Friday Fives

1. Are you an active collector of anything?
T-Shirts, I guess. I have amassed hundreds. But I haven’t bought a new one in months if that counts for anything.

2. If you could quit your job and pursue your hobby full-time with financial security, what hobby would you pursue?
Baking. Opening a French bakery and making wonderful loaves of bread all the live long day.

3. What’s the gateway drug for your hobby?
For baking, I would say it is learning to make beer bread. Basically dumping and stirring and baking. Yum.

Beer Bread

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees

3 cups self-rising flour (sifted)
3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1?4 cup sugar (sifted)
1/2 T Vital Wheat Gluten (sifted) (Optional but will help keep it together and not make a crumbly mess of a loaf.)
1 (12 ounce) can beer (just about any style of beer works and each variety gives the loaf a different character.)
1?2 cup melted butter (1/4 cup will do just fine.)
(Sifting the flour is a must do. This can be a brick of a loaf without sifting. Sifting gives it more of a cake-like texture.)

Sift all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir it up to incorporate all of it. Then slowly add the beer and stir until you have a sticky batter.
Generously grease a bread pan (if you have glass it seems to work the best.)
Pour the batter into the greased bread pan.
Pour the melted butter over the top
Bake for one hour.
Carefully remove from the pan and let cool on a bread rack for about 30 minutes

Slice and eat.
This is amazing toasted.

4. What one thing were you 100% into but now have no interest in?
As a kid I was into stamp collecitng and still have my binder of stamps but I am not an avid collector anymore.

5. What’s the weirdest hobby or interest you have heard of?
Oh gosh. Where to start. With the world of social media, you can find all kinds of things. I think my favorite is the guy who works at getting into the back ground of live camera shots as a hobby.

Friday Fives

1. What is the TL;DR of your favorite book?
The whale is an allegory for the elusiveness of the meaning of life, just outside of Ahab’s reach.

2. Do you listen to Audiobooks? If so, why?
No. I have tried but I can’t get hooked into the narrative.

3. Who should definitely NOT be narrating children’s books?
Kevin Spacey – with what we know now, it would be just too weird.

4. What would be some good books for a 12 or 13-year-old boy could pick up and then learn to love to read?
Harry Potter of course. And maybe some solid science fiction, like “Ender’s Game.”

5. What’s the most disturbing book you’ve ever read?
The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski. There is a terrifying rape scene that unfortunately stays with you for a while after you read it.

Friday Fives

1. Do you mostly prepare your meals at home or do you eat out more?
I have gotten into the habit of cooking at home – saving money and far, far healthier. I eat out on weekends quite a bit.

2. Is there a time of day when you are more likely to buy food already prepared?
Weekends at brunch.

3. What is your average weekly grocery bill (for how many people)? What is your total restaurant/fast food bill for an average week?
About $150.00 or so a month for me, but I haven’t really budgeted it out.

4. What is your favorite meal to prepare at home?
I have taken up crafting some yummy artisan pizzas based on Jim Lahey’s “My Pizza” cookbook. It is a slow ferment no-knead dough and the trick is cooking it under the broiler in a preheated 500 degree oven. Quite delicious.

5. What is your favorite meal to order in a restaurant?
Lox and bagels with a smear of cream cheese.

The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved

The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved “(originally published in Scanlan’s, June 1970)
Hunter S. Thompson

The Mint Julep
It is time once again to break out your tin mugs, your mint, your muddling stick, some sugar and some bourbon and begin to craft the consummate Mint Julep, that timeless drink which after about two or so, just seems to drink itself. A tradition at The Kentucky Derby, the Julep. is deceptive. Deceptive in its simplicity, deceptive in its drinkability (that first sip is a doozy, but life is pretty much excellent by the last sip.) It is not, however, deceptive in its boozeability. Saturday is the running of the 144th annual Kentucky Derby. I offer this recipe now to give you time to gather the fixings to make your Saturday afternoon a good ol’ southern’un.

Mint Julep Recipe

crushed ice
many sprigs of mint
confectioners sugar
1tbs water
a good, decent bourbon whisky
some rum

Place about six leaves or so of the mint, sugar and water in a large tumbler. Stir and press until the sugar is dissolved and flavor extracted from the mint. Fill the tumbler to the top with crushed ice. Add the whisky to about a half inch from the top. Stir vigorously. The outside of the tumbler will frost over. Add a floater of rum (an absolute necessity to set the proper mood.) Add a few more mint leaves to float on top to nuzzle and add to the sweet smell of the beverage.

Step 5: Enjoy.

Friday Fives

1. Do you have a “Grandma’s secret recipe” in your cooking repertoire that you are particularly proud of?
I really don’t. There is my mom’s recipe box collection that I have combined with my sisters. My grandma on my mom’s side was not known as being a great cook – although she could fry some chicken – but truth be told, her daughter, my Aunt Hope was a better chicken fryer. My grandma on my dad’s side was a pretty good cook. I never received the celebrated strawberry beet cake recipe. If I had to pick a special family recipe it would probably be Bob Andy pie – a variation on a Chess pie.

2. What’s your favorite dessert?
Cheesecake. Then next would be Pecan pie.

3. What are your top 3 staples “special” ingredients that are always in your pantry?

  • gluten flour (the key to no-knead bread up here in the high altitude
  • hatch green chilis (frozen and in the freezer – they creep up in everything.)
  • Old Bay seasoning (a recent addition but it is great in scrambled eggs and on baked potatoes.)

4. Do you have a “Worst Cooking Nightmare” story?
I once was making some Texas chili and still a naive young cook and instead of four cloves of garlic, I used 4 heads of garlic. I did not catch a cold in Gunnison that winter.

5. What’s the fanciest dinner you’ve ever had? (either hosted or as a guest.)?
I had a very formal dinner with the General Staff of our Army Command and Generals from Germany and France. Our office had to help with the setup and protocol and setting the tables with all the fancy spoons and forks and name placards and fancy folded napkins, the whole deal. Pretty close to a state dinner. I didn’t have anything to do with the cooking but I did have a lot to do with the setup and grunt work in the planning.