I spent the first 20 or so years of my life in the West among cowboys and lumberjacks (and yes, I DO know all the words to the lumberjack song). But after that I ended up living in the South. That was something I hadn't planned on, for quite young, I married a Canadian pilot, expecting to continue the Western life, playing with airplanes and making a home in the mountains. But fate intervened, with those dreams going down in flames and I somehow ended up remarried and living in the South, on 40 acres with cows, a horse I named Elmer, and a couple of black labs.
The blending of the background of my acquired language patterns was a bit rough ("would y'all like seconds, aye") but I soon found my niche, mostly through my cooking. For just as Southern women know their elegant gentlemen:
Men in uniform
Men in tuxedos
They also know the three deadly sins.
Having an unkempt home
Having bad manners
Cooking bad food
But even after 10 years there, I never quite became a Southern gal. I never could get the exact GPS coordinates of "yonder" and didn't get a handle on exactly how much catfish, peas and beans made up a "mess of". They even tried dragging me off to a "beauty salon" ("I thought you said Saloon!!") and forcing me into big hair to have a portrait taken.
Still, although I picked up a slight accent over time, I was a "Northerner", favoring a six shooter and going west to play weekend warrior for my employer. I didn't do my nails, and after "BigHairGate" I got my hair done where I was based. Plus, I never could sit all the way through that classic Southern Chick Flick "Steel Magnolias". There's just not any good action in it. Maybe if I rewrote the script.
Shelby: Truvy, you know what you need in here? You need a radio, takes the pressure off of everyone feeling they have to talk so much.
Truvy: I had one once, but we took it out back to blow it up with some with C4. (KABOOM!!!) OK, time's up, time to take those perm rods out.
That's why I don't get to write scripts.
But the cooking skills and recipes I gained down south are some I treasure. Many of the dishes I'd never had growing up. Grits, Frito chili pie, biscuits and gravy, sweet potato pie and the growing lust for a small piece of fried dough known as the Beignet - which, in Home on the Range speak, is "happiness squared." I had it for the first time on a trip to Louisiana, and I never looked at a plain old donut in the same way again.
The word beignet (pronounced beyn-YAY) comes from the early Celtic word bigne meaning "to raise." In French it means "fried dough". They are a distinct New Orleans speciality, a fried, sweet dough, often cooked in cottonseed oil and usually dusted with powdered sugar.
They're sort of the early ancestor of the raised donut and when you hear people in New Orleans say "Goin' fo' coffee an'doughnuts", what they really mean is that they're going out for coffee and a little plate of beignets.
The coffee traditionally paired with them is café au lait. In New Orleans, that is strong dark roast coffee and chicory, served with equal part hot milk. Chicory was originally added to the coffee to stretch short supplies, but it was found to create a richer, smooth brew that is good on its own and works wonderfully with the milk.
There's only a couple of bakeries around Indiana that have them, but as they are best freshly made, hot with a soft, tender middle, why not make your own (recipe in the comments for now).
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They're a perfect pairing with that morning cup of coffee before a Steel Plate Shoot to give you a little energy. Because this "almost Southern gal" does know the fourth deadly sin.
A really bad grouping.