Tag Archives: Texas trash

TIME FOR THE OSCARS, TIME FOR TEXAS TRASH

After two years, I have clearly adopted some of the behaviors and activities of Angelinos. One of those is a fascination with Hollywood. Well, not really, but I do pay more attention to the movies  and have returned to watching the Oscars after a decades-long absence. A major reason for that is our family. On Oscar night, our regular  Sunday family dinner has been supplanted by our gathering in front of the television. Dinner is finger food on a buffet so that you can replenish your plate during commercial breaks. My son-in-law in his professional life is a serious, no-nonsense, take-charge kind of guy. Around home he is quiet and considerate and also an expert on contemporary music and movies. He knows the names of all the actors, even the walk-ons, and usually knows some interesting tidbit about them. Same is true of current bands and singers. For that reason he is in charge of organizing Oscar Night. (They might want to consider him for the job of organizing the real Oscar show.) He makes ballots so that each family member can indicate his or her choice for the winner. There is excitement throughout the evening with the uncertainty of who will make the most correct picks. It is usually a tight race between my granddaughter and Susan. My granddaughter is also a movie aficionado so it is expected that she will do well. But the surprise is Susan who has no interest in the movies and is still able to pick the winners. This year, Susan may have the field to herself as my granddaughter is off to college. Her prize for winning will be that she has bested all the others in this very competitive family.

Meanwhile, Carol is in charge of the food. Trust me, there is just as much competitive pressure to deliver on the food as there is to win the Oscar picks. She will probably make sliders, her famous pinwheels, and maybe her elegant cheese puff pastry. She asked me to make cheese straws and brownies. Both are long-time family favorites. I decided to make some Texas Trash as well. This is another family favorite, and it lends itself to noshing in front of the TV. The recipe is SIMPLE. You can also find a similar recipe on any box of Chex cereal. These days you can also find it ready made, but like most things it’s not as good as homemade. The recipe makes about 10 cups, which should be enough for the five of us, but I expect that it will be gone at the end of the Oscars.

Who do you think will win the Oscars?

RECIPE

Texas Trash

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (one stick) butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 2 cups Wheat Chex
  • 2 cups Corn Chex
  • 2 cups Rice Chex
  • 1 cup mixed nuts
  • 1 cup mini pretzels

Method

  1. Place the melted butter in a very large mixing bowl. Add the Worcestershire sauce and the seasoned salt, stirring to make sure they are well combined.
  2. Stir in the three cereals, stirring gently to make sure the butter mixture is evenly distributed and completely absorbed.
  3. Add the nuts and pretzels.  Stir to combine and transfer to a large rimmed baking pan.
  4. Bake for 1 hour in the middle of the oven preheated to 250° F , stirring every 15 minutes to make sure the mixture is evenly coated.
  5. Remove from the oven and cool. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container.

Cook’s note: This is not like baking a soufflé, so measurements are not precise. The ingredient list is also variable. If you want to add or substitute peanuts or different pretzels or bagel chips, do it. If you want more flavoring like chile powder or dry ranch dressing mix, add it. Whatever you do will probably taste good, and the Texas Trash will be gone before you know it.

 

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BIG SUR

Another view of Bixby Creek Bridge

I have been away for a couple of weeks, enjoying our annual family rendezvous in Big Sur. For the last six years or so, we have met at the Pfeiffer State Park, each family laden with food, snacks, and wine. Unfortunately, our son and his family could not join us this time because of school obligations. Those seem to increase as children get older. But the others came prepared for a week of hiking, playing on the beach, enjoying one another’s company,  and getting caught up on events since we last saw one another.

One of our traditions is to bring lots of the family’s favorite snacks – “Texas trash” and old-fashioned Southern cheese straws. The Texas trash is our version of the chex mix recipe that you can find on the back of a box of wheat chex. We add a few more items like different nuts, funny pretzel shapes or whatever and more butter. You can be as creative as you like. The cheese straws come from Craig Claiborne’s classic cook book, ”Southern Cooking”. The only thing we do a little differently is to  put the dough through a cookie press into the form of five-petal flowers. That shape has been obligatory for as long as I can remember.  It has the advantage for the eater of being able to  just bite off one petal  at a time. That way you feel more virtuous even though the recipe calls for practically nothing but butter, cheese, and just enough flour to hold everything together.

Grilled flank steak

This year, we gathered while my older daughter prepared one of her old standby recipes – “Law School Chicken”. She developed the recipe while she and her husband were both in law school. It was a cheap, easy-to-fix one-dish dinner that could be served to company. It was also a welcome change from instant  ramen. 

Roasted corn fresh from the coals

Carol says it is easy to make. First, she dusts some chicken breasts with flour and sautés them in a little butter and oil until they are cooked through and browned and crispy on the outside. While the chicken is cooking, she caramelizes some fresh peeled peach halves along with some slices of red and white onion. She boils some couscous in chicken stock with just enough of the stock left over to moisten everything. A good squeeze of fresh lemon brightens the taste.  When everything is done, she serves the chicken over the couscous, peaches,  and onions  and completes the meal with a green salad. Delicious. It is so good that, unfortunately I got busy eating and forgot to take a picture for you. Nevertheless, you get the idea.  Give it a try. I think you will add it to your list of tasty meals to make when you are in a hurry.

Plum tart

The next night we had our traditional cookout with steaks, roasted corn on the cob, beverages, and of course, s’mores over the campfire. This year, though, we did it differently, and I would highly recommend our new approach. In the past we have had big steaks for all of the adults and a shared steak for the children. While that sounds wonderful, the problem is always that the steaks have to be grilled in batches because the grills available in the picnic grounds are too small. Some turn out to be too well-done while others are too rare, and some of the adults have finished eating before others have even started. This year my younger daughter suggested flank steak – which turned out to work beautifully. We bought two large flank steaks for six adults and three children, marinated them all day with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and then grilled them over a charcoal fire. My son-in-law, the chef, grilled them to perfection, sliced them, and served them to everyone at the same time.  

Another change this year was to use charcoal for the main cooking and to save the campfire for later. The charcoal gave us an even fire and also let us put ears of fresh corn in the coals. In preparation, we removed all of the silks from the corn while keeping the husks intact to fold back over the individual ears. 

All got their fill, so it was soon time for s’mores. We put a log on the charcoal fire, waited until it flared up, and then made classic s’mores with toasted (burned) marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers.  If you have not eaten one of these fabled treats for many years, trust me: only kids can eat one of these sugar bombs, So dessert for adults was a delicious plum tart that Sarah had made with fresh plums from a friend’s back yard.

Tomato jam quiche

Lunch the next day included a delicious quiche from Sarah. She made a jam from tomatoes that we had brought her from our garden. She peeled and seeded the tomatoes and then cooked them down with flavorings into a beautiful jam.  She then ; made a pie shell using a favorite recipe of my wife, Susan, and filled it with a thin layer of caramelized onions, topped it with a custard of cream, eggs, farmer’s cheese, and basil, and baked it. After it had cooled, she covered it with the tomato jam. Beautiful to see and wonderful to eat.

There were a lot more good things to eat, including treats from some of our favorite restaurants in Big Sur. With my next post, I’ll tell you about some of our favorite places to eat in Big Sur

RECIPES

Cheese Straws

1¾ Cups all-purpose flour

8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated on a box grater

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, cut into 16 pieces

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.

  1. Add the flour and cheese to the bowl of a food processor. Cover and pulse together  until well combined.
  2.  Add the butter, salt, Cayenne pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and process until  the mixture comes together as a ball.
  3. Stop the processor and knead the dough briefly to bring together any loose particles. Wrap in plastic wrap and let set at room temperature. Do not refrigerate.
  4. Divide the dough in fourths or enough to fill a cookie press fitted with the patterned plate of your choice.
  5. Push the dough out as individual “cookies” on two ungreased baking sheets.
  6.  Place the baking sheets in an oven preheated to 300° and bake for 20 minutes until the cheese straws are crisp and slightly browned. Bake longer if you wish them to be darker,   but be careful as they burn easily.
  7. Transfer to cooling racks. Store the completely cooled  cheese straws in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.

Yield: Makes about 60 flower-shaped cheese straws

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