melo_annechen: (Default)

Yes, it has been a while since my last batch of recipes. Mostly because the yard woke up and needs tending. One of the things in the garden this year is a tomato plant.

Tomatoes in season are a wonderful thing, and this year, I thought I would try my hand at the reportedly easy-to-grow Romas.

They are stupidly easy to grow.

This one, singular Roma variety plum tomato plant apparently woke up about the first of July and decided “Hey, I’m a ‘mater plant, I oughta get on that!” and suddenly started producing more tomatoes than I could eat in Caprese salad, but not quite enough for a batch of home-canned marinara sauce. More on those later, if I get enough tomatoes. Considering how the joke goes, “In the city you lock your car doors to keep your radio from getting stolen, and in the country you lock your car up to keep your neighbors from leaving yet another bushel of zucchini in the back seat”, I might get there.

Two things I learned about growing tomatoes this year are you need a larger pot than you think (yes, larger than that), and marigolds are your friend. Granddaddy’s old Organic Gardening magazines were where I first learned that you want to grow the two together. I’m going to spring for the half-barrel planter next year, and instead of two marigolds, I’ll probably put a half-dozen around each tomato plant. Right now, I’m having to use the diluted dishwashing detergent spray to keep the thrips off the tomatoes.

The only downside to this dish is when tomatoes are in season, it is hideously warm outside, making the oven an appliance you might not want to use. Luckily, this pie (unlike meringues) is not susceptible to high humidity, making it a good dish to make on a rainy day, as long as you can finish it before the afternoon thunderstorms pass. It also keeps well, so if you need it for a luncheon, make it at night after the temperature starts dropping. 

ANYWAY, onward to the pie. )
melo_annechen: (Default)

C6H8O7 3.14

Citrus pies - why would you not make them? For the longest time, I thought they were horribly complicated, as so few people I knew made them.

Turns out it was more of a supply problem - lemons were for tea, limes were in the fall, and key limes… well, that was a different issue.

Actual Citrus Frut Discussion Follows )
melo_annechen: (ooh)

The Basic Quiche

Another of my favorite “put it together and throw it in the oven” dishes, the quiche is a great way to use leftovers, as well as give an elegant presentation to scrambled eggs.

First, a little history.... )
melo_annechen: (ooh)
Quick breads. They’re usually really quick, not needing the extended rise times for yeasts, and often have limited ingredients. They are found in several different forms, sometimes building on the same recipe.For instance, soda bread to biscuits to shortcakes.
It's a little more convoluted than James Burke, but work with me here. )
melo_annechen: (ooh)
Yep, gotta do something with eggs. I gotta warn you, this one might be something you want to make a day (or two) ahead, if you want these for brunch on Sunday.

I was supposed to make deviled eggs for a party ages ago, and though I remembered to buy the extra dozen eggs, I forgot to buy more mayonnaise for the traditional recipe. We were due to arrive in two hours, and really, I couldn’t leave the eggs on the stove. Not because the stove was on, but my Dad was in the house, and he was able to make a meal from hard-cooked eggs. He also loved mayonnaise sandwiches, which was the reason we were out of mayo.

But I had pesto sauce, and a strange sense of humor. Himself caught me quoting the book as I was assembling the eggs. We made sure to tell the others at the picnic what was going on, as pesto was not a big thing locally yet.

Thus is the tale behind the platter of Green Eggs and Ham I take to certain picnic events. It is a little labor-intensive, but worth it for the looks.
I will eat them in a box. I might not share them with a fox.. )
melo_annechen: (ooh)

Lentils are one of those foods that crops up in a wide variety of cuisines, in one form or another. As one of the first crops domesticated, archaeological evidence in Greece shows they were eaten 13,000 to 9,500 years ago. Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Indian and European cooking all have a use for the lentil. The shape of the lentil suggested the name of double-convex pieces of glass used in magnification and early spectacles. The Latin name for lentil is lens, and is the name of the genus for this branch of the legumes.

Growing up in the American Southeast, however, I didn’t really have an introduction to lentils until college; black-eyed peas and pinto beans, yes, but no lentils. Mama was broader in her tastes than many of our neighbors, but when things were tight, we usually ended up going back to the traditional dishes. It’s trendy and called “locavorism” now, but back then, eating what was local was cheaper.

Oh, come on, lentils are good, take a look! )
melo_annechen: (ooh)
Last week we got into Mardi Gras, and the Carnival traditions in Louisiana. This time, we’re going across the pond, turn right at Greenland, just in time for Shrove Tuesday, and the United Kingdom’s madness for pancakes.
To start off, what is a shrove? No, it is not the collective noun for a group of nuns (that is a murmur), but shrove is the past tense of the word shrive, which is the action of a priest at a confession, to hear, assign penance, and and grant absolution. In the Middle Ages, especially in Northern Europe and England, it became the custom to confess one's sins on the day before Lent began in order to enter the penitential season in the right spirit.
Time for a pancake breakfast! )
melo_annechen: (ooh)

As we are coming up on Mardi Gras week, there will be some bakeries that have their king cakes in the display cases soon. To be historically accurate, though, Carnival season starts at Twelfth Night. Yes, child - the party is that long (with occasional breaks for work and sleep) in Louisiana.

New Orleans is a city of great food, from many cultures. The king cake is generally said to have arrived in NOLA from France in the 1870’s. Decorated in purple, gold, and green, (not red, gold, and green, you 80’s kids) the colors signify Justice with purple, Faith with green, and Power with gold. Even the name is linked to Twelfth night, or Three Kings Day, or Epiphany - whatever you call it. January 6 is the date on the calendar when the Magi are traditionally said to have found the infant Jesus.

This is why there is a little plastic baby hidden in the cake after it is baked, not some cannibal ritual, as a past acquaintance tried to insist. (Okay, technically, the celebration of the Eucharist is a cannibalistic ritual, but you are not supposed to EAT the baby.) As this person also forbore to celebrate a heathen holiday such as Halloween in favor of a wholesome Harvest Festival, complete with a king of the harvest and a queen of the corn, I just shook my head at them. Yeah, we’ll be getting back to that story in October.

More on that later, really. On with the cake under the cut... )
melo_annechen: (ooh)

Once the Christmas decorations come down, there’s still a long bit of winter left to work through. Around my place, it means cold and wet days, with occasional breaks for ice storms. We only get snow accumulations every seven years or so, and the stretch gets longer every decade. It’s a great time of year for crock pot stews and pot roasts, and then there’s beans and rice.

It can be basic, just legumes and grain, or it can be the start of a Mardi Gras feast. Nope, it’s not too early to start thinking of Fat Tuesday. The 2016 parades started on Twelfth Night in Louisiana, it’s not a stretch to start thinking now about what to have with your king cake - but that’s another story. Right now we’re going to go after something warm and filling to have after a nasty wet and cold day.

More legumes and grains in various arrangements under the cut. )
melo_annechen: (ooh)


The dish, not the singer.

There are thousands of recipes out there for meatloaf, as it is one of the staples of an American cookbook. Nearly every family I know makes it differently. Except the vegetarians, who usually have something with tofu or lentils that takes its place, which is another thing we’ll get into after Fat Tuesday.

This is going to be a long one, so go make yourself some tea, and settle in. )
melo_annechen: (ooh)

I don’t have a lot of memories concerning appetizers growing up. There’s the frozen mass-produced shrimp cocktails my parents would splurge for if it was a good week. Those came three to a package, and my sister and I would get to share the spare one. Unfortunately, my sister and I were allergic to them, so that didn’t happen often. Weddings in the family had cake-and-punch receptions, and if we were lucky, strawberries. There weren’t a lot of cocktail parties that I remember, mostly sit-down dinners that were family occasions.

During the holidays, there were times when mixed nuts, dip and chips, or crudité platters to keep the ravening hordes out of the kitchen until the meal was finished, but nothing that was along the lines of hors-d'oeuvres.

More on the little bites after the cut )
melo_annechen: (ooh)

Sources for the recipes in our house come from a myriad of resources. Cookbooks were the go-to for me for many years, and I still collect them. Even now, I find new favorites in the old publications. At the moment, I have more cookbooks than shelves, which is partially due to cooking as a hobby, and partially due to having a family of avid readers and collectors.

My grandmother was not the greatest cook when I knew in her later years (the best thing I can say about her cooking was that she was an excellent businesswoman). However, she had a fondness for trying new things. When we cleared her house for sale, we found about a dozen recipes cut out from newspapers and magazines, taped to the inside of the kitchen cabinets. Her cookbook shelves held, besides the many cookbooks she owned, were some of the “magnetic” page photo albums with many more recipes.

Even from the beginning of my cooking years, I would still play around with formulas. Mama still remembers my years of Dill Overload, when I was first introduced to the herb, and tried it in every savory dish I made. Still, I will go back to the original recipes to see if I need to go another direction. Part of the reason I do that is because memory sometimes fails us, especially as we get older and do more stupid things to our brain cells. So sometimes a recipe can change from year to year, unless we go back to the original source.

After the years of clipping, we now have multiple cooking shows (on multiple channels) each with their own websites. There are also a lot of cooking blogs where we share our recipes. Each author and chef has their own style and taste, and each recipe is expressed in a different manner. It doesn’t need to be regional to have these changes, either! Just with three cooks in our house, there’s seven different ways to make a simple dish of pasta!

More noodle theory after the cut.... )
melo_annechen: (ooh)

To be honest, I have no clue why it is called Russian tea. This was a big foodie idea before the foodies were an idea. Back then, the gourmet enthusiasts would have cringed at the the thought of instant anything having any value. But now, it's in with the rest of the retro bits of gasgtro-nostalgia.

Tang appeared on grocery store shelves in the late 1950’s, and Kool-Aid in the 1920’s, so the pieces were in place for the early 1960’s debut. I haven't found documentation for the origin for the recipie or the name. It is possible that the spice blend evoked certain pastries, or it was supposed to evoke a pre-communist era, but for ages, that’s what my family called it.

[edit: Stalking Heron added "
"Russian" tea was called "Russian Caravan" when I was younger, and was supposedly a rather traditional blend of things that came from the far East along the Russian trade routes; cake compressed tea, spices."]

I have conversed with those who are of Russian or Eastern European extraction who have reacted with confusion to this concoction. One asked if this is from Tiblisi, Georgia or Atlanta, Georgia, and who knows, it might actually have originated from Huntsville.

Anyway, here’s the one I found on a newspaper clipping taped inside MawMaw’s kitchen cabinet. I am sorry I don't have the notation of which paper, magazine or whatever it came from - at the time we were clearing out her house for sale, I hadn't developed the archiver's inclination to document the source.

Spiced Tea Mix

1 1 lb 2 oz package orange breakfast drink mix

1 cup instant tea

1 20 oz package lemonade mix

1 tablespoon ground clove

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Mix together, sealing in an airtight container for storage.

For drinking, use one or two teaspoons of the mix in a mug of hot water

There were other notations around the edges, but the ink had faded. There were words that might have been the names of additional spices, and I definitely remember more than cinnamon and cloves being involved. Mixing this batch up, I was not sure this was what I remembered. I began searching for others on the Internet. Many of them have the same bones, but some add even more sugar on top of the Tang and lemonade mixes. That makes a soupçon of sense, if one is using one of the unsweetened lemonade packets. You know how that tiny 0.23 ounce packet says to add a cup of sugar for two quarts of drink? We didn't always use a full cup, when I was growing up, so tart became a default for this.

So, very close, and many of these recipeis include more spices, but I ran into a supply problem. It seems the grocery stores in my area no longer carry plain, unsweetened iced tea mix. Normally, I would not mind, as I tend to brew iced tea (Therefore, in a roundabout way, it might be my fault. Well, mine and everyone else who brews their own). This meant I had to adjust for the sugar and lemon flavors already in the tea.

Thus began my experiment. I also added more spices, because that’s the way we like it - nearly enough chemical complexity to be dangerous.

Russian Spiced Tea Mix

1 cup instant tea powder (lemon-flavored, sugar-sweetened)

2 cups orange-flavored drink mix (e.g. Tang)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground ginger

Mix together, sealing in an airtight container for storage.

For drinking, use one or two teaspoons of the mix in a mug of hot water.

It looked right, and smelled right when I got everything together. I was tempted, after the first taste, to add that spare packet of unsweetened lemonade powder. After all, I was the kid who ate the lemon wedges intended for iced tea in the Fellowship dinners. However, I also had Himself taste-test this batch. He approved the mix, noting that the hot water is what makes the spice tastes come out.

I could be pretentious and add that it’s best enjoyed in the presence of an analogue recording of the Vince Guaraldi Trio, but that would be too much.

A Contest

Sep. 16th, 2013 08:28 pm
melo_annechen: (ooh)
I have been writing more often, such as another vignette of Hector's life.

The Sojourner
by *MeloAnnechen on deviantART

My story is one of several stories submitted to a quarterly short story contest.

Of the ten entries for the contest, it was selected to go to the semi-final round, the winner determined by a poll.
melo_annechen: (Soda)

Social drinking has waxed and waned over the centuries, but even making alcohol illegal did not completely erase it in the days such measures were tried. While not every host will serve alcohol, those that do are advised by many bartending guides to learn the basic drinks. The list of basic drinks varies, but there are some classics that have staying power.

From The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David A. Embury, first published in 1948, there were six drinks listed as the Basics.


  • 7 parts English gin

  • 1 part French (dry) vermouth

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, twist lemon peel over the top and serve garnished with an olive, preferably one stuffed with any kind of nut.


  • 5 parts American whiskey

  • 1 part Italian (sweet) vermouth

  • dash of Angostura bitters to each drink

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and serve garnished with a maraschino cherry.

Old Fashioned

  • 12 parts American whiskey

  • 1 part simple syrup

  • 1-3 dashes Angostura bitters to each drink

In an old-fashioned glass, add bitters to simple syrup and stir. Add about 1 ounce of whiskey and stir again. Add two cubes of cracked, but not crushed, ice and top off with the rest of the whiskey. Twist lemon peel over the top and serve garnished with the lemon peel and a maraschino cherry.


  • 8 parts white Cuban rum

  • 2 parts lime juice

  • 1 part simple syrup

Shake with lots of finely crushed ice and strain well into a chilled cocktail glass.


  • 8 parts Cognac or Armagnac

  • 2 parts lemon juice

  • 1 part Cointreau or triple sec

Shake vigorously with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon if desired.

Jack Rose

  • 8 parts Applejack

  • 2 parts lemon juice

  • 1 part Grenadine

Shake vigorously with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon if desired.

Compare the 1948 list to the one from a blog post from 2011:

The Martini

  • 2 ½ Ounces of a nice gin (Bombay or Plymouth come to mind).  If you prefer vodka, then substitute.

  • ¾ Ounce of dry vermouth

Shake ingredients with plenty of cracked ice in a shaker till oh so cold. Strain the martini into a chilled cocktail glass. Drop 1 or 3 (2 is bad luck) olives into the loveliness.  Rinse, repeat.

The Manhattan

  • 2 oz bourbon or rye

  • 1 oz sweet vermouth

  • A couple shakes of bitters (I have fun w/ this part;  different types create different subtle flavors)

  • Just a teaspoon or so of maraschino cherry juice

Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker till thick with cold. Strain into chilled cocktail glass with a fat maraschino cherry waiting in the bottom.  Also….many folks prefer the Manhattan served over cracked ice in a fat whiskey or double old-fashioned glass. No crime in that.

The Old Fashioned

  • 2 ounces bourbon or rye

  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

  • 1 white sugar cube

  • soda water

  • Fruit (an orange slice and a cherry or two)

Soak the sugar cube in the bottom of a whiskey or old-fashioned glass with a couple dashes of Angostura bitters. Add a few capfuls of club soda and the orange slice and cherry, then muddle up (crush) everything until the sugar cube is more or less broken down. Add your ice to ¾ of the way to the top then your 2 ounces of whiskey. Top with club soda, stir and pass over to the person whom is about to compliment you on your fantastic Old Fashioned.

The Sidecar

  • 1.5 oz brandy

  • 1 oz Cointreau or Curacao

  • 1 oz lemon juice

Easy to remember, 1.5 to 1 to 1, the Sidecar is a no-brainer.  Just make sure you use a fairly decent middle-of-the-road brandy, and you should be all set.  Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel float.

The Daiquiri

  • ½ oz fresh squeezed lime juice

  • 1 tsp powdered sugar or 2 tsp simple syrup (adjust to taste)

  • 2 oz rum (have fun with this; many use white rum, but aged rum provides a different more earthy taste. Hell, try whichever rum you enjoy most.)

Shake ingredients with ice till frothy and cold. Serve up in a chilled cocktail glass or over rocks in a small rocks glass. Wedge of lime as garnish.

Besides the transition from the scaleable “parts” to more exact measurements,  there is the loss of the Jack Rose. The second set of recipes also have a less precise approach to the mixing of drinks. Part of this is due to the author’s writing style, but one should also consider the change in attitudes to any of the food services. The current trend to see “food as art” has extended to the bar. While we see more outlandish concoctions arriving on menus and bar lists every day, the classics survive.

They survive, with minor changes, because they are solid, time-tested recipes. Seeing the daiquiri as the cornerstone for all citrus sours, as noted by the 2011 blog of Mr Booze, notes that the simplest combinations endure. A pessimist might consider these basic drinks as the ones least likely to be ruined by someone playing around with them. Good bartenders know that when someone orders one of these cocktails, there is a specific flavor profile and proper presentation the customer is expecting.

The formulae are changing though. Generally speaking, the components stay the same, but the ratios fluctuate as much as hemlines and economic stability. Our 1948 version of the martini is a 7:1 gin to vermouth ratio. By 1959, the ratio had shifted to 6:1 if we use the lyrics of Tom Leher’s Bright College Days as a guide. Then in 1984, the age of excess The Mr Boston Bartender’s Guide lists the “Traditional” Martini at 2:1, with multiple variations appearing, such as dry (5:1), extra dry (8:1) and even a sweet (1:1, made with sweet vermouth). Our 2008 source, Mr Waters, lists the martini as 16:1, a wide swing for a very dry martini, which was published at the beginnings of the global economic decline. Our next version, from the 2011 blog entry, veers back to sweetness at 3:1.

The shifting of the balance happens throughout the list. The 1948 Manhattan is 5:1 while the 2011 is 2:1. The Sidecar shifts from 8:2:1 to 3:2:2. The most noticeable change  is in the Old Fashioned, which goes from barely sweetened whisky in 1948 (12:1) to a concoction with club soda taking the ratio down to about 5:1.

The one shift that is not in the same direction is the daquiri. In The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks the ratio is 8:2:1. Our modern blogger’s recipe clocks in at 12:3:2. In comparing the two lists, this is the one that bucks the trend of “less alcohol, more sweet”.

Admittedly, this is hardly a scientific study, with only these four sources being compared, but until the grant is awarded for studying the history of mixology, it will have to do.

melo_annechen: (canon stomp)
There once was a jaegersmut story idea that stretched and demanded plot. Start here.


May. 18th, 2013 06:46 pm
melo_annechen: (ooh)
Yes, I expanded on the theme for Meeting the Family with a few more historical hooks to give more of the background.

No kidding, folks, I got three single-line entry pages of just timeline and the characters keep showing up!

I'll be adding the RSS feed tonight, if my battery holds up.
melo_annechen: (ooh)
Well, things have been moving, but not in the expected directions.

Still between contracts, I have been writing, but posting the work to my account at deviantart.

Considering what I have been doing between sending out resumes, I might be doing a few reviews and such here, when it doesn't go to another source.

If something gets uploaded to another site, I will try to remember to cross-post here.


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