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Although there is work to be done it’s too hot to do anything. My Protestant Work Ethic neurosis in cahoots with the OCD-like parts of my brain usually run the roost on the weekends, having me scurry about non-stop doing tidy up. The less cerebral parts of my body staged a coup this morning by combining GI upset and general malaise. This less than cerebral sabotage has obliged me to sit still and lay low. The chores will just have to wait. The thermostat is normally set at 85F but I’ve turned it down to a gelid 80F. *

Seasoned Spo-fans know The Lovely Neighbor gave me her vast collection of food magazines before she moved away. Throughout the years I’ve been ripping out recipes that look good to someday make. Part I is complete: all the mags have been pilfered.  Part II is to organize the clippings into tasty taxonomies – also done. 

As you can see in the photo Part II is spread out on the dining room table. My soul swoons; what a collection! It certainly doesn’t lack for variety. Part III is commences: reread the recipes for redundancies and continuing desirability. I suspect I will throw out several. This is a good task to do through on this hot Sunday evening and while I have no appetite. Sorting through the slips I saw several repeats, which makes sense. I want to make coq au vin and I like pasta dishes so I would rip these out whenever I saw one.  I have heaps. 

Parts I-III were pretty straight forward. Part IV is the challenging one: making them. It looks if I actually tried to make every recipe I ripped out I would not live long enough to do so. I feel obliged to make them not just throw them out with a change of heart. There is a sunk-cost feeling about this all.  I will try to be positive not negative. These dishes look downright delicious; I really want to make them. They are various, tasty, and exciting – like my men.

For Sunday supper I plan to make this soup chosen from the Soup section as we have old chicken and stock to use in a Martha T. White Memorial Food Push.**  It’s a start. 

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*As it is 115F outside this indoor this temperature feels cool. The ceilings are quite high in the Casa de Spo allowing heat to rise, which helps some as well.

**My grandparents were Charles and Martha White. Each pushed food for different reasons. In a Charles O. White Memorial Food Push you eat something as it will make you grow and strong and it’s good for you. In a Martha T While Memorial Food Push you eat something so there are no leftovers to save and later throw out when no one eats them.  

I regularly read Cooks Illustrated magazine. For thems unfamiliar with this food journal its goal is to explore the science of cooking in order to come up with new and improved ways to make established favorites. They take a dish, ‘take it apart’ and spend one to two pages explaining the trial and error they encountered on the road to the best recipe possible. The latest edition had a recipe for Sloppy Joes and how to do’em right. Spo-fans know I am always on the lookout for ‘proper’ recipes so I was intrigued to try out Cook Ilustrated’s ultimate recipe.

I am fond of Sloppy Joes; they are associated with family get-togethers and tailgate parties at football games. Recipes for Sloppy Joes are legion; I don’t think I’ve ever had or made the same version twice other than when I succumb to making the tinned Manwich variety (oh the embarrassment).

Someone is Sancho Panza to my Don Quixote on my quest to achieve culinary apotheosis. He’s grown dubious of these ‘new and improved versions” on the practical grounds they often take a lot of time to do and they often produce not much improvement over what we’ve always done. [1]  In my defense my attempts are admittedly different and not in a bad way. They never get a thumbs down. [2]

I got the ingredients and shooed Someone out of the kitchen for my quixotic attempt to create a Sloppy Joe culinary masterpiece.

The recipes are quite simple; it is the careful ingredients and technique that makes the dishes what they are. Cooks Illustrated always explains ‘why’ decisions are made but one can skip to the end and just make the recipe.

The hamburger meat was to be a certain fat percentage and seasoned and cooked with precise instructions.  Tomato paste was used instead of ketchup to increase umami; cornstarch was used to help bind the meat to make it less sloppy. [3]  I remember it did not have nasty celery and green bell pepper bits as they were deemed to interfere with the meat and onion flavors.

The end product was flavorful and there were no nasty drops down the shirt front.  It didn’t take too much time to do.  Someone said it was good and ‘worth making again’ so it was deemed a success.

There was a sense of it being different/not what I am used to so I guess I am not that different from the other Spos who prefer familiarity to flavor.  You can take the boy out of the Midwest but perhaps you can’t take the Midwest out of the boy after all.

 

 

[1] The awful fact that he is usual right doesn’t deter me from continually trying.

[2]  Once upon a time I spent a lot of time and effort making pumpkin pie from real pumpkins. It was full of organic pumpkin and fresh spices.  My family didn’t care for it. They were so used to ‘that made from the Libby’s can” this ‘new’ one didn’t feel ‘right’ for them in looks, taste, and feel.  Needless to say I don’t bother to make it any more. Pearls for swine I say.

[3] My family would find this another disappointment. Nothing dripping out the sides while eating would be seen as an object of suspicion. After all Sloppy Joes are supposed to be sloppy.  Mother served hers with a spoon for the droppings and with plenty of napkins.  It seemed most contents fell out but this was deemed a sign of ‘good’ Joes.

One of my goals in life is to make proper onion soup no rubbish as it is my favorite. My soul swoons whenever I get hold of a good one. Alas these are few and far between.  Bland and disappointing types abound in restaurants. Every few years I try again to make my own but it always comes up deficit. For this month’s ‘soup of the month’ I vowed to try again. 

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A few years ago I got at Christmas the cookbooks of Julia Child. I’ve long been intimidated by French cooking what with its pretentious ‘members only’ reputation being a cuisine only great cooks (French ones really) can truly master/don’t try this at home.  I figured if anyone can help it is Mrs. Child. 

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To my relief the ingredients of her version are simple , few, and easy to obtain – like my men – consisting of onions, beef stock, wine, and not much else. 

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Onions are another area of culinary intimidation. I would pay top dollar for a kitchen applicance in which you pop in a whole unpeeled onion and out the other end comes perfectly peeled/chopped/diced onion bits.  I’ve watched Youtube videos on how to chop/slice/peel onions yet I still bungle every time I try.  For today’s endeavor I got this guillotine-like contraption which hasn’t seen daylight in years. It did a fair job slicing thin the 1.5 pounds called for and I didn’t cut off my fingers – good signs both.

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Mrs. Child says the trick is a slow low heat cooking then a high heat with added sugar and salt to caramelize. She says to be patient; this will take time. 

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A watched pot never boils but here is Urs Truly ordering the onions to speed up and the beef stock to boil. I had as much luck as King Cnut holding back the tide. Spo-fans can see in the photo the intrepid Spo-kettle which is continually called upon to boil water for tea.

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The recipe calls for wine – but only half a cup?  Patience above! What a waste to throw out the remainder of the bottle. I will try to think of something to do with the remnants.  

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It looks promising!  It appears to be what proper onion soup ought to be!

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The verdict: ‘meh”  

It has the right aroma, texture, and color. It doesn’t seem to have much onion. Next time I should double the amount of sliced onions.  There sure was a lot of shrinkage in the cooking process.

The big page 71 is the taste: the soup doesn’t have much flavor nor is it complex. True! The recipe has no spice other than salt and pepper to taste. I tried not to scrimp on ingredients but perhaps I should have used a better wine. I suspect there is an element of culture: my tastebuds are so used to the hot and spicy cuisines of the American Southwest anything less seems tasteless.  Does one but hot sauce or chiles in onion soup? I think not. 

All the same this one is the best I’ve made so far; I am making progress. I will keep trying.   

 

Many of the holiday food traditions for Spos originate with my maternal great mother Eloise. Conversations via FB with my first, second, and third cousins revealed many of us are doing  the same cookie called an “S” cookies. It is a simple cookie; it is easy to make, it not too cloying, and with simple good flavor – like my men.  However whenever I make S cookies they don’t seem to come out as well as Mother’s. For years I attributed this to lack of maternal magic – until this morning. I asked Father to send me her recipe as I was suspicious something wasn’t right.  He sent it and my worse fears were realized. In my version of the recipe there are three – count’em – three! – sizable errors in measurements. On the positive, this explains why mine don’t work so well and the matter is easily corrected.  Oh the relief.

On the other hand ‘why’ my copy is corrupt is a dark and sinister question. Rationalists in the house think I merely copied the recipe wrong.  I wonder if Mother purposely gave me false information so I would have to rely on her to provide proper cookies. Another explanation: the gremlins who rearrange my perfectly edited blog entries after I press the publish button also rewrite my recipe cards in their spare time. 

This is a humble reminder that recipe measurements are there for a reason: they make for the best turnout. When cooking something from a recipe I often want to wing it and/or cut corners. As Rocky says to Bullwinke this trick never works. Tomorrow when I make “S” cookies I will follow Mother’s recipe to the letter.  

Even more humbling than the lesson to follow the directions is the axiom Mother Knows Best. 

“S” cookies – the precise recipe no rubbish version. 

1/3 cup margarine **

1 and 1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 Tablespoons  cinnamon

2 and 1/2 cups of flour

1/2 Tablespoon of brandy

3 large eggs

Rub butter** into sugar; add eggs, brandy, and the dry ingredients (flour; baking powder; cinnamon).  The dough will be firm. Flour your hands and make small dough-balls. Roll these into small fingers and curve them into S forms . Lay them on an un-greased baking sheet.  Bake @ 375 degrees for 7 minutes.

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**Despite what I wrote, I am going to use butter. I can’t imagine great grandmother at the turn of the 20th century had/used margarine. Later into the recipe it says rub butter not margarine.  I will tell you how it comes out. 

 

I have a patient who grew up in poverty. Despite now having wealth he finds fresh vegetables unappetizing. He explains he grew up on canned beans and such. For him what comes out of a tin is what ‘tastes right”. I think of him whenever I make mac & cheese out of the blue box. It is hot, quick, and comforting – like my men.  It tastes like ‘real mac & cheese’ to me because that’s what I grew up with.  I have a more sophisticated palate now and I have made many types of ‘adult’ or ‘gourmet’ M&C.  These are marvelous but there it is.  At the end of the day when I am tired it is terribly tedious to prepare fancy forms when the cheap stuff takes no time and tastes great.

M&C from the blue box is easy to coif; I can use whatever it is at hand. Throwing into the acid-yellow gunge some slightly-off vegetables is an excellent means of assuaging guilt I am eating bad – and it seems thrifty to do given the slightly suspect produce would otherwise go in the rubbish.

“What’s for dinner?” is sometimes asked in the house. Whenever I draw a blank or feel a need to rush – or I’m just being plain laziness – the response is “Tuna Hemingway”.** This is a ‘recipe’ made by Urs Truly consisting of making blue-box M&C, throwing in a tin of tuna fish, and whatever is on the shelf at eye level. I don’t think I’ve ever made it the same way twice.

Despite the unique and delectable pleasure that arises from eating M&C* it always comes with a heaping serving of guilt. I should not be eating this stuff. M&C doesn’t have any fiber or vitamins and it certainly has a bad glycemic index. Half the ingredients on the blue box version look to be out of a chemistry laboratory.  Blech. M&C is like a lot of pleasures they are inimical for one’s health but oh! the ecstasy!  What’s not to love?  Carbs and cheese and I: the ultimate three-way that never loses its glamor.

Lest I leave Spo-fans thinking I am basically white-trash, here is one of my favorite recipes for the stuff. There is no fluorescent-orange color to this one. I make this version for parties and supper invite. Not once has it fallen flat.  After all who doesn’t adore M&C?

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (2 cups ) raw penne pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 3/4 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 generous cup (5 ounces) shredded good quality, extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, crumbled
  • 2/3 cup (3 ounces) shredded Gruyere cheese
  • Generous 1/8 teaspoon each hot red pepper flakes
  • Generous 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Generous 1/4 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 saltines, coarsely crumbled

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a shallow 1 1/2 quart baking dish, and add cooked pasta.
  2. In a blender or food processor combine egg, milk, and garlic, and process 3 seconds. Add onion, cheeses, peppers, salt, and paprika, and blend 10 seconds. Turn into dish, folding into macaroni. Casserole could be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 24 hours at this point.
  3. To bake, bring casserole close to room temperature. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Coat crackers with butter and spread over top of casserole. Bake about 20 to 25 minutes, or until thick yet creamy. If top is not golden, slip under broiler for a minute. Remove from oven, let stand about 5 minutes, and serve.

 

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*Joke: two women are talking in the ladies’ loo. One asks the other “What do you like better: sex or mac and cheese?”  The other responds: “Is it Kraft?”

**Sometimes it is ‘Tuna Hemingway’ because I want some dammit.

 

Martini-cocktail-001    This afternoon to my surprise I received a text from Nephew #1. I don’t think he has ever done so. He texts back whenever I text him and he sometimes joins in when Spos get into one of their group discussions but today is his first spontaneous text to Urs Truly.  This is what he wrote:

Heya Uncle Spo, I was reading over the recipes for the drinks I should know how to make, and I found I’m missing a few! I’ve go Dry Martini, Dry Rob Roy, Manhattan, and High Baller (sic). Which ones am I missing? 

I wasn’t aware Nephew #1 drank (Brother #2 tells me he’s shown no interest to do so, even into his college years). I wondered why he was asking me out of all his uncles but it makes sense the queer ‘fun’ uncle knows how to work a shaker.  Here’s what I am sending the lad:

My dearest nephew,

You are correct in thinking one of the signs of a proper gentleman is his knowledge how to make an assortment of cocktails. A host should have the ability to makes several ‘classics’ upon request and make them well. 

I am pleased as punch you have asked me and I am happy to instruct you in the mysteries of the composition of libations. How sensible of you to ask me of all your uncles as they are utterly useless: Uncle William drinks only scotch while Uncle Jeffery goes for cheap beer and stuff (oh the embarrassment!).  Here are nine classic cocktails you should know:

1 – Dry Martini – It is best to have a few quality gins on hand – no rubbish!  I can give you a few names if you like. Ask your guest what sort of gin they prefer and do they like dry or extra dry. Forget James Bond! a proper martini should be made in a pitcher not a shaker, with plenty of ice and stirred not shaken. Shaking is for fruity and effervescent drinks. Strain the gin/vermouth into a chilled martini glass. Ask if they want an olive or a lemon twist and then don’t do much of either. Uncle says too many olives take up too much room in such a little glass. 

2 – Manhattan – the king of whisky/bourbon cocktails. The booze can be whiskey, rye, or bourbon. The bitters vary to taste so have a few types on hand.  Now – this is what separates the men for the boys – know the difference between a dry and a sweet manhattan. Ask your guest which type they prefer. A dry manhattan is made with dry vermouth and a lemon twist. A sweet manhattan is made with sweet vermouth and a luxardo cherry. Never use maraschino cherries – do not dare to question this.  Either type can be made ‘neat’ by mixing the ingredients in a glass and stirring (again no shaking nonsense) and straining – or they can  be made ‘on the rocks’.  If you do make it on the rocks, use one large square ice cube not a bunch of small ones. A large cube cools the drink with less dilution. 

3- Rob Roy  – There are not many who know or drink Dry Rob Roys, which is a pity as they are/were quite the gentleman’s drink. Hopefully they make a comeback. 

4- Cosmopolitan  this dignified drink has been dragged down to cheap party stuff levels, but you should keep it classy. A proper cosmo is not red but slightly pink. Many are made looking like Kool-aid in which some vodka happened to fall into it. 

5- High Ball – For these it is good to have a variety of decent whiskies on hand – just don’t use the expensive stuff lest you cast pearls before swine.

6- Daiquiri – is another drink that when made proper is marvelous. The ersatz daiquiri made with acid green mixer in large plastic jugs is right out.  Find a recipe that uses real lime juice or don’t bother. This one is made in a shaker with ice. 

7- Negroni  Oh the bliss!  1/3 part campari, 1/3 gin (no rubbish), 1/3 sweet vermouth stirred and strained. serve with an orange peel. So simple but so tasty and oh so masculine.

8 – Gin and Tonic – What separates the men from the boys (or the Brits from the Yanks) on this classic drink is the use of real tonic and not the cheap stuff poured from yellow plastic screw top containers.  When you taste real tonic there is no going back.   

finally – 

9 – “Your own” Find a cocktail (or make one of your own) that is uncommon guaranteed people have not heard of it. It is the sort of cocktail that gets the ‘What’s that?” response when you propose making one.  This takes some experimentation; you want one that people are going to remember you by. “Oh Mitch, last time you made that marvelous (fill in the blank) can we have it again?”  

For example, your marvelous Uncle’s signature cocktail is “Windex” which is made using  a variety of liquors with blue curaçao, mixed with 7-up and a touch of sour mix, and topped with a lemon slice. 🙂 

Spo-fans are asking – nay, demanding! – I write about BBQ sauce. Here it goes……

People have been barbequing since the caveman days. Alongside this ageless cuisine is the passion for some sort of sauce to go along with the mastodon steaks. Newer Spo-fans may not know Urs Truly has a long time hobby of making and collecting BBQ sauces.  I remember as a boy my father used a BBQ sauce called Woody’s*.   When it came to taste I thought it beat ketchup by a country mile. Even then I was in pursuit of ‘proper’ sauce.  I am not certain how it got into my head at a tender age  BBQ should be made, not bought** but there it is. Don Quixote-like I have been on a search for the ultimate sauce ever since.

To my childish disappointment I learned BBQ sauce isn’t some complex ineffable substance of many ingredients (usually) but a simple balance of four elements. These four ersatz Archetypes are: heat, sweet, spice, and tang. Sounds like a law firm, don’t it?  Nearly all sauces are a mixture of these for elements.

Heat < peppers, hot sauces

Sweet < honey, molasses, brown/white sugar, and syrups.

Spice < lots of lovelies

Tang < ‘umami’ things like Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, tomato products.

I have recipes to go with spicy cuisine, to ‘cover up a cheap cut of meat’, for thems who don’t like the taste of tomatoes (oh the pain!). After decades of experiments with complicated many-ingredient sauces, I learned the ones best are simple, balanced, and easy – like my men.

Mind! People get awfully queer about BBQ sauce. Go on line and boost you have ‘the best” and brace yourself for a backlash with all the subtlety of negative Youtube comments. States and regions boast their sauce is the best and don’t question it.

What “Best BBQ sauce” turns out to mean is in the same league as asking what is the ‘best wine”. The answer: it depends. I enjoy white and roses for summer sipping but when I have a hearty stew at Christmas time I want something red, tannic, and strong – like my men.

One of my first attempts in my quest for the best resulted in one a perfect harmony of the four elements. In a way this was a disappointment.  It felt like starting off on an adventure to locate Blackbeard’s treasure only to find it at the first island stop.

Over the years and trials I’ve kept a dozen recipes but here are my three favorites. For the Spo-fans interested in making some of them I suggest you follow the recipe precisely, and then alter the next batch to taste.

 

#1 – Urspo BBQ Sauce – My favorite and best for the right balance of heat, sweat, spicy, and tang. 

2 cups ketchup    (l use Hunt’s; it has a bit more umami than does Heinz).

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup packed dark brown sugar

2T Molasses

2T Dijon mustard

1.5 T  Tabasco sauce

1 T c hili powder

½ t  freshly ground pepper.

2 t  liquid smoke

1 T horseradish – optional 

Mix all the ingredients in a sauce pan. Heat =until bubbling. Turn down the heat to low and simmer for half an hour.
To sweeten it: add more molasses.
To make it hotter: add more Tabasco or replace it with a hotter sauce (I like Melinda’s).
To give it more tang: increase the Worcestershire.

For Someone, I often add 1T horseradish for he loves it so.

 

#2 – South Carolina Mustard Sauce – this one has no tomato. 

1 cup of yellow mustard 

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 t. black pepper

1 T. chili powder

1/2 t. cayenne pepper

1/2 t. salt

1 T. butter

Whisk together in a saucepan all ingredients but the butter.  Bring to a slight boil; turn off heat. Stir in the butter. Let cool to room temperature.

 

#3 – Zin Sauce – this one is not ‘hot; it has a dominant tangy/umami taste for thems not wanting something too hot/spicy. 

1 cup of zinfandel wine

2 small cans of tomato paste

1 t cumin

1 t crush bay leaf

1 t pepper

1 t paprika 

1 t dry mustard

3.5 t chili powder

2 t sugar

1 t salt 

Mix all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for thirty minutes. Turn off heat;  give 10 minutes more to cool down.

Spo-fans are quite welcome to share with me their favorite recipes.

 

*I don’t know if this BBQ sauce still exists. The images from the internet look nothing like the Woody’s bottle I recall from the 60s. I would be keen to get hold of some if only to see if it resembles anything from my childhood.

 

**Someone likes a store-bought sauce named Stubb’s BBQ. I find it near blasphemy to have corn syrup in my sauce.  It is a sweetener that adds no flavor but sweet.  No fun this.

Urs Truly is slowly plodding through Pepys Diary.* One of its charms is the old English spelling (ex: “My heade akes”). Another perk is the sudden reading of a word I do not recognize. Spo-fans know nothing floats my goat as much as fascinating words.  In February 1661 Sammy P. is ‘heartily glad to be eating again after a period of sickness in which I had nothing but posset-drink. ”  My eyes widened. I have never heard of a posset-drink. I had to look it up.

According to Wikipedia: 

A posset (also spelled poshote, poshotte) was a hot British drink made of milk curdled with wine or ale, often spiced, which was popular and used as a cold and flu remedy.

This doesn’t sound very good to me but I find it comforting to know people even then tried to do something/anything to help their colds. It made me think what are my own ‘posset-drinks’ , the tonics I drink to better my health -at least make me feel I am doing something for the flu-like feelings.  

Tea of course is my primo posset-drink, my panacea for all ills.  I like it hot, strong, and tannic – like my men. Sometimes I use some lemon in the iced tea. Milk is used on occasion in the hot stuff, but never to the point of curdling. 

For more severe colds and flu I drink Gatorade, on the logic (or hopeful thinking) its glucose and mineral do me good when I can’t drink and/or I am heaving ho.  I call it “The poor man’s IV”. Thanks to this long time association I can’t drink Gatorade without thinking I am coming down with something. 

When tea or tonics won’t work, or for more serious ailments, whisky is an excellent posset-drink.  It is also a prevention of toothache. Mark Twain claims he never had the toothache thanks to his night posset-drink of Old Crow. So there it is. 

For thems interested in trying a proper-no-rubbish posset-drink here is a recipe I found from a random Google search.  Buyer beware.

1⁄2 cup milk

1⁄2 teaspoon lemon peel, grated

1⁄4 cup sugar

1/⁄8 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg white

1⁄4 cup dark rum

1⁄4 cup brandy

Heat in a saucepan the milk, lemon peel, sugar, and almond extract. When it begins to scald, remove from heat. Beat egg white and add to the milk brew. Now add rum and brandy.  Serve hot.

I read once in JAMA a double-blind study whisky is the more efficacious.  

 

*I’m at March 1661 with ~ eight years to go.

For some days I have been waiting for a nibble of a blog entry like a patient fisherman sitting in my cerebral boat in the middle of Spo Lake waiting for a bite to haul in an idea.  The fish don’t seem to be biting today. Perhaps my bait is no good.  Maybe I should change the simile for I was never one to catch fish. I think I will haul up the nets and row to shore.  Alas there is no catch of the day on the menu. I will have to do what’s on the shelf or in Tupperware containers in the back of the fridge.

What is on the menu – or soon will be – is a freshly baked batch of Goobersnap.

 

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Never heard of it? Me neither.

I follow the Facebook shenanigans of an ex blogger who writes and blogs exclusively about food. He recently found this recipe for goobersnap in an old Midwest cookbook.  I sense he was bewildered and horrified by the ingredients as he likes gourmet and this recipe is at the opposite end of the food spectrum.  It is basically cornbread with some toppings no one would dream of using. Can it be any good?  Where does the dish originate?  The name alone is worth investigating.   I sense Stan was showing it as a ‘can you believe what people once ate?” entry, but my Midwestern stomach says this looks fascinating enough to try.  Someone likes cornbread; I suspect he would give it a try. I suppose if it is ghastly it isn’t too much of a waste.

Old church cookbooks from the Midwest intrigue me to read for in them I get to see what my forefathers ate and what the foremothers made. Did they consider this sort of food appetizing or was it merely make-do with what was available.  Goobersnap hasn’t worked its way into our collective memories and cookbooks suggests it was a food item for its time, like ambrosia salad or beehive hairdos. (oh the pain).

I will make some this week and report back to you how it was received in the Spo-house. I look forward to seeing if it makes a ‘return’ like Norma Desmond or it joins Lime-tuna Jello salad in the Midwest grave yard for extinct busy-day hot-dishes

 

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I’ve not cooked okra before. Mind! I grew up in the Midwest ; okra was as alien and exotic as baba ganoosh and just as unavailable. I don’t think I ever heard of okra until my college days. Happily I slowly discovered the haute cuisine of the cajuns and afterwards other lovely flavors of the U.S. South. This summer when I visited Charleston and Savannah I enjoyed several fine dishes, many with okra in them.

An entry on okra is a hazardous endeavor; I feel like a Polynesian writing about icebergs. I don’t know nothing about okra other than it seems never to be served by itself but as an ingredient in other dishes.  However The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections gave it the OK.*
Last August while in I was in Charleston waiting for the boat to take me to Fort Sumpter I tarried a little in the souvenir shop. It had several recipe books promising to capture the urtext of Southern cuisine. I came across a recipe called “Limping Susan”. It met the criteria of authenticity, easy to make – and it had okra.

Yesterday I finally got around to making the dish. I was thwarted by needing to actually purchase some okra. This is not as easy as it sounds as the local Arizona supermarkets are rich in peppers but not in okra. A few places didn’t have any and a few places ‘had never heard of it’.  I finally got some though, happy joy.

Okra pods have a slimy feeling to them. Perhaps I got some bad ones. I gave them a good wash and hoped for the best.

This dish is “Limping Susan”. It is a simple recipe consisting of frying chopped bacon strips with sliced okra. Next you add chicken broth and rice and some cajun spices and cook the concoction for twenty minutes. It is simple, tasty, and quick – like my men. Or my southern men, if I had any.

Susan turned out well, which was a surprise as I do not cook rice well. I was pleased this okra dish seemed ‘legit’; I thought of my August adventure and I felt quite ‘southern’. Almost. The local humidity is high of 10% so I know I am not in Savannah !

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*They didn’t know what okra was. There are invariably suspicious of any vegetable. However an entry on okra was judged better than another post of ‘Walking the dog”. 

ANNOUNCEMENT: I will be getting out my wicked pack of cards on All Hallow”s eve and do a reading.  Spo-fans interested in a read about the ‘upcoming year’ : please leave a yes-please say-so in the comments. I will do them on 31 October. 

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Spo-Reflections 2006-2018