to create and share a recipe that is representative of each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. This is a huge undertaking, and I’ll admit to feeling a bit intimidated. I don’t know much about most of the counties in North Carolina, but that’s what excites me about it. It will involve research, travel, and learning the stories of the state that I am so happy to call home. I envision the foods to be a mix of regional cuisines,  specialty dishes, and old favorites. Because North Carolina has so many counties I’m hoping that I can pull some unique and hyper-regional dishes and recipes to share here on the blog. I’ll be posting them all with links to a main roundup where you can follow the progress and revisit favorite recipes.

I want to showcase each part of this wonderful place, and I invite you to help me do it. If you have a recipe that you think would be perfect for your county or a county in NC that you love, please email me (elena@biscuitsandsuch.com). I am so excited to launch this project and I hope that you will join me! We’ll be kicking off tomorrow with a seasonal favorite from Onslow County- oysters!

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Smoothies for Breakfast

smoothie 4

On my sister in law Megan’s recommendation I downloaded Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run for the trip to Orlando. I’m 3/4 of the way through it and frankly, I have mixed feelings. I plan on doing a full review and posting his Minnesota Winter Chili recipe (which is pretty delicious) once I’ve finished and have had time to process my thoughts, but I did want to share one thing that I’ve taken from the book so far. And please, feel free to be all, duh Elena, did you need to read a book to tell you that?

smoothie 3

In the book Jurek spends a long time picking over his food choices throughout his lifetime- attributing meaning to those choices and determining how each food has helped him in his career as an ultramarathoner. After a trist with the raw diet in the late 90’s he started eating a smoothie every day for breakfast and a big salad for lunch. In the past I’ve gone on smoothie kicks (hello, love of mango smoothies) but when my immersion blender broke I pretty much stopped. But after I got off the plane on Sunday all I could think about was a nice, big, smoothie. So on the drive home I stopped and picked up a blender.

smoothie 1

This blender is nothing special, but each morning this week I’ve put together a smoothie that, compared to my mango smoothies, are complex and full of different vitamins and nutrients. Each one has included one apple, a handful of spinach, a little mango juice, some frozen fruit (either berries, pineapple, or mango), a carrot or two, ice, and a dollop of Greek yogurt. And while this idea is not revolutionary, it has been a nice reminder to me that I can make something delicious, SUPER healthy, and filling in less than ten minutes.

smoothie 2

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Vegan Grits & Stewed Vegetables

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2012 was a year of big changes for me, especially in the eating/activity departments. While some of those changes were chronicled here, most of it happened outside of the blog. Dan and I drastically cut down the amount of meat, dairy, sugar, refined carbs, and processed foods that we eat. We were already focused on homemade whole foods and real foods, and this year pushed is further in what we think is the right direction.

Now, I don’t plan on going vegan (or vegetarian) anytime soon, but cutting down on these foods has forced us to get creative with our cooking and eating. This recipe, which was a response to cooking dinner for a vegan family, got me thinking about how we could adapt some of our favorites to fit our “weekday” eating plan (weekends are for sometimes foods, like chips and queso or chicken biscuits).

Last week I ran a 21 mile trail race through the Croatan National Forest, which was amazing and excruciating and taught me so much about myself. This weekend I’m at Disney with the Turcottes watching the nieces while Megan and John race the half marathon, which is incredible. I have had many moments of reflection and amazing conversations with family and friends during the past months about nourishing our bodies, spirits, and community. I think we’re on the right path.

Vegan Grits & Stewed Vegetables

4 cups almond milk
1 cup grits
1 small sweet potato
1 cup soaked black eyed peas
2 cups whole peeled tomatoes
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
Salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Pinch of chipotle
Olive oil
Bunch of collard greens

In a medium bowl heat drizzle of olive oil. Toss in chopped garlic. Add chopped onion. Peel and chop sweet potato, add it to the pot. Add tomatoes and peas. Stir in spices. Let simmer until peas and sweet potatoes are softened. Break up tomatoes with a spoon as they cook down.

Heat almond milk. Add a dash of salt. Stir in grits and stir over low heat until thickened.

Chop and sauté collards in olive oil with a clove of diced garlic. Sauté until wilted.

Serve with collards and vegetables on top of grits. Enjoy a delicious vegan meal high in calcium, fiber, and protein.

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