Tuesday, August 9, 2011

In Memoriam

She didn't eat white-colored food but devoured fried cauliflower.

She didn't eat dairy but loved a good vanilla malt.

She didn't eat fish but looked forward to fried cod at Lent.

She didn't eat bread unless it was marbled rye.

She didn't eat liver but her fridge was reliably stocked with braunschweiger.

She made the best strawberry daiquiris this side of the Mississippi but never drank a drop of alcohol.

She always had sugar-free hard candy in the house old enough to crack a tooth.

She was never without a cool glass of iced tea wrapped neatly in a napkin.

She took her Cheerios over orange juice and her baked potatoes plain and her meat just shy of something that resembled coal.

She was my Gram, she was a conundrum when it came to food and she will be deeply missed.

Yvonne H Ridenhour
December 13, 1926 - August 6, 2011

The irony has never been lost on me that this is the stock from which I came.  I picked up her bread habit somewhere along the way, swearing that I never eat the stuff and sneaking hunks of baguette when no one is looking...and of course my favorite is marbled rye.

Gram may you rest in peace and eat from heaven's bounty now. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Obsession Tuesday...Rooty tooty Root Beer!

I must confess that I don't drink much in the way of soda.  I prefer sparkling water with a dash of this or that.  But I've always had a soft spot for Root Beer.  In the head to head battle of A&W vs Barqes vs Mug...Barqes wins hands down.  I mean people...it's got bite.  Plus how can you not enjoy a beverage with sassafras...just saying it makes me smile.

But in the death match of Barqes vs my new found obsession...bite or no bite, Barqes doesn't hold a candle to Fizzy Izzy.

I recently discovered this little gem through my local bar serving many a fine wine from Crown Valley Winery.  And who would of thunk it, but this little place also happens to brew one hell of a root beer.  Perhaps even more perplexing is the fact that they also have a tiger sanctuary on the premises called Crown Ridge which plays host to a Siberian/Bengal tiger mix named...you guessed it...Izzy.

Izzy was rescued from a carnival in Chicago when he was about 4 1/2 months old and now spends his days relaxing in his pool and devouring between 8 to 12 pounds of raw meat a day.  He's featured on the front of the bottle looking rather majestic as tigers are want to do.

And people...this root beer...I mean really...amahhhhzing! It's smooth and creamy with just enough herbaciousness to keep you coming back for more.  With the satisfying pop of the cap it's almost the exact perfect thing to crack open on a really hot summer day.  There are definite notes of vanilla, the tiniest hint of cinnamon, and if I had to go out on a limb I'd say there's honey lingering in there too.

I happened to drink about six of these puppies over the course of 48 hours and now am remise to say Fizzy Izzy is tres difficult to find in your local market.  But have no fear the good people at Crown Valley have made it easy to purchase online...here.  Try it...you can thank me later!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kitchen Confensions

Bless me Julia for I have sinned;

I made Boeuf Bourguignon without separately braising the onions...or sauteing the mushrooms...and (depending on the penance for this one) I may also admit to adding a slurry instead of naturally reducing the liquid.

If the severity of this transgression is affected by taste, you should know that it was delicious.

Side note; you must have had some sense of humor because you recommend Chianti as the braising liquid, which I can only imagine made your French teachers squirm a bit.  So from this alone I'm inferring I may still make it into Foodie Heaven.

Additionally I've built a small shrine to you and your cohort Jacques Pepin in my kitchen. At the very least I'm banking on this knocking off a few years in purgatory.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fish Fry Fiesta

Last weekend found the Tilapia Mafia at a particularly intriguing fish fry.  We hit up a predominately Hispanic church and were delighted to find some pretty authentic (not so typical) fish fry delights with a smattering of sides like fries and (randomly) easy mac.

Chili relleno, fried cheese quesadilla, fries, and easy mac

It also happens to be a racket.  This fish fry has got diversifying your purchase down to a science.  The line was endlessly long, wrapping around a gigantic gymnasium, and providing several different pit stops for your wallet.  First up the swag station.  Need a hat, headband, tee-shirt, bracelet with the parish logo on it?  Well you've come to the right place.

Next up the beer table!  Can or pitcher?  Oh I know, how about portable cans for the line and we'll switch to a pitcher once we've found a table.  Sold!

Tecate, Corona, and a pitcher of the hometown Bud Light

The third table found us shelling out more cash for chips and a homemade pico de gallo with a fair amount of serrano pepper thrown in for good measure (too hot...don't worry we always have more beer!).

Chips and salsa basket

As we rounded the corner of the gym we were entertained by dancers.  They were pretty impressive!  We saw various styles of dance that included Veracruz which is heavily inspired by Flamenco.  The girls danced with pretty agressive stomping while holding a candle atop their heads...and people...it was LIT! We also saw a few dances in the Jalisco style.  Typically it's a dance with men and women but this parish had a startling lack of male dancers so we settled for an impersonator.

Check out that sombrero!

The fish actually left a bit to be desired and the dessert spread was nearly non-existent.  But what it lacked in those two areas, it made up for in spades with gooey cheesy deep fried tortilla goodness and, of course, some serious entertainment.

The best part of the entire meal was hands down the home made chili rellenos.  They are in such high demand you are only allowed one per order.  The batter was delicate and crisp under the earthy red sauce.  And that...cheese...so ooey, gooey, and delicious...

Relleno heaven

Just when you thought you'd had your fill of food (almost an impossibility in my opinion) they cleverly sent little people around the room with large carts full of handmade tamales and cake.  The cake wasn't so appealing and I am sorry to say I never did catch the tamale cart.  I was too busy standing in for the maracas player when the Mariachi band strolled by our table!

That awesome bald dude in the middle let me play La Bamba!

It was, all in all, another successful fish fry...Fiesta style!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Obsession Tuesday...Confectionary Edition!

Remember this (my Nutella obsession)?  Well what happens when you combine it with a wafer cookie and wrap it in two different kinds of chocolate...you get:

Magic!  Of Course!
I picked this little puppy up in the food section of World Market (which I am coincidentally also obsessed with).  The Bueno is brought to us by the good people of Kinder-Schokolade the German offspring of the Italian company Ferrero, you may know them for such gems as the ever popular Ferrero Rocher, my one true love Nutella, and...randomly...Tic Tacs.

I was, however, wholly unaware that anything quite this devine existed.

Mmmm...hazelnutty goodness
Each package comes with two sticks which is truly, in my humble opinion, about four sticks too few, but you know how those Europeans can be so figure conscious (oh fore-shame).

The Kinder-Schokolade website describes the Bueno as:

"Kinder BUENO is a fine composition from airy waffle and tender milk hazelnut cream - of two different kinds chocolate wraps. A pleasure experience seeming easy uniquely arises from it."

Which is a spectacularly botched German to English translation and kind of only makes me love them more.  It also comes in a white chocolate variety and has a tag line of "a little bit of what you fancy" I mean come on...how can you not love this thing?

World Market had several other Kinder products, so naturally my interest was piqued and I had to do some "research" (wikipedia and vendor website stalking).

For starters the Ferrero company is pretty kick-ass.  They seem to really give a hoot about their employees and even have a social initiative aimed at helping the health and education for children in all their factories' surrounding areas.

Secondly they also make something called the Kinder Joy:

A yummy treat...AND...a the beloved French comic figures Asterix and Obelix...yes please!
From what I gather from various descriptions it's egg shaped plastic that is internally divided into two halves.  One half contains two soft creamy layers one milk chocolate layer and one white chocolate layer.  The packaging contains a spoon which you use to scoop out said chocolate layers.  But the fun doesn't end there! Nestled ever so delicately in these chocolate layers are two round chocolate covered wafers that are filled with the same hazelnut creme found in the Kinder Bueno (I'm thinking something similar to the Ferrero Rocher). And just when you think this puppy couldn't get more exciting, you open the second half of the egg to find...wait for it...A TOY (score!).  Sadly in my vast amounts of "research" I discovered that the Kinder Joy has been banned in the United States...some bullocks about food safety and not mixing non-edibles with edibles.  Well for crying out loud why don't you just take away my birthday and Christmas while you're at it.

So my friends...very long story short if any of you loyal readers are planning on jumping the pond soon I'd be ever so delighted if you smuggled back a Kinder Joy...heck I'd settle for just about anything Ferrero or Kinder-Schokolade tells me to eat.

Monday, March 14, 2011


At last Friday's Lenten Fish Fry

We were all tremendously excited about the bounty the dessert table had to offer.  One can almost guarantee that every selection is homemade, someone's Grandma is responsible for the best stuff, and the rice crispy treats are the lame contribution of the parishioner saddled with enough Catholic guilt to oblige in a dessert donation.

D: (on the way to the dessert table) "Do they have ice cream over there too?!?!"

The Holy Sea? (get it...seA...fish...)
S: "Where do you think you are...the Vatican?"

May Cod Have Mercy on Your Sole

We are currently in the beginning of the Lenten season and regardless of you belief system you can all dig it...'cause Lent offers one of the most fabulous things on the planet...Friday Fish Frys!

Seriously all walks of life are welcomed with open arms at these parishes and thank goodness, because you seriously wouldn't want to miss out on this spectacular food tradition.  The food may vary from parish to parish, denomination even, but one thing is certain...fish, glorious fish, golden, brown, and delicious.

The Spread

In my neck of the woods the fish of choice is generally catfish or cod (baked cod is an option...but really why waste your time).  Loads of sides are available, generally a pretty decent beer selection (Catholics like to knock 'em back you know), and a dessert table with enough options to cause a deep existential crisis.

Decisions, decisions

I am an avid follower of Lenten Friday Fish Fry.  I really enjoy parish hopping and eating myself silly...and I bet you would too.  You can find a list of fish frys in your area by simply clicking here: The Ultimate Fish Fry Guide

This is just a sample of the goodness that awaits you (and more specifically what I devoured last Friday):

Fried catfish, mac and cheese, potato salad, two slices of rye bread with butter (yeah, I'm not afraid of starches), and some very well hidden green beans.
And lest we forget the dessert that undoubtedly someone's Granny slaved away on (seriously you can taste the love):
Sweet Cherry Pie

Fish be with you and may cod have mercy on your sole!