Traveling, or the desire to travel, has flowed through my veins for as long as I can remember. I feel it in my bones and it consumes many of my daily thoughts and dreams. I don't know how many of you feel this way; the urge to explore the unknown, to taste the unfamiliar, and to learn cultures entirely different than your own. I've seen many spectacular places in my short time and I feel like I've only made a small dent in my aspirations to see the world.
That feeling in me will always hold true, however nothing will ever feel better than going home. No matter how much traveling I do in the future or where I live in the world my roots will always be planted in my hometown in Central Florida. Pierson has one stoplight, one gas station, a general store, an elementary and high school, baseball fields where I grew up playing ball, an arena where I use to ride my horse when I was a little tot, a post office and hardware store where they call you by name, a small auto shop where they fixed many of the bumps and bruises my car received when I turned 16, and three places to eat; Pierson Family Restaurant, a pizza place and a BBQ stand where you can get the sloppiest most mouth-watering pork sandwiches you've ever had.
What I love MOST about coming home is my family of course. As much as I love our life in Portland, I miss my family immensely. That's why I decided to surprise everyone this past weekend for Labor Day, my Dad's birthday, and to see my Nana. Only my brother was in on the little secret, so we schemed up a plan. I loved seeing the look on everyone's faces as I just casually strolled into the living room!
I got to see my dad's new house which is a beautiful wood home perched in the middle of quiet woods with a wrap around porch. I got to laugh, stay up late, and talk with my mom into the night which is one of the things I miss most. I got to play (and fight) with my little brother and sister, I got to spend time with the people I love the most, and like I do every trip I got to eat. A lot.
That Saturday we had a fish fry which is something that I associate so much with home. There's so many memories I have of fish fry's, whether it was with my dad at the hunting camp or fishing in the lake out back of our house and bringing the catfish or brim up fresh and cooking them right then and there. We've always paired it with grits, baked beans, and juicy sliced tomato. Fried fish is something so easy and delicious to do and if you're not from the South many people have never tried it. I'm not a fan of baked or pan fried catfish or tilapia, but the second you fry it up it makes the world of difference.
My last day at home we went to Juniper Springs. The springs and it's surrounding pine scrub forest inspires parts of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' The yearling, which I grew up reading. Between the fresh, cold, irresistible blue spring water, oak hammocks and the churning water mill it's one of the most relaxing places to be. We took a walk to Fern Hammock Spring where there is more than two dozen sand boils percolating under this cute wooden bridge. A gator was just hanging out there! My worst nightmare is to think of gators in a clear spring that i'm swimming in, But it was still neat to see :) I'm looking forward to showing Thomas's family all of these beautiful places when they visit in November for Thanksgiving!
Dad's Fried Catfish
1) Rinse Fillets then cut in about 3 pieces per fillet.
2) Pat dry then sprinkle with Tony Catcheries Creole seasoning (or any other creole seasoning you have)
3) Roll in unseasoned fine corn meal
4) Heat oil in a fryer to about 350 degrees and fry until medium brown, about 4 or 5 minutes and drain on paper towels. You'll have to do several batches, so try and maintain the oil temp around 350.