Low Country Happy Meal


This has been one the best birthdays that I can remember…I am in a world class city by the water (Charleston, SC), my awesome phenomenal, loving, “chef” mother lives close by and there is a great network of like-minded friends here. This community nurtures the mind, body and spirit. In addition to feelings of home, comfort and calm, a sense of Re-Birth and growth has cradled me through these connections. Needless to say, I am grateful and feeling the love and joy.

It’s no surprise that I decided to stay local to celebrate my 44th. This is what we did!

Shrimp, Champagne, French Fries and Cyndi Lauper

Mom has been with me for most of my birthdays (most importantly the first one where apparently I was in a big rush to get into this world!). From Charlie Brown-themed parties, to Cyndi Lauper Punk Rock Sleep Overs, Catherine Diehl knows how to entertain.

This year she cooked for me! She has an extraordinary talent that comes from growing up around good food, her creativity, and her love of math and chemistry. She recently started a blog and the cookbook is on the way. Our family and friends have been the fortunate recipients of her Julia Child, Eastern North Carolina inspired cuisine for years.

When she asked what I would like, I gave her my standard response of oysters, champagne and fries. The plan was made to prepare this special meal and then I threw a wrinkle in the whole scheme four days prior by getting a hankering for fried shrimp. No problem, we will just change out the peanut oil!

The evening started with a bottle of Veuve Clicqot which is such a treat! The menu was simple: Fried shrimp, fries, and Ruth’s cold slaw. My mom’s friend Jim was on hand for fryer duty and to assist in the kitchen.

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**Provisioning, Recipes and Process

The double fried potatoes are sliced on a special mandolin to get just the right shape. The process is not easy. First you must soak the sliced spuds in water for at least 30 minutes to remove the starch. It is imperative that the peanut oil (which has a high smoke point) be at the right temperature. The cooking was done on our porch TEC grill which is superb for frying…this saves the kitchen from smelling like a fast food joint.

The fries were delivered crisp and salty and paired with a bottle of Perrier Jouet, not quite as smooth (and I am sure breaks some culinary commandment) as the Veuve but a suitable replacement.


Fries, check. Next up was the shrimp. Local, and HUGE, chef dipped them in eggs and cornstarch and dredged them in batter containing Atkinson’s Cornmeal (Since 1757, white, water ground, made in Eastern NC). It is the “best” and what my grandmother used. The crispy crustaceans came out perfect. With a side of homemade cocktail sauce (ketchup and Nasal Napalm), we were in heaven!


Granny’s Fish and Shrimp Batter

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup panko

A key lime pie rounded out the meal and I could not have been happier. Check out the prize I found in my “Happy Meal” in the form of a poem!

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