Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dave's Dad's Dry Rub Mix: the ONE recipe I can't give you

Many years ago the Happy Family lived in Grenada, Mississippi.   The service repairman that worked with the Fellow's dad used this dry rub mix on everything he grilled.  His own dad had come up with the spice mix years before.   A Memphis-style dry rub, it's good on just about every kind of meat you can bake, fry, smoke, or put on a grill.  It took much pleading and begging to get the recipe from the repairman all those 21 years ago.  I promised to never give it out because they wanted to market it,  it's just that excellent of a dry rub.

The recipe is so good, though, there's been lots of bantering in the gray matter as to where 21 years is long enough of a time for those good folks to get it on the store shelves or not and I can share a much requested recipe.  Well.  I decided I couldn't give out the ingredients or their proportions but I can certainly show you so if you want to come up with a fascimile in your kitchen, you can - just in time for grilling/smoking season.

Here are all the ingredients.  Pay attention to the order they're in and how many of each.
The bitty one is ground mustard.

Y'all wrote those down, right??  Okay.  Here's how much of each one (in order):
I don't use nearly as much salt as the recipe calls for,
preferring to salt the meat before marinating with the rub.
These are standard pint jars.

And here are the smaller amounts of spices:
The black pepper and garlic powder are reversed (oops).
And these are standard half-pint jars.

Pour them all in a recycled gallon mayo jug and shake vigorously, mixing all very well.  Not really.  Mix however you like!  This way is easy and almost no mess.  Chili powder somehow manages to jump to the counter when I try using a bowl and whisk/spoon/hand.  The jug keeps it contained.
The catsup on the counter is for next week's post:
Mama's Sweet Southern Barbecue Sauce!

Tadadaaaaa!  Put in a tight fitting jar (the large one is ours) and share with your neighbor.  It'll keep almost indefinitely and won't lump, as long as the lid is tight.  

The amounts shown were for a double batch of rub.  It makes approximately six cups of dry rub.  Most of the spices were purchased at the Dollar General Store and weren't expensive.  The only thing here that brand matters on is the seasoning salt.  The inexpensive stuff has too much salt - not enough flavor.

The pork ribs for the family reunion will be taken out of the freezer next Monday, rubbed with this Wednesday, and smoked Friday afternoon.  They're a Southern delight, served with Mama's barbecue sauce on the side.

Try it.  Customize it any way you like.  Want a sweeter rub?  Brown sugar is excellent.  Like a bit of heat?  Add a couple of tablespoons of cayenne.  Don't care for heat at all?  Take out the pepper and mustard - no problem.

So there.  A promise has been kept:  the recipe hasn't been given out.  Y'all enjoy!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Class of 1972 Reunion: Best Story Told (EVER)

I was invited by a cousin to attend the Leakesville High School Class of 1972 Reunion last month.  He knew I needed an evening out of Dodge (all expenses paid) and, being everyone's little sister, I knew all the folks in the class - even if they were seven years ahead of me.  The reunion was held in Gulfport, Mississippi.  Attendees lodged at the Courtyard Marriott across Highway 90 from the beach.

Salute was an excellent venue for the evening; the restaurant is right beside the Marriott and the terrace is on the fourth floor.  It was beautiful!  I'd love to tell the meal was memorable.  It wasn't.

The stories, though...the stories are unforgettable.

I was temporarily jealous of then-young mustangs, forty+ years ago, deciding on the spur of the moment to see Lynyrd Skynyrd at Ladd Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.  Actually, they'd gone to see the Allman Brothers.

Skynyrd was there debuting their new song "Sweet Home Alabama."  Seven years.  Seven years separate the Allman Brothers from the Beegees.  I should be older:  theirs is the good music.

Annnyways.  The best story told concerned a then-local land-based communication proprietor.  He'd been riding the roads late one evening checking phone lines.  I hear Wylie giggling -- he can hardly tell it for laughing. The phone fellow came into the sheriff's office pale-faced and almost panic stricken, saying he'd almost hit the biggest frog he'd ever seen with his car.  It was bigger than a cat.  A dog.  Maybe a goat!  He wanted the law to go back with him and find the thing and destroy it right then!

Wellllll, the sheriff put him off 'til the morning when he came back in.  They all loaded up in an official car to check out this goat-sized frog very ominous threat to the citizenry of Greene County and any vehicle that might come in close proximity to it on the road, our very own Chupacabra of sorts.

The communications proprietor knew exactly the spot where the monstrous amphibian had impeded his vehicular forward progress.  Surely enough, the sheriff, deputy, and fellow found a set of odd tracks in the ditch.  They followed the tracks back to a branch (branch = little creek) where they found a two-legged hog!  The hog's hind legs were missing!

Upon startling the limb-lacking critter it hopped off into the woods, never to be seen again.  The porcine fellow had learned to walk and hop on his front legs, partial hind hams hitting the earth every couple of hops!  It was the darndest thing any one of the had ever seen...and an even taller tale some forty years later.

It was almost as dazzling as the white beaches of the Mississippi Gulf Coast the reunion weekend, where memories shone as brightly as the sun on the ebb tide waves, creating shimmering ripples in time...

Monday, May 14, 2012

RaCK-It-Up-To-Goodness Filling (Raspberry, Chocolate, and Kahluah, that is...)

I know.  It's a cheesy name for a cake filling:  RaCK-it-up-to-Goodness??  I can't help it, though.  I've watched Waitress again so everything coming out of the kitchen is going to have a kitschy name until the novelty wears off or y'all tell me to stop - whichever comes first.

Why did I come up with another filling?  I've a lifelong friend who's baby is graduating high school.  He'd called last week wanting one of the chocolate overloads, or whatever might be good.  He's trusting in what he's had from this cakery before for something appropriate, meaning good enough to amaze half of Hattiesburg.   And then there's a local youngster graduating high school Friday, dear to my heart...one of the fellows in and out of here often enough he has a house key.  I know both of these young men love chocolate and the chocolate overload.

But I wanted something a littttttle more for them.

I thought and thought, "Okay, Mayree.  Chocolate cake.  How 'bout the J-Rob Special (thin chocolate layers of cake with melted raspberry jam on each layer, each layer covered with dark chocolate ganache, stacked, and covered with ganache again)?  No.  Need to save that specialness.  Uhmmmmm...Hmmm.... OH!  Raspberry cream filling?  It's a start but not quite right.  Raspberry chocolate cream filling?  Sounding better.  Raspberry, chocolate, and Kahlua??  Yes!"  See how I think in incomplete sentences?

So.  Without further ado, I present RaCK It Up To Goodness creamy cake filling (which will also make one fine pie filling).

2 - Jello Chocolate Fudge instant puddings
2 - 8 ounce cream cheese
1 cup chocolate syrup
1 1/2 cup raspberry jam
1 cup milk
1/2 cup Kahlua
1/2 cup coffee
2 - 16 ounce tubs of whipped topping

This makes a very large bowl of filling but remember I've two large cakes to fill.  It can be easily cut in half.  This is one of the few places where the brand matters:  Polaner All Fruit is worth the extra money for intense flavor uncomplicated by pectin.

I didn't have milk but did have evaporated milk.  Y'all know to thin it with equal amounts of water, right?  I used one half cup evaporated milk and one half cup water.  Lots of folks don't like the taste of evaporated milk.  I grew up on it and don't have a problem substituting it for regular milk.

I nuked the raspberry jam to make it less lumpy and more readily mixable.

In a large bowl mix the cream cheese, chocolate syrup, and raspberry jam.

This is lots easier if the cream cheese is room temperature.  It smells absolutely wonderful at this point.

I didn't bother washing the measuring cups;  it's all going in the same filling.  Conserve water, it's not nearly as renewable a natural resource as folks say it is.  Now mix the cup of milk, Kahlua, coffee, and two packs of instant pudding.


Mix the pudding mixture into the cream cheese stuff
until everything is well incorporated.
And lastly, fold in the two tubs of whipped topping

until everything has been thoroughly blended.
Give it a taste.  You know you want to.

"Mayree?"  you ask, "Wouldn't this be better with real whipped cream?"  You betcha.  Profit margin notwithstanding, though, most folks in these parts won't know the difference -- and couldn't afford it if they did.

Like I said, this is one huge bowl of incredible filling.  Kind of like Jenna's chocolate strawberry oasis pie from the movie Waitress, the flavors are complex, presenting themselves one by one.  The immediate taste is chocolate, followed quickly by coffee with a punch (that'd be the Kahlua), rounding out with a definite raspberry finish.  It's a very rich and very light filling, all at the same time.  

I'm tickled with it.  Y'all find some occasion to try it out.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Nothing Is Ever Easy With Mama: Troisieme Partie (part three)

Exasperation is word used often when it comes to doing something for Mama, or with her, for that matter.  I'd thought I was going to stay home today and work in my own yard.  Mama had a different thought.  She called at 7:30 this morning:
Mama:  Are you still in bed?
Mayree:  No'm
Mama:  What's on your agenda today?
Mayree:  Well, I thought I'd get the old lantana stalks cut off and briars pulled out of the beds and fresh mulch down.
Mama:  I thought you were coming out here.

That's Mama's passive-aggressive way of telling me, "It doesn't matter that you'll bog the mower to China and can't possibly get through the mud to the blueberries:  come cut the grass."

I replied with a simple "Yes'm, getting my shoes on right now."

She'd been feeling a little poorly the last couple of days, another of the chronic kidney infections setting in, not to mention two days on the road bothering her rheumatoid bones.  I'd cleaned her house yesterday, but when she feels badly she likes company.

Go figure.  The three miles to Pine Level were navigated toot suite only to find Mama with her quilting bag in hand - ready to join friends for the morning.  I can't slight her wanting to be with friends and I'm glad she's feeling like getting out.

Mayree:  Uhmmmmm, Mama, don't you think it's a little wet still to cut the grass?
Mama: I didn't ask you to cut the grass, we'll get that tomorrow.  I thought we'll maybe get the azaleas cut back.
Mayree thinking:  uh oh.
Mama:  And we need to move the amaryllis out of there;  they didn't bloom at all this year.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to add one and one together to figure out Mama's plural "we'll" almost always means "you'll."

Mayree:  Where would you like the amaryllis put?
Mama:  Over in the flower bed on the other side.  In there with the daylilies.
Those are amaryllis that used to bloom, until the azaleas became overgrown.
Mayree thinking:  uh oh.
Mama:  The fern needs to be hanging on the porch.

And thus it starts.

Mama leaves for the morning to quilt with friends, talking to me all the way to the end of the lane with the window down.  I can't hear a word she's saying;  it'll be my excuse when she gets back and something's not done.

What needs to happen first?  The flowerbed needs to be cleaned out where the amaryllis are going.  What do I need for that?  The wheelbarrow, shovel, sharp shooter, long-toothed garden rake, rake, loppers for later, and hoe.

The wheelbarrow is full of water,  last week's empty plant pots from Lowe's, and a handful of touch-me-nots that are designated for some back flower bed, unnamed as yet.  *sigh*  I dump everything out but the flowers that were put in a hastily dug trench at the back door.  Pots were smashed and relegated to the recycling bag.  One thing is ready, on to the tools in the shed.

I couldn't find my favorite hoe and had to use the wide-bladed one.  There are two long-toothed garden rakes, too.  I like the one with the metal handle that Daddy fixed well before I was born.

The rest of the implement of flowerbed cleaning are gathered.  Time to do or die.

One foot into the area to be cleaned, I knew there was nothing for it but to go find the other hoe.  This big one is working up a sweat.  I don't mind a sweat but it's slow going.

It won't chop through the soil effectively to get at the bahia grass roots that look a LOT like a snake.  If all those roots aren't worked out of the soil, it'll come back twice as thick.  Now where is that hoe?  Ohhhh... I remember.  Mama had it in the barnyard the afternoon we (meaning I) were digging the trench for the water to drain.  Surely enough, it was leaning against one of the crib poles.  YAY!
The one on the right is my favorite.  Its little blade makes short
work of hoeing.

On the way back to the house, I picked up the lovely and large Boston fern from Chaver's and hung it on the front porch.

It really is very slow work, cleaning a good swath of this flower bed out.  It's not been worked in a good many years, there's lots of bahia, annnnnd there are bunches of daylilies that have come up from seed.  If I accidentaly whack a single one down, Mama will notice.   Mama doesn't fool around when it comes to plants in her flowerbeds, even though she might not remember they're there until they bloom.
Yikes.  I only was able to clean the middle section of this.

There are a couple of oak seedling to be dug up.  It was then that I discovered the new sharp shooter had been picked up.  The blade of it is too long for short legs;  the old one was needed.

The sun has warmed the coolish morning air to as close to perfection as it gets, humidity this day hanging around 30 per cent...a great day to be working outside.  Rounding the corner of the kindergarten the atmosphere is scented with GranGranny.  GranGranny?? Kate Jasmine.  Cape Jessamine.  Gardenias.  GranGranny always wore White Shoulders perfume.  Always.  The scent of them causes a celebration of pause in the busy-ness of the morning.  They must be smelled with an entirely still mind and totally still body; eyes closed so nothing more exists on the face of the earth but their aroma.  I didn't want to move.  And then a bee buzzed my head;  the nandena growing up through the middle of the plant is blooming and bees llllllove those tiny blossoms.

I found the sharp shooter.  Sharp shooters are great for getting right next to an unwanted sapling and digging straight down most of the length of the tap root:  a dug-up tap root won't grow back.

It's degrassed and weeded all the way to the other side.  I amused myself by repeatedly singing the chorus from The Doors song "Break on Through (to the Other Side)."
Sing with me:  Break on through, break on through,
break on through to the other side...
Much to my surprise, Mama arrives home.  It's almost one o'clock.  One o'clock.  I've been cleaning a middle third of a flower bed for four hours.

Mama:  Aren't you hot?  Do you need a break?  I think you need to cool down.

I think it's odd, coming from the woman with an informal agreement with the Devil to help keep Hades warm that she's concerned if I'm hot or not (both of them are too tricky to enter into a formal agreement).  I stopped long enough for a quick cucumber salad and bottle of water.  It's time to move the amaryllis growing under the azaleas or so I had initially thought.

Of course,the azaleas were so overgrown, they had to be lopped before moving the amaryllis.  I hollered through the front screen door at Mama to come tell me how far she wanted the flowering Southern favorite cut back.  She said about a foot -- which means I'll cut them  back TWO feet.  After all, she didn't come supervise their cutting and she knows I love to lop stuff back into submission.  It didn't take that long to accomplish.

It didn't take too long to get the amaryllis moved to their new home across the road either.  It's three o'clock.  Mama's viewed the work done.  She's pleased (I'm Favorite Child du jour).  I'm tired, thinking the congested warped proboscus hadn't been that much of a problem to work with today, the day being as pleasant as it was.

Mayree:  Okay.  Anything else you want done?
Mama:  Well.  We'll fix an area in the garden, later, I guess, for the strawberries.

This is another perfect example of Mama's passive aggressiveness.  What she'd really like to say is:  I'd like a strawberry bed fixed over close to the garlic in that rich soil that I showed you two weeks ago.  I don't want any of the landscaping timbers around it and I don't really care for the way you've been using the poplar that smells so nasty burning in the wood heater as a flower bed border, regardless of whether it'll be there for a good while or not.  And also, later means now.

Reading her just as perfectly, I asked if she cared if I used the old heart pine fence posts to make the strawberry bed.  There are plenty of them in the barnyard not getting used for anything.  She thinks that will be a good idea.

Emptying the wheelbarrow full of grass and oak saplings in the barnyard for the chickens, I took a moment to enjoy the sun, blue sky, and haunting scent of gardenia playing on the breeze.  Seed heads from some grass that grows in the hayfield play leap frog in the yard, yet to be uncut.  They stir and jump, like something alive, slowly pivoting end over end from one corner of the uncut lawn to another.  Rooster's clucking is joined by the first cicadas of the season, loudly buzzing in the pecan tree overhead.

Another two hours or so later, the strawberry bed is complete.  The reduced-for-quick-sale strawberry plants from Lowe's are quickly planted in the dark rich soil that gives its own sweet smell to the evening.

I'm tired.  Mama says "We'll cut the grass and weedeat tomorrow after we get back from Hattiesburg."

Yes'm.  I will...