Sunday, March 20, 2016


Everybody I know other'n Dick Gregory just loves to chow down and if you are one of them, this post is dedicated to THEE!

Of course I have to watch my weight because hey, if I don't I get the feeling that I'll be getting unsolicited mail requesting my membership in the La Leche League. But that doesn't mean that I still can't enjoy a few occasional spurts of gluttony, and when I do afford myself time for a good meal (usually self-prepared), I try to make the BEST of it. Following are just a few items that I've whipped up or snatched outta the freezer these past few months:

NEET FOOD TRICK YOU MIGHT LIKE TO TRY! I got this idea during the big fried cheese onslaught of the late-seventies. My mom told me that her mother from dagoland used to make fried cheese, and although it wasn't the deep-fried and breaded stuff we all dip marinara to it seemed like a good idea...just dump the cheese into a hot skillet and fry until crunchy! Tried it myself (using some old shredded swiss) with a non-stick pan and it worked wonders. First the glop melted into a nice omelette kinda pancake shape before the fat started oozing out and the mess started bubbling up and about. I flipped it around a few times until it started getting brown and crusty then I took it out and let it cool off a bit. Result: something that came off like a nice Cheeto-tasting lump of dried cheese that had a neet fried flavor to it. Might be good with or without the marinara sauce, and I get the idea that sharp white cheddar would be the ultimo cheese to use when making up yet another fried hunk for a meal or snack. Any smoked cheese would be fine as well, and if you have a hankerin' for some junk food yet there's nothing in the cupboard don't do a Mother Hubbard despair---get some cheese, a nonstick pan, and FRY AWAY!!!!
TRY THIS 'UN, IF YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH IT!: How many of you hate apple juice? How many of you like cider? Well, if you think that the standard cheapo apple juice you find at the supermarket is how-shall-I-say bland, here's a great way to liven it up and turn the stuff into sparkling cider!

It may not be "hard" but it's good. First, empty the apple juice into a sturdy plastic container of whatever sort your'e about to toss out. Make sure it has a tight screw top on it. Now, add about a cup or even less of sugar to the mix and SHAKE IT UP, then, dissolve some everyday yeast in warm water and add to the juice as well. Seal tightly, and store in a warm place.

Be sure to check the bottle for bulging, and if so slowly release to cap to let the bottle fart out any gas buildup kinda like you do in bed after a dinner of baked beans. Now BE CAREFUL not to let the bottle expand TOO MUCH, because it may explode. In fact, that JUST WHAT IT DID at the ol' abode last Monday, and after only one day of wiling away in the corner if you can believe that, (I even checked the bottle that morning to let off some gas and hey, I didn't think it would build up THAT FAST!!!). Boy you shoulda been sounded like a truck hit the house and did it leave a mess!

So if you want some nice sparkling cider please be sure to monitor the bottle AT ALL TIMES!!! If you do get a nice fermented batch of the stuff goin' just chill it and have a nice tasty treat for your evening junk food tee-vee watching hours.
A NEW TWIST ON AN OLD FAVE-RAVE! If you like pierogy, or pirohy, or parogen or whatever you call those dough-wrapped mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, sweet cabbage etc. treets you'll like this. It's a variation on the ol' butter 'n onions sauce that goes so well with 'em, only you add some SLICED MUSHROOMS and (now get this) some finely chopped garlic to the onions which should be fried to caramelized perfection! Do it in the same kinda nonstick you made the fried cheese in for less agony. Not only that, but after the Mrs. T's are properly boiled, drain 'em and stick 'em in the pan to crisp up a bit. Then serve and eat with sour cream before heading to the nearest heart center! A verifiable comfort food that might even be comfy enough to take a nap in (if you make enough of it!)
HUEVOS RANCHEROS MY WAY! I'm what you would call a rather complicated egg fan. I hate 'em boiled and will not touch 'em over easy, sunny side up or poached. Even scrambled eggs'll have me turning my nostrils up at 'em, but I like omelets, egg foo young, Chinese fried rice, custard and other dishes where the egg flavor is overcome by whatever else there may be in the pan or casserole. And for years I was tempted to try making the infamous Mexican dish huevos rancheros until I found out that the eggs in 'em were more or less plopped into the spicy mixture which didn't really set my stomach on growl. But then again, I knew there was a way out of this., and I created my own version to satisfy my rather particular egg-eating rules if I do say so myself.

First, fry some corn tortillas and put 'em in a sprayed casserole so's they cover the bottom. Then spread some spicy hot salsa over 'em, then spoon on a can of black beans (spread evenly!) before dumping some shredded cheese (New York Sharp's my fave!) over the entire mess. Then break about six or so eggs into a mixing bowl, add some water, a little cayenne pepper and a touch of flour or Bisquick and mix until smooth. Then pour the egg mixture over the rest of the ingredients in the casserole and bake it all at about 350/400 degrees until it's all nice, firm and bubbly. Cut yerself a piece after it's cooled off a bit and eat with lotsa hot sauce or Mexican salsa, some more tortilla chips, sour cream, shredded lettuce and maybe even a few sliced olives and cilantro! Pretty good stuff there if I do say so myself Chris!
BOILED PEANUTS WITHOUT THE SHELLS!: Like the boy who sat on the burning deck I can eat peanuts by the peck, and I love those li'l things so much that I'll eat 'em dry roasted with or without the salt or cocktail style no matter how much oil I get on my hands (good to have a sofa handy to wipe 'em on!). I also like 'em boiled like they do it way down yonder, but I find peeling the soggy skins and all to be a rather messy affair that reminds me of when I was a turdler sticking my hand inna dish to see the picture on the bottom without eating the gruel that was being served up!

An on-line search came up with a nifty recipe for Southern Styled Boiled Peanuts without the shells that I adapted and will now share with you. Buy a couple bags of shelled raw peanuts and put 'em in your crock pot. Soak 'em in water overnight or even longer if you want, add salt (use your own discretion) and cook 'em on low for about eight hours, then about high for an additional one and a half! Then scoop 'em out into some container (make sure they're drained nice 'n good) and eat some hot if you wish, but put the rest in the fridge so's they don't rot on ya!

Serve 'em at room temperature. For an added kick you may wanna add some cayenne pepper (a fave spice around here as you might be able to guess), some liquid smoke and other fun flavorings to the water. You also might want to try a nut before terminating the cooking to see if it's tender enough...if not just let 'em moil in the hot water a few more hours and try again until you reach the proper texture for your funtime snack!
THINGS JUST AIN'T THE SAME ANYMORE DEPT.: I can still remember the big to-do about the arrival of a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in the area back when I was a whopping five-years-old when stories regaled by relatives lucky enough to try this seemingly exotic dish about how good their chicken was began pouring outta various family encounters. By the time I had hit my mid-teens Kentucky Fried Chicken was one of my favorites as well, with frequent dining at local KFC franchise Morgan's as well as a few all you can eat buffets at the Garden Inn heading towards Butler PA (building's still there but the garden supply store/greenhouse part took over the entire building---no restaurant no more!) helping to add at least a good twennysome pounds to my teenage girth. Sheesh, I can still remember the worried look on the manager's face every time I'd go back for more, with heaping mounds of bones being piled up almost immediately. And of course there were the mashed potatoes, stuffing and of course the famous Kentucky Fried Chicken gravy to contend with.

Since those days my "KFC" input has been rather limited to perhaps a once every two years drive through dinner, but just a few weeks back I managed to convince the folk that maybe we should have some instead of the spaghetti with caramel sauce that I had originally planned. Although Morgan's is no longer in biz a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant stands in its very place, and in many ways it was like old times going into the new building on the old site ordering up a meal for the fambly that I thought would hearken back to the good eating days of yore when food seemed to really mean something!

Well, I dunno how the others felt but there was something to this batch that didn't settle right with me. The thighs seemed under-fried, the breast fair, and the whole mess came off rather greasy to the point where I was up half the night imagining that my gall bladder had become Fort Knox. The potatoes were a little too thin (like my mashed p's nice 'n heavy) and the gravy lacked the same zip I remember it having back when I was a mere single-digiter. Biscuits were good, but somehow the same magic and thrill of my Kentucky Fried Chicken eating days of yore seem to have vanished for good.

Have you had any bad KFC-related eating as of late? Hope not, because sooner'n later I'd like to give these guys another chance, only I'm gonna ask for extra-crispy which always left a good enough crunch in my gobber!
FOODSTUFF RIPOFF OF THE CENTURY---EDY'S FROZEN CUSTARD!!!! Being a bigger fan of soft serve vanilla custard than I am of even the reg'lar cool stuff I decided to snatch a carton of this up while it was on special at the local supermarket and y'know what? I heard the sage voice of one Johnny Lydon echoing into my beanie "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" I sure have---twas expecting a nice 'n sweet creamy concoction to bring back alla those funtime drive-in memories and all I got was some not-so-sweet hard ice cream that was certainly lacking in taste and texture. Totally lacking in any spirit and verve, the Robert Christgau of frozen confections and certainly not worth your time or effort. If you want some really good frozen custard like mom never used to make hit some now-ancient drive in on some local route near to you before they go under for good.

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