Friday, June 20, 2008

Strawberries and North Carolina

When we got to the store yesterday, they were selling local strawberries - they looked pretty good so I bought some. We ate them for supper last night. They needed sweetening, I added Splenda to mine and we opened a pot of Double Devon Cream. It is not quite as good as the clotted cream served in the south west of England, but it is a good substitute. We both thoroughly enjoyed our dessert making thorough pigs of ourselves. Delicious. To counter the cream I just ate plain broiled chicken for supper. Not too many points at all. What did I have as a vegetable? Asparagus of course!! I haven't yet turned green, but I might well before the end of the season.

I have often mentioned North Carolina in my blog, a place we have a soft spot for. We first 'discovered' NC in the 70s when we drove south with our travel trailer (caravan in England) and visited Plymouth, Mass and Maryland and then headed further south. We used to have a big book which listed all the camp sites and their facilities, big as a telephone directory for a city. We found a campsite which sounded good and was near the coast, called Pender Park. It was located between Jacksonville, NC and Morehead City, NC and our camp site was right next to the pool so we thought we were well situated. I was irritated that we had been travelling that day, it was my birthday. I must confess when we had our first quick look at Morehead City my reaction was "what a dump". But I wasn't at my best that day for health reasons too. Within a day or two we were very taken with the area and a friend we made on the campsite (he lived in a mobile home there) told us all kinds of places to go for swimming, fishing, eating and so on.

Actually, it was quite funny the way we met Al, he came down in his car and parked by us. Said "how's the pool?", we said "great" he went and had a swim then came back and said "it's freezing", Matt replied "have a beer" and that was the beginning of a long friendship. We spent a few days there and then headed back north again stopping at various campsites on the way. This was in September and we were staggered to find that once the kids have gone back to school people start closing things down. We went on one campsite in Virginia which would have been gorgeous, but they hadn't cleaned the toilet/shower facilities and they had closed the pool because it was the end of the summer. The fact that the temps were in the high 80s had nothing to do with it. The scenery is pretty impressive in Virginia and we were camping in the hills.

When we got home, we wrote to Al but never heard back. Two years later we decided to go look him up again. We ended up on exactly the same site, next to the swimming pool (the connections were still loose) and when we knocked on his door, there he was. He had told us there was a mobile home for sale two years before and we had decided 'no', but this time we wanted to buy and buy we did. An old mobile which was right next door to Al's. We had to re-carpet and put in new curtains, beds, furniture, etc. but it was ours. Al did a lot of the work for us and we came down again in October and did all the buying of furniture and beds and so on. That all took place in 1980 and we continued to visit regularly for the next 8 years. We also used to lease the trailer to friends for their vacations. Al would mow the lot for us to keep the place clean and tidy. We had some really good times there and made some wonderful friends. With the result, when we decided to retire, early, we bought some land and a much bigger double wide mobile home to live in. They are called mobile homes, by the way, because they can be moved although it necessitates putting wheels back on them and a big truck to haul them around.

It was on the Pender Park campground that we were first introduced to a Carolina pig pickin' as a friend and neighbour across the road had a pig cooker and used to cook a pig quite often. Then once we lived down there for a while, Matt started doing pigs for himself. They have an annual tournament in nearby Newport for the best cooked pig, you can buy a plate of 'barbecue' once the judging is over. Unfortunately they shred the pork and we prefer to literally "pick" the pork off our pigs and eat chunks or slices of meat.

The first October we went back to the trailer, we found all kinds of joke signs, Furniture for Sale, Matt's Dog House, a big Sprite advertising clock (actually very useful as a yard light, we kept it for years) and lots of other stuff. The site owners took it all seriously and said we couldn't advertise on the site!!! Quite funny really.

We used to party hearty when we got down there and one time, we didn't get off the camp site for three or four days with people bringing stuff (we had already bought liquor and beer on the way in) and we didn't get any groceries to speak of. One day everyone brought a load of scallops and Matt made Scallops Parisiennes for a bunch of people. Bay Scallops were pretty inexpensive at the time. Later I used to buy a gallon for $8 which I would split into portion sizes and freeze. The picture is actually Coquilles St. Jacques, but it is very similar in final appearance.

Scallops Parisiennes

We have had this recipe for years, I have no idea what the source was.

Serves: 6

1 glass dry white wine
1/4 Pt water
pinch of salt
1 sprig parsley
6 peppercorns
few slices of carrot and celery
1 lb scallops
1-1/2 oz butter
1 green onion
1/4 lb mushrooms
1 oz flour
1/4 pt milk
1 tbs browned breadcrumbs
a little melted butter

Put wine, 1/4 pt water, salt, parsley, bayleaf, peppercorns, carrots and celery into a pan. Bring to a boil. Add scallops and poach for two mins. Take out scallops. Reserve the liquor.

Melt butter in a pan, add the green onion, finely sliced, and the mushrooms cut into quarters. Cover and cook for about 5 mins. Draw aside and add the flour and the strained liquor from the scallops. Stir until boiling, simmer a few mins, add the milk by degrees, then reduce to a creamy consistency. Stir in the scallops.

Fill cocottes. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and a little melted butter and brown quickly under the broiler. It is recommended that real butter be used.

Serves 2 as a main course, 6 as hors d'oeuvres

Have a great day


  1. we call it 'escaloppes panées' ^^

    we do it with veal meet, chicken, turkey.

    see a picture with this link:

  2. I think you have the wrong end of the stick Gynie, this is scallops as in Coquilles St. Jacques - a seafood, not a meat.

  3. i am unmask, i'm not really english in my soul ^^

    but i do love Coquille st Jacques which are so expensive !