Monday, August 16, 2010

North Carolina and Banana Pudding

I wonder if it would one day be possible to detach Manhattan from its river beds and, like a giant cruise ship float it up and down the East Coast according to the seasons. In the fall we could coast up to Vermont for cider and maple festivals. In February, after we've had enough of winter, we could bob down to Florida for a little sun. In April we could return to New York for spring. July we set sail for Maine and enjoy cooler weather and fresh lobsters. And as I've recently discovered, August is the perfect time for North Carolina. 

I just returned from a whole week in the Outer Banks and it was bliss. We ate vegetables, grass fed beef and pork sausages from my husband's, uncle's, sister's 6th generation farm that she and her husband run in Virginia. We dripped peach and watermelon juice off our chins almost every day, became ice cream connoisseurs, searching for the best scoop until my mother in law and her husband came across a pizza and ice cream shop that makes their own, and declared it the winner. We ate fried oysters, plump scallops cooked in butter, and spicy shrimp in their shells. 

We ate till we cried out, "no more"! And then had dessert, banana pudding, peach pie, s'mores, lemon bars, and more ice cream.

One night Chris and I decided to go out, on a date, and after a little research found a place that prepared only local seafood. Just what we were looking for. If you are ever in Nags Head you must go try Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe. They use only fresh and local seafood and produce, and organic local chickens and beef. And they make some of the best, most moist and flavorful cornbread I've ever had. First Chris and I sucked down a dozen clams and a plate of fried green tomatoes stacked with goat cheese, a little mint/pepper jelly, and garnished with a large sprig of fresh basil, followed by the broiled seafood platter (to split) of crab cakes, flounder, clams casino, shrimp, and scallops. It was refreshing to be in a setting where "local" didn't mean pretentious or elitist, and came with an unobstructed panoramic view of the sound, along with a large birds' nest housing osprey, Ricky and Lucy, who also seemed quite pleased with the ample fresh seafood and excellent view. You can't get this in Manhattan no matter how talented the chef or creative the interior designer.

The week ambled on with tomato sandwiches, putt putt, boogie boarding, and bike rides until it came time to turn in the keys and Chris and I found ourselves back on Amtrak, annoyed by the chatty ladies who should not be sitting in a quiet car. 

Why must vacations end? And why must our room feel so small and noisy upon return? We will go back to NC, I'm sure of it. But since we are back in the Big Apple, maybe it's time to go to that Tapas restaurant Chris has been talking about. Oh, and my favorite pizza place sounds so good right about now! And I think I'll make that Indian dish for dinner tonight. And by the way, what's new at the farmer's market!? I've been gone a whole week. 

Maybe New York isn't so bad after all. But if anyone out there has experience in moving giant land masses, say, the size of Manhattan, feel free to get in touch-it would be nice to float down the coast for one last hurrah before the leaves start changing and we all start thinking about pumpkin pies and stuffing.

Our first dessert of the week was banana pudding because it's the south, after all. I'd never made it before and after reading a few recipes decided to go at it my own way, which turned out to be pretty great. It's so easy and so comforting, just like a nice shady seat at the beach with a whole week of freedom ahead of you.

Banana Pudding (serves 13 people)

Make three packages of Dr. Oetickers Organic banana pudding mix with whole milk. Pour into a glass dish and cool in the refrigerator for about two hours. When cool, whisk the pudding smooth and whip two pints, unsweetened, heavy whipping cream until firm and then gently fold into the pudding until it is completely incorporated. Then, arrange one layer of Nilla wafers on the bottom of a large bowl, layer on top of that sliced bananas and then about two and a half to three inches of the banana cream. Repeat the layering process, Nilla wafers, bananas, cream, until you end with a layer of cream. Garnish any way you like, with crushed Nilla wafers or bananas or nothing. Refrigerate for about four or five hours or overnight. Yum.

my mother kindly pointed out to me that maple festivals take place in the spring in Vermont. So scratch that idea. When I was a child however, I do remember going to a big farm in the fall and eating a giant pancake breakfast on wooden picnic tables under colorful maples, and there was lots of pure maple syrup to go around. This is what I was aiming for.


  1. I'm suddenly sad for last week. Seriously.

  2. Thanks for the great story and terrific recipe's brought back memories of the many summers I spent in Nags Head growing up.

  3. I have many fond memories of the Outer Banks from the sixties when we saw a National Geographic article about the area and took a badly needed end of summer long weekend there from PA where we lived at the time. I discovered hush puppies and she crab soup. Alas, no recipes. I love this blog.

  4. I remember that breakfast too. Liz was with us and we sat at a picnic table outdoors on chilly drizzly MARCH morning. That's my memory, and I'm sticking to it! Whenever it was, it's a great memory, isn't it!

  5. Mom! Why must you burst my bubble! Fine, you are right. I still think Vermont in fall would be a nice place to be.

  6. NC my home state! Isn't the Carolina coast beautiful? I had fried green tomatoes for the first time a few weeks ago and looved them. For your next visit, Beaufort, NC is a quaint and cozy historic town- you should go to the seafood fest in Oct!

  7. I know a great sugar shack in NH. Every March I went there and they would give samples of maple-based moonshine. Every March I got someone else to drive.

  8. Oh man. Okay, so maple season is in March. Maple moonshine sounds goooood.

  9. Roxy, we will have to go there! My birthday is in October so I'll do some research. Thanks for your comment!