Thursday, July 29, 2010

Out of the frying pan, into the shower ...

Hey there! Well, I just returned from 2 family reunions in both North and South Carolina. Boy oh boy, was it hot!!Can you see that? The car registered the outdoor temp at 104 degrees! I mean it was hot! Ever go somewhere so hot that you lose your appetite? That was the effect for most of the first day down in South Carolina, then we made a trip to a place I talked about on The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Hometown Favorites ...It's Duke's BBQ in Orangeburg, SC. I mentioned it on the show for it's legendary pork hash. It is just unbelievably good. Add to that the best fried chicken and what we call "cracklin'", but my guy was happy to call "chicharrones" ... it was a great kick off meal for my visit down south!
That's the hash ladled all over my rice. I also had more chicken after I cleared the mound. A guy came over from the other side of the dining room and said he saw me talk about coming home and making the stop at Duke's on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. He said it was nice to see I was telling the truth. I was and will carry on my dad's tradition for years to come, it has become my tradition. We left there and headed back to the room, but first made a stop at the gas station and that's when I saw something that made me feel like ... "Ok, it's hot, I had Duke's ... what else can make me feel like I'm in the south?" ...
OMG!!!! WORRRRRRDDDD UPPPPP like Cameo!!! RED VELVET Twinkie-like cakes!!!!! I'd just stuffed my face full of Duke's so I thought it best to just let a picture say a thousand pounds and leave it on the shelf. It was hard. A squeeze test proved them to be fluffy and moist. I felt like a bread aisle bandit. I have to look into getting some of those shipped up north when I get back to fighting weight lol. We did some family stuff with the South Carolina fam, then hopped on the highway and headed north. This was a trip we made almost every summer growing up because my parents would drop us off at the grandparents' so they could do all the moving business from city to city. When they came to pick us up after dropping us off a month or so earlier, we would head towards our new home. It was a pattern for many years, I'm sure military families know the drill. Here was the best part of the drive from South Carolina to North Carolina ...South of the Border! Pedro and his funny signs were the best entertainment as a back-seat rider growing up and as an adult, it was just as exciting. I'm pretty corny that way. We didn't stop, but that's ok ... I remember one time growing up begging my parents and they finally stopped there. Great marketing, I bet many parents get the same whining from their kids while making the drive. Hard to turn down. We drove during the day and it was still verrrry hot so when we got to my grandma's house, the one I always talk about on Cooking for Real, she had her version of water sitting on the counter ... It's her famous pound cake! I did a version of it on Cooking for Real called Apple Pound Cake. She always has something baked on the counter or is in the process of baking it. No joke and it was cool for my boyfriend to see what I'd been braggin' about to be true. She had no idea we were coming, I made it a surprise because she thought I was just doing the family reunion in South Carolina. I had a slice of her famous pound cake and headed off to sleep because the next day was the big breakfast day. Of course I asked if I could help and she said "NO, Me and Aunt Honeybunch have it all worked out!". To which my guy replied, "You have an aunt named "Honeybunch"? Yes, I do. And I also have an uncle we call "Uncle Bunky" ... one time on a holiday episode of Cooking for Real I said he was my drunk uncle, it was a joke, but he took it in stride. My late-grand-dad's brother actually calls me a "Wine-o" because all of my drinks involve alcohol. Lol, too cute. Anyway, my grandma is great she actually gets offended if you show up and you aren't hungry. The next morning a guest showed up to visit and was asked if he was hungry, when he said "no" the whole family erupted into a loud uproar and grandma promptly made a large plate of grits, eggs, biscuits, sausage, gravy and more! Too funny. He had no idea saying he wasn't hungry was the wrong thing to say. I'd show you his picture, but I'm trying to protect the innocent. Just know the look on his face is priceless when he gets his over loaded plate! I tried to get my grandma to take a picture, but she is quite camera shy, so I bargained and she gave me her arm in the stove shot ...
That' a southern breakfast in the making, then I took my left hand and lifted a lid to reveal the biggest pot of grits I've ever seen in a home kitchen!
Hard to tell the depth and width, but it was biiiiig! I just ate and ate and ate. It felt so good to be home. I couldn't stay for the entire time of either family reunions because they were scheduled at the same time, but I made the most of it and visited some of the old stomping grounds in North Carolina just like in South Carolina. Ever hear of penny candy stores? Well, I don't think I'm old enough to live through that era, but we had one around the corner from my grandma's house that was more like a 25 cent candy store. My grandma would give us a handful of change and we'd walk around the corner to this store and give it to the owner, he'd let us grab into a big bowl of candy and everything we grabbed was ours. As a kid the walk seemed like a mile, as an adult ... it was just around the corner...
My cousin Monique, said that it isn't always opened now and he doesn't do candy anymore :-( ... It was great seeing it again though. These are things you miss as a military brat. There are no frames of reference from my youth around me because my youth was all over the place. I wonder what it must feel like to live where you grew up. Lucky you, but then again lucky me, eh? We should all make good out of what is given. The next day we headed back up north for home, but not before some airport security comedy. It had me laughing at 6AM! Ok, so my grandma has a pie she is famous for and she never gives out the recipe. Even if she gives it to me, out of respect, I'll modify it so her real one isn't available. Why? Well, because she truly is the cake and pie lady in town and even a stranger/friend of a family member got on the phone to say hi to me, then had the nerve to ask me to ask my grandma for the recipe, thinking she'd give it to me, then I'd pass it on to her. Never! Is she crazy? lol ... so anyway, grandma made one for me to take home and covered it in aluminum foil. Here's where the joke starts ... As I put it on the belt to go through the X-Ray at the airport security line the TSA agent looked at it and said "What is that?". I said, "My grandma's pie, you aren't gonna take that from me are you?" but really I said it like "The Hope Diamond. You don't want to fight for it do you?" (with a smile of course, I was joking, but very serious). Then he replied with the funniest thing ever. He said very matter of factly "Well, it may be okay, but just incase I may have to run a EEEE -AYYY -TEEE test on it." I took a second and said "A whaaa?" and as soon as I'd said it, I realized he'd spelled the word "EAT" lol!! I busted out laughing so loud and he was actually very surprised I got it. He said many people don't get it when he says that. Ummm probably because the tense feeling at security, I mean, no shoes, no liquids over 3 ounces, etc. (BTW, unrelated, but not ... check Anyway, I giggled at the "E.A.T. Test" line all morning and even typing it now, brings a smile to my face. TSA industry humor, you heard it here first. Teeheehee ... Here's my secret pie ready to board a flight to LGA ...So that was the frying pan heat of the south ...
This is the shower that is Atlantic City!

I just got here this afternoon and I'm all ready for the AC Food & Wine Festival!! As usual. I'll do my best to take pics and share. If you are here, please say hi ... don't be shy. Someone said hi on the way out of a long elevator ride and I said while the door was closing, "why didn't you say hi earlier? We could've been talking!" ... The door closed before I could hear a reply :-(. Also if you are still on the way, the weather should clear up to a less humid 80. Bring a jacket though if you plan to hang out in the casinos, I found out on my visit a couple of weeks ago that the temp inside is pretty frigid! Gotta keep the gamblers awake!

Ok, check in for pictures and stories. Tonight is a kick-off party and the Next Food Network Star finalist's are the hosts! I'll let you know how it goes!


Anonymous said...

Hi Sunny,
I really enjoyed reading about your double-duty family reunion. I can't help but think back when we would travel each summer with my parents to the deep south (FL) and visit. My mom's home was Orlando and my dad relocated there from GA after he was deemed 4F for the military. It crushed his dreams but he picked up the pieces and had a 35 yr.+ career in the Steel Industry. I'm blessed to have had the parents I did...they're both gone now, but reading about your family brings back so many memories. I know your parents are just so very proud of the young woman...the person you've become. You are truly the REAL deal and I too am so proud. Hope all goes well this weekend and save me and my hubby a place at next year's event.

Love you much,
Linda (B'Ham)

A Blatina's Blog said...

Loved, loved, loved this post. It had me thinking about my childhood, family reunions and grandma. Thanks! It was a fun read.

Lindsey Christensen said...

So much fun at your reunions! Isn't catching up the best? And those pre-packed mini red velvets...girl you have way better will power than I would have! Red velvet is my favorite, the cake I request every year on my birthday. Love your point about lucky for those who still live in their hometown (me -- chose to move back after college) but lucky for those who have hometowns all over the place (you). Gotta be thankful for both! Best of luck @ the AC f&w'll bring the heat regardless of the weather :)

Lys said...

You are quite the traveller - and, btw - the LV NeverFul! LOVE! I have to say I've been eyeing that going "Should I shouldn't I?" Perhaps after this next event I might take the plunge.

AC is rainy there? It's super bright and sunny here in Philly - wonder if that is on it's way to us here :( I'm going to try to swing by on Saturday. Have fun and take lots of pics!

Holly said...

OMG - red velvet Twinkies!! I almost want to drive down there just to get them...and that pot of grits looked soooo good! I love being a Jersey girl, but I always wish I lived in the South - the food is better, and the culture is so unique :-) See you in AC!

tamilyn said...

TSA with humor? We got a Customs agent that was pretty funny when we came home from Iceland :)

I got full just reading about the food!

Dolphinfanhg said...

You have waaay more self control than I do!! I would've totally grabbed handful of the red velvet 'twinkies' to try later! ;)

And yes, South of the Border is a family vacation tradition, that I'm sure adults hate, but kids haaaaave to go after seeing all those billboards for miles! I know always begged to stop as a kid!!!

Have fun in AC, can't wait to hear all about it!!!

Jen said...

I'm so glad you left that heat in the Carolinas! I'm looking forward to 80 degrees in Atlantic City!!!

Can't wait for the party tomorrow night! Let's see how long it takes you to find me in there! ;)

Sunny Anderson said...

linda, wow a 35+ career in anything is pretty amazing. what a great example for you to grow up with. glad my memories could bring back some for you even if bitter sweet, i miss both my grand daddy's and the family reunion was hard, but fun. ok, see you and your hubby at next year's event! until then ... i'm sharin all i can :-)

a blatina's blog, thanks for reading! glad it brought memories, almost a full week later and we are all still laughing about stuff that happened at the reunion, they are like office christmas parties lol.

lindsey, girrrrrrl, those mini red velvet cakes ... ooooowwweeeee, i wish i could've just stuffed one more bite in. why i didn't buy some and keep them in a stasis until i got back to nyc and deeper into my workout routine ... i dunno lol! wish you were here!

lys, that bag is my work horse!! i have put in some pretty heavy and bulky stuff, not a sign of breaking handles or any rips anywhere. it's a sturdy bag, that truly is "never full" i got the mid sized one and it works perfect! good investment, especially since you know they replace or fix it for a lifetime. can't beat that! if you come by saturday let me know if you need help getting in!

holly, girl, i also know that i took the picture to remember the name of the company, i'm eventually gonna track em down and get a shipment! lol. no joke though ... see you at the party!!

tamilyn, tell the tsa joke! i love at-work humor! i mean an "E.A.T. Test" was pretty funny to me. i still giggle a bit about it.

heather, as you can see ... you are not alone. i am now very proud of my restraint!! teeheehee ... hope you like the ac posts, tryin to make it seem like you are here like in south beach! that was a neat meeting!!!

jen ... i am gonna FIND you like where's waldo! lol ... the weather is great. i think i'm wearing a long flowy sundress ... don't tell me what you are wearing, i really think i'll be able to find ya! i'm not leaving the event until we meet! believe it! ok, but just tell me ... glasses or no? ok, never mind, i can do this!! lol

Anonymous said...

WOW I just finished eating grits for breakfast :-) When I moved to the Mid-west for school I was disappointed when I couldn't immediately find grits! And, I know all about South of the Boarder and Pedro! I live near Fort Bragg, NC (not too far from I-95) and thought Pedro and South of the Boarder were so cool as a kid! Now it's kind of laughable. I enjoyed your stories, maybe I can come to a family reunion the next But I also inquired about the Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress that you wore on the Today Show. It just came in the mail the other day. Thanks so much, you've introduced me to something great. If only I could borrow your All the best!

Crystal (Carolina girl--previous post name)

P.S. Is Grandma's Apple Pound Cake recipe on your foodnetwork site?

Kase said...

I am finally off that crazy work schedule. Southern Hospitality can't be duplicated anywhere else, you described it perfectly. What kinda pie your grandma sent home with you? You can tell it came from downsouth...does anyone else wrap their pies in You can tell I'm country because my favorite pie in the whole wide world is sweet potato. The only sweet potato pie I eat belongs to Pearl...that's my grandma. I think every southern family has crazy nicknames...,I have an Uncle Skeet and an Uncle Ababy. The latter name is pronounced just as it looks. Have fun tonight.


Cooking Mama said...

I LOVED this post, Sunny! We drove by South of the Border in July FOUR TIMES when we had to do a drop off/pick up in Savannah for my daughter to stay with a friend who lives in Florida. We always crack up when we read those signs and joke about stopping but never do.

Made the trek back to my hometown in Indiana two weeks ago. It was state fair time and whoa . . the memories came flooding back. I was loving me some deep fried veggies and elephant ears!! At times I wonder what it would be like to live in the town I grew up in. I was such in a hurry to move out of there when I was young. Makes you wonder sometimes. Anyway . . back to reality.

Anonymous said...

Sonny: Love your show. So much, I even watch reruns. Saw the mussel show again yesterday -(finally found a way to get you the info in case no one has told you)-find a new jeweler, darlin'; mussels DO have pearls. Freshwater and saltwater mussels produce pearls of all sizes, shapes and colors, preferably found before, polish 'em and wear 'em.
Old Arkie

Anonymous said...

Hey Sunny!
I saw you on the Today show this morning and you had a red velvet brownie and it looked fabulous. Can I please have that recipe? Thanks and my husband and I are huge fans!!