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When I make Christmas cookies with the fam, I do my best to go out on a limb. Apparently, frosting and sprinkles make me want to fly my freak flag high. It started with last year’s poorly conceived (and in poor taste) “Treadwell is Gone” cookie. A tribute to the Grizzly Man, the bears he loved, and the bear that finally did him in.

Treadwell is Gone

This year, I give you a cat (from a reindeer cookie cutter), the Polynesian Princess, and the Cabaret Snowman:

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‘Tis the Season

Due to extreme busyness with work, I’ve been avoiding the old blog. But leave it to a work function to inspire me to post again.

Today, my employer hosted a holiday luncheon for its Nashville and Franklin offices at the Union Station Hotel. In my 20 years (!!!) living in Nashville, I have never had occasion to visit this landmark (I visit the Flying Saucer often enough but never its neighbor). We had a really quite good meal catered by the hotel.

There were two salads–one mixed greens, the other Bibb lettuce with figs, goat cheese, roasted red peppers, marcona almonds, and olives (and may a stray marinated artichoke heart). I went for the latter, thinking the cheese to be feta. But I nibbled around the musty old goat and found the flavor combo a little odd but mostly tasty.

The entrees were standard choices of beef, chicken, or fish. They were served on the buffet with the line stopping several times whenever the beef pan ran out. Is beef really that good? Seriously people, blackened snapper was available!

And, dessert, that was the biggest hit! Choices were cheesecake, a chocolate fudge cake, carrot cake, or praline tartlet. I went with the praline and downed two delightful cups of coffee with it.

So whoever cooks for Union Station, props, you are recommended. And props to my company for such a fancy affair!

Memory Lane

This is probably one of the first “recipes” I ever requested my mom to make with me. I am forever indebted to Sesame Street.

Shrimp Boil

Our family vacation in Florida last month was capped off with a bountiful feast of “Shrimp Boil.” I know that in some parts it’s known as Frogmore Stew or Beaufort Stew or Lowcountry Boil, but us Louisianians just call it shrimp boil.

The basic idea is to boil a large (very large) pot of water (preferably over a propane flame) and add seasonings, crustaceans, and starchy vegetables (and, frequently, sausage) and boil until cooked. The water takes a very long time to boil as there is so much of it, and this affords the cooks and guests (because the guests have arrived) a long time to drink. The most appropriate beverage is beer, preferably an Abita brew, though wine is acceptable. Some of our guests even found Scotch and water to pass the time acceptably. Some others found tequila/Coronas and even margaritas worked well.

My mom and step-dad, God bless ‘em, actually minded the pot, adding the potatoes, corn, sausage, and shrimp in a timely manner. While waiting for our water to boil the “kids,” as it were, also joy-rode in our rental home’s surrey bicycle and ate most of the cheese and crackers we could find in the house. A lot of lawn chair-sitting and yarn spinning and gossiping also took place during the waiting. All in all, the long boiling pot afforded us a good time.

And by the time the food arrived and was ceremoniously dumped on the newspaper-lined table, we were excited but not that hungry. But we charged on and dug in. See pics below.

Starting today, your next tour of the supermarket will be a little more informative. September 30, 2008, sees COOL (Country of Origin Labeling) go into effect. The law is a part of the 2002 Farm Bill that has been some years delayed due to modifications, additions, etc. Basicially, the law requires that retailers label beef, lamb, pork, fish, chicken, goat meat, peanuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, ginseng, and “perishable agricultural commodities” with their country of origin.

It seems that retailers, distributors, wholesalers, etc, have always been well aware of the origins of their goods for sale, they’ve just never been required to post up the information for the American consumer. Keep in mind that there are some loopholes: processed foods are not included in the requirement. This seems like an awfully big loophole, actually. Roasted peanuts: no label. Cooked chicken: no label. Bacon: no label. But still, this is an interesting development in the way we shop for groceries in America. A law that actually gives consumers what they want (as opposed to Tennessee’s liquor laws).

Vacation Food

When our family rolls down south for a few days on the Florida coast, we eat– a lot. And it’s not healthy stuff and it’s not usually gourmet, but it’s whatever we want whenever we want it.

So far on this vacation I’ve consumed: Golden Oreos; Jalapeno Smokehouse almonds; Cinnamon Toast Crunch; Cap’n Crunch; a half bottle of red wine; some Gruyere and crackers; some Port Salut and crackers; a couple of┬áturkey sandwiches; dill pickles; a little bruschetta; homemade potato salad; an orange; a Hardees bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit;┬áHardees hash browns; some peanut butter M&Ms; a vodka tonic; hot dogs; Spree candy; and a tequila-Corona.

On the tequila-Corona: This is a delightful, if improbable, beverage that a friend recommended to me and my husband. Simply pop open a Corona, take a few sips, and top off with tequila and a sliver of lime. You have to trust me–no one thinks they’ll like it, but every does.

More food news after tomorrow night’s shrimp boil!

A week out, my experience at The Acorn is a little hazy, but I thought I’d try to get something posted up anyway… Continue Reading »

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