Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Twain's Feast

I'm currently reading Twain's Feast: Searching for American's Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens by Andrew Beahrs. I'm enjoying this book, and I heartily recommend it to anyone who is interested in American food, traveling, Mr. Twain, history, cooking, and the ecology our food. The focal point of the book is Twain's love of food, specifically the foods he longed for on the tail end of a European trip. These cravings compelled him to compose the following list of American foods of he wanted to eat when he returned home:

  • Radishes
  • Baked apples with cream
  • Fried oysters
  • Frogs
  • American coffee, with real cream
  • American butter
  • Fried Chicken, Southern style
  • Porter-house steak
  • Saratoga potatoes
  • Broiled chicken, American style
  • Hot biscuits, southern style
  • Hot wheat-bread, Southern style
  • Hot buckwheat cakes
  • American toast
  • Clear maple syrup
  • Virginia bacon, broiled
  • Blue points, on the half shell
  • Cherry-stone clams
  • San Francisco mussels, steamed
  • Oyster soup
  • Clam soup
  • Philadelphia Terrapin soup
  • Bacon and greens, Southern style
  • Hominy
  • Boiled onions
  • Turnips
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Asparagus
  • Butter beans
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Succotash
  • String beans
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Catsup
  • Boiled potatoes, in their skins
  • New potatoes, minus the skins
  • early rose potatoes, roasted in the ashes, Southern style, served hot
  • Slice tomatoes, with sugar or vinegar
  • Stewed tomatoes
  • Green corn, cut from the ear and served with butter and pepper
  • Oysters roasted in shell - Northern style
  • Soft-shell crabs
  • Connecticut shad
  • Baltimore perch
  • Brook trout, from Sierra Nevadas
  • Lake trout, from Tahoe
  • Sheep-head and croakers, from New Orleans
  • Black bass from the Mississippi
  • American roast beef
  • Roast turkey, Thanksgiving style
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Celery
  • Roast wild turkey
  • Woodcock
  • Canvas-back-duck from Baltimore
  • Prairie-hens from Illinois
  • Missouri partridges, broiled
  • 'Possum
  • Coon
  • Boston bacon and beans
  • Green corn, on the ear
  • Hot corn-pone, with chitlins, Southern style
  • Hot hoe-cake, Southern style
  • Hot egg-bread, Southern style
  • Hot light -bread, Southern style
  • Buttermilk
  • Iced sweet milk
  • Apple dumplings, with real cream
  • Apple pie
  • Apple fritters
  • Apple puffs, Southern style
  • Peach cobbler, Southern style
  • Peach pie
  • American mince pie
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Squash pie
  • All sorts of American pastry

I photocopied the list, and now I'm carrying it around as a compass for my belly. I'm still digesting the list, but I'm interested in hearing what you think.

What are your favorite things on this list? What would you add to Mr. Twain's list?

keep your skillet good and greasy,


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mama Lou: American Strong Woman

Strong women turn me on. I trace this back to the lovely Lynda Carter and her portrayal of Wonder Woman.
However, Freud might throw around terms like Oedipal when describing my love of strong women, but we won't go there because that just would be disturbing.

Last night I pursued my fascination with strong women by attending American Strong Woman Mama Lou's performance at the Lawrence Busker Festival. She swaggered into Lawrence armed with a wink and a bag of tricks.
She strapped on her gloves.
She effortlessly performed a series of one-armed pull ups. She crushed an apple with her bicep.

She lifted two bags of potatoes with her tongue.
She rolled up a skillet with her lovely bare hands.
She broke chopsticks with her butt.

Are you impressed?

And for her finale, she ripped a Kansas City phonebook in half.
I left wowed and slightly in love. This whimsical guy will be seeking therapy.

keeping it weird in Lawrence,

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Apricot & White Chocolate Cookies

Sometimes me think what is love, and then me think love is what last cookie is for. Me give up the last cookie for you.

****The Cookie Monster

When I bite into something tasty, I imagine loin-clothed clad and club-bearing neurons storming the fortress of my brain that monitors calories and social norms. Inside the the wall of that fortress, tie-wearing neurons scan ledgers and listen to Pat Boone as they monitor any signs of irrational behavior on my part. It's a full-time job.

When those conservative neurons detect something awry, they march in a single-file formation in a concerted effort to suppress my appetite. They don't stand a chance against my raging, craving, ravenous neurons. Appetite rules!

Appetite rules, especially when it comes to cookies. Now typically, I like a thin, chewy cookie devoid of raisins, In my opinion, raisins have ruined many good cookies. However, occasionally a recipe comes around that challenges my tastes. This is the case with today's recipe, apricot and white chocolate cookies.

It's a denser cookie. It comes out of oven gnarled. It contains dried fruit. Think of it as the Ernest Borgnine of cookies. This cookie gets three strikes at first glance, which is why after my wife baked these cookies they sat on the counter untouched for 24 hours (a personal record for me). When I did taste this cookie I was blown away. These cookies possess a creamy, velvetty texture. Maybe it has something to do with the butter or the cream cheese or the sugar. And those dried apricots - they bring something special to the party also.

You gotta try these.

Apricot & White Chocolate Cookies


    7 tablespoons unsalted butter
    7 tablespoons cream cheese
    1/2 cup sugar
    2/3 cup all-purpose flour
    1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
    1/4 cup white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat together the butter and cream cheese. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Gradually add the flour, then fold in the apricots and chocolate. The dough will be quite soft but don't worry!
  3. Drop the mixture by heaped teaspoons onto non-stick or parchment paper-lined cookie sheets, spacing well apart, and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool on the cookie sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
me leave last cookie for you,

Perpetual Joy: Graveside Circus Peanuts

Lucinda Matlock

I went to the dances at Chandlerville,
And played snap-out at Winchester.
One time we changed partners,
Driving home in the moonlight of middle June,
And then I found Davis.
We were married and lived together for seventy years,
Enjoying, working, raising the twelve children,
Eight of whom we lost
Ere I had reached the age of sixty.
I spun, I wove, I kept the house, I nursed the sick,
I made the garden, and for holiday
Rambled over the fields where sang the larks,
And by Spoon River gathering many a shell,
And many a flower and medicinal weed—
Shouting to the wooded hills, singing to the green valleys.
At ninety-six I had lived enough, that is all,
And passed to a sweet repose.
What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you—
It takes life to love Life.

From The Spoon River Anthology by Kansan Edgar Lee Masters

Perpetual Joy: Where I blog about things that amuse me, tickle me, or generally make me feel good, and you scratch your head.

My father's headstone was placed in the cemetery last week, so Sunday I visited it. In my youth the cemetery was a place to drink beer or engage in other teenage hijinks. At 40 it's a much different place. I know many of the names on the headstones, and with those names I have a library of stories I could share. There's joy in these recollections, and of course, sadness.

It's difficult to stand in a cemetery and not be aware that the clock is ticking and there's not a darn thing I can do to stop it. All I can do is decide how I want to use the time I've been given. However, this type of contemplation often yields more questions than answers.

Amidst all this cloudy-with-a-chance-of-sunshine thinking, I was still able to find something to amuse me. On Mr. Roy Robert Heckman's headstone set a bag of circus peanuts.

Look closely. Do you see the Circus Peanuts? This tickled me. Were they there because Mr. Heckman loved Circus Peanuts? Or was it an inside joke Mr. Heckman shared with a granddaughter? I wanted to know the story behind the Circus Peanuts.

I guess it doesn't make much sense to snap photos of a bag of Circus Peanuts. It certainly doesn't make sense to write about them. This post is a little odd and disjointed (New blog name: Odd and Disjointed). However, I refuse to play by the rules. I'm intrigued by the stories that are products of this crazy world, and I'm especially intrigued by the obscure, the whimsical, or the things that most don't notice.

When you see graveside offerings, I'll be there. I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look - wherever there's a ritual people deem outdated, I'll be there to document it. Wherever the world decides to stomp on the accelerator, I'll be there slamming on the brakes. I'll be there in the way guys howl against the glide of a slide guitar. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they visit the local ice cream shop. I'll be there when supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build - I'll be there, too.****

What snack should we place on your grave?

we're all goin' to die someday,

***I lifted and revised this from John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. I enjoyed reworking it, but it needs more thought and revision. I'll revisit it later. I like the idea of writing a mantra or code of beliefs.

I'm trying to have more fun and take chances with my writing. I also want to be more prolific. I'm bound to stumble, but I'm enjoying myself.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You

Today we bid farewell to The Avett Brothers as the house band at The Greasy Skillet. In the next few days I'll announce the next house band. I'll be seeing The Avett Brothers next month in Kansas City, so there's a good chance they'll make a future guest appearance on this blog.

It's difficult to let go of The Avett brothers, but it's time to introduce you to a new band. For now watch the following clips of The Avetts performing at this year's Bonnaroo Festival. Their passionate performance will leap off the screen, but pay close attention to the fans. They're enthralled and hanging on every words. Thus is the power of music.

I want to do more with food and music in this blog. I've sturggled to match recipe with the music, but it will be easier to do it with the next band because one of the members has a food blog.

Anyway I'll leave you with one last recipe, green chile hominy. What's the connection with The Avett Brothers? The Avetts are Southerners and I think of hominy as a Southern food. Growing up I ate a lot of hominy. I don't know if this was common for most Kansans. Maybe some of my readers can weigh in on this topic. I first encountered this recipe at Perini's Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap, Texas. I usually serve this as a sidedish when I smoke a brisket. You'll find they get along well together.

Green Chile Hominy


  • 1 cup chopped onion, sautéed
  • 4 (15 ounce) cans white hominy (drain and reserve liquid)

  • 1/2 cup hominy liquid

  • 1 tablespoon juice from pickled jalapenos

  • 1/2 pound Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 10 slices bacon, fried crisp and chopped (reserve drippings)
  • 1 cup fresh seeded and chopped poblano or Anaheim peppers
  • 1 or 2 pickled jalapenos, seeded and chopped (optional)


  1. Sauté the onions in a little of the bacon drippings and put aside.

  2. Heat the hominy in a separate sauté pan, stirring often. When heated thoroughly, add the hominy liquid and jalapeno juice, bring back to high temperature and add 3/4 of the cheese.

  3. When the cheese melts, add half the peppers and bacon and all the onion.

  4. Pour into a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, bacon and peppers. (At this point it can be refrigerated or even frozen, if you want to make it in advance.)

  5. Bake at 325 degrees F until cheese on top melts, about 15 minutes (or 40 minutes, if refrigerated).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Back-to-School Belly Dance Party

Perpetual Joy: Where I blog about little things that tickle me, and you'll just scratch your head.

In Kansas it's typical to the kickoff the school year with something like an ice cream social, watermelon feed, or bbq. However, there are unconventional celebrations out there, especially in Lawrence, Kansas. For example, last week at the grocery story, I spied the following flyer:

This seemed weird. I would never think of kicking off the school year with belly dancing. I'm not very well versed in the art and custom of belly dancing, but I always find it sexual. Chalk this up to my mind being in the gutter most of the time. I must research belly dancing.

When I read the flyer the 2nd time, I was almost persuaded to attend. Who wouldn't want to float across the floor wearing a veil and playing the finger cymbals? Hummus at the Back-to-School Belly Dance Party would have guaranteed my attendance.

What back-to-school traditions do you like?


P.S. I thought about attending and blogging about the event, but I would have been viewed as a pervert with a notebook and camera.

I looked up the definition of Yalla. I guess, it's Arabic for "Come on! Let's go!" I'm surprised the Ramones never used this word in a song.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Woody: Can I pour you a draft, Mr. Peterson?
Norm: A little early, isn't it Woody?
Woody: For a beer?
Norm: No, for stupid questions.

***From Cheers.

On a recent trip to Denver, we revisited Snooze, which bills itself as an "A.M. Eatery." Staring at Snooze's menu is like peering into a 64-count box of Crayola Crayons. It's full of possibilities that paralyze me with indecision and giddiness. I offer the following evidence, a partial menu of their breakfast cocktails:

Where does a fella start? Do I order the Booze Hound Dog or opt for the humorously named John Daly or maybe I get my coffee fix with the Cosmonaut? You see what I mean.

I know what you're thinking: Who does this muddywaters think he is quaffing alcohol for breakfast: Well, my friends, I normally don't order a drink with my meal because I must too cheap for such antics, but on vacation I live more unconventionally. I enjoy drinks on the porch of the Stanley Hotel. I eat pie for breakfast. I even wear a gas-station cowboy hat, something I'd never do in my real life.

Let's get back to that drink menu. After some enjoyable contemplation, I opted for the Beermosa, a mix of orange juice and New Belgium Trippel.

How did it taste? Wonderful. The flavors worked well together, and I can't think of a more "laid back" morning drink; it's much better than a bloody Mary. I'll be purchasing some New Belgium Trippel and making this drink a staple here at The Greasy Skillet. I hope it's something you'll enjoy too.

drink locally,