Smoothies are pretty much the most exotic thing I’ve been making this week. And, the ones that I have been making have been rather frantic affairs. For instance, a recipe for my breakfast smoothing this week might read: 1) Oh God, we need to leave the house in three minutes and everyone is still in pajamas; 2) Open the freezer and find frozen berries; 3) Throw berries in the blender with a splash of OJ; 4) Hit go and start rounding up the little people…grab “smoothie” on the way out the door.
Sometimes a banana gets into the mix, and last night I threw some tangerine sections in the freezer to add to this morning’s mix, which was a capital idea, actually.
It is the last week of school around here. I’ve raced and celebrated and shed a few tears. We have had a first softball game, a last chapel service, field day, tornado warnings, decorated cars, plays, and Boy Scout dinners. And, we even all went to see Iron Man 3 (past bedtime…very rare). Ever since I finished my stories and photos for the Summer Edible Dallas & Fort Worth issue a few weeks ago (look for my story on fishing and photos of chef Matt McCallister and urban foraging), I have been doing the mom thing 24/7 and, well, summer has just begun. This is not an excuse for my lackadaisical post schedule. I know many of you are in the same boat, but it is an explanation. I’ve got some recipes brewing but they are not ready yet. So, in the meantime, grab a smoothie as you run for the door.
I’ve convinced myself that smoothies are so good for me that they constitute free calories, or free points in Heaven. And these are actually great tasting, so while I’m deluding myself about them being delicious air, I am quite enjoying myself doing so. It also lets me keep my Vita-Mix in fighting condition.
Click on the title to go to the smoothie that sounds great to you:
What have I been up to? Do you really want to know…keep reading.
Most of what I’ve been up to is not suitable (due to the snooze factor) for public consumption, but there are a few moments you might enjoy. Last week…or was it the week before that…I had the fun of attending a Dallas book signing party for my friend Daniel Vaughn. His new book, The Prophets of Smoked Meats, is out in stores and it is a great book. Photographed by Nicholas McWhirter, it is a roadtrip between to book covers. You will never have to ask where the best BBQ joints in any town are ever again…unless and until he goes back and changes his report, that is. You can keep up with him on his blog Full Custom Gospel BBQ or in his new job as the Texas Monthly BBQ Editor (can you believe that job title even exists??? I love that.) But, the real jewel in the book is in the last few pages where he has put Pitmaster Profiles featuring the best BBQ cooks in Texas, their specialty dish, and the basics on how they smoke them. It is a treasure trove if you know what you are looking for.
[Left: A great Dallas Morning News Article about the incredible BBQ books coming out in Texas right now; see here, here and here; Left Center: Daniel signing books; Right Center: the Franklins; Right: The enormous discard pile of beef bones next to a near empty kettle of hominy grits (I ate them all!)
The party was an embarrassment of riches and I was left to hope that all the guests knew just how lucky they were at that moment. You see, in attendance in the backyard…with smokers in tow, were the Fourtons of Pecan Lodge, the Franklins of Franklin BBQ, the Lockhart folks including Jill Bergus, and Will Fleischman, and Tim Byres of SMOKE. I was there only in my eater and BBQ-fanatic capacities and not as any sort of a story teller. I didn’t even bring a camera (but thankfully my iPhone for one or two shots). There I gazed across the yard at my very favorite BBQ people in the state of Texas and there wasn’t a line to be seen. We were a bunch of spoiled brats in that yard. Spoiled. I fear half the crowd had no clue about the aligned stars of BBQ in their midst. Well, I bought 3 of Daniel’s books on Amazon which came to the mailbox with 3 minutes to spare before the party. Then I bought another one at the party for my cousin Jeff. I had them all signed by Daniel, Nicholas, and M. Brady Clark, who made the guide map in the book. Brady is one of those guys who you hang out with for a bit and decide that he is your new best pal without knowing even a little bit what a talented person you are sitting with. Then you go home and check out their work and kind of slap yourself on the forehead, because had you known, you might have taken the opportunity to pester that person with questions about their craft. His road trip navigator was one Matt Shepperd, who, among other things, makes sure poverty stricken individuals in Haiti can have water wells. I’m not joking. He works with Thirst Relief International and they bring clean water to communities where it really is the difference between living and dying. And I sat there with my 4th bottle of Ozarka and a plate full of Beef Rib and Hominy Grits, being quite aware of my good fortune and thinking it is just about time that I considered doing some good deeds.
Speaking of Beef Rib and Hominy Grits, I also had a moment to catch up with Tim Byres who was slinging said stupendous hash. He is truly one of the nicest people in this town, and certainly one of the most talented. His new book is also out now. It is called SMOKE: New Firewood Cooking. He is all around the state and country with it and you will see why. It is a treasure map of self sufficiency and fire cooking basics, but it is also filled with some very elegant and interesting fare. He shows you how to build a number of different pits with supplies you can find at your local hardware store. Then he shares all of his knowledge about how to make beautiful dishes out of simple ingredients. It is a mash up of farm-fresh, smoked, preserved, sweet, exotic, fire-kissed and doable. I hope that made sense. It was photographed by Jody Horton, who I admire deeply. It is a gorgeous book. I like handsome books on my shelf.
So…have you figured out what to get the men in your life for Father’s Day…hmmmmm??? I don’t know…perhaps….THESE TWO BOOKS. Buy well written books by nice humans. It is good for everyone.
As for food that I’ve been cooking, other than the aforementioned smoothie, Ford and I made this golf cake last week (which we managed to somehow pull off after a Girl Scout Fashion Event…those little chicks raised $2,700 for Children’s Hospital). I highly recommend that you decorate a cake with an 8 year old any time you have the opportunity because if you both survive it, your control issues will have been tamed. Ford frosted this sucker with a tiny bit of help from mom and then he made the golf ball and tee out of this crazy marzipan putty that we concocted out of almond flour, powdered sugar and Karo. The “grass” was a last minute “solution.” When our tips and piping bag (read Ziploc) failed to function like we wanted them to, we grabbed a box cutter, poked a dozen holes in the bag and just let the grass rain down like green PlayDoh spaghetti. It was a very silly cake. But, I loved it. Ford entered it in his Boy Scout Troops end-of-year Blue and Gold Dinner contest for best “sport themed cake” and we got our butts kicked. There are some serious up and coming pastry chefs at his school, it seems. Such fun. Other than that we’ve been tucking and rolling like super heroes jumping out of a moving vehicles. Baked potatoes, migas, cereal for dinner, and a whole lot of Tex-Mex at Mia’s. I’m looking forward to a little summer slow down. I hope I get it. Happy summer, friends! I’ll be back soon with something brand new.