Your Own Back Yard – Michael Gillan Maxwell

Visual Art – Creative Writing – Social Commentary



The Lunch Lady Cookbook ~ A Midsummer’s Night Dream ~ Wild Texas Gulf Coast Shrimp

The Lunch Lady Cookbook

A Midsummer’s Night Dream  ~ Wild Texas Gulf Coast Shrimp

Lunch Laddy at the Dirt Track Races
The Lunch Laddy at the Grill

Hey there boys and girls! This is The Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell comin’ at ya with a summer edition of The Lunch Lady Cookbook! It’s the season for running around naked in the back yard, chasing fireflies, dodging lightning bolts during thunderstorms and jumpin’ in the old swimmin’ hole (or the neighbor’s pool when they’re out of town!) And nothing says “summer” more than grillin’ & chillin’ and munchin’ on savory summer salads.

Today, the Lunch Laddy checks in with a sumptuous feast for a midsummer’s eve consisting of Wild Texas Gulf Coast Shrimp, Avocado Salad With Fresh Garden Herbs, Coleslaw and the appropriate libations and musical accompaniment.

That’s enough pussy footin’ around. Without further adieu, The Lunch Lady Cookbook is proud to present A Midsummer’s Night Dream ~ Wild Texas Gulf Coast Shrimp.

As you know, The Lunch Laddy cut his teeth hangin’ with the home girl Lunch Ladies in their respective middle school cafeterias. Although Shrimp on the Barbie ~ Hey! Get your minds out of the gutter! We’re not talking about Ken’s relationship with Barbie here! That’s what they call it Down Under. No. That’s not what I mean either. We’re talkin’ about Australia here. OK. Go ahead and snicker all you want wise guy. I know where you live!

Ken & Barbie

Shrimp on the Barbie? Not!

Now, as I was saying, although Shrimp on the Barbie is not exactly a middle school cafeteria staple, The Lunch Laddy thinks it oughta be! It’s mindlessly simple and it’s good and good for ya!


Jumbo Wild Texas Gulf Coast Shrimp

Lunch Laddy Sweet Honey Sauce

Raw Honey (Tablespoon)

Olive Oil (Tablespoon Extra Virgin, if you please)

Sweet Mustard (Tablespoon)

Garlic Powder

Sea Salt

Ground Red Pepper

How We Do It:

While the Barbie is heating up  ~ again, people, minds out the gutter?

Clean and de-vein shrimp (if you just hauled it out of the Gulf, you’ll need to do this) then peel shrimp and remove tail

(might as well get this all out of the way before grilling!)

Skewer, if you’re in the mood for poking stuff with a sharp stick

Combine honey, olive oil, mustard and spices and mix briskly

Brush coating of Lunch Laddy Sweet Honey Sauce on shrimp

Place on grill

Hey! Snap out of it! Either glowing coals or turn that puppy waaay down ~ You’re not working in a foundry here ~ this requires restraint and the delicate touch of a sensitive backyard grill chef. And this is no time to get caught up in swilling brewskies! Keep an eye on these guys, turning frequently and brushing with Lunch Laddy Sweet Honey Sauce. (While you’re at it, brush some on yourself too ~ Barbie will thank you for it later!) Shrimp is done when it turns pink and sauce starts to get a little crispy. A few minutes ~ tops!


Wild Texas Gulf Coast Shrimp

Lunch Laddy Avocado Salad With Fresh Garden Herbs




Sweet Vidalia Onion

Spanish Olives w/Pimento

Fresh Lime



Olive Oil

Feta Cheese

How We Do It:

Dice avocado, tomato, and onion

Combine with juice from lime, olives, fresh basil & chives

Toss with olive oil and feta cheese

Serve chilled

Avocado Salad

Avocado Salad With Fresh Cut Garden Herbs



Shredded cabbage

Shredded carrots


Olive oil


and a whole bunch of other stuff

How We Do It:

Combine bag of shredded cabbage and carrots with coleslaw sauce.

(Available in the fresh produce section of your local grocery store)

Did I mention ~ “mindlessly simple”?

Serve chilled.

Cole Slaw

Cole Slaw ~ The Cowboy Way


Corona beer ~ Ice cold with a twist of lime

The Lunch Laddy’s not usually a fruity beer guy, but this is to die for. Unless you get the lime wedged in your esophagus, then it’s to die from.


Corona With Lime ~ No ~ You can’t Just Drink One

Musical Accompaniment:

Robert Earle Keane, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, James McMurtry & Jerry Jeff Walker for that Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother Wild Texas Gulf Coast vibe.

That about does it for this summer edition of The Lunch Lady Cookbook.

This is your Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell signing off and reminding you all to

hang in the shade, drink plenty of cerveza & most importantly

Be Cool ~ DON”T Stay in School!

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!

Lunch Lady Smoothies


Hi boys and girls! This is Michael Gillan Maxwell, The Lunch Laddy, comin’ at ya with a new installment of The Lunch Lady Cookbook. Today we’re gonna do some gustatory galavanting with the ultimate “meal on the go” ~ “smoothies”. These recipes are good and good for you!

Stop all the moaning and groaning! I know what you’re about to say. People write me all the time to say: “ Lunch Laddy ~ W.T.F. dude? What kind of Lunch Lady Cookbook is this anyway? You promised us classic Lunch Lady comfort foods and you keep comin’ at us with whack stuff like vegan dishes, quiche and God knows what all? Where’s the good stuff like Lunch Lady Meatloaf and Lunch Lady Sloppy Joes? And by the way ~ no  Lunch Lady Mac and Cheese? C’mon! What gives?” To which I reply: “Patience Grasshopper. All in good time. I promise. In fact, the recipe after this will be so heart-stoppingly unhealthy, you’ll need the crash cart and paddles to revive you!”

The first smoothie on today’s list is: (Tada!)

Incredible Hulk

  “All-Time Incredible Hulk Monster Behemoth Breakfast Smoothie” 

 For this you will need the following:

  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Mango
  • 1 Handful Blueberries
  • 2 Whopping Tablespoons Low Fat Greek Yogurt (I prefer vanilla)
  • 1 Cup Chai Tea

( I use Bolthouse Farms Vanilla Chai Tea with 59 grams of soy protein per 52 oz. bottle. That’s “Soy Protein”, nimrod, not “Soylent Green” ~ there’s a big difference. It also has 18 amino acids and builds strong bodies in 12 ways like Wonder Bread ~ and no, it’s not  the kind of acid you took at that outdoor music festival last year.)

  •  1 Tablespoon Garden Greens Protein Shake

( This has soy, spirulina and pea proteins ~ that’s “pea” ~ not “pee!” Jeez ~ will you please get with the program?)


Toss that stuff in a blender and whip it into a frothing slosh. (Not to be confused with Old Frothingslosh a prosaic working man’s beer from Pittsburgh)

Old Frothingslosh

Drink heartily. You should be channeling Yule Gibbons within 10 minutes, but take his transmissions with a grain of salt because I think he met his untimely demise from eating pine cones, one of the very things he extolled the virtues of.

Follow with a brisk 40 minutes of nude Tai Chi and a sponge bath on your balcony. The neighbors love that kind of stuff.

Musical Pairing:

Hamza El Din “A Wish”  

Hamza El Din is a legendary Nubian composer and in my humble opinion, the greatest oud player in the world,

Hamza El Din

Now hang on to your hats kids because here comes the next one. I call this the Lunch Lady

“Lunch When You Ain’t Got Time to Munch Smoothie”

You’ll need to hit the produce department at your local grocery store pretty hard for this one. You’ll need:

  •  1 Raw Beet
  • 1 Handful Spinach
  • 2 Stalks Celery
  • 1 Handful Baby Carrots
  • 1/2 Cup Carrot Juice

Again, throw that stuff in the blender and put the pedal to the metal. If you don’t have a blender, you can use a weed whacker or a boat propeller, but it’s not recommended. Whaddya mean you don’t like beets? Quit whining, ya big baby. If it helps, pour a couple of shots of vodka in there and call it a Bloody Mary. Anyway, beets are good for you. Just ask Dwight Shrute. You’ll be channeling Jack Lalane after this one. He lived to be 100 and had like a 26 inch waist. Although, if you hit the vodka too hard you’re more likely to be channeling Jack Palance. In either case, you should be levitating shortly.

Beets Are Good For You

Musical Pairing:

Tinariwen “Amassakoul”  

Tinariwen is a band of Tuareg-Berber musicians from the Sahara Desert region of northern Mali. The band was formed around 1979 in refugee camps in Libya but returned to Mali after a cease-fire in the 1990s. Their music totally kicks ass.


The Lunch Laddy is going to throw a bone to all you naysayers out there with one final recipe. The Lunch Laddie is a transplanted Wisconsin boy, die hard ex-pat and life-long cheesehead! This power packed concoction is called:

“The Bucky Badger Cheesehead Smoothie”

Bucky Badger

For this you’ll need:

  • 1 20 oz micro brewed IPA or Stout
  • 1 Bratwurst
  • 1 healthy chunk of Sharp Cheddar

Toss all that in the old Bass-o-Matic and whip it up!

Musical Pairing:

“Live From Camp Randall Stadium: The University of Wisconsin Marching Band Tuba Section Plays the Greatest College Fight Songs of All Time!” 

Marching Band

Bottoms up and until next time ~ Keep on chooglin’!

Introducing The Lunch Lady Cookbook Rock Stream Red Beans and Rice


Lunch Lady Cookbook Introduction and Recipe I

Michael Maxwell here to introduce the newest category on Your Own Backyard. I am proud to present to you the first recipe in The Lunch Lady Cookbook. I am your host, The Lunch Laddy. 

Those of you who know me have heard me say that all good recipes should be built upon a solid foundation of bacon. While although I may have said that, I am no longer married to that rule, since all rules are made to be broken. However, suffice it to say, you may build any recipe you choose upon a solid foundation of bacon, but cheese or beer could be substituted just as easily. I feel it is incumbent on me to issue an advisory that not all of these recipes are for the faint of heart. In fact, many of them may need to be modified relative to your personal tastes or medical conditions, such as having only one artery left to clog. So please, adapt accordingly, drive safely and don’t go swimming for at least an hour after eating. (I think that is one of those old adages in the same category as catching pneumonia from getting your feet wet)

Also, although I am as carnivorous as Tyrannosaurus Rex, many of the recipes are vegetarian – as is the case with my first one – and if you choose not to top with cheese it is  (GASP!) Vegan! and so, without further adieu, I give you ~

Lunch Lady Rock Stream Red Beans and Rice


1 Cup Brown Rice

2 Cups Water

1 16 oz Can Red Kidney Beans (no salt added)

2 Cups Chopped Red, Yellow and Orange peppers

1 Cup Finely Copped Red Spanish Onion

3 Green Onions

2-3 Cloves Garlic

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Freshly Ground Garlic Powder

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Freshly Ground Sea Salt

Red Pepper Flakes

Half Cup Shredded Cheddar

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Sour Cream

Combine rice and water, bring to boil, and simmer until done.

Lightly saute chopped veggies in olive oil. Add garlic last so it does not overcook.

Drain red beans. Combine rice, veggies and beans in 2 Qt Casserole.

Add seasonings to taste. Don’t go hog wild, but it’s gotta have some hair and teeth.

Cover with shredded cheddar. Bake at 350 in Covered Casserole for 45 minutes.

Serve with tortillas and top with healthy dollop of sour cream and salsa.

Suggested beer pairing ~ Great Lakes Brewery Edmund Fitzgerald Porter

(Because that’s what’s currently in my fridge)

Suggested Musical accompaniment ~ Live Musicians if you can afford them

otherwise  ~ Acoustic En Vivo  ~ Los Lobos ~ while cooking

Los Lobos ~ Acoustic En Vivo

~ Buena Vista Social Club ~ while eating

Buena Vista Social Club

Eat hearty Maties!

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