Happy New Year, readers!
It's been a while since I posted, and there has been a lot going on since then. Or not a lot. Just different. I would love to explain, but first things first.
My resolutions for this year are, among others, to blog more and to get a wider audience for my blog. I'm not quite sure how to do this, but I've got a few ideas, and blogging more will help with this, as well. This is also part of the Make Kelly A Happier Person resolution, which leads me to my explanation.
Since you last saw me (or is it read me?), life has not been easy. I'll keep this short since I don't want this to seem like a blog about complaining rather than a blog about food. It's a food blog, for sure, but I also want a piece of myself to be in this blog and for you all to feel like you know me that much better for every post that you read. Is that narcissistic? I guess anyone who does this kind of thing is a little bit narcissistic. As much as any writer is, anyway.
So, back to life. Due to a two-year cap on Graduate Assistant positions at the university I attend/worked at, I lost my job. The only way I could have continued working at the university is if I had gotten a teaching fellowship--the very same one I applied for and did not get back in May. Guess what? I didn't get it. Again. Then, on my last day of work, all hell broke loose at the restaurant my fiance works at, with unavoidable renovations causing him to be out of work for nearly a month. Two non-working people in the same house? AWESOME! FUN TIMES! Oops, sorry. Was my sarcasm showing? *Covers it back up*
Luckily, the restaurant is reopening Monday and he'll be going back to work. Me, on the other hand, not so much. I've been job searching for over a month and have received not a single call back. I have a Bachelor's degree in English and am a Comps paper and a Comps exam away from a master's degree, which I would have if I hadn't gotten sick, had two surgeries in two months, and been hospitalized twice in three months. Now I'm making up TWO--count 'em--TWO incompletes so I can graduate in May. Still, this is not enough to be considered worthy of any of the positions for which I've applied. With each passing day, I feel less and less confident in the choices I've made in my adult life since the path I traced for myself has been almost obsolete. I knew exactly how I wanted things to go, and life certainly has not happened that way.
Alas, dear readers, please do not think I'm a sad sack, either, since I'm certainly trying not to be. This blog comes from a place of honesty, which I want to be reflected in my food as well as with my disclosures to you all. I hope this makes me a more relatable person and someone you all will want to read about and learn from. Because let's face it, folks, my situation isn't that far off from many Americans right now. Jobless, broke, and just trying to get by.
That's what makes food and cooking such a great outlet for me. I don't have control over my education, my job (or lack there of), or my health (no matter how hard I try), but I can go in the kitchen and make a meal that will make my fiance lick the plate and ask for more. And that's a beautiful thing. That makes me happy.
What else makes me happy? Glad you asked (shh, we'll pretend you did) because I would also like to take the opportunity to sort of reintroduce myself to my readers. It's a new year, a new start, and look! My blog even has a new style! If I'm going to make it my goal to find some new readers this year, I'd better let them know who I am, right?
I am a 24-year old restless spirit living in the Deep South. And I mean the Deeeeeeep South. I haven't always lived down here, though. I've spent significant amounts of time in California and Illinois, as well. Frequent moving as a child has given me an unquenchable sense of adventure, an excellent sense of direction, and ample exposure to a variety of cuisines. I've always loved food more than I should, and I've been a foodie all of my life. No kidding. As a baby, I screamed and turned my nose up at my cereal because it didn't meet my high taste standards. I was wise beyond my years--what's the point of eating it if it doesn't taste heavenly? I am the proud "mommy" of five hellion cats who terrorize my little two-bedroom apartment and make me crazy on a daily basis. When I'm not a slave to the English master's program, I'm watching movies, Phineas and Ferb (don't judge me), or Food Network. To really put the cherry on my food-obsessed sundae, my frequent source of entertainment is reading cookbooks, food magazines, and food blogs.
While my blog isn't as fancy-shmancy as some of the others out there, I do offer something I feel is better. Something I've already mentioned. Honesty. Like I said before, I'm just your average ordinary person. I'm not a professional. I'm just someone who happens to enjoy cooking and baking and also happens to be pretty good at it. That being said, I make mistakes. I screw things up royally in the kitchen from time to time. If something in one of my recipes doesn't work or could be better, I'm not going to leave you to figure it out for yourselves. I'm going to 'fess up! You'll also notice my pictures aren't the food magazine-worthy photos you see on other blogs. Why? Because everything on this blog is from my kitchen to my table to my mouth to here. To you. It's real. It's everyday. It's my life.
And so, dear readers, I leave you with my first recipe of the new year. I promise future posts will not be quite so long-winded. I just had a few things I needed to get off my chest before I pursue this new start.
As I told you, I live in the Deeeeeeep South. Home of boudin sausage, "burled" peanuts (or boiled, for you yanks), and one of the best sandwiches ever invented. That's sandwich, Rachael Ray. Not "sammy."
The New Orleans-Style Po'Boy.
What is a po'boy, you ask? The story, as I've heard it, goes a little something like this: In the early 1900s, when striking streetcar conductors in New Orleans were looking for a meal, a local sandwich shop would serve them submarine-style sandwiches generously filled with roast beef tips and gravy. The strikers were called poor boys, and eventually they became these beloved sandwiches' namesake, which was shortened to po'boy.
The roast beef and gravy po'boys are still around, along with fried shrimp, catfish, or oyster po'boys, and even hamburger po'boys and french fry po'boys. That's right. A french fry sandwich. These fillings come inside the most delectable french bread you've ever tasted. French bread in New Orleans is very special. Because of the humid climate in New Orleans, the French bread comes out pillowy soft on the inside and flaky and crispy on the outside. You can duplicate this special bread anywhere in the country. All you need is a baguette, an oven, and good timing, as you'll see in the recipe below. Oh yeah, and you'll need some lingo. To "dress" a po'boy is to put mayo, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and pickle slices on your sandwich.
One last thing: Don't think that you can't make a decent shrimp po'boy like the one in the recipe I'm sharing just because you don't have access to fresh seafood. Even though I live near the Gulf, seafood can still be expensive and I'm broke, broke, broke. I made these po'boys with the bagged, frozen shrimp that my grocery sells buy-one-get-one nearly every other week. If you have access to fresh shrimp and can afford it, go for it. But don't be discouraged if you need to be more of a bargain shopper, like me.
New Orleans-Style Fried Shrimp Po'Boys
1lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined (not pictured)
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons hot sauce (Louisiana Hot Sauce is my favorite)
1 tablespoon pickle "juice" from the jar (not pictured)
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (I use the reduced sodium kind)
vegetable or peanut oil for frying
French bread baguette
dill pickle slices
Louisiana Hot Sauce
Small mixing bowl
gallon-sized Ziploc bag
deep fryer (or whatever you do your deep frying in)
1. Whisk together the milk, eggs, hot sauce, and pickle "juice" in a small mixing bowl. Add the shrimp and let them soak for 30-45 minutes.
2. Heat your frying oil to 350˚F. Also, preheat your oven to 325˚F.
3. In a Ziploc bag, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders, paprika, and Old Bay. Seal the bag and shake to combine.
4. Toss your shrimp into the bag, seal it, and shake to coat all of the shrimp. Return the shrimp to the milk and egg mixture and then back to the bag. Seal it and shake to coat the shrimp again.
5. Working in small batches so as not to crowd the fryer, fry the shrimp for about 5 minutes, or until they are a deep golden brown. As the cooked shrimp come out of the fryer, sprinkle with a pinch of seasoning salt if desired.
6. Meanwhile, as the shrimp are cooking, place your split baguettes slice side down on a baking sheet and bake in a 325˚F oven for 5 minutes, or until the top no longer gives but the sliced side is still fluffy and soft.
7. Once all the shrimp are fried and the bread is baked, make your sandwiches and dress them as you desire.
On the left is my fiance's po'boy. He likes his "dressed." On the right is mine. I like mayo, pickles, and hot sauce. Lots and lots of hot sauce.
Makes 2-3 8-inch po'boys.
Enjoy, and as they say down here in the Deeeeeeep South, laissez les bon temps rouler!