Bananas Foster-ish

Do you miss New Orleans? I do! Frankly, I miss the svelte figure I had when I was last in New Orleans, pre-quitting smoking days. Recently I had the bad / good news that I am pre-diabetic. That is, one of my blood sugar numbers, the three month average, is in the pre-diabetic blood sugar range. I blame that on Christmas cookies. I am not going to dismiss it, the other me has to go. Not the other me in the evil twin sister sense. The other me I packed on from quitting smoking, one pregnancy, one sedentary job. The pregnancy weight hung around because I quit smoking. Get that kids? Don’t ever start. As kids, we all thought that my Dad just packed in some calories as compensation for the quitting smoking. Not so. Finally, researchers are finding that nicotine, hold on for this one, revs your metabolism. Shocker! Smokers have been saying this for years and doctors, for many years, blamed the victim. And they wonder why we are digging up tree roots for home remedies. Just kidding, don’t dig up tree roots. I happen to know that I was burning at least an extra 500-1000 calories a day when I quit, but yet still gained another pregnancy’s worth.
Ranting over, on to the recipes.
If you haven’t guessed by now, Mrs. Lane, when she wants to eat, wants to eat food that is flavorful. Really, she’d rather step out the back door three times a day and photosynthesize in order to spend more time doing fun things, like making designer garments or painting. Le sigh! But since she must, she cooks. Or rather, these days, she delegates the cooking, and if there is no one home to whom to delegate, she eats baby bel cheese and crackers with a couple of glasses of wine and then goes to bed at eight. Don’t knock it, she lost five pounds that way last spring!
Now, with these new test results, she must pay attention to what is going in the mouth. Not that eating Julia’s recipes were an everyday occurrence, mind you. The everyday diet had slipped to something more like the Taco Bell diet, almost. Dinner from a bag became more commonplace as Mrs. Lane has another problem, advanced osteo-arthritis, which makes standing painful these days. Handicapped space and everything.
To get back the body which used to do the Russian Trepak, Mrs. Lane has to watch the portion sizes, add some fiber and reduce the fat. This includes saying goodbye, mostly, to an old friend, Coca-Cola. To be able to continue on this plan without jumping off and diving face first into some Potatoes Dauphinoise, the food has to taste decent and be reasonably filling.

And Dessert, Mrs Lane will need dessert. For some reason, when cutting fat and sugar, dessert cravings result. Must be that cutting of fat and sugar making Mrs. Lane want some fat and sugar, duh. I need to have something legal to eat and diet frozen yogurt gets, well boring, after a while. Last night, after having made Sole Meuniere, with reduced fat, but all the lemon, Mrs. Lane found herself trolling the kitchen for something more to eat. Sometimes the diet cookbooks have a great recipe, but most times they are not simple, and not so tasty. Mrs. Lane prefers real recipes modified to fit my plan.

Bananas Foster
Per Serving:
1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
1 tsp butter
1 T brown sugar
1/2 – 1 banana, sliced about 1/2 thick or cut in half lengthwise then halved
1 T banana liqueur (or 1/2 rum and 1/2 banana liqueur)

Melt butter over medium heat until bubbling
Mix in brown sugar
Add bananas
Cook bananas, stirring frequently until bananas are slightly softened
Add liqueur
Ladle over ice cream

Notice that Mrs. Lane didn’t set fire to it. Really isn’t necessary since we are not putting on a show here. Also, there may not be quite enough volume to set things ablaze. Enjoy!

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Lately, the story about the woman who failed to order her Daily Domino’s pizza has been whispering to me. That’s right I am a pizza whisperer. Anyway, having quit smoking several years ago, I gained the equivalent of five fat chihuahua’s. This was accomplished by quitting smoking and by nursing two children at once, which, as you may know burns something like an extra 500 million bazillion calories a day*. And that is just for one child. I am pretty sure for two, you can triple that, maybe quadruple it*. And no, I did not eat three pepperoni pizzas a day. Stupid me, I ate oatmeal and tuna and lean chicken and vegetables. In fact I tried really hard not to eat pizza. Because I love pizza.
So, when I saw the clip on television with the woman being rolled out on the stretcher. I wondered how that woman could eat a Domino’s pizza a day and remain relatively thin. I saw the pictures, she is relatively thin. Especially to me since I look more like Shamu.
So thus, to shut the pizza whisperer up and answer this question, I turned to the oracle of all wisdom, Google.
The goog tells me that a thin crust Domino’s pepperoni pizza has 170 calories per slice. Times eight, that is 1360 calories per day. Genius! According to most diet wisdom, 1360 should be sufficiently low amount of calories to lose weight. I could eat one thin crust pepperoni pizza a day and lose weight. In fact, I could have skip one slice and have a coke with dinner. I could be the Jared of Domino’s!
Yum!
*Gross estimate, yeah, really gross.

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Fourth of July Barbecue

This day really belongs to Mr. Sloan, or perhaps Mr. Sloan and our Patriot Ancestors. For today, in addition to celebrating our Independence from Great Britain, and those who fought to give us that freedom, Today is Barbecue day. Not just grilling, mind you, this is serious stuff, as serious as it gets, short of digging a pit. The smoking method Mr. Sloan uses is a wet method, meaning that there is a pan of water, and other wet liquids, in which are floating wood chips of choice. This is heated by the charcoals and wafts up and around the item being smoked, infusing it with flavor and moisture. Of course, with wet smoking, like a wet county, liquor is involved.

For Mr. Sloan, a good bottle of Bourbon is essential to good smoking. That and a good dry rub for the meat being smoked. For Ribs and Brisket, we use a recipe based on the Kansas City Sweet and Smoky Rub from his book, Barbecue! Bible: Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades, Bastes, Butters, and Glazes. We do have a couple of substitutions, we use Onion Powder instead of Onion Salt and Kosher Salt instead of Smoked Salt. Why? Well, functionally I never let what I have or don’t have get in the way of a good recipe. Smoked salt would certainly add some smoke to the flavor, but Hey! these ribs are going to be smoked after all, not just grilled, so it was deemed not worth the effort. And onion salt instead of onion powder? How much salt do I need to throw at these things? Onion powder will do.

We use St. Louis Style ribs, mostly for the ease of serving and eating.

St. Louis Style Ribs

St. Louis Style Ribs

Now ribs and brisket are great, but man does not live by meat alone. What could be more classic an accompaniment than Cole Slaw? We are not big fans of the over sweet concoction which our mothers always served. We brought a particular concoction from Craig Claiborne’s book Cooking with Herbs and Spices. Judging by the fact that this particular Cole Slaw recipe was requested by my mother at subsequent summer family gatherings, she had become a fan, too.

To finish, a Peach and Blueberry Cobbler was served. We didn’t get time to make the ice cream, but Chocolate Mousse Ice Cream is a favorite of mine and has made appearances on the fourth before.

Kansas City Sweet and Smoky Rub

2/3 c tightly packed light brown sugar
2/3 c granulated sugar
1/2 c paprika
1/4 c seasoned salt
1/4 c smoked salt or kosher salt
1/4 c onion salt or onion powder
1/4 c celery salt
2 T freshly ground pepper, I suspect that Mr. Sloan used Coarsely ground pepper
2 T Chili powder, again we usually have a blend on hand, use an unblended if you have it, Chipotle works very well
2 t mustard powder
1 t poultry seasoning
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground allspice
1/2 t cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, I usually prefer whisking to mix them together.

Rub into the ribs or meat preferably with some time to serve as a dry marinade.

While the meat is marinating in the dry rub, prepare the smoker. Mr. Sloan is on his second smoker, the first was a Cajun, now he uses a Brinkmann. It is widely available at many hardware stores. To the smoking water, Mr. Sloan adds about 2 cups of bourbon. As this part is one of the mysteries of life with which I am relatively unacquainted. So I will leave the details to him:

I always use a high quality charcoal and lighter fluid. I wait for the charcoal to be mostly ash covered before I start the meat to smoke. While the charcoal burns to grey, I have the wood in a bucket of water. What a waste to just burn the wood without getting it’s smoke. I use either hickory or mesquite in large pieces. Never use pine as it leaves a resin on the meat.

Preparing the coals

Preparing the Coals


The smoker is a wet smoker which keeps the meat moist. After placing the meats on the grills and closing the lid, the best is to leave the smoker to do its work. A nice brisket (4-5 lbs) takes about 4 hours to cook to medium. The same amount of time for 4-5 lbs of ribs. I suggest having your butcher trim the ribs to make it easier to cut into single rib servings.
Ribs and Brisket

Ribs and Brisket Done to perfection

While the ribs are smoking, there is plenty of time to prepare the Cole Slaw and the Peach Cobbler

Cole Slaw with Caraway Mayonnaise

Cole Slaw with Caraway Mayonnaise

Cole Slaw with Caraway Mayonnaise

4 c shredded cabbage
1/2 c mayonnaise
2 T lemon juice the recipe allows vinegar but I have only used lemon juice
1 T grated onion this time, all I had on hand was a shallot, so in it went
1 t caraway seeds
1 t sugar (I have used as much as a Tablespoon before, okay so a little sweet is good)
1/2 t salt
1/8 t freshly ground pepper

Combine all but cabbage in a small to medium bowl to make dressing.
Mix the dressing into the cabbage and toss well to combine.

Lastly, while the ribs were smoking and Mr. Sloan and I were shopping for new cushions for the patio chairs, our daughters put together the Peach and Blueberry Cobbler from the Food Network, below.

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

1/4 cup sugar
1 T cornstarch
5 cups peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into thick slices
2 cups blueberries
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
4 tablespoons melted
Butter to grease dish

For biscuit dough:

1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
1/3 cup light cream
2 tablespoons each of melted butter and sugar
Whipped cream or ice cream, optional

Directions

For the filling mix sugar with cornstarch and toss that with peaches and blueberries. Transfer them to the bottom of a lightly buttered shallow baking dish (9 or 10-inch round pyrex pie plate or 8-inch square one) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. For the dough, in a food processor combine the flour, baking powder and salt; cut in chilled butter and process with cream to make a
dough. Roll out to about 1/2-inch thick into a shape to fit your baking pan. Or cut into biscuits and set biscuits, touching each other over fruit. Drizzle biscuits with melted butter and sugar and bake for 40 minutes or until biscuits are golden and fruit underneath bubbling. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with cream or ice cream.

The table

The table, set and ready


That’s it! Dinner all ready and enjoyed with the cool beverage of your choice. Make mine a Charleston Cocktail with Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, distilled in the Charleston area.
Happy Fourth of July! Thanks to John Mangum, The Patriot! And THANKS! THANKS! THANKS! to all our veterans for their service.

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So I may be moving everything…

from blogger to wordpress. I can’t seem to log in to blogger. First let me explain that I hate moving, of all kinds, be it physical or logical. Of course if I move, it will be after my ISP quits fooling around and gets me back my connection. Comcast sent workers apparently tasked with digging several holes in my yard, cutting the cable and leaving.
It has been 5 days. They don’t appear to care. We have called them multiple times. They haven’t been back. I take that back. they sent one guy out. I knew he couldn’t do anything. They needed to send out a crew. A crew who knew to repair cable. Not cut cable. A crew who knows that the answer to the question “Why did you cut my cable?” isn’t “five minutes”.
I really don’t want to move to fios, but, hey, Comcast is making it easier.

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Cinco de Mayo Fiesta!-

Shrimp Tacos -yeah I need a Wacom tabletYup, I’ll admit it, we do not have the hereditary creds to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Being primarily Scottish, Scotch-Irish, Irish and English, with a smattering of French and German, perhaps some Cherokee, perhaps not, but no Mexican, we really aren’t entitled to celebrate this holiday.
But, we love good food and good drink, and that, makes us citizens of the world. In that spirit, our menu is Chipotle Shrimp Taco with Avocado Salsa Verde, Mexican Cupcakes, a variation on a recipe from Food Network kitchens for Mexican Brownies, also from the Food Network kitchens, and Margaritas. We used the cocktail recipe from the Williams-Sonoma Bar Guide. This and Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender’s Guide are classics, but numerous cocktail recipes are available. I don’t recommend Martha Stewart’s, simply because, with the addition of the sugar, it is pushing to close to limeade.
First, we made the salsa.
Pardon me while I warn you, but I must! I recommend using rubber gloves to seed the jalapenos, especially if you are sensitive. We’ve had too many adventures with jalapenos not to respect the pain they can inflict. For my older daughter’s graduation party, we had a salsa bar, jalapenos + contact lenses don’t mix! Resulting in a run to the emergency room. Thankfully, her eye watered enough to wash out her eye before she reached the emergency room. Now, she doesn’t chop without gloves. Oh, and watch out for the jalapeno juice and seeds left on the chopping board, too.

Our basic order was to make the salsa, then juice the limes, we needed one per drink recipe made, then mix the chili marinade for the shrimp. This resulted in using two cutting boards. We should have cut the limes, laid them aside for juicing or the wedges aside for rimming/garnish. Then cut up the salsa.

The Margs:
Salt to rim the glass and one lime wedge
2 oz tequila
3 T triple sec
2 T fresh lime juice -about the juice of one lime

Use a wedge of lime to wet the rim of the glass, only on the outside if you prefer.
Fill shaker about 2/3 to 3/4 full of ice, add

The Tacos

We used an outdoor grill, we have a propane based grill with lots of room for both the shrimp skewers and the tortillas.
Soak wood skewers before using; place them in water prior to starting the recipe.
We bought frozen peeled and deveined shrimp and thawed them under running water.

Avocado Salsa:

1 small onion, quartered (ours was closer to medium and we used a yellow onion)
1 jalapeno, quartered, seeds optional (we removed the seeds to reduce the heat)
1 garlic clove, smashed
4 medium tomatillos, (about 8 ounces) husked, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
1/2 Hass avocado, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

Shrimp:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chipotle or blended chili powder (we used the chipotle)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound medium shrimp (about 20), peeled and deveined
8 corn tortillas
8 sprigs cilantro for garnish
2 limes, cut into wedges

Directions

Pulse the onion, jalapeno, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the tomatillos, avocado, and salt and pulse until chopped but still chunky. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cilantro.

Heat a stovetop or outdoor grill to medium-high. Mix the olive oil, chipotle or chili powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Grill the shrimp until translucent, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side.

Grill tortillas, until slightly charred and pliable, about 20 seconds per side. (Alternatively, wrap in a damp paper towel and heat in a microwave.) Spoon sauce on the tortilla, then top with about 2 or 3 shrimp and a sprig of cilantro. Serve 2 tacos per person, with a lime wedge on the side.

The Cupcakes
First let me say that my mama taught me to bake cakes from scratch and, for the most part, that is what I do. To us, when it came from a box it tasted like the box. But, I have to admit that an augmented box cake mix can be really, really good. I recommend the Cake Mix Doctor books.
Also from the food network kitchens, was a “Mexican” Brownie recipe. We made devils food cupcakes, not only because we had no brownie mix, but we wanted to experiment with a cupcake. We’d planned to make icing, perhaps a dulce de leche white chocolate icing, for the cupcakes, something cooling, but opted for the dulche de leche ice cream instead.
We didn’t add other liquid but, we rather needed it, up to a 1/2 of sour cream should do the trick.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

1 pkg Devils Food cake mix
1 pkg instant chocolate pudding mix
3/4 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
1/3 c oil
1 1/4 c water
1/2 c sour cream (optional)

Line muffin tin with cupcake papers.
Mix together dry ingredients.
Add eggs, oil and water and (optional) sour cream and beat for 1-2 minutes.
Bake according to pkg directions.
Serve with dulche de leche ice cream.

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This web 2.0 has gone just a little too far,…

I had just finished a yogurt and sat down to clean up my google reader. I subscribed to w-a-y too many blogs, so it was overflowing. Kathleen Fasanella has a wonderful blog that appeals to the home sewer and industry insiders alike. Kathleen had an interesting post for a “pattern puzzle” which referencd a vintage pattern found on the “Vintage Fashion Library’s Photos – 1930s Deco Patterns” facebook page. I clicked the link to check out the pics, and there, in the upper right corner, was an ad for, you guessed it, the very yogurt I had just eaten. Creepy. Are they reading my mind now? I must remember to check those privacy settings again!Yogurt, web 2.0 gone too far

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Vogue 1543

Government Springs Park Waterfall (2005) Waterfall, Home of the "MayFete Walk"
Once upon a time in a fairytale land far, far away, women wore pretty dresses and walked around a shimmering lake on the arms of handsome men while white-gloved young maids, with flower wreaths on their heads, wrapped pastel ribbons around a Maypole. This was an event, in Mrs. Lane’s Sleepy Southern Town, known as Mayfete and it was one of the rites of graduation. Frankly, I am surprised they didn’t have us make formations involving grecian urns a la The Music Man. I may have made up the flower wreath part.
When Mrs. Lane graduated high school, the unfortunate style of the day was Victorian influenced prairie dresses in Cotton Batiste by a company called Gunne Sax. They were very feminine, very lacy, and very thin. Standing in the average living room, not a problem. Walking around a lake being backlit by the brutal Mid-South western -dipping sun, big problem. Let’s just say they should have brought back petticoats with that fashion. I looked a lot like the dress below, except it was in Peach and not as much lace.

Mrs. Lane’s sister was more Fortunate. Her generation was still under the Jackie Kennedy style influence. Still a Kennedy at that time, as she was not yet married to Onassis, she held court in everyone’s hearts and over our style. What I’m saying to you is, my sister got a better, er, more classic dress. She got this wonderful dress because we were very fortunate in our family to have a mother who was a sewing wizard. She made so many of our clothes that, looking back, I find it phenomenal that she ever got a break away from the sewing machine. I remember falling in love with that gorgeous dress. It had a nifty label which went with it. This was my mother’s first introduction to couturier sewing, with the multiple pattern pieces. It was created in a beautiful white satin with the effortlessly exquisite fit that the painfully constructed couturier pattern afforded. The satin was treated with extra respect and deference. Mom laid a sheet under her sewing machine to prevent any possibility that undetected dust might migrate from the floor to the dress. My sister had to get dressed standing on a sheet.
This was a pattern I had to try to find. I remembered the details, it was strapless, it had a coat with no lapels. None of these items survived a devastating fire in my parents’ home over ten years ago. My parents survived, thank goodness, but despite the Herculean efforts of my brother, his wife and family, and my aunt and uncle, not much else survived the second fire. Apparently set by thieves to cover their tracks, it reduced the house to a fireplace with piles of ashes around it.
Though the Gunne Sax had probably gone the way of the Goodwill bin many years before, the Jackie dress, most likely gone, too. But the pattern, that was a devastating thing to lose. With only the vaguest memory and a general description in my mind, I searched for the pattern on the net, and found the dress.
Vintage Vogue Pattern
The loss of all Mom’s pattern were particularly devastating. Her patterns went way beyond some nice Simple jumpers. They represented even more than our personal childhood memories. You see, Mom’s pattern drawer was a chronicle of style from the 40’s to the 80’s. She had been taught to sew in Home Ec class during the depression in high school. Then, when the war began, she took the sewing equivalent of a WWII factory job, shipfitter. Her skills were unparalleled. She could copy garments, sizing them one-yearof g-rowth larger with each iteration. She adapted 40’s shorts into 70’s skorts. She could make a skirt with only a description. Need a flared skirt? Done. Need a Can-Can skirt with colorful ruffles? Done. Her pattern creation and sewing abilities were so phenomenal and I was so proud of her abilities to create something out of the pictures in her mind, that, shamelessly, we kids volunteered her for more sewing. Need stand up collars for the school play? My mom can do it! Not sure if she saw her gifts as a blessing or a curse. But we saw them as an wonderful gift.
Unfortunately, finding the pattern isn’t going to bring about a happy reunion, as the pattern, even if it were not on reserve, is beyond Mrs. Lane’s budget. Now, if only I had Mom’s pattern drafting skills.

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