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You Save Your Bacon Fat?

Several years ago we moved out to West Tennessee. I figured it would be similar to home (Middle Tennessee) and probably not as breath taking as the East side of the state, but I was willing to see for myself. I saw. . . nothing.  When we moved out there, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I quickly figured it out: FLAT. Very, very, flat. And blazing hot. With tornadoes. There were cotton and soy bean fields for miles. After we moved into our apartment in town, I found myself waking up in the morning and longing for any sort of tree lined view.

Anyway,

After the wedding, we decided to start looking for a house. We found a couple we liked and locked down a realtor.

The first meeting we had with him, he invited us into his office. The other half of the building was he and his wife’s house. “Easier this way. Now we just wake up, shit, shower, shave and stumble into the office.”  I looked at Bill and then back at the realtor. He was serious as all get out.  As we gathered our papers and maps to get ready to go, the guy says to Bill, “Do you need a tripper?”  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a “tripper” is typically a plastic cup filled with booze, wine or beer. Maybe it’s a Tervis. Maybe a glass. Red solo cup or even a gas station to go cup.  Either way, fill it up and go. Forget the formality of LAW.  Irrelevant. I’m pretty sure this guy was cousins with the Sheriff, so no worries there (not).

My husband hesitated for a brief moment and as I watched his mouth say “No,” the realtor poured him a 20 oz glass of Jack Daniels on the rocks. No mixer, no Diet Coke, just straight Jack. “Alright y’all, let’s go!” If your mouth is agape at all, you can imagine what my face looked like. Bill just looked at me and shrugged. True to the old school hand book, the men took the front seat and I was left to enjoy the cotton fields from the back of an SUV.

We toured every inch of that county it seemed. While we were touring, Bill was taking tiny sips out of that glass. House after house. Road after road. Tiny little sips. The houses were all great too. Each one with “phenomenal upgrades” like granite, floating hardwood floors, a storm shelter, his and her this and that, large backyards, iron doors, blah blah, so forth and so on. Buying a house is the easy part, finding a house is an entirely different beast. Actually, finding a house while your realtor is intoxicated is an entirely different beast.

So, the three of us are cruising down a dirt road when the guy realizes he’s made a wrong turn. I sort of scoffed at this, because I knew he was born and raised in this town out in West Tennessee. Then I realized he finished off his whiskey before we left the house and he was probably feeling right as rain.  As he’s backing up the car, he asks, “Bill, how you make your cornbread?” My husband, a marvelous chef on his own, was all, “Uhh…”  and from there, we learned how to make cornbread.

Specifically, cornbread in an iron skillet.

From scratch.

Step by painstaking step.

The realtor then reached his hand over to hold onto the back of Bill’s seat as he drove in reverse. “You save your bacon fat Bill? Because I’ll tell you what, I don’t trust no man who don’t. You do, don’t you?”

At this point, I sort of kicked the back of his seat, prodding a quick response. “Oh sure man! Anytime I cook bacon, you bet!” Now look, we hadn’t been storing our bacon fat, but you know, if we cooked bacon in our tiny apartment, yeah. We saved it. Did we have a pantry of mason jars full of lard? No. I think the realtor did. And his wife. And his granny. I bet they bathed in it and I wouldn’t put it past this guy to probably smear it on his face at night. His face was awfully tan, taut and smooth.

Eventually we called it a day. As the we pulled back into the office/house combo, Bill got out and opened the door for me. As he did, he whispered, “I’m going to act like I’ll be driving, but I’m handing you the keys. This guys is fucking crazy.” Stepping out of the SUV, my husband hands me our car keys. He stands next to the driver side door, waving goodbye, exchanging pleasantries and what not. That realtor didn’t have one foot in the door before Bill was coming around the back side of the car, trading spots with me. “We gotta get a new realtor. Who gets clients drunk like that? I couldn’t be rude and just not drink the whiskey!” Luckily for us, the planets aligned and we couldn’t decide on what type of house we wanted. A few short weeks later, we were moving to Atlanta. Divine intervention I suppose. It’s been over five years since we were trapped in that SUV with that guy, but we have never forgotten what he said. Anytime we cook bacon, one of us will throw out our thickest Delta accents and say, “Hey man, you save your bacon fat? Cause if you don’t, then you cain’t be trusted.”

Last night I was frying bacon and as I took it out of the pan, I thought about saving it. Instead, I tossed in some onions, chicken, garlic and what not. Soaked it up man, soaked it up. Tonight I cooked more bacon for BLT’s. I couldn’t help but crack up as I poured the grease into my handy glass bowl that I keep next to the stove. “You savin’ your bacon fat? Huh punk? Huh?”

Honestly though, how could you not save your bacon fat? That shit is delicious. You can use it to grease pans, add flavor to everything under the sun, make cornbread and even help dislodge tiny plastic hammers that are stuck in your kids mouth (man, what a day that was). I suppose it never dawned on me that some folks don’t do this. I’ll assume it’s the vegetarians. I don’t think tofu grease is something to shake a stick at, y’know?

So tell me this-

If you don’t save your bacon grease, should I still trust you?

 

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Looking Forward To: April & Beyond

April 1st is within reach and that makes me very, very  happy. There are so many great things happening with the start of a new month and extending through the summer. Sweet, sweet, sweet!

1. Five days in New Orleans. I plan on taking an endless photographs, sitting on the front porch sipping bold coffee & raising a glass (or several) with my family and friends. There’s also: the smell of the city after the streets have been washed, the way the sun peeks through buildings and iron gates, how the noise from Bourbon St fades into a quiet, comfortable murmur as you walk further from the epicenter. I don’t need to remind you of all the mouth watering, mind blowing food. And the Bloody Mary’s. And The Hurricane’s. AND the hand rolled cigars.  Also: the fried chicken at Willie Mae’s Scotch House.  Or my obsession with finding the food truck that serves fried raccoon (it will happen this year).

2. Finishing up several paintings and doodles. I’ve amassed quite a collection and I’m proud of my work. The next step might not happen as quickly as I’d like, but the point is, I have a small game plan. Even if it’s half typed up on some shitty spreadsheet. A PLAN people. Not my style, but hey, new things.

3. The school year lets out in a month and a half! Summer vacations are always the best, especially for MD. As for me, traffic becomes lighter, windows get rolled down to cruise and somehow, the music always sounds better when the sun is shining.

4. We’re headed to San Francisco! There are so many feels associated with this trip. It’ll be the first trip there for MD and I. I’ve been to the West Coast briefly (see: Seattle’s airport during a layover to Tokyo). Wait, that really doesn’t count, unless you want to be one of those “technically” type people. Which I’m not.  There is so much to do, so much to see (STEVE! RUDY! FOOD!). I’m beyond stoked. We’ve worked up a mini game plan, but really, all I want to do is see some Redwoods, ride a ferry, maybe do some ghost hunting and just hang out.

5. I planted a garden and so far…. nothing has died permanently except the cilantro. RIP tiny cilantro. I’m sorry you won’t make it into my salsa. Hoping that everything else I planted survives. I’m really tired of buying food at the grocery store and have become disenchanted with the whole entire process. 

6. Soundgarden & NIN touring with a stop in ATLANTA.  Be still my 90’s heart. 

7. Our friends are coming for the 4th of July from out West and WHAT! Pool party, star gazing in the country, frozen boozy drinks, sun kissed skin, awesome jokes, laughing (oh the laughing is the best!) and ultimate relaxation with friends. STOKED PEOPLE!

8, 9, 10: fun, fun and more fun! I promise. At least, I’m promising myself.

For example, last night I had to whip up some cupcakes for the parish fish fry tonight. We all volunteer with Saint Vincent De Paul and I received an email asking for help with desserts. No problemo! Thankfully it wasn’t with cooking fish, because I suck at that.  Anyway, I decided to make cupcakes in sundae cones (FUN!) It’s quite simple (fill each cone w/ 3 tablespoons of batter, bake 25 min). Bill helped me and as he was carrying the tray to the oven, two fell over and broke. He was upset, but shouldn’t have been. I know he’s been under quite a bit of pressure lately and I had to stop and remind him that it was not a big deal at all. It’ll be fine. It’s cupcakes, not coal fusion.

In that moment, I realized that I had begun to let myself become upset with too many “things” as of late. When those two cones fell over, instead of feeling angry, I just shrugged it off. I’ve tired lately of being upset over “things” I cannot change and decided to change them myself. There is no better time than the present. Quit putting off what you want until the time is right, because according to every Pinterest quote I’ve seen, there will never be a right time to do what you want.

The point of that little bit is this-

I am making it my goal to focus on positive, energetic, happy things from here on out. Get back to what it is that fuels me, inspires my family and brings us all closer together. Obviously, I love those moments best.

That’s what matters. To make a life worth living, not just to … well, you know the rest. 

Here’s to fried chicken, warm weather and all sorts of love!

Smoochies!

 

 

You have something to say, but then, you can’t find the right words for it. How many of us have written that exact sentence forty thousand times already? CLICHE ALERT!

As a matter of fact, you just typed WRITE instead of RIGHT and had to backspace.

Your mind is peppered with bits of quotes from authors pertaining to something something ‘It’s been all said before’ something something

We’ve all said it before-

the triumphs, the tragedies, the rom coms, the mundane and the futile.

How you say it is what gives you a “voice.”  I hate using that term. It pisses me off actually.  Because at twenty I was “close to finding my voice” and then at thirty four I heard, “I’m pretty sure you did.”  DID I OR DIDN’T I?

I’m trying to shake the robot off my back. Death grip that one, pulling me back.

So, as many song writers and poets have said, ‘Say what you mean, say what you want, say it, speak it, shout it, whisper it.”  So forth and so on.  You know the drill.

Just don’t use too many adjectives or become too wordy.

It gets boring.

But you already knew that, because there’s a Pinterest quote about it.

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Foods: Meatballs

Have I written about meatballs before? It’s possible. I can’t quite recall though.

Anyway-

Meatballs it is tonight.

There was a time when I had no idea how to cook any meat whatsoever (I’m still not that great with chicken). When my son was a toddler, we lived off yellow rice, dried pasta that comes in a small pouch (just add water!) and Hamburger Helper (minus the Helper). Those were tough times. Have you ever had spaghetti sauce out of a metal can? It’s not awesome. Back then, I was on W.I.C and was able to get plenty of milk, eggs, peanut butter, cereal and cheese. What I wasn’t able to get was fresh veggies and tasty meats. Trust me, there is nothing worse than having to choose between making a supper that will last two days or fresh apples. At that time, I didn’t really know how to cook much. If it came in a box or can, I was good. If a microwave was involved, even better. 

When Md was about three, I picked up a Food & Wine cookbook at K-mart on clearance. It was a splurge, but the chicken on the cover was so delicious looking, I had to take a chance. From that day forward, I did whatever I could to make suppers from scratch. I learned quite a bit about spices as well. Rosemary? No. Tastes like soap. Turmeric? Use it sparingly. Apricots? Do not taste awesome on top of pork chops covered in cayenne pepper. I still have this cookbook. It’s stained up with fingerprints and grease splatter. There are also plenty of red pen marks saying; DO NOT MAKE. GROSS. written across the top. This was also about the same time I discovered that Kraft wasn’t just macaroni and cheese. To this day my favorite recipe is making mini meatloaves in muffin tins. For fun one night, I made some mashed potatoes and piped them onto the meatloaves like frosting and then crumbled bacon and chives on top for sprinkles. Oh yeah! Mom for the win on that shizz.

Today I’m fairly comfortable cooking and creating in the kitchen.  One of my favorites to make is meatballs. Honestly, you cannot go wrong with meatballs! After years of recipes, I finally found one that I like best and it’s awesome. The original recipe is from Ina Garten, but a few links down from her link is another blog using the same recipe (small adjustment: Amanda uses 1lb of pork & ground beef where Ina uses 1/2 lb, plus veal. VEAL! Lucky).

BEHOLD.

MEATBALLS.

Seriously, you cannot go wrong with this recipe. They are cooked perfectly through at 400 degrees at 30 min (or a bit longer if you want a little crunch). True to Amanda’s post, they taste best when baked and I highly recommend them. Even if you are used to frying yours in a pan. Hey, baked is healthier, right? Right (says the lady who justifies eating baked Cheetohs).  Also, the recipe posted makes a bounty of tasty goodness. This batch I was able to get about 35 meatballs. Depending on how you roll yours, you could get more.

MORE MEATBALLS! Let us REJOICE!

I’ve come a long way since tomato sauce in a can and disastrous meals. I wouldn’t steer y’all wrong, promise.  So with that being said, what do you like best with your meatballs? Straight tomato sauce? On a hoagie? Salsa? Cheese sauce?

Okay, wait.

Let’s just be honest here, the possibilities are endless.

Now y’all go eat up!