Monthly Archives: February 2007

The Old Stomping Ground

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A Suggestion from the Danish Ballroom Dancing Champ…

“You should consider inventing a Flamingo Pie. It has to be pink of course. Regarding the filling I’m not the expert, but am sure with your imagination that you will have lots of idears…I’m sure that you will win the competition next year if you dare to enter it with the ‘Lisa Lacy’s Flamingo Surprise Pie’!!!”

I’m intrigued. This could go one of several ways. A sweet pie with a little food coloring for emphasis? A savory pie with shrimp or imitation crab meat??

Speaking of savory pies…one of my colleagues has been droning on and on about me making a savory pie instead of sweet ones all the time – I *think* he was going to post a bona fide challenge here at some point – and there’s most definitely a recipe for a savory tart in Bon Appetit this month! It’s a cauliflower and caramelized onion tart…but don’t let the word “tart” fool you – it calls for a refrigerated pie crust and so I think it qualifies as a savory pie…or at least a solid backup if I have trouble bringing my shrimp and/or lump crab meat pie to fruition.

I worry about being chided for relying too heavily on cooking magazines for content, but I had several other thoughts this weekend while thumbing through the March issue:

1. Dolly Parton has a new cookbook! My favorite quote from her interview? “I look cheap and I cook cheap.” (Sorta wish that could be my blog motto…)

2. There’s a spread on a “girls’ night in” and while I’m all for bonding with your female friends, the menu seems a *bit* much for any rational being to pull off. Or perhaps the median age of Bon Appetit readers is significantly older than I am and it’s just that I’m too young and/or poor and/or uncouth to pull off a feast of meyer lemon cosmopolitans, crisp polenta rounds with pesto and pine nuts, lime-marinated salmon on potato crisps with meyer lemon confit and beef carpaccio crostini with black truffle vinaigrette for my girlfriends on a whim? (And don’t even get me started on marinating your own quail eggs…) Not that the menu doesn’t sound completely wonderful…it just puts anything I can do to shame. I *think* I’m going to have some people over on St. Patrick’s Day to get rid of the creme de menthe and the creme de cacao I bought to make Andy’s grasshopper pie…and I’m pretty sure the menu will be creme de menthe, creme de cacao, Guinness and pretzels. Perhaps my friends deserve better??

3. There is also a recipe for an almond praline cake that says it requires 6 hours (!!) to create but that it’s “worth every minute” and “this big-deal cake can be made a day ahead” as “this stunner is well worth the time.” Chocolate bark sounds scary…but the cake looks amazing so it’s on my to-do list when I’m feeling industrious.

Pants wants to practice making wedding cakes this weekend! Complete with chocolate monkeys!

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Look, Mom! Look!

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Banana Boston Cream Pie, Interrupted…

I hate to let a day go by without blogging, but my silly job and some pesky financial aid applications for grad school seem to be ruining all my fun.

Suffice it to say, I did not have enough time to do my “fresh versus frozen fruit” experiment this weekend. And I attempted to assemble a Banana Boston Cream Pie in the style of Emeril, but it turned into something of a miserable failure – even for me…and disasters abound when I’m in the kitchen (even if I do usually have something that’s okay when all is said and done…as someone pointed out to me today).

The bananas weren’t *exactly* ripe (even though in real life, green bananas are my favorite). And I refused to purchase vanilla beans because they’re too expensive and it seemed frivolous for the custard that I was going to whack in between two layers of sponge cake. But then I ran out of vanilla extract and had to run to the corner bodega last night. It had started snowing, so I suppose there was something of a “magical winter night” aura, but I had just gotten a haircut and didn’t want it to get all wet and poofy and I was wearing velour pants that don’t usually leave my apartment. I had to pay an arm and a leg for vanilla extract (roughly $1 an ounce!) but they had it and therefore saved my bacon. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I didn’t *quite* have four cups of flour either. I decided my “sponge cake” could do without. It wasn’t until I actually read the directions for the custard and realized it had to be refrigerated for four hours (after straining!) that I had to accept defeat and resign myself to bringing it in on Tuesday. So my very first Boston cream pie is still a work in progress…

I did, however, have time to make some fancy-pants macaroni and cheese and came across a recipe for a South-of-the-Border-themed mac and cheese, too, so I may decide to make mac and cheese my new thing.

I’m also searching for a catchphrase for my blog…so far, “Pies with Pizazz” is the frontrunner. But I’m open to suggestions!

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Pants says…

“Oh, this is another food blog/site that I think is interesting…for inspiration…”

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Ellen! Oprah! Baking!

Apparently Oprah was on Ellen this week which is a big deal because Oprah doesn’t make many appearances like that, but Ellen is doing Oprah’s show after the Oscars, so Ellen had some leverage.

Long story short, I guess one of them has moved quite close to the other one (in Santa Barbara?) and Ellen ran into Stedman at the local deli. Stedman, Ellen said, was eating a brownie he had purchased there and Ellen quipped, “Oprah! What’s wrong with you?? Cook for the poor man!” (Loose quote.)

And Oprah replied, “I don’t bake.” (Again, loose quote.)

I guess it isn’t shocking though. If I was Oprah, I probably wouldn’t bake either.

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King Cake

Mardi Gras is over which means this entry isn’t exactly timely. BUT…I was in a meeting this morning and folks were talking about King Cake which obviously got me thinking…

The first time I had King Cake was in Mississippi and so even though it is a New Orleans thing, I permanently associate it with the Magnolia State.

They also call Mississippi the Hospitality State – and there’s good reason. After we moved there from California, my mother and I were met with countless refrains of, “Y’all must be goin’ through culture shock!” Indeed we were. The highways were peppered with handmade signs that read, “Repent.” There was a little old man with a crusty nose and a sign of his own that said, “Boiled P-nuts.” We saw him for the first time on a tour of Jackson. My mother, ever the gourmand, saw it and said, “Ooh! What’s that? Pine nuts?” Our real estate agent replied with a frown, “No. Peanuts.”

They fry pickles in ‘Sippi – although they do not, as a BBQ joint in NY attests, call them “frickles.” And they have King Cake (hence my point). The first one we tried came from the local grocery store, Jitney Jungle, which apparently has been bought out by Winn-Dixie and rebranded…which I think is a crying shame. We weren’t too impressed by the King Cake – if memory serves, it was kind of like bread with frosting. But that could have very well been because it was a grocery store King Cake (does saying that make me a snob?).

My colleagues were sort of razzing me this morning, asking if I’ve ever made a King Cake – which I haven’t…and it would be a little silly to do it now so it’ll have to wait until February 2008…unless I need a post-pie project in which case I will start experimenting with King Cakes in May. However, just out of curiosity, I looked up recipes on my two favorite food websites and here’s what I found:,,FOOD_9936_2055,00.html?rsrc=search

Emeril’s seems more feasible (what on earth is a “wooden bread trough,” Epicurious??). But I’m saying that after giving both just a cursory glance, so I may very well be singing a different tune in May.

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I wish I got to write stuff like this…

The best part: “Lawyers are engaged in settlement talks, with Pinkberry’s side suggesting, among other things, that Mr. Bae change his logo and put a sign in his store stating that it has no connection to Pinkberry, and that he confess to posing as a regular yogurt lover while posting comments on food blogs under the name ‘yogurtfanetik.’ Mr. Bae called the settlement terms ‘ridiculous’ and denied that he is yogurtfanetik.”

But you should really read the whole thing. Lots of good quotes in there.

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Part II

Picture it: Miami. February 20, 2007. I am at a financial services conference that involves a great deal of schmoozing. In fact, all of the panels are bright and early so everyone can finish up by noon and go play golf or sun themselves by the pool. And there are lots of parties. I couldn’t get into much because the companies sponsoring them were afraid I was going to witness something scandalous and immediately run back to my hotel room to write about it.

The woman who had the power to get me into these parties made a comment at one point about how I look so innocent and bland and nonconfrontational that it made little sense for me to go to these parties with everyone anyway. And I hate being pigeonholed like that. I can let my hair down! I am hardly a shrinking violet! So I sort of took offense.

The last night of the conference there was a Black and White Ball for the unwashed masses and during all of my schmoozing I met – get this – the Danish National Ballroom Dancing Champion of 1986. In person! I was trying to get him to tell me his favorite dessert so I could blog about him but he said he didn’t really like sweets and only begrudgingly admitted he liked cookies and cream ice cream after much obsequiousness on my part. When I begged and pleaded for him to tell me something I could actually bake that would be blog-worthy, he said “apple pie with lots of cinnamon” but that could very well have been to quiet me.

I then proceeded to try to convince him to be the corporate sponsor of my blog so I can do this full-time. (Fingers crossed!) I don’t actually think it’s as crazy as it sounds since my colleagues read this and we’re all financial journalists for the most part and it could be a great way to get his company’s name out there.

Then we all went to a crazy place in South Beach where I really didn’t belong in my conference garb (my hotel was about a million miles away from the conference hotel and so I couldn’t go home to change). That’s it. I woke up, missed my flight, hung out at the airport, found flamingo windchimes and a copy of Southern Living and finally flew back to New York…

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Flamingo Surprise

(Or, alternatively, “What I was initially freaking out about yesterday but what actually turned out to be for the best.”)

So, yesterday my cup literally runneth over with potential blog topics…and I’m afraid I’m back at work today, so I can’t wax lyrical the whole day through. Organization is always a problem for me when I write (or, heck, when I talk, really), and this has potential to be the most stream-of-consciousness entry to date. But, stay with me…as I promise I always have a point. (Or maybe I’m building it up too much…)

Yesterday, as you may recall, was my aunt’s 60th birthday. And I knew I had to do something BIG. I was having lunch with a friend (who we will call Pants) and complaining about not knowing what to do…when out of thin air, she suggested a “Flamingo Surprise.” (Folks come in the middle of the night and set up a whole bunch of pink flamingos on your front lawn…and hilarity ensues.)

I might have also mentioned that I was in Miami for a conference (more on that later). For reasons that are partially my fault and partially out of my control, I ended up missing my super-early flight yesterday morning and arrived at Miami International Airport in something of a panic. This, however, turned out to be written in the stars as I was able to go standby on a later flight and had lots of time to kill at the airport so I went shopping and found FLAMINGO WINDCHIMES on the very same day as my aunt’s Flamingo Surprise and I am now convinced it was fate that I missed the earlier flight.

I also happened to find a copy of Southern Living which did my heart good as I used to live in the South and my mother used to subscribe, etc., etc. The cover of February’s issue – and here’s where missing my flight and the flamingo windchimes establish a direct connection to a blog about pies – features a piece of banana pudding pie. But that’s not all! There’s an ad for Orlando – which, as you may recall, is where the big pie-baking competition will take place in, oh, 9 weeks or so – with all sorts of reasons why everyone should visit Orlando. Parents, for example, are more fun there: “In Orlando, you don’t say ‘clean your room’ or ‘practice the piano.’ Instead, it’s “LET’S GET AN ICE CREAM” and “WANNA DRIVE A RACECAR?'”

I wonder if those phrases will work on my friends as I continue to search for someone (anyone!) to go with me to provide moral support…as I will crack under the pressure by myself!

This particular issue of Southern Living also features favorite restaurant desserts across the South. The list includes banana pudding from the Galax Smokehouse. Coincidentially, my friend Pants makes an annual pilgrimage to Galax for a fiddler’s convention. (She hasn’t been to the Smokehouse though…) But that’s not all! There are pies galore – including a section on the pies of Texas and fried pies in Oklahoma. Beignets made the list, too. (No offense to the great state of Louisiana, but I never really understood beignets…)

And – it gets better. There is an ad for Crisco no-stick spray with flour! I think it’s safe to say that I have never been so excited about trying out a no-stick spray.

And still there’s more! There’s even a tip about using pancake mix to make onion rings! And I would have missed all of this had I made the earlier flight!

Part II is forthcoming!

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