Friday, November 04, 2011

“Moving Day Cookbook”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Cookbooks seem to be the sort of household manual that nearly everyone collects. Often, they are handed down through generations of a family, or traded through a network of friends. They may be borrowed and forgotten, of left to gather dust in the back of a kitchen library. Yet even a single unique recipe can make their existence worthy.

Recently, a family left my rural neighborhood, and decided to perform some cupboard cleaning as they moved. Offered up to those of us who stayed behind was a considerable stack of these culinary publications, at no charge.

Most of their castaway collection looked like standard household fare. But one volume caught my notice immediately. It was titled “Morning Fires, Evening Lights – The Marlboro Country Cookbook.”

This work was published in 1998 by tobacco giant Phillip Morris, as a promotional tool to promote dwindling cigarette sales.

With obvious cowboy flair, the book carried recipes inspired by life in the American southwest. I almost felt nostalgic when leafing through its glossy, colorful pages. Not for the taste of tar and nicotine, of course, but for the kind of vittles one might imagine around a campfire, many miles from civilization:

Iron Skillet Breakfast


4 cups water
½ lb. homemade sausage
1 Tbsp. minced onion
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. dried thyme
Dash (of) cayenne pepper
1 cup yellow cornmeal
½ cup cold water
1 cup cooked black beans, optional
All-purpose flour
Butter or bacon fat


Bring water to boil in a large, heavy saucepan; add sausage, onion, salt, thyme and cayenne pepper. If extra-spicy sausage is used, omit seasonings, if desired. Cook, stirring to break up sausage, for 15 minutes. Mix cornmeal with cold water; stir into sausage mixture gradually. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and cornmeal softens, about 30 minutes. Rinse beans under running water; stir into cornmeal. Rinse a loaf pan with cold water; pour hot mixture into pan, smoothing surface. Cover and chill until firm. Cut into ½-inch thick slices; dip in flour. In a large skillet, fry in butter over medium heat until crisp and brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Serve with scrambled eggs and maple syrup.

Coffee Can Bread


1 cup graham or whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups buttermilk
¾ cup molasses
1 cup raisins and/or chopped walnuts


Combine the two flours, cornmeal, baking powder, soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix buttermilk and molasses; add to dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in raisins and nuts. Pour into well-greased 13-ounce coffee cans filling 2 inches from top. Bread may also be baked in 2 greased 8-inch loaf pans. Cover cans or loaf pans with aluminum foil. Bake in a 350 degree oven, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool slightly before turning out of cans.

Firemouth Pizza


12-inch homemade pizza crust
½ cup roasted pepper salsa or thick and chunky salsa
1 cup rinsed and drained canned black beans
5 each, thin green and red bell pepper rings
½ cup thinly sliced red or green onions
1 or 2 jalapeno chili peppers, sliced, seeds and stems removed
2 cups shredded cheddar or Jack cheese
2 tsp. Tex-Mex spice


Place crust on large baking sheet. Spread salsa evenly over crust. Top with beans, bell pepper rings, onions, chili peppers and cheese. Sprinkle Tex-Mex spice evenly over cheese. Bake in a 450 degree oven for about 12 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Cut into slices and serve immediately.

Sweet-Hot Glazed Bacon


½ lb. thick-sliced smoked bacon
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. Tabasco sauce


Line a 15 x 10-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Place a wire cooling rack in pan and coat lightly with nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil. Cut each slice (of) bacon in half. Arrange bacon in single layer on oiled rack. Combine brown sugar and Tabasco sauce, mixing well with a fork. Sprinkle mixture evenly over bacon. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until bacon is browned, but not burned. Cool completely on rack. Serve at room temperature.

Lonesome Man Chili


4 lbs. Round steak
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cracked black pepper
5 Tbsp. Olive oil, divided
40 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup beef broth or water
½ cup whiskey
6 to 10 dried small red chili peppers


Trim steak and cut into large chunks, about 1 ½ inches square. Combine flour, salt and pepper; roll beef in mixture. Heat 4 Tbsp. oil in a deep, heavy skillet; brown meat on all sides. Remove meat from skillet. Reduce heat and add 1 Tbsp. oil and garlic; cook until garlic is golden. Add broth, whiskey and chili peppers to garlic. Put browned meat on top of garlic; cover and cook slowly until beef is tender, about 1 hour.

I had to read the last recipe over again. It called for – 40 cloves of garlic?
One might observe that this could be a cause for the cook being lonely. Yet it sounded like a flavorful dish, indeed.

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