Friday, January 29, 2010

Small Town Amenities

Recently, I have discovered something in the small, semi-rural place called Oxford that has renewed my appreciation for Northwest Mississippi. Not that I ever had any bad feelings toward it--I just always considered it a temporary living space. A tiny store on the outskirts of town called "The Farmer's Market" has single-handedly managed to paint Oxford a sunnier color for me (does anyone else feel like it rains here more that it does in London?). This isn't a real farmer's market--that is only open from April to November, and it's more like a parking lot bizarre with tents and roadside vendors. This store is amazing, and I am addicted to it!

Here's where it started: I looked in both grocery sources for some leeks to make a soup with, and neither conglomerate had them! Go figure! So I told my facebook community about it, and one of my classmates says, "Have you been to the Farmer's Market?" She explained what it was, told me where it was, and I went, hoping to find some measly leeks. And I lived happily ever after. (Well, I did find the leeks...and an amazing assortment of other goodies!)

Not only is there a hoard of produce to gather (some local, but right now it's too cold for that), but there are also local meats, eggs, milk, bread, and cheese! I'm taking baby steps though. I bought the eggs, but I think I'm going to hold off on the milk, meat, and cheese for a while--after all, I am still on a graduate student "salary," and I can't get too crazy. But who says you can't splurge for special occasions!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Post-break blog

After the longest holiday break I have ever had (something like 7 weeks and some change), it's back in Oxford and back to work. But first! Vacation highlights!

I had a great trip with my parents and Uncle Russ to Scott County, Tennessee, the famed home of my dad's Great Uncle Jack, someone I never met, but has been made a legend in my mind thanks to my dad's stories. One involves Uncle Jack swimming down the stream in front of his house with a knife in his mouth to steal back some fish that his neighbor stole. Another is when the Hamblens had electricity wired in their house. The lightbulb in their lamp burned out, and since they'd never had electricity and didn't know what to do, they just threw the lamp away.

One of the daughters of Aunt Zoa (Uncle Jack's sister), Sandra, still lives on the old home place, and we went to visit her. She was very gracious and fed us a hearty meal of cornbread, white bean soup, hot dogs and sauerkraut, buttermilk, unsweet tea, meatballs, and millionaire's pie. It was quite the smorgasbord. After we ate, we walked down the hill to the old barn where my granddad had carved his initials several years ago. I joined my dad and my brother in the exercise.

After Christmas and New Year's celebrations (which were absolutely wonderful even though I'm not going into any detail), I went to France! If I only had two words to describe the experience, which is ridiculous because I'm obviously going to say more than that, they would be tasty and cold. I had a great time visiting Meagan in Brive la Gaillard, a town that is 4 hours south of Paris and 2 hours east of Bordeaux. I rediscovered the joy of simple roasted vegetables, ate my weight in bread and baguettes (after nibbling the end off, of course), and indulged in a variety of cheeses, wines, and sweets from the local boulangeries. We spent 2 days in Bordeaux, learned a little bit about the wine culture there, and walked our frozen feetsies off. For brevity's sake, these two photos are probably the best representations of my France-ifying.

Here you can see that, with tasty delights in hand, I am still 1/2 bundled in my winter gear and my feet are glued to the heater.

And in this photo we have been furiously cooking in Meagan's kitchen, which simultaneously warms our bodies and subsides our voraciousness. Yum yum!

So ends my winter vacation and begins the spring smack-down, brought to you by the institute of higher education.