Patrick had a great suggestion for Audience Participation Friday: Give us a story about a meal you’ve eaten. Or write about your favorite food (and why it’s your favorite). Recipes are welcomed, though not required.
I’ll kick things off by telling about a recipe that I invented. If you’ve ever enjoyed a plate of chicken pot pancakes, you’ve got me to thank. I invented that. There was extra chicken pot pie filling in the refrigerator. There were hungry kids in the kitchen. I wasn’t up for making pie crust, but pancakes seemed manageable. So we made pancakes (leaving out sugar), ladeled pot pie filling on top, and ate it. Reviews were mixed (everybody thinks he’s a food critic). Mama, you may not be surprised to learn, wasn’t home at the time.
The floor is now open. Talk about food.
P.S. Patrick also contributed the APF logo you see above. But it’s too creepy by half and probably violates a number of copyright laws. Here’s hoping we can round up another one soon.
Too funny! I’m sure that logo probably does break a couple of copyright laws, but when I saw that group of characters gathered around their leader- creating that vision was irresistible. It seems one of the two parties who may have taken offense has already given his implicit approval 😉 , So I just hope the foundation of the other has continued his legacy of good humor. Besides, Mark Landis assured me it would be fine as long as I never charged any money for it. 🙂
The year was 1994. I was living in Wiesbaden Germany, and there was this boat restaurant on the Rhine in Mainz Kastel called Noah’s Ark. I was skeptical of the place at first, but a friend of mine assured me it would be great. Lamb Steak is awesome! The cherry wine was pretty good too. I don’t remember what else was served, but I remember my expectations being blow away and greatly enjoying the experience.
I’ll also add, I make this brown slop I call “Patrick’s Famous Black Bean Dip”. A few years ago I noticed there were several cans of black-beans in the cabinet and wondered how those would taste as a bean-dip. I threw a bunch of ingredients together- it tasted pretty good so I wrote it down- and now people literally beg me to make the stuff, and when I show up with it- it vanishes. And they’re asking for more. Not everyone likes it, but the ones who do would incline one to believe there was something addictive about the stuff. If anyone is interested in the recipe I’ll type it up and post it for you.
My favorite food ever is made from a recipe that won the $25,000 Better Homes And Gardens original recipe prize sometime in the 1970’s. My mom taught me how to make it, and if I can do it, you can do it. It’s an easy one to make with the kids too, because you can set it up like an assembly line. Here goes:
— Melt some butter. That’s right, some.
— Mix some sugar and some cinnamon together in a pile on a plate. Probably 4 parts sugar to 1 part cinnamon, but careful not to overdo the cinnamon.
— Open a can of crescent rolls. And don’t get the fat free kind or the generic kind. Spend the extra $0.52 and get full fat Pilsbury. Fat is like a dog. It only attacks your thighs and midsection if you fear it. Ignore it. It makes food better, and good food makes life better.
— Dip a large marshmallow in the melted butter. You heard me.
— Roll the buttery marshmallow in the cinnamon and sugar until it’s coated.
— Wrap the sugary buttery marshmallow in a crescent roll, completely encasing it.
— Dip the sugary buttery marshmallow with a crescent roll wrapped around it in the melted butter.
— Put the sugary buttery marshmallow with a buttery crescent roll wrapped around it in a muffin pan.
— Repeat. Trust me on the repeat. Don’t eat too many marshmallows while you work. You’ll get a buzz.
— Bake per the directions on the crescent roll tube, if you haven’t already thrown it away. If you have thrown it away, try baking at 325 degrees until the crescent rolls are golden brown. You may see marshmallows exploding out of the crescent rolls. But if you bake them properly, the marshmallows will melt completely into the roll. You shouldn’t see marshmallow when the baking part is done.
— While it’s baking, pour a little milk in a bowl. That’s right, a little.
— Add a teaspoon of vanilla and a couple teaspoons of powdered sugar.
— After you take all your crescent rolls out of the oven and pile them in a bowl, drizzle the milky vanilla powdered sugar mix over them lightly.
— Write me an email to thank me.
— Buy a couple copies of Jonathan’s books.
Oh yum. How is it possible to describe only one instance of food enjoyed? It isn’t. So I will describe more than one.
1) Sitting on top of a fourteener with your family eating trail mix. Trail mix is gross. But at the summit of a fourteen-thousand foot mountain that you just climbed, it is incredible. Try it sometime (you might need to work off some of those marshmallow-sugary-thingy-mabobs of Mr. Roughton).
2) Scarfing down my dad’s salsa while watching baseball. He makes good salsa, is all I can say. Transforms the ordinary tortilla chips into heaven on earth. Fresh tomatoes, fresh pineapple, and fresh cilantro are key ingredients, but other than that it is a sort of throw-together of anything that tastes good (he is good at the throw-together thing, unlike SOME people around here who make chicken-pot-pancakes :P)
3) Eating a crunchy hot dog (has to be crunchy) with homemade relish after a long day of swimming and tubing. My uncle (not really my uncle but uncle is easier to say than whatever he is–some sort of third cousin or something) made some dee-lish relish (he says the secret is home-grown ingredients) that we heaped on the hot dogs (remember, CRUNCHY), along with spicy mustard, and ooooh, too good. Of course, I had to say, “Khak, this stuff is awful!” My uncle laughed, and my grandma looked at me and said, “You’re joking, right?” Haha.
Empty the fridge nachos. My dad makes them with whatever leftovers we have that might taste good. Chips on a pan, cheese over the top, then slap down some taco meat, salsa, lettuce, olives, sour cream, whatever, and it is delicioso. Oh yeah, and cook ’em ’til they’re crispy (before you put the lettuce on it…). Oh, and they’re the best if you eat them as a late night snack. Mmmm-mmmm. 🙂
My current favorite meal (changes all the time) is from just a few days ago.
It started with a trip to the grocery store. My husband and I grabbed a bunch of vegetables. Everything that looked fresh and wholesome and good. Whatever we saw. Whatever we wanted. We grabbed in twos and threes, tucked them into plastic bags and piled the cart high. Tiny juicy tomatoes, dark green broccoli, tender zucchini, earthy mushrooms, aromatic leeks, sweet basil…
We got home and chopped it all up. We filled two baking dishes with mounds of fresh vegetables, then drizzled olive oil over the top, shook on some freshly ground black pepper and coarse sea salt, splashed on some French vinaigrette and tossed it all together. We roasted everything in the oven until the whole house was saturated with delicious smells, until the tomatoes burst and everything else was sizzling and tender-crisp. We pulled it out of the oven and added a light sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
We served piping hot vegetables onto our plates, along with a generous slice of pot roast that had been slow-cooked for hours, so tender and swimming in mushroom gravy. We sat down to our meal, a meal we created together from start to finish, and it was so simple. Just veggies, meat, a few spices. It was so wholesome. Natural, fresh. And it was so good!
We felt nourished, right down to the tips of our toes. We felt filled up, not just our stomachs but our whole beings. Whatever that essence is- that thing that makes us who we are, that makes us alive, that soul part of us- was fed, was satiated. It was a lovely, lovely, lovely meal and a lovely, lovely evening.
Family recipe that I can’t get enough of. More a combination than a recipe.
Egg over medium.
If you’re shy, build up to it. A waffle (butter) with an egg, or a waffle with peanutbutter rather than butter. Then live on the culinary wildside and go for it.
In college I was invited to a friend’s house for a spaghetti dinner. I ate the spaghetti, but something about it just wasn’t quite right. I spent the rest of the evening fearful that I was going to be sick because the meat was bad. This never happened. A couple weeks later I found out it was deer in the spaghetti and not cow. That explained it. Riveting, I know. But if you knew how much I dread and abhor being sick…it still wouldn’t be any more exciting.
Also, I once at octopus. And I really like feta cheese with cucumbers and tomatoes and olives.
I’m hungry. Aaron, you need your own TV show. Gina, we eat octopus every Christmas Eve. It’s a Rogers family tradition. Sometimes I make a speech in which I recap the 8 Christmas Values represented by the 8 legs of the octopus (promptness, generosity, deference to parents, etc), then everybody eats his or her octopus. Those who don’t eat the octopus are publicly mocked. We tried to feed one to the dog this past Christmas, but she wouldn’t touch it.
Patrick, you eat lamb? Do you eat little bunnies and chickies too? I tease you. I like a gyro my own self.
My favorite meal is something that Girl Scouts refer to as a silver turtle. Others call it a hobo dinner. Whatever you call it,there’s nothing to beat it. The ingredients are simple – a hamburger patty (hand-formed and real ground beef, please), chunks of your favorite vegetables (think potatoes, onion, green pepper, etc.), and some salt and pepper to taste – all wrapped up in aluminum foil and set to cook on the hot coals of a campfire.* Cooking speeds vary, so it’s best to check on it every 10 minutes or so. Once the beef is cooked through, open foil and and devour all contents with mess kit silverware, freshly whittled sticks, or bare hands.
*Sorry, there is no substitution for the campfire. In desperation, I’ve tried these on the grill and in the oven. It’s just not the same.
Another campfire favorite is the dough boy. The dough boy is simple. Simply wrap an uncooked Pillsbury biscuit around one end of a stick and hold over the an open campfire flame** until it starts to brown on the outside. (Think marshmallow.) When it’s good and golden, pull the dough boy off the stick, stuff with butter, and eat. Preferably in one bite. Tremendously easy and greasy and delicious.
**Once again, no substitutions can be made…genuine campfire flame required.
My last favorite actually requires a Coleman camping stove***, a pan, and some vegetable oil. And also Pillsbury biscuits. First, use the cap from a soda bottle (2 liter caps work best) to cut out the middle of an uncooked biscuit. Then drop both the doughnut shaped dough and the whole hole into a pan with 1-2 inches of hot oil. Turn continuously for 1-2 minutes, fish out with slotted spoon, drop in a paper bag with powder sugar, shake till coated, and voila! Powder sugar doughnuts! Glut and get gut.
***These are easily re-created on a regular stove-top at home, though it is not to the benefit of your health to do so. They are addicting.
Okay, here’s the story of my first real kitchen disaster. And yes, it is true. Perhaps a bit hyperbolic, but that’s to be expected in any story I tell.
Each year at Hidden Valley Junior High, the foreign language department held a potluck dinner for students and their families. Each student was expected to bring a dish or dessert from a country whose native language he or she was studying. It was a grand family affair. You know the sort.
Now this was my older sister’s first year in Spanish, and though she was great with the language, she had no skills to speak of with regard to the kitchen. So even though I was barely 12 at the time, she begged for my assistance. Of course I was flattered, and maybe even a little excited to help. Very soon, we had decided to try a new recipe for Mexican Wedding Cakes. (They’re more of a cookie, really. And, to be truthful, not all that Mexican-y. But I digress….)
The recipe called for the cookies, directly after being removed from the oven, to be rolled once or twice in confectioner’s sugar. Easy enough. And very, very tasty. The first few batches came off without a hitch. (Which I can attest to; I clearly remember sampling more than a few.) As was typical in my family, we had waited till the day-of to start baking, so after a while in the kitchen, we looked at the clock and realized we were getting down to the wire. The dinner was to start within the hour, and there were still three more batches of cookie dough to bake. So we did what any desperate sisters would do…we called our brothers in to help. And they did. We were both a little surprised with how handy they were. They rolled, they baked, and they spatula-ed like pros. Soon, cookies were coming out of the oven faster than we could roll them, so we enlisted their help for that part, as well. When one container of powdered sugar was nigh used up, the boys grabbed a second. And a third. We were cranking out cookies, now. Like a well-oiled machine.
My sister made it to the dinner just a few minutes late, cookies in hand. We were relieved and proud of our efforts. The cookies looked great. And tasted great, too. Or so we thought…until some friends started commenting. Not complimenting, mind you. My sister and I were baffled at peoples’ faces – utter distaste. And then we tasted another one ourselves.
Bitter. They were bitter! Not just a hint of bitterness, either. Repulsively bitter! Impolite, spit it out of your mouth immediately bitter. We couldn’t believe it. What had gone wrong? Frantically, we ran to our mother and demanded to know how it could have happened. And that’s when we discovered that our mother kept more than one white powdery substance in the cabinet. In fact, half of the cookies had been rolled in Arm and Hammer baking soda.
We bolted for the buffet-style line as fast as we could and cleared away all remaining evidence. But the damage was already done. Everyone knew. We were adequately humiliated, for sure. And it stayed with us for quite some time; I don’t recall attending any more school potlucks after that.
Now there are lessons to be learned from this. Sorry, JR. I know how you hate stories with morals.
1) Haste makes waste.
2) Men don’t belong in the kitchen.
3) Mexican Wedding Cakes really do taste better with powdered sugar.
4) Never assume when dealing with white powdery substances in unmarked containers.
A few months before my husband and I married, his mother came into town to check me out. I was the first white person to join the family (they were Aleuts) and she was not all that happy about it.
I, having lived in Taiwan as a small girl, was aware that when you are with people of a different culture, it’s good to refrain from making fun of their food. So I was determined to eat whatever Wassie’s mother cooked. I did pretty well until the night I peeked under a lid to see what was in the pot on the stove and saw five fish heads staring up at me.
Thank God that they were so few and they are so highly prized that I was able to generously offer to forgo the treat so someone else could have my share. I hunkered down with a big old caribou leg, all tough and gristly.
My sister-in-law was the best cook. She could make caribou and moose meat that melted in your mouth. And fry bread. Mmm mmm good.