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YAY for getting up and cooking breakfast!

I’m sure I’ve blogged about breakfast in the South, but today, I managed to rouse myself from bed at the crack of noon due to a particularly nasty sinus headache, and I started cooking. I made grits, toast, and bacon (Morning Star, of course.)

In addition to this, I sliced up cucumbers, tomatoes, and bananas- this is the closest thing to the so-called “balanced” breakfast that I could figure out under the circumstances. We’re fresh out of eggs, something I should remedy in the near future.

And the sinus headache pounds away, even after taking Sudafed and Goody powder, yikes- not good, not good- I need a Neti pot!

Bapaw praised my scrambled eggs from the other night. The problem is that I have no idea what I did differently, except that I may have prayed before making them, and I’m not even sure about that. Attempting to offer literally everything one does to God is a great endeavor, and if you offer something to God, He makes it His own- this is an important lesson to learn, spiritually, if not a difficult one.

That being said, I’m going to apologize to everyone for my increasingly shortened blogs. There’s a lot going on that I can’t exactly mention in here, though I have documented it deeply elsewhere. Things have changed immensely in the past three weeks or so, and because of the immense changes, I’m having more trouble than usual keeping my mind focused on practical things like doing the Post-a-Day challenge. Several times I’ve considered dropping down to the Post-a-Week challenge, but as much as I love writing, that would destroy almost all motivation and sense of pressure, the sense of the daily “deadline.”

As many of you may have noticed, my blogs are coming at random times in the evening now. That’s because I’ve decided to simply post my blogs when I write them instead of scheduling them to post at any particular time- the people who are going to read them are going to read them, and so there’s no point in setting a particular time unless I’m posting into the future. Most of the blogs from the past few weeks have been day-to-day posts instead of the two-week’s-worth of blogs that are written at once and then scheduled to post later on.

So go cook breakfast for dinner since I cooked it for lunch. How’s that for a non-sequitur?

Beaux


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Posted by on May 17, 2011 in food

 

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Mama Lay’s House: More Southern Traditions

I’ve discussed my paternal grandparents a bit, and true, I’ve a bit more to say about them, but for now, let’s turn to my maternal grandparents.

They, too, were fondly given the names: “Mama Lay” and “Papa Lay.”

Unlike Poppy, Mama Lay and Papa Lay lived about five hours away from us, and we thus saw them far less often. Going to see them required a trip, a long drive that was often more irritating than not.

Driving five hours is not a fun experience.

Riding five hours can be even less fun, but by the time I became a teenager, I had skillfully learned to listen to music on a portable CD player (back in the days when we used to actually have a use for CDs), and thus the trip was not nearly so bad.

We established a kind of ritual on the way to Mama Lay’s house- we would stop in Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, and eat at Cracker Barrel. Cracker Barrel served good, country breakfasts- the kinds of things that Southern folks are known for. Scrambled eggs, grits, bacon, biscuits, and gravy were all part of the menu.

When a Cracker Barrel opened years later in Dothan, I refused to go. I haven’t eaten at Cracker Barrel in Dothan at any point in time. As my grandmother has passed away, I have no real reason not to eat at the Dothan Cracker Barrel as I make no such journey to north Alabama.

Mama Lay’s house was tiny in comparison to my own house and the houses of most of the people I knew. To wit, she and Papa Lay had only five rooms- the living room, the kitchen/dining room, a bathroom, and two bedrooms, one which served as their bedroom and the other which served as a guest room.

Mama Lay’s bed had an extra mattress on it or something. I remember that I slept in the bed with her a lot when I was a kid, and that there was a strange incline that let up to her and Papa Lay’s room. Her room also had an incredibly creepy picture of Jesus that hung in it; He’s in the picture, sitting at a table, just staring at the viewer.

My grandmother made breakfast for us every day. She would also boil water in a tea kettle, and this was one of the few times in my life I remember anyone using a tea kettle. The premise of a tea kettle is that it whistles at the spout when the water has reached boiling temperature. I remember waking up to the sound of the whistling kettle and the smell of bacon and sausage frying in the pan, as well as seeing Mama Lay make biscuits. Eggs came next. She would also make coffee, I think.

Mama Lay was also a big fan of sweets- she invariably had some kind of cake in her house, and she enjoyed eating a piece of cake with a cup of coffee for breakfast.

I inherited that tendency!

Also, she was a big fan of the Price is Right, just like Ms. Alice.

Mama Lay’s filled her house with various knick-knacks; her shelves were lined with them, literally. She had a fake fireplace that I never quite understood when I was a kid, and around the fireplace were three cat statues and some stuffed chickens. The chickens always creeped me out.

Without fail, Mama Lay always wore dresses. I never, ever once saw or heard tale of her wearing pants. I thought this was something to do with her upbringing and generation for the longest time- until my grandfather passed away, and her siblings came to visit. One of them in question was wearing pants- so it was peculiar to Mama Lay to wear only dresses.

She was a fairly reserved person; I never once heard her complain, other than to say she was cold, and that seems to also be my main complaint these days. She kept quiet most of the time, but I know from personal experience of secret conversations we had that she was far sharper and aware of what exactly was going on than most people realized.

Since I’m taking this trip down memory lane, I’ll probably continue the blogs for a couple of entries.

Beaux


 
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Posted by on January 18, 2011 in food

 

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Meth: It’s What’s for Breakfast!

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Again, WordPress has let me down, as has Blogo, and the formatting on my blog is oddly jumbled and messed up. Please excuse the mess; I tried to clean it up to no avail.

Not quite a food blog, but close.

Crystal Meth is a terrible, terrible thing. Unfortunately, it’s also a a terrible, terrible reality in the South, or at least it used to be.

This holds doubly true in the rural area.

I went from not knowing what crystal meth was to suddenly hearing every other week about how a meth lab had been busted only a few miles from my house.
For the readers who don’t know, meth makes you crazy. Super hyper OCD ADHD level crazy. I don’t know this from personal experience- I only know it from having seen other people on meth or having heard about the effects that it has on the human body.
I once had people try to argue with me that “drugs don’t really alter your mind or make you crazy.”
When someone says something like that to you, something that is patently idiotic, against all common-sense, against all science, against any kind of data you could possibly access with your senses, intellect, or intuition, it can actually cause a neural short-circuit.
My friend Caleb responded by saying, “Um, I watched a meth-head throw his two-year-old at a police officer as he was trying to get away. Call me crazy, but I’ve never seen anyone not on meth throw their two-year-old as the weapon. Maybe a chair or something, but not their kid.” 

For this very reason, I will never willingly put meth in my body (not that I have a desire to!), because the likelihood of crystal meth killing me is pretty high, somewhere around 90%. I’m already the sort of person who appears calm and mellow to other people but feels like a wild, cracked out cat is bouncing around inside of me half the time.

Also, I can be moody.

But the best part about having local meth labs is not so much about the raids- it’s when you hear about them blowing up.

I’m not joking. Apparently concocting meth requires using extremely combustible elements, and sometimes said combustible elements actually combust.

Given, the police raids are far more frequent, and those aren’t nearly as exciting.

Meth labs are not always in someone’s basement or back room. No, ladies and gentlemen, the crafty folks build meth labs right in the trunk of their own cars- instant-meth can be manufactured wherever. 

This phenomenon should be called “Deals on Wheels” as opposed to “Meals on Wheels.”

There are many sociological claims as to why meth is so popular out in the country. I, as a graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, can inform you that they’re largely composed of common-sense statements.

 

Basically, it boils down to the fact that there’s not much to do in rural areas, so people have to either get drunk or get high one.

 

Traditionally, people in the South get drunk, despite the best of Baptist upbringings. Baptists are notorious for condemning the consumption of alcohol and then proceeding to drink it anyway. (This is only partially meant to be a joke. You guys know it’s the truth.) Not every Baptist drinks, mind you- but more of them drink than they let on.

These days, meth isn’t quite as fashionable as before, so it seems. Likely all the people who were creating the meth are in prison somewhere. Or people finally realized that if it requires something from Drain-O to create the drug, it’s probably not a good idea to put it in your body.

Now, since this actually supposed to be a blog about food, let me take the 500 word above and tie them into eating somehow.

Meth is what’s for breakfast because, when you’re on meth, you don’t want to eat. You don’t eat. 

Also, you don’t sleep. 

Again, appealing to simple observation- when someone doesn’t A) eat, they have a tendency to go crazy. Starvation is a nasty thing. 

When someone B) doesn’t sleep, they also go crazy. I’m a prime example of this- if I don’t get enough sleep, I’m grouchy, lethargic, and moody hours beyond the norm. So imagine someone going without sleep for days.
The point is, being on meth will deprive you of two of life’s greatest joys- eating and dreaming! Why in the world would someone give up the world of yummy, happy food for a world where you don’t sleep, don’t eat, and clean endlessly?
That’s like entering a Hell that’s tailor-made for Cinderella!

 

Beaux

 

 

 

 


 
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Posted by on January 11, 2011 in disasters, food

 

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Ms. Alice’s Wonderland, Part 1

Ms. Alice has just passed into the arms of our Lord Jesus Christ at the time of the writing of this entry; she was 91 years old. Like many elderly people who were grandparent figures to me in my early childhood, she stood the test of time and lived a good, long life, thanks be to God.

Though I am sad to hear of her passing, I am relieved that she is no longer afflicted with the pains and burdens of the earthly body. She suffered from arthritis even when she babysat me, and that was over 20 years ago.

To talk about the South, how could I forget to tell everyone about my babysitter from when I was really little? Ms. Alice and her husband Mr. Charlie lived on a farm, and many elements of the Southern life could be seen at their house.

Both of my parents worked when I was little- my father ran the family business that my grandfather owned, and my mother taught as a special-education teacher at a local elementary school. My brother and I were kept by Ms. Alice from the time we were very young.

Ms. Alice was always like a grandmother to us. Being at her house was like being at my grandparents house. They all were born in a common era and so had a similar feel to me. That or my childlike mind just tossed them all into the grandparents category because they were older than my parents.

Let’s begin the blog with the distinctive features of my staying with Ms. Alice when I was a kid!

First, there was the ride to her house: usually my father would take me and my brother so my mom could get ready for work, and we would go either the “long” way or the “short” way. I can’t remember what actually determined why we took the “long” way other than my brother and I begging my father to take us. The “long” way took us through the town, and the “short” way took us down a dirt road that was close to our house.

The short way would take us by several ponds, and in the South, the ponds are filled with snakes. One time my father saw a snake, stopped the truck, grabbed his sling shot, and fired it at the snake. He was a good shot, because when he hit the snake, it flew into the air and wriggled back and forth.

On to Ms. Alice’s we went.

Ms. Alice almost always had breakfast for us, and the breakfast could consist of any number of things. I remember she always kept the cereal called KABOOM at her house: you know, the cereal with the clown on the box that mainly consists of smiley faces but has little sugar stars interspersed throughout it.


But that wasn’t the only breakfast we might have. Ms. Alice was fantastic with food- if there’s anything I remember about her, it’s her food, which was delightfully, thankfully, Southern through and through.

(The likelihood of my forgetting something about the food she made when I was a kid is very high- again, we’re dealing with distant memories, but in the meantime, I’ll do my best to remember.)

So let’s continue with breakfast.

Another big thing Ms. Alice would make for breakfast was sugared toast. Sugared toast is ridiculously delicious to be so easy to make. I can still remember Ms. Alice opening the oven and looking at it to pull out the sugared toast, and telling me and my brother to stand back.

Last year, I made sugared toast after thinking about this, and you can read about it here: the blog on sugared toast. My sugared toast is nowhere near as good as hers, I’m sure.

Another great food that Ms. Alice made were the toasted cheese sandwiches. I didn’t know what these were called when I was little, or I called them cheese toast or something like that. She made them two different ways, likely depending on the amount of bread she had.

The first way involved an open-face piece of bread, upon which she would cut hunks of hoop cheese. I was always fascinated how the slices of cheese would all melt together and be one big spot of cheese on the bread.

The second way is that she would create the above masterpiece but add bread on top of it. If memory serves, she also cut up the toasted cheese sandwiches into finger-food sized slices. That made sense, since my brother and I would probably have not been able to deal with the whole sandwich by itself.

As far as breakfast goes, that’s all I can really remember. We may have eaten other foods, she may have made other things for breakfast that just completely slip my memory now, but I specifically remember those foods and how good they were. And I honestly never tired of eating them.

Ms. Alice’s breakfasts left a mark on me. To this day, I love cheese toast and hoop cheese. I don’t really eat the KABOOM cereal, but I don’t eat cereal often anyway, and besides, she didn’t actually cook that. The food she made was what was super delicious.

In the next part, I’ll tell you all about lunch at Ms. Alice’s house.

Beaux


 
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Posted by on January 7, 2011 in food

 

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Hot Co-coffee!

AUTHOR’S NOTE: As has been the case many times recently, I wrote this blog, then forgot that I had saved the draft. Thus, it was written several days ago but is finally being posted today.

Yesterday and today, as a matter of celebrating the holidays, Tyler and I started preparing something I’ve tentatively dubbed “co-coffee.”

Co-coffee is a combination of coffee and cocoa; in this case, it’s the Swiss Miss packages of hot chocolate.

But also, to the mix we add cinnamon, vanilla extract, and in my case, brown sugar, making for a tasty winter beverage that warms one right up.

These past several days have been especially cold, so a nice, big mug of co-coffee and watching The View is the perfect way to start the day and warm up.

Other variations of hot chocolate exist of course, and naturally the co-coffee came about largely because I didn’t want to make a choice between coffee and hot chocolate; I mean, who would, seriously?

The co-coffee, oddly enough, doesn’t taste like a mocha but is still quite good in its own right.

Speaking of coffee and mocha, the best kind of coffee I’ve ever had is called a Mayan mocha, which uses the ancient recipe that the Mayans used and includes cayenne pepper in it. Chocolate and pepper go exceptionally well together, so if you’re ever given such an opportunity to try it, you have my full recommendation!

Beaux


 
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Posted by on December 8, 2010 in food

 

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Today’s Trojan Breakfast: Egg Hash

Breakfast here is a bit of a misnomer, because Tyler actually cooked this after 1 PM or so. Notwithstanding, the result can definitely be classified under the heading of “breakfast food” in my own humble opinion.



First, he cut up potatoes, onions, and bell peppers, putting them on the stove to simmer a bit in olive oil.



Next, he added a mixture of eggs, dill weed, garlic, salt, pepper, and a bit of hot sauce, in addition to parmesan cheese.



After a few minutes, the eggs curdled, and it was ready to eat!



For himself, Tyler also made fried Spam. Though as a pesco-vegetarian I hate to admit it, the Spam actually smelled really good!

The entire meal surprised me: it was easy to make and incredibly filling! The flavors played together well and the textures were all perfect, not too soft and not too crunchy. My first fear was whether or not the potatoes would end up being too crispy, but they were just right.

We also had coffee with the meal. Coffee and its own legacy with me will come in a later blog!

Try out the above recipe, seriously; I think you’ll enjoy it!

Beaux


 
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Posted by on November 5, 2010 in food

 

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Speaking of Poached Eggs

Last weekend, some folks came to visit us all the way from Mississippi. A guy named Vincent cooked something I’d never had the pleasure of eating- poached eggs.

Despite being weary about eating eggs that don’t appear to be fully cooked, I bravely put the buttered toast and salt and peppered eggs in my mouth.

What followed was an explosion of pure taste.

Honestly, how I’ve lived this long without poached eggs is a complete mystery to me. I’ve made them three times now and even had a friend make them for me one day.

The first time I made them, I did it quite perfectly- the second and third times, something went wrong, that I can’t fully explain or grasp.

The trick to poached eggs, it seems, isn’t the adding of vinegar to the water- though that is absolutely crucial if you want the egg to not completely lose its shape and turn the pot into eggy water! The trick is to put the egg in at the right temperature. If the water isn’t hot enough, the egg will simply fall apart; if the water is too hot, it will cook solid before you can get the white around the yolk.

Also, when eating poached eggs on toast, make sure to use a thick bread. Regular, sliced, processed white bread is not ideal for several reasons- how bad it tastes being the foremost idea that comes to mind. Texas Toast, BBQ bread, or thick slices of French bread are ideal in my opinion.

To cook a poached egg, pour water and vinegar in a medium-sized pot. I suggest using a LOT of vinegar, as it helps keep the egg together. Salt the water, and wait until just before it starts boiling, and I mean JUST before. Crack the egg, drop it in, and then use a ladle to try to keep the egg together, very gentle moving it in the water. The white should cover the yolk; allow the water to come to a boil, and wait a few minutes for the egg white to completely cook. How far the yolk is done is difficult to tell, and I honestly haven’t figured out that trick yet.

Take the bread and toast it; butter the toast, place the poached egg on it, add salt and pepper to taste (I also add some garlic salt), and enjoy the delicious vinegary tasting poached egg. It’s magnificent, and if you haven’t tried it, I really recommend it- it’s not like any other kind of egg I’ve ever had.

You can cook the yolk to different consistencies- I prefer mine slightly runny, but not completely liquid. I never thought I would eat eggs that seem undercooked, but then, the vinegar’s pretty strong and likely kills anything undesirable.

Well, that’s two blogs in one day- I hope everyone’s enjoyed. I’ll do my best to bring daily updates, but no promises.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2010 in food

 

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