Well, friends, I hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth. As I said yesterday, The Beloved and I had an Excellent day. I will say that we didn’t actually plan anything. Shocking, I know. Here’s what happened. We decided at 11am that it would be lovely to go to The Beach. So, we finally got in the car at noon, knowing we had to be home by 10pm to feed the chill-ren. We headed southeast, figuring we would eventually reach the End of North Carolina. We listened to Kid Rock’s Rock N Roll Jesus CD in the car. Here is one of the tracks that is more or less G rated. Take a listen; it’ll almost be like you were with us in the car.
Before we quite reached the end of NC, we stopped in Kinston. Why? Because we saw a Brown Sign. For those of you who don’t know about Brown Signs, they signify Tourist Destinations. We enjoy a good Tourist Destination, as long as it’s not wearing mouse ears, so we thought we’d take a look. Here’s what we found:
This is what’s left of the CSS Neuse, one of only two ironclad Confederate gunboats in the Civil War. The iron was salvaged after the war, as were the engines and whatever else was easy to cart away. The rest of it sat in the muck at the bottom of a bend in the Neuse River until three guys decided to salvage it in 1961. I believe their names were Larry, Moe and Curly, because the story of the salvage was enough to make an historian (such as The Beloved) cringe. I shan’t go into all the Upsetting Details, but let’s just say it involved chainsaws and folks taking boards for souvenirs and other Unspeakable Acts that just don’t bear mentioning. Apparently historical preservation has only come into its own in the last twenty or so years.
The CSS Neuse has the singular distinction of being the only Naval Vessel, maybe ever, to have cavalry guys. Lots of the “sailors” were conscripts from the Army, and some happened to be cavalrymen. Kinda keen, huh? If you’d like to read a bunch more about the CSS Neuse, check out this site.
So, we kept going, seeing stuff like this
And a lot of this:
And then, we hit it. The end of North Carolina. Or one of the ends, rather. Atlantic Beach. Pretty, n’est ce pas?
We found a place to park and walked up the public access right next to some Orange Cones. We had inadvertently and without any prior planning stumbled upon the site of the Fireworks Display. We couldn’t stay because of the chill-ren, but I did take this picture for you.
And The Beloved got in the water. I just looked at the water, because I am not a fan of The Beach. Here is a picture of The Beloved. See how happy he is to be by the water? And look–he’s hardly swollen at all from the Oral Trauma of Thursday.
After The Beloved’s quick dip in the ocean, we hied ourselves off to Fort Macon, which was built in the 1830s I believe and was besieged by Union Troops during The Civil War. Please enjoy the photos:
Incidentally, go check this out and then tell me who the Cheetos people are marketing to, exactly.
Okay, so then we ended up in New Bern. New Bern is a Very Cool Place. It’s the second oldest city in North Carolina, and it used to be the seat of the colonial government before the Revolutionary War. Tryon Palace, an exact replica of the home of the first governor, is there and we will definitely be going back to check out all sorts of New Bern Activities sometime soon-ish. Because, we weren’t there for Culture. We were there for Cuisine. Or at least food. We ate at Captain Ratty’s. The name is a bit Sketchy, but it won an award for Best Decor in 2006, so there you go. The Beloved enjoyed Legendary Crab Strips. Really–that’s what the menu said. Legendary. I had something non-fishy, and we shared fried green tomatoes–the inspiration for yesterday’s post. There’s a big statue of a bear in a sailor suit out front, but my battery died. Here’s the last picture I was able to take:
On the drive back home, we listened to Kenny Chesney. We aren’t huge country music fans, although I’ve been known to sing along with I’d Be Better Off In a Pine Box, but this Kenny CD has an island vibe. It is Jimmy Buffet-esque. Take a listen to the Key Lime Pie song. We are finally coming to the part where we talk about key lime pie. Thanks for hanging in there.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jle9Pe2NWFg&hl=en&fs=1&color1=0x5d1719&color2=0xcd311b]
The history of key lime pie is Steeped in Mystery. Nobody knows who really came up with the definitive recipe. Chances are, the person who got the credit was the first person to write it down. There are a couple of things that are certain: there wasn’t any refrigeration down in the Keys until the 1930s, so there wasn’t any fresh milk. Authentic key lime pie is based on sweetened condensed milk. Also, there probably wasn’t a lot of fresh butter to be had (again, a refrigeration issue), so I doubt that the crust was a cute graham cracker one. I’m betting that it was a pastry crust–prolly even made with lard. I’m just guessing here. The filling contains yolks, so I’m also betting that they didn’t waste the whites: meringue topping it was. I’m not saying that a key lime pie made in a graham cracker crust with a lime curd filling and whipped cream topping is bad, I’m just saying that it’s not Authentic.
Authentic Key Lime Pie
makes one deep dish key lime pie
- pastry crust, blind baked until more or less completely done–it’ll only go back in the oven for a few minutes after filling.
- 2 14-oz cans sweetened condensed milk
- about 3/4 cup key lime juice, more or less to taste (get Nellie and Joe’s. It is The Best)
- 6 egg yolks
- 6 egg whites
- about 3/4 cups sugar
Whisk together condensed milk, lime juice and egg yolks. The mixture will begin to magically thicken.
Pour into the pre-baked crust. Bake it for about 15 minutes at 350F, just to set the custard.
Whip whites until foamy, and then gradually add the sugar until you arrive at Stiff, Glossy Peaks.
Swirl attractively onto the pie. Toss in the oven to brown the swirly tips of the meringue.
Cool and eat. Technically, you’d serve this at room temperature because, as we’ve discussed, there was no refrigeration in The Keys when this pie was first being made. Since you prolly have a refrigerator, go ahead and chill yours, and certainly store it in the fridge.
If you’ve never had key lime pie, do try the authentic version before Branching Out.