It never fails when I go home to Tampa for Breaks my family gets together with close family friends and eat! Sometimes its for special occasions like Birthday parties or Graduation parties.
But most of the time
its just a time to get together, eat,and entertain. The Graves live in a hand-built log home in Tampa. It is beautiful and a great place to entertain. They have a living tree that runs through their living room! The Graves and my family are tied at the hip - We truly are the same family!
We recently went to North Carolina for the second year in a row. We stay in a small town called Franklin and it is the perfect getaway from our stressful lives. The house we rent is tucked 30 minutes up in the Pisgah National Forest. Its a place where you can sit and relax on the front porch with a nice cold glass of lemonade, rocking away in a rocking chair.
Franklin every Saturday during the summer has a musical event called "Pickin in the Square."
Local bands play a variety of music - blues, jazz, country, classic rock, etc - local vendors sell
homemade ice cream and candy, and little kids can run around having fun. Our families act like little kids so of course we danced the night away and took part learning the art of Hula Hooping :) It was a great time and it turns out the boys were pretty good at it!
Another reason I love going to North Carolina for a vacation is the local grown produce. For some reason if you pick the blueberries and blackberries off a bush and then come
back to the house and make a homemade pie - it turns out to be the best thing you ever ate. North Carolina has the most abundant
fresh produce that is just asking to be brought back to your kitchen. Their local Wild Mountain Honey adds sweetness to any dish while their juicy tomatoes are so fresh that you can eat them like an apple. Food is much more appreciated when simple flavors and local ingredients are incorporated.
We went on some new adventures this Vacation - pontoon ride on a localLake, Trout fishing, and of course visiting waterfalls! The pontoon ride was amazing!
We rented a boat and packed an awesome lunch to enjoy while tubing and relaxing in the valley of the Pisgah Forest. The houses were so beautiful with large front porches and windows everywhere! Waterfalls a
nd dams were scattered around the HUGE lake.
When we went trout fishing it was a new experience in itself.I am not a very big fisherwoman. I love eating fish and seafood but waiting for one to bite my line?....not my thing. But I wanted to give it a try! We ride into town and go into the local visitor center trying to find the BEST trout farm. We got back in the car and drove a couple miles to a house. The lake was the size of a swimming pool and it looked abandoned.We all looked at each other and laughed. On to the next trout farm...hoping that it isn't in someones back yard. We pull up to a really cool farm that has a little restaurant attached and sledding slides that huge inter tubes raced down.
The trout farm was a little bigger than the front yard pond we were at before, so we got fishing poles and baited up our hooks. All 10 of us threw in our poles fully baited but....nothing. 10 minutes passed....nothing. 20 minutes passed....sti
ll nothing. We were starting to give up hope because we couldn't catch 1 fish in a completely full lake.
FINALLY after 30 minutes, my boyfriend
Ryan caught one.
Then one by one everyone starting catching trout! We caught 12 total and had them cleaned and were very excited to get home and put them on the grill!
Steve put onions, salt, pepper, and olive oil in the cavity of the trout and covered it with foil. Placed the fish right on the grill and grilled the fish to perfection. We ate the perfectly tender trout out right out off the foil. We served it with cheesy grits and garden grown zucchini that was in the back of Grammy's garden. The zucchini was about a foot long in length! Steven cut it lengthwise -
seasoned it with salt and pepper and placed a thick piece of bacon on the flesh side. Just like the fish, he grilled it to perfection and it was so yummy!
I am pretty sure my passion for cooking comes from all the amazing cooks in both my family
and family friends. We see cooking and eating as a way to all come together and enjoy good food and company. Its something I will carry on with my own family!