Good Afternoon Paige! Thank you so much for talking with Battered and Brewed! Who first taught you to cook?
My Mamma first taught me to cook. Since I was little, I remember sitting at the kitchen table watching my mom cook while I was in my high chair, or coloring, or doing homework, or practicing music.
When and how did your passion for food and music start?
When I was little, I could care less about food and eating; I would have rather went outside to play or practice my music. Music was ingrained in my blood at an early age at church and school, but I really developed a passion for music when my Papa bought me my first guitar at age 9. After that, I fell in love with performing and only wanted to learn and play more! My love for food, on the other hand, came along just a few years ago. As a kid, I was a picky eater, but I began gaining interest in cooking techniques and a variety of foods when I got my driver’s license. At that point, I was able to drive myself to the grocery store or different restaurants to try out new foods and recipes. I also fell in love with shows on The Food Network and Rachael Ray’s morning talk show, which introduced me to different types of foods and ways of cooking. I was fascinated by the cooks’ knowledge and their different tips and tricks. That availability, along with cooking TV shows, food blogs, and Pinterest becoming popular really piqued my interest and spurred my passion for food and cooking.
What does your cooking playlist look like?
Strangely enough, I really don’t listen to music while I’m cooking/baking. I use the time that I’m cooking as a time of relaxation and rejuvenation. My life is usually crazy busy with non-stop activities or projects, so when I get a spare moment to get in the kitchen and make something I take full advantage of that peace and quiet.
Is there an ingredient you are really enjoying cooking with at the moment?
I actually enjoy baking better than I do cooking meals (mainly because I’m a dessert fanatic). With that being said, I have recently been on a pecan binge. My parents have always loved dishes that contained pecans, whether they were side dishes or desserts. We have a couple of big pecan trees on my family’s farm that I just recently discovered while at home for Christmas. After collecting those and shelling them myself, I went online and found all kinds of recipes for pecan desserts—pies, muffins, cakes, bars, brownies, barks. I haven’t been able to try them all yet, but I will definitely be testing them out in the next few months!
Where do you get your recipes? Any favorite cookbooks?
Being from a small North Carolina town, I have plenty of knowledgeable resources to consult about cooking! Some of my favorite meals have come from my grandma’s old recipe cards that my mom has in her recipe box, or my mom’s own recipe cards. When I can’t find what I’m looking for in that special recipe box, I usually turn to the cookbook that my home church put together about 10 years ago. It’s filled with delicious recipes that have been passed down within families for years. Pulling it out to make a new dish or cake always warms my heart. That cookbook is one of the best I’ve ever used and is the second-most sacred book among our church family, next to The Bible of course! Those two resources never let me down, but when I’m looking for something fresh or different I always turn to Pinterest. In my opinion, it’s the next best thing! I can spend hours on end searching for new recipes or cooking trends. I would rather waste time on there than watching TV or taking naps.
If you had to pick one type of cuisine, what would you say is your favorite?
Picking one type of cuisine is very hard for me because my family has always ate all kinds of foods. Now granted, they were all the “Americanized” versions of those cuisines, but they were still different than the standard American diet. The one type of cuisine that stands out the most to me is Mexican food. When I was living at home, my family would religiously visit our local Mexican restaurant every Sunday night for our family meal—we have done that for as long as I can remember. After years of showing up at the same time every single Sunday night, the waiters and waitresses were like second family. We knew them all by name, they knew our orders by heart, we had our regular table that would usually be set for us when we walked in the door each Sunday night, and walking in the doors of the restaurant made you feel welcome and appreciated. Because of those good memories and the delicious food that they served us, Mexican cuisine is probably my favorite.
What’s your favorite dish you’ve had of that cuisine that you can remember?
I really like fajitas. My dad and I would always order fajitas to share because it was a dish that everyone could enjoy. It’s basically a “build-your-own” kind of meal that each person can personalize to their taste. Whether you cook them yourself or order them from a restaurant, you can make a delicious little fajita wrap: mix up your protein choices of chicken, steak, shrimp or beans; add in vegetables like cooked onions, peppers, and tomatoes; top it with garnishes like lettuce, cheese, salsa, guacamole, or sour cream and ENJOY! You can’t beat fajitas.
What is your guilty pleasure food?
I have a sweet tooth like you’ve never seen before. I’m shamelessly addicted to chocolate. My guilty pleasure food is ice cream or milkshakes with any kind of chocolate in it.
Tell us about one memorable meal you’ve had while touring. What did it involve?
When I’m traveling around for shows, I don’t usually eat very glamorous meals. When I think of being on the road, the first meal that comes to mind is a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich with a side of hash browns from Waffle House. That’s the classic traveling meal.
Which is your favorite restaurant? What is the one dish you always order when you go there?
I’m a beef fanatic, so I love going to any fancy steakhouse or chop house for a good steak. I always order a filet mignon with a house salad and a plain sweet potato. That’s one of my favorite meals to eat!
If you designed your own walking food tour of your favorite city, which restaurants/food sellers would be on your list of places to visit?
After living in Nashville for almost two years, it has quickly become my favorite city—it has a great music scene, southern hospitality, and endless delicious options for food. If I were to create a food tour of Nashville, I would include McDougal’s Chicken, Burger Republic, Chuy’s Tex-Mex, Pizza Perfect, Biscuit Love, Puckett’s Grocery, Coco’s Italian Market, Monnell’s Dining, Martin’s BBQ, and Mike’s Ice Cream (to name a few). There are plenty more places that I love to visit—this is just a very short list of some of my favorites.
What is the craziest thing you have ever eaten?
I just recently became a “foodie” in the last couple of years, so I haven’t branched out very far in crazy foods. One unusual food that I vividly remember trying was alligator tail while on a family vacation in Florida. Like everyone says, it really does taste a lot like chicken!
If you could be on a reality cooking show, what would it be?
Since I love baking, I would like to be on “Cupcake Wars” or “The American Baking Competition.” I would have to practice on working under that kind of pressure and time limit, but I think I would really enjoy that!
Finally for Battered and Brewed, if you could sit down and have a meal with one person, who would it be, why, and what would you have?
Like I mentioned before, I absolutely love watching Rachael Ray’s morning talk show. If I could sit down and have a meal with one person, I would want it to be her because I feel like she could teach me so much about cooking and eating and life in general. It would be hard to choose one specific meal to have with her because everything she cooks looks amazing, but I would have to say that I always envy the Italian dishes she makes. If I had to choose, it would be some kind of Italian pasta dish.
ABOUT PAIGE JOHNSON:
Paige Johnson is a female country singer/songwriter who values the roots of country music, and she hopes to preserve those roots with her own music. She is a sophomore at Belmont University in Nashville, TN where she is majoring in Music Business in the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. Paige grew up in Angier, NC where she began music lessons when she was five years old and began playing guitar a couple years later. She has performed for many local organizations, churches, NC congressional representatives, the Carolina Mudcats baseball team, North Carolina Fall Festival, Harnett Regional Agricultural Fair, Angier High School Mega Reunion, Lillington Voice, Relay for Life, the Johnston Community College Country Music Showcase, the popular Opry Mills Unplugged Showcase Series, and the legendary Blue Bird Cafe in Nashville, TN, but her most recent performance allowed her to share the stage with country artists Scotty McCreery and James Otto. She also began the “Country on the Outskirts of Town” Country Music Dinner Theater in Angier, NC in 2012 and continues to produce and perform in those sold-out shows throughout the year. Paige’s debut single “That Cowgirl” gained major popularity after being featured on one of North Carolina’s most popular major radio stations, 94.7 WQDR, as part of the Homegrown Carolina Country Show. That single is now available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, and many other music retailers.
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