Beignets (recipe)

Can you believe we saw a Café du Monde in Japan? True. About two days into that trip I told everyone (over and over) that everything works as it should in Japan. Or that everything is as it should be. Yeah. That’s what I said.

You going to have donuts? Then they should be the best in the world. Beignets. They got ’em in Japan.


No, I did not see Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’ Donuts there.

So today, for Mother’s Day, I’m missing my mom who is too many miles away. She often cooks beignets and uses several recipes. I’ve blogged about it :::here::: with easy recipes for when you want to make them in a hurry. If you set out a day ahead of time, or maybe just a few hours early, you may want to try the following recipe which I find tastes identical to Café du Monde’s.

New Orleans Doughnuts

1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup undiluted evaporated milk
1/4 cup soft shortening
7 cups all purpose flour
oil for frying
confectioners sugar

In large bowl, sprinkle yeast over water; stir to dissolve. Add sugar, salt, eggs and milk. Blend with rotary beater. Add 4 cups of the flour; beat smooth. add shortening; beat in remaining flour. Cover and chill overnight.

You don’t really have to chill it overnight, but at least let it rise for an hour and then punch down the dough once before rolling out. To store in fridge, I put a chunk of butter or shortening in a gallon Ziplock bag to grease the inside then put my dough in there.

Roll out on floured board to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into 2 1/2 inch squares. Deep fry at 360 degrees 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly browned on each side. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle heavily with confectioners sugar. Makes about 5 dozen – Dough keeps well in refrigerator for several days. Cover bowl with Saran Wrap and punch down occasionally.

(recipe credit Marguerite Lyle, pg 44, Talk About Good! (Le Livre de la Cuisine de Lafayette).

I have to use a thermometer or I burn the oil.

They taste and rise better if you can make this dough a day ahead of time. Also, it is easier to take about 1/4 of the dough from the fridge and roll that out instead of working with all of it in one go. Seven cups of flour makes one gigantic hunk of dough.

Serve with café au lait (coffee milk: 1/2 cup coffee mixed with 1/2 cup warm milk). Put on some jazz, dip your beignets in the coffee and wish your mamma was Cajun.


All was well until the meat grinder got involved

The day before Christmas Eve was so perfect I got to take the dogs out and shear off all that hair they’ve been shedding all over the house. The next day it snowed like crazy and although it was about 45 degrees when it began, the temperature dropped rapidly, the snow picked up, and then it piled up everywhere. Perfect. First white Christmas in my lifetime.

So everyone’s all crazy happy, singing Christmas carols that only a day earlier they said they never wanted to hear again, ever. Blane, he’s putting up the Christmas tree. I didn’t even have to ask, this is what Christmas snow does to southerners).

Me? I pull out the new meat grinder I got to make rice dressing. Last year I tried chopping all the meats and it didn’t work out. This year will be different for sure, there is magic snow on the ground and… Dude. A meat grinder, okay? What can be cooler than that in the kitchen?

It’s not one of those old metal crank ones.

I will get one of those next time I’m in Louisiana. I grew up watching my mom use hers, so I know how to operate the thing.

I got what I could get around here, an attachment that fits on my KitchenAid stand mixer.

What’s important to know about this is it’s electric and I don’t ever read instructions to anything. Half the fun of a new thing is figuring it out how to make it work.

So I threw a pack of raw chicken gizzards down the hole and used the plunger thing to tamp it. Out the other side, curly strings of meat emerged. Awesome and quick. This was something that took at least an hour to chop by hand last year. Oh what a magical thing.

Next came the raw chicken liver. I threw those down the hole and tamped it, but nothing happened. So I shoved the plunger down hard and out the other side… An EXPLOSION of pureed chicken liver in my face, hair, on my arms, shirt. I look behind me and oh God, my dog Mireille! She’s white and I see these thick, red lines of raw meat all over her.

Now that was pretty disgusting for me, but for the dog? She ran around in circles licking herself, what a gift she must have thought, if she could think.

When the other dog heard all the ruckus, she came dashing in to clean the floor. That stuff was all over.

You know how difficult it stop a dog from eating raw meat spray? It took two people to straighten out that mess. Thanks a million, Blane, you saved Christmas.

A murder of cake

As I was walking out to the trash with the turkey carcass, I got to thinking about an English wedding I attended. How did I get from turkey to wedding?

Well, at the wedding I noticed there was a tiny wedding cake, not nearly large enough to feed even a tenth of the people there. It seemed like a disaster waiting to happen. I could see that cake running out by the time the bridesmaids got their cut. That’s how small it was.

Then something peculiar happened. The newlyweds cut the cake, each had their ceremonial bite and put the rest on the table. Then. No one ate any more cake.

So I had to ask someone. What is the deal with the cake? Is a fake or something?

I was told it was indeed a real cake and I was very welcome to have some but I would likely spit it out, that’s how bad this cake was.

I went over and took a closer look. It was a freaky color, burnt orange or something like that. A rich fruit cake. Rich! They told me it was a tradition to serve it at weddings in England and no one ever eats it, but they do it because that is how it has always been done.

What a murder of cake.

Tradition sometimes just doesn’t make sense. And that brings us back to the turkey.

I hate turkey. The taste, the smell, and then the leftover meat that is wasted. I have decided I will never cook another one again. If someone insists on having it, I’ll cook a turkey breast. But no more full birds.

As for the English, what I find really funny is how beautiful their cakes are. Look at these I photographed through a bake shop window in York in 2005. I apologize for the quality of the photos.

I love that castle cake.

And the cute bears in a tub.

Oh, what a murder of cake photos…

Strawberry Cake with Never Fail Icing

It is birthday season. Blane Sr. last week and Blane Jr. this week. I made this strawberry wonder for my son after he asked me to surprise him with a special cake.

I started with three layers of white box cake mix. Between the layers I put a layer of strawberry preserves and some fresh sliced strawberries.

strawberry layer

The icing is the magical part. It is a meringue type icing, not something you can buy in a tub or box but something you have to actually crank up the stove to make. It is worth the entire seven minutes of your time. That is one of the popular names for it, Seven Minute Icing. But it takes a little longer than that to make. It is also known as Never Fail Icing, but I’ve had it fail on me before. Those failures have much to do with the humidity. If it is rainy outside, it won’t sugar properly and will be sticky.

So, besides sunshine, here is what you need for the icing:

2 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup of sugar (granulated, not powdered)

3 tablespoons of water

1 teaspoon of vanilla

You’ll need to make it in a double boiler. Don’t panic if you don’t have one, I ghetto mine with a bowl and a stock pot. Just make sure the boiling water in the lower pot does not touch the bowl.

Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, sugar and water in a bowl and mix for one minute before putting the bowl or upper pot over the boiling water. (hold off on the vanilla for now)


See below, my aluminum bowl fits perfectly over my stock pot with the boiling water.

double boiler

While the water in the lower pot boils on med heat, use an electric mixer to whip the mixture until stiff peaks form (yes you are doing this over the stove, don’t burn the cord for your mixer).


Like this in the above photo. This takes about seven minutes. Then you take it off the pot of boiling water and add the vanilla. Whip some more until the sides begin to sugar, about a couple more minutes and not over the stove.

Now you need to work fast and you had better have that cake ready because the icing needs to go on now!

sides first

Ice the sides first, then the top.

deco cake

I added some special toys on top while the icing was still wet. What will happen over the next half hour is the outside of the icing will become crunchy and yummy and…

That cake did not last 12 hours in this house.

While the strawberries on the outside are really pretty, I do not recommend you put them on the icing as they cause the icing to run due to the moisture in the berries. (now I know)

Another variation is the banana cake. Blane’s grandmother gave me this recipe years ago, so it is a family favorite.  Bake a yellow cake instead of the white, and for the layers between, make a small box of Jello brand instant pudding (small box and only use 1 1/3 cup of milk in the directions). Spread a layer of pudding then a layer of sliced banana between each layer. Frost with the Never Fail Icing and call yourself The Boss.


When is food too old to eat?

I cooked a gumbo about eight days ago. Normally, if it doesn’t get eaten in about 3-5 days, it gets pitched. Gumbos are big so I usually portion some to go in the fridge for leftovers and some for the freezer.

So, for lunch yesterday I was digging around for some grub and noticed the one I made for the freezer was still in the fridge. I felt rotten and irresponsible for not putting it away, what a dumb assed thing.

It smelled okay. It was seasoned up pretty well too, I mean, what could grow in that?

So I put it in the micro and ate it.

Sometimes I wonder if I have a stomach like a dog. I have never had food poisoning in my life. Not once. 

Yogurt? I have eaten yogurt three weeks past expiration. 

Cheese? That stuff doesn’t go bad until the furry stuff grows on it. And I have cut that off and eaten what’s inside. 

I wouldn’t feed that to my kids though. I have a whole different set of rules for them.

So here’s what I want to know. When are leftovers too old to eat?






Rice? (I recently had a cousin insist  10 day old rice in the fridge was still good)

Yes, I know I can look it up on the internet, but I want to know what y’all think, because see, yogurt? That expiry date is too conservative.

Finally, what’s the craziest outdated food you’ve ever eaten?

Don’t Smother Me Bro

The only traditions our family had for New Year’s were to eat some black-eyed peas and cabbage. One is for good luck and the other for money, but I always wanted both so I just knew to eat a bite of each and I was good for a year, no need to memorize what goes with what.

I do think cabbage is the money one since lettuce is slang for dollar bills.

So I went to the grocery for the ingredients. There is no tasso (smoked pork chunks) here, but I did see some smoked hog jowls. I have never eaten that before, but what the hey, I’m a Cajun and it looked ghetto enough to go in my smothered cabbage.

Does that sound scary? Smothered cabbage?

It always did to me, especially when I was little. How about smothered chicken? I could just hear the poor chickie squaking as my mom shoved the lid down on that pot.

Anyway, I’ve been gone from Louisiana so long I second guessed myself on how to smother cabbage. I think my mom used to boil down the cabbage first, then smother it. But I don’t know, it seems like that would boil out the vitamins.

So I checked the trusty internet and found this recipe on

pam”s smothered cabbage

Okay, I know you won’t hit that link so I’ll just show you an excerpt. This is a real recipe.

Saute onion, garlic and bell pepper in butter. Remove all stuffing from pillow and replace with sauteed seasonings. Set aside. Wash heads of cabbage using warm water and a mild shampoo. Dry thoroughly using a blow dryer and diffuser. Place cabbage heads on a soft surface. Cover the cabbage heads with the pillow and press firmly until cabbage is completely smothered.
(You will know they are smothered when they stop screaming). Remove pillow…


Anyway. Here’s how I do mine.

2 heads cabbage
some bacon, tasso, or hog jowls
salt and pepper
onion and bell pepper
can of chicken broth

Cut cabbage into two inch cubess. Put in a gigantic pot of boiling water or steamer and cook until wilted. While that’s cooking, fry bacon and drain off almost all the fat. Throw your onions, peppers, and garlic in there and saute. Add can of chicken broth, then toss in the steamed cabbage a little at a time because it can’t all fit in the pot at once. It cooks down a lot. As it shrinks, add more cabbage. Keep the lid on tight while it cooks on medium low flame. Stir often.


That’s my steamed cabbage being added (upper right) and the smothered cabbage (left). This is how much one head cooks down. The whole deal takes about a couple of hours to cook.

And that’s it for the holiday cooking season. I’m exhausted and damn glad it’s all over. I feel like a new person already.

Why Debone?

People who have not had a turkey this way ask “why debone?”

Besides it being a new twist (I’m a writer, I’m big on twists) on an old tradition, it’s great if you have a small oven and a big turkey. It also cooks faster, doesn’t tend to dry out, and the seasonings are more uniform throughout. When it’s time to carve it up, well, there is no carving. You just slice right through it like butter and everyone gets to eat it while it’s still hot.


Here’s a photo of the deboned turkey I roasted for Thanksgiving.

I didn’t stuff it since I don’t like my stuffing all sogged up with turkey drippings. After deboning, I rubbed it it with Cajun seasoning (Tony’s is good), some minced garlic, and about a stick of melted butter, then let it marinate for a few hours. It only took three hours in a 325 degree oven to cook. Considering this was a 26 pound turkey (bone in weight), I’ve lessened my carbon footprint along the way.

Here’s a good tutorial on Youtube if you want to know how to debone a turkey or a chicken. If you like to cook, you might want to consider trying it this way. Just make sure you have a sharp knife.

After a lovely dinner with my family and some friends, we all watched Wall-E. It’s a CG animated film, but I don’t think it was made for little kids. It’s about a robot that lives alone on Earth 800 years into the future, when humans have destroyed the planet with garbage and God knows what else. The humans have all gone to live in outer space on a luxury cruise liner where everything is so automated they have all gotten obese and can’t even walk because they’ve lost bone density (that’s what happens if you don’t exercise).

Anyway, poor Wall-E is on Earth cleaning up all the trash and trying to get the Earth inhabitable again for the humans to return. It’s an excellent movie and is out on DVD now.

A couple of our guests mentioned that they saw people were already lined up at Best Buy for their after Thanksgiving Day Sale. This was a full 16 hours before the store opened.

So we all took a ride out to the Best Buy near our house and sure enough, people were really lined up. Some of them had tents. Here’s a photo.


I rolled down the window and asked a guy in line what he was buying. He said a plasma tv for $599. A woman farther back in line said she was buying a laptop computer for $399.
Everyone seemed to be in a wonderful mood, I guess it was sort of like a party out there for them, something different to do.

Blane couldn’t wrap his mind around it. “Why don’t they just go work somewhere for a few hours to make up the difference and buy it at regular price?”

Although I’ve never camped out at a store for deal like that, I have punched a time clock. I can see not wanting to do my regular job, rather hanging with other bargain hunters for the night instead. Also, these people might not have the opportunity to put in extra hours at work. I can understand that.

At about three this morning Scrappy had a panic attack. That means one of two things. Garbage man or big storm. Looked out the window and it was like a monsoon rain.

I feel for the people in that line right now. I hope there was someone in that store to let them inside the first set of double doors to wait out the storm.

What Would Elvis Do?

Ugh. Someone over at A Hamburger Today came up with this idea for a
Hamburger Fatty Melt which is a hamburger patty smashed between two grilled cheese sandwiches.

You read that right. Two grilled cheeses and a hamburger patty.

I don’t even think a Cajun would eat that. At least not this one.

You know what people wanted to know when they saw that recipe?

Where’s the bacon?

So he put bacon in the grilled cheeses and on the patty and called it The Bacon Hamburger Fatty Melt.

Oh yeah.

My stomach hurts just looking at it. Still, guess what I cooked just hours after seeing that? Grilled cheese. Ah the power of suggestion.

Let’s Go to Cafe du Monde

When we go to New Orleans we almost always hit the Cafe du Monde for some beignets and cafe au lait (donuts and coffee). It’s open twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. This last time we went, we didn’t stop because we’d just had dinner and couldn’t fit another bite of anything.

I promised the family I’d make some beignets after we got home when the time was right. Okay, my kitchen is always open, so come on in and grab a chair. Let’s make some French donuts.

You might be able to buy this box mix at your local grocery, or order from their online store .

If not, you can make your own mix by following this link.

I have made them before from frozen bread dough.

Roll out the dough and cut into squares.

Drop the dough into 375 degree oil and flip when golden.

Drain on paper towel then sprinkle with loads of powdered sugar.

Serve with strong drip French roast coffee mixed with warm milk. I find the mix is not as good as the yeast based recipe. But they’ll do.

My Sorry-Ass Cajun Christmas

Around Thanksgiving my nephew Capone told me he was deboning a turkey. Thinking he must have learned from the experts in Cajun Country, I asked him who taught him how to do that. He said he just looked it up on the internet, found out how to debone a chicken and applied that to the turkey.

He reminds me so much of his dad, not afraid to try anything, especially when it comes to cooking.

So I got me a turkey yesterday and searched YouTube to see if anyone had a video of how to make a turducken. I do have a little clip of what a Turducken is if you want to watch it. I wanted one with a Cajun in there to show you the character of the people down there, to kill two birds with one stone, but I didn’t find it. These people are from Houston and may be from Louisiana (last name is Hebert, that’s gotta be from home), but they don’t sound like it.

No, no. If you want to see a Cajun, a real one. Check out this guy, Poo Poo Broussard. He’s a local comedian and has the Cajun thing down to a “T.”

You HAVE to see this, the viral video that made Poo Poo famous. It is EXACTLY how the most Cajun of Cajuns talk. (just takes 30 seconds of your life)

And that coonass is funny. Here is what would have happened if ET landed in Cajun Country. (sucks one minute of your time)

If you want to see more of him, you can find all of his YouTube videos and homepage here. My favorite line on his “about me” description, “MA MOMMA NEVER WUD BRESS FEED ME, SHE SAID SHE JUS LIKE ME AS A FRIN.”

Cajuns are infamous for making fun of themselves, and this is a little exaggerated, but fun.

So that is what I did last night, seached up YouTube just to hear some voices like mine because I am lonesome for my own.

Sweet Potato Crunch

The kid’s favorite side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas is a casserole of sweet potatoes with a sugary pecan topping. This dish is the first to get cleaned out. So let’s make it.

Set oven to 350 degrees.

Gather up:

3 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 beaten eggs

1/2 stick butter

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix above ingredients and put in a buttered pan.


1 cup brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup melted butter

Combine and spread over sweet potato mix in pan. Bake for 35 minutes.


Let’s Make A Gumbo

I have finally succeeded in making a roux. Yay! Now I can show you how to make it and then we can make a gumbo (the real thing, I’m from South Louisiana).

To make a roux:

(skip this part if you can buy roux in your area.)

Use equal parts flour and oil. I used 1.5 cup flour to 1.5 cup vegetable oil. Whisk it together and put it on a medium-low flame.
This will take about 45 minutes. Use a spatula to stir the mixture about every 15 seconds. You can cook it faster on a higher flame, but make sure it does not get to the smoke point. If your roux is smoking, it is burnt. Ultimately you want it to be the color of chocolate. You have to turn off the flame just before it gets to that color because the mixture keeps cooking. Here are the various shades of roux as it cooks. I used a jar of store bought roux to compare the color.

Notice I took it off the stove before it got to the desired color. Keep stirring for another 5 minutes. Don’t burn yourself. They call it Cajun Napalm for a reason.

Here it is now. Just right.

Now for the gumbo:

Transfer roux to a 2 gallon stockpot or cauldron.

Add about 1/2 gallon of hot water to the roux. Whisk. (for store bought roux, add 12 oz of it to cold water.)

It will look like this, don’t worry.

It will come together when it boils. In the meantime, keep stirring until it becomes a suspension or your roux will fall to the bottom of the mixture and burn.

Once it comes to a boil, add another 1.5 gallons of hot water.
Season with a Cajun spice mix. I use Tony Chachere’s, enough to where it tastes barely salted. At this point it is very dilute.

Put the fire on medium and boil.

Gather up, chop, and saute:

1 onion, 1 bellpepper, 2 stalks celery, two cloves of garlic. The onion tops are for garnish later.

Throw that in the stockpot and boil down for about an hour and a half. You’ll notice the gumbo has boiled down just enough to add one chicken.

Brown chicken pieces before adding to the gumbo. Add two links of sliced smoked sausage. Boil on medium for about 45 minutes. Add chopped onion tops.

Serve over cooked white rice. If you can buy file (pronounced fee-lay) which is ground sassafras leaves, sprinkle some of that on your bowl of gumbo.

Ca C’est bon.



For ages now, I’ve been wanting to do a post on how to make a gumbo. The thing is, it all starts with a roux and I have never been successful at making one without burning it. The reason I can make a successful gumbo is because they sell jars of roux at the grocery store. This is recent though, I used to have to stock up on it while visiting family in Louisiana.

Gumbo is better with a homemade roux. Also, a lot of people who have been asking about how to make it live in places where they don’t sell roux. It doesn’t seem fair to tell you how to make gumbo with an ingredient you can’t buy.

So today I tried to make one and failed. Twice. The first time I failed, it was undercooked. I knew my chances of success with this thing were slim if I put it back on the fire. Tried it anyway. Failed. Burnt it. That is FUBAR (Fucked Up Beyond All Repair).

Thing about it is, you have to take it off the fire before it is cooked because it continues to cook after the fire is off. You just have to know that exact color and consistency and guestimate when it will be done. If it is undercooked, your gumbo will taste like wallpaper glue. If it is burned, it will taste burnt. It would be a waste of time to make a gumbo with either. The window of time between uncooked and burnt is about 30 seconds. Maybe that’s just me, I do like a dark roux. Could be using the wrong pot or the flame is too high or too low.

Tomorrow I’ll try again. I will keep trying until I can do that gumbo post.

In the meantime, if you want to know how make a roux, go look at Jette’s post, “Make a Damn Roux.”

If you have any special roux making tips, please tell me. If you’ve made one, say with one cup of flour and one cup of oil, how long do you cook it? High or low fire? I’ve talked to people who make it in 5 minutes and others who make it in twenty.


Cookie Baking Mammas and Pappas

Yesterday I said Holidailies was not all about cookie-baking moms. Today I’m singing a different tune because I am part hypocrite and I have no shame. Besides, this is also about cookie baking dads and cookie baking people who have no children yet.

Today was Michelle B’s infamous Christmas Cookie Extravaganza. This is her fourth or fifth year and it is crazy competitive. The word is contestants practice and perfect their recipes for months before the actual party.

Blane and I and the girls were not in the competition, so we got to be judges along with a few other lucky cookie tasters.

The tasting part was easy. Scoring the cookies was excruciating. They were all beautiful and delicious. It looked like they all belonged in a fancy glassed in bakery case.

The “Singing Snowmen” cookies, by husband and wife team (Cindy and Mark) scored best in three categories: prettiest; most Christmasy, and most non-cookie-looking cookie.

Did you notice the little snowdog? img_0945_2.jpg Or was that a snowcat?

Since one cookie was not allowed to win more than one category, the snowmen got the prize for the prettiest.

Other winners (click on link for recipe): Ginga’s “Rolo Surprise” for most non-cookie-looking cookie; Julie and Rick’s “sugar cookie candy canes” for most Christmasy; Katie’s “S’mores” for most professional looking; Mel’s “Soft and Chewy Molasses Cookies” for best tasting; This is Mel’s second year in a row as a winner at Michele’s annual cookie shindig. Cindy’s Singing Snowmen recipe is here.

So what are all the kids doing with a belly full of cookies?


This little dude is learning to breakdance.

This Dudette is practicing to become an astronaut.

No one leaves Michelle’s empty handed. Everyone got to bring home some goodies.

This is one of the best Christmas parties I’ve ever attended. I really loved it that my teenage daughters thought it was cool and wanted to go.

Peace Out.



The Christmas party invitations are beginning to roll in faster than I can say “Ho ho ho.” Here’s an interesting one my friend is having. It’s in it’s fourth year and is so popular, people invite themselves to it. It’s a cookie contest and exchange and I’ll be one of the judges this year. Here are the details:

Please bring at LEAST 4 dozen cookies (1.5 dozen for eating during the party, the other 2.5 for others to take home). Please only make ONE kind of cookie, so you can claim it as yours.

OH YES, there will be cookie contest again this year. Here are the rules:

1) NO store bought or slice and bake cookies.

2) Bring 15 copies of the recipe you used to make your cookies to share with others.

3) Bring them all in a container (or two) that will allow you to bring home 20 or more cookies that others have made.

4) You can not repeat a cookie from last year’s contest (but Year 1 or 2 cookies may return).

5) No TEAMING UP unless you submit only one cookie to the competition.

6) Give your cookie a name (but it cannot be yours). This is so the judging is fair.

7) If your cookie contains nuts or peanut butter, please mark it as so because of those with food allergies.

This year’s voting categories are: Best Tasting, Most Christmas Looking, Prettiest, Most Professional Looking, Most Non-Cookie Looking Cookie.

We will serve finger foods, sodas and COOKIES! Kids can play outside in the Bounce House if the weather permits.

My friend also sent out an email with a link to a mountain of cookie recipes.

Return of the Freak

I’m disturbed. Early this morning I found myself standing in the kitchen with a spoonful of milk and ketchup in my mouth. I just stood there stunned, in a haze. Slowly things came into focus. I’d been sleepwalking.

I had poured half a bowl of ketchup, added milk, tried to eat it like cereal. That’s not all. There was a saucer right beside it with cereal flakes and ketchup. Looks like I’d tried dipping the cereal in ketchup.

What’s worse is I actually have a memory of trying to destroy the evidence. I washed out the bowl of ketchup and milk but left out the saucer with the cereal and ketchup. When I finally fully woke up for the day, I saw it and had the flashback of the loving spoonful. Then had a bellyache all day.

Blane says he’s worried i might get into the knives one night. I’m not since I have no violent tendencies. I’ve never even spanked any of my kids. Not even once.

Speaking of strange food. This is funny. One time my mom was making grilled cheese for her grandkids. She forgot to take the plastic wrapper off the cheese slices. The kids were biting into their sandwiches, hitting the wrapper and scraping off the melted cheese and bread with their little teeth. Laughing like maniacs. She didn’t know why they were laughing and kept cranking out more of them. With the wrapper.

Anyway, I better get rid of the bug poison in the pantry before I lay me down to sleep tonight.

Save The Kransekake! (with recipe)

Liv is my friend in England who is Norwegian. When her son got married, he had one request:


Kransekake I think means Norwegian Wedding Cake. If you have ever had it, call yourself lucky. It is not a cake like we are used to eating here, more of a… Hmmm. Cookie? Tart?

Special pans are used to make 18 rings, all different sizes. They stack one on top of the other with the smallest one on top. Reminds me of one of those Fisher Price toys the kids used to play with when they were babies.

Here’s a photo of her set of pans she uses to make it.

Anyway, Liv made these rings and on the day of the wedding she assembled it but it was too tall to bring without falling all over the place. We had to take the top part of the tower down and bring it in two parts to the reception hall.

She gives me the cake and makes me sit in the back. Carefully. These things are fragile. Then she drives like a maniac through town because we are running out of time. We still need to assemble and decorate the thing once we get there. Then go back home and get ready for the wedding.

We go down that crazy narrow road with the brick wall that always makes me scream if another car is coming at us.

And it seems as if cars are purposesly trying to hit us because I have this fragile thing in my hands. We’re dodging cars, making sharp turns on shortcut paths and I keep hearing our wheels squeal. I may be swaying from side to side, but dammit, that kransekake is safe.

If you are in England and see this sticker on the back of some blonde’s car, I’ve warned you. I’m just kidding. Liv is a great driver.

We made it alive and the Kransekake survived without a blemish. I got to decorate it with the ribbons and flowers.

Is that special or what?

Here is how to make it:

For the Cake Mix:
1/2 kg of almonds (ground)
1/2 kg of icing sugar (this is powdered sugar)
4 eggwhites

Yes, I am too lazy to type that up, plus Liv has this ancient recipe and I think it’s too cool not to show the real thing.

So here is how it looks once the dough is rolled out like a snake and you put it in the pan. Liv dusts the greased pans with semolina flour, or something like that.

Then she takes the top of the dough rings and makes these peaks, like so:

While that is baking I go around and get a few snapshots of stuff I like in her house:

A little bottle of Scandinavian booze.

The only brand of butter Liv ever buys (Scandinavian).

And proof, PROOF that Diet Dr. Pepper is sold in England. Spanky and Sweetpea said I was nuts looking for that stuff over there last summer.

Okay. The moment these cakes are done in the oven? You smell them. It is like magic. You don’t even really need a timer, just a nose. It is that reliable.

This is what it looks like coming out of the oven.

Here is how to make the icing to drizzle over the rings.


1 egg white
100 gr. (2dl) of icing sugar (powdered sugar)

You do not assemble them in a stack until the icing has hardened. Liv iced hers the night before.

Now here is the happy couple, Klaus and Leanne.

The bride is a singer and has a bunch of very talented singer friends who sang some amazing karaoke at the reception. I was just amazed at the entertainment there by guests. She kicked it off with an incredible cover of Cabaret. I had forgotten she was a singer, so when these people kept coming up and performing these difficult songs I was wondering, is this real?

It was.

One of the best parts of going to visit friends from different cultures is cooking with them, celebrating things with them, dancing, laughing, singing (okay, i did not dare sing with that lineup of talent, no way), driving with them, or just going grocery shopping together.

Now here is a little test to see how well you know me. Guess which one of these things I did not do while in England:

Clean Liv’s oven
Drink tea
Spend the day in London by myself
Wake up at 8 AM

Homemade Southern Biscuits

Biscuits are a staple of southern cooking. They are quick and easy to make.
Here, I’ll show you.

Gather up:
2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons *baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup shortening (you can substitute lard or butter)
7/8 cup milk (1 cup less 2 tablespoons)

(for weights and measures equivalents in the UK and Australia, check here)

Oven at 450 degrees F (230 C, or gas mark 8 in the UK).

Sift together dry ingredients. Cut or rub shortening into flour mixture until particles are as fine as coarse crumbs.

Add milk and stir in with a fork.

Turn dough out on a lightly floured board and kneed just until smooth.

Roll dough out about 1/2 inch thick and cut with a floured cutter. You could skip this part and just make rounded patties with floured hands or spoon out big drops on the pan.

Place on lightly greased baking sheet. You can brush with melted butter if desired.

Makes about 8 biscuits. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, et voila!

Most people cut them in half and spread butter, jam, or honey in the middle.

Here are some variations:

You can add 1 tablespoon of sugar to dry ingredients.

For buttermilk biscuits:
Cut baking powder to 2 teaspoons and add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Replace 7/8 cup milk with 1 cup buttermilk. Follow recipe above.

Popeye’s biscuits:
Change out the ingredients to these and follow recipe above.
4 cups Pioneer biscuit mix (just double up the dry ingreds and shortening if you don’t have biscuit mix)
8 ounces sour cream
3/4 cup club soda
1 teaspoon melted butter to brush tops.

*If you don’t have baking powder, you can make it. Just add 2 parts cream of tartar to 1 part baking soda.

Smothered Chicken (AKA Sticky Chicken) Recipe

This is a good old Southern recipe I made this week and would like to share with y’all.

Gather up:
1 onion
1 bell pepper
stalk of celery
couple of cloves of garlic
2 tbsp butter or olive oil
one chicken
salt and pepper (or Tony’s Seasoning)
1-2 tbsp Kitchen Bouquet
cup of water
steamed rice

Chop the veggies and sautee in the butter or oil on medium-low flame until translucent. Put aside in a bowl.

Season chicken pieces and brown on medium to high fire.

Once browned add some Kitchen Bouquet (hope you can find it in your store) to a cup or two of water and add that to the pot of chicken.

Pour the sauteed veggies on top of the chicken.

And here is where you “smother” it. Put the lid on and cook for 35 minutes on a medium-low fire. Stir a few times. I like to leave a little crack in the lid. My mom puts the lid on her’s tight. Which means someone else must have taught me how to cook this. I think Shane showed me how to make it. One time he put green food coloring in the pot and he cackled when the chicken turned green.

Serve over steamed rice and call yourself a Southern cook.

Some people call this sticky chicken because the chicken feels a little sticky on the outside once cooked. You can smother rabbit and other game… Vegetables such as okra or green beans are delicious smothered. Some people smother corn.

Home cookin’ darlin’. That’s what this is. Next time I’ll show you how to make gumbo.

Shoulda Asked…

My poor husband can’t cook. But he insisted on making me a cake even though it was a day late. I’m not complaining, not at all, you see, in this house, that means my birthday lasted for two days.

Go ahead and laugh. We all did. This thing is butt ugly. He says it was my fault it came out like this and I better not put a picture of it on my blog. My fault because he asked me if he should grease that new silicone baking pan. I didn’t think so.
He shoulda asked the answering machine thingy, we were on it all day yesterday.

Half that cake was stuck to the pan. That’s the part we ate first. It was all good. Best chocolate cake I ever tasted.

The prettiest cake in the world would never have made us laugh like we did yesterday. It is great that Blane lets us laugh at him, that he laughs at himself, and that he makes the best tasting butt ugly cake in the world. Thanks, dude.