Sloshed, yet sophisticated


It even looks sinister, doesn’t it?


When I was a very little girl, and had a horrible tummy ache, as a last resort my mom gave me this miracle medicine.  It never failed to calm my belly and send me off into drugged slumber.  It was available over the counter until 1970 and was called paregoric.  The flavor was why the phrase “medicinal tasting” was invented.  It was also chock full of morphine (guess that’s why you can’t just pick a bottle off the shelf at the Rexall anymore).

About two and a half centuries later, when I was a bartender at a country club, I made swimming pools full of gin and tonics without indulging.  Finally, I took a taste.

I was transported right back to my footy pajamas, choking down a spoonful of that nasty stomach medicine.  Nope, I decided that g&t tastes like paregoric, and thus would never again pass these lips.

I’m not really a big drinker anyway.  For a few reasons.

  • I don’t drink very much of anything. In my entire life, I don’t believe I’ve ever finished a bottle of Coca-Cola all by myself.
  • Being out of control is scary and embarrassing. The worst is when sober Debbie’s in my head, trying to help, and drunk Debbie’s yelling, “Back off, Captain Buzz Killington! Besides, we’re fine; totally graceful, witty, and charming.”
  • Alcohol is stuffed full of calories. And if I’m mindlessly consuming vast quantities of calories, they absolutely need to be of the chocolate persuasion.

But on Saturday, June 11th, The Kid and I went to The Carolina Inn for a BBQ Throwdown.  There would also be plenty of various alcoholic libations

When I woke up that morning, I decided that at the throw down, all nutritional bets and caloric considerations were off.

Right after we checked in and got our arm bands, we sampled four kinds of Jack Daniels.  They were good.

Then somehow I decided it was time to give gin another chance (although it may have been the Bourbon samples deciding for me).  There were garnish ingredients so we could personalize or drinks.

I chose cucumber and lime.

How glad I am that I gave this most British of spirits a second chance.  It was clean and bracing.  The garnish worked well.  And it gave me an idea.

Cucumber Gin

cuc gin

1 Fifth of crystal gin minus 1/2 cup or so

2 cucumbers, peeled and grated

Stuff cukes in bottle of gin.  Let sit in a cool dark place for 2 weeks.  Drain, and pour gin back into bottle. 

Green gin and tonic:

green gibn

2 ounces cucumber gin

4 ounces tonic water

½ lime

Pour gin and tonic into a rocks glass with ice.  Squeeze lime into glass.  Give it a gentle stir.  Run the squeezed lime around the rim of the glass.  Serve.

There were eight competitors, and I had at last one small plate from each—and more than one at a few.

The Carolina Crossroads’s Chef James Clark and his right-hand man, Chef Bill made my heart race in the very best possible way.  Duck barbecue, and fries covered in lashings of roasted tomato aioli.

I took elements from Chef James’ entry to make some finger food.

B.L. Teenies

Roasted tomato aioli:

tomato aioli

Cut 10-12 Roma tomatoes in half, length-wise.  Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme.  Roast at 450 for 25 minutes or ‘til dry and caramelized.

Chop in food processor until completely smooth.  Stir into 2 cups mayo, either homemade or store-bought.



Cut leftover grits into rounds, 2 inches across by ½ inch thick

1 tablespoon butter

Toast grit rounds in butter until browned on both sides.

Then drop a small amount of pea shoots on each round.  Lay on top crispy piece of bacon, about 1 ½ inches square. Drizzle aioli on top. 

After the gin and an orange old fashion my knees got a little noodle-like, I knew it was time to switch to water.

But the other guests at the Throw Down have no idea what they missed.  One more glass full of liquid courage, and I would have swung from the chandelier while singing an enthusiastic if not melodious acapella version of Pink Cadillac.

Thanks for your time.

Random stuff I discovered and wrote down in 2015 Part 1

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

I have a diary with a padded blue silk cover.  I got it as a gift in high school.  For some reason, it resides in a bookshelf in my living room.

I pulled it down today and took a look at it.

It has about 200 lined pages.  I have filled a grand total of eleven pages; with seven entries from 1982, and one from 1991.  Each sentence is more forced and stilted than the last.

Yeah, I’m really bad at keeping up with that kind of thing.  But I think that my non-stop internal monologue and the fact that I endlessly overthink every decision; no matter if it is picking lunch off a menu, a plumber to repair a leak, or a retirement plan counts as examination.  I just stink at manually archiving it.

But this year I did something I’ve never been able to do before.  I kept a log of all culinary episodes, experiences, and epiphanies.

I was faithful to this project, and have an entire year’s worth of ruminations.

For the next few weeks, I will share them with you, gentle reader, in this space.

January 3rd– Picked up some clearance items today.  No matter what color or shape they are in, Reese’s cups and M&M’s are just as yummy.  But it seems like they taste a little bit better when they’re 75% off.

January 11th– It may be cheap, but egg nog just tastes sad in late January.  And nobody wants another dessert made from it.

January 21st– Nobody makes better eggplant in garlic sauce than Grace’s Café (downstairs at Trent Hall, 331 Trent Dr.).  But even better, they offer brown rice, and for the toddler (mine) taste buds, they will make a version with no spicy heat.  Also, they have a club sandwich that makes Petey’s day.

February 2nd– Cooking black rice takes just as much time as brown rice.  I probably should have checked that before I put a large pot of it on—we wouldn’t have had to eat dinner at 10:30.

February 9th– Parts and Labor is the restaurant at Durham music venue Motorco (723 Rigsbee Ave).  They have an imaginative scratch-made menu of finger foods and munchies.  The Kid and I had six or seven items and almost everything was really tasty.  The sliders are not to be missed.  The artichoke fritters while a great idea, and much anticipated, were a little greasy.  But because of that they would have made stellar drunk food.

Unfortunately, I was sober tonight.

March 8th– Took a trip to Crabtree Valley Mall with the whole family.  Had brunch at an eatery named Red Monkey Tavern.

red monkey

The food was really good—they have duck mac and cheese, for goodness sake.  Had the avocado BLT.  The bacon was thick, tasty, and crispy.  The avocado was perfectly ripe and creamy.

But they are, in my opinion, much too fond of the spicy.  Lots of chorizos, and a really hot chipotle mayo.  Even their tarragon mayo had quite a kick to it.

But their truffle Parmigiano fries are worth the trip to Raleigh.

April 9th– Made some brownies, and have about 10 pounds of M&M’s from Easter.  I threw caution to the wind and mixed a couple cups into the batter, and sprinkled a handful over the top.  They were really good.  You get all the creamy chocolate of chips, but the bonus is the snap of that candy shell.

Ooh, I’ll bet they would rock in some blondies.

April 29th– Petey and I went to the opening Wednesday of the Durham farmers market.  It’s one of my favorite days of the year.  In addition to some quite tasty Honeygirl Mead, I scored some pea shoots.  They were delicious on a cold sandwich.  I enjoyed them so much I decided to see what else they would work on.

And salads, and risotto, and…

Scrambled eggs, pasta, burgers, cream soup, and avocado toast all work great.  I’m guessing ice cream is a no go.

Next week I’ll dish on May, June, July, and August.

   Thanks for your time.