Rainy Fall Doldrums

Days of rain and drizzle in the early Kentucky fall can give a girl the blues. What better way to work your way into a brighter season than to party the last one out with a bang! So, Scarlett invited the “Thoroughbroads” and their significant others to an indoor beach party to put summer behind. It was required to dress the part…in summer garb, and to bring a summer dish you could eat at the beach.

When we arrived, all of the furniture had been removed in the great room (what we called an open plan living space back in the 90’s). The hardwood floor was covered in beach towels and open beach umbrellas were placed in big buckets of sand all around the space. It looked like fun as beach music welcomed us when we entered for our last stab at summer. People arriving in flippers and snorkels made out of aluminum covered paper towel tubes and with masks made out of cottage cheese containers were hilarious. Others in “old lady” bathing suits and some in tie-dyed T-shirts, baggy shorts and inner tubes made the beach theme come to life.

Beer, wine spritzers and adult lemonades were iced down in multiple Igloos around the room. The food was so much fun and the creativity was amazing. One couple brought rolls of chocolate chip cookie dough to be eaten raw by pulling off chunks with your fingers. Another couple brought various cheese dips and fruit dips with salty or banana chips and they were gobbled up. ‘Lil Smokies” cooked in BBQ sauce and grape jelly were a hit and peanut butter, jelly on brioche with a variety of berries filled our tummies and sopped up the adult beverages we consumed.

Game time consisted of a type of Russian Roulette. Scarlett’s mother thought of herself as a wine maker and made bottles after bottles of crabapple wine. In truth, about 1 in 5 bottles was actually a nice sweet drinkable bottle. All of her kids could expect a case of what she considered her cherished wine every year for Christmas. Scarlett had saved many cases in her basement in case her visiting mother asked where they were.  Some you could drink, some were able to be used for cooking wine and others…well, they would not even make a good vinegar for salad dressings. As Forest Gump said “like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna’ get.” The hostess figured this would be a good way to dwindle down the stash of this “cherished” wine thru Roulette.

Mom's wine

The fun began along the lines of Spin the Bottle only these bottles were pulled out of one of the cases of wine then placed in the center of the circle of friends and spun. If the bottle stopped and was aimed at you, you had to open the bottle and take a big swig of the libation. If it was a good bottle you could take the bottle home and enjoy, if it was a bad bottle then you got a chance to spit it out and were given a store bought bottle to take home. As you would guess, most tasted awful and the spun bottle would land on the same people quite frequently. Money started coming out of pockets to pay someone else to taste the un-opened bottles…it was a fun event and one I have heard has been repeated by others with cheap drug store wine.

We sent the summer season out in the middle of fall, but with the food, the wine, the fun and the great group of friends, we were at the beach once again if only for a while.pic185937

Upon leaving, we put our sweaters and fall coats on and prayed for a short winter.

 

‘Lil Smokies

To cook in a slow cooker, combine little smokies, a small jar of barbecue sauce and a small jar of grape jelly in a crock pot. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 to 2 hours, until sausages are hot. Serve with toothpicks.

Peanut Butter & Jelly on Brioche with Berries

Use creamy peanut butter, a newly baked brioche bread warmed (so peanut butter will melt in) then spread a QUALITY fruit spread of jelly,  a preserve or a favorite jam on top then layer with raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries sliced thin. Cut into bite size portions and enjoy. You can add a chocolate drizzle on top of the cut up pieces if you indulge yourself!

 

 

 

Beaches, Breezes & Booze

Robyn was our world traveler. Not only had she lived in a multitude of towns in the mid west, but she and her husband planned vacations that we all envied. Many of us plan these trips in our head, but not all of us actually travel out of the country often. His work had made it necessary for them to not live long in one place, so I guess it was second nature for her to be an adventurer.

They loved all inclusive island resorts with beautiful beaches, great foreign foods, unique people and an opportunity to relax in the sun, read a book or explore nature. We loved her stories over a great lunch at her home. Many of the lunches she hosted reflected the foods she had enjoyed on one of her island trips. This day would be no exception.

Having come back with a smile and a tan, she met us at the door with The Pusser’s Painkiller. A delicious concoction we enjoyed way too many of. It tasted so yummy you just kept pouring another glass, (the recipe follows).

Well, over a number of grown up cocktails, it becomes truth serum and our wild escapades we did share. She started by telling us about a toga party at the pool, then we all got into the first boyfriends, first kisses and best kisser, first honeymoons or in some cases – second or third, most memorable sexual encounter… you get the picture.

I remember very little, except what I shared due to the alcohol. But, I do remember us laughing ourselves silly and being full of embarrassing questions directed at the storyteller of the moment. Tears of laughter make you remember those special moments spent with your gal pals, no matter what your age, you revert right back to a young girl in high school at a spend the night party and just beginning to become a free spirit.

Free spirits we would all remain, for we were girls of the late 60’s who would become the Thoroughbroads.

 

A special note added from Robyn…As I said before, I moved about 3 hours from Louisville outside of Ashland. I was in Flatwoods. Home to none other than Billy Ray Cyrus. After I was settled in my new home, I suggested the ladies take a road trip and visit me. I invited them to come in April because I knew the hills would be covered with dogwoods in bloom making for a beautiful drive.

Steve and I were just back from Mosquito Island in the British Virgin Islands. I decided on a Caribbean theme for lunch. When the ladies arrived, we started with Pusser’s Painkillers. A little background on this. Pusser’s is the brand of rum used in this drink. Pusser is a corruption of the word purser. In the British Royal Navy, it is the purser who is responsible for handing out the daily ration of rum. This became mine and Steve’s official beginning of Summer drink. We always fixed it on Memorial Day weekend.

After lunch, I took the ladies across the river to West Virginia ( where I grew up ) for a little shopping. We went to Pilgrim Glass. They got to see glass being hand blown and purchase some lovely pieces. I hope they know how much more valuable those pieces are because sadly Pilgrim is no longer in business. They closed because no young people wanted to learn this skill. As we were leaving, I pointed to the mountain top above us. I told them that’s where the airport is located. Since there is not enough flat land, they chop off the top of the mountains to make flat spaces for airports. No kidding

I was only with this wonderful group of ladies one more time. It was a bridal shower for Scarlett. She had found a great guy and was getting married again. As I sat and listened to various conversations, I felt like a visitor. I was no longer a part of this group.  Time to let go and move on. It was a great run while it lasted.

“The Pusser’s Painkiller”        Without ice, blend shake or stir:

1 oz. cream of coconut              1 oz orange juice

4 oz pineapple juice                   2 oz Pusser’s Rum

Pour into a BIG glass filled with crushed ice and grate fresh nutmeg on top.

AND MAKE PLENTY!

 

Recipes:

Caribbean Chicken & Veggie Kabobs

(serve with your favorite corn bread)

8 large garlic cloves minced

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp dried mustard

2 tsp ground cloves

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp aniseed

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces

1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1 inch pieces

4 red onion cut into 1 inch pieces

6 yellow squash cut into ½ thick slices

4 zucchini squash cut into ½ inch slices

1 ½ cups olive oil

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

12 bamboo skewers soaked in water 30 minutes

Combine all dry ingredients in small bowl. Place chicken parts in a glass baking dish along with veggies and sprinkle with half of the spice mixture. Add half of the olive oil and half of the fresh lime juice and marinate covered in refrigerator 6-8 hours.

Alternate on skewers the chicken and the veggies.

Prepare the grill for medium heat and season the kebobs with salt and pepper and grill until cooked through to the bone turning them a few times for a lovely char on both sides. Transfer to a platter. Serves 12.

 

Black Bean & Rice Salad

2 14 ½ oz cans of chicken broth

½ cup water

1 lb package of long grain rice

2 bay leaves

2 15 oz cans black beans drained and rinsed

2 red bell peppers diced

1 green pepper diced

1 medium red onion diced

1 medium bunch of cilantro chopped

½ cup olive oil

3 Tbsp orange juice

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

Lettuce leaves to hold salad

Bring chicken broth and water and add rice and bay leaves to a boil. Reduce heat and cover to cook until liquid is absorbed (20 min)

Transfer rice to a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Mix in black beans, bell and red peppers, red onion, chopped cilantro, oil, orange juice, vinegar, cumin and chili powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (can be made ahead and refrigerated covered) Mound salad on individual lettuce leaves and garnish with some fresh cilantro. Serves 12

 

This meal can be served with Fried Plantains. We enjoyed the recipe in this added picture…Truffled Banana Fritters

 

 

 

Peaceful Protestors…

It was spring and the “Thoroughbroads” were ready for lunch at Kristin’s. Her meals and tablescapes always reminded us that we were in the home of quite an artist. The front door always held a wreath that was decorated to reflect a holiday or a season. When you walked in the house you were greeted with a scent from the season and a drink that reflected the same. We would sit in the gathering room and catch up until we all arrived. We then moved to the dining room to enjoy a great meal that showcased our hostess’ artistic and cooking talents.  Her house was full of color, but a soft palette. It was the first place I saw someone set a table with mismatched colorful china plates, napkins and glasses that represented the colors of the flowers in the centerpiece. I loved it and have mimicked it many times, for I was hooked.

There is nothing like enjoying the company of smart women who have opinions on what is going on in the world and over a fine meal, it is even better. The subject of the day was the controversy in Cincinnati over a photography exhibit by Robert Mapplethorpe at the Contemporary Arts Center there.

Famous for his floral photos, he was also infamous for photos of his alternative lifestyle. We all had an opinion about the 7 portraits named the “Dirty Pictures” that were to be included in the showing.  Not all of us were aware of how shocking these photos turned out to be, but most of us felt that the possibility of the shutdown of the National Endowment for the Arts over this display and other unusual depictions of art by other artists should not be decided by government officials. The art exhibit made national news due to a Citizens for Community Values group who brought suit and got an indictment against the center and its art director for pandering obscenity. (Mr. Barrie, and the arts center he directed, were later acquitted in a much-publicized trial six months after the indictment.) 

At our luncheon, a few of us decided to go to Cincinnati and view the exhibit as a sign of support for the arts. We all were students in the ‘60’s so peaceful protest was in our DNA. As it turned out, we were not alone. The controversy actually brought more visitors to the center than probably would have come without it. Our group enjoyed the florals…they were magnificent. It was really amazing how he could take one bloom and make it stunningly sexy and provocative. The so called “Dirty Pictures” were placed in a private room curtained and roped off with plenty of warning signs about and no one under 21 was allowed in. A few of us did venture in and a few of us ventured out just as fast, for the subject matter was quite unnerving. Remember there were only 7 photos on view all in black and white. If you could ignore the subject matter, the actual photography itself was striking.

Art is personal not only for the artist but the viewer. From time to time in history Michelangelo’s David has had a fig leaf strategically placed on the statue in Italy, all based on the norms at the time. The “broads” that went to Cincinnati left feeling they had done their duty to support art of every kind…even though we stopped for iced vodka and caviar, instead of tea, at the Omni Netherland hotel bar before heading home.

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Recipes

Jezebel Over Cream Cheese

Jezebel Sauce

Ingredients:

10 oz Pineapple Preserves

10 oz Apple Jelly

1 Tbsp horse radish

1 Tbsp Coleman mustard

Mix & pour over room temp cream cheese block and serve with lightly salted crackers

 

Pacific Rim Beef Salad

Ingredients:

2lbs boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1 ½ in. thick

¾ cup soy sauce

¾ cup sugar, divided

1 Tbsp plus 1 ½ Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger

3 large cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup vegetable oil, divided

1 lb fresh spinach, stems removed and leaves torn into bite sizes

4 oz fresh bean sprouts

6 center cut red onion slices, separated into rings

¼ cup each of catsup and rice wine vinegar

½ tsp hot pepper sauce

2 tsp dark roasted sesame oil

1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

Fresh button mushrooms

Cherry tomatoes

Trim excess fat from steaks, combine soy sauce, ½ cup sugar, ginger & garlic and stir to dissolve sugar. Place steak and marinade in zip lock bag and coat, leave in refrigerator for 2-4 hours. Remove steak, pat dry. Reserve 2 Tbsp of marinade. Heat 2 Tbsp of oil in large heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Add steak and sear 4-6 minutes turning once or until rare. Let steak sit for 10 minutes before carving into slivers. Combine spinach, bean sprouts, & onion in large bowl. Combine catsup, vinegar, pepper sauce, remaining sugar, remaining vegetable oil, remaining ¼ cup sugar and the marinade saved in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil. Pour this hot dressing over the spinach combo and toss. Place the mixture on a large platter and arrange the meat slices on top, sprinkle with sesame seeds and garnish with the button mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Serves 6. You can add hard boiled egg wedges if desired.

Strawberry Shortcake Shells

Ingredients:

5 egg whites

1 ½ tsp cream of tartar

¼ tsp salt

½ cup sugar

½ cup sifted cake flour

¾ tsp vanilla extract

Vegetable cooking spray

Brandied Strawberry Sauce (recipe below)

Sweetened whipped cream

8 strawberry fans (recipe below)

Beat egg whites at room temp until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt beat until soft peaks form. Add sugar- 2Tbsp at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle in half of flour at a time over this mixture and fold in carefully then fold in vanilla. Coat eight 4-5 in baking shells or use large muffin tins and spoon in evenly the batter to within ¼ inch of top edges. Bake at 375 for 9-12 min until the cakes spring back to the touch.

To serve spoon about 3 Tbsp of Brandied Strawberry Sauce on top of each dessert plate then place shells or muffins on top and top with whipped cream and strawberries.

Brandied Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients:

2 10 oz packages of frozen strawberries thawed and sliced

2 tsp corn starch

½ cup currant jelly

2 Tbsp brandy

Drain strawberries, reserve ½ cup juice. Press strawberries through a sieve and discard pulp and set sieved strawberries aside. Combine cornstarch and ½ cup reserved strawberry juice stir until smooth, set aside. Melt jelly over low heat in a saucepan add the cornstarch mixture and cook stirring constantly over medium heat until it c comes to a boil then stir in strawberries from sieve and brandy. Yield 1 ½ cups

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Not So Basic Risotto

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It was the late 80’s and new words crept into our vocabularies- corporate takeovers, out placement, downsizing. In the blink of an eye, my husband’s 18 year career with a major food corporation came to an end due to a corporate takeover. You go through a whole range of emotions, but you know you have to move on. Of course, when new employment was found, it meant another relocation. So, the ladies bid me farewell, gave me a new cookbook,  and invited me to come back as I was only 3 hours away.

 

I was reluctant to let these wonderful ladies go. I was 44 years old and this was the first time in my life that I had enjoyed being with a group of ladies so much. So, I took Madlyn up on her offer to stay with her and cook lunch at her house. Now our group was divided in to two camps. Those who did a trial run on their recipes and those who did not. I was a member of the latter. I feel pretty confident about reading that list of ingredients and thinking that it sounds good. And, we usually discussed the recipes after lunch noting any changes we would make when preparing it again.

 

Now I don’t know about you, but I always find it a little difficult to cook in someone else’s kitchen no matter how well stocked and designed. One of the sides I planned was Basic Risotto. I had never prepared this before but it was “basic“, right? The ladies arrived and I was already stirring. And stirring, and stirring, and stirring. How about another glass of wine while I keep stirring? I think lunch ended up being about an hour late that day. No complaints from the ladies who were gracious as ever. Did I change my ways and test my recipes after that? Of course not!

In the end what really mattered was that we were together. My recipe will not be included since it was not to my standard.

Robyn

Girl Powered By Soup

Unity Debbie   September 1991

 

Our hostess, Robyn, attended a Welcome Wagon luncheon at the prestigious Jefferson Club in Louisville and the talk was all about how stunning she was in a tailored black suit that made all her gourmet luncheon gal pals happy for her and pea green with envy. Her red hair was coiffed in a new short curly style and she was all smiles, showing off that new svelte figure. When asked what made her decide to shed some pounds, her answer is still unforgettable. “With all that is happening around me that I can not control, this is the one thing I can, so I did.” A fierce woman who makes her mind up about something is awesome.

 

Her watching her weight did not affect the delicious meal we would have today. She is one of the best cooks we have in the group and portion control seemed her way to success in the recent weight loss and maintaining it. The two soups and cheese bread were perfect for this late fall lunch and dessert had that good old down home taste, but with a patriotic flare. We all said when we received the recipes next month we would write “Yummy” on everything and try to reproduce it just as she had, perfectly.

 

Robyn later told us she took the leftover sausage soup to a Corn Island Storytelling event in town and it was so hot she could barely eat it. So, if you make the dish remember this note, it gets hotter with time. As for her, she has too…new figure, new hair, new outlook and a great cook to boot…she’s a catch for sure we told her.

True friends support each other when things are bad and even more when they are good.

Girl Power is the best!

 

Unique note: One of the earliest uses of the phrase “Girl Power” was in 1987 by a London-based ‘capella’ all-girl group called ‘Mint Juleps’ in a song entitled ‘Girl to the Power of 6’.

Funny their group was called “Mint Juleps” being that this group of ladies that lunch was based in Louisville, Kentucky – the home of the Mint Julep and the Derby!

Recipes

Spanish Sausage and Lentil Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil                                                                                                          1 bay leaf

1 lb. chorizo sausage (our hostess used Tasso..a little hotter)           ¾ tsp thyme crumbled

7 ounces smoked ham, finely chopped        12 large spinach leaves trimmed and shredded

2 large onions, finely chopped                     1 large green pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 medium carrot, finely chopped                                                         2 cloves garlic minced

¼ tsp ground cumin                                                                    8-9 cups rich chicken stock

(1) 1 lb. can tomatoes                                                               ½ lb. dried lentils (1 ¼ cups)

Salt & Pepper to taste 

Heat olive oil in heavy 6-8 qt saucepan over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until fat is rendered then transfer sausage to platter. Drain off all but 2 Tbsp of grease and add ham, onion, green pepper, carrot, and cover and cook 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, thyme and cumin and cook an additional 5 minutes covered.

Meanwhile, thinly slice sausage and add to saucepan along with stock, tomatoes and lentils. Reduce the heat and partially cover and cook on simmer for about 2 hours or until the lentils dissolve.

Discard any fat from surface and add salt & pepper to taste. Serve warm with shredded spinach on top for garnish.

Can be prepared up to 3 days earlier if refrigerated and if frozen will stay up to 3 months.

Yield is 8-10 servings.

 

Red Pepper Soup

Saute’ in butter – 1 large onion, chopped

                        5 red sweet peppers, chopped

                             3 Roma tomatoes, chopped

Make a white sauce – ¼ cup butter

                                   ¼ cup flour

                                   2 cups milk

Add 2 cups beef broth to sautéed veggies and white sauce, salt & pepper & Tobasco to taste or use Creole seasoning instead.

 

Cheese Pepper Bread

1 pkg active yeast                                             1 cup sour cream

 ¼ cup HOT tap water                                       1 egg

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour                               1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 Tbsp sugar                                                      ½ tsp pepper

 ¼ tsp baking soda                                            pinch of salt 

Grease two 1 lb. coffee cans. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast into hot water then add 1 1/3 cups of the flour, add the sugar, salt, soda, sour cream and egg and blend on low speed, scraping the bowl constantly. Beat for 2 minutes at high speed all the while scarping the bowl, then stir in remaining flour, the cheese and the pepper. Blend thoroughly.

Divide the batter into the two cans and let rise in a warm place for 50 minutes. Heat oven to 350 and bake 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove immediately from cans and slice after it has cooled.

(if you use self rising flour do not use soda or salt in the recipe) 

 

Peach Cobbler Yankee Doodle Style

Yield 8 servings 

For Fruit Filling –

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

5 pounds peaches, halved, pitted and wedged

1 ½ cups sugar

¼ cup instant tapioca

 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tsp grated lemon peel

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

 

For Biscuits –

2 cups all purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

 1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

 ¼ cup CHILLED unsalted butter cut into pieces

1 cup sour cream 

2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Vanilla Ice Cream

For Fruit: Position rack in lower third of oven and pre-heat to 425. Grease a 10x14x2 baking dish. Place peaches in large bowl with sugar, tapioca, lemon juice. Lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and toss gently. Let stand 10 minutes. 

For Biscuits: Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt in processor. Add butter and cut using pulse method until mixture looks like crumbles. Add sour cream and blend just until soft dough forms. Turn out dough on marble slab that is lightly floured and need until no longer sticky (about 30 turns) Roll dough out to ½ inch thick and cut out stars with a cookie cutter. Continue to gather dough and cut more stars. 

Transfer fruit into prepared dish and top with stars. Bake until juices bubble and thicken and biscuits are golden in color (about 50 minutes). Let cobbler cool a little then serve with the ice cream and sprinkle the powdered sugar on the star biscuit.