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Your Own Back Yard – Michael Gillan Maxwell

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Comfort Food

THE LUNCH LADY COOKBOOK’S INCREDIBLE, EDIBLE EGG SALAD SANDWICH

THE LUNCH LADY COOKBOOK ~ SUMMER EDITION

Bowl of Eggs
Bowl of Eggs

THE LUNCH LADY INCREDIBLE, EDIBLE EGG SALAD SANDWICH

Hey there boys and girls! This is The Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell, comin’ at ya with another chapter of the Lunch Lady Cookbook. Hard to believe that school’s out for summer already. Kids are jumping off of piers pinching their noses shut, falling out of trees and breaking their wrists, running through sprinklers, skinny dippin’ in the swimming hole, pulling ginormus catfish out of the fishin’ hole, weaving lanyards at summer camp and riding their bikes down shady sidewalks with baseball cards clothes-pinned to their bicycle spokes. I know how summer works.  But people still gotta eat and the Lunch Lady Cookbook does not take summer vacations. So get with the program peeples!

summer-funny-bomb-5362679

Today we tackle one of the most time honored of comfort foods ~ the venerable ~ the one and only ~ Egg Salad Sandwich. How could I be so prosaic, you ask. Well let me tell you this straight up. The Lunch Lady Cookbook don’t know from prosaic. It’s all good. And so, without further adieu, I present:

THE LUNCH LADY INCREDIBLE, EDIBLE EGG SALAD SANDWICH

Ingredients:

Egg Salad:

  1.  2 Hard Boiled Eggs (Cage Free, organic, jumbo brownies)
  2. Half cup of finely minced sweet Vidalia onion
  3. 4 Bread and Butter Pickle Chips ~ chopped and diced
  4. Salt
  5. Red Pepper Flakes
  6. Garlic Powder
  7. Dried Basil Leaves
  8. Tablespoon Mayonnaise

Slice, dice, mix and stir. Bend, spindle and mutilate.

Top with basil flakes and red pepper flakes and serve

Egg Salad In Mixing Bowl

Sandwich:

  1. 2 pieces sourdough bread, lightly toasted and buttered
  2. Cut into 4 pieces, evenly distribute egg salad
  3. Top with thinly sliced tomato

and there you have it.

By the way, if any of you namby, pamby Momma’s boys need the crusts cut off, then this ain’t  the place for you.

Egg Salad Sandwich

Since this involves eggs and mayonnaise, The Lunch Laddy suggests two prophylactic doses of Lipitor before consuming.

Lipitor

Beverage Pairing:

Ice cold Canandaigua Lake Ale.

(I know, it’s only noon, but the sun is over the yardarm somewhere, dammit!)

Canandaigua Lake Ale

Music Pairing:

Of course ~ the Alice Cooper classic ~ “School’s Out For Summer”

(It’s summer bitches!  And for me ~ school’s out forever.)

Hey, as much as we all love Alice ~

no biting off the heads of live chickens or snakes in the Lunch Lady Cafeteria!

Alice Cooper and snake

 I mean it!

Alice_Cooper__Chicken_on_stage_by_Bane_Shadows

Bon appetit’ !

Lunch Lady Husky Tuscan Rustic Pizza

~The Lunch Lady Cookbook Presents ~

Lunch Lady Husky Tuscan Rustic Pizza

Cooking

Hey there fellow gustatory travelers, gastronomic wanderers, and seekers on the epicurean path! This is the Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell coming to you across space and time with a spontaneous and unplanned outburst that has morphed into a new installment of The Lunch Lady Cookbook. Today we venture down the path of one of the most sacred and venerable of all comfort foods ~ the time honored classic with humble beginnings ~ PIZZA.  Ah yes pizza ~ and I’m here to tell you, that unlike some of the other recipes in The Lunch Lady Cookbook, this IS a staple served in Middle School cafeterias by Lunch Ladies the world over.

Lunch Lady Action Figure

Some of the most delicious pizza ever is an elemental combination of the most basic staples ~ dough topped with simple everyday foods such as tomato sauce, vegetables, cheese, and meat. The ‘traditional” pizza is about as simple as it gets ~ flattened dough topped with olive oil, fresh sliced plum tomatoes, chopped garlic, fresh shredded basil and baked in a wood fired brick oven. However, this simple dish can also be rendered as a gourmet delight with endless variations. Certainly entire books have been written on the subject. However this is not the realm of Lunch Lady Husky Tuscan Rustic Pizza.

Go ahead ~ sing it with me peeples ~ in fact ~ try saying it 10 times real fast and see what kind of trouble you get into ~ Husky Tuscan Rustic Pizza. It’s a tongue twister and a mouthful to say, and it’s also a mouthful to eat. You can make everything from scratch. It’s really not that difficult. Dedicated true believers will settle for nothing less. In fact I have a friend who went so far as to construct a wood fired brick oven for bread and pizza in his own backyard. However, even though the Lunch Laddy has a reputation for going to extremes, he took the path of least resistance on this one and this particular recipe uses commercially prepared fixin’s and leftovers from the Lunch Laddy larder. In fact it could  just as easily have  become  Lunch Lady Slum Gullion Stew, but I’m glad it didn’t. By the way, “why Husky Tuscan,” you may ask? “Is the Tuscan husky or is the Tuscan rustic or why Tuscan at all Lunch Laddy? Just friggin’ tell me!” I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I am in love with the very IDEA of Tuscany, although I’ve never actually been to Tuscany. I’ve been to Tucson, which is no where near Tuscany, but it’s almost spelled like Tuscan. “Tucson ~ like Tuscany, only different.”

Gnaw Bone City Limits

Sorry. I tried to find a sign that said “Tucson City Limits”, but this is the best that I could do. But I digress, so ~ getting to the point, I present:

Lunch Lady Husky Tuscan Rustic Pizza

This is the stuff I used:

(While this version is admittedly a carnivore’s delight, it’s easily adaptable to vegetarian or vegan cuisine. There’s undoubtedly gluten-free dough as well. If you’re lactose intolerant, well, I’m not even gonna go there. Just don’t use this recipe.)

1 Package pizza dough (already mixed from my local supermarket)

1 Jar Joey’s Famous Italian Pasta Sauce ~ Fra Diavalo (Hot&Spicy) Made in Syracuse

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Spices ~ basil, garlic powder, black pepper, red pepper flakes

Ground beef (Left over taco meat, but it worked)

1 Spinach and feta chicken sausage

Roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, chopped sweet onion (also from taco night)

8 0z package Italian Cheeses ~ mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, asiago, fontina & romano

  1. Lightly flour some surface ~ I used a butcher block, but a counter top will suffice.
  2. Bend, spindle, mutilate, roll, push, prod, poke, pinch, coax & coddle dough into whatever the hell shape it wants to take. (This is the “rustic” part) I somehow ended up with a shape that looked like the state of Minnesota. I kind of felt like Richard Dreyfuss with his mashed potato mountain in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. “This means something!” 
  3. Coat lightly with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. (Extra virgin olive oil in a 450 degree oven is about as close as you can get to sacrificing a virgin in a volcano without actually doing it.)
  4. Season the state of Minnesota (dough) accordingly with spices.
  5. Spread sauce evenly over crust. Don’t go right up to the edge because it gets legs, runs all over the place and makes a helluva mess. Nobody needs that.
  6. Top with the aforementioned meats and vegetables sliced and diced to your own discerning specifications.
  7. Spread 6 Italian cheeses.
  8. Pop in oven pre heated to 450 degrees. (Unless you’re at my friend’s house, in which case you open the door to a roaring fire, singe your eyebrows and set your hair on fire, & use a 6 foot paddle to place pizza on hot bricks dusted with cornmeal.)
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes (much less if you’re using my friend’s wood fired oven)
  10. Let rest and cool for at least 5 minutes. (unless, of course, the roof of your mouth is made of asbestos and impervious to the boiling hot cheese sticking to it)
Implements of Destruction

MUSICAL PAIRING:  “SHOWDOWN!”

Showdown!

One of my favorite blues albums of all times ~ Showdown ~ Albert Collins, Robert Cray & Johnny Copeland  An absolute classic. Albert Collins’s telecaster is an icepick in the temple (in a good way) Robert Cray’s voice and strat ~ smooth as silk and Johnny Copeland is a funky, soulful, visceral presence throughout. Their cover of T-Bone Shuffle will blow you away and you’ll never be able to fall in love with another cover of that song again.

BEVERAGE PAIRING: Il Sogno Sangiovese

Totally Tuscan

OK ~ so this is where things finally get totally Tuscan and you know we’re not in Tucson anymore Toto!  One sip (or, in my case, one massive gulp) will have you saying: “Hmmm ~ Tastes like more!”  That’s AMORE!

Husky Tuscan Rustic Pizza

Lunch Lady Cookbook ~ Lunch Lady Tuna Casserole

Lunch Lady Tuna Casserole

Cooking

Hey there boys and girls. This is the Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell, bringing you another recipe from The Lunch Lady Cookbook. Today we have a dish that ranks right up there with the All-Time-All-Stars of Comfort Food – a time honored go-to – the venerable Tuna Casserole. I’ve been in many a school cafeteria where the Lunch Ladies were slingin’ Tuna Casserole and this actually is the first legitimate Lunch Lady staple to grace the pages of the Lunch Lady Cookbook. 

Lunch Lady Action Figure

This does come with a caveat  ~ a little tuna casserole goes a long way. Too much of a good thing could even lead to the disintegration of a relationship as depicted in article in the New York Times (April 7, 2012) that examined various reasons for divorce in England, which unlike every state in America does not have a no-fault divorce law. In one case “a man declared that his wife had maliciously and repeatedly served him his least favorite dish, tuna casserole.” A conservative approach relative to the frequency with which tuna casserole graces your dinner table will go a long way towards maintaining a peaceable kingdom. 

Kitchen

No question about it, tuna casserole is a prosaic working man’s special, to be sure. But this is no reason to throw in the towel and go totally lumpen proletariat. All it really takes to class up this dish a little is a little imagination with your spices and garnishes and your beverage and music pairings.  This Lunch Lady workhorse of a dish could be juiced up and spiced up in any number of ways, and this particular spin on Lunch Lady Tuna Casserole does incorporate one or two ingredients that might not be used in a typical Middle School cafeteria. So without further adieu, I present to you

~ LUNCH LADY TUNA CASSEROLE ~

Ingredients:

1 12 oz can of White Albacore Tuna in Water

1 Can Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup

1 5.5 oz. Can V-8 Juice ~ (Psst! Secret ingredient. Good and good for you)

1 Package Frozen Sweet Peas

1 Small Spanish Onion ~ sliced & diced

1 Small Tomato ~ sliced & diced

1 Celery stalk ~ sliced and diced

1/2 Cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

12 oz. Wide Egg Noodles Bistro Style

Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs

Worcester Sauce

Salt

Pepper

Garlic Powder

Red Pepper Flakes

Basil

Preparation:

Slice and dice fresh veggies.

Assemble your arsenal of spices, sauces and garnishes.

Boil the noodles ~ don’t over do this ~ better to prepare them “al dente” ~ they will cook more with the casserole.

Drain tuna. Feed tuna juice to your dogs and cats. They will love you with a white, hot passion for this.

Combine all ingredients in a 2 Qt. casserole dish, adding spices and a bit of the cheddar cheese intermittently as you gently stir together. Hold half of the tomato in reserve for topping.

Top with bread crumbs & rest of the cheese & tomato.

Bake covered on center rack of oven at 350 for 1 hour. Uncover for last 15 minutes if you like the topping a little crusty. 

Lunch Lady Tuna Casserole

Music Pairing

I dialed in a potpourri of songs from artists including Guy Clark, Old Crow Medicine Show, Steve Earle, Gillian Welch, Jerry Garcia & David Grisman, John Prine, June Carter Cash & others. Songs about working blokes, hopeless romantics, broken hearts, mercenaries,  moonshiners, orphans, vagabonds, drifters & dreamers, hard luck cases & whimsical goofballs. There’s even a gender bending sea chanty in there. These songs all have a familiar feeling. Even if you don’t know them, they somehow sound like songs you grew up listening to, songs that were the background of your lives. This became the foundation for a collection of tunes I burned to a CD and called 3 Chords & A Cloud Of Dust Collection Volume I. But I digress ……

3 Chords & A Cloud Of Dust Collection Volume I

Wagon Wheel Old Crow Medicine Show

Mystery Train Part II   Steve Earle

Dublin Blues               Guy Clark

Galway Girl               Steve Earle

Those Memories of You   Parton, Harris & Ronstadt

Souvenirs               John Prine

Shady Grove               Garcia, Grisman

Ring of Fire               June Carter Cash

Poor Man                         Old Crow Medicine Show

Orphan Girl               Gillian Welch

Paradise                          John Prine

L. A. Freeway                  Guy Clark

Mohammed’s Radio Warren Zevon

Old Shoes Tom Waits

That’s the Way the World Goes… John Prine

Handsome Cabin Boy Jerry Garcia, David Grisman

When I Paint My Masterpiece Bob Dylan

Fish and Whistle John Prine

Mercenary Song Steve Earle

I Was In The House … Warren Zevon

Tear My Still House Down Gillian Welch

Steel Guitar

BEVERAGE PAIRING

ITHACA NUT BROWN ALE ~ OF COURSE!!!!!

 

Ithaca Nut Brown Ale


Until next time ……

Bon appétit !

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