Brisket, ribs and sausage … oh my!

We are serious about our barbecue at the Frantz house. It’s definitely a Texas thang handed down through the ages. The photos are from last year’s family BBQ tour. Luling City Market is rated one of the top five in the state. I sincerely concur with Texas Monthly magazine’s assessment.

My husband … now he has some mean skills on the grill. My favorite is his brisket. Me … I am in charge of the sides. I make a downright righteous potato salad. Still working on my cole slaw.

It’s one of the things our son is missing at the moment. Ricky is in the Air Force and getting close to halfway through a six-month deployment in the Middle East. I’m not allowed to tell where exactly. Yep, but I’m keeping track of the days till his return on the chalkboard Santa got me for Christmas this year. Only 114 more days … but who is counting?

Thanks to modern technology, we FaceTime chat with Ricky every Sunday morning around the breakfast table, slurping juice and crunching breakfast cereal, before heading to church. This past week he had a request.

“Mom, I need some more barbecue sauce. I donated my last two bottles to our squadron’s New Year’s feast,” Ricky said.

When Ricky got there before Thanksgiving he mentioned the food was terrible.

“They boil all the meat. I don’t know why. The barbecue sauce will help mask some of the blandness,” said our son.

It’s why I mailed our son several more bottles of KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce this week. I’m his official barbecue sauce supplier. Thought it was interesting when the postal clerk asked me if the box contained any perfume or liquids.

“Does barbecue sauce count as a liquid?” I glared, narrowing my eyeballs in his direction.

I knew the answer and wondered what he was going to do about it. After about thirty seconds he just shrugged his shoulders and stamped the package with postage. Guess BBQ sauce might be on the official liquid exemption list … or maybe he knew better not to mess with an airmen’s momma.

Now if I can just figure out how to mail Ricky one of his dad’s briskets …

Lesson learned … and how about some soup?

Think I went to the grocery store five times this week. I should rent a room.

So yesterday my list included ingredients for a Tex-Mex Chicken Soup. It is bone chilling cold outside and soup just sounded good to me while flipping through a couple of cookbooks. I’ll share that recipe with you later.

At the top of my list, besides a can of green chilies and chicken stock, was an extra-jumbo bag of rawhide chips for Lulu. Our English Springer Spaniel loves to chew … a lot … and she was down to her last rawhide strip! To say Lulu is a rawhide junkie is putting it mildly. We have her down to two a day.

When the clerk rang me up and it was over $90, I thought … what just happened here? Of course I purchased bunches of other food items so I just stuck the receipt in my checkbook to subtract later and left the store. It is what it is … right? I shoulda listened to my gut. Isn’t that what Oprah used to say before she started her own network?

Two days later I glanced closely at the receipt and discovered … what the heck … I’d been charged twice for Lulu’s chews. That’s two times $10.97, plus tax. Geez Louise! There is a lesson to be learned here … and we already know what that is! Customer Service is not just for purchasing your car tags or paying your utility bill I can tell you that.

But back to what’s for dinner. I’ve got this great soup cookbook that has … no kidding … 900 soup recipes. It says it right on the cover. Actually, that could be stretching it a tad. There is a whole chapter on chili, which to me, seems in a class all by itself. Always thought of chili as more like a stew than a soup. Heck, we can debate that one if you want. So let’s cook some soup!

TEX-MEX CHICKEN SOUP
Serves 4+

Ingredients
1 rotisserie chicken (2 cups of boneless chicken shredded)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups chicken stock
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups thawed frozen whole-kernel corn
1-14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 small can green chilies, drained
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Liberal dashes of salt and pepper
Crumbled tortilla chips and some shredded cheese for sprinkling on top

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, or soup pot, over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots and sauté for 10 minutes. Add cilantro, chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, green chilies, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, cover for 20 minutes. Add corn and chicken and heat through. Sprinkle with tortilla chips and shredded cheese on top in bowls.

Adapted from Reader’s Digest “The Ultimate Soup Cookbook

Scent of a Woman

We were channel surfing the other night snuggled on the couch flipping in an earnest attempt to find a movie that would hold our attention. There were several options that looked interesting. Rick stopped when he came across “Scent of a Woman.” It’s one of those movies played on television on a regular basis. Rats! Almost thirty minutes of the movie was already gone. I hate when that happens.

“You know I’ve never seen that movie from the very beginning to very end,” I said.

“Me neither. I’ve seen plenty of it, but in bits and pieces. How about we stream it and watch the whole thing?” Rick said.

If you have never seen the movie … in a peanut shell it’s about what happens over a Thanksgiving weekend between a flamboyant retired Army colonel, Frank Slade, and a poor prep school student, Charlie Sims. Charlie, portrayed by Chris O’Donnell, is hired to be Frank’s caretaker for a few days. Cranky Frank is played by Al Pacino and won his first Oscar for the role.

Frank has recently become blind. He also has an interesting gift for being able to tell what perfume scent a woman is wearing. The guy does have a tiny sliver of a charming dimension to him. There is a very memorable dance scene. Frank teaches the tango to a beautiful young lady sitting all alone in a swanky restaurant waiting for her date. The whole scene is breathtaking.

But back to what happens before the tango. So poor Frank is having major issues. Poor guy. He’s recently become blind because of a dumb accident and living with young family members in a dumpy garage apartment. The dude is not a happy camper and expresses his displeasure with quite a potty mouth.

Now Charlie is himself having quite a crisis. He is on the verge of expulsion from his prep school over a prank he witnessed from afar right before the Thanksgiving break. The headmaster is focused on poor and moral Charlie and it looks like he will be the fall guy in the whole sordid affair when school resumes. Major tension ensues.

The part of the movie Rick and I never saw was the “prank” the rich kids performed on the headmaster of the school. It’s pretty awesome! I always wondered why the headmaster had his big boy pants in such a wad. Now I totally get it. The whole movie made so much more sense after seeing the first thirty minutes.

My guess is we’ll be using the television as a source for older great movies to stream from now on. No more missing key parts of character development like why the rich kids were such twits … or the headmaster was lacking moral character … and why I really, really cared about Charlie Sims.

Nothin’ quite like my sister’s …

Potato RollsMy little sister, Gretchen, is an exceptional cook. She has one standout recipe that is a Frantz family favorite. In fact, it adorns our table most all of the major holidays … Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Groundhog’s Dog … you get the picture.

Yep, I seem to recall a time or two when the family was in menu development mode it was the item we built the whole meal around. Gretchen’s shining gem of a recipe is … official drum roll please … potato rolls. Bet you thought I was going to say something like rack of lamb or that beef dish only Julia Child can pronounce.

The legend goes that many years ago Gretchen took a mediocre recipe and substituted real butter for shortening or some other oily substance. Then she turned right around and, kinda like Tinkerbell with her Disney magic wand, made another change. The sugar component vanished and in was poured fragrant sticky honey. It’s hard to decide what makes these rolls sing the loudest … the butter … or the honey. We took a poll at our house once and the honey won. Those bees really know what they are doin’.

Don’t take my word for it. I won $25 in a recipe contest held by our local newspaper many years ago with the potato rolls. Our oldest was two or three at the time. I gave the winnings to my sister. Katie and I got our picture in the newspaper. I made sure our daughter was perched on the kitchen counter covered in flour when the reporter was scheduled to come by. Nothing says “major cute” than a two-year-old dusted with a little Gold Medal flour.

Gretchen gave me permission to share the recipe but I have to warn you they take some effort. Check the recipe tab of this blog. There is yeast, some kneading, and rising twice involved. You will not be disappointed.