February 4, 2015

Mickey's always good for culinary adventures.

Mickey’s always good for culinary adventures.

I have been neither in the cooking nor the writing mode, except for making three dozen Mickey Mouse waffles for Amazing Grandchild 3’s second birthday party this past weekend. That was pretty cool.

Child B has become smarter, or more realistic, since the blowout second birthday party for AGC 1, almost two years ago now, when we made all sorts of themed food, cut cheese slices out with Mickey cookie cutters, and made Mickey-shaped sugar cookies to ice and decorate. This one, billed as “Breakfast with Mickey,” featured waffles and fruit, blueberry muffins, and cupcakes in take-home boxes as party favors.

Feed those kids some carbs!

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Damn a stomach bug!

January 27, 2015

That’s about how it works. You get plans made for the weekend that include cooking meatloaf and mashed potatoes for the kids, because you have been in the notion for meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and the stomach bug lays you low and cancels out your hot Saturday night date with your 2 1/2 year old grandson as well as your meat loaf dinner.

That bites.

My online friend Shelby (aka Melissa) had posted about meatloaf on a food forum we both follow. When I saw it, I fixated on meat loaf. I don’t like a lot of meat loaf, but I like mine. And I don’t want it all that often, but when I do, I WANT it.

And the kids like it. And they like mashed potatoes and purple hulled peas, and I’d seen a recipe for a beer cheese bread (more on that shortly) that I really wanted to try, and that sounded like a fair to middlin’ Sunday dinner. And I had ice cream, so I’d even make a chocolate cobbler to go with it.


Got up Saturday morning, hungry. Fixed a bowl of rice, because that sounded good. Two hours later, it didn’t sound so good. Two hours after that, I texted Child C and cancelled my Saturday night date. And then I felt sorry for myself for the next 36 hours.

By Monday, there were indications I would live. I got up, did some work, took a shower (THAT helped!) made it to a couple of appointments, and figured I’d have that meatloaf, a day late. So I betook myself home, made up a meatloaf, put some peas on to cook, and decided to bake up a loaf of beer cheese bread.

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On the left, with bacon; on the right, without.

On the left, with bacon; on the right, without.

For a long time, I had that attitude toward a lot of food. The things I liked were just, in general, not healthy foods. Potato chips…cheese dip…candy…ice cream….and on and on.

I still don’t hold myself up as any paragon of health. But I do consciously eat a lot less processed foods, and a lot less refined sugar (she typed as she crunched a Valentine’s conversation heart). I work on keeping my diet higher in complex carbs than simple ones. I’m fortunate that I have good genes and cholesterol that abides a fair amount fat in my diet, but I do try to cut back on that as well.

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Memphis, meet Boston

January 19, 2015

Every once in a while, I come up with some wild off-the-cuff recipe that winds up tasting so good I just impress myself.

That’s what happened when I put barbecue in chowder.

There is, by the way, no picture. It ain’t photogenic. Sorry.

Yeah. Barbecue. Chopped smoked pig. In chowder. Chow-dah. In place of clams or shrimps or the seafood of your choice. Because I could. And you ‘n y’mama ‘n ‘em should as well.

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Summoning the past

January 17, 2015

Back in the dark ages (the 80s and, I think, on into the early 90s), when I was running a newspaper in West Memphis, there was a cafeteria a block from the office. We used to walk over there fairly regularly after we got the paper out to eat lunch.

Happy little shrimps, swimming around in Creole sauce.

Happy little shrimps, swimming around in Creole sauce.

It was your basic old-fashioned cafeteria, the kind you don’t see too often any more. You slide your tray down the line, picking your dishes a la carte, selecting a slice of pie with meringue half a foot high. Getting your tea from the big stainless urn. Stopping at the cashier to get your tab added and pay for your lunch, and then grabbing your silverware rolled up in a big cloth napkin, and heading for a table.

My husband loved it because he could get liver and onions, which I would NOT cook at home (and still don’t). I loved it because I could pick any of a variety of Southern style veggies, and even throw in a congealed salad or two. On a limp lettuce leaf, yet.

And on Fridays, I could get shrimp Creole.

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A beach, a beer,  a cigar, and this.

A beach, a beer, a cigar, and this.

It seems appropriate, with the loosening of regulations regarding Cuban travel and trade, that I’ve been in the notion for Cuban sandwiches — Cubanos — of late.

I haven’t yet managed to conjure up the beach or a Cuban cigar. Give me time.

So I’ve made them two or three times this winter. And when I make Cubanos, I make the bread and I make the mojo pork that goes in them. I have, to date, not made the pickles or the Swiss cheese, but don’t bet on that not happening someday, either.

I’ve been in love with Cubanos since I had my first REAL one in Miami several years ago. There are a couple of places outside Florida where you can get decent ones (including at a little sandwich shop in downtown Little Rock) — plus at my house. Something about the combination of ingredients — the sharp, tangy taste of the pork, the smooth richness of the ham, the piquant mustard against the bite of the pickles and the Swiss cheese, all of it encased by a good chewy bread…well, it’s just good, that’s all.

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Um…..Happy New Year?

January 14, 2015

(Easing open the door, throwing my hat in….)

Hey, y’all! How’s y’mama ‘n ‘em?

It’s me, your (very) occasional blogger, back to welcome 2015 and hopefully get on some kind of schedule that will involve, well, cooking and writing and taking a few pictures every now and again.

I’ve cooked. It hasn’t been anything noteworthy, at least that I haven’t related to you before. I’ve taken photographs, but they’ve mostly been of Lucy and the grandchildren. And I’ve written, but it assuredly has not been about food. Grant applications and RFPs and proposals and strategic plans and such. Nothing fun.

Anyway. It’s 2015, and I’m cooking again. This week, in fact, I have cooked two things I have not cooked before — pho and shrimp creole, which is awaiting the rice getting done as I type. So maybe that’s a sign. I had pho for lunch; for my first attempt, it wasn’t bad. My recipe was, roughly, the one here. It was middlin’ decent; too much star anise, but I’m not a huge star anise fan. I’ll cut that back next time. I was also lazy, and just went with the shredded beef in the broth, didn’t add the sliced sirloin to poach in the hot broth. I put broth in the freezer, and I’ll add that step, along with some bean sprouts, next time.

Pretty pho-king good.

Pretty pho-king good.

It was good. I’ll tweak it and do it again.

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