Head start on Easter: Lemon icebox pies.

And why is ham traditional in the South for Easter dinner, anyway?

(Answer: Because it’s about the time of year that traditionally, hams which were from pigs slaughtered in the fall and cured over the winter were ready to eat. And now you know.)

I have commenced Easter dinner cookery. Easter is another one of those “all about tradition” holidays. There is not a lot of room for maneuvering in the Chez Keyboard kitchen when it comes to Easter dinner. One MUST have:

  • Ham. In my case, sliced, pre-cooked but warmed nicely with a glaze, Honey Baked ham, because that’s just damn good ham, and will serve me nicely for ham sandwiches for a good while.
  • Deviled eggs. Because, Easter. Eggs. Et cetera.
  • Green peas. Because they’re springy. I’ve bounced among several preps, and just tend toward the simple: steamed, buttered, tarragon.
  • Asparagus. Because it’s the first local fresh green vegetable you can get. Because it’s wonderful. Because Children A and C, who’ll be partaking of Easter dinner, and I can eat our weight in it. I will either roast it, or wrap it in proscuitto and then roast it. And there will be hollandaise.
  • Corn casserole. Frozen corn from last summer, Jiffy cornbread mix, eggs, sour cream, melted butter. Ain’t nothin’ no better.
  • Mac and cheese. Because the carb-loading children require it.
  • Rolls. Specifically, Ms. Mary Lloyd’s rolls. Because it’s a holiday. Because a leftover roll, split, toasted, and filled with ham, is one of the finest leftovers on the face of the planet.
  • Lemon icebox pie. There is some wiggle room on dessert, but I was in the notion for lemon icebox pie, so that’s what we’re having. Because I made them today.

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We had a fine, fine Christmas dinner. There is not a single picture of it, because, well, Christmas and all its attendant chaos. Six adults, three kids, two spastic dogs, small house. You get the idea.

The best part of Christmas! AGCs, from left, 1, 3 and 2.

The best part of Christmas! AGCs, from left, 1, 3 and 2.

There is, however, this picture, the single moment during the day when we got a kindergartener and two preschoolers to stand still. And snapped quick. And they’re what it’s all about, anyway.

Dinner prep kinda got away from me, as I had to take a chunk of time out of the morning to roast the turkey I was taking to a local group home for a Christmas meal. And that wouldn’t have been so bad but for the fact I had to run hot water over the turkey, which had been sitting in the bottom of the fridge for three full days, but had barely thawed the least little bit.

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Those damn stealth holidays

November 16, 2016

turkey3-2016Eeeekk! Thanksgiving is next week!

I’m not sure why it snuck up on me so badly this year. It may possibly be because we’re still having temps in the 70s and have had no more than a light frost so far this fall, or what passes for fall. Normally by this time I would have my menu all planned, and maybe even some early grocery shopping and prep work done.

There will be a few changes this year. We’re moving Thanksgiving dinner to Friday, as Child B and family will be able to come, for the first time in ages, so I’ll have everybody here. (Double eeeekkk. Got to houseclean this weekend!) Also hoping the girls’ godmother can come over. I think dinner will be late afternoon/early evening, which is good.

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Sunday dinner

November 6, 2016

Today's dinner menu: Essence of South. And no, I don't put gravy ON my CF steak. Just the potatoes.

Today’s dinner menu: Essence of South. And no, I don’t put gravy ON my CF steak. Just the potatoes.

It’s an odd thing.

I can, on a whim, cook Mexican, Asian, North African or any of a number of other regionally-inspired cuisines. (Maybe not WELL, but I have at least the makings on hand.) But when it comes to Sunday dinner, I’m coming back home.

Specifically, when it’s time for Sunday dinner, I’m going to cook where I came from: The American South. Now, in part, that’s because the Sunday dinner table list generally includes Child C and SIL 2, who have come to retrive AGC2, who hopefully is napping by the time they get here after church. And while Child C will try most anything, she’s more comfortable and happy with home cooking. And SIL 2 — well, bless his heart, his culinary tree doesn’t branch much.

So I stick to the tried-and-true stuff on Sunday. Today, I hit it out of the park.

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My Mama’s recipe box

November 3, 2016

A box full of memories -- and love.

A box full of memories — and love.

I’ve been traveling through time this morning.

A few weeks ago, an old family friend asked if I had my Mama’s recipe for candied sweet potatoes. I told her I would bet it was in Mama’s recipe box, which I had…somewhere.

Except I couldn’t find it.

I thought it was residing in my cookbook bookcases somewhere, but I went through those and couldn’t locate it. I looked around in the kitchen, didn’t see it there. But a week or so ago, I came back from being out of town and Child A had it sitting prominently atop the bar. She’d been cleaning, and she found it wedged behind some other books.

So today, as my plans had been curtailed by babysitting duties for an ailing AGC2 (stomach bug, and fortunately, it appears to have been only a light case), I decided to go through it.

It was like being a kid in Benton County, Tennessee again.

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Just one or two things…

October 18, 2016

Who, me? Too much condiment shopping? Nahhhhh....

Who, me? Too much condiment shopping? Nahhhhh….

That was all I was going to get at the international market in Memphis, on my way back from Jackson and delivering two monkey children, aka Amazing Grandchildren 1 and 3, back to their mama, who had been out of town.

Which is why, as a matter of fact, I haven’t been cooking, or, to tell the truth, eating any heckuva lot for the past few days. Since Thursday, I’ve spent 19 hours in the car and the rest of the time doing what I was told by two preschoolers. Well, except for two superb concerts in between. And not a lot of sleep.

But they’re such CUTE little critters!

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Simple, not holiday-ish, but good.

Simple, not holiday-ish, but good.

Well, not really. And while there wasn’t much in the way of prep to it, nor was it traditional Fourth of July fare, it was good.

Even if I finished up the evening’s cooking by dropping a fresh-out-of-the-oven loaf of banana bread upside down on the floor, a practice which does not a damn thing to the benefit of your bread, and will make you cuss.

But I have learned the Best Way Ever to cook new potatoes. And it’s easy, even if it does involve two pans. Line one with foil and roll with it.

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