An Ode to Southern Food

One of the things I miss living in the Netherlands is the lack of breakfast as I know it. For many places in Europe, the idea of breakfast is a roll/croissant with some jam or something simple like that. In the Netherlands, many families have a slice of bread with some butter and hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles). What you rarely find is a full breakfast with eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes, etc. pennys

To be honest, in my normal, day-to-day life in the US, I rarely had a full breakfast on a regular basis, but sometimes you just want the full meal. Since it’s hard to even find a restaurant in Utrecht that comes anywhere near serving breakfast, I’ve been looking forward to my trip back to the states to have a full-on southern breakfast. Today, I got my first chance (although to be honest, I’ve already had grits and bacon since being back). This morning we went to Penny’s, a family restaurant that’s been around for ages and where customers are regulars. I enjoyed my delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage patty, grits, and a biscuit. This was accompanied by a large glass of proper orange juice, not the thin, weak stuff.
I didn’t get the pancakes, but I’m sure a trip to IHoP (International House of Pancakes) is in my near future. Bring on the loganberry syrup!

Overall, I don’t miss too many foods from the US, since I was trying to avoid a lot of processed food long before moving. However, there are certain things that are just tasty, fun, or convenient. I make a lot of my own spice blends these days, but sometimes I just want to grab a shaker of Tony’s Creole seasoning or some Old Bay seasoning. Old Bay is great with seafood — as is Tony’s — but truly, when it comes to Tony’s, it goes great with just about everything!

I was introduced to Tony’s when I went to Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. You could usually find a shaker of Tony’s on most of the tables in the restaurants on campus. It was while I was living in New Orleans that I was also introduced to Abita beer. I first tried Abita Amber at Tipitina’s and really enjoyed it.

Unfortunately, when I graduated, I found it hard to find either Tony’s or Abita outside of Louisiana. Eventually, it started showing up and now it’s much easier to find, thank goodness. As a result, on one of my first trips to a grocery store since being back here, I stocked up on some favorites (and bought some Burt’s Bees Hand Salve, while I was at it).
Southern Cooking and an Extra
A Southern Tradition
And finally, in this ode to southern food of sorts, you know you’re in a southern kitchen when you see Duke’s mayonnaise in the fridge. Best of all, my photo of Duke’s mayo showed up on Facebook during the time I was looking for a video that mentions the mayo and a friend posted a link to the very same video. So nowadays, when southern women see a mention of Duke’s, a lot of us seem to think of this video (around the 1:51 mark).

Southern Food Goes Fancy

Pulled Pork on Corn Cakes
Corn cakes and pulled pork. That’s pretty southern to me. It’s also pretty much heaven on a plate. I love corn and I love the pig in all its many cuts. Recently, while checking foodgawker, I came across this recipe for Mexican Corn Cakes and Shredded Pork. As the blogger herself put it, southern, southwestern or what, it’s a great dish. I couldn’t resist, and since I still had some corn meal left over that needed to be eaten, I figured now was a perfect time to try this dish.

I kept pretty true to the recipe, only subbing parsley for the cilantro, since G isn’t a fan, and swapping out goat cheese for the feta cheese, since I already had some that needed to be finished. I left off the final tomato slices and I swapped out red pepper flakes for the jalapeño. I also cut the recipe in half, and served it with some asparagus tips that were on sale that day.

Overall, I was really happy with the recipe. The corn cakes were delicious and now I need to remember to track down some more corn meal either at the Saturday market or at the toko. It’s one of those ingredients that was easy to find in the southern part of the US, but requires a bit of hunting now that I’m living here in the Netherlands. The only thing I would do differently in the future is to maybe add some vinegar to the pork and maybe serve the pork on the side, instead of atop the corn cakes. I’d still keep the avocado and sour cream on the corn cakes, though. I just thought the taste of the pork got lost against the corn cakes and sour cream. Ultimately, though, this is definitely a dish to make again. It looked so pretty, too!

For my vegetarian friends, you could easily just skip the pork part of the dish. As I said, I’d serve the pork (or maybe some shredded chicken) on the side the next time, or just serve it without the meat, as well! It was a nice taste of home and inspired me to make some BBQ pulled pork sandwiches a few days later. Yum! (It should be noted that I made a ketchup-based BBQ sauce, not a vinegar sauce. North Carolina readers will understand.)

Hangover Hankerins

First off, apologies to my vegetarian readers. 😉

This morning I had one of my rare moments of really missing something I can’t get here. Biscuitville. It’s the best hangover cure. Ever! For those not familiar with it — and that would sadly include a lot of Americans, as well — Biscuitville is a fast-food restaurant chain located in some of the southern states and they specialize in breakfast foods, specifically biscuits. You can get all sorts of variations of breakfast meat, egg, and/or cheese slapped between a fluffy buttermilk biscuit, along with sides such as grits, hashbrowns, home fries, gravy, honey buns, and pancakes. It’s not even remotely healthy, but it’s absolutely delicious.

I didn’t eat out all that often when I was living in the US. I liked to cook and figured I could make something just as nice, but for less money usually. When we did go out, it was usually to a smaller local restaurant, so I don’t really miss a lot of chain restaurants living here. In fact, today is the first time that I’ve really been craving Biscuitville, so I figure that’s not too bad after living here for close to two years. But this morning I woke up hungry and really wanting a fry-up with bacon, eggs, sausage, hashbrowns and grits. Then it struck me that I really wanted Biscuitville. They have a drive-thru, making it even easier to throw on some random clothes and have a quick fix for your craving. Sadly, that’s too big and wet of a drive for me now. I can’t even fly!

The Netherlands isn’t big on breakfast in the American and British fashion. They’re more like the French and Italians, I guess. I can’t think of any restaurants that I’ve seen here that would really even be open early in the morning, much less serving a full-on breakfast. Tell me if I’m wrong, because I’d be curious to know about any places in Utrecht.

So this morning I did the best I could with what I had on hand. I could have made some biscuits, but that was more work than I wanted. Fortunately, I had eggs, bacon, cheese and bread on hand, so I made myself a sandwich with a slice of gouda melted on toast with a fried egg and a couple slices of bacon. It was good, but it just wasn’t Biscuitville.