Stir-fried okra

upclose raw

I don’t really consider myself a Southerner, although I live in Durham, North Carolina. Actually, the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill) appears to be much less Southern than much of the Old North State because there are so many transplants here from the rest of the country; however, there’s no denying the Southern charm, sweet tea and plethora of brightly colored pants on men and women.

Why do I not consider myself a Southerner, even though I have a rainbow of pants in my closet? I’m not too fond of sweet tea, I hate driving (a hard necessity I’ve had to embrace for my Southern living), and I really don’t eat that much Southern food. However, I’ve found one thing that pulls me closer to the South–I like okra. Although I’m from Kentucky, which I’ve come to think is more Midwestern than it likes to believe, I’m not sure that I tried okra until I moved to North Carolina, where fried okra is served at least weekly in the cafeterias at UNC.

ingredients

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Smoked salmon pinwheels

pinwheels together

I crave smoked salmon. I infrequently buy it, but I often want it. Last week, I caved and bought some, though. My typical preparation is simple: bread or a bagel, cream cheese and tomato. I’ve honestly gotten a little bored of that, so I whipped out an idea from the food case at my high school job– smoke salmon pinwheels.

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Chicken teriyaki stir-fry

plate1

I’ve been binge watching Orange is the New Black recently. I’m not sure if I like it that much, but I don’t dislike it, and it’s interesting and entertaining. In the summer, when good TV shows are pretty slim pickings, those are the only qualities I look for in TV.

And I’ve come to find that binge watching TV is one of my talents. Shows I’ve binge watched in the past six months: Sherlock (most obsessively 1 ½ seasons in one day), Everybody Loves Raymond, Mr. Selfridge’s. Okay, I guess that’s really all– Raymond has a ton of episodes though.

peppers

in pan

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Whole wheat country bread

cross on towel

Sunday was a pretty normal weekend day after an extremely early (3:45!!) morning on Saturday for Race for the Cure. I slept in a little, I read, I cooked, I watched some TV, I even thought about going to the pool, but I didn’t feel like lathering up in sunscreen so decided against it.

starteradd starter

I’ve been thinking about making bread for a few weeks, never getting around to it. I mainly didn’t get around to it because the recipe I was planning to try required lots of planning in advance– the sponge required two weeks to develop along with feeding it a little every day. That’s a lot of effort for bread, and I just haven’t been up to the experiment.

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Tomato and cucumber couscous

salad on side

My dad recently bought something online, and you know how sometimes you get special deals for things you don’t need when you purchase something online? Well, he fell for them and now has subscriptions to three travel magazines and two cooking magazines. He said they were only two dollars each for a year’s subscription, but I told him to be sure to unsubscribe after a year. Needless to say, my new-found cooking magazine subscriptions have brought me some inspiration.

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Spring pizza

cut pizza

Asparagus season is almost over, but I’ll continue to take advantage of it until the very, very end. I buy asparagus all the time in the spring, almost every time I go to the grocery store. I usually steam it or roast it, but it’s always refreshing to serve it a new way.

asparagusbefore oven

Alas, I found a new way to serve asparagus– pizza. I began making my own pizza a few years ago, after I discovered the blog Smitten Kitchen, and although it takes a bit of planning, it really couldn’t be easier to make from scratch at home.

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Veggie tacos

sideways

I’m a bit of a picky eater*, but I’m pretty good at limiting my pickiness to when I’m preparing food or when my family is preparing food for me. Actually, that’s wrong. My mom and my boyfriend are the only people from whom I will flat out refuse to eat something, and my excuse is that they should know what I will and will not eat because I’ve voiced my opinions loud and clear to them multiple times. It drives them up the wall.

Every time I visit my mom, she asks me a week beforehand what I’d like to eat because she says it’s so difficult to please me. I’m not usually much help (mostly because one of the great things about visiting your mom is that she’ll plan meals, grocery shop and cook for you!), but she knows what I like. One of the times I visited my mom last year, she made this. I’ve been addicted to it since. She told me she found this recipe while flipping through Oprah’s magazine, and she automatically knew I’d like it. She was right. It’s fresh, wholesome and spicy, and it’s easy.

onions-veggies

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Strawberry Shortcake

strawberry-panier

I love food. I love cooking. I love baking. I even sometimes love grocery shopping. I love learning about new foods, and I’m game to try anything once. I often try new recipes, and sometimes they turn out great, but sometimes I don’t do something quite right. Sometimes, though, the recipe is just disappointing– it isn’t worth my time, effort or the money spent on the ingredients.

Not only do I plan to share my cooking and baking adventures here, but I’m going to share my honest, not so sugar-coated opinion of the results. Is this food worth it? We’re busy people, and making something lackluster that was supposed to be great is one of the biggest letdowns in life. Sometimes you know when a meal you make just isn’t going to be so good, but I hope to help you avoid the letdowns and find the successes in your kitchen.

This recipe is a success: I don’t think there is any way it could ever fail. It’s a summer staple in my family; no one can resist my grandmother’s strawberry shortcakes. A lightly sweetened biscuit, syrupy strawberries and ice cream. I don’t think there’s anything better than sitting on a porch, eating those three things piled on top of each other.

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