Tag Archives: deland

eat, memory!

23 Sep

I don’t know about you, but I have so many memories that are defined by food, and thought I would share some of those with you now and again. I had the opportunity to field this idea by friend and co-worker Jamie Fortune while on the road from Charlotte to Tallahassee last weekend, and was so delighted to hear some of the food memories from her family–I hope you will share your own in the comments below.

Canned Peaches, 2008

In 2008, my dad, mom, brother and I made our way back to Boise, Idaho, for my grandmother’s passing. Since my immediate family moved from Boise to Florida in the ’80s, we haven’t had too many chances to make our way back and so every trip there is precious to me.

During this visit, my parents, brother and I stopped to see my godmother, Grandma Marie. Grandma Marie is nothing if not at home in the kitchen, and for years sent family and friends boxes of goodies like peanut brittle and popcorn balls for Christmas. She invited us over for breakfast, and friends, if there is one thing I will never forget in my entire life, it is that meal. Homemade biscuits and gravy, eggs, waffles–and the piece de resistance, canned peaches.

Grandma Marie and her daughter Penny Nancy (Woops, other daughter–thanks, Mama!) pick peaches and can them just about every year, which makes every year I spent never having tried them add up to what I consider a gastronomic tragedy of untold proportions. If I could have willed my stomach to be bigger so I would never have to stop eating those peaches, I would have. They were perfectly bright and beautiful sitting in a small crystal bowl next to my plate–the sun coming in from the window shining off of the juice just so–and, on a trip otherwise marked by sadness and loss, they were heaven.

Three-scoop Sundae, 2000

Another thing many of you already know about the Welkers is that we have a deep-seated love for ice cream, and so it only makes sense that Friendly’s has played a somewhat pivotal role in my life. In fact, one summer during college I actually applied to work there, filling in the desired position as “Ice Cream Artist.” I hold a grudge to this day that they never called to interview me.

Fortunately, there was a Friendly’s where I went to school in Deland, and during the year my friends and I would make what you might call frequent trips for dessert–that is, until one day during my sophmore year.  I had rallied the troops for our normal ice cream trek, and seven of us drove across town to Friendly’s, where we were seated in a booth and chatted back and forth as menus were passed out. But when the waitress came back to the table, there was dead silence.

“Are you guys gonna order?” I asked.

“No, I don’t want anything,” someone said.

“Nah,” said another.

I sat there, confused, until finally one of them confessed: “We only come here because you like it so much!”

I swear to you, I stared at them with jaw dropped for what felt like hours as my mind tried to process the idea that anyone could not love ice cream as much as I do–but apparently, it’s true!

So, Dear Eaters, what memories do you have?

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cupcakes and cactus, together at last

9 Sep

Okay, so I didn’t actually have cactus cupcakes–but if you gave me one, I can now safely say I would try it. (New Life Goal: Become judge on Cupcake Wars episode featuring cactus as challenge ingredient.) After a weekend visit to one of my favorite Deland restaurants, de la Vega (formerly known as Penachos) and trying their huarache de nopal I am officially dubbing cactus “the watermelon of the desert.” What exactly is in huarache de nopal?

huarache de nopal

huarache de nopal, starring cactus!

“A delicious tender chicken breast baked with poblano, green and red peppers, spread with cream cheese and topped with a red mild sauce. Served on a savory grilled cactus leaf.”

Cactus has the texture of a moderately sauteed pepper, but a light flavor that really does make desert imagery (the Georgia O’Keefe kind, not the snakes, scorpions and death-by-dehydration kind) burst in your mind when you try it. This dish earns two and half noms. With de la Vega’s best-ever guacamole appetizer, I bump this experience up to a full triple nom nom nom!

And last but not least, I hope you left room for dessert, aka devils food cupcakes topped with marshmallows. My sister-in-law made these super cute and totally yummy concoctions for my brother’s birthday:

cupcakes w/ marshmallows

cupcakes w/ marshmallows

The recipe is featured in this month’s Real Simple magazine, but I think the basic idea is you add the jumbo marshmallows to the cupcakes during the last 2-3 minutes they’re in the oven. And guys, you know how good these must be when the following words come out of my mouth, but here it goes: Move over, Publix buttercream icing, there’s a new sheriff in town!