life list: crock pot soup recipes

garam masala chicken stew

48. Find and try ten new crock pot soup recipes.

That item on my life list was pretty easy to check off, once I got down to it. The trouble is that soup isn’t very photogenic. But all of these I made, Saturdays or Sundays for football eatin’s, and they were all pretty good. Editor’s note: I started and finished this project in 2015 and never hit publish on this blog post. Whoops.

#1: Creamy Tortellini Soup, 9/20/15

ten soups project: creamy tortellini soup

Surprising amount of kick! Not as creamy as I’d wanted. Maybe extra evaporated milk.

#2: Ham and Corn Chowder, 9/26/15

ten soups project: ham and corn chowder

Trav reports: “The best soup you’ve made.” I skipped the suggestion to microwave the last ingredients before adding and the cream cheese didn’t melt all the way and looked sort of weird. Tasted okay, though.

#3: Garam Masala Chicken Stew With Peas And Potatoes, 10/11/15

garam masala chicken stew

This is the definition of “hearty”.

#4: Mini Meatball Minestrone Soup, 10/24/15

ten soups: mini meatball minestrone

Use unsalted chicken broth, this was saltier than I expected.

#5: Tuscan White Bean and Sausage Soup, 11/1/2015

ten soups: italian sausage and white bean

Substituted sweet potato for the squash, and it was great.

#6: Loaded Baked Potato Soup, 11/14/15

ten soups: loaded baked potato soup

Added carrots and corn for more vegetables. Probably peas would be okay too. This was awesome.

#7: Beef Stew with Coca-Cola, 11/22/2015

I forgot to take a picture of this one. It was a solid beef stew.

#8: Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Soup, 12/6/2015

#9: Tomato Basil Parmesan Bisque, 12/12/2015

Added pasta to this, might reduce the cheese a little at the end. But tasty.

Editor’s second note: I swear I made a 10th soup, but hell if I remember what it was. I’m checking this off the list because I’m tired of it hanging around in my drafts.

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100 foods in 100 counties: carteret county

100 foods in 100 counties: carteret county

Carteret County – Beaufort – Beaufort Grocery Co.: Apple Granny Chicken Sandwich

This was some of the best chicken salad I’ve ever eaten, creamy and full of dill and not overrun by celery. Sharp apples, good cheddar, excellent croissant. Would eat again. Frankly, would eat everything on the Beaufort Grocery Co. menu, so I have to go back to visit so I can.

life list: thanksgiving dinner

thanksgiving 2015

thanksgiving 2015

thanksgiving 2015

thanksgiving 2015

thanksgiving 2015

thanksgiving 2015

thanksgiving 2015

thanksgiving 2015

thanksgiving 2015

48. Cook a full Thanksgiving dinner for friends and family (including a turkey in the oven).

I had forgotten that this was on my life list until a few weeks ago, but damn if Trav and shep. and Clea and Erin and I didn’t cross it off like a boss yesterday.

Recipes I made:

All good; greatest mashed potatoes ever.

I’m thankful for the people I spent yesterday with, all of whom I love very much, and I am especially thankful for Trav, who is one of the smartest, kindest, funniest people I know, and who I am lucky to get to love, and be loved by, every day.

eats: the big bowl of cheese

s&t's soda shoppe

Our State Magazine — which you may know from my attempt to eat my way across North Carolina — published a great piece this week, by Adam Lucas, about a restaurant in Pittsboro that has re-created a dish that is probably only sentimentally edible to a certain population who frequented Chapel Hill sometime before 2007. In The Rathskeller’s Legendary Lasagna Lives On, Lucas digs into S&T’s Soda Shoppe, and owner Steve Oldham’s quest to perfect two dishes that Chapel Hill really, really missed:

But he still didn’t have the Gambler. Not the way the Ram’s Head Rathskeller served it for almost 60 years on Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street. The dish had become legendary in that restaurant, where it was served in single, double, and triple portions. Generations of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students survived their college years by making their way down a set of somewhat suspect steps on Franklin’s Amber Alley to eat the Gambler, then went back as alums and introduced their children to it.

The Rat, as it was better known, had a menu full of options. But the regulars knew there were really only two choices: lasagna, which was better known as “the bowl of cheese.” And the Gambler.

IMG_0150(Don’t you love that hat? I still own it. It has red paint on it from when I painted the 506 bathroom in 2011. I don’t think that Pops still owns that sweatshirt, though. I wish she did.)

s&t's soda shoppe

Yep, alums went back years later and introduced their kids to it, because that’s how I first encountered the Rat’s “bowl of cheese”, with The Maternal Unit (UNC ’73 ’75), after the Tar Heels won the national title in 1993, and later before games at the Dean Dome as teenagers, and finally before games at the Dean Dome as a graduate student myself. The Rat closed the same spring that I finished my Master’s degree, and while I’ve gotten back to a game or two since then, and the Heels have gotten themselves two more titles since ’93, those games were never quite the same without a pre-game meal at the Rat. But even though Trav wouldn’t order the lasagna — his aversion to cheese prevents it — I’m still sorry that we can’t hole up in a dark booth before a women’s game, because what’s the point of going to Carmichael if you can’t eat at the Rat beforehand? He moved here for me and he fell in love with Carolina basketball for me, and there’s this huge piece of going-to-Carolina-games that doesn’t even exist anymore.

s&t's soda shoppe

You should read the piece for the ambiance of the Rat, the memories, the reasons why the Oldham family did this; I can’t do it the justice that Lucas does.

It’s even funnier to me that Adam Lucas was the one who wrote this piece, though, because his writing about the Tar Heels has been inextricable from my love for (and sometimes frustration with) the men’s basketball team for as long as he’s been writing for GoHeels.com. I have said, multiple times, and in public, that no matter how I feel after a game, I can’t really figure out how I feel until Adam Lucas tells me how to feel. In all seriousness: I often won’t go to bed after a bad loss until Adam posts his column. I’m a grown-ass woman who owns a house and has a full-time job, and I won’t sleep after we blow a game in Winston-Salem until Adam puts it in perspective for me. His writing about the Tar Heels is something that’s anchored my fandom since, at the very least, the 2005 title — and probably before, though that’s the season I remember his writing earliest, and best. (I re-read that last column while I was writing this, and bawled all over myself, just like I did when we won the title in April 2005. Then I went and found the one about the 2009 title, and I was really glad that I was the only one home when I read it. The cats, despite the basketball pedigree of their names, do not count. But there was some ugly crying that happened. Man I loved that 2009 team something fierce.)

So Adam Lucas and the bowl of cheese at the Rat: yep, that’s my Carolina basketball. The story on Tuesday sent me down to Pittsboro on Wednesday, grateful for a federal holiday in a very timely fashion, for a bowl of cheese, and, I was hoping, a couple of questions for Steve Oldham.

s&t's soda shoppe

Like, “Do you think people who didn’t experience lasagna at the Rat would still love it as much as we do?” Because honestly, I didn’t think — don’t think — they can. I told my boss, a die-hard Carolina fan, about S&T’s on Tuesday at lunch in the breakroom at work, and he got it immediately; “Let me know how it is.” The State alum, the UF alum, and the UNC-G alum sitting next to me watched me blankly while I tried to explain the Rat. The Gambler. The bowl of cheese. It’s either a thing you get, or a thing you don’t. So if people move to Pittsboro and encounter it for the first time, is the bowl of cheese something that they want to eat?

It turned out that even at 2pm on a Wednesday in November, S&T’s is absolutely packed, so I didn’t get to ask that question. (Or my aunt’s pressing question: will they put the Rat’s anchovy and green olive pizza on the menu?) But I did get to sit down and eat lasagna, and it was absolutely worth it. The Oldhams have done what they set out to do, and the lasagna arrived looking, smelling, and most importantly tasting exactly like I wanted it to. (I don’t eat the Gambler, because onions are of the devil and should be eliminated from the universe, but even the Gambler smelled exactly perfect every time it passed my table.) It was a bowl full of cheese and memories, and I am so glad that S&T’s exists, so glad that these things were just as important to other people as they were to me, and I get to keep experiencing them.

I’ll be going back there, and soon. I’ll be going back there, and taking people who remember the Rat with me, and taking some people who don’t remember the Rat with me, too. We’ll keep trying to answer that question. But mostly we’ll be grateful for S&T’s, and the Oldhams, and keeping beloved things alive in a modern world.

s&t's soda shoppe

life list: 100 foods in 100 counties

100 foods in 100 counties: chatham

fearrington village halloween

58. Eat at every restaurant in Our State magazine’s 100 Foods To Eat In North Carolina’s 100 Counties.

Chatham County. Foie gras at Fearrington House Restaurant. I’m not super into goose liver, but the meal as a whole was the best I’ve ever eaten.

Plus a bonus carved root vegetable from Halloween. Fearrington’s pumpkins were awesome.

life list: 100 foods, 100 counties

100 foods 100 counties: rowan county

One off the 100 foods list … Hot Dipped Fried Chicken from Keaton’s Barbeque, in Cleveland, NC, Rowan County. I need to go back because I think the chicken suffered from a drive to Augusta, GA, in my trunk, which is not Keaton’s fault. But when they say hot, they mean hot. The spice is exquisite, and packs a mean punch. Would eat again.