Weekend escape to...Texas

Dan and I went a-travelin' this weekend, which can only mean one thing: an inadvisable amount of food, and an inexcusable amount of pictures thereof. First stop was the Pecan Lodge at the Dallas Farmer's Market.

Pretty sure this is what heaven tastes like for people who worship fire.

This is called a Hot Mess, which I intuited to mean I should dive in face-first.
 Quick evening pit-stop at a known quantity.

They served me one very good drink and one very bad drink. I ordered the same thing twice, from the same bartender. Exciting!

Still pretty full the next day, so teensy tinsy breakfasts at Buzzbrews.

At least mine had vegetables in it.

And then on to Cowtown! Hard for pictures to do justice to Tex-Mex, but La Familia didn't disappoint in the least. They also have an admirable penchant for setting things on fire, though I was too slow on the draw to get a picture.

Imagine all this, but also your margarita is EN FUEGO.

We also managed to sneak in a European-hours dinner (read: 10 pm) at Nonna Tata, but the pictures just look like "pasta in the dark." It was juuuuuust cool and inaccessible enough to make me 100% determined to return. I WILL EAT MORE OF YOU, DARK PASTAS.

Anyway, the Fort Worth bed and breakfast we stayed in was very charming, although I could not for the life of me remember what state we were in.

Probably a ghost in this picture if you squint real hard. And drink some whiskey.


 Guessing somewhere in the south...west?


Brands That Slipped Through The Cracks Week

I don't want to alarm you, but I think my seemingly foolproof theme-gathering method of glancing across the cookbook shelf for about 15 seconds is starting to fail me. Believe it or not, I have found two more brand-oriented cookbooks lurking within the collection. So, deep breath, here we go, Brand Week Part Three: The Sneakers.

I believe Cookbook #43: Betty Crocker's New Cookbook (Betty Crocker (NOT A REAL PERSON), 1996) escaped my attention because B.C. is so ubiquitous as to not even seem like a brand somehow? But it is! It is a brand. It makes Fruit Gushers. Anyway. Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Tagline: Everything You Need To Know To Cook. Unspoken end of tagline: Is That Food Tastes Better If You Apply Salt And Heat To It.

The recipe I picked was for gyros. And it wasn't bad! But it took me a while to find something that seemed appealing. This is really a book of basics.

Not sure how the crazy exoticism of Greek food snuck in there.

Verdict: I guess if you are really starting from zero on the cooking-knowledge scale, this would be pretty helpful. Or if you're curious about what "American" Grilled Cheese entails. (It's cheese.)

I know exactly why Cookbook #44: The Recipes of the Five Brothers (Leah Rosch and Rosemary Smallberg, 1998) gave me the slip: it looks like an actual fancy cookbook and also I have never heard of this brand and am not certain that it exists anymore. Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Only evidence of this brand on the internet: a 16-year-old commercial on YouTube.

Actually, it seems like Bertolli bought them at some point and then just...stopped...using the name? I certainly couldn't find any in my extensive search of one HEB pasta aisle. Anyway, I threw together some Tuscan White Bean Soup and Garden Crostini. The white bean soup was pretty standard. You know--white beans, cauliflower, ENTIRE JAR OF ALFREDO SAUCE.

Take it down a notch, Tuscans.

The garden crostini was good. It was better the next day with eggs on top of it.

True of everything I have ever cooked.

Verdict: I mean...it's a cookbook built around a mysterious and possibly defunct brand of pasta sauces. But also it's kind of fancy and good? This one was a real enigma.

Anyway, I've gotta go, I'm at my parents' house and they made hamburgers and are taking the girls off our hands for a couple of days and also bought me treats.


It's going to be tough to leave the girls, though. They don't seem to like it here very much.


It's honestly my favorite kind of pie

No cookbooks over the weekend, but I did make Frito pie and I think we can all agree that was accomplishment enough. I used some of the canned chili that I received from my parents as a Christmas gift and it was delicious.


Ivy is still contemplating this newly discovered part of her culinary heritage.

"If only we could get more salt in it, somehow."

We also went to Black Star for lunch on Sunday and I had had a veggie burger.


 With an egg on it!


There was not much contemplation regarding the half cup of ketchup Ivy consumed.

"Can't talk, slurping."

I know you guys were probably hoping for a followup to last Friday's post, so here for your further viewing pleasure, Anna Has Consumed The Cake She Was Forced To Frost.


Because it was a rough week

I feel like it's only fair to let you guys see that Anna's emotional range does sometimes venture beyond sullen-to-agitated. She's actually quite a showman.

Nailed it.


Join me in the sweet embrace of major corporations

As it turns out, Brand Name Recipes are terrifically comforting when everything that was already terrible becomes more terrible and then suddenly your favorite kolaches are involved and writing your goofy blog post seems even stupider than usual. Not least because they tend to run about 90% carbohydrate. But seriously, think about it, the Campbell Soup Company was founded in 1869. It's so old! And American! You don't even have to click on the picture of Cookbook #38: Campbell's Collection (Publications International, 2000) to visualize the white script on a red background! It's like a protective cocoon of branding.

Not to mention the resulting protective cocoon of sodium-bloat.

Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Recipe: Santa Fe Chicken with a side of Nacho Cheese Pasta and a serving of Responsibility Broccoli. I don't normally bother recreating recipes for you here, but in the case of Nacho Cheese Pasta I'm going to put forth the effort and tell you that it's a can of Nacho Cheese soup poured over pasta. Before anybody gets snobby about it, let us recall that Fannie condoned counting this dish as a vegetable. I actually really liked the chicken, as it had a tangy processed-tomato flavor that I found pleasant. (I think it's the BPA, which by the way I am now free to enjoy because my toxicologist says so.)

Verdict: I wouldn't cook out of it daily or anything, but I was impressed with the flavor and it was as quick/easy/inexpensive as you would hope. I think I've spent so much time on Pinterest seeing "HOW TO AVOID USING CANNED SOUP IN RECIPES" that I forgot that USING CANNED SOUP IN RECIPES IS KIND OF GREAT. Point to Campbell's.

Cookbook #39: Land O'Lakes Simply Delicious Cookies (Creative Publishing, 1999.) Hee, "Creative Publishing." Oookay. Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Ways to use butter: always welcome in this home.

The recipe I picked was Favorite Butter Cookies, because it is a butter-sponsored cookie collection and that seems fair.

Show me what you've got, L O'L.

I know they're not very professional looking, but all that matters is how delighted Anna was to be decorating them.

Okay, fine, I did have to bring in a supervisor to make sure she stayed on track.

Verdict: these tasted like butter cookies. So now I am rethinking my strategy and wondering if I should have tried one of the more unusual ways to use butter, such as...Buttery...Jam Tarts...okay, I guess this is a competent but somewhat boring book.

Cookbook #40: Betty Crocker's Bisquick Cookbook (Betty Crocker, 2000). Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. The last time I bought a box of Bisquick: college.

Recipe: California Pizza, which reminds me--I don't know if you've noticed, but this week's dinners have a SECONDARY THEME of "hailing from exotic locales." Please keep in mind that I am a theme professional and I do not recommend attempting this type of double-up at home.

I don't want anyone getting hurt.

So, Bisquick as pizza crust turned out a lot better than I was expecting. (Exceeding very low expectations: Theme #3.) I mean, it isn't like real crust at all, but eating pizza topping off of a thin biscuit isn't the worst. What is possibly the worst? It kinda has a slew of trans fats. (Susie, it would really help if you would jump in and exonerate trans fats for me. Because I assume you are also a nutritionist. And use a lot of beakers. I don't know that much about science.)

Verdict: uh, pending any new information I am pretty wary of ingesting partially hydrogenated things. But if you don't mind throwing caution to the wind, this was very fast and pretty tasty. Solution: ignore what the recipe says, buy the "Heart Smart" version instead of "Original," and go forth with your short-cutting.

Cookbook #41: Hershey's Easy Baking (The Hershey Company, 2007). Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. How you can tell they're not messing around with this "Easy" business: it's in board-book form as though it is intended for toddlers.

Recipe: Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake. Reason: obvious. Secondary reason: Jen requested cake this week and I live to serve you people, honestly. Also she kind of threatened me and/or referenced Eddie Izzard. I respond to both.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, Anna Is Forced to Frost A Chocolate Cake.

This is the exact same face I made when I chopped up that lobster.

To be fair, she had barely recovered from decorating the cookies.
Verdict: I feel comfortable saying that this is in fact a great chocolate cake because I just ate an extra research piece to make sure. Usually I have a problem with my homemade cakes being too dry, but this one is nice and springy. I think Hershey's has really hit on something here, unless the ingredient I've been missing all along is reluctant child participation.

Cookbook #42: 365 Favorite Brand Name Casseroles and One-Dish Meals (Publications International, 1996). Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Carbs: ooof.

Lest you think Domino's invented the concept of serving pasta and cheese inside a shell of bread, let me introduce you to a little recipe called "Wisconsin Swiss Linguine Tart" from the good people at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

Recipe: one bag of flour, one tomato.
Verdict: this seems like food that depressed people would eat. I'm not opposed. Anna, of course, loved it.

Can't get enough of that pasta sandwich.


My only contribution, as usual, is butter

There have been no food projects here recently unless you consider scavenging around the fridge for palatable baked-potato toppings a "project," so I've got nothing delicious or historical or humorously brand-heavy for you today. Seeing as how this week kicked off horribly on both large and small scales (4:00 am vomit, while not tragic, is a pretty unfortunate situation), I think we're going to dedicate the afternoon to making chocolate cake. It seems the only reasonable course of action.

I have my research assistant on it.

 I'll be back in a few days with Brand Week 2. (And chocolate cake.)