Your Own Back Yard – Michael Gillan Maxwell

Visual Art – Creative Writing – Social Commentary


August 2012

The Lunch Lady Cookbook: Dining at the Dirt Track Races

The Lunch Lady Cookbook: Dining at the Dirt Track Races.

The Lunch Lady Cookbook: Dining at the Dirt Track Races

Lunch Laddy at the Dirt Track Races

Hi there boys and girls! This is the Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell bringing you another installment of the Lunch Lady Cookbook. Summer is a fleeting season and it won’t be long before lunch ladies across the nation will be at their posts with healthy heapin’ helpins’ of classic American Lunch Lady AWESOME. But I heard Summer say: “I ain’t dead yet!” and the Lunch Laddy still has a wild card or two to throw down before Labor Day. This installment of the Lunch Lady Cookbook is takin’ it old school. We’re gettin’ our act together and takin’ it on the road. The Lunch Lady Cookbook takes you out to eat at one of the grittiest and noisiest venues for classic American haute cuisine ~ the dirt track races!

Black Rock Speedway

The dirt track menu has the venerable, time honored comfort food that is the epicurean cornerstone of county fairs, amusement parks, rodeos, traveling carnivals, the circus and most sporting events.  To say that it is a veritable cornucopia of healthy vegan delights would be more than a little white lie. There may be some nitrites, white flour, high fructose corn syrup and a smidgeon of hydrogenated oil in one or two of the offerings, but I’m not altogether sure and I don’t really want to know. This is not the place where one goes to sample whole foods masterpieces, gastronomic innovations, and strokes of gustatory genius. This is not cocktails at Noel Coward’s. We’re wearing tee shirts and ball caps, not silk smoking jackets and ascots. This is the dirt track for God’s sake.

Slushies, Ice Cream
Cotton Candy

It is here that one may dine on such delicacies as fried dough with powdered sugar, giant pretzels, cotton candy, nachos smothered with melted cheese, pulled pork, Slush Puppies, ice cream cones, french fries with vinegar, sausage, chili, salt potatoes, Texas hots, and of course, the uncontested foundation of all classic cuisine Americana: burgers and dogs! This is not just another Friday night out on the town. This is the mecca of midway concession delights. This is a sacred pilgrimage. Of course, any selection one makes from the menu may be embellished and enhanced with any number of old stalwarts from the condiment trough including yellow mustard and (fancy) ketchup, chopped onions, dill relish, chili relish, sweet relish, powdered sugar, vinegar and a half dozen other gooey, slippery, slimy, gloppy things guaranteed to turn your shirt into a dish towel. Unless, of course, you have the foresight to wear a bib. However, that could turn out to be a tragic fashion choice at a venue like the dirt track races. Let’s not forget that a healthy layer of sand and grime and grit will enhance any selection you have made, especially if you are seated with the Lunch Laddy at Turn 4. Think of it as extra fiber in your diet.


The switchboard is lighting up with callers who just want to know: “Lunch Laddy ~ what did YOU choose for your dirt track dining entree?”  I must confess, my mind was already made up before I even left the house. I would settle for nothing less than a hot dog and a beer. The Lunch Lady Cookbook dog was served on a white bun in a cardboard tray and smothered with chopped onions, (Fancy) ketchup, yellow mustard and  chili relish. The dog was sublime ~ an insouciant little sausage with just the right amount of nitrites and grease. I could bite it but it didn’t bite back. It would not have been complete unless it was washed down with a cold can of beer. (And then another one, for good measure.)

Dirt Track Dining

Beverage pairing:  Labatt’s Blue ~ chilled to perfection, drunk from the can.

Music Pairing: Whatever heavy metal tunes that were pulsating from the speakers. All I know is that the guitar tone felt like a bag of hammers being dropped on my head.

As for the races,  it was  the Lunch Laddy’s first visit so it was like sacrificing a virgin to the volcano. The Lunch Laddy sat just above track level coming out of turn 4 and surrendered himself to the volcanic din of mechanical mayhem, the ambrosia of burning rubber and fuel combustion engine exhaust, the sweet caress of filth and grit massaging his skin and blinding his eyes, the earsplitting shriek and howling maelstrom that is blood sport spectacle for the whole family on a Friday night somewhere in America. What’s not to love?

3 Cars and a Cloud of Dust
Rounding Turn 4
The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd

So, until next time, this is the Lunch Laddy signing off.

Get your motor runnin’!

Arrivederci and Bon Appetit!

To the West

To the West

Night Ride Home

Night Ride Home

Long Pond

On Long Pond
Morning Mist Over Long Pond

The Lunch Lady Cookbook Summer Edition Sizzlin’ Summer Slam Extravaganza Volume I

Blues in the Bottle

Hey there everybody! This is The Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell, bringing you a special summer edition of The Lunch Lady Cookbook. As Alice Cooper said:” School’s out for summer!” Right? You know it Baby ~ and when school’s out, that means the Lunch Lady is chillin’ like a villain and gellin’ like a felon ~ but there are  still plenty of Lunch Lady doings to rant and rave about.

First of all, it’s been a scorcher. It’s as hot as a dockers armpit, so hot even my sweat is sweating, hot as a marathon runner’s jockstrap, sweating bullets and hotter than a two peckered billy goat, hotter than Hades and sweating like a stevedore, hotter than a hen in a wool blanket, hotter than a two dollar pistol, hotter than bus station chili, hotter’n a burnt boot, hot as Methodist Hell, hotter than the hinges hangin’ off the gates of Hell, oy it’s a schvittz out there!


Some of you have been writing me to say:”What gives Lunch Laddy? Who takes the summer off anymore? People gotta eat!” You have spoken and I am listening, good people. Not only do people gotta eat, but people gotta drink too. There may be some of that here in The Lunch Lady Cookbook Summer edition. Just you wait and see.

Summer Grill

Summer is the right time for the night time to fire up the grill! The coals should be just past the point of incinerating anything that comes near them. I always find it best to start with a humongous pyre on a spit of land that is surrounded on three sides by water. That way if things get out of control it greatly increases your odds of outrunning the conflagration, should things get out of hand and if that doesn’t work, you can dive into the water in any one of three directions. On Seneca Lake there are any number of wineries or microbreweries that you can swim to while you recover from the trauma.

Dusk on Fir Tree Point
Firing Up the Coals I
Firing Up the Coals II

So getting down to brass tacks. The Event of the Season was The Lunch Laddy’s “Lunch Lady Cookout for the Summer Babies” (which of course was a thinly veiled excuse to invite all my friends over to give me presents!) My oldest childhood friend, Mike (by that, I mean he’s 1 day older than me) flew out from Wisconsin so we could celebrate our birthdays together. Needless to say, our reunion set a new standard for civilized discourse and sophisticated entertaining for generations to come. It was ascots and cocktails at Noel Coward’s all the way..

English Butler
Basic Supplies
Fancy Hors D’oevres
Basic Munchies

The menu was replete with summer classics ~ all kinds of skewered stuff, flaming grills, blues, cold beer, watermelon, sweet corn, chicken spiedies, venison spiedies, shrimp on the barbie, summer salads a-go-go, carrot cake, banana bread, blueberry bread  and about 52 bottles of wine that my friend Jeff brought (what kind of man does he think I am anyway???) I served elegant hors-d’oeuvres on pirate themed dinnerware and we played ukeleles ‘till dawn. Thankfully no animals were injured in the making of that party. I even successfully navigated that most prosaic of summer dishes, but one who’s essence has eluded me ~the time honored, but very underestimated: “Potato Salad”

Lunch Lady Summer Slam Potato Salad

2 pounds eensie weensie itty bitty fresh red potatoes (no ~ don’t even THINK of skinning them!)

1 cup Spanish onion (finely chopped)

1/2 cup fresh celery (finely chopped)

3 scallions sliced diced signed sealed and delivered

Cilantro, basil and chives from the Lunch Lady’s Herb Garden

Pink Hawaiian Sea Salt, pepper, garlic powder

Mayonnaise (4 tablespoons ~ maybe more)

1 Tablespoon of hot, horseradish mustard

Steam potatoes until done ( not too done ~still a touch on the firm side ~ if potatoes could be ‘al dente” that would be it) Chill in fridge until cool. (or even cold)

Slice and dice ~ along with everything else on this list. (Watch your fingers)

Add together with mayonnaise in a large mixing bowl.

Add spices liberally. (Season to taste)


Serve on pirate themed dinnerware.

Pirate Themed Dinnerware
Pirate Themed Napkins

Beverage pairings:

9 bottles of wine ~ mostly Spanish Reserve Riojas

Ice cold beer

Grey Goose Vodka and Pomegranate Juice (it’s brimming with antioxidants)

What Kind of Man Do These People Think I Am?

Music pairing:

The Lunch Lady Summer Baby Birthday Mix

  1. Birthday     The Beatles
  2. The Stumble      Freddy King
  3. Treat Her Right Roy Head & The Traits
  4. Boogaloo Down Broadway     The Fantastic Johnny C
  5. Haunted House  Roy Buchanan
  6. Mr. Pitiful Otis Redding
  7. Barefootin’     Robert Parker
  8. Tramp     Otis Redding
  9. Knock On Wood  Sam and Dave
  10. Land Of 1000 Dances Wilson Pickett
  11. Cool Jerk The Capitols
  12. Nashville Cats The Lovin’ Spoonful
  13. Respect Aretha Franklin
  14. Soul Man Sam & Dave
  15. Walking the Dog Rufus Thomas
  16. Peter Gunn     Duane Eddy
  17. Rumble Link Wray
  18. Darlin’ Companion The Lovin’ Spoonful
  19. California Sun    The Rivieras
  20. Bad Boy The Beatles
  21. Lovin’ You    The Lovin’ Spoonful
  22. Polk Salad Annie    Tony Joe White
  23. Henry Thomas The Lovin’ Spoonful
  24. Six Days On the Road Dave Dudley
  25. (You’re The) Devil In Disguise Elvis Presley

Repeat as necessary then follow up with playing ukeleles ‘till dawn. It helps if you can pay your neighbors to leave town for the weekend. I think that’s one of the reasons I still have a squeaky clean criminal record. If you ever sleep over at my house there will always be a fresh kazoo next to your bed, in case of emergency.

That’s it for Vol.I ! Stay cool and keep it on the DL…..

Be back soon with:

The Lunch Lady Cookbook

Summer Edition Sizzlin’ Summer Slam Extravaganza ~ Volume II

(Spoiler alert ~ It involves 2 pounds of BACON!)

Happy Dance

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