When I left AZ in late 2015 heading for the East Coast, Miami to be precise, I was able to check off an important item from my bucket list.  Driving cross country solo.

Relocating to FL for work, I was bubbling with excitement at the prospect of embarking on my trip, squashing a niggling amount of trepidation of arriving in Miami unscathed, without any car issues, belongings pilfered and ending up in Timbuktu.

Leaving Prescott, I embarked on my cross country solo adventure going through Flagstaff and heading towards Albuquerque, NM saying a sad adieu to these gorgeous sentinels of the desert – the saguaros.



I was feeling a bit maudlin and nostalgic, as I was leaving family and friends behind.   In the three years I had made AZ my home, I had fallen irrevocably in love with its unparalleled beauty.  Glorious spellbinding sunsets; the serrated rugged splendor of the mountains and I knew I would miss the fiercely hypnotic monsoon storms crashing over the desert.









My first night’s stop was at the historic B&B. Mauger Estate in Alburquerque –  I was greeted by a quaint yet gorgeous structure; with the exterior and interior reminiscent of a stately San Francisco Mansion atop Nob Hill in the 1920’s.  It was one of the highlights of my trip.






My ensuing destination was Wichita Falls.  I went through Amarillo, TX leaving behind the glorious majesty of colorful mountains and the inimitable rock formations of Arizona and New Mexico.  The grandeur of the Sedona mountains had been carried through to Albuquerque, creating an unforgettable, picture-perfect backdrop of traveling companions.  Ancient sentinels with colors so vibrant they had to have been hand painted.













After almost 14 hours on the road, since my departure from Albuquerque making headway through Amarillo, TX I finally crossed the Red River and arrived at my new stop.  Totally exhausted I desperately needed to relax with a glass of wine.  To my dismay, Devol OK is a dry state and there was only beer.  That was a tragedy!

The next morning, I plowed through downtown Dallas, extremely thankful that my GPS guided me through a frolicking maze of freeways.  A real ordeal.  Dealing with torrential rain, construction detours and trying to stay on course with Siri as my companion, navigating through hair-raising traffic and trying to keep my composure without flinging rude epithets at the countless incorrigible drivers, constantly cutting me off.  By the time I found the 20 Freeway towards Shreveport and ultimately Jackson, Mississippi, I was in need of a stiff drink!

Leaving the Texas plains behind and the delight of getting acquainted with Dallas freeways, the landscape became a blur of lush green trees, plush grasses, with the temperatures changing from cool and arid to humid and balmy.  Hurtling me towards the Mississippi, which I crossed late at night and was only able only able to take in a few, distant twinkling lights reflected on the river.

In Jacksonville, I settled in and went to the hotel restaurant, drowning my travel weariness with very necessary glass of Cab.  It was there I was introduced to these delicate and airy little mounds of perfection. Mississippi Cod Cakes.  At that time the thought of creating Pantry Rat was just a small engaging glimmer.  Now that it has become a reality –  these little beauties have a part of my journey.

Pressing on, I headed towards Jacksonville FL, as my next stop was Tallahassee.  It had taken me 4 ½ days and 2400 miles when I had finally arrived in Miami, exhausted and travel weary but with a tremendous sense of accomplishment.  In hindsight, I wish I had savored my trip more; they say, “Savor the journey and not the destination”.

Here are these amazingly light cod cakes.  This dish is hails from New England where it originally calls for salted cod – but in reality any white fish can be used.  The original method is to poach or steam the white fish in water with a splash of white wine, with bay leaves and a mirepoix, but in this case they are oven baked to infuse a bit more flavor.



















½ cup of Mayo

½ red bell pepper – roasted

½ Poblano pepper – roasted

1 TSP of grainy Grey Poupon

1 garlic clove – very finely minced

1 TBSP of Creamy Horseradish sauce

2 TBSP of sweet chili sauce

1 TBSP Ketchup

Juice of half lemon

1 TBSP capers – chopped

1 shallot very finely chopped

1 TBSP of Worcestershire sauce

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Add the ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse to make the remoulade – adjust for seasonings and keep chilled.



1 LB of Cod Fillets (you can use Tilapia, Pike, Wallaye)

2 Minced shallots

4-5 scallions – white and green parts chopped

1 TSP of Old Bay seasoning

1 TSP of Granulated garlic

1 TSP of Onion powder

Salt and fresh ground white pepper

2 TBSP of Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 large cooked potato without the skin – mashed roughly

½ cup of Panko

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper


In a cookie sheet lined with foil, place the fish filets, add salt and fresh ground pepper and a bit of olive oil and bake at 350F for about 9 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool.  Shred fish, place in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Form cakes and chill them for 30-45 minutes as this will prevent the patties from falling apart when you fry them.  Sauté the patties in some oil, about 4 minutes on each side, over medium heat to prevent burning.  Serve over salad greens along with the remoulade.


This is one of the best Remoulades.  It pairs heavenly with Crab cakes, grilled prawns, shrimp cocktail or any type of fish – such as fried cod or grilled catfish.  Add it to create a sensational and sumptuous  fish sandwich, with pickled red onions and some arugula tossed in a bit of EVOO.

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