Home-cooked: Southern night

I feel fortunate that on the whole, I really enjoy what I do.  That’s not to say it doesn’t take some effort to haul my ass out of bed on cold winter mornings, or that I often loathe being cooped up all day, or that I question the way certain things are done.  But I believe in the larger mission of my company, which I understand as providing high-quality (both in content and form) book products to the educated general reader.  Since I work specifically with books on philosophy and cultural, Asian, and literary studies, and the myriad crossroads where they meet, it’s a good thing I also believe in the preservation of the humanities, even as I see my own interests slanting toward the social sciences.  I believe in my authors, who for the most part are ambitious, thoughtful, well-intentioned people, if a bit untimely with their manuscripts, inaccurate with their word counts, or naive about permissions.  Even if I don’t always have the time or brainpower to grasp the ins and outs of their arguments, I believe they have something important to say and that my job is to help them be heard.  Which sounds nice, but I’m not idealizing my job.  There are moments–ideas, discussions, sentences–that leave me elated.  But there is no denying that day to day, it’s gritty work.

The end of a particularly gritty work week demands comfort food, and in a fortuitous convergence of interests, my roommate EK was fancying a hearty Southern meal.  He was all over this 7 cheese mac and cheese after being inspired by one too many episodes of “Throwdown with Bobby Flay”.

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Southern night in the house

-The past couple weeks I’ve been working on my story every chance I get, leaving much less time for food adventures and blogging.  Plus, I think I also needed to recover from the all-out pizza fest in New Haven.  Last week’s highlight was another roommate dinner, which featured Southern food.  Gumbo, cornbread, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, a bulgogi-type beef dish (from the “South”…of Korea), and a chocolate bourbon pecan pie from Petsi.

Recipe for Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo from My New Orleans by John Besh.  I couldn’t find “smoked sausage” but chorizo made a fine substitution.  There wasn’t enough room for the amount of liquid called for, so the gumbo ended up twice as thick as I would have liked.  But taste-wise, it rocked!  We served it with some white rice.  Others who had actually had gumbo in New Orleans gave it the stamp of approval, and it was equally good the next day.

Sage and Honey Skillet Cornbread from Bon Appetit.  It infused the house with a very inviting smell.  This recipe makes the drier, more crumbly type of cornbread, even though the batter is quite runny.  I would consider adding 1/4 cup more milk next time.  But it’s simple and satisfying.  Cast iron skillets are wonderful creatures.

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More pics after the jump!