Your Own Back Yard – Michael Gillan Maxwell

Visual Art – Creative Writing – Social Commentary



Lunch Lady Cookbook Trout Amandine

The Lunch Lady Cookbook – Trout Amandine

Jolly Roger profile pic


Hey there boys and girls! This is The Lunch Laddy comin’ at ya, straight outta cyberspace and in your face with another sumptuous recipe from The Lunch Lady Cookbook. Today’s recipe draws from a time honored culinary tradition that can be traced back to New Orleans and France. It’s trout season in New York State and the Lunch Laddy had the good fortune to be blessed with a monster filet of Lake Trout from Lake Ontario. It seemed only fitting that this wonderful fish be respected with special treatment. The Lunch Lady Cookbook is honored and proud to present to you Lunch Lady Cookbook Trout Amandine.

I actually received a bit of an education as I pondered this gustatory mystery. I found that I was one of the legions of kitchen hacks who misspelled the name of the recipe as “Trout Almondine” when it is actually spelled “Trout Amandine.” While I am no longer flexible enough to insert my foot in my mouth, I seem to be getting better and better when it comes to acknowledging my mistakes. So Mea Culpa. Trout Amandine it is then. Even though The Lunch Laddy is an old dog, he can still learn new tricks.

This recipe is pretty basic and there’s probably not much that is new and different from other Trout Amandine recipes, but it is new to me and thus, a new addition to The Lunch Lady Cookbook. The most important ingredients are fresh trout and almonds. This is NOT a recipe that would work by substituting fish sticks and beer nuts.

Lunch Lady Cookbook Trout Amandine

Here we go. Marinate filet of lake trout in fresh lime juice, salt and pepper for an hour or so. (Can be longer in the fridge) Lightly sauté chopped garlic and scallions in 2 tbs. butter. Dredge trout filet in flour and add to skillet. Brown both sides and lower heat to medium or lower. Cook each side for approximately 5 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer fish to plate and keep warm. Melt 2 more tbs. butter in skillet and sizzle away until it starts to turn brown. Add slivered almonds with cracked pepper and cook on low heat until crispy and brown. Pour over fish. Garnish with fresh herbs. The Lunch Laddy used curly parsley, chives and sweet basil from the Lunch Lady Herb Garden. Drizzle fresh lime juice and serve on fresh slices of lime with rice and vegetables.

photo 2
Trout Amandine (1)

Beverage pairing: Bollicini 2014 from Damiani Wine Cellars in the Finger Lakes.

Prosecco style, bottle fermented, sparkling wine with hints of citrus and pear. Weighing in at 1.85% residual sugar, Bollicini is clean, fresh, fruity, DELICIOUS! Serve really cold. To truly realize the medicinal qualities of this wine it is important that you drink all of it.

Music pairing: Drive By Truckers, Ryan Bingham and Old Crow Medicine Show on shuffle.

Until next time, Bon Apetit from The Lunch Lady Cookbook!



Lunch Lady Cookbook Moroccan Chicken

Lunch Laddy at the Dirt Track Races
Lunch Laddy at the Dirt Track Races

Lunch Lady Cookbook Moroccan Chicken

 Hey Boys and Girls! This is the Lunch Laddy comin’ at ya with a brand, spankin’ new edition of the Lunch Lady Cookbook. Where has summer gone? It feels like I blinked and BAM! It’s Back To School! I guess Wienies and S’Mores around the campfire are already a memory!

Time to sharpen your pencils, put on your best Back To School duds and get to it. At least there’s one thing you can count on. You won’t go hungry with Lunch Laddy in your corner!

What self respecting Lunch Lady wouldn’t open the new school year with her ace-in-the- hole-most-kick-ass-SIGNATURE DISH? I’m talkin’ exotic Boys and Girls! I’m talkin’ romantic! I know what you’re thinkin’. Lunch lady? Exotic? Romantic? Eeeewwww!”

I know, I know. TMI  Boys and Girls, but I’m talkin’ chicken. I’m talkin’ Moroccan Chicken. I can’t imagine a Middle School cafeteria where the kids wouldn’t be clamoring for Moroccan Chicken on Openiing Day. Can you? Yeah. I thought so. Especially if you’re in Morocco.

And so, without further adieu, I present to you Lunch Lady Cookbook Moroccan Chicken. Shall we?



Fresh Veggies


  1. 4 Chicken Thighs (with bone and skin)
  2. 4 Chicken Drumsticks
  3. 1 Cup Brown Rice
  4. 1 Red Pepper
  5. 2 Broccoli Crowns
  6. 1 Spanish Onion
  7. Garlic
  8. Olive Oil
  9. 12 Dried Apricots
  10. Apricot Preserves
  11. Honey
  12. Seasonings (Freshly Ground) Coarse(of course) Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes, Garlic Powder. Turmeric, Cinnamon, Basil, Smoked Paprika, Celery Flakes ~ mix together in bowl, cover plate with mixture

Spiced Chicken

Spiced Chicken




  1. Heat oil in large frying pan
  2. Dip chicken in seasoning mixture
  3. Heat in oiled pan, turning frequently to brown skin on both sides, cover, continue cooking on low heat and turning frequently. Pour off fat at least once. You want to brown the skin, not clog every artery in your body. Cover chicken with layer of honey. Continue cooking.
  4. Cook rice in separate pan.
  5. While all this is happening, chop garlic and vegetables, heat oil in a large wok, add vegetables and sauté lightly, cover wok and let it steam away for a couple minutes. Remove from heat while veggies are still a little crisp.
  6. As rice nears completion, remove from heat and pour into wok with vegetables. Gently turn with rubber spatula to mix everything together. It’s beginning to look like Christmas because the dish is a wonderful mixture of red, green and white.
  7. Remove chicken and heat up remaining juice in pan to reduce to a glaze. At this point it’s been at least 30 minutes, so chicken should be done.
  8. Arrange chicken over top of mixture. Cover chicken with apricot preserves and drizzle glaze from pan over mixture.
  9. Cover and continue cooking over very low heat for about 10 minutes while dancing around the kitchen singing “You’re never gonna do it without the Fez on” While you’re at it look up the meaning of that phrase! I gotta tell ya boys and girls, the Lunch Laddy was plenty surprised! Who knew? If you’re too lazy to do your own research, let’s just say that “fez” is a euphemism for something you’re probably gonna have to steal from your old man’s sock drawer, cuz they don’t got it in the school health office. 😉
  10. Hit that dinner bell and call in the hungry masses for lunch.

Veggies in Wok

Veggies in Wok

Chicken In Pan

Glazed Chicken


 Nothing washes a mouthful of Moroccan Chicken down the old gullet like an ice cold bottle of Shiner Bock Beer from Texas. ( Also, I had exactly one bottle of beer in the fridge, and that was it.)

Shiner Bock

Texas’s Finest



 The Fez by Steely Dan

As Time Goes By Theme from Casablanca

(Play it Sam!)

So there ya have it Boys and Girls! Until next time, this is the Lunch Laddy signing off.

Come with me to the Casbah!

cartoon fez




The Lunch Lady Cookbook Pull No Punches Lasagna

Lunch Lady Cookbook Pull No Punches Lasagna


Hey there boys and girls! This is The Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell comin’ at ya with a new installment of The Lunch Lady Cookbook. Today we tackle the hearty, time honored fave, lasagna, with a Lunch Lady twist.

There’s nothing like this lasagna that gives school kids the kind of energy they need to tear through the afternoon and make life living Hell for the teachers. It’s brimming with oodles of complex carbohydrates and protein. One of Lunch Laddy’s friends is eating it right now to get ready for the New York City Marathon.

The switchboard is already lighting up with callers asking the question: Why is it named ‘Pull No Punches Lasagna’?  It’s because this dish pulls no punches. This dish gots it all baby; Italian hot sausage, hot peppers, hot spices and a comprehensive tour of the “Cheeses of Italia.” While this dish is not for the faint of heart or the lactose intolerant, if you recently passed your EKG and stress test before indulging in our Achin’ For Bacon Mac & Cheese, you should be good to go. If you’re training for the lead role in the life story of the boxer Two Ton Tony Golento or the remake of Martin Scorcese’s Raging Bull, then this is the dish for you!

This makes one hellava mess in la cucina, and the Lunch Laddy’s kitchen looked like the aftermath of a drone strike, so it’s best to block off a couple hours just for the cleanup.

Pots and pans


More mess

and More Mess

But don’t let that scare you off, because it’s worth it. So let’s get started right away. The Lunch Lady Cookbook is proud to present Lunch Lady Cookbook Pull No Punches Lasagna.

What you need:

  •  Lasagna noodles (1 package)
  • 4 Italian hot sausages
  • Red pepper
  • Sweet onion
  • Portabella mushrooms
  • Tomato sauce
  • Pasta sauce
  • Ricotta cheese (8 oz)
  • Mozzarella and provolone cheese (2 Cups)
  • Four Cheese Shred asiago, Fontina, Parmesan, Provolone (5 oz package)
  • Garlic Powder
  • Sweet basil flakes
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Smoked paprika

How we do it peeples!

  •  Slice, dice, bend, spindle and mutilate hot sausage, sweet onion, red pepper and mushrooms
  • Brown hot sausage over low heat, then add onions, red pepper and mushrooms, stirring frequently
  • Boil pasta for approximately 10 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. It should be el dente
  • Cover the bottom of baking dish with tomato sauce
  • Add layer of lasagna pasta
  • Spread layer of ricotta cheese
  • Add layer of other cheeses
  • Cover with pasta sauce
  • Repeat
  • Top with final layer of pasta, cheeses and sauce
  • Garnish with spices
  • Cover and bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes
  • Turn off oven and let stand, covered, in warm oven for at least 60 minutes

LasagnaNow THAT’S Yummy for the Tummy Y’all!


Why not top it off with a bowl of your favorite leftovers from Halloween? There’s nothing quite like a handful of miniature candy bars to keep you buzzing for hours.


 Wanna Stay Up All Night? Eat Some Of These!

Beverage pairing:

Valpolicella Amarone

An insouciant wine that doesn’t bite back. It floods the palate with imaginary explosions of velvety flavors and undercurrents and aftertastes of the Venice canals at low tide.

Music pairing:

The Be Good Tanyas station on Pandora. You’ll hear good stuff from them, Bon Iver, Natalie Merchant, Gillian Welch and others.

Until next time  ~ the is the Lunch Lady Cookbook signing off with mangia, mangia, tutti frutti and arrividerci!


Lunch Lady Cookbook Mumbo Jumbo Chicken Gumbo

Lunch Lady Cookbook Mumbo Jumbo Chicken Gumbo


Hey there boys and girls! This is The Lunch Laddie, Michael Gillan Maxwell comin’ at ya with a new installment of The Lunch Lady Cookbook. As the waning days of October bring crisp temperatures and frost on the pumpkin, it’s time we turn our attention to heartier fare while exploring a rich, multi-cultural tradition. The Lunch Lady Cookbook is proud to present Lunch Lady Cookbook Mumbo Jumbo Chicken Gumbo.

Folklore has it that gumbo originated in southern Louisiana in the 18th century. 18th century Louisiana was the ultimate cultural melting pot, so it seems fitting that this dish would be a melting pot in its own right. Gumbo is like a greatest hits album of ingredients and culinary practices of several cultures, including West African, French, Spanish, German, Choctaw and Public School Cafeterias. Gumbo shares much in common with other one-dish meals like stew, goulash, paella and bouillabaisse. The beauty of it is that there is no single “right” way of making it, you can’t mess it up and you can toss in just about any ingredient you want and call it gumbo. This helps make it a go-to dish for festive gatherings like Cajun fiddle contests, barn raisings and 7th grade lunch periods.


3 Chicken Breasts (boneless, skinless)

1 Green Pepper (large)

Green beans (from last nights dinner)

1 Onion (Large, sweet)

2 Scallions Baby carrots (Maybe a dozen or so ~ they’re little ~ after all, they’re only babies)

Red baby potatoes (Same as above)

Mushrooms (Ginormous handful)

Diced tomatoes (Fresh is good, but I used 2 8 oz cans)

Cream of Mushroom soup ( all purpose secret sauce)

Garlic ( 2 or 3 cloves ~ diced)

Worcester sauce (dash or 2)

Red wine (1/2 cup. Actually pour 2 cups, add 1/2 cup to the gumbo and chug the rest)

Sour cream

Romano cheese


Salt (freshly ground sea salt)

Pepper (freshly ground)

Red Pepper flakes

Garlic Powder (freshly ground)

Basil Flakes


Rosemary (just a pinch ~ this stuff can take over a dish)

Bay leaf (if ya got it)

How we do it:

Combine tomatoes, mushroom soup and about 2 cups of water in stock pot. Heat slowly.

Slice, dice, bend, spindle, mutilate and chop garlic, onion, green pepper, scallions and mushrooms.

Sauté lightly in olive oil (extra virgin please) over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Ease up on this part. You just want to give these veggies a jump start. Add to stock pot.

Slice, dice, bend, spindle, mutilate and chop potatoes and carrots and add to stock pot.

Slice, dice, bend, spindle, mutilate and chop chicken breasts.

Sauté lightly in olive oil (extra virgin please), garlic and Worcester sauce until brown.

Add spices at this point, turning chicken frequently until brown.

Add to stock pot. Cover and let simmer for up to four hours, stirring frequently while reciting voodoo incantations. (Although singing along to a good playlist is acceptable)

This dish is also an ideal candidate for slow cooking in the crock pot. Gumbo on Stove

 Hey genius! It fogs the lens when you hold the camera directly over a steaming vat of gumbo!

This dish can be ready eat sooner than that, but a long, slow simmer really gets the juices flowing and unlocks the flavor of the ingredients. Since watched pots never boil, this is a good time to throw in a load of laundry, split a pile of firewood and print out that manuscript you’ve been working on for the final proof read.

But for God’s sake, before you do any of these things, clean up that Godawful mess you’ve just made in the kitchen before Mom comes home!

Garnish with Romano cheese and sour cream and serve by itself or over rice. Crusty French bread is great for dipping and mopping the gumbo off your chin.

Musical Accompaniment:

Cajun music, of course. (Frankly, I’m surprised you had to ask) Anything by Clifton Chenier, Preston Frank, Walter Mouton and the original “Alligator man” Doug Kershaw will move this along in a lively manner. If you’re really ambitious, this is a great time to start to learn to play the Cajun accordion, or Cajun box as it is known. Just don’t drop it in the gumbo. Cajun Box Suggested Wine Pairing: This dish owes a lot to French Acadian and Cajun roots, so the Lunch Laddie’s preference is a robust and smooth French Rhone. A good friend of mine with a nose for wine once told me that a “good Rhone should taste like dirt!” In my opinion, this is the perfect wine for an earthy dish like gumbo. Gumbo and wine

For God’s sake man. Pour it in a glass. We’re not savages here!

So without further adieu, I must bid you au revoir. Until next time, this is The Lunch Laddie, Michael Gillan Maxwell signing off for The Lunch Lady Cookbook. Happy slurping!

Lunch Lady Cookbook Achin’ For Bacon Mac & Cheese

Lunch Lady Cookbook Achin’ For Bacon Mac & Cheese

Lunch Lady Action Figure
Lunch Lady Action Figure

Hey there boys and girls! This is the Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell comin’ at ya with a new installment of The Lunch Lady Cookbook. Back when the Lunch Lady Cookbook was just a gleam in his father’s eye, the Lunch Laddy was on a quest for the Holy Grail of Comfort Foods, the ultimate Mac & Cheese. I know our thousands of foodie fans out there were dismayed and even outraged by esoteric vegan recipes and gustatory explorations into parts unknown and roads untraveled.

People were saying: “Hey Lunch Laddy! What gives? You promised us Mac & Cheese and you give us recipes for vegan burritos and free range goulash. You bask in all the glory and we get bupkis! Enough already! We want the Mac & Cheese we were promised!”

The people have spoken and the Lunch Laddy has heard. I am here today to deliver what was promised. The Lunch Lady Cookbook is proud to present Achin’ For Bacon Mac & Cheese!

The Lunch Laddy will be the first to tell you he’s not a doctor and the last to offer medical advice. However, due to the rich nature of this particular dish, all of us here at The Lunch Lady Cookbook offices recommended that you schedule an EKG and a stress test to determine if you still have at least one available unclogged artery before proceeding. It’s like having enough available memory on your computer before taking on a software update.

Achin' for Bacon

You will need the following: 

  • 1 package Gluten Free Brown Rice Elbows (Hey! Shut up! We need something healthy in this dish!)
  • 2-3 cups of assorted cheeses ~ sharp cheddar, colby, jack & Romano for starters.
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 5 slices cooked bacon ~ sliced, diced & chopped
  • Garlic powder
  • Red pepper flakes

How we do it:

  • Cook pasta for 2-3 minutes and drain. (It will be super el dente, but this is what you need because it’s gonna bake for a while. It’s called Mac & Cheese NOT Mush & Cheese)
  •  Lubricate baking dish with butter. This is no time to be shy. Grease that puppy up!
  •  Pour in pasta and stir in cheese, bacon and spices, saving some of each for the coup de grâce topping.
  •  Cover and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
  •  Brown, uncovered for the last coupla minutes.
  •  Cover and let stand for at least an hour.
  •  Serve with copious amounts ketchup.

A Lunch Lady Cookbook Repast

Musical Accompaniment: Todd Snider station on Pandora

Libation: A rich full bodied red wine with undercurrents of blueberry jam and hot dogs. Jug wine from the bottom shelf will be the prefect accompaniment to this prosaic dish.

Until the next time, this is the Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell signing off and saying: Eat hearty me hearties!



Bowl of Eggs
Bowl of Eggs


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!


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:



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


  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.


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!


Bon appetit’ !

The Lunch Lady Cookbook Campfire Cookin’ in the Kitchen

Bowl of Eggs
Bowl of Eggs

The Lunch Lady Cookbook

 Campfire Cookin’ in the Kitchen

Hi there boys and girls! This is The Lunch Laddy comin’ at ya with a new chapter of The Lunch Lady Cookbook. This week’s theme is Campfire Cookin’ in the Kitchen, one man’s harrowing tale of survival and redemption during (a 2 hour) power outage. We had some blustery weather recently. Actually, more like 24 hours of sustained high winds, with gusts up to 50 miles per hour. Not exactly Hurricane Sandy, but enough to blow your hat off and take down trees and power lines. We used to lose power all the time up here in God’s country. In fact, it seemed that the power would go out every time I sneezed or passed more gas than usual. Although things have recently improved in at least one of those areas, it’s still “lights out” in blustery high winds, which brings us to the point of this chapter.

When I awoke to the sound of howling wind and the lights winking out, my first concern was survival. Survival, as in “How the Hell am I gonna make coffee?” Fortunately, my days as a Boy Scout taught me more than how to execute the J stroke with a canoe paddle or how to weave a lanyard. It burned the phrase: “Be Prepared” into the very core of my being. I have an old fashioned hand powered coffee grinder for occasions such as this. While it may look like something from Little House on the Prairie it gets the job done and grinds those beans as good as my fancy schmancy high tech Cuisinart coffee grinder.

Coffee Grinder

Then there’s the problem of heating water. The Lunch Laddy’s primary stove is electric. I know, “Electric stove? Blasphemy!” you say. But you work with what you got. I do have a wood stove that I could hang a cauldron over, but it wasn’t necessary to go totally American Colonial quite yet. A quick rummage through the Lunch Laddy’s well stocked Apocalypse Closet produced a three burner Coleman camp stove and a propane supply that could barbecue enough yak meat to feed Batu Khan’s Golden Horde. After a bit of fumbling around, I managed to set up the stove and singe my hair and eyebrows in the process of lighting one of the burners. With the immediate crisis averted and caffeine now properly stimulating my frontal cortex, I turned my attention to cooking breakfast.

Propane Camp Stove

I contemplated my fate as the January winds howled and moaned outside the frost covered windows, and asked myself, what would Jack London do? I imagined him calling: “ A whisk! A whisk! My kingdom for a whisk!” While I didn’t have all the fixin’s that a cook in a Klondike gold mining camp might have had, such as fatback, sourdough biscuits & redeye, I did have ham & potatoes & eggs & cheese. I also had a secret weapon to pull it all together ~ Dave’s Gourmet Insanity Sauce. (TM) More on that in a bit.


Now, I present to you the Lunch Lady Mining Camp Scramble.


  • 3 Large Eggs
  • Worcester Sauce (dash)
  • Milk (dash)
  • 2 Small Red Potatoes (chopped)
  • Chopped Onion (1/2 cup)
  • Chopped Ham (1/2 cup)
  • Shredded Sharp Cheddar (1/2 cup)
  • Garlic Powder
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Dave’s Gourmet Insanity Sauce (TM)
  • Olive Oil (2 tablespoons)
  • Mixing Bowl, Whisk & Spices


  1. Heat oil in a cast iron frying pan (Yes, cast iron. After all this is a mining camp recipe)
  2. Chop potatoes into small pieces and throw ‘em in the pan. Keep tossing and turning until they start to soften up and turn brown and crispy. This may take a while.
  3. Add chopped onions and ham.
  4. Combine eggs, worcester sauce, milk and spice in mixing bowl. Whisk vigorously.
  5. Toss it all into the pan, scrambling, turning, whisking, tossing and flogging continuously.
  6. Add cheese and continue the above contortions until cheese is melted.
  7. Serve immediately. Garnish with hot sauce for an extra kick.

Lunch Lady Mining Camp Scramble

Beverage Pairing:  Cowboy coffee (with chewable grounds)

Music Pairing: Oh Susana, Sweet Betsy From Pike, 15 Miles on the Erie Canal, My Darlin’ Clementine

Dave's Gourmet Insanity Sauce

OK ~ so here’s the thing with the hot sauce. Pay attention to the label! You think I’m kidding? I’m not! Dave’s Gourmet Insanity Sauce is a high quality product. While it does come with several caveats on the label, I think it should also come with nuclear launch codes. The label says “The Original Hottest Sauce in the Universe!” I am now a true believer. It is every bit of that and more. It’s described as “A great cooking ingredient for sauces, soups and stews. Also, strips waxed floors and removes driveway grease stains.”  But here’s the IMPORTANT part, so PAY ATTENTION. It says “use one drop at a time.” Did you hear me? I said ONE. DROP. AT. A. TIME!  Don’t make the same mistake I did, and slather it on your eggs, because it is FIRE in the HOLE Baby ~ Goin’ in and comin’ out!

By the way, the power came back on before I finished cooking breakfast. At least now I know that I can survive campfire cookin’ in the kitchen and if Dave’s Gourmet Insanity Sauce doesn’t actually cause the Apocalypse, it will help me survive it.

Until next time, savor life one drop at a time and eat hearty maties!

Rock 'n RollBot
Rock ‘n RollBot

Lunch Lady Cookbook Mondo Fandango Lentil Soup

Lunch Lady Cookbook Mondo Fandango Lentil Soup


Hey there boys and girls! This is Lunch Laddy Michael Gillan Maxwell bringing you the latest edition of the Lunch Lady Cookbook. I don’t know about you, but after I’ve been outside in the crisp autumn weather doing manly things like wearing flannel shirts, raking leaves, tossing the old pigskin around, cleaning gutters, cutting firewood and wrangling Cocker Spaniels, it takes some stick-to-your-ribs hearty fare to keep the Lunch Laddy’s depleted afterburners chugging away.


It’s times like this when Cup-a-Soup just ain’t makin’ it. You need something to stoke the furnace. It’s time to pull out the big guns and make it from scratch and while you’re at it, you might as well chef up a power packed protein and antioxidant bomb with plenty of fiber to move the mail.  It’s the right time of the year for Lunch Lady Cookbook Mondo Fandango Lentil Soup.

Pull together the following ingredients, and commence to slicin’ n’ dicin’

1 package red lentils

2 cups chopped celery

2 cups brussels sprouts (cut in half)

2 cups chopped carrots

1 chopped onion

16 oz. chopped baked ham w/bone

16 oz. can diced tomatoes with green pepper and

8 oz. can tomato sauce

6-8 cups water

2 -3 coves of garlic

Worcester sauce

Hot sauce

Spices ~ sea salt, fresh ground mixed pepper, basil flakes, garlic powder

Chopping Vegetables

Combine tomatoes, tomato sauce, carrots, brussels sprouts and celery in a stock pot.

Rinse and drain lentils, then add to stock pot with other ingredients.

Bring to boil then turn to simmer.

Slice ‘ dice onion, garlic and ham ~ sauté until onions are caramelized ~ add to stock pot.

Season generously.

Simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring frequently.

Boiling Cauldron

Top with Pecorino Romano Cheese and serve with massive piece of buttered crusty rosemary olive oil bread

Lunch Lady Mondo Fandango Lentil Soup and Bread

Beverage Pairing ~ Brooklyn Brown Ale (or 2)

Brooklyn Brown Ale

Musical Pairing ~ Plenty of gutbucket blues with reverb drenched chainsaw guitars ~ early Stones, Black Keys,  Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside

And if your guests give you any kind of grief at all, then it’s NO SOUP FOR YOU! COME BACK ONE YEAR!

The Soup Nazi “No soup for you!”

Until next time, this is the Lunch Laddy signing off for The Lunch Lady Cookbook.

Party hardy and eat hearty. Bon apetit!

Lunch Lady Husky Tuscan Rustic Pizza

~The Lunch Lady Cookbook Presents ~

Lunch Lady Husky Tuscan Rustic Pizza


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



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

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