Shoulda, woulda, coulda

October 7, 2015

Ah, The Cupboard. I do love it so.

Ah, The Cupboard. I do love it so.

It SHOULD have been good.

Any once or current denizen of the Memphis area has likely eaten at the Cupboard, perhaps one of the best meat-and-three places ever to sling veggies onto a plate. I have eaten there something probably approaching a thousand times over the past 40 years, and am about to be jonesing to eat there Right Now.

Some while back, I bought the Cupboard’s cookbook. Just because.

And Saturday, I bought eggplant at the Farmers’ Market. Again, just because — because they were gorgeous and glossy, because it won’t be long before the fresh veggies are gone, because, for some reason, the Cupboard’s eggplant casserole was calling my name.

In the thousand times I’ve been to the Cupboard, I’ve never ordered a meat entree. And nine times out of 10, my veggie plate order consists of eggplant casserole, corn pudding, field peas. The fourth choice rotates among a baked apple, a baked sweet potato, or the cucumber, tomato and onion salad. I don’t even look at the menu, except to see what the legume choice of the day is. And I eat about six of the marvelous little mini cornbread muffins; I am not ashamed to say that.

Photo from Google Images. Eggplant casserole 1 o'clock, plate on left.

Photo from Google Images. Eggplant casserole 1 o’clock, plate on left.

So I got the eggplant and the Cupboard cookbook out. Peel the eggplant, cut it in big chunks, and boil it with a diced onion and a couple of stalks of celery, it says. OK, there’s our first hangup. Don’t have any celery. OK, I’ll wing it without that. Thought about celery seed, only to find I’m out of that, too; must correct that. Must have used the last, last time I made slaw.

So I boiled the eggplant and onion, with salt and pepper, as instructed, for 20 minutes, until both were soft. Considered the next step, which was to stir in cheese and crushed Saltines. Instructions didn’t say drain it, but I figured I pretty much had to, so I did. Dumped in the crushed crackers. Diced up 8 ounces of sliced American cheese — the only kind of American I happened to have in the house — and stirred all that in, the eggplant disintegrating into a mostly-smooth puree.

That, in turn, went into a couple of casserole pans — I planned to freeze one — and got topped with a mixture of more cracker crumbs and grated cheese. And then it got browned.

And it just wasn’t as good as the Cupboard’s. Dammit. Their cookbook lies. Now I’m afraid to try their corn pudding, which I really don’t need to try, as I have a pretty damn good recipe for corn pudding myownself.

To complete the less than optimal dinner, I’d taken some leftover chicken, picked it off the bone, shredded and diced it, and added it to egg noodles that I’d cooked with peas and carrots. A cheese sauce — just a plain white sauce with grated cheddar — got dumped over everything, stirred up, and THAT got baked.


So I didn’t freeze either of the two extra portions, both of which went into the trash, along with the leftovers. The only thing I cooked that was worth a damn was the blackberry cobbler, which was excellent because I? Make a good blackberry cobbler.

I may not even cook tonight. I’m plumb aggravated with the entire process. Unless you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em have any brilliant suggestions that’ll get me out of my rut.



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