The hardest thing for me to get used to in New Orleans is one of the things I like most about it. But I also hate it. It’s ridiculous.
See, I’m not a people person. I’m shy, and awkward, and really really don’t know how to handle it when strangers strike up conversations out of the blue.
Everyone is just so darn nice here. They all want to talk. They’re friendly. They actually wait, looking interested in your answer, after saying “hi, how are you?” I just want to run away and hide in the produce department until they’ve all gone. Maybe I could live there, among the collard greens.
My first visit to the local grocery store involved no fewer than four conversations with strangers. While I was just shopping quietly. First a lovely older gentleman asked me whether “that green stuff” I’d just put in my cart was kale. It was not. It was collard greens. Two pounds of them. Don’t judge me. At any rate, I took a few minutes to show the man to the kale, tell him how to cook it, and nod while he complained about his wife making him buy this crap she saw on “that food channel on the TV.” Okay, fine. I’ve got all day to shop, and food is a more than comfortable topic for me. I was even cheerful at the end of it.
So I moved on from produce. And as I picked up some soy sauce a teenaged girl in a hoodie came up and said “Hey, what are you having for dinner tonight?”
Surely she’s just mistaken me for someone she knows, I thought. But she looked so expectant. “Sorry, me?” I asked.
“Yeah. I don’t know what to make. Give me some ideas. My name’s Sam, by the way.”
“Um. I’m making tacos.” She looked pointedly at the soy sauce. “This is for tomorrow. Teriyaki chicken.”
This was followed by ten minutes of explaining and writing down how to make teriyaki. Again, this is in the middle of an aisle of the grocery store. By this point I was seriously befuddled. I don’t know what I would have done without my grocery list.
The third conversation was expected, at least. It’s normal for customers and clerks to chat in order to avoid awkward silences during check out.
Still. She took one look at my driver’s license and said “You ain’t from Dallas.”
“Dallas. That’s not where you’re from originally. You’re a small town girl. I can tell.”
It’s true, actually, though my small town in South Florida has gotten pretty big since I’ve moved away. At this point, I’d surpassed my ability to converse with strangers for the day. I had a ton of groceries, which seemed like a good excuse to go home.
Unfortunately, I had a ton of groceries. Unfortunately, everyone around here is unreasonably nice. So a random guy in the parking lot offered to help me load my car. While talking nonstop about football. (Thanks for the help, random guy, but to be honest I wasn’t even sure what sport the Saints played until halfway through that conversation*. Sorry.)
So basically, everyone here is very friendly and it’s very nice and I just want to hide in my apartment alone and talk to people on the Internet like God intended from now on. And bake blondies. With liquor in them. Everything’s better with moonshine, right?
Ingredients (makes an 8×8″ pan of bars, about 12-16 servings)
1 stick/8 T/ 1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T apple flavored moonshine. Or Goldschlager. Or just a nice bourbon.
1 C flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 T cinnamon
2 apples (I used a gala and a Braeburn, because that’s what was in the apartment)
1 C butterscotch chips (substitute nuts if you like. My way is less healthy, but way tastier.)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the butter and sugars in a mixing bowl.
Cream them well and add an egg.
Add moonshine, too. Mix just to combine.
Add the flour, leavenings, salt, and cinnamon. Mix just to combine.
Peel and chop your apples. (If Arctic Apples get put on the market, you’ll be able to do this ahead of time without them browning. I want to play with this feature.)
Add the apple bits and butterscotch chips (or nuts, if using)
Fold them into the batter.
Butter an 8×8″ pan and spread the batter evenly into it.
Bake at 350°F for 45-50 minutes. These are easier to cut once they’ve cooled, but it’s hard to wait that long.
They are ooey-gooey, tasty, apple-filled delights. Serve alone, or with a shot of moonshine (no, grandma, I’m not an alcoholic. The flavors are complementary.), or the very best way, with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream. Devour.
*The Saints do play football, right? I hope so, because otherwise I made an ass of myself in that convesation.