Kitchen Road Trip: Arkansas

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This week, we’re taking Kitchen Road Trip to Arkansas. My only memory of Arkansas is stopping there, briefly, during a road trip. Someone in my family figured out there was a town named Brinkley (my last name!) along the highway and we decided spontaneously to stop there. It was at night, so we only stayed long enough to eat a quick dinner, take a picture in front of a sign with our name on it and get stopped by quite possibly the longest, slowest train in the world. Though I didn’t get to explore any of Little Rock, Fayetteville or the back country, it still counts as a state visit by my standards. Although, I’d like to go back and have some of the culinary experiences that Arkansas is known for — watermelon, barbecue, cornbread, purple milkshakes… Well, I’m not so sure about that last one, but my friend Emmie tells me it’s true. Many thanks for your help on this one, Em! // Susannah

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Kitchen Road Trip: Arizona

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This week’s Kitchen Road Trip brings us to Arizona. Ah, the Southwest. It’s home to one of my favorite things: Mexican-American food. It is also home to one of my least favorite things: heat. (Yes, I know it’s a “dry heat,” but really I have no concept of what that is, but I sure could take a little right now!) I drove through Arizona on a road trip, and we stopped at the Grand Canyon, but I haven’t spent any time exploring anything else. However, I am so inspired by all the bright colors and patterns I came across while researching this list. I also stumbled across a number of shops and restaurants to which I want to go, and I’m in luck because I owe my aunt a visit to see her in Phoenix! Plus, I’m dying to go back to the Grand Canyon, and I’d love to check out Sedona, too (pictured above). Hope this list warms  you up a little bit… //susannah

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Kitchen Road Trip: Alabama

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In my family, we’re racing to see who will be the first to visit all 50 states, but there’s some argument (mainly from me) about what “counts” as a visit. For example, in my opinion, an airport layover doesn’t count. Driving through without stopping doesn’t count. Going there as a baby doesn’t count. I suppose any of those could get half-credit if you’re using this interactive map, not my rules, to track your progress. But to me, making a memory is what really matters. If you do something memorable that connects you to the state — such as a meal or a photo-op — then you get the full point.

With today’s Kitchen Road Trip, I’m taking you to the great state of Alabama. Even though I have “passed through” on road trips at least twice, none of them “count” by my rules. Much of my knowledge of Alabama, sadly, comes from history class, books and movies. ‘To Kill A Mockingbird,’ ‘Forrest Gump’ and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ spring to mind. Also, a pair of my friends once schooled me on the difference between the War Eagle and the Crimson Tide, but that’s really about it. However, everything I read about the Cotton State to prepare this post just made me excited about visiting someday. Alabamans sound like an incredibly charming bunch who live for a good bowl of grits and college football, and I can’t wait to meet them! In addition to the finds below, I also came across these recipes for white barbecue sauce and black bottom pie that I absolutely must try… // susannah

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Kitchen Road Trip: Washington, D.C.

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Traveling has always inspired me. As a kid, I was very fortunate that my parents could afford to take my siblings and me on vacations from time to time. Some were by plane and some were by train, but my favorites were the road trips. There’s nothing quite like arguing with your brother and sister in the back of the family minivan about which “The Lion King” song to play next, am I right? (The answer is “Hakuna Matata,” every time. And on cassette tape, no less!)

To me, the kitchen is the best place to bring back those kinds of memories, and to create new ones too. A little comfort food can go a long way if you’re feeling nostalgic for someplace special or craving an expedition to somewhere new. Until you can travel again, I also recommend surrounding yourself with things that remind you of that time or place. So, each Monday, I’m going to pick a state and list a handful of food- and kitchen-related items that are from or reminiscent of that state. As often as I can, I will highlight local products and designers. One state a week for the rest of the year should take us right up to 2015. Starting next week, I’m going to tackle the states alphabetically, as that allows for a bit more diversity than going by history or regions. Feel free to send me any recommendations for design or food-related products from any state in the Union! 

First up is Washington, D.C., for two reasons. One, that’s where I am right now! Two, it seemed like a good place to begin this series, what with it being the nation’s capital and all. Whether you’re suffering from D.C. wanderlust, homesickness or political worry, these goods should tide you over until at least the next election. Many thanks to my friends Mollie and Greg for their recommendations! // susannah 

See the list after the jump…

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