When I look back to my first few posts on Dixie Caviar, I die a little inside. The photographs, the recipes, even the writing, they all make me cringe. My first instinct is to go back and edit every. single. page. But then I have to laugh out loud and realize just how far I’ve actually come. My photography still has a long way to go (although Walt’s has vastly improved!), and my writing, well, when is anyone ever really satisfied with their words. I do think there has been some forward progress in those aspects, though. Isn’t that all you can ever really hope for?
But seriously — and I can’t believe I’m going to reveal this to you — before Dixie Caviar there was, in fact, another food blog. Way back in 2008, Kitch Potato is where it really all began. I had just ended my exhausting career as a ‘wedding planner to the stars’ and was blindly fumbling for the next big step. I wanted to do something that truly inspired me, something that made me proud. I had always enjoyed writing, and even more, eating. So I set out with my dinky point-and-shoot and a food blog was born.
The thing was, I barely even knew how to cook, much less how to work a camera. The fact that I figured out how to start a WordPress account is still a minor miracle. Despite those tiny details, I trudged forward. My first post on Kitch Potato was Ina Garten’s Shrimp Scampi. I have no idea why on earth I chose that dish. I don’t even know if I’d tasted shrimp scampi before then, let alone liked it. What followed on that blog was a hodgepodge of recipes, ranging from banana nut bread to buffalo chicken dip and everything in between. Some weren’t bad (although some weren’t good), and I definitely wasn’t bringing in readers by the droves!
So what does Kitch Potato have to do with Dixie Caviar? For starters, it became clear that I wanted a career in food. Unfortunately I wasn’t sure how or where to start, so I just kept cooking, and eating, and learning. I’ve always been a big believer in the whole “put it out in the universe” thing and as a result fate will eventually step in. (A little hard work doesn’t hurt, either.) Fate finally did appear and her name was Amelia Saltsman. Amelia was a well-known California cookbook author and in desperate need of a “savvy assistant.” I answered her call, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I suddenly found myself immersed in the exciting new world of farmers’ markets, recipe development, cooking demonstrations, and more. While I was learning so much professionally, however, I still hadn’t found my own food calling — in a personal sense, at least. Kitch Potato just didn’t have any real focus. Thankfully, four little words changed that for the better.
Amelia had recently returned from an annual food writers’ conference, so we hunkered down in the kitchen to transcribe her notes. Amelia thoughtfully reflected upon each writing session, and in the process generously passed her newly acquired knowledge along to me. I’m sure there were many wise gems shared at the table that day, but it was these that held a lasting effect: “Cook what you know.” I raced home down the Pacific Coast Highway with the words dancing in my head; it was clear now what I had to do. Two days later Dixie Caviar went live.
I was in desperate need of a compass, and Southern food became that much-needed guide. I seized the opportunity to explore my roots through cooking, delving deep into the food I knew. What started as a hobby became a full-blown obsession: I collected vintage cookbooks with abandon and haggled family and friends for treasured recipes. Slowly but surely, I found my purpose. Dixie Caviar not only became something bigger than me, it became a part of me.
Dixie Caviar has been a wonderful gift to myself in so many ways. I have tendency to begin things that I never quite finish — like history books, organizational projects, and laundry — so both starting and maintaining a blog is quite a feat for me. Just goes to show that if you love something enough, you’ll find a way to make it work. Another unexpected benefit is the constant connection between past and present, snapshots of my life now immortalized in cyberspace. Snapshots not only of meals shared and recipes cooked, but of happy times, sad times, and memories I might have otherwise forgotten. I’d always wished I was the journaling type, but again, the habit never seemed to stick (I have lots of pretty notebooks just begging for attention). Looks like I may have finally found my niche.
I still get butterflies each time I hit publish. Is the recipe delicious, the photography mouthwatering, the story interesting? Is anybody even going to read it? Or better yet, make it? Maybe they won’t. But with every post, I’ve got a new recipe, a new photo, and a new memory. And that’s enough for me.
Here’s to 100 more!
Lots of love,
Nana Dozier’s Chocolate Pie
It only seemed appropriate to celebrate 100 posts by pulling my nana’s famous microwave chocolate pie from the archives. It was my first post, after all. This pie will always remain my most cherished recipe; it was the first thing I ever baked as a child. I can only hope it will bring as many good memories to your table as it has to mine. Enjoy!
Source: Janie Dozier
Yields: 8 – 10 slices
1 (9-inch) pie crust, cooked and cooled
3 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Homemade whipped cream, for serving
In a large microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate on medium power for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sugar and flour and stir until combined (the mixture will be very crumbly). Whisk in the milk and eggs.
Microwave the filling on high 6-7 minutes, whisking every 1-1/2 to 2 minutes until it is very thick and smooth. Fold in the butter and vanilla until completely mixed and pour into the prepared pie crust. Refrigerate until set. Top with homemade whipped cream and chocolate shavings before serving.