Strawberry shortcake with sweetened creme fraiche; yummy!

There are only three acceptable desserts for Memorial Day weekend dinners in the South:

  1. Ice cold watermelon
  2. Homemade ice cream
  3. And strawberry shortcake

Do not be bringing any cheesecake or blackberry cobbler or apple pie, no matter how American it is, up in here on Memorial Day weekend. It just ain’t right.

So we had strawberry shortcake. Because I keep buying strawberries at the market, because I keep thinking it’s close to the end of the season for strawberries, and I know I’ll miss them when it’s down to grocery store berries being all I can get. At present, Bill’s, down in Newport, is still putting out berries; they started bearing later than did the Bald Knob berries, so they’ll last a little bit longer. But not much.

For good measure, I also had peaches macerated in sugar and white balsamic vinegar (adding a splash of balsamic to the fruit extends its fridge life, and if you don’t overdo it, you don’t taste it), because I’d gotten them the week before at the market and given them a week on the counter to ripen and soften. I’m not as crazy about early season peaches as I am the later ones; the early peaches are cling peaches, they’re small, and they’re not as sweet, albeit they DO have an intense peachy taste.

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Barbecue time!

May 28, 2017

Dinner. Yes, my eyes were bigger than my stomach.

It’s pretty much canonical, in this part of the world, that Memorial Day weekend, sometime, you need to consume some meat that’s been up close and personal with a grill or a smoker.

I will wager that not too many folks got as good a taste of that as I did today. Not that I can claim any of the credit for the barbecue — just the sides — but I had what I believe is just about as good a pork barbecue as I’ve ever had in my life.

How it was, was, like this. A month or six weeks ago, when we had all the flooding in Northeast Arkansas, some friends of mine who live an hour or so to the north of me had 5 1/2 feet of water in their home on the Eleven Point River. This is the third time they’ve gotten water in their house, which is built well above the 100-year flood level; the other two times, it was a foot or so, and they’d elevated everything on blocks and moved everything moveable upstairs. A pain in the butt, but manageable.

Oh, and the insurance company cancelled their flood insurance after the second event.

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A cooking weekend!

May 1, 2017

Strawberries and pound cake. Can I hear a big ol’ YUM?

After a full week or more of not cooking, I made up for it Saturday. I was, in fact, a “cooking fool” much of the weekend.

Felt good.

The final toll:

  • A shrimp boil dinner Saturday night
  • Pickled asparagus
  • A loaf of apple fritter quick bread
  • A butter loaf pound cake, and macerated strawberries to go on top
  • Pre-cooks for Sunday dinner (see previous post) including getting the potatoes and beans ready to bake and the pork roast rubbed down and in the fridge

I meant to make granola, as I’m out, but I forgot. That’s for today.

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Herald of spring

April 4, 2017

Spring in a soup bowl. Because a dessert dish just won’t cut it.

Saturday morning, I got up and betook myself to Memphis to the Farmers’ Market, because their market opens April 1, and ours doesn’t open until May 1, and I wanted asparagus.

Personally, I do not believe a two-hour round trip is excessive to purchase fresh, local asparagus. Particularly not when you can get local strawberries, as well, on April Fools Day, which is early for local berries. But what better way to have a Sunday springtime dinner than with fresh asparagus and strawberry shortcake?

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Strawberry shortcake with creme fraiche on top. Kill me now.

Strawberry shortcake with creme fraiche on top. Kill me now.

This time of year, the strawberry shortcake is just canonical. And there are as many ways to make it as there are cooks who do.

When I was growing up, we generally tended toward the sponge-cake-you-bought-at-the-grocery style of shortcake. You know, the ones with a hollowed-out top you put the berries in.  My former mother-in-law made a killer angel food cake, and was a devotee of using that as a base for berries. More traditional shortcake makers use a sugar-cookie-type cake, or a pie crust dusted with sugar and baked in flat wafers or strips, or something along the order of a sweetened biscuit.

You can even take a page from the esteemed Bulldog Drive In in Bald Knob, and put your strawberries over soft-serve ice cream, with shortbread wafers, whipped topping and peanuts.

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Road trip goodies

April 26, 2016

Arkansas' best dessert. Definitely worth a road trip.

Arkansas’ best dessert. Definitely worth a road trip.

What do you do to keep a trip from Little Rock whose primary reason, a business meeting, gets cancelled, from being an overall waste of time?

You spend the night with a good friend, who doesn’t mind that you’re drugged out on sinus meds and can’t stay awake (may be a Good Thing the meeting was cancelled!), and you take advantage of the trip to score big in the Road Food category.

Tonight's road-trip dinner -- asparagus, proscuitto, shrimp scampi. Strawberries not shown.

Tonight’s road-trip dinner — asparagus, proscuitto, shrimp scampi. Strawberries not shown.

Still enjoying the bountiful asparagus I’ve been dining on since the weekend, I had planned to take some with me to Kate’s house for our dinner. Just for good measure, I stopped by and picked up proscuitto in which to wrap it to roast. Then, on the way down, I celebrated spring by stopping off at the Bulldog Cafe in Bald Knob to have strawberry shortcake.

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Similar to above illustration. Fried rice looks like fried rice.

Similar to above illustration. Fried rice looks like fried rice.

I don’t have photos of last night’s dinner. It was one of those that had a lot of prep work but the dishes mostly came together at the last minute, and then it was time to eat, not take pictures. Sorry. It was good, and it was relatively attractive, too.

I’d invited a couple of friends, one of whom is engaged in a huge renovation/construction/business opening project at the same time as the other is preparing to stage a 10-day music festival (Oh! to be young again and have that kind of energy!) over for dinner. I’d thought about German food, as they’re both beer connoisseurs, but it had gotten warm, and, well, I hadn’t had any good Asian food in a while. So I hit three countries with a dinner that featured okonomiyaki, fried rice and bahn mi lettuce wraps, and added a side of steamed snow peas in sesame sauce, for good measure, before finishing up by a return to the South with strawberry shortcake.

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