Finding My Voice

by Nealey on March 31, 2014

Pardon Our Progress 3

Yes, I know it’s been awhile, and I do apologize for that. Please don’t think I have been ignoring you. It just seems that after years of hiding behind a computer screen, blogging to an oftentimes quiet and unknown realm, my creative juices finally started to wane, with any inspiration I did muster up being channeled away from this site.

I made plenty of excuses (does getting married in Malibu count?!) to conceal the truth, but in my heart I knew my fire was fading. Then, as if on cue, came the spark I needed to feed the flame. I’d always held an unspoken desire to teach cooking classes but if left to my own devices I would have never tried. So when the opportunity arose last year, I accepted. You never know if you can fly until you jump, so I decided to leap.

Looking back on that first class I just have to laugh, because boy was I shaking in my chef’s coat. My standard issue Sur La Table jacket was super-sized and shapeless, just like when I played dress up in my daddy’s pilot uniform, except this time it wasn’t pretend. I was so terrified my students wouldn’t take me seriously upon their first glance!

I’ve taught countless classes since that awkward first day, and I can assure you that now the only jitters I get are from one-too-many Nespressos. I’m even rocking a proper fitting chef’s coat, and this one hangs in all of the right places. The only thing missing is my own nagging self doubt, which, thankfully, I expunged ions ago.

So where’d this newfound confidence come from? Because teaching helped me rediscover my voice! By interacting with real faces, some familiar and some new, I remembered why I fell in love with cooking in the first place…

Each class is different yet each class the same, strangers all self-consciously chopping and mincing their way through a recipe, glancing around hoping they’re doing it right. But as the wine starts to flow so does the conversation, and finally their walls begin to crumble. Teams come together, sharing in their successes and learning from their mistakes, a new bond consummated as they finally break bread.

It’s amidst these real-life episodes that I hone my role as commanding officer, head cheerleader, and goofy sidekick. Together — my fearless kitchen assistants by my side — we march into another day, another battle. It’s here, at the center of the action, where I thrive, doing my part to unveil a few of the great kitchen mysteries. My hope is always this: that each student walks away more confident than before, better equipped to win a lifetime of culinary battles.

And while I find great joy in watching my students learn, teaching is so much more than that to me. The truth is that I myself have a lot to learn, and with every unique experience comes a new chance to grow. Some days require every ounce of my patience, while others require me to think on my feet. I may never know how a situation might unfold, but as the leader I must strive to preform at my best.

I am telling you all this because I finally feel a renewed sense of purpose. Becoming an instructor has allowed me to recharge my batteries and gather my thoughts, and to remember why I started this blog in the first place. There are so many new ideas I want to share with you here, because the thing is, I don’t want Dixie Caviar to be “just another food blog.” More than anything I want Dixie Caviar to be an online community, a food-loving, party-hosting meeting of the (Southern) minds. Are you in?

I am currently in the process of moving my content to a new platform, and I cannot wait to reveal all of the exciting changes with you. (Visual recipe index, what?!) Look out for a bigger, better Dixie Caviar in the very-near future. Stay tuned, and I’ll see you guys on the other side!!

Nealey Dozier (now Thompson!)


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Valentine’s Day: Gifts That Last

by Nealey on February 12, 2014

Valentines Day Gifts That Last - Dixie Caviar

Why give flowers that die or candy to eat when you can give a Valentine’s gift that will last a lifetime. Here are some lovely little things to share with your lover, gal pal, or — more importantly — yourself. (Walt, I hope you’re taking notes!)

1. Succulents – If you’re anything like me then house plants don’t stand a chance. Thank goodness for succulents, which are so low maintenance even I can take care of them. The Sill is a super cool website that offers a variety of sizes and shapes for any style and budget. {Image: Say It With Succulents}

2. Framed art – Collecting art seems like such a grown up (not to mention expensive) endeavor. Thankfully there’s an app for that! Gift a unique painting you discovered on Etsy, frame a favorite picture using Minted, or turn an iPhone photo into a watercolor work of art with Waterlogue. {Image: Minted}

3. Champagne coups - Sparkling wine will never go out fashion and neither will Gatsby-esque glasses. It doesn’t matter whether you’re drinking André or Veuve when sipping out of these delicate coups, because at least you’ll be sipping in style. {Image: Sur La Table}

4. Delicate gold chain - Why wear your heart on your sleeve when you can where it on your neck? What could be more timeless than this simple gold necklace, which is just as lovely worn alone as it is layered with a few old favorites. {Image: Zoe Chicco}

5. Candles – I am absolutely obsessed with Glassybaby candles. Not only do the handblown votives come in hundreds of totally gorgeous colors, but part of the proceeds — almost two million to date — goes to help others in need. The only downfall? How can you ever choose just one! {Image: Glassybaby}

 {Watercolor heart image: OutsideInArtStudio}






Recipe: Chopped Salad & Creamy Italian Vinaigrette

by Nealey on September 18, 2013

2013_09_16-ItalianChoppedSalad-DCHave you ever spent months, years even, trying to replicate a recipe from a favorite restaurant? I’ve been trying to perfect this chopped salad since the day I first tasted it at my beloved red-sauce Italian joint in L.A., and I’m proud to say I think I finally nailed it. (Sans the red checkered tablecloths.) …Continue reading at The Kitchn


Zac Brown Band: Legendary Musicians & Foodies!

by Nealey on September 12, 2013

Zac Brown Band

Have you ever had an ‘oh-my-God, who have I become’ moment followed just as quickly by an ‘I wouldn’t change my life for second’ moment? As Walt and our buddy Matt bolted out the door the other night headed to an Allman Brothers concert, I jumped up to intercept them in the kitchen: “Guys, do y’all have some snacks packed? Do you need me to make something really quick? You’re going to be boozing and there won’t to be any decent food!” As I quickly loaded up a Tupperware filled with pulled pork wraps and chicken salad sandwiches, I couldn’t help but acknowledge the difference ten years can make in a girl’s life.  [click to read more...]


Recipe: Parker House Sausage Rolls

by Nealey on August 29, 2013

2013_08_29-ParkerHouseRolls-1-3When Sister Schubert’s Parker House rolls appeared in grocery stores everywhere, busy cooks around the country rejoiced. Even the most seasoned bakers had to admit that hers were as good, if not better, than most homemade… Continue reading at The Kitchn