May 26, 2009

When Did Cheese Stop Being My Friend?

In my family, we have any number of recipes that are handed down generation to generation. These are the recipes that I should know by heart, but I don’t make them often enough to not consult a written recipe for a reminder or three on ingredient quantities or oven temps.

However, there are some odd recipes that aren’t among my family’s repertoire. Corn casserole, for example. I love it, but it wasn’t until I was watching Paula Deen while on the elliptical that I “found” a recipe for it. I memorized it while getting in another mile and then immediately rushed to the store to buy the ingredients and make it for myself. Heaven.

So this weekend, when I was making “Bobby’s Pimento Cheese” from Paula Deen’s “The Lady & Sons” cookbook I expected to be wowed. After all, pimento cheese is a classic Southern recipe loved by many. Plus, it’s made with cream cheese, two kinds of shredded cheese, mayonnaise, the obligatory pimentos and some seasonings. I mean, seriously, how could this be anything less but fabulous?

I made two batches.

The first one came out like crap because I accidentally put too much salt in it. Okay. Fine. My fault. I could fix it by not eyeballing the seasonings.

The second time around, I followed the directions for “Bobby’s Pimento Cheese” verbatim.

Still bad. And by bad, I actually mean, I hated it. Really, seriously hated it.

I feel like a traitor to the South, but it was gross. Too salty and a huge waste of cheese. The only thing I could do with either batch was to feed 'em to the garbage disposal. Poor garbage disposal, it didn't do anything wrong...

When I called my Mom and Dranny to discuss this failure, they could only laugh and tell me that, had I asked them, they could have told me how much I would not like pimento cheese. Then they laughed some more.

Fortunately, my weekend cooking also included making a batch of Baked Beans from my family’s recipe to take to a Memorial Day/House Warming/Surprise Birthday Party (efficient, no?). We make our baked beans with four cans of Van Camp’s Pork & Beans; a ½ pound to a ¾ pound of bacon, cooked and crumbled; an onion and a bell pepper chopped and sautéed; a ¼ cup or so of brown sugar; a ¼ cup or so of ketchup; ½ tsp to 1 tsp of dry mustard; and 2 or so tablespoons of white vinegar – all mixed together and baked at 325 for an hour or so. (Can you tell that we don't believe in exact recipes in my family?)

The Baked Beans turned out just like they were supposed to. Delicious!

So delicious that there were no leftovers. Isn’t that the best compliment any cook or chef can receive?

Oh... Who am I kidding?

There were no leftovers. I wanted leftovers for me. And there were none. I could have cried.

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