I hang around with someone who happens to be among the 5 percent of Americans who don’t have a cellphone.
My friend, Frankie Connelly, is strictly connected to her landline, which is fine, most of the time.
A major instance when it wasn’t OK occurred the weekend before Thanksgiving, when Frankie’s large family gathers for its annual holiday meal.
This year, the event was held at a family member’s new home. Frankie had never been to the rural residence, so she relied on directions from her mother.
Frankie made several dishes for everyone to enjoy.
As we drove through the town of Pocola and down several narrow side streets, I enjoyed the delicious aroma emanating from the back seat while keeping my eyes open for signs of familiar cars and landmarks.
We drove around for an hour. Dinner was scheduled for noon.
At 12:30 p.m., as we fruitlessly traveled down the same road for the third time, I turned to Frankie and said, “We could call them on my cellphone for directions. Do you have the number?”
She replied the way I expected. “It’s programmed into my home phone. I don’t know it offhand.”
Her smartypants passenger snarkily commented: “See? If you had a cellphone, we wouldn’t have this problem.”
I was pouty because I realized I was going to miss one heck of a buffet.
At 1 p.m., we gave up and returned to Frankie’s home to refrigerate all the food she spent hours preparing, packaging and transporting around eastern Oklahoma.
As I sat in the car wondering what her family must think of us, Frankie opened the car door, shoved a small styrofoam bowl at me and said, “Here. Try this.”
I looked in the bowl and saw a lot of gooey cheese with little chunks of something floating in it.
“What is it? Corn?” I asked her.
“It’s hominy,” she replied, sticking her key in the ignition.
“I hate hominy,” I told her as her sports utility vehicle roared to life. I thought if I was quick, I could just toss it out the car door.
“Just try it,” she said firmly.
OK. I didn’t want to offend my friend. I took a bite. It was still warm even after its epic road trip.
Oh, my. It tasted good. It tasted really good. If she hadn’t have told me what it was beforehand, I wouldn’t know it was hominy.
“This is delicious!” I spouted through mouthfuls. I licked the bowl.
“You have to give me the recipe. People aren’t going to believe this!” I said.
Frankie was gracious, and I now have it to share with readers.
Well, it was the least she could do after depriving me of what I know would have been a fabulous Thanksgiving feast.
This casserole would make a great side dish for the Christmas meal.
Just don’t tell anyone what’s in it.
• 3 cans hominy
• 3 green onions
• 1/2 cup shredded jalapeno pepper cheese
• 1/2 cup Velveeta cheese, cubed (Frankie used 1 pound, probably the reason it tasted so creamy and good)
• 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
• 1 can cream of mushroom soup
• Salt and pepper to taste
Blend all ingredients together and scoop into a baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Let’s continue to unwrap some more surprise recipes for the Christmas table.
Have you ever served celery root as a holiday side dish?
But Saveur Magazine thinks it’s a good idea.
The dish looks pretty in the picture.
Celery Root, Carrot and Potato Gratin
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 4 fresh bay leaves
• 8 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
• 4 large carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
• 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
• 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
• 1 small celery root, peeled and cut crosswise into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices
• 2 tablespoons thyme leaves
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 5 ounces Gruyere cheese
• 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large saucepan, heat the cream with the butter and bay leaves over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic, carrots, potatoes, onion and celery root and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook, stirring gently, until tender but not breaking, about 18 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the thyme. Scrape into a 3-quart round baking dish. Season the gratin with salt and pepper.
Using a box grater, grate the Gruyere into a medium bowl and then toss with the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the cheese and bread crumbs over the vegetables and bake until the topping is golden brown and the gratin is bubbling in the center, about 30 minutes.
Make eight servings.
This pie recipe is too weird even for me. However, because it comes from the Idaho Potato Commission, I’ll pass it on.
This is a savory pie, so hold off on the whipped cream.
Maple Bacon Potato Pie
• 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
• 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 tablespoon pieces
• 1/4 cup ice water
• 6 ounces bacon, cooked to just done – not crispy
• 3/4 cup pecans
• 1 1/2 pounds potatoes
• 1/2 cup light brown sugar
• 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
• 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
• 3 large eggs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Make the crust: In a medium-sized bowl, mix flour, salt and rosemary. Use your hands to mix in butter just a little bit. Add the ice water a little bit at a time, mixing with your hands until the dough can stick together in a ball. You should still be able to see pieces of butter. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Remove dough from the refrigerator. Roll out to an 11-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges of the crust. Use a fork to poke small holes in the crust. Cover with parchment paper and top with pie weights. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned.
Remove crust from the oven to cool to room temperature and then remove the pie weights.
For the topping: Process bacon and pecans together until finely chopped.
For the filling: Place potatoes in a small saucepan over high heat. Add enough cold water to cover the top of the potatoes. Once the water boils, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook the potatoes in lightly boiling water until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Drain the water. Once the potatoes are cool enough to touch, peel the skins off. They should come off easily.
Mash the potatoes in a food processor. Add the brown sugar, maple syrup, salt and butter into the food processor and pulse until smooth. Add heavy whipping cream and pulse until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, pulsing until smooth after each one.
Pour into the prebaked pie shell. Evenly distribute the topping over the filling. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until the center of the pie is set but still wiggles ever so slightly when you move the pan. Check the crust at about 30 minutes. If it looks like it is getting golden brown, cover crust with foil or a pie guard. Cool to room temperature (at least an hour) before slicing and serving.
Makes eight servings.
Flourless chocolate cookies?
“These cookies are a miracle — with zero flour (no gluten) and just 1 gram of fat, they have no business tasting this good!” writes King Arthur Flour.
The cookies are also versatile. Add nuts, chocolate chips or chopped dried fruit to give them extra goodness.
Flourless Chocolate Cookies
• 2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
• 1 cup cocoa powder
• 3 large egg whites
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 2 cups chocolate chips, chopped nuts and/or chopped dried fruit, optional
Lightly grease two baking sheets. Or line sheets with parchment and grease the parchment (these cookies are sticky and need to be baked on a greased surface.)
Whisk together egg whites and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, except for the chips/nuts/fruit. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and stir again until smooth. The sticky batter will be the consistency of a thick syrup. Add the chips and/or nuts, if using.
Drop the syrupy batter onto the prepared baking sheets in 3-inch circles (for large cookies), or 1 3/4- to 2-inch circles (for smaller cookies); a tablespoon cookie scoop or teaspoon cookie scoop, respectively, work well here.
Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake the cookies for seven minutes (for smaller cookies), eight to nine minutes for the larger cookies; they should spread slightly, become somewhat shiny and develop faintly crackly tops. Note: large cookies with added chips/nuts will need to bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool right on the pan. When they're nearly cool, carefully loosen them from the pan with a spatula.
Makes 16 large cookies or 32 smaller cookies.
Petplan pet insurance dug into its database of protected pets to see which names are the most popular for puppies and kittens this year.
Bella (my cat Bellah spells her name differently) has ruled Petplan’s Top Names list since the company wrote its first policy in 2006, according to a news release. But now she has been dethroned. Luna has clawed her way to the top of the list.
Here are the top 10 pet names for 2017:
I didn’t name Bellah. Granddaughter Madi or her mother chose the name. I inherited Bellah when Madi enrolled at the University of Arkansas three years ago and moved to Fayetteville.
Bellah, who hisses at everything that moves, has a love/hate relationship with my two cats, Sox (gray with white feet) and Dairy (who is black and white).
I lack creativity when it comes to pet names. Past pets include Tuffy, Shasta, Bear and Boots.
Bebe, my squirrel dog (every woman needs one) was named immediately after she followed a visitor through my front door and I had to pause my viewing of the TV show “Big Brother.”
Bebe, get it?
If I had three squirrel dogs (which would surely lead to chronic use of heavy sedatives), do you think I would have been clever enough to name them like one of Petplan’s policy holders: The Barks: Bark Twain, Bark Ruffalo and Bark Wahlberg.
Looking for a recipe? Have one you’d like to share? Write to Potluck, Times Record, P.O. Box 1359, Fort Smith, AR 72902. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.