Last year, I launched a monthly feature so I could share some of my current l-o-v-e-s with y’all.

Today marks the first of September, so I wanted to recap all of my August adores before we get too into this new month. (Which happens to be my birthday month, huzzah!)

To recap, I share my version of a potluck, as defined by the folks at Merriam-Webster:

the regular meal available to a guest for whom no special preparations have been made… a communal meal to which people bring food to share —usually used attributively <a potluck supper>; whatever is offered or available in given circumstances or at a given time.

Near the end of every month, I write up a list of my (current) loves. While this list might not be a traditional “meal,” I hope to provide some unique and interesting stuff (products/entertainment/links/etc.) I’ve recently loved in the hopes that y’all will enjoy them, too.

Who’s ready to recap August?

Let’s do this thing!

The Potluck: August 2015 | Continuing the monthly tradition, I bring y

Please note that some of the links listed below are affiliate links, meaning if you were to make a purchase through one of these links, I would receive a small commission.  Thanks for your support of The Speckled Palate!

1. Lattes: It’s about the little things in life, and I’ve been enjoying my fair share of lattes recently. Coffee chain lattes? I’ll take it iced and to go. Boutique coffee shop? I’ll hang out a while and enjoy this gorgeous cup.

2. Ban.do Florabunda Large Planner Agenda: I’ve officially jumped on the paper planner bandwagon, and while it’s taking me a little while to get the hang of it, I’m ADORING being able to make notes in pen on a planner. I particularly love this Ban.do one because it has so many fun additions and has more than enough space to jot down notes on a weekly and monthly basis. Now, to get all my appointments jotted into it and start using this thing for the greater good!

3. The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden: One of my friends invited me to walk with her and her son this month at the Arboretum, and it was all kinds of lovely. I have no doubt we’ll be back walking more when the weather cools down a bit and when we can take some photos of Lady Baby with pumpkins!

4. Exploring Dallas (and eating all kinds of good food): I love exploring my city, and since Lady Baby is pretty happy to come along for the ride, I’ve been visiting and trying all different places this city has to offer. A friend and I have a set lunch date. And whenever someone is visiting? That’s cause for celebration and trying something else new!

5. Air travel: Lady Baby and I hopped on a plane to surprise my mom for her 60th birthday. I was terrified about this, never having traveled alone with her before, but it was incredibly easy. Not only were the people at Southwest fabulous, but my fellow passengers were so helpful and kind as we trekked to Memphis and back.

6. Birkenstock Women’s Gizeh Thong Sandal: Winston purchased me a replacement pair of these beauties (which I originally purchase during my summer in Italia nine years ago) for Christmas… but my feet were too swollen because of pregnancy to know if they’d fit. I made him send them back, afraid my feet would change sizes forever. (After all, we all know someone whose feet got bigger during pregnancy.) Well, the swelling has gone down, my feet stayed the same size, and my new pair of Gizehs came in this past month. I’ve been breaking them in and am oh-so-happy to have my favorite sandals to wear again!

 

What did you love in the month of August?

Curious about other things I’ve loved? Check out my previous potlucks: October 2014 | November 2014December 2014 | January 2015 | February 2015 | March 2015 | May 2015 | June 2015 | July 2015 | August 2015

  • EriniSeptember 1, 2015 - 10:57 am

    I love the ban.do planners! I’ve got that same florabunda in the smaller hard-bound version. It’s one of my favorite things. :)ReplyCancel

Tart and delicious, the Pimm’s Cup is a classic New Orleans cocktail. Made famous in the Big Easy at The Napoleon House in the 1940’s, this summer drink is refreshing and perfect for cooling off after a warm day.

Tart and delicious, the Pimms Cup is a classic New Orleans cocktail. Made famous in the Big Easy at The Napoleon House in the 1940s, this summer drink is refreshing and perfect for cooling off after a warm day.

Wednesday, I talked about what I did the day before Katrina. I owned that stress cooking and made enough spaghetti and meatballs for an army of college students.

Today, on the eve of Katrina’s 10-year anniversary, I want to share what happened after.

I bunkered down at a friend’s boyfriend’s apartment — he didn’t want any of us staying in our old houses because of potential flooding or a tree falling — and we weathered the storm in his casa with several of our close friends, going to sleep late Sunday night after staying glued to the news as the hurricane’s outer bands began dumping rain on the state.

Overnight, Katrina took a more northeastward path, sparing New Orleans from the worst, but leaving a trail of devastation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the process. (Three years later, I’d be working in Hattiesburg, one of the cities in South Mississippi hit hardest by the storm. The eye of Katrina actually came through the town, so it was in the direct path of her fury.)

The morning of the 29th, it didn’t seem too horrible — we were focusing on New Orleans, after all, and hadn’t seen images from Mississippi yet — when the levees broke.

And then all hell broke loose.

Tart and delicious, the Pimms Cup is a classic New Orleans cocktail. Made famous in the Big Easy at The Napoleon House in the 1940s, this summer drink is refreshing and perfect for cooling off after a warm day.

I was lucky in Baton Rouge. While our power went out, we had a generator, so we were able to stay cool and watch the news. We stayed up-to-date as we watched this travesty play out in real time. We did our best to stay upbeat and keep our friends who were from New Orleans and the surrounding parishes sane as they desperately tried to reach their families. (Everyone was OK, but the hurricane wiped out cell phone towers, so it was near impossible to call out unless you had a landline.)

We volunteered and took part in the relief efforts happening on campus. My friends and I were among the volunteers who helped the first waves of New Orleans post-Katrina evacuees, and when we were prepped for the evening at the PMAC, we were told to expect the worst, including people clinging to life and people who had died.

We ended up taking care of a group of senior citizens rescued that night, and I spent time with a man who was originally from Memphis, my hometown. Mr. Bill and I talked about our high schools and what brought us to Louisiana. As I wrote in my journal, “I was so scared before the people got to us because I thought that for sure we’d have to take care of people bleeding, etc. It was a blessing to talk to Mr. Bill about Memphis – he definitely made my evening and I’d like to think that I made his a little better.”

Tart and delicious, the Pimm

The Katrina semester — yes, that’s what we call it — was my first at The Daily Reveille, LSU’s student newspaper, and I should’ve been working, photographing the relief efforts happening on campus and around town. Instead, I called my editor and cancelled, scared because of the rampant rumors flying around about safety concerns on campus, looters, murder and other nonsensical things that seemed like the truth at the time.

To this day, I wish I’d been brave and gone out on those assignments, even though I have no clue how they would have played out or would have affected my career going forward.

But to this day, I’m proud that I stepped up and volunteered, even if I doubted about my ability to make good decisions and stay safe behind my camera during an assignment.

Tart and delicious, the Pimm

When I think back to the madness of Katrina and how it changed so much, I think about what I wasn’t doing, too. I wasn’t working — because I was scared — and I wasn’t drinking — because I wasn’t 21, and drinking didn’t really hold the lure to me like it did some of my peers.

That semester, I spent more time with my newspaper colleagues, worked longer hours, discovered my love for photojournalism and was introduced to new things, including cocktails.

Tart and delicious, the Pimm

Since I’ve shared the recipe that takes me back to the day before Katrina, I wanted to share a recipe that reminds me of present-day New Orleans and the vibrant culture and people who love and live in the city. Those are the same people who helped rebuild and bring the Big Easy back after it suffered so much devastation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Of course, this recipe is a drink. An English one, and one that was introduced to me by friends when we were hanging out in the Quarter one sunny afternoon.

The Pimm’s Cup was first made popular in the United States at The Napoleon House, a bar in the French Quarter that has a rich history. The first occupant was the mayor of New Orleans in the early 1800’s, and he offered his home to Napoleon during his exile. And even though Napoleon never made it to New Orleans, the name stuck, and the bar became a gathering place for creatives throughout the years.

According to New Orleans lore, the cocktail was served because it’s refreshing, light and not too strong.

Every time I visit New Orleans, I pop into The Napoleon House for a Pimm’s Cup. And while my recipe is a little different than theirs, it’s just as refreshing:

Pimm's Cup
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Tart and delicious, the Pimm’s Cup is a classic New Orleans cocktail. Made famous in the Big Easy at The Napoleon House in the 1940’s, this summer drink is refreshing and perfect for cooling off after a warm day.
Author:
Recipe type: Cocktail
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1½ oz. Pimm’s No. 1
  • 2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 8 oz. ginger ale
  • Cucumber, to garnish
Instructions
  1. Add ice to a large drinking glass. Pour in the Pimm’s No. 1, then the lemon juice.
  2. Sprinkle in the sugar, and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Pour the ginger ale into the glass.
  4. Stir.
  5. Garnish with cucumber, and enjoy immediately.

Tart and delicious, the Pimm

It’s hard to believe that Hurricane Katrina made landfall ten years ago. It’s hard to believe how much has changed. It’s hard to believe how many lives were forever altered by the storm and its aftermath.

And it’s hard for me to believe that the communities that were all but washed away have come back just as strong, even though scars from the storm are still visible in both South Mississippi and New Orleans.

So tomorrow, on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I’ll reflect on life as it was, as well as think about life now and the future. I’ll wonder what stories of the storm and its aftermath I will share with my daughter when she asks about it… if she asks about it. I’ll read articles shared by the people I love commemorating this 10-year mark. (I particularly love this editorial by a friend and former colleague, as well as this video of 9- and 10-year-old New Orleanians telling what happened.)

And more than anything, I’ll appreciate these last ten years and what I’ve learned.

  • Traci | Vanilla And BeanAugust 29, 2015 - 11:02 am

    Thank you for this, Erin. A personal account of a historic event is incredibly enlightening. I am so glad you were able to find safety with your friends and had the courage to volunteer. You and Mr. Bill needed each other at that point in time.

    I’ve not tried Pimm’s, but that needs to change! This looks so refreshing and absolutely delicious!ReplyCancel

Classic beef and Italian sausage spaghetti and meatballs makes the ultimate comfort food. Tossed in a simple, flavorful tomato sauce and served over angel hair pasta, it’s hard not to love this dish.

Classic beef and Italian sausage spaghetti and meatballs makes the ultimate comfort food. Tossed in a simple, flavorful tomato sauce and served over angel hair pasta, it

Ten years ago this week, a storm was brewin’, and I had no idea what was about to happen. As a Tennessean and as someone who’d never actually experienced a hurricane before, I didn’t have a clue, other than I assumed it would be like an extended tornado. (Thank goodness it’s not like that. Tornadoes are terrifying, y’all.)

There’s no way any of us could have known what was about to happen.

At the end of the first week of the fall semester, LSU announced classes would be cancelled the following Monday because of the storm. I was in the photo lab, printing a few images for my advanced photo class, when one of my classmates announced the news. We were all excited because it meant we’d have a long weekend. And we were all excited because none of us actually expected the hurricane to hit.

We’d been lucky previous years. No hurricanes came close enough to merit class cancellation my freshman year. My sophomore year, we were granted time off for Hurricane Ivan, which hit the Alabama coast. We didn’t see a drop of rain.

I assumed Katrina would be the same.

Classic beef and Italian sausage spaghetti and meatballs makes the ultimate comfort food. Tossed in a simple, flavorful tomato sauce and served over angel hair pasta, it

As the weekend progressed, I became more nervous as the storm grew nearer, becoming an imminent threat.

The thing was… thousands of New Orleanians had already evacuated to Baton Rouge (and further west and north and east, too), and the streets were jammed; hotels packed; restaurants crowded. And for me to go home to Memphis? It would be near impossible. If I was lucky enough to drive out of Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas, there was no telling what I-55 would look like. And just like that, the fleeting idea of going home was squashed.

So after church on Sunday, the 28th, I ended up at the grocery store, purchasing ingredients to make my mom’s famous spaghetti and meatballs while everyone else was purchasing liquor, water and other storm essentials.

Classic beef and Italian sausage spaghetti and meatballs makes the ultimate comfort food. Tossed in a simple, flavorful tomato sauce and served over angel hair pasta, it

Even in college, I knew cooking helped relieve stress, so while other people prepared for the hurricane, I spent my afternoon in the kitchen.

Spaghetti and meatballs is the comfort food I turn to when something is going wrong in my life, and the day before Katrina hit, that’s what I whipped up.

Now, every time I make spaghetti and meatballs — or spag ‘n balls, as we lovingly call it in my family — I think about that day and that time in my life.

I naively stayed in the kitchen all afternoon, channeling my nerves and making a massive pot of spaghetti and meatballs to feed my friends the night before Katrina made landfall.

I had no idea what was going to happen.

I had no idea how our lives, our friends’ lives, our city and our state, as well as the state I would live in after graduation, were going to be forever altered by that storm.

Instead of focusing on my fear of the unknown and a massive hurricane bearing down on a state I’d come to adore, I made meatballs.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Spaghetti and Meatballs
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
Meatballs
  • 1 lb. ground beef (85% lean)
  • ½ lb. mild Italian sausage
  • 1½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 large onion)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon garlic, minced (about 7-8 smaller cloves)
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, whole
  • 28 oz. tomato puree
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
Make the meatballs
  1. In a large bowl, measure in the beef, sausage, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, egg and spices.
  2. Using your hands, knead the ingredients together until they are well combined and evenly dispersed.
  3. Using an ice cream scoop (or a cookie scoop if you'd like smaller meatballs), measure out the ingredients. Form into balls in the palms of your hand.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic clove as the oil heats, letting the garlic infuse the oil.
  5. Add the meatballs to the Dutch oven when the oil is hot.
  6. Brown the meatballs on all sides, flipping every so often with kitchen tongs.
Make the sauce
  1. When the meatballs have browned, pour in the tomato puree, water and paste.
  2. Add the seasonings -- oregano, basil, pepper, salt, red pepper -- and stir until combined.
  3. Cover the Dutch oven. Lower the heat and simmer for an hour.
  4. Serve warm over spaghetti (or the pasta of your choice) with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Classic beef and Italian sausage spaghetti and meatballs makes the ultimate comfort food. Tossed in a simple, flavorful tomato sauce and served over angel hair pasta, it

I’ll be back Friday with some more Katrina reflections and another recipe, which highlights a favorite drink of mine that I was introduced to in New Orleans after Katrina.

Do you have any Hurricane Katrina memories?

Is it as hard to believe for you as it is for me that it’s been ten years?

  • KatherineAugust 26, 2015 - 10:32 am

    This looks so delicious, and meatballs over angel hair are my favorite, too. :) Interesting that you went for a comfort food dish in that situation; before Gustav in 2008, I used up all the chicken in my freezer to make chicken parmesan for myself and a bunch of friends before we evacuated. We got lucky that time (thank God it wasn’t another Katrina) and I remember that pre-evacuation dinner fondly. Thanks for sharing this, and I look forward to reading about your other memories.ReplyCancel

  • KrystenAugust 26, 2015 - 11:42 am

    I went home to Houston, then couldn’t get back for a week (or longer? Can’t remember). I think the toughest part for me watching it in Houston was that I felt like I should be there, on campus, at the paper, helping out in some way. All I could do was give blood and keep my eyes glued to the television, while all of my friends were reporting the stories in the Reveille, helping out at the PMAC, and being amazing rockstar people. Is it weird I was jealous of them?
    Also, now i’m starving. Thanks, dear.ReplyCancel

  • Amy @ Thoroughly Nourished LifeAugust 26, 2015 - 6:56 pm

    We never know what defining moments are going to intersect with our lives, do we? And so we cope in whatever ways we can. Spaghetti and meatballs sounds like a good coping plan to me.ReplyCancel

  • EileenAugust 28, 2015 - 1:01 pm

    I’ve been through a bunch of hurricanes on the NC coast, but nothing ever on the scope of Katrina. So scary. It definitely makes you react differently to any hurricane news from then on. Like the run-up to Sandy, when half of NYC seemed to be posting jokes about storm supplies of vodka and twinkies, and all of us who had actually been through a hurricane were all “OMG, NO, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.” You really need a solid dinner of comfort food when a real storm is on the way.ReplyCancel

Cool down this August with slightly sweet and dreamy Peaches and Cream Popsicles! Sprinkle sliced peaches with sugar, letting them steep in the beautiful liquid. Strain the peaches and save the juices… then combine the juice with Greek yogurt and a few peaches to create these decadent popsicles!

Cool down this August with slightly sweet and dreamy Peaches and Cream Popsicles! Sprinkle sliced peaches with sugar, letting them steep in the beautiful liquid. Strain the peaches and save the juices... then combine the juice with Greek yogurt and a few peaches to create these decadent popsicles!

Real talk: I’m still bingeing on and adoring peaches. So much so that I’ve gotten ridiculous about it.

Need a drink? Boom. A waffle or pancake topping? Huzzah.How about a mini pie? Easy peasy. But an actual pie? Uh… I’ll work on that for next summer.

Sadly, I used the last of my peaches to make these popsicles.

Happily, it was totally worth it because these popsicles are dreamy and a perfect peach dessert.

Cool down this August with slightly sweet and dreamy Peaches and Cream Popsicles! Sprinkle sliced peaches with sugar, letting them steep in the beautiful liquid. Strain the peaches and save the juices... then combine the juice with Greek yogurt and a few peaches to create these decadent popsicles!

I’m not into heavy desserts featuring peaches because the fruit is so light and flavorful. Which is maybe why I’ve never been the biggest fan of peach ice cream, even though it sounds like something I’d adore. This is also why that Bourbon Peach Pie I baked didn’t sit well with me, either.

Whatever the case, these popsicles are light and delicious and only call for a few ingredients! Win!

I’m sharing my Peaches and Cream Popsicles recipe over at My Cooking Spot today, and I’d love if you would join me there.

Cool down this August with slightly sweet and dreamy Peaches and Cream Popsicles! Sprinkle sliced peaches with sugar, letting them steep in the beautiful liquid. Strain the peaches and save the juices... then combine the juice with Greek yogurt and a few peaches to create these decadent popsicles!

What is your favorite kind of popsicle?

Are you as crazy about peaches as I am?

  • Ashley | Spoonful of FlavorAugust 24, 2015 - 7:49 am

    I can’t get enough of peaches and I love these popsicles! Perfect for a hot day!ReplyCancel

  • JuliaAugust 24, 2015 - 7:30 pm

    My gaaaawsh these sound so amazing! I’m all about a nice refreshing popsicle, especially now that it’s been unrelentingly hot lately! “Peaches n cream” is always a winning flavor for me and I love that you use Greek yogurt in these treats! SO good!ReplyCancel

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PurelySimple #CollectiveBias

Chocolate-Covered Raspberry Cupcakes, complete with a raspberry chocolate cream cheese filling and a raspberry buttercream frosting, are the best way to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to a friend or family member! Easily made with Purely Simple cake and icing mix, these cupcakes are sure to be a hit. #PurelySimple #CBias #ad

Chocolate-Covered Raspberry Cupcakes, complete with a raspberry chocolate cream cheese filling and a raspberry buttercream frosting, are the best way to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to a friend or family member! Easily made with Pillsbury Purely Simple cake and icing mixes, these cupcakes are sure to be a hit. View full post »

  • Madison | Wetherills Say I DoAugust 19, 2015 - 2:53 pm

    Sweet goodness, these look incredible!! I love the way you did the icing too. I would be SO happy if these were my birthday cupcakes 😉ReplyCancel

    • ErinAugust 20, 2015 - 3:04 pm

      Thanks, Madison! The way the icing was done was actually a happy accident, but I thought it looked really fun and different. :) I’ll be sure to send this recipe your way at the end of February so you can drop some hints to the husband and baby that these would be a great birthday surprise.ReplyCancel

  • MichelleAugust 19, 2015 - 8:15 pm

    Those look amazing! And what a great birthday present. I’d happily take those for my 60th. Or my 40th. Which is in November… #clientReplyCancel

    • ErinAugust 20, 2015 - 3:25 pm

      Thanks, Michelle! I wish I could’ve brought these on the plane with me, but it didn’t work out. However, I totally support you having these for your 40th — they’re ridiculously delicious and super easy AND fun to make!ReplyCancel