Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Katy McMorries sent me a new old cookbook that arrived today.  It is a version of the first cookbook I ever used, the Better Homes and Garden.  The current edition is the 15th, the one Katy sent is the 10th, which probably means that the one Mom carried around starting in the 50's is 1st or 2nd.  the cover is long gone so I don't know.  I plan to scavenge all the intact pages that I can from the old one and bind it into the newer one.  Maybe I will even try to track down that tapioca recipe I mentioned in the intro to this blog and finally cook it right....


So I made chili con carne two days ago and it came out well.  I payed mre attention than usual, since I thought I might put the recipe on the blog, and i realized how little i go by recipes.  I usually just take things i know taste good togetehr, in proportions that experience has told me are good, and make it up.  As near as i can rememebr, my recipe went something like this:
Brown a couple pounds of ground beef.  I used about an 80/20 ground beef, but 85/15 would ahve been better.  After it is just browned, drain and add a whole large chopped onion and a whole large chopped bell pepper (cleaned of course).  I also put in a giant toe of elephant garlic, but three regulars pieces of regular garlic would have been fine. Sprinkle with a few tablespoons of cumin and an couple tablespoons of chili powder, adjusting for preference. 4 and 2 made a fairly mild chili. Once things have cooked a while, add a very large can of chopped stewed tomatoes.  Then  a can of tomato paste.  Then a couple bay leaves (which I never would have added except remembering that Marion Fitzgerald used to make great chili for us when we were teens and she added them).  I sprinkled in thyme.  Between the spices and the onions, which were sweet, the chili was just a touch sweet, which was too much counterbalance for the tomato acid, so I looked around and found a can of V8, which, when i added it, made it perfect.  I let it simmer for a couple hours and ate two bowls.  It was all, predictably enough, even better the next day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Josh Ferguson made these and delivered them on his motorcycle to the people of San Miguel for years.  He was the go-to bagel man.  Now he is living at some sort of ice-station zebra complex above the Arctic Circle, so we have to make them for ourselves.  Though I'm still trying to get him to go into the frozen bagel business.

Montreal Bagels
3.5        Cups of flour
2           Tsp of salt
2           Tbsp of sugar
1          Cup of dried onions (or other flavoring)
1           Cup of warm water
3           Tbsp of yeast
2           Eggs
1           Tbsp oil

Mix together in a large bowl
sugar, warm water, and yeast.
Let sit for 10 minutes.
Add eggs, oil, dried onions, salt
Knead for 10 minutes or until dough feels smooth
Let rise for 2  hours.

After the dough has risen it is time to form the bagels.

To form each bagel, pinch off a handful of dough.
Push your thumb through the center and smooth
Around the edges until the bagel is smooth and circular.
Let the bagels rise for 15 minutes after they are formed.

Preheat oven to 425

Boil a large pot of water and drop each bagel in individually for 2 minutes
After boiled brush the bagels with egg as a glaze
Bake bagels for 10 minutes, flip and bake for another 10.

Roast Chicken and Italian Sausage

Nancy Dixon cooked this once when I was at her house one August 11th.  I can only imagine that it is just as delicious when you aren't surrounded by great friends laughing and telling stories and clinking glasses, but I highly recommend it that way...

Roast Chicken and Italian Sausage

1 4-5 pound chicken cut into 8 pieces
¼ cup olive oil
2 lbs Italian sausage links
2 T Smoky Spanish paprika (pimenton)
2-6 to 8 inch sprigs Rosemary

Preaheat oven to 500*
Brown salt and peppered chicken pieces in olive oil in cast iron pot until golden brown on both sides
Place skin side up
Wrap Italian sausage links on top of chicken pieces in concentric circles—or just so it looks good
Sprinkle paprika on top of meat
Place Rosemary sprigs in an X on top, or so it looks good
Cover and place in oven and immediately lower temperature to 375
Roast for 1 to 1½ hours, depending on how much you want your chicken to fall off the bone.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Faux Trifle

While I am on the subject of imaginary and fake foods, this is the lower-fat, fake trifle I concocted when I ate Kathleen Peirce's real trifle and couldn't live without some approximation.  It doesn't hold a candle, but like so many weak imitations it is low fat and will do until I get the real recipe from Kathleen.
Use a trifle dish.  If you cant find one, use the tallest steepest glass bowl you can find.  Cut an angelfood cake into layers, each about two inches thick.  Use three cans of tart cherries, not cherry pie filling.  Be careful doling out the juices because you will want to make sure that some of the juice soaks into the cake at each layer.
Put the lowest level of the cake into the bowl, use the top layer to cut a circle to fill the hole in the center.  Distribute a layer of cherries and sprinkle enough juice of the cherries to make it delicious.  Now add a thick layer of parfait style vanilla yoghurt.  Then put down another layer of angelfood cake, plug the hole, etc until you have used up your cake.  Use any leftover cherries to decorate the top, put it in the refrigerator to combine for a few hours, serve it up.
   Like I say, it isn't the real thing, but its pretty good and keeps you from devouring a quart of cream and a pound of shortbread at a sitting.

Imaginary key lime pie

This is essentially a no-bake, easy, tasty pie made with key limes.  I am told that it is not real key lime pie, even though it is made with real key limes (called limones in Mexico where i learned the recipe.)
It has real calories and will make you real fat.  It gets real runny at room temperature.  But it is imaginary.  If anyone has a recipe for REAL key lime pie, feel free to send it along.
  Go ahead and buy a graham cracker crust, or make one if you want a real crust on an imaginary pie.  You do that by crumbling and pressing graham crackers into a pie tin.
Mix a can of condensed milk (you can use any kind, but for many people, Carnation is the only real condensed milk) together with a can of evaporated milk.  Stir in a third of a cup of real key lime juice (not to be confused with ReaLemon or ReaLime juices, which are registered trade marks.)  Pour the mixture into your crust and refrigerate for a couple hours or so until it has set.  That's it.  Now imagine eating it.

Blueberry cheesecake/gingerbread cookies

Two From Ramona Rauh
Best Blueberry Cheesecake

Ingredients for cheesecake:
-2 bars cream cheese
-1 1/2 cup sugar
-2 tsp vanilla
-3 eggs
-3 tbsp cornstarch
-2 cups whipping cream
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 tbsp lime or lemon juice
-Graham cracker crust

1. Preheat oven to 325. Make sure you have your crust prepared in a large spring form pan.
2. Cream the cheese, sugar, and vanilla together.
3. Add eggs one at a time
4. Add cornstarch, cream, and salt. Beat mixture until fluffy. Stir in the lemon juice.
5. Pour batter into crust and bake for 1 hour. Place a baking sheet under just in case it spills. This cake is huge and will rise up over the sides of the pan.
6. You will usually know when it's done because of it's pretty golden color. If unsure use the toothpick testing method. Let cool at room temperature, and chill in the ice box. (lol icebox)

Ingredients for Blueberry sauce:
- 1 1/2 cups blueberries
- 1/4 cups of sugar
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 cup water

1. Combine sugar and cornstarch in small saucepan.
2. Take 1/2 cup of the blueberries and crush with a fork.
3. Add to the saucepan with 1/2 cup of water and Stir.
4. Bring to a boil, watch the berries explode, and cook until sauce is thickened and translucent.
5. Remove from heat and add remaining 1 cup of blueberries.


Favorite Ginger Bread cookies (stolen from the gourmet cookbook)

2/3 cup pain-in-my-mol-ass-es
2/3 cups brown sugar
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 sticks butter, cut into tablespoons
1 big egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 3/4 cups of flour
Plus icing

1. Preheat oven to 325. Butter two large cookie sheets.
2. combine molasses, sugar, and spices in a saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove from heat and add baking soda. Watch the foamy show! Then stir in butter 3 pieces at a time. Add egg and stir until combined. Then salt and flour.
4. Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead until soft and easy. Add flour to prevent sticking. Half the dough, wrap it, and chill in the fridge.
5. With the other half, roll it out, and use your favorite cookie cutters. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool and decorate!

XO Ramona


Katie's meatballs in her own hand:


Aunt Viola's recipe in sister Katie's handwriting

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


From Craig Lemonds, who doesn’t roll on Shabbos:
OK, I have tried to size this down to a reasonable size.  I must say,
however, when both of my boys were at home they would count the days until Chanukah when the mass consumption of fried potatoes would commence. They would eat almost but nothing but latkes for all of Chanukah.  Traditional toppings are sour cream or apple sauce, but we made sure the had a couple of extra large bottles of ketchup, as this was their preference.
 2 cups peeled and shredded, not diced, potatoes
 1-3 tablespoons grated onion [depends on how much you like onion]
 2-3 eggs, beaten, depending on size
 2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
 1/2 - 1 cup good vegetable oil for frying [NOT SHORTENING OR OLIVE OIL,
thing here.]
1. Place the potatoes in a cheesecloth and wring, extracting as much
moisture as possible.
2. In a medium bowl stir the potatoes, onion, eggs, flour and salt together.
3. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until hot. Make sure the oil is not too deep, as you only want to cook one side at a time. Place large spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick patties, about
3-4 inches in diameter. Brown on one side, turn and brown on the other.
Let drain on paper towels. Serve hot!
Now for you to understand why these are such important comfort foods for Jews, in Eastern Europe potatoes were often hard to come by.  Eating these little fried morsels when Winter was hard, cold and dark, and the lights of Chanukah were lit, the home was warm and the stories told, it made everyone feel better.  Chanukah is really a minor festival, but since Christian neighbors were usually celebrating Christmas, it became even more meaningful and important [the Jewish calendar is lunar, and the eight-day holiday floats around December, usually, sometimes near or during Christmas, sometimes not.]  Donuts, specifically deep-fried donuts, called sufganiyot in Hebrew, are also eaten.  If you look at most Jewish holidays, you will see most revolve around some specific food.  Hence our motto, "We're Jews, we gotta eat."


And From Bix, straight out of Bayreuth, Germany:


1Pork Roast  about 2 pounds
½ small onion chopped
1 small dill pickle
crust of a piece of rye bread broken into pieces(optional)
caraway seed
1 small beef bouillon cube
Pinch or two of marjoram
Heaping teaspoon of regular flour

You need a cast iron or heavy pot with a lid

Brown roast well on all sides in butter or margarine
Add onion and stir a bit until wilted
Cut pickle into small pieces and add
Sprinkle roast liberally with caraway seeds
Add enough hot water to come up to ¾  of roast
Add bouillon cube
Cover and cook for about 1 1/2 hours. Let the liquid cook down and then add enough water so you’ll have enough gravy if necessary. Turn your roast once or twice.
When done  take roast out and slice. Mix flour with a bit of cold water and add to liquid to thicken gravy (you may not need all of the flour.)
Add a pinch of marjoram.

Serve with Panni potato dumplings.

This just made me hungry.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Apple Cake

Cousin Jane Firestone sent this recipe for apple cake from Aunt Vega.
Preheat oven to 350
4 C. chopped apples 3 /4 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
2 C. granulated sugar Your favorite light frosting (optional)
2/3 C vegetable oil 9x9 baking dish or pan
2 C. wheat or spelt flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt & 2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs or 4 oz. egg substitute
Mix all dry ingredients thoroughly. Add lightly beaten eggs to the dry mixture along with vegetable oil. Mix and add chopped apples, with or without peels. Add chopped nuts and lightly mix again. Turn into 9 x 9 greased and floured baking pan. Cook for 45 minutes.
The cake can be cut and served plain after cooling, or frosted with a light sugar or cream cheese frosting. This recipe freezes well when wrapped in freezer paper or foil to be reheated and enjoyed later. JF

Chocolate pound cake

From Cousin Butch Clark:
Aunt Marjorie's Chocolate Pound Cake Of Love
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup butter
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups plain flour
1/2 cups cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease and flour tube or bundt pan
Sift together flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder.
Cream together butter and shortening.
Slowly add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Slowly add milk and flour mixture, alternating between the two, mixing well in between.
Pour batter into pan.
Place on middle rack of preheated oven, bake for one and a half to two hours. Check after one and a half hour. See if a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If not, bake another half hour.
Here is the story behind this recipe:
I'd say I was about fifteen years old or so when I asked for and was rewarded with a hand-written copy of this recipe.
Our great-aunt Marjorie, besides being  a naturalist extraordinaire and a walking, perpetually-talking library, was a pretty dang good cook.
Her mother, our "Momma Goolsby", was a resident of a very small nursing home in Gainesboro, Tennessee. Twenty-five residents in all, I believe.
Every so often, Aunt Marjorie and her sister, my grandmother, known to us as "Babo", would load a few of us heathens in Babo's big Cherokee and away we would go for a day long excursion to visit Mama Goolsby.
These trips were some of the best times I ever had during my youth. My sister, Cindy and cousin, Kelly and myself, cutting up, laughing, enjoying one another's company while Babo and Aunt Marjorie chatted away in the front seat.
We always took Mama Goolsby to her favorite diner down the road apiece, where she always ordered a cheeseburger and french fries. The tiny restaurant had miniature juke-boxes on each table, which I found fascinating.
After lunch, we would load back up and drive around, periodically stopping alongside the small river there, disembarking to look for arrowheads, fossils and geodes. We always brought back hundreds of pounds of geodes. I'm sure everyone in our family still has a few in their flower gardens.
At some point, Mama Goolsby would break out Aunt Marjorie's chocolate pound cake and enjoy a piece or two, sharing it with us, of course and saving half to take back to her room to share with her friends.
Well, I got hooked on Aunt Marjorie's cake and raved about it so much she would actually bake two cakes and let me take one home to our house at the end of the day.
She finally succumbed to my repeated requests for the recipe and wrote it out for me. It is a treasured momento, written in Aunt Marjorie's hand, much more than a simple cake recipe. It is a recipe for how to care for one another.
The rich aroma of this cake baking always induces a flood of memories of the sweet times spent with precious family members no longer here on this Earth. I believe with this particular recipe, you can indeed have your cake and eat it too.

Johanna B Devine’s Grandma’s Cake and its double size version

Plum Kuchen (my mother’s recipe)
Pastry dough
8” x 13” pan (or two 8x8 or layercake pans) or   8” x 8” pan or round cake pan
2 t baking powder or   1 t baking powder
2 2/3 C flour or   1 1/3 C flour
2/3 C sugar or   1/3 C sugar
2 eggs or  1 egg
¾ t salt or   3/8 t salt
2/3 C oil or  1/3 C oil
2 t vanilla  or almond extract (or 1t of each) or 1 t vanilla or almond extract (or ½ t of each)
Mix everything together. You may end up using your hands to form a ball (or two). Press the dough into the pan with your hand to cover the bottom evenly.
Plums or fruit to cover (I used about 6 large-12 small plums cut up for the double recipe).
Slice plums (also good with apples, peaches, etc.) and arrange over the dough. Top with a few thin slices of butter and sprinkle liberally with a sugar & cinnamon mixture.
Bake 375°-400°F about 30-35 minutes.

Spring Rolls

Spring rolls
These are modeled after the ones I used to eat in New Orleans.  I have made them dozens and dozens of times.  They are great in the summer when it’s too hot to eat heavy food.
  Prepare a savory ingredient.  If you are vegetarian, I recommend tofu fried in thin strips with basil and a bit of light soy sauce.  If you want seafood, I recommend cleaned and veined shrimp boiled to tender and cut in half longways.  I have also doe these rolls with strips of chicken meat and also pork.  Especially if you are eating pork or chicken, make sure not to use too much, since these have a light and cool taste and stuffing them like burritos would overwhelm the other flavors.
   Prepare either rice stick noodles or bean thread.  The important thing is that you don’t overcook and that you use a mild white vermicelli, not thick or heavy noodles.  Cool the noodles off after cooking.
  Use a broad pan full of hot water (the hottest tap water is usually hot enough) to soften a rice paper wrapper.  These can be bought at any Asian market, most well-stocked grocery stores.  I like the square ones best, but round is okay.  Lay out the wrapper on a surface with a corner toward yourself.  Put a bit of noodle about the thickness of two fingers near the corner closest to you. Add a bit of your savory ingredient. Put in one or two big  leaves of  Thai Basil, the kind that has a slightly anis-y taste.  Or any basil you like.  I’m just saying.  Add a few shredded carrot strips, maybe a snow pea.  Fold the corner nearest you over the filling, then take the right and left corners and cross them over one another, making a long sleeve with the lump of filling near you and a pointed end pointing directly away from you. Roll without tearing the wrapper.  It might take a few times to get it right.  Eat your mistakes.
  Serve with a Thai Peanut Sauce, a plum sauce or plain light soy sauce.  Or Sriracha sauce, if that’s how you roll.

Chile fruit sauce:
   I usually make some version of this when I make spring rolls. Take a chile ancho, remove the stem and seeds, and let soak in warm water.  Meanwhile,  cut up several types of seasonal fruit, about three cups total.  I generally use apples, plums, peaches, other tree fruits.  Nothing super sweet or overpowering in taste (like berries).  Cut and simmer in just enough water to cover them until they are soft.  I usually peel the apples and peaches and leave the skins of plums.  The plums add a perfumey quality that I really like.
  Stem and seed a jalapeno pepper.  Cut it into tiny pieces.  Drop it and the chile ancho into the fruit mix.  Turn it off and set aside. Wash your hands well to get the volatile oils of the chile off.  Now wash them again, you didn’t get it all the first time.  If you don’t believe me, touch your face with you fingers and wait three minutes.
  Once it has cooled some, carefully take the mix and pour it into your blender.  Remember that the mix is still pretty hot, so make sure the lid is on tightly.  Blend until it is all combined like applesauce (though probably runnier.)  Add ¼ cup of white vinegar to the mix and simmer for 20 minutes adding water when necessary. Serve cold with springrolls.

Easy Cheesy Jalapeno

Stuffed jalapenos
You can substitute serranos if you like a spicier pepper.  You can substitute goat cheese if you like a funkier cheese. Cut the chiles in half longways and scrape out the seeds and white parts.  Wash your hands.  Really well; the volatile oils of the chiles will give you burns on any part of your body that you touch if you aren’t very careful. Fill the half chiles with cream cheese.  Wrap each chile in a half piece of bacon.  Wash your hands again.  Put them in the oven on a baking sheet that has enough of an edge to catch any grease that might cook out of the bacon.  Bake at 325 until the bacon is done.  Be careful to watch the bottom of the bacon, which will tend to cook a lot faster due to contact with the metal pan.  Enjoy! (And wash you hands again)


Ideally you start with a real mexican bolillo, which is a roll with a thick crust and white soft interior, shaped like a yam.  If you can’t find that, a small baguestte or other thick-crusted roll will have to do.
Cut the rolls in half, leaving a top half and bottom half.  Turn the top piece crust-down so you now have two bottom halfs.  Smear a layer of refried beans on each half-roll, about a quarter inch thick.  Lay slices of white cheese, either Oaxaca, Manchego, Monterrey jack, or Mozzarella over the top, covering the entire surface.  Put a thin slice of tomato on top of the cheese in the center of the roll.  Sprinkle a little Mexican oregano over the whole thing.  Bake at 350 until the cheese on top starts to brown a bit.  Eat.

Two recipes from Cousin Stacy Clark:

Here are a couple of recipes for you :-)

      2 lbs large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick pieces
·         5 cloves garlic peeled and diced
·         1 1/2 cups vinegar
·         1 1/2 cups water
·         10 bay leaves, whole
·         8 peppercorns
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         6 oz. pickled jalapenos
Heat oil in a large saucepan and saute the garlic. Add in carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes. Carefully add in vinegar, peppercorns, salt, and and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes and then add water and jalapenos and bring to a simmer again for another 10 mintues.
Let it cool completely and then transfer the carrots and cooking liquid into a covered container and refrigerate overnight. Store the carrots in the liquid and use a slotted spoon to serve them. You may leave the bay leaves in the liquid to add to the flavor, but do not eat them. Always remove

Tennessee caviar

2  cans black eyes drained
1  can shoepeg corn drained
1  can rotele tomatoes
1  onion chopped
1  bell pepper chopped
Italian dressing
Combine all and cover with dressing.
options:   add spice with chopped Jalapenos; add fresh cilantro;add fresh chopped garlic…………

Serve with chips

Pancakes for the masses

From Miriya Bollenbacher:

Here is the breakfast batter I made almost everyday for 4 years at the Gourmet's Market in Knoxville. My base line. My bread and butter. I could do this in my sleep and I have. 6 am, crackin' eggs, making buckets of batter to dress up for hungry old ladies and babies in their Sunday best. Nothing like slaving over a hot griddle to warm up early in the morning! The recipe below is for about 3 gallons of plain ol pancake batter. From there, depending on my timing, leftovers and hangovers, I would concoct daily specials. My favorites are below.


mix dry ingredients in 1 bowl
20c Flour (lose track of how many cups you've scooped while you think about that crazy shit last night)
3c Sugar
1/2 c. baking powder

Whisk wet ingredients together in a bucket:
20 eggs (get a good rhythm going cracking 20 damn eggs in a row. try it with one in each hand.)
add huge splash of vanilla. boosh. beat it.
then add 1 gallon of milk. whisk it

add dry ingredients into the bucket one third at a time. mix and let stand 15 minutes while you drink another cup of coffee and chain smoke before the breakfast rush hits. Have your griddle at 400, tag it with some cooking spray and ladle away(6 oz. scoop per cake). Add toppings to cakes on the griddle before you flip. Flip when bubbles appear and cakes are dry around the edge.

Bananarama pancakes: Choco-chips, strawberry, caramelized banana
Bacon. Just put bacon in the batter. lumberjack stack that shit.
Nutella tower: layer a smoosh of nutella between each cake as you pile them to the moon.
Fruited cake: Add blue,straw,black,and raspberries
post modern pancakes: add cooked, chopped pancakes to cakes on the griddle
thu tran's food party cakes: add leftover pasta (chopped) and ham (diced) to cake batter on the griddle, serve with pineapple!


Hey! I saw your post about the cookbook project. I couldn't pick any one recipe. So, one from family, one from the restaurant. Help yourself to anything. Introduce, edit, have at it. I really wanted to pass these along. I've worked food service all my life. I love food. Out of dumpsters, off of platters, I love food. Feasting, serving, chopping, tasting, whatever, it pleases me to no end.

The first is sauerbraten from my grandmother's landlady, Frau Doll. Schwetzingen, Germany 1963.

3-4# lb lean beef roast
3 T Flour
2 T salt
3 T lard or bacon grease
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1 c. onion, sliced thin
1/2 c. water
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c gingersnap crumbs
1/2 c. raisins
Roll meat in flour/salt mix and fry to brown in fat. Mix remaining ingredients, except gingersnap crumbs, and warm. Add browned meat to sauce and cover. Refrigerate 2-4 days, turning often to marinate evenly. Cook on stove top in a covered pot slowly over 3 hours or until very tender. Remove meat and bay leaf. Sieve or put into blender to mas raisins, add gingersnap crumbs and warm to thicken liquid. Serve thin slices with sauce.

From Cousin Jeff Chambers— Smoked Pork Roast

Boston Butt and/or Pork Picnic
This recipe is suitable for family reunions, funerals, weddings, church picnics, Christmas parties, house concerts, school luncheons, Red Cross banquets, and homeless programs. At least, that’s the use I’ve gotten out of it. I took a smoked pork picnic to a wedding/family reunion once. After pulling the meat off of the bone, I set the bone and outer skin aside. By the time all the eating was done, I found that the skin and bone had been scraped clean. Then I felt guilty for not cooking two roasts!
To quote the movie Napoleon Dynamite, “This isn’t that complex.”
This will work on any smoker. My preferred grill is the Weber 22 “ Kettle Grill. Using the Weber will save charcoal and hickory and yield every bit as good an end result as smokers. Plus, if the lid is kept on a Weber, flare-ups are virtually eliminated.
One 8-9 lb. Boston Butt or One 9-10 lb. Pork Picnic
McCormick (or store brand) Barbecue Spice/Rub rubbed on the roast before cooking
Hickory chunks, usually available at the grocery store. About every three years I make a trip to an area lumber yard which makes drumstick stock. The stock is sent to Vic Firth, Inc., in New England where the finest hickory drumsticks are made. The scrap is sold for $15 a truckload. I have all I need for a long time, along with any of my friends and co-workers who like to cook with hickory. If you should have to use chips, soaking for thirty minutes may be necessary.
Start the fire as you would any other charcoal fire for cooking. Using a chimney style starter will eliminate any possibility of the dreaded charcoal lighter fluid taste. After the coals are ready (white ash), in the Weber, scrape all the coals to one side of the grill. It’s best to have all the coals pushed toward the prevailing windward side of the grill. At this point, take three or four of the chunks and put the directly on the coals. Once they ignite, place the lid on the Weber. After just a few minutes, place the roast on the side opposite the coals. The vent on the lid should be directly above the meat. This allows the smoke to travel over the roast before leaving the smoker and going into the air to make all the neighbors envious.
During the cooking, periodically remove the lid to allow the hickory chunks to reignite and begin smoking again. While adding charcoal usually is not necessary, stoke the fire with additional hickory chunks.
After about six hours, begin checking the meat by tugging gently at the bone. If the bone wiggles easily, even pulling completely out of the roast, it’s time to eat. Remember, outdoor cooking with charcoal is an inexact science. Allow for weather conditions (wind, temperature, etc.) that will most certainly affect cooking times. If you must, use a thermometer and try for a reading of 160 degrees. Pull the meat off the bone and serve either as sandwiches or as a main course meat.
Barbecue sauce:
One cup of Wicker’s Marinade
Three glugs of thick barbecue sauce – To paraphrase my cousin Jim “It’s really important what kind of sauce you use.” Me “What kind?” Jim “Whatever you have in the refrigerator.” (He was talking about cheese in his famous macaroni and cheese casserole.)
My father put Worcester Sauce in everything so I usually put a few dashes in my sauce.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ants on a log

Jake says, "I know some food I'd like to eat. It's called "ants on a log." I won't tell you it's a celery stick smeared with peanut butter in the rut and raisins in a line, but I will tell you I've been thinking about it. Is that the kind of thing your food description book would describe?"

Coconut-basil milkshake

Coconut-basil milkshake
Start with ¾ can of coconut juice (not cream or milk, just plain juice, you can usually get one in the Mexican part of the grocery store.). Empty it into a blender then add about 8-12 big leaves of fresh basil.  This should be thai basil, the sort with a trace of a cinnamon and anis-y taste. Blend until it is completely liquid- no chunks or stems or bits.  Now fill the blender with good vanilla ice-cream.  If you want a thick shake, blend it like that, if not, leave some space to fill with milk before blending.  Blend it up and drink!  I got the idea from the basil coconut gelato at a shop in New Orleans.  Mayfield’s was having a milkshake contest and I tried to recreate the flavor that I liked so much, and while this isn’t exactly the same thing, it’s a good milkshake and something different for a change.  Though I first put it together with Mayfield’s ice cream, I recommend using Breyers or Haagen-Dazs “5”

Easy vegetarian pasta

Melt a quarter stick of butter in a frying pan. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic.  You can add a minced shallot too if you like, but the recipe is just fine without it.  Once the garlic has begun to tenderize a bit, add a cup of cream and bring it to a simmer again. Stir in 1½ cups of fresh grated Parmesan. Preferably not pre-grated Kraft Parmesan. Once it is all melted and blended, add a half-teaspoon of coarse black pepper and a bit of fresh chopped parley. If you want to throw in a handful of fresh or frozen green peas at the last, that will be fine.
Serve over the pasta of your choice (usually fettuccini or spaghetti.)


Cut and cook together a couple large boneless skinless chicken breasts, a couple long links of Andouille sausage, some ham if you like, in a large Dutch oven or similar pot.  Once these are cooked together, add the trinity of a cup each of celery, onion, and green pepper with a bit of garlic.  Add two cups of rice and keep mixing until it’s all about equally distributed.  Now pour in three and a half cups of chicken stock. If you like a tomatoey jambalaya, make it three cups of chicken stock and a can of mild Rotel tomatoes. If you like it REALLY tomatoey, add a small can of tomato paste. Cover it and let it cook in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes. Take it out and stir it up.  Add another cup of stock, cover it, and put it back in the oven for another 45 minutes.
Add peeled shrimp with the stock if you like seafood in your jambalaya.

My Gumbo

There are as many gumbos as there are cooks who prepare it, so take my recipe as a starting point (at best) and improvise from there using the ingredients you like best.
   I’m told there are three basic ways to put the gumbo in your gumbo.  One is to start with a roux of oil and flour.  The next is to use file, which is dried and powdered sassafras leaves. Others use okra. 
   My friend Bix makes a very pale gumbo with ham, chicken, and shrimp in an okra base.  TR Johnson has an annual gumbo feast where he makes three gumbos, one of which is vegetarian, called Gumbo Z’erbe.  In New Orleans restaurants I’ve had gumbo from almost black to very pale brown, filled with every creature that creeps and swims around a bayou.  Some swear by duck and rabbit and other game, some go heavy on seafood and light on cloven hooves. 
  My preference is to start with a roux, use three meats (chicken, smoked sausage, and shrimp) and keep it pretty simple.  I make my roux using either a sausage fat, like I’m working toward gravy, or plain cooking oil, if I don’t have enough fat.  Goose grease is a popular base too, though I’ve never tried it.
    I fry up my sausages, preferably Andouille, using about a pound.  I pour out and set aside the grease and use the oily pan with the Andouille cut up into bite sized pieces to fry up boneless skinless chicken breast, again about a pound, cut into pieces about the size of the end of my big old thumb to triple that size..  Once it has cooked to light brown on at least one side, I add the trinity of New Orleans cooking, chopped celery, onion, and bell pepper along with a toe or two of minced garlic. Try two big sticks of celery, two medium bell peppers, and a large onion, all chopped pretty small, say the size of a dime or less. Add a big handful of chopped  fresh parsley.  (you can add some cilantro, basil, rosemary, or any other herbs you like in here too, that’s what makes each pot a bit different.  Go ahead and put in filé or okra or both here too, if you want.) Stir it around, add about a tablespoon each of salt and coarse ground black pepper and let it all simmer while you start your roux in another pan. I start browning my flour in the grease in the bottom of a big Dutch oven, but then the Dutch oven is never big enough for the whole pot of soup and I end up moving the whole thing to a large soup pot anyway. Work the flour around in the grease until it gets golden, not too hot.  Next I add chicken stock to thin the roux a bit, then add in the meat and trinity mix.  Stir it to distribute the roux and keep adding chicken stock until you have put in about a gallon.  If you want to drop a whole crab in the pot to add some flavor, now is the time.  Let the whole thing simmer for at least the amount of time it takes you to make a big pot of white rice and clean some shrimp (again, about a pound) by removing their heads and shells and, if you need to, deveining them.  When you are about five minutes from eating, drop the shrimp in the gumbo and let them cook the last little bit with everything else.  The next time you warm this soup, the shrimp will be a little on the tough side, but everything else will be even better, having exchanged flavors and cooked to more tenderness.  And even a tough shrimp isn’t going to break out your teeth or anything.
   Serve the gumbo over rice.  Resist the urge after the first time you eat this meal to dump the leftover rice into the pot in order to warm the whole thing up the next day.  Gumbo is better the next day, but the rice will just swell and turn the soup into a paste.  Keep them separate and when the reheated gumbo is boiling, you can put the cold rice your bowls and dish the soup over it.
  I like my gumbo like this, just add a bit more salt and pepper, but lots of folks in New Orleans wouldn’t dream of eating it without some Tabasco sauce added for a little heat.