Sunday, July 20, 2014

Trailer Park Gourmet: Jimmy Mac

Several weeks ago we invited some friends over for Sunday morning breakfast. As we sat eating sausage gravy and biscuits, I was struck with the realization that combining sausage gravy with macaroni and cheese would produce something amazing. We tried it, and it was as incredible as we had anticipated. We call it "Jimmy Mac", it's basically macaroni and cheese, but instead of a white sauce, we use sausage gravy.

We made it again this morning, and I took pictures so that others could vicariously enjoy it.

If you haven't made sausage gravy, it's not that hard. Here's how I make it:

  1. Take some sausage (patties, not links), crumble it, and brown it. I like to get it to a mahogany color, but this morning I just got it to "brown".
  2. Once the sausage is browned, scoop it out of the pan.
  3. Next you need to make a roux. Don't clean the pan! Take equal parts butter and flour (this morning I used 1/2 Cup of each). Put the butter in the pan and melt it completely. Once the butter is completely melted, whisk the flour into it. Once the butter-flour mixture starts to darken, it's time to add liquid.
  4. Slowly stir milk into the butter-flour mixture. If you just intend to pour amazing gravy over biscuits, you can make it pretty thick: but if you want to make Jimmy Mac, you'll want a thinner gravy. I add about 1/2 Cup of milk at a time, and whisk it in until it's completely smooth. The end result is a creamy, silky-smooth sauce.
  5. Once the gravy hits the right consistency, put some (or all) of the browned sausage back into the gravy and stir it all together.
At this point you have sausage gravy.

But since we intend to make Jimmy Mac, it's time to doctor the sausage gravy a bit:

  1. This morning I took a few handfuls of shredded cheddar and stirred them in:
    I whisked those in until I had a smooth cheese sauce, with chunks of sausage in it.
  2. We boiled about a pound of rotini and slowly added it to the cheese sauce:
  3. Once that's all mixed together, we put it into the crock pot (we were making this for a church potluck), and put a handful or two of shredded cheddar over the top:

So that's it: the marriage of sausage gravy with macaroni and cheese. Probably the most redneck food that's ever been eaten.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The times, they are a-changin'

Life has been somewhat tempestuous for the last six or seven weeks. The details are boring and unnecessary, but the upshot of it all is that I've been sort of cloistered away in a haze of uncommunicative business.

One interesting feature of the last six or seven weeks is that my [new] employer wants me to have a disclaimer on any blogs to make it clear that my opinions don't reflect theirs. Of course they don't! But it's a simple enough request, and not unreasonable. So I've added a disclaimer block to the bottom of the page.

In other news, I've been reading a lot recently. I finally read Emma. I've watched several movie adaptations and listened to it as an audiobook; but it's only been in the last month that I read it. It is a delightful book. I find I like about half of Jane Austen's books. Persuasion is on the short-list of my favorite novels, but I couldn't make it past the fourth page of Northanger Abbey. It was simply too annoying.

Now that I think about it, that's why I never read Hunger Games. It's not that I haven't tried to read it, it's just I hadn't made it to the third page when I realized I completely hated it. Which says something, because I hated Wuthering Heights too, but I actually finished it.

At any rate, what I love about Jane Austen is how she can make me love, hate, despise, pity, or admire a character with just a few bold strokes. She leaves me despising Sir Walter, while at the same time patiently tolerating Mr. Woodhouse. It's not that her stories are terribly interesting: it's the characters who live in them. To be blunt, Jane Austen writes some pretty boring stories about people I find very interesting.

Since my acknowledgement of reading Jane Austen likely will cost me any claims to being a Real Man, I might was well go the distance and say I've been reading Georgette Heyer again too. Like Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer wrote some really boring stories. In fact, I wouldn't even call her characters interesting, but they are so terribly witty. One doesn't read Georgette Heyer for the story, nor even for the characters. One reads Georgette Heyer for the dialogue.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Again?

A week ago I rode my bike to work for the first time this year. It hurt and embarrassed me, so I thought I'd try again today. I went out to get my bike, and the rear tire was completely flat. Not "lost a little pressure sitting in the garage" flat, but completely, totally flat.

So I get to apply yet another patch to my rear tire. Sometimes it seems like I've spent more money on tubes and patches than the bike actually cost.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

This morning when I was walking from the bus stop to my office, a guy asked me if I could spare a couple bucks so he could go and buy a coffee and some food. "Nope, I can't," I replied, "but we can walk over there together and I'll buy you some coffee and something to eat."

He accepted my offer, so we started walking over there together. Along the way, he asked me a couple times if I could just give him $5. I told him I don't like to carry cash, but I'd buy him some coffee and food.

As we walked up the street, a car parked next to us. I think it was a guy going to work at a nearby construction site. My companion stopped.

"Are you coming?" I asked.

"Maybe this guy can give me some money," he replied.

"C'mon, I'll buy you some coffee," I urged. But he wasn't willing to come with me.

"All right, I'm going to work then," I said. And I turned and left.

I guess he wasn't hungry after all.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I love the winter weather

It's gotten really cold in Tacoma. I love it.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Enigma

Many years ago, I went to see Batman in the theatre. There's one scene where the Joker says, "This town needs an enema".

"Aha!" I thought, "that's how you pronounce 'enigma'."

Many years later I learned it's not.

Suddenly a lot of things started to make sense.

Monday, February 18, 2013

I've been cutting back a lot of good things out of my diet: mainly meat, eggs, and dairy. That's put a kink into my cooking, to say the least.

But I figure Valentine's Day is a special occasion, so I returned (much like a canine to his regurgitation) to my bad habits and made some sticky buns for my wife.

From Valentine's Day Cinnamon Buns

I've been playing with cinnamon buns for the last year or so, and have found they offer a high return on investment. They're not nearly so difficult to make as they look, and almost everyone loves them.

There's some room for variety with cinnamon rolls: I generally make way too much caramel and turn them into a sort of a caramel bun. But recently I've been making a simple butter frosting and serving them that way instead.

From Valentine's Day Cinnamon Buns
Probably my favourite variation is to put raisins in them, although Ames isn't such a huge fan. One interesting twist I tried was chopping a couple apples finely and rolling bits of chopped apple into the cinnamon spiral. That worked out rather well.

I use the simple cinnamon bun recipe I found in A Century of Canadian Home Cooking. The buns are chewy and soft, but they don't age well and feel stale within a couple days. Not like that's generally a problem.

We got up early, made some coffee, and ate fresh hot cinnamon buns. That was a great way to start the day.

From Valentine's Day Cinnamon Buns