Trips to the South have more places to stop off and eat
My grandparents — both sets — came from around Winston Salem, North Carolina. Most of their children and grandchildren settled in that area as well. Consequently, a lot of my cousins, who are more like my brothers and sisters, are still in Piedmont, North Carolina, between the mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.
Every family occasion feels like a reunion to the cousins. Thanksgiving has become a “reunion” time, as well as any time in the summer that we can steal a long weekend to go to Winston Salem and visit. Everyone who possibly can make it tries to be on hand for weddings.
Last weekend found those of my family who were able to go headed down the familiar road to North Carolina to attend a family wedding.
The weather, which can be a little “iffy” this time of year, was with us. We made it through the mountains with no snow of any consequence. The wedding was in Greensboro, about half an hour from Winston Salem. Rain was predicted, but held off for a lovely rooftop ceremony and reception.
Lots of family was there. Ashley was beautiful, Irving was handsome and a good time was had by all.
The décor was gorgeous, done in white with black accents. The ceremony — and dancing later — was held in a big white tent on the rooftop adjacent to the dining room. After the ceremony, the chairs set in rows under the tent were moved to the perimeter of the “room” to reveal a dance floor. The dining room, set with round-top tables to seat 10 each, led onto the tented sixth-floor rooftop with a view of the city.
Dinner was a well-appointed buffet, with dining at the round-top tables. A favorite gesture on the part of the bride and groom was a live telecast — on a large wall in the dining room — of the North Carolina vs. Duke basketball game (go, Tarheels).
The next day our two Ohio cars caravanned to our granddaughter Kelsey’s college near Lynchburg, Virginia to take a quick tour of the campus and drop her off before returning to Ohio.
During the trip back to Ohio, the conversation turned, naturally, to food. Heather remarked that she is very glad there are now more options than fast food on the road back and forth than there were when we moved to Ohio in 1972. She was referring particularly to Tamarack, the West Virginia arts, crafts, and food center in Beckley, West Virginia. At Tamarack chefs trained at The Greenbrier run a wonderful cafeteria service with lots of local foods. She mentioned the buckets of KFC we relied on many years ago. (And we wondered why our ankles were so fat when we got to Winston Salem.)
Nouvelle cuisine has reached the South, just as it has everywhere else. Food is lighter, healthier and tastier than it was years ago on road trips to visit our family. A publication called Edible Blue Ridge, a seasonal magazine highlighting local food in central Virginia, was free for the taking at a visitor center in Buena Vista, Virginia. One of the recipes really grabbed my attention. It looked yummy and tasted even better. I will forever associate Ashley and Irving’s wedding with this savory recipe from the Charlottesville Cooking School.
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
Butter to grease ramekins
1 shallot or small onion, diced
2 cups stale bread, cut in to cubes
2 cups diced butternut squash
2 ounces grated cheese (sharp cheddar, Parmesan, Everona sheep’s milk or Gouda)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, whisk milk and eggs together until thoroughly combined. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Butter the inside of four 6-ounce ramekins or one 16-ounce ovenproof casserole. Fill with alternate layers of bread and squash.
Sprinkle the shallots over top. Pour in enough egg mixture to cover. Top with grated cheese.
Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes, until bubbly and browned.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.