A Second Helping, Please!

One of my college roommates posted a message to me on Facebook telling me that she liked Hines-Sight, but jokingly said, “Don’t talk about college-life!” Little did she know that as I was clearing the dinner dishes last night, I started thinking about those wonderful college days at UNC-Chapel Hill, and all the sudden, I looked at my one year old’s left-over macaroni and cheese, and it dawned on me that I’ve made a complete circle with my culinary skills. I’m making the exact same meals I made 20 years ago except the pitiful things is back then I didn’t even know how to make a grilled cheese or a quesadilla.
Delicious Mac and Cheese

I have definitely expanded my repertoire!

When I entered college in 1987, I lived in what some would call a posh dorm. We had a great dining hall among our towers, and we shared a bathroom with another suite. Those were two great perks not to mention the tennis courts and swimming pool which occasionally, fraternities would play ball naked at 2 am, but that’s a whole another blog! Right girls?

Like most college kids, I wanted to live in an apartment my junior year, and of course, that meant giving up all those home-cooked meals at your fingertips. My roommate and I lived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, boxed macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, spaghetti, pizza, and hot dogs! We didn’t even eat salads. Well, that about sums it up for what is currently featured on the kid’s menu at any restaurant in America today, and believe it or not, many of those same foods are all that my second child will eat when placed in front of her. Everything else gets one tasting, and immediately goes right back into the rather large pocket on her bib.

My cooking skills didn’t get any better as I entered life post-college. I didn’t even know how to use all the features on my Jenn-aire stove in the 1990’s as embarrassing as that sounds. I ate at least twice a week in a restaurant called Pizza Village in Whiteville, NC with my friends. Later, when I worked for the town’s local hospital, I took advantage of the food at my fingertips just like I did in my dorm, and ate a lot of vegetables in the hospital cafeteria and I even slipped out the door many nights with a to-go box.

When Big W and I married in 2002, we actually thought home-cooking meant frozen, processed meals you cook on the stovetop or an Omaha steak on the grill. Talk about unhealthy! It wasn’t until I gave birth to JH that I started to cook good, healthy meals. My motivation was I had 36 pounds to lose plus it gave me a motherhood outlet. I cooked while Big W took care of the baby. As a first-time parent, that was a nice trade-off for alone time in the kitchen. My recipe book collection grew tremendously from that day forward and I actually discovered that I love trying out new recipes. Who knew? JH is also my child that will eat tofu, tilapia, ethnic foods, and vegetables, but he doesn’t really care for traditional kid’s fare. When we took him to Disney World last year for the first time, I had to find restaurants that also served grilled chicken, shrimp, and steak on the children’s menu since we were on the resort’s dining plan whereas Little L is stuck on my old college food. I let her try what we eat, but I end up supplementing her meals with some type of pasta, or cheese dish specialty in fear that she will starve.

Even though I now cook about six nights out of seven, I do not consider myself a gourmet cook or even that great of a cook. I have many friends that I will gladly give that title to any day of the week. In fact, I like to prepare easy, quick, healthy meals and with Little L being so young, the quicker the meal is to prepare the better because I don’t know what your house is like at that 5 pm hour, but it is just a crazy time in the Hines house. Enough said there! You won’t find too much cooking talk here on this blog, but on occasion, I’ll share a successful recipe with you or tell you about a cookbook.

If I hear the words, “I’ll have a second helping, please” coming from the mouths of my babes then that is success in my book. Today’s honor of noteworthy mention goes to a cookbook written in Rocky Mount, North Carolina which also happens to be Big W's hometown. I bought this cookbook authored by The Junior Guild of Rocky Mount about three years ago when visiting friends. This wonderful book is called “A Dash of Down East…A Second Helping”.

I’ve cooked several great delights from this book from salads to main dishes. In fact, my mother-in-law is now in love with a salad that I make from this same book, but let’s talk about some beef. Yummy “Southwestern Beef” is a crock-pot cooked chuck roast. It cooks all day, and shreds into a tender, tasty filling for tortillas with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and of course, we like to add sour cream. It received two thumbs up by judges Big W and JH. I can’t share the recipe without written permission from the Guild, but the good news is that this scrumptious Rocky Mount cookbook is still for sale, and has been reduced to $5.00 plus shipping and handling.

The Rocky Mount Junior Guild members are cookbook pros. They produced, “Dixie Dishes” in 1947. They published “Rainbow of Recipes” in 1974, and “A Dash of Down East” in 1986. In 2003, “A Dash of Down East…A Second Helping” was born. These Guild members can certainly cook, and they have great recipes to share. Trust me! If we’re lucky, maybe they are working on a 5th cookbook for us. Hopefully, by that time, I will no longer be cooking my old college staples, and cooking just one whole entrée and sides.

Til next time….I'm off for a cup of tea!

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