Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp & Grits

Oh, sweet tea and grits… this is my ode to thee. I still remember the time I tried thee both. Oh, sweet tea and grits you love thee so if you’ve spent any substantial time in The South then you know these two go hand in hand. Tea is sipped as soon as a bottle can be held and perfectin’ the perfect pot of grits is a rite of passage; One not to be takin’ lightly.
I’ve spent much of my life lustin’ after the two. As a kid only two things were a guarantee; Church on Sunday and grits for breakfast. No matter how you sliced it Daddy was always makin’ a pot of grits. Even if we would turn or noses up and complain, “AGAIN!”

Much of my adult life has turned into how I could perfect pot after pot of grits. Have em’ creamy enough to make your Grandma holler but not so much that they lost their Southern appeal. I’d prided myself on the fact that I reckoned I could make a pot of grits better than the next Texan. After all they were Texans. My family went back many Deep Southern generations.

 I still remember the last time I tried my hand at Shrimp and Grits. I convinced Momma to throw a brunch bridal shower for one of my bestfriends. Any and everything was on the menu and I was determined to impress. After an hour of near tears and grits everywhere to high heavens I admitted defeat with tears in my eyes and burns on my hands. Paula Dean would be so ashamed.

I was down but I wasn’t out. My Southerness would not be revoked. A family reunion came and cousin Gerald walked over with a twinkle in his eye and goes:

“Hello Ms. Grits… you make good grits?”
“ I like to think I do,” I respond as I tell him how my grits are made.
He smiles again and responds, “The secret to real creamy grits is equal parts to equal parts to 3 parts. 1 cream to 3 parts water with some butter and salt.”
“Pause I tell him”… “You put cream and half and half in your grits?”
“Yes ma’am and do you know why you always have your whisk ready?”
“No sir”, Now, I ‘m really listenin’.
“So they cook evenly and have a good consistency”, he finishes.

I set to work ready to adapt this recipe…
 Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp & Grits

1 lemon
1 cup of shrimp
1 cup of quick cooking grits
1 cup of half/half
1 cup of heavy creme
1 cup of chicken broth
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
4 tablespoons of hot sauce
red pepper, salt, oregano
4 tablespoons of butter

1. Bring 2 cups of water and a cup of chicken broth to a boil.
2. Once boilin' stir in the grits. 
3  After they have cooked for a min stir in the heavy cream and  to half and half. Turn down the heat and let them simmer until they thicken.
4. Stir in 2 tablespoons of butter and a pinch of salt and your grits are ready to go.

1. I use a cast iron but you may use whatever pan works best for you. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 juice of a lemon, the hot sauce, red pepper and oregano. 
2. Ingredients should begin to make a small sauce.
3. Toss in shrimp and cook a few minutes on each side until they are pink and done.
4. Serve over grits and enjoy.

Shrimp & GritsShrimp & Grits

Next to Jesus if it has Texas sweet tea or Grits in it y’all already know my whole life is down. My entire life, y’all and probably why this necklace from Heidi J Hale is my favorite. I had them engrave the sweet tea and grits in it and it came out fabulous if I do say so myself. It only leaves my neck to sleep and shower.

The bangle bracelet you see me sportin’ as I cook has longitude and latitude coordinates. The coordinated represent where my heart is. Nacogdoches Texas, also known as the oldest town in Texas and where I went to college.

But, what I’ve come to appreciate most as of late besides a good bowl of grits is supportin’ small business. I read recently that when you shop small business 80% of your dollar stays locals compared to the 20 percent when you don’t. Y’all thats enough incentive for me to support some lovely artesian ladies that are makin’ handmade jewelry usin’ only precious metals and natural gemstones.

I love y'all so much it's giveaway time. Heidi J Hale makes the cutest 'Say it on a Ring' rings and i'mm give y'all the chance to win a set. Click here for the details and to enter.

And before I go I just gotta know... sugar or salt in your grits?

Crazy Water; Mineral Wells Tx

Crazy Water; Mineral Wells Tx
Crazy Water; Mineral Wells Tx
Crazy Water; Mineral Wells Tx
"Crazy Water is just some bottled water, What even? You still wanna go?" I texted. She responded quickly, "I don't care. We'll be that way anyway if we are headed to Possum Kingdom for the fireworks. What time you wanna leave? I gotta go luggage shoppin' in the mornin' with Momma."

So. I arrived that Saturday mornin' on Southern time as always ready to taste all the water. We arrived in Mineral Wells a little after lunchtime to a deserted main street. We promptly hustled into the only open local cafe desperate for salvation from the Texas heat. The young boy at the counter looked at us with amusement when we declined his day old shrimp po-boys. We'd come for one item and it wasn't food poisonin'.We ordered out water and quickly left out to find food.

Minutes later we found our-self at the Mineral Wells Co. ready for pictures and touristy information. I scrunched my nose as I tried each bit of water. This tasted nothin' like medicine and wasn't as bad as the young boy made it out to be.

Mineral Wells Crazy water is #124 on the #TravelinTexan bucket list.
  • Mineral Wells is about 1hr outside of  Fort Worth in Palo Pinto county
  • It's famous for the Baker Hotel and it's "Mineral Water"
  • The "mineral water" got it's claim to fame when a crazy elderly lady was "cured of her crazy" and a man was cured of his stomach problem. People start flockin' to taste the water and it was soon bottled and sold.
  • Essentially Crazy Water is Alkaline Water among a few other things that's all natural .
  • Crazy Water comes in different levels or numbers and each number has a distinct taste. 

Have y'all tried Crazy Water? What other fun Texas bits have y'all visited? Let me know usin' #TravelinTexan

THE SALT LICK bbq – Driftwood, TX

II'll never forgot the first time I learned of the famed Salt Lick BBQ. It was summer of '14. A few of the boys invited me on their Austin adventure. They even offered to let me pick a few items on my #TravelinTexan list to complete. I new there'd be a catch. They NEVER invited me on Texas adventures. They wanted to spend the day at Jester King Brewery and needed my assistance to bring home items. HA, I knew my invite wouldn't be that easy. We spent the day loungin' in the Texas heat until someone hollered BBQ. The Salt Lick BBQ was but a few towns over and they were determined to get their behinds there. I agreed figurin' It'd be somethin' I could add to the second part of my Texas list. We sat in the car quiet cause I didn't realize they loved BBQ so much and I didn't want them to know I had spent so much time that previous week at Texas BBQ Week. They'd be mad I hadn't invited them along for the eatin'. I hid my guilty belly as we rode on.

Summer of '16 we 'd eaten more Watermelon  at Luling Texas Watermelon Thump than we cared to admit. We need meat sustenance now. She turned to me and goes, "I want BBQ. I see we are not far from Salt Lick and it's on your list. I looked. Wanna go?" I didn't wanna tell her I'd already been. I muttered my, "sure", as we loaded the car. On the drive over as the GPS went haywire for the millionth time I whispered, "I've been but it's fine cause I never got my money shot and the food is so good. But, now you owe me a trip to Franklin's BBQ"

This week is Texas BBQ Week and I gave all the lowdown on it here. But, if you are gonna make you way to The Salt Lick here's a few things you need to keep in mind:
  • Cash Only. When the original owner came from Mississippi and brought Salt Lick to Texas he had 12 things he never wanted to happen at his establishment. All but 2 are still standin'.
  • That brings me to the second one... BYOB the original owner never wanted alcohol sold at The Salt Lick BBQ. The Salt Lick Cellar that is attached and has wine and beer is technically a separate entity just on the property. 
  • There will be a wait but it's ok cause you can lounge on the patio and listen to some good Texas Country. This is Texas BBQ my frans. I've waited upwards of hours and it was worth every bit of standin' in the Texas heat. 
  • If y'all can eat the meat plate is your friend. Who doesn't want that much BBQ for less than I fill up my Ford. 
  • Burnt ends are always your fran. It's how you become a true Texan.

Have fun with some real Texas BBQ. Come early that way you have enough time after to make the short trip over to Austin, Texas. I promise it won't disappoint. 

The Salt Lick BBQ 
18300 FM 1826
 Driftwood, TX 78619

4th of July + Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket

4th of July + Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket 4th of July + Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket 4th of July + Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket 4th of July + Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket 4th of July + Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket 4th of July + Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket
4th of July + Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket4th of July + Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket
4th of July + Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket
4th of July + Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket

4th of July + Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket
4th of July + Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket
4th of July + Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket
📷: Cameron Martin

Fourth of July has long been one of my favorite holidays. While we'll always have a ways to go it's a great time to celebrate how far we've come. A chance to be around family and those we adopted as family.  I enjoy livin' in a state that celebrates to Independence Day's every year. It's also a perfect chance to try out new recipes on loved ones. Like this brisket recipe.
4th of July + Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket
4th of July + Texas Oven Roasted Beef Brisket
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 & 1/2 of Beef broth
4 tablespoons of chili-powder
Brisket- Mine was a 5lb
a few tablespoons The Jelly Queens- Spice Kings Beef Rub
4 tablespoons Taste Elevated  Sweet n Tangy Mustard Seeds
1. So most Texas BBQ rubs have some variation of chili powder, mustard seed, sugar, garlic powder onion powder and pepper. I wanted to try out Jelly Queens rub so I used that and then added the chili-powder and sugar. For the Jelly Queen rub I just eyeballed based on the amount of meat I had
2. Spread the wet Mustard Seed. I know, I know it isn't a true dry rub since I add wet but you'll live. I like a little somthin' to help my seasonin' stick to my meat. I crushed a bay leaf and add it.
3. I cooked uncovered for a little over an hour at 350 F
     4. I then added the beef broth/stock into my roastin' pan and covered. I cooked for another 3.5 hours checkin' here or there to make sure all the broth didn't cook out. I did this at 300F
5. Now impress all your friends this summer. 

In Texas if you have to put BBQ sauce on someone's BBQ it is considered an insult to them. But, if you feel you must I recommend Snows sauce. You can read all about it here and see pics and links to the other products I mentioned. 

Watermelon Thump; Luling Texas

Watermelon Thump Luling Texas
Watermelon Thump Luling Texas Paqui Tortilla Chips yellowbird sauce
Watermelon Thump Luling Texas Paqui Tortilla Chips

This post is fueled by my Texan Roots and Ozarka

I pulled up to her house at 8:32. Thirty-two minutes later than I said I would. Would you expect anythin’ less? After all, I work on Southern time. A joke I made many weeks back when I was visitin’ the East Coast and didn’t understand why everythin’ moved so fast. The whole riders on one side, walkers on the other when takin’ the METRO escalator in DC utterly blew my mind. What’s was the point of an escalator if you were just gonna run up it? No, really, I’ll wait for that answer. But, I digress. Happens a lot I suppose.

We loaded up the Ford ready to hit the open 35 road. Hill Country was to be our destination; I have much Texas to see in my quest to be #TravelinTexan (ya know my viral Texas bucket list... the basis of my blog) and not an inch of summer was to be wasted- perks of bein’ an educator.

I’d never been to Luling and didn’t realize we’d be so close to Austin. Okay, maybe I did but figured if I famed like I didn’t know Steph would be more likely to tag along. It worked.  To Luling we were headed. The Watermelon Thump to be specific. I could just taste the watermelon covered in salt as we hit the road outta town.
Watermelon Thump Luling Texas

Watermelon Thump Luling Texas
Watermelon Thump Luling Texas
Watermelon Thump Luling Texas

We stopped once. Could it really be a hill country road-trip if you didn’t “have a Kolache when you drive through West?” Shh, Steph doesn’t like Czech Stop so we hit up Slovacek West. I’d been there and either was fine for me. All the while I munched on Paqui Tortilla Chips. The health benefits and gluten free locals boasted on the package in hindsight made me smile. All I cared was that they were Texas Made and tasted good. I lathered in Yellowbird Sauce doin’ my best to stay awake durin’ the four hour drive.
We finally hit Luling Texas home of the famous Watermelon Thump. I stared at the sky darin’ the clouds... darin’ them to spout rain in my direction. My excitement was tangible. I needed all the watermelon in my belly and all the photos on my camera.  We roamed around with childlike innocence. Each experience and person a new adventure we wanted to savor before it was gone. 

Watermelon Thump Luling TexasMr. Watermelon Thump Luling Texas
Shiner Bock Watermelon Thump Luling Texassaltwater chic boutique Texas Necklace watermelon Thump Luling Texas
watermelon Thump token Luling TexasI spent much of my time with one roamin’ question in my head: “Why Texas?” Truthfully, Ozarka wasn’t the first to ask this and I’m sure wouldn’t be the last. Seems every time someone new comes ramblin’ I’m asked what I love about Texas. I could fill pages upon pages the size of The Alamo. Honestly, it’s more than my birthplace, my state, my home. It is me.
It’s manifested in small town festivals such as Watermelon Thump.

And honestly It’ while I’ll never leave, why Texas will always be home. 
Watermelon Thump Luling TexasLuling Texas

Luling Texas:
Population: Just under 6K
Location: San Marcos River just outside of Austin
Watermelon Thump: Always the last Saturday of June
Texas Product; Jelly Queens; Snows BBQ; Taste Elevated

Texas Products

So, if you didn't catch on by now Ozarka sent me a few Texas products to munch on. Y'all already know I'm all about shoppin' local. The ones posted above I took on my trip and munched out on.

Ozarka: That delish water comes from Texas obviously. Ya'know East Texas has my heart and so does the water. Plus they employ thousands of Texans. That's my kind of business.

 Snows BBQ: When I saw the BBQ sauce in the box I was to excited. Eatin' BBQ at Snows is on my #TravelinTexan list. So, until I can make it out that way the bottled sauce will now have to do. Did you know they are always on Texas Monthly BBQ list as the best in the state. Pause, Texas BBQ week starts the 10th of July. If you don't know about it then I'mma need you to get on it. Every year I spend almost every day eatin' BBQ with bestfran Sherry. Essentially some of the best places in the state team up with Texas Monthly to provide deals. If you are in Dallas I recommend Pecan Lodge, Lockhart's or Peggie Sue's. Everyone knows I stalk Lockhart's, but all are fine choices. And Lockhart's is right by Emporium Pies. Some of the best pies this side of the Trinity River. For those not near Dallas click here to find a place close to you participatin'.

Jelly QueensTaste Elevated: Now, I'll admit I'm new to Jelly Queens and Taste Elevated. But I can't wait to use some of the items on our 4th of July cook-out Monday. Be lookin' for that post and I'll go in more detail.

I'd love to hear from y'all. What makes Texas home for you. #Fromhereforhere

Jord Wood Watches + Giveaway

JORD Wood Watches

As always all opinions and money shots be my own,

"Quarter in a payphone
Dryin' laundry on the line
Watchin' Sun Tea in the window
Pocket watch for tellin' time"

That song always plays in my head but I couldn't tell you why. Fittin' for today I suppose. As a yougin' I always did had a fascination with Daddy's gold watch. I'd sneak it out and try it on careful to place it back just right. Never did figure out what the love with Daddy's watch was other than it was his so I wanted it.

As the years have come and gone I find myself more conscious on the items I wear. I want to know their story, their place. I want to know their relevance in the world we live in. That why companies such as JORD have come on my radar.

The lightweight design coupled with the craftsman product is a winner in my book. Perfect for all my traipsin' around Texas bein' the #TravelinTexan.

So here's the deal y'all: There's a giveaway goin' on. JORD is offerin' a $20 coupon to everyone who enters and $75 to the winner. Why not get a last minute timeless piece for your Father or significant person. Or no judgin' if you just want one for yourself. Click here to enter. And all the lovely womens watches can be found at that link.

Giveaway closes 6.24.16 at 11:59 PM

Mens Wooden Watches
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