So this past weekend my daughter and I decided to hit Charleston, SC. It was a “quicky” – since I had a long weekend we actually had a mutual day off, Monday, so it was down on Sunday, back on Monday. Now, Charleston is about a 3.5 hour drive from our house – except for Sunday. We were about 30 miles into the trip when we started seeing signs that said that the interstate was closed at Exit 83 – no other information. Now, I’ve driven down that section of interstate a few times, but I’ve never gone anywhere around it, so when they suggested a detour, I was a little worried. Normally I travel with a plethora of maps – a legacy from my dad. But this time I’d Googled the directions and hadn’t brought any maps – besides, I don’t think I would have foreseen the need for maps of Ft. Mill/Rock Hill, SC!!! Traffic was quite light, so we figured “How bad can it be?” One hour, and one mile later, we knew just how bad it could be! We pulled off at Exit 83 – the interstate was a huge, 4 lane parking lot – and pulled into the first gas station in sight to get a map and there actually were some left! We asked why the interstate was closed. Turns out that one of the big message boards that are used for Amber Alerts and other road related messages had fallen – across all 8 lanes of the interstate!!
We got back in the truck and headed for the detour. When we got to the freeway onramp, we could see that the traffic was starting to move. Figuring that even slow interstate traffic was going to be a 2-lane local detour, we got back on the freeway. Yes, I suppose it was faster, but the rest of the way to Columbia, SC was a yoyo from 35 mph to 80 mph. Just when you’d think you were well on your way, someone would brake for some obscure reason and everyone else would follow suit. In the end, it took us 5 hours to get to our hotel. Fortunately, our plan had been to just veg at the hotel, so we didn’t miss out on any reservations.
I fell in love with Charleston. Charlotte is a nice city, but it is embarassed about its history, and in a hurry to prove itself a “modern” city. Almost every historical building has been pulled down to be replaced by a modern high rise, leaving the city with no sense of identity. Charleston, quite the opposite, has embraced its history and flaunts it. Historic Charleston is almost like a visit to the past, cobblestone streets, flagstone sidewalks that are cracked and uneven from age, a fantastic market place, unique architecture, and that easy pace of life. Probably my favorite part was sitting in the local coffeehouse, looking out the double doors (which would be open in warmer weather) and enjoying an absolulely fantastic mocha. I could get used to that!
I’m sure you’re wondering where the food is by now…. well here we go!!
My daughter and I have bounced business ideas off of each other frequently, with the result that we could easily have a dozen ventures going – if we had the money!! This time, over breakfast at IHOP, we discussed one that is probably the most appealing to me yet – a spa/hotel/restaurant/shops retreat. My biggest problem with having a restaurant however, is that there needs to be some consistency to a menu, but I have so many things I want to try, and I’m sure I’ll find more!!
Over the course of that breakfast hour (at 11:45 am, so just barely breakfast) we laid out a complete high level business plan, complete with a basic menu – and plenty of room for improvisation. One of my most favorite things is to go to the local farmer’s market and get what ever is available – and create a menu based on that. We built that into our menu for the retreat. I don’t know how this will come about, or when, but it’s now on my “Bucket List”.
And for a little bit more food. My parents visited us for 8 days over the Thanksgiving holiday. Now typically we just cook 3-4 days a week and eat the leftovers the rest of the time. But with my parents there, it meant cooking for almost every meal. I also had to work part of the time that they were there, so it was necessary to come up with some quick meals. This one seemed like a good idea at the time, and turned out to be a raving success. Part of what made this so easy for me is that my daughter works at Trader Joe’s, and all of these ingredients were readily available, including the toasted pecan pieces, already toasted and already pieces. I made it again at Christmas when we were at my parents for all the family, and everyone thought it was fantastic. The secret is in the spices 🙂
Easiest “Gourmet” Breakfast Ever (serves 4)
Buttermilk pancake mix
1 pkg frozen mangos, thawed
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp cardamom
pinch of chili powder
pinch of salt
2 TBS raw sugar
toasted pecan pieces
Put the mangos in a saucepan. Mix the cornstarch with enough water to make it pourable. Add to mangos, and add chili powder, salt and raw sugar. Bring to a boil and cook until juice is clear. Set aside and make pancakes. Pour fruit over pancakes, put a spoonful of creme fraiche on top, and sprinkle with toasted pecan pieces.