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August, 2011

  1. Papa Beaux’s Super Easy Hamburger and Macaroni Dish!

    August 31, 2011 by The Yum Yum

    Haha, “Papa Beaux” sounds hilarious, doesn’t it? They’re gonna call me the Hoodoo King of Alabama before it’s all said and done because they’ll swear I used magic to invent all my recipes, but I didn’t and haven’t. Just a little know how in the kitchen.

    And naturally, everyone knows that I didn’t actually used hamburger for this, but guess what? You sure can!

    The potential dryness of the hamburger and macaroni dish made me cringe, and I toyed with the idea of turning into a mock hamburger helper, which I suppose you could actually do using this recipe. I didn’t, though, and the whole philosophy of the presence of absence came true once again.

    What you need:

    • 3/4 a pack of Morning Star Crumbles
    • 8 ounces (about a half a pack) of macaroni noodles
    • Parmesan cheese
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • Salt and Pepper to taste


    What you do:

    1. Boil the macaroni and cook the Crumbles while the noodles are cooking.
    2. Drain the noodles.
    3. Return the noodles to the pot. Drizzle with EVOO because this helps the pasta to stay separate and not stick together. Make sure to stir it well.
    4. Add the Crumbles (or the hamburger meat) and the parmesan cheese.
    5. Add salt and pepper to taste. The pepper definitely punches you in the mouth!


    You can toy with this recipe like there’s no tomorrow. Small pieces of potato and English peas would’ve made it fantastic, or you could go the tomato route and have those mixed in. I was pleasantly surprised at how satisfying of a meal three basic ingredients created!

    What’s on your menu tonight? Do it Papa Beaux style!



  2. The Spice is Right: A Philosophy

    August 30, 2011 by The Yum Yum

    The Spice is Right, other than being a cute name for a game show as previously mentioned, is also a good title for more on my philosophy of cooking.

    There is a particular moment when you begin to understand food in a new a way, when you taste your food and have a warm sparkle in your heart that tells you, “Now that’s the way this is supposed to taste!” It’s there in a flash, and that’s when you know that the food tastes good, that you’ve done your job correctly.

    Also, for many of us, it will take many botched recipes before this talent comes about.

    The Spice is Right is a sense that will tell you something is off, something’s not flavored or cooked quite properly. The Spice is Right will also reveal to you that some foods are, by their nature, bland.

    Another interesting philosophical point is the Presence of Absence. Again I substituted ramen for other pasta tonight; the readily available ramen just made sense, and ramen is cheap, quick, easy, requiring a mere 3 minutes to prepare as opposed to most pasta being somewhere in the range of 10 minutes.

    The dish also required bell peppers and parsley, and optionally, cheese, but who is anyone kidding? If I have the option of cheese, I’m going to have cheese.

    My first temptation when using bell pepper or onion is to add the other, but sometimes, the absence speaks of the presence of something else. The bell pepper needed to be trusted on its own; bell pepper has to be able to shine in its own respect and not as always being part of the trinity of cooking. And so, without onion and without conflicting flavors, I really had the chance to taste the layers of the bell pepper, to taste the sweetness, the greenness, the hidden, potential spice. The onion would’ve occluded that.

    I’m glad I didn’t use onion!

    Also, the recipe didn’t call for lemon, but I’ve learned from Caleb that lemon and cheese get along very well, so a splash of lemon went into the pasta to highlight the flavors. Lemon works much like a stealth ninja, popping out and dancing around the flavors so that you know something’s going on without actually knowing what’s happening.

    I mention ninjas a lot when I write on here.

    More philosophy to come.




    August 30, 2011 by The Yum Yum

    Googling for a recipe to use Morning Star Crumbles, I happened upon this website:

    Adventures in Fake Meat

    This is gonna be excellent!








  4. I Cannot Deprive You: Veggie Table Repost

    August 29, 2011 by The Yum Yum

    As I read this post, I noticed how great I felt and how good of a mood I was in, and Veggie Table showed us several photos of delicious French food and of course, her puppy that’s the most adorable thing in the world. This entry is FUN, just plainly put, but then again, all of Veggie Table’s entries are FUN! Her humor is much perkier and far less cynical than my own, so that makes her blog all the more enjoyable.

    Check it out by clicking anywhere on here.


    Don’t forget to leave her comment- and yes, you can comment anonymously, too! I’m sure she appreciates the support!


  5. Autumn Approaches with Apples and Falling Foliage

    August 29, 2011 by The Yum Yum

    Technically, Summer doesn’t officially end until the late part of September. Blame my elementary school teachers for immediately changing the bulletin boards the moment September came in to reflect Autumn. We would leave one day in August, come back on the first day of September, and lo and behold, Fall colors and leave would be etched all over the place and stapled to the boards and all over the room.

    The reality is that here in the South, at least in the Wiregrass area, the heat stays around well through October and sometimes November and less commonly December, but it’s happened before. The truly cold weather doesn’t arrive until January or so, then the Hell that is Alabama freezes over, and you know what Hell Freezing Over actually feels like.

    This is why I much prefer the warmth. Again, like Mama Lay, I prefer the Summer where we have long days and short nights, but that was less to do with the cold and more to do with her being afraid of the night. My family lives out in the country, but Mama Lay always lived in suburban areas, so I suppose she had a higher chance of encountering the unsavory characters.

    Even better would be the hot weather, long nights, and short days. I can’t handle too much cold. Sweating and having to enter into a Car That’s Been Sitting in the Sun All Day maybe be unpleasant, but I’d rather die in a puddle of my sweat than have someone discover a Beaux-sicle somewhere.

    Today’s been an odd day: the temperature on the thermometer read 101.5º as I walked out of the house, but the heat itself is dry. The humidity is the real killer here. Lord Christ, help us if the heat reaches 101.5º AND the humidity is high.

    Another interesting tidbit is noticing the number of Southern men who walk around with long sleeves and pants, socks and closed-off shoes in this kind of weather. Perhaps they call it prudence, modesty, professionalism, or tradition; I call it masochism and dumb-assedness. They aren’t doing themselves or anyone else any favors.

    Autumn brings with it the mention of harvest, and of course, peanuts are a big crop in this area, along with the National Peanut Festival that I don’t attend by my own accord. Autumn also brings with it the scent of fallen leaves and, hopefully, apple pies.

    Apple pie makes me happy. Who wouldn’t be made happy by apple pie? I mean, it’s delicious and supposedly quintessentially American, though I think the Dutch may have actually “invented” it. In fact, Gigi, Mimi, and Ruru (my mother and aunties) make a kind of apple pie that’s really a fried apple turnover. Ruru prefers uses pears, which alters the taste slightly and actually is better in my opinion.

    We ate Fruit Cocktail out of wine glasses as a child, and Fruit Cocktail, truth be told, is an abominable mixture of fruits chunked in corn syrup that will mislead all children to think all such fruits are indeed that sweet. I really didn’t care for the pears as a child, much preferring the peaches and pineapple pieces I would have, but of course, the pears didn’t taste as good as the rest of the fruit.

    Later I came to learn from none other than Ms. Alice herself that actual pears tasted much, much better. I was older and went to stay at her house for some reason, and she had fresh pears that she cut up. She offered me a small piece to try, and I was surprised that the pears tasted a great deal like apples but better; I think the skin of the pear was easier for me to chew, or she had peeled most of the skin off. So she shared with me and kept asking me if I wanted more, and I gladly accepted this fantastic new discovery.

    I wonder what a full-blown pear pie would taste like. That would be an interesting thing to try, and it would go well with an apple pie. In fact, I prefer apple pies to peach cobbler. Peach cobbler is delicious and another Southern staple for desserts but often too sweet and sticky.

    Of course, who am I to talk? I actually love pecan pie, very sweet and sticky in its own right, though I didn’t as a child. This probably was exacerbated by the tendency of Southern adults (at least in my family) to gawk and act like someone just slapped them when you tell them you don’t like [insert Southern food here.] Funny how sometimes our tastes can change. I think with me, certain flavors just take a little adjustment, a little understanding, a little patience. Or maybe I was having really bad pecan pie.

    I, for one, am not the sort of person who’s content to have food that’s too much cake or pie, not enough filling, but that’s just me. Too much crust takes away from the flavor of the pie; too much pie is just too sweet.

    Anybody hungry yet? Recipes to soon follow.


  6. Chocolate Milk Memories and Mama Lay

    August 28, 2011 by The Yum Yum

    Childhood brings with it all kinds of strange events, especially young childhood, before the age of five or so. We’re so quickly influenced by the world around us that it’s as though a kindergartner has already lived an entire lifetime before starting school.

    I could delve into the mystical dimension of this and speak of how aeons before us, the amount of learning an organism would do never even amounted to the amount of knowledge one human child has, and that the process of evolution somehow led us up to where we are now, and that in the future, our children will have progressed far beyond where we are by the end of our lives.

    However, I won’t go there.

    What I wanted to discuss is actually chocolate milk, which is probably not something you would have gathered from the first few lines.I can remember once in high school someone online in a chatroom ridiculed me for a perspective I held because I was a teenager. You know the stereotype, that adults seem to think teenagers think they know everything, and I, too, fell victim to such attacks. However, unlike most teenagers, I never felt like I knew everything.It’s true, people attacked me in that way, too. Instead, I faced a perpetually horrifying reality of how little I knew and that I could never possibly learn everything, and that life would basically force me to pick a few things and learn those thoroughly and make them my “thing,” while leaving other things to other people.

    I also want to point out exactly how strange it is that any adult would make an accusation that someone else is acting like they know everything. The first lesson anyone should get in that they’ll never know anything, and yes, you do have wise people, and yes, many older people can give experiential advice, but many older people are just as stupid as the teenagers they hate, so maybe that’s the real issue- too many people are stupid.

    Back to chocolate milk.

    Anyway, so the person insulted me, and then I admitted that I did like chocolate milk, and here, today, I’m going to admit that in my early-late 20s, I still love chocolate milk. I mean, what, I’m supposed to sit around and ca-caw about how good the bourbon or whiskey tastes?

    No thank ya, ma’am. No thank ya.

    Gigi actually did the chocolate milk thing for me and my brother when we were children the opposite of how most people might have done it- she actually bought chocolate syrup and mixed it with milk. Naturally, as my brother and I grew older, we learned this was not a complicated and process, and a few times, the normally slightly pinkish-brownish milk would turn the color of mud, followed by our racing around the house and jumping around and somehow managing to burn off any chocolate we had just consumed.

    We also drank Instant Breakfast as children. Now, before you turn Gigi in for child abuse, I want to make the point that we didn’t necessarily drink it in place of a meal. This had nothing to do with her aversion to cooking; she never said, “Okay, Instant Breakfast for dinner, kids.”

    And if you also think about it, Instant Breakfast is loaded with vitamins and minerals, not unlike taking a multi-vitamin, so if you have kids of your own and they’re picky eaters, tempt them with the chocolate shake of Instant Breakfast, and there you go.

    Another kind of chocolate milk, and actually what I wanted to write about in this blog that’s become way longer than I had intended, is the store-bought chocolate milk at Mama Lay’s house. Mama Lay was my maternal grandmother, and for me, for whatever reason, it’s easier to compare my own temperament to my four grandparents than to my parents; I can see various things that either skipped a generation or something that’s come straight down through us all.

    Mama Lay was very quiet and reserved and dignified; in a blog earlier this year, I mentioned that she taught me one of the greatest lessons in life without actually telling it to me. She came from a well-to-do family, and then she met my grandfather, who came from a working-class family. Her family warned her that to marry my grandfather would mean she would have nothing in the way of material possessions in this life.

    But she loved my grandfather, and likely in one of those iron-will-in-silence moments, she pushed forth and married him for love instead of for money. Then at my grandfather’s funeral, her siblings remarked they had made such a comment of her, and then they went on to say her life had been the happiest of any of theirs.

    So that being a lesson learned, money has never been something that attracts me to someone. Ever.

    The chocolate milk from the store tasted different. Very different. It wasn’t bad; in fact, the chocolate milk at Mama Lay’s house was really, really, good! Just different. I can still remember the taste, the wonder, of how this chocolate milk could be different, of why it was different, and I never really understood.

    Now that I’m older, I still drink store-bought chocolate milk from time to time, and it admittedly makes great hot cocoa when warmed up. I think the first time I had a fudge-sicle, I was reminded of that chocolate milk flavor, too.

    A good addition to the chocolate milk around this time of year, the High Summer, I call it, would be pecan and nut flavorings, I think. This probably goes double for the coming Autumn months.

    So what are you waiting for? Get the show on the road and get some chocolate milk!




  7. MODEL Event from Yesterday and Some of Our DELICIOUS Food!

    August 27, 2011 by The Yum Yum

    MODEL is the acronym I chose to use to describe the random meet-ups we have at Kelly’s house. MODEL stands for “Mystics On Deck Examining Life.” That’s a pretty accurate title of who we are and what we do, and the word “model” can double in meaning as “ideal,” which relates to Platonic philosophy and various kinds of religious mysticism in the first place. So, it works for me.

    A hallmark of our events are the beautiful and delicious foods we eat. I feel guilty for never getting the recipes from everyone to post on here, but at least you can delight in the delicious food you see. Honestly, most of the recipes aren’t difficult to make or figure out, either, so I’ll do a quick explanation towards the end.

    First, we have roasted potatoes, of which I had none; I took pierogies, and unfortunately, some of my pierogies deflated while I was dropping Kelly’s daughter off at Featured Players Theatre. Then they all decided to stick together. Such is the life of noodles and pasta. Maybe I should’ve added oil to the mixture. Anyway, I ate the pierogies instead of the roasted potatoes because they were just totally delicious, though I’m sure the potatoes were good, too.

    Next up is the interesting dish consisting of Brie cheese covered in jam and walnuts and baked in a pastry puff. The ultimate result tasted something like a pop tart, though the Brie was strong for me; I’m not used to eating it, and so the tanginess caught me off guard. However, it’s absolutely gorgeous and definitely worth trying.

    The big winner of the night was the pesto bites. These consisted of pesto spread on bread, the bread rolled, sliced into sushi-like rolls, placed on top of a basil leaf, and topped off with a red (and later, orange) piece of bell pepper. They tasted so absolutely amazing. Quick, easy, healthy, delicious food? Yes, please. Just yes.

    There was also an excellent artichoke dip which we all loved, but it isn’t pictured in this blog. The dip had artichokes and feta cheese with bamboo shoots to add a little extra, and on pita chips, it was absolutely divine.

    Click on the photos to enlarge them! Thanks to Kelly for taking this beautiful photos with her Droid!


    The recipes above are fairly self-explanatory. The roasted potatoes had rosemary and olive oil on them, I think. The pesto bites take a slice of bread, some good pesto, a basil leaf, and bell pepper. The Brie puff needs Brie, jam, walnuts, and puff pastry.

    What are you waiting for? Go make some easy, delicious food! Then be sure to send me a copy of the recipe and a photo so I can blog it for you.


  8. As Promised, Information from Onyx Plate

    August 26, 2011 by The Yum Yum

    Onyx Plate t-shirts are here! Go order yours while they’re still available!

    Just click anywhere here to go visit her site and check it out!

    Get your name in the jar before she runs out of them!!!






  9. A Day More about Veggies and Books

    August 25, 2011 by The Yum Yum

    After eating the macaroni and cheese for two days straight, I decided I should dedicate some time to vegetables. Gigi fortunately made salad today, along with some grilled/baked (graked?) vegetable and butter beans, so most of what I’ve eaten today has been relatively healthy.

    I am also again in possession of Flintstone vitamins.

    Whether or not I shared with everyone, I think I’ll mention it now: I made an executive decision last week to take a kind of spiritual retreat and not venture out so much. Much of my time now is being spent in prayer, meditation, and various kind of spiritual focuses. Meditation is far too precious of a practice for me to not pay more attention to it, and whether or not everyone knows, I meditate every day and have for something like two, almost three years. Even at this point, I still can’t totally seem to stop my thoughts; it happens here and there, which is very relaxing, though there’s a kind of strange tension that remains when I’m observing my mind and there are no thoughts. It’s not really how they describe it in the books; then again, there are also various “stages” of meditation, so I won’t presume that I actually know more than I do.

    Cooking and eating, being a bit of a religious experience for me as well, have remained high on the list of focuses in my miniature retreat. It’s temporary and only lasting for a month, with the exceptions of previously scheduled events and events that are scheduled ahead of time.

    Tomorrow I’ll be making a dish to take to my friend Kelly’s house. I’ve nicknamed the event MODEL- Mystics On Deck Examining Life. The issue at hand is not knowing what dish to take to Kelly’s, but naturally, between now and the time I arrive at her doorstep smiling and buzzing in a WASPy way, I’m sure something excellent will come up.

    Also, tomorrow I’ll try to repost the Onyx Plate’s blog about her t-shirts so all interested buyers can contact her about them. The t-shirts go along to some degree with the “FOOdie” joke I made, and they actually look really cool for anyone who’s a foodie.

    In other news, I discovered today that not all the Morning Star Spicy Black Bean Burgers were eaten! I couldn’t find the box earlier today and guessed we were out, but lo and behold, I went to check for something in the freezer and found them tucked away. That’s what you get for having people bring massive amounts of okra.

    Truth be told, before writing this entry, I had already written a pithy 500-word blog entry about racism (I’m reading The Help, and my inner activist stood to attention), but then I deleted it as I lost the fervor somewhere and realized writing a long blog laden with curse words wouldn’t actually change anything that happened in the 1960s. Sometimes I can’t get over the stupidity of racists. If I weren’t a nice person, I would probably ask them how their brain functions if they’re so backwards and stupid. Alternately, I would ask if they were in the least bit concerned that there might be a Hell.

    But I’m a nice person, so I don’t inquire in such a manner.



  10. Leftover Macaroni Cheese and “The Spice is Right”

    August 24, 2011 by The Yum Yum

    Maybe something’s slightly wrong with the proportions I gave yesterday, and honestly, you probably want more sauce than not, especially if you want the creamy variety of macaroni and cheese. I had a good deal of leftover cheese sauce and then some of the leftover macaroni cheese, so I decided to follow my culinary intuition and spice things up a bit today.

    First, you can turn leftover baked macaroni cheese into stovetop macaroni cheese easily by adding more cheese sauce and putting the leftovers in. I also added more of the crab boil, which I think turned out to not be crab boil but some kind of seafood seasoning. Oh, well, the flavoring is about the same when it all comes down to it.

    I also added Bac’N Bits, which are made from soy and not real bacon.

    Then a voice whispered to me, “Add basil.”




    So I did, and that was a really, really good idea. Basil is a great friend of tomatoes, but apparently, it’s also a great friend to macaroni cheese, because the concoction totally sparkled after that…in a highly metaphorical way.

    A bit of a friendly tip when dealing with leftover cheese sauce- make sure you add water to thin out the sauce before really heating anything up. Really thick sauces may burn if you don’t stir quickly enough, so adding water and allowing the bit of water to cook out is probably your best option. This also makes stirring easier.

    My only regret in my two-day macaroni cheese adventure is having not had fresh vegetables, such as tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers to add to the recipe, but I’m not complaining too terribly much; this was a definite improvement to what I’ve made in the past, and any bit of cooking improvement makes me a happy panda. I think we did have some onion, and without any energy to cut said onion, I pressed forth to make the macaroni cheese.

    The stove top version did turn out creamier. One thing you always have to remember is that any kind of sauce will thicken upon standing, especially sauce that has flour or corn starch in it. Corn starch is a good thickener to use as it won’t lump up, whereas flour has the tendency to lump up if the heat is too high.

    Also, for those of you who don’t know, DO NOT ADD FLOUR OR CORN STARCH DIRECTLY TO THE MIXTURE, or it will lump up and you’ll have macaroni and cheese dumplings, which will not be a pleasant adventure.

    Did I tell everyone about my new fortune-telling cards? I’ve taken a new interest in them these past few months; I’ve had Tarot cards for years that I’ve never really sat down to study, but being the person I am, I attempt to figure out the best way to learn something before actually attempting to learn it. So far, so good, mnemonics and the so-called “memory palace” are the best way to learn things. With things like cooking, I don’t have the same issues; ideas just randomly arrange themselves and pop out coherently for me as often as not. The gist, the abstraction of things, is there; all I have to do is fill in specifics, and voila, we have things like macaroni cheese that tastes just magnificent.

    Anyway, the point I wanted to make is that the Russian Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards are a bit of a strange set, as you have 25 cards, and each card has half of one picture. A total of 50 pictures can be formed. Number 50 is the Bread, which represents Happiness, and in fact, Bread is my favorite card of all! Naturally, the carboholic would be partial to a card representing bread, good grief!

    I also learned how to shuffle cards recently (though you can’t shuffle the Gypsy Cards because of their size and delicacy), and by shuffle, I mean really shuffle, where the cards fly into each other. It’s SO much fun to do that, and I learned by continuously trying over and over and over again until I got it. No one showed me how, so that makes me double proud of myself.

    I have an idea to actually make a set of cards that aren’t for fortune-telling but are used to create meals. In other words, you have any number of ingredients written down on cards, then you shuffle the cards, and you draw however many you feel like drawing. Whatever ingredients are listed are what you can use to make a meal. In fact, the Onyx Plate, Veggie Table, and I should make this into a game show and be hosts. It’s like Iron Chef but with a constant wild card thrown in.

    And then we could name it, “The Spice is Right.”

    And we would have never-ending Plinko.

    The Spice Girls could do the theme song (that would give us a multicultural edge by bringing over the Brits), and we could have guest hosts from the Food Network, like Paula Deen and Rachael Ray.

    But not Sandra Lee. EVER. Though we could have her build life-sized, labyrinthine table-scapes, and then Veggie Table and I could go on another new show called, “Escape the Table-scape!”