American by birth, southern by…Grace. A transplanted Virginia food technologist currently “sticking out like a sore thumb” in upstate New York, Grace writes her blog, A Southern Grace, with a fearless, rib-sticking twang. You never know what you’ll find on her counter – Peanut Butter-Banana Pancakes for the King, music and movie talk, an ode to Zukes and Maters. Modest enough to put Mr. Banjo Squirrel up there in her place, Grace’s motto is “prepare to laugh at me and with me,” and this southern girl – part science, part cook, part story – really means it.
How often do you think about eating?
My job is food-focused. My blog is food-focused. I personally prepare just about everything I eat and love to make things for others. Clearly, food is on my mind from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep, and sometimes even in my dreams. Those are good dreams.
I try to keep my coffee intake fairly regimented—on a (rare) day of good self control, I have only a mug of strong black coffee right after breakfast. However, I also feel a powerful urge to stop at every Dunkin Donuts I encounter. Oh, and when I need a good spoiling, only a white chocolate mocha will do.
Favorite hometown food?
My beloved one-stoplight hometown doesn’t really have much to offer as far as restaurant fare, but the home cooking more than makes up for it. It’s hard to pin down a favorite, but my grandparents’ church makes some really fabulous apple butter every year that goes beautifully with my mom’s delicious made-from-scratch biscuits. Home cooking’s better anyway—peas and dumplins, sweet potater casserole, apple pie. Mercy me.
Ever been served breakfast in bed?
I have not. If my lovah is going to make me breakfast, the last thing I want is to be uncomfortably hunched over a tray in my bed, awkwardly trying to eat it. The couch suits me just fine.
Your absolutely reliable, go-to dish for entertaining is:
Does dessert count? Banana pudding. There’re never any leftovers (which is unfortunate when you don’t serve yourself any at the meal because you’re planning on eating those leftovers…).
Food that makes you gag?
I don’t think I’ve ever actually gagged at any food in particular. If there’s a chance of gagging, I’ll just avoid it completely. I have, however, discovered a smell that makes my stomach turn–rotten spinach. It’s quite possibly the worst smell of all time. Honestly, it’s worse than decaying meat and cat urine.
Worst kitchen disaster:
What a silly question. My kitchen is disaster-free.
Seriously though, one of my most major errors in judgment came when I stuck a very hot glass dish under the spigot and turned the water on. I nearly peed in my pants when the dish shattered, I kid you not. Fortunately, all the pieces went into the sink (and not my eyeballs and other tender areas).
Three things in your refrigerator right now:
Your idea of a romantic meal is:
Breakfast in bed. (I kid.)
Let’s see. There would be candles–unscented, of course. Some tasteful music might be nice, but no other noises. An array of delicious food, none of which results in foul breath. I eat my share of dessert and part of his, too. What, gluttony isn’t romantic?
Secret snack of shame?
I refuse to be ashamed by my snacking. That said, I hide my candy corn and circus peanuts like they’re illegal. Truth be told, they probably should be.
Most ambitious thing you’ve ever done in the kitchen:
I took on the challenge of making the rehearsal dinner for my brother’s wedding party. After a few tears, some hair loss, and a little screaming, it ultimately consisted of a buffet of delicious, pride-worthy eats. The kicker was a masterpiece called the Cocoa Butterscotch Goombah Cake (and don’t ask me what a goombah is—I still don’t know). Lots of steps, lots of time, lots of energy, and lots of chocolate, and totally worth it in the end.
Best restaurant if you’re not paying:
The best higher-end restaurant I’ve visited is Mesa Grill. I won’t lie–if it were on someone else’s dime, I’d order everything that appealed to me. If you know my tastes and if you know the Mesa Grill menu, you realize how quickly that could add up…
If you were a cocktail, what would you be, and why?
The Ice Pick—simple, strong, and southern.
Extra Credit: Where is the world’s best pizza?
Brace yourself—I’m not a pizza lover. Really, the best I’ve ever had isn’t even close to authentic—it was a pita topped with corn, black beans, peppers, cilantro, tomato sauce, and pepper jack cheese from a little place called The Cellar in Blacksburg, VA (go Hokies!). Can that even still be called a pizza?