My son, somewhere around the age of ten, went through a phase of “naming” people after the fashion of hip hoppers. This included random strangers and usually the names were pretty imaginative. My personal favorite, although somewhat mortifying at the time, was as follows. We were riding down the street in my car when my son spied a very large man walking down the street. Without warning he whipped down the rear window, stuck out his head and yelled “YO, butter biscuit”. Fortunately I don’t recall that the random stranger at whom this was aimed realized that it was directed at him.
It has always been my way to cook from scratch and when the above son was small, many things were homey things kids like; what you might call comfort food. I often made things like applesauce, spaghetti sauce and chili with biscuits. I recall when my son was presented with yellow jar applesauce at preschool and asked with astonishment what it was; it was the wrong color (cinnamon, you know)!
I don’t often make what I consider “comfort foods” nowadays as they aren’t all that healthy generally (I still make the chili, it is healthy). But when my husband decided to work at his barbecue/smoking skills I thought about what should go with it. As a result I stumbled on a fabulous recipe for Mac and cheese with mega cheese in it. It was so good it was requested by a returning guest for another dinner. And as you can see, I had to make double so my son could have it for breakfast and the guests could take some home.
So, I know you were wondering how the “naming” relates. First, it was good to find my comfort food skills still intact and second, it was great to live up to the name my son gave me years ago…. Home Skillet.
So here began an adventure in old fashioned cooking. I received a text inquiry from a dear friend as whether my husband and I could attend a small birthday dinner for hie wife on Saturday night. As is the custom in our circle of friends, I asked what I could bring. In response the text came back – Pineapple Upside Down Cake.
I thought he was joking, it seemed a very odd request. It turns out, however, that this is his wife’s favorite cake. Apparently he had faith that I had done this before, which I had not, but I appreciate the faith in my cooking prowess. There appears to have developed the mythology along my friends and acquaintances that I can cook anything, hard to live up to! As a result, of course, the challenge was taken up, the search for a recipe began.
After much recipe reading I settled on one with none of the delicious toxic maraschino red dye number something cherries and extra pineapple made in the old fashioned cast iron skillet. It starts with a kind of brown sugar caramel in the skillet with the pineapple rings laid in and all the spaces filled in with crushed pineapple. A batter made with coconut oil is then poured over and it is baked until golden brown, cooled and turned out onto a plate.
Despite 2 teaspoons of baking powder I was a bit surprised by how little it rose but it was satisfyingly brown and pretty (of course when it comes out you are looking at what will be the bottom). It was quite delicious, moist due to the extra pineapple and just enough for moderate slices for 10 when made in a classic 10″ straight sided cast iron skillet. If you want seconds, you had better make two. But everyone should have their favorite on their birthday.
Some time ago, I realized that the art of friendship is not an easy one. I think all of us have thought, at one time or another, why do I have to reach out, why don’t they? The truth is that if you want friends you have to do the work.
We are a small family and have no family where we live, and this has been the case for some time in various locales. So building family, building community, matters to us.
I have a few passions and cooking is one of them. I am a passable home cook. Not one of those people that can just whip up a cake from memory, but I can produce a pretty nice dinner. And my husband’s new smoker inspired us to the summer barbecue.
All of this has motivated us to revive our practice of the Sunday dinner with friends. We love to cook, we love to entertain and we love being with those we consider friends. So, this will be a diary of our dinners. I hope you find some humor and maybe a good food idea or two.