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Visiting the Deep South

I realized that I really never had time to tell you all about my trip down to the Deep (for real deep) South. I have lived and visited other places besides North Carolina, and NC is truly part of The South. But there is nothing like getting in a car and driving south for 13+ hours to make you feel like a Northerner. Once we hit South Carolina, the gas stations all had boiled peanuts for sale. Heaven! Seriously though, I had never spent much time in Mississippi before. I have been to New Orleans on several occasions, but I only passed through its neighbor state for a day. I have to say that Mississippi is one of those states that I approach with a degree of trepidation, occupying in my mind a dark corner, housing the compilation of all the racial and social atrocities of America's history, a la "Mississippi Burning." Is that a gross generalization, dictated by media (books included) and divorced from my direct personal experience? Absolutely. Thus I was interested to see how the real, live state and people compared with my preconceived horror.

Granted, I was only there for 4 days, which I spent on a Hare Krishna farm outside of a tiny town in the Southwestern corner of the state. By no means a sweeping survey of the state. However, it's a start for me.

My first impression was how beautiful the landscape was. I kind of expected to see a lot of Spanish moss and swamps, but this area really didn't look like that. There are loads of those big live oak trees though. I took several photos of my son against the trees in an effort to capture just how gigantic they are.

Another lovely feature of the area was the cows. The farm that we stayed at maintains a herd of 60 cows. They are a "no-kill" dairy, meaning that they maintain the cows, even after they stop giving milk. The farm also maintains the bulls for the entirety of their lives. This of course is not cost-effective, which is why commercial dairies sell their bulls and older cows (who no longer give milk) to the slaughterhouses. Part of my lineage hails from Wisconsin, so trust, I have my secret cheesehead side. I have been unable to completely kick the cheese habit as of yet, but I definitely have cut way, WAY back after understanding the relationship between the dairy and the meat industry. So how wonderful it was to eat fresh, home-made, guilt-free cheese at the farm, and know that my purchase was supporting beauties like these:

If you have any interest in learning more about the New Talavana farm and their Adopt-a-Cow Program (I had to explain to my son that in this case adopting does not entail bringing the adoptee home), you can check them out here.

There is still so much more to share, but there is so little time and so little space. Hopefully I will get a chance to tell you about the wonderful herb farm and education center that we visited. For now, just know it is a coming attraction. The beautiful landscape, cows, and downright friendly folks (of various colors) did encourage me to come on back now, ya' hear? Mississippi you just might be changing my mind...

PS. My son wanted to make sure that I gave him credit for the photo editing.

Entree #1 - Creamy Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

Anonymous faithful customer, this one's for you! I have had this creamy, savory soup on my future recipe list for some time now. It is a favorite dish of one of my favorite customers. I was just waiting for the right time to pull it back out again. This past week as I looked around at the emerging golds, oranges, and rust colors on the trees, and realizing that Thanksgiving is coming soon, I was reminded of this delicious soup that says autumn with every bite. *GF, soy-free


Entree #2 - Punjabi Chole

Chickpeas are one of my favorite beans. They are versatile, rich in protein, and filling without being heavy. My son also loves them, which of course is golden for a harried mother of a mostly picky eater. In this recipe chickpeas kind of take on their bad-boy persona. The peas are stewed in a spicy tomato gravy that is so tangy and tasty that you can't help but keep coming back for more. *GF, soy-free

(photo punjabifoodsrecipesdishes)

Entree #3 - Vegetable Lasagna Soup

I had a craving for this soup last week. Because I already had a full menu and we had made this soup just a couple months ago, I decided to wait. But then I just couldn't wait any longer! This soup is so vegetably, so flavorful and satisfying, so like lasagna except for the mountains of cheese, that I was powerless to resist it any longer. God help me should I actually go to Italy! I can see it now - one cookbook and forty pounds later... *GF, soy-free


Side Dishes:

Brown Rice - $1/serving (1 cup)

Roti - $1 ea. When I was looking at the Punjabi Chole recipe, I kept thinking about how good it tastes with roti. One of the entrees has wild rice in it, so then it just made sense to have a non-rice alternate grain option. I kept telling myself how crazy this was because roti are simple but a little time consuming. But no, the image of these tasty flat-breads kept haunting me, saying "Make me. Roll me. Cook me. Go on. You know you love me." Sigh. This is what happens when your food talks to you... *soy-free


Dhokla - $3 ea. or 2 for $5. It has been a while since we have made these wonderfully spongy savory "breads." Although masquerading as a carby little side dish, dhokla is high in protein, as the main ingredient is chickpea flour. Originally from the state of Gujarat, dhokla is now enjoyed all over India and beyond. *GF, soy-free

(photo kitchenpops)

Badam Khir (Creamy Almond Pudding) - $4 ea. You all know how I love to be thematic, right? So here I was contemplating Indian sweets. India has a robust culture of milk sweets. The amount and variety of desserts that they make with milk products cannot truly be believed until you are standing in a for-real mithai (sweet) shop. Unfortunately, many of them do not transfer well to the vegan world. At least not at my level of expertise. Puddings however, are a wonderful exception. Coconut cream does a very tasty impersonation of the saffron-infused condensed milk that holds these almonds in its creamy embrace. *GF, soy-free


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