South Carolina Getaway [Part 1]

Mister and I made it back from South Carolina just as the latest snow storm was hitting New York. It wasn’t the welcome back we were looking forward to, but after 8 days of traveling around it felt good to be snuggled up with our dogs on a cozy snow day.

This was part vacation, part family visit, and part Mister’s birthday present; we went to visit his parents [who split their time between Binghamton, NY and Surfside Beach, SC], with an added stop in Charleston to visit a friend while taking advantage of the cheaper flights through their versus Myrtle Beach.

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We ended up in downtown Charleston pretty late on Wednesday, and I was excited to see everything but also hungry and tired – add that to the fact that it was way colder than we were anticipating and I was getting a little bit cranky.

Mister spotted Poogan’s Smokehouse and it was exactly what we I needed.

Local IPA’s, live music, smokey pork belly, and a pile of BBQ. Two sticky thumbs up.

The next morning I made a quick trip to a local supermarket for yogurt, fruit, and muffins that made an easy breakfast. My biggest budget travel tip for anyone is don’t go to a restaurant for every meal – buy like you would at home. Bananas were a cheap snack that we could take with us, and smaller things like a box of granola bars and bringing reusable water bottles meant the snack/water break costs didn’t add up as fast.

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On our way from Charleston to Surfside Beach, we stopped at Drayton Hall. I’ve always had a love for visiting historic sites – particularly homes. Coming from New York, plantation houses have always been sort of a fascinating existence within the realm of history and Hollywood. While they are always associated with the dark history of human enslavement, they are also landmarks of a way of life, an era of American history, and a display of a culture I havn’t really gotten to “touch” in person before.

Drayton Hall is incredible in the sense that it is entirely preserved rather than restored. The building hasn’t been turned into a Disneyland approximation of how grand southern life was; its a house that holds so much history that even the vacant rooms breathe whispers of the lives that have passed through.

The preservation versus restoration issue was something that Mister didn’t quite understand; and coming from a History/Public History background, I wasn’t sure if it was something that didn’t really make sense to everyone else as well.

Preserve: They do the minimal amount necessary to maintain the house exactly as it was when it became a historic site. They interpret the paint colors as they were found, instead of repainting the house the original color from the first moment of construction. They point out where the outbuildings once stood, instead of rebuilding them for an easier tour.

Restoration: Bringing the building back to the way it looked when first built, or back to a specific time period. This includes furnishings being brought in or custom made, sometimes costumed interpreters, and often times erasing the changes that were made over time.

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Whenever visiting a historic site of this magnitude, I relish the opportunity to consider who built this house. Why? How? Where did the wood come from? Who made the bricks? Why was the house built in this exact place?

Imagine the first owners crossing the threshold. The last family to run down the stairs. The first tourists to open the door.

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After a few hours spent taking the formal tour and walking the grounds, we had to switch cars and found ourselves looking for food outside of town, in a highly commercialized area. It wasn’t looking promising.

I pulled up Yelp and did some serious reading before finding Boxcar Betty’s. Perfection. Small menu, specializing in chicken; fast, cheap, good.

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Turkey Feta Meatballs

Before going away for more than a day or so, there is always the challenge to clean out the refrigerator.  Mister and I are going down to South Carolina to visit his parents [snowbirds, not permanent residents] and to celebrate his upcoming birthday – which means its time to clear out the remnants of meals past and planned.

For dinner last night I googled a few ingredients from the fridge to see what I could muster and turkey meatballs came up and sounded like a nice change of pace. I didn’t have any spinach on hand, and wasn’t about to add anything to the stockpile, so I made up my own recipe.

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • half cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • two whole eggs
  • zest of one whole lemon
  • juice of half lemon
  • about 1/2 to 1 cup of feta cheese crumbles
  • Penzy’s Greek seasoning

Mix. Ball. Bake on a foil lined tray sprayed with non -stick cooking spray.

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While these were baking at about 400 degrees for 20 ish minutes – I put together some pasta salad.  Leftover pasta, cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, diced pepper, the other half of that lemon juiced, balsamic vinegar dressing that was nearly empty, the rest of the feta cheese.

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I’ll be honesty – I’m pretty hooked on these meatballs. Like I might’ve eaten a handful more before packing them up. Will definitely be making these for lunches in the future, since it was super easy and I feel like a pretty healthy options [maybe minus the feta and add some spinach].

 

10 Minute Meal for Two

While getting the ingredients for Valentine’s Day dinner extravaganza at The Fresh Market, I happened to see a pre-packaged meal kit in the produce section that piqued my curiosity enough for me to give it a try.

The meal kit was in a clear, plastic container and contained all the ingredients for a dinner for 2, to be cooked in 10 minutes, and cost $16.  At 6:30pm on Tuesday, they had two options available:

Shrimp Scampi with Squash Blend & Wild Rice Pilaf or Moroccan Harissa chicken with Squash Blend and Cilantro Lime Rice. Looking online , they have a few more options but all include a protein, vegetable, and starch.  In comparison to the Meal Kits that PeaPod offers, they’re based more on whole foods versus canned/packaged ingredients, and this one was certainly more affordable than most FreshDirect options.

The directions are printed right on the label for the kit, and were pretty straightforward. My only real gripe at the start was that the ingredients weren’t labeled. This might sound strange, but there’s an oil packet, two seasoning packets, and a sauce packets. Since the oil had been refrigerated, it solidified a bit – and I had to spend a few minutes just double checking the whole recipe with all the packets to make sure I knew what happened when.

Other than that, the whole recipe did really come together in 10 minutes, with one pan and the microwave.

I was nervous about the scampi sauce, since it was really sort of gloppy looking. But it was incredibly light, lemony, and not heavy at all.  Mister even thought that the summer squash in the bowl might’ve been lemon wedges by accident because it was such a fresh lemon flavor [in comparison to that slightly cleaning product-esque lemon flavoring found in a lot of pre packaged products].

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As I was plating it up, I got curious about the nutrition information.

Please note that the nutrition facts say 4.5 servings per container, when on the front of the packaging it very clearly says serves 2. What is the point in this??

I did some math [you’re welcome], and 260 calories x 4.5 servings = 1,170 calories in the entire kit. Divide that by 2 and you get 585 calories per serving. Factoring in that I left most of the extra sauce in the pan, I’m sure our actual calories were just slightly lower. Not bad, so why play around with the serving size information on the back?

Weirdness aside, it was a great meal that did cook in 10 minutes. Thumbs up Fresh Market.