“MOCK” KENTUCKY HOT BROWN SLIDERS ~ BLOG 366.37

This sandwich was created in 1926 in Louisville Kentucky by Fred Schmidt of the Brown hotel as an alternative to ham and egg sandwiches for late night diners. It became their second signature sandwich. I’ve only ever heard it called as a Kentucky Hot Brown, but I have read that it is also known as a Louisville Hot Brown.

Traditionally this is served hot and open faced on a thick white bread toast and has turkey breast, bacon and creamy mornay sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Originally it was not served with the bacon, but added soon after. Variations can include ham, pimientos and tomatoes. It is then broiled a few minutes until the toast is crisp and sauce is bubbly and browning.

The Kentucky Hot Brown became a favorite choice of 95% of the Brown Hotel’s restaurant customers. It became a Louisville area specialty favorite sandwich and is popular throughout Kentucky as a whole long after the hotel shut its doors in 1971. The hotel reopened in 1985.

This sandwich was featured on a 2013 episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay where he actually lost, but barely. 😀 Bobby competed against Joe and John Castro, brother chefs at the Brown Hotel.

There are also a few “oddball” variations out there. For a while there was a “cold brown” that was either sliced chicken or turkey with hard boiled egg, lettuce and tomato served open face on rye bread covered in thousand island dressing.

There are 2 other versions one being the Prosperity sandwich with origins in St. Louis at the Mayfair hotel also in the 1920’s and still served in the area today as well as the Turkey Devonshire served in the Pittsburg Pennsylvania area in the 1930’s.

I started making Kentucky Hot Brown sandwiches about 20 years ago, but had no idea of the extensive history at that time. Now fast forward to a magazine I found recently trying to update this to a slider version using King’s Hawaiian rolls. I have to admit I wasn’t sure about this recipe, but decided to try it anyway.

The recipe I found was okay, but I have to agree to disagree on these being a version of the original Hot Brown because the recipe used the sweet brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and butter topping that just didn’t taste anywhere close to what this sandwich is about.

I have renamed this recipe AND adjusted the ingredients to try and keep them more traditional, ut yet an actual sandwich. The author used a “slice of cheese” to replace the Mornay sauce and there just isn’t any comparison to me.

“MOCK” KENTUCKY HOT BROWN SLIDERS
1 tray King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls
2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
6-8 slices thick sliced deli turkey
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp
2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
6-8 slices Gruyere or Baby Swiss cheese, optional
1/4 cup FINELY grated Parmesan cheese

  • Preheat oven to broil.
  • Slice entire package of rolls in half horizontally. Do not individually slice rolls.
  • Arrange bottom half in a baking dish LIGHTY sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Spread mayonnaise on roll bottoms.
  • Arrange turkey on top evenly.
  • Arrange bacon slices on top of the turkey evenly.
  • Arrange a single layer of thick cut tomatoes on top of the bacon.
  • Arrange cheese slices next OR a layer of Mornay sauce.
  • Broil 2-3 minutes until toasted and cheese is bubbly.
  • Top if desired with sweet roll tops and eat as a messy sandwich or eat as intended with a knife and fork.

MORNAY SAUCE
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 ½ cups WHOLE milk
pinch FRESH ground nutmeg
FRESH ground salt and black pepper, to taste
2 ounces of a hard cheese, grated (Gruyère, Swiss, Cheddar, Parmesan)

  • Heat a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Melt butter.
  • Whisk in flour until golden.
  • Slowly add the milk while constantly whisking.
  • Bring the sauce to a SLOW boil and immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the sauce burn by whisking frequently.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add the nutmeg, salt and pepper, stirring well. At this point you have a Bechamel sauce. Once you add the cheese it becomes your Mornay sauce.
  • Still off heat, add the grated cheese, whisking until all the cheese melts into the sauce making it thick and smooth.
  • Adjust seasoning to taste.

After all of this my favorite version is the casserole version I adapted from Damaris Phillips a few years ago.

WILDLIFE SAFARI ~ BLOG 366.26

Back during COVID on a whim we took a trip to Wildlife Safari where humans are captive in their cars and the animals roam free which was perfect for not being able to interact with people at the time. 

We recently found out that Wildlife Safari accepts food donations to help feed the animals. And by food donations I mean that the local county works takes roadkill there, but they also accept other donations like the freezer full of meat and berries (whole turkeys, fresh picked blackberries, recent meat from a deer and elk hunt…) I cleaned out from the new estate sale we’re working on.

Our local Wildlife Safari has a globally successful cheetah breeding program. That day we were fortunate enough to run into a docent that was FULL of wonderful information. My favorite piece of trivia was that like other jungle cats, female cheetahs are loners and do not bond well with others, whereas male cheetahs MUST bond with other males to survive.

They had several new cheetah cubs at the time that are now grown, but playful. The giraffes and elk were full of piss and vinegar that day! 😀

 

MAYA a thought provoking idea & THE MAN YOU PROBABLY NEVER KNEW EXISTED – RAYMOND LOEWY the Father of Industrial Design ~ BLOG 365.365B

I read a SUPER interesting article earlier this year called What Makes Things Cool by Derek Thompson about a man I’d never heard of, Raymond Loewy (1893-1986) and his ability to sell just about anything with a simple principle, MAYA. I decided to research him further.

Raymond Loewy was a French-born American industrial designer who achieved fame for the magnitude of his design efforts across a variety of industries. Known as the Father of industrial design, Loewy was recognized for this by Time magazine and featured on its cover on October 31, 1949.

The four-letter code to selling just about anything. MAYA stands for: “Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable” and is a principle that provides users with enough familiarity, tapping into a person’s present skill level with enough new features that are easy to adopt.

Raymond Loewy boarded the SS France in 1919 to sail across the Atlantic from his devastated continent to the United States several decades before he became the father of industrial design. His French army service ended and he’d lost his parents to influenza pandemic/ So, at the age of 25 he was looking for a fresh start as an electrical engineer in New York where his older brother Maximilian lived.

Maximilian picked him up in a taxi and they drove straight to 120 Broadway in Manhattan, the Equitable Life building which was one of New York City’s largest neoclassical skyscrapers, with two connected towers that ascended from a shared base like a giant tuning fork. Loewy rode the elevator to the observatory platform, 40 stories up, and looked out across the island.

“New York was throbbing at our feet in the crisp autumn light,” Loewy recalled in his 1951 memoir. “I was fascinated by the murmur of the great city.” But upon closer examination, he was crestfallen. In France, he had imagined an elegant, stylish place, filled with slender and simple shapes. The city that now unfurled beneath him, however, was a grungy product of the machine age—“bulky, noisy, and complicated. It was a disappointment.”

In the 20th century Loewy would do more than almost any single person to shape the aesthetic of American culture and world below would soon match his dreamy vision.

His firm would soon design mid-century icons like the Exxon logo, the US MAIL, Hoover, Shell, TWA, Nabisco, Canada Dry, Coca Cola, the Lucky Strike pack, the Greyhound bus, the International Harvester tractors that farmed the Great Plains, merchandise racks at Lucky Stores supermarkets that displayed produce, Frigidaire ovens that cooked meals, and Singer vacuum cleaners that ingested the crumbs of dinner. These are but a few of his logos and designs.

In 1958, acclaimed designer Raymond Loewy created new and unique shapes to add to the world-renowned range of Le Creuset cast iron cookware. Internationally famous for his designs on some of the most well-known consumer brands, Loewy’s skillet for Le Creuset is now recognized as an icon of mid-century design.

The famous blue nose of Air Force One? That was Loewy’s touch, too. After complaining to his friend, a White House aide, that the commander in chief’s airplane looked “gaudy,” he spent several hours on the floor of the Oval Office cutting up blue-colored paper shapes with President Kennedy before settling on the design that still adorns America’s best-known plane. “Loewy,” wrote Cosmopolitan magazine in 1950, “has probably affected the daily life of more Americans than any man of his time.” And Loewy’s Starliner Coupé from the early 1950s—nicknamed the “Loewy Coupé”—is still one of the most influential automotive designs of the 20th century.

But when he arrived in Manhattan, U.S. companies did not yet need his ideas because they had yet to embrace style and elegance. The capitalists of that era were shorter sighted and efficiency was their only goal. American factories with their electricity, assembly lines, and scientifically calibrated workflow were producing an unprecedented supply of cheap goods by the 1920s, and it became clear that factories could make more than consumers naturally wanted.

It took executives like Alfred Sloan, the CEO of General Motors, to see that by, say, changing a car’s style and color every year, consumers might be trained to crave new versions of the same product. To sell more stuff, American industrialists needed to work hand in hand with artists to make new products beautiful and appealing to consumers.

Loewy had an uncanny sense of how to make things fashionable. He believed that consumers are torn between two opposing forces: neophilia, a curiosity about new things; and neophobia, a fear of anything too new. As a result, they gravitate to products that are bold, but instantly comprehensible. Loewy called his grand theory “Most Advanced Yet Acceptable”—MAYA an acronym that many of us have always lived by, yet never heard of. He said to sell something surprising, make it familiar; and to sell something familiar, make it surprising.

One of the oldest and hardest to answer questions in both philosophical and aesthetics is – Why do people like what they like?

Mystic Ancient thinkers proposed that a “golden ratio” of about 1.62 to 1, as in, for instance, the dimensions of a rectangle—could explain the visual perfection of objects like sunflowers and Greek temples. Many other thinkers were deeply skeptical of this idea. David Hume, the 18th-century philosopher, considered the search for formulas to be absurd, because the perception of beauty was purely subjective, residing in individuals, not in the fabric of the universe. “To seek the real beauty, or real deformity,” he said, “is as fruitless an enquiry, as to pretend to ascertain the real sweet or real bitter.”

In the 1960s, the psychologist Robert Zajonc conducted a series of experiments where he showed subjects nonsense words, random shapes, and Chinese-like characters and asked them which they preferred. In study after study, people reliably gravitated toward the words and shapes they’d seen the most. Their preference was for familiarity so over time, science took up the study and this discovery was known as the “mere-exposure effect,” and it is one of the sturdiest findings in modern psychology. Hundreds of studies and meta-studies later, subjects around the world prefer familiar shapes, landscapes, consumer goods, songs, and human voices. People are even partial to the familiar version of the thing they should know best in the world: their own face. Because you and I are used to seeing our countenance in a mirror, studies show, we often prefer this reflection over the face we see in photographs. The preference for familiarity is so universal that some think it must be written into our genetic code. The evolutionary explanation for the mere-exposure effect would be simple: If you recognized an animal or plant, that meant it hadn’t killed you, at least not yet.

But the preference for familiarity does have limits. People do get tired of even their favorite songs and movies if they’re repeated too often. They develop deep skepticism about overfamiliar buzzwords.

The preference for familiar stimuli in mere-exposure studies is lessened or negated entirely when the participants realize they’re being repeatedly exposed to the same thing. For that reason, the power of familiarity seems to be strongest when a person isn’t expecting it, BUT the reverse is ALSO true.

A surprise seems to work best when it contains some element of familiarity. Consider the experience of Matt Ogle, who, for more than a decade, was obsessed with designing the perfect music-recommendation engine. His philosophy of music was that most people enjoy new songs, but they don’t enjoy the effort it takes to find them. When he joined Spotify, the music-streaming company, he helped build a product called Discover Weekly, a personalized list of 30 songs delivered every Monday to tens of million of users.

The original version of Discover Weekly was supposed to include only songs that users had never listened to before. But in its first internal test at Spotify, a bug in the algorithm let through songs that users had already heard. “Everyone reported it as a bug, and we fixed it so that every single song was totally new,” Ogle told me.

But after Ogle’s team fixed the bug, engagement with the playlist actually fell. “It turns out having a bit of familiarity bred trust, especially for first-time users,” he said. “If we make a new playlist for you and there’s not a single thing for you to hook onto or recognize—to go, ‘Oh yeah, that’s a good call!’—it’s completely intimidating and people don’t engage.” It turned out that the original bug was an essential feature: Discover Weekly was a more appealing product when it had even one familiar band or song.

Several years ago, Paul Hekkert, a professor of industrial design and psychology at Delft University of Technology, in the Netherlands, received a grant to develop a theory of aesthetics and taste. He believed humans seek familiarity, because it makes them feel safe, but on the other hand, people are charged by the thrill of a challenge. This battle between familiarity and discovery affects us “on every level,” according to Hekkert and not just our preferences for pictures and songs, but also our preferences for ideas and even people. When they began their research they weren’t even aware of Raymond Loewy’s theory. They were later told that their conclusions (MAYA) had already been “discovered” by a famous industrial designer.

Raymond Loewy’s aesthetic believed, “One should design for the advantage of the largest mass of people”. He understood that this meant designing with a sense of familiarity in mind.

In 1932, Loewy met for the first time with the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Locomotive design at the time hadn’t advanced much beyond the basic Thomas the Tank Engine model with pronounced chimneys, round faces, and exposed wheels. Loewy imagined something far sleeker—a single smooth shell, the shape of a bullet. His first designs met with considerable skepticism, but Loewy was undaunted. “I knew it would never be considered,” he later wrote of his bold proposal, “but repeated exposure of railroad people to this kind of advanced, unexpected stuff had a beneficial effect. It gradually conditioned them to accept more progressive designs.”

To acquaint himself with the deficiencies of Pennsylvania Railroad trains, Loewy traveled hundreds of miles on the speeding locomotives. He tested air turbulence with engineers and interviewed crew members about the shortage of toilets. A great industrial designer, it turns out, needs to be an anthropologist first and an artist second: Loewy studied how people lived and how machines worked, and then he offered new, beautiful designs that piggybacked on engineers’ tastes and consumers’ habits.

Soon after his first meeting with the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Loewy helped the company design the GG-1, an electric locomotive covered in a single welded-steel plate. Loewy’s suggestion to cover the chassis in a seamless metallic coat was revolutionary in the 1930s. But he eventually persuaded executives to accept his lean and aerodynamic vision, which soon became the standard design of modern trains. What was once radical had become maya, and what was once maya has today become the unremarkable standard.

But, could Loewy’s MAYA theory double as cultural criticism? Have some things become too familiar? Loewy’s theory applies to many a field, including the entertainment industry, cultural arts and academia. Scientists and philosophers are exquisitely sensitive to the advantage of ideas that already enjoy broad familiarity.

In 2014, a team of researchers from Harvard University and Northeastern University wanted to know exactly what sorts of proposals were most likely to win funding from prestigious institutions such as the National Institutes of Health—safely familiar proposals, or extremely novel ones? They prepared about 150 research proposals and gave each one a novelty score. Then they recruited 142 world-class scientists to evaluate the projects.

The most-novel proposals got the worst ratings. Exceedingly familiar proposals fared a bit better, but they still received low scores. “Everyone dislikes novelty,” Karim Lakhani, a co-author, explained to me, and “experts tend to be overcritical of proposals in their own domain.” The highest evaluation scores went to submissions that were deemed slightly new. There is an “optimal newness” for ideas, Lakhani said—advanced yet acceptable.

This appetite for “optimal newness” applies to other industries, too. In Silicon Valley, where venture capitalists also sift through a surfeit of proposals, many new ideas are promoted as a fresh spin on familiar successes. The home-rental company Airbnb was once called “eBay for homes.” The on-demand car-service companies Uber and Lyft were once considered “Airbnb for cars.”

But the preference for “optimal newness” doesn’t apply just to academics and venture capitalists. According to Stanley Lieberson, a sociologist at Harvard, it’s a powerful force in the evolution of our own identities. And it ALL began with one man, Raymond Loewy.

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHEESE ~ RUBY CHOCOLATE ~ BLOG 365.325B

I’m sure you’ve heard of it on your favorite cooking show, even if you have no idea what it really is. I know I had and even though it was explained, it just wouldn’t register and stay in my brain.

I’m entering a charcuterie board contest on New Year’s Even and chose the desert category. I’ve been looking for not only tried and true recipe ideas, but some new and unusual ones too. I ran across a recipe for chocolate covered cheese. YEP, you read that right, chocolate covered cheese!

I decided to try it three ways, milk, dark and ruby covered with a flake salt. I skipped white as I’m just not a fan – worst discovery of 1930 in my book! I also decided to try it with multiple flavored cheeses. I’m using Jack, sharp white cheddar and a champagnes Havarti. These are the pre-event taste tests> 😀

I figured I should do the research to really understand what Ruby chocolate it. I didn’t believe the cotton colored hue of the chocolate could be natural, but for the most part I was seriously wrong!

Ruby chocolate magically appeared in 2017 after a 13 year development process in Switzerland by the Barry Callebaut company. I say magically because the details of how it is produced are kept closely guarded, but they have noted that the color and unique flavor are products of the bean’s fermentation process.

Nestle released a limited edition KitKat overseas and another version again in 2019 in the UK leaving many companies scrambling to develop their own version.

Ruby chocolate is made from Ruby Cacao Beans which are found in South America; Ecuador and Brazil as well as the Ivory Coast (West African coast). Like specific grapes grown for specific wines, the ruby cacao beans are directly influenced by their growing environment so are cultivated in very specific climates.

So far in my taste testing I’m finding that far more women appreciate the flavor than men do. MEH seems to be the overwhelming consensus of the men I know and even many women can take it or leave it. BUT, it will still be a stunning addition to my charcuterie board 😀

There are NO added berries, flavor or dyes, yet ruby chocolate tastes berry like. The fruity flavor has hints of strawberry and raspberry and is quite smooth in texture, but not milky. While it’s NOT bitter, it does have a slightly tart after effect taste. I did find this image on the company’s website that may explain it better.

 

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHEESE

8 ounces aged cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Flake sea salt

  • Cut cheese into 1/2-in. cubes.
  • In a microwave, melt chocolate in 30 second increments; stirring until smooth.
  • Dip cheese cubes in chocolate, allowing excess to drip off.
  • Place on waxed paper.
  • Sprinkle with a few grains of salt.
  • Let stand until set.

SLOW COOKER HATCH CHILE BBQ RIBS ~ BLOG 365.237

SLOW COOKER HATCH CHILE BBQ RIBS

The best part of this slow cooker recipe is that it does all the work! All you have to do is come home to a prepared dinner of sticky, fall apart, melt-in-your-mouth incredible ribs!

2 cups barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup diced FRESH roasted Hatch chiles
4 pounds baby back pork ribs
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste

  • Spray inside of a 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.
  • Remove and discard the inner membrane from the ribs and cut into slabs that will fit into your slow cooker.
  • Generously season the ribs with a good amount of salt and pepper.
  • Combine BBQ sauce, brown sugar, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and chiles in a small bowl, mixing well to combine.
  • Completely cover the ribs with half of the sauce. 

  • Cover with lid and cook on low setting for 7-9 hours or high setting for 3-5 hours (see notes).
  • Refrigerate remaining sauce to use later.

  • When ribs are tender and falling apart, transfer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Lift them carefully as the meat will be very tender and falling off the bone). 

  • Pour half of the juices from the slow cooker bowl into the remaining sauce.
  • Baste ribs with half of the sauce and broil in preheated oven at 400° for 5-10 minutes or until beginning to char and crisp on the edges. 

  • Serve ribs with remaining sauce.


NOTES:

  • Cook times seriously depend on the desired results you are looking for:
  • Ribs that are soft but stay on the bone = LOW: 5-6 HOURS / HIGH: 3 HOURS.
  • Tender, fall apart ribs that melt in your mouth like butter = LOW: 7-8 HOURS / HIGH: 4-5 HOURS.

HATCH CHILES are my favorite green chile. They are similar to their cousin the Anaheim green chile, but is specific to the Hatch Valley in southern New Mexico. Hatch chiles only come from Hatch, New Mexico. The HATCH green chile is especially popular throughout all of New Mexico, as well as Texas and Southern California.

They have a balanced, smoky heat that enhances both savory and sweet dishes. You can buy a canned version of roasted Hatch chiles, but nothing beats a FRESH roasted one. August and September are the BEST times to find them.

True Parmesan cheese only comes from the Reggio Emilia and Parma region, champagne only comes from the champagne wine region of France and similarily Hatch chiles from the Hatch Valley are like grapes coming from the Napa Valley.

Hatch chiles are extremely versatile. I add them to stews, sauces, dips, dressings, salsa and even desserts. Some of my favorite sandwich cookies in the world (Sweet Lime chile) come from the HEB grocery chain in Texas. Try adding some FRESH roasted chopped chiles to your apple pie or on top of a burger or your slice of pizza.

Green and red Hatch chiles are the same pepper just picked at different times. They do each offer distinct flavors though. I LOVE them best in August when they offer a smoky flavor. But, in September when the turn red they offer a sweeter flavor better suited for the sweeter recipes.

Right now there is a local food truck specializing in Roasted Hatch Chiles in our little town and I have been taking full advantage of buying them FRESH roasted and preparing them for the freezer so I’ll have them all year long.

MEXICAN STREET CORN CHOWDER ala CROCK POT

Ever wondered what the difference is between a soup, a stew and a chowder?

A soup is usually made with stock or broth and can have vegetables, meat or fish as ingredients and is generally not very thick.

A chowder may have the same ingredients as a soup or even a stew, but is more chunky, creamy and thick. It is often prepared with milk or cream and thickened with broken crackers, biscuits, or a roux. A chowder is also usually made with fish and corn.

A stew is made by sweltering the ingredients in a covered pot.

You can do this the easy way or the easier way, both taste just as delicious.

MEXICAN STREET CHICKEN CORN CHOWDER serves 8-10
5-6 cups FRESH corn (about 10 ears)
6 slices thick bacon, diced
1 LARGE Vidalia onion, chopped
1 LARGE red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 can HOT diced green chiles or jalapenos
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
2 1/2 cups rotisseries chicken pieces
1-2 cups homemade chicken broth
Juice and zest of 1 LARGE lime
1 cup heavy whipping cream

GARNISHES
FRESH chopped cilantro
lime wedges
sliced jalapenos
chopped bell pepper

  • Cut corn from cobs, reserving corn juice as you go. You should have at least a cup of corn juice, preferably two. Add enough of the chicken broth to make it a total of 2 cups.
  • Add corn and juice to slow cooker.
  • In a large skillet, cook bacon pieces over medium heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper toweling to drain.
  • Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings and add onions and peppers, sauteing 3-4 minutes.
  • Add red pepper flakes, green chiles or jalapenos, FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, stirring to blend.
  • Add to slow cooker, stirring into corn mixture.
  • Cook on low 3 1/2-4 hours until corn is tender and mixture has thickened slightly.
  • Stir in chicken pieces during the last half hour.
  • Stir in cream and lime juice.
  • Garnish with zest and desired toppings.

NOTE: If you are in a hurry this can all be done on the stove top, but I highly reccomend the slow cooker for a deeper flavor.

AUGUST 16TH ~ NATIONAL ROLLER COASTER DAY

I saw a fun piece a couple weeks ago about roller coasters and thought I’d share the highlights with you for National Roller Coaster Day. If you want to read the entire article you can find it here.

The patent dates back to August 16, 1898, hence today being national roller coaster day, and was granted to Edwin Prescott from Massachusetts for the vertical loop. Many attribute the Coney Island Loop the Loop coaster as the first. It wasn’t the first, but it did offer a safer and more comfortable version of the loop with the elliptical shaped loop. Prescott’s loop was less successful, though the first. His loop only allowed a single car with four passengers to ride at a single time. His coaster closed after only 9 years in operation, but in honor of his pioneering spirit August 16th is celebrated as National Roller Coaster Day.

Here is a synopsis of the fun facts. Be sure to read the article above if you’re looking for more details.

1. The American roller coaster was invented to save America from Satan. In 1884 LaMarcus Anna Thompson invented a coaster on Coney Island called the Switchback Gravity Railway and you could ride for just a nickel. His goal was to create a diversion from the hedonistic appeal of saloons and brothels. He is often referred to as the “Father of the American Rollercoaster” because of the obvious connection to amusement parks. BUT, his rollercoaster was not like any rollercoaster we know today. A gravity based, slow moving coaster with cars that faced outward, not forward to enjoy constructed scenes or pretty pictures if you will, of scenes like the Swiss Alps or the Venetian canals and only traveled at less than six miles per hour.

2. One of the earliest coasters in America carried coal before it carried thrill seekers. In 1827, predating Thompson’s Satan distractor by several decades, the Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway in the Lehigh valley was used to haul coal between coal mines. It was a gravity based coal carrier that could reach fifty miles per hour in the morning and a joy ride in the afternoon. Mules would bring it back up the grade when empty.

Mount Pisgah with the Mauch Chunk and Summit Hill Switchback Railroad, 1846-47. Wikipedia

3. “Russian mountains” predated roller coasters—and Catherine the Great improved them. These are actually quite interesting to me as they deal with snow, but Catherine II popularized it for the “upper class” installing one on her property that could be used year round with sleds in the winter and wheeled cars in the summer.

4. Roller coaster loops are never circular. “Sure, some roller coasters can loop-the-loop, but have you ever noticed it’s never perfectly circular? To oversimplify things, the loop isn’t a circle itself, it’s roughly the part where two circles hypothetically overlap, sort of like the middle of a Venn diagram. Secondly, some physics: Centripetal force is what holds keeps you from falling out of roller coaster while it’s upside down. Simply speaking, this means when you’re traveling on a curved path and velocity is pushing you forward, you’re also being pulled toward the curve’s central point. When roller coasters are designed, the engineers’ first job is to establish how fast they want you to go. Taking centripetal force into consideration will dictate the shape and size of the loop.”

5. Riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney World could help dislodge kidney stones. There have been studies done… and the short of it is that two-thirds of the time if you have a kidney stone it will be dislodged during this ride if you are sitting in the rear of the coaster.

6. The clanking powered chain lift allows roller coasters to climb those first big anxiety inducing inclines was invented by Phillip Hinkle. Up until 1884 when he invented this lift, riders would have to climb steep stairs or hills to board the cars. Gravity would take over from that point. Coasters like the Coney Island’s Gravity Pleasure Road, also known as the Oval Coaster could be built on an elliptical path because of Hinkle’s invention.

7. As of now, Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey is the tallest roller coaster in the world. It climbs 465 feet straight up before descending rapidly from zero to 128 miles per hour in only 3.5 seconds in order to speed you up 45 stories high at a 90-degree angle. But, the rest of the ride is a 50.6 second blur.

8. The fastest roller coaster is Formula Rossa at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. This coaster goes from zero to 149 miles per hour in just 4.9 seconds. It has a maximum height of 170 feet and an adrenaline rush of 4.8Gs. It’s known for making you feel like a race car driver, though some say it just leaves you feeling sick.

9. The Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land in Japan opened August 1, 2000 and is the longest coaster (1.5 miles) in the world, but when it opened it was ALSO the fastest and tallest though other coasters have stolen the fastest and tallest crowns since.

According to Coasterpedia: The chain lift hill is an initial drop of 306.8 foot and a 252 foot camelback hill. The train subsequently rises up and into the figure-eight shaped helix. The train then passes through a mid-course brake run and over six more camelback hills, passing through two tunnels along the way before reaching the final brakes.

10. You know that gorgeous guy, Fabio Lanzoni, who is on the covers of so many romance novels form the 80’s and 90’s? Fabio was allegedly struck in the face by a goose when debuting the Apollo’s Chariot at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Though he claims the bird struck a video camera that then struck him. Either way if you’ve ever been suspicious of boarding a roller coaster because it takes you awfully close to where birds are zooming around, your fears are not unfounded.

11. Brain chemistry is responsible for whether or not you enjoy roller coasters. Not everyone enjoys the loops, hills, turns, speed, dips, drops and spirals of today’s coasters.Higher levels of dopamine, which are neurotransmitters associated with reward-motivated behavior, are linked to many sensation seeking activities. Endorphins which lead to increased feelings of euphoria could also explain why you like the thrill so much.

12. Born to be wild are the future roller coasters that promise cars that rotate and roller coaster-water slide mashups. A few years ago the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published five patent applications from Universal for amusement park technologies.

Two patents laid out ways for coaster cars to change direction while the coaster was moving, turning sideways as well as forward while the ride is in motion. Disney similarly applied for a patent that would allow a car’s seat to move while the coaster is cruising. But spinning cars aren’t the only thing coming. Also a German rollercoaster manufacturer shared conceptual renderings for what they called the “world’s first hybrid roller coaster and waterslide”. Others are after that title also as a Canadian company opened Cheetah Chase: the world’s first launched water coaster at Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari in Indiana.

13. Ron Toomer is an American engineer credited with pioneering steel rollercoasters, one of the most famous roller coaster designers had bad motion sickness and RARELY rode any of his rides. Just the thought of it would make him queasy. The bigger they were, they sicker he’d get. He designed the Runaway Mine Ride at Six Flags Over Texas in 1966 which was known for its “tubular track” and the “inverted helix-shaped” Corkscrew, which also sprung up at a number of parks, in 1975. He was also responsible for the first suspended coasters—where the car hangs like a swing. According to him in an interview with People magazine in 1989, he’s quoted saying, “They’ve gotten too big. And the bigger they are, the sicker I get. Just the thought of riding on one makes me queasy. I’d much rather sit at my drafting table and draw them.”.

14. If you like your coasters rickety, then Leap-The-Dips in Altoona, Pennsylvania, is the ride for you. This wooden rollercoaster was built in 1902, and, yes, 120 years later, it is still in operation. It only goes ten miles an hour and doesn’t have seatbelts, lapbars or headrests and was quite the innovation for its time. It is a side friction coaster, which means it has weight-bearing road wheels underneath the cars to guide it and side-friction wheels off to the side that employ friction to keep the cars on the track. The industry standard now is coasters with underfriction, or up-stop, wheels that keep speedy coasters from lifting off their tracks. This coaster is apparently still inspiring inventors today. Elon Musk’s HyperLoop first PROPOSED in 2013, is a theoretical form of transportation for a dream world traffic congestion solution that could be used to move vehicles (tubes) at speeds of 760 miles per hour per hour and is essentially a side friction coaster on steroids.

EVERETT STEW (formerly known as Brunswick Stew)

Brunswick Stew has a complicated history to say the very least. Brunswick, Georgia and Brunswick County Virginia have been dueling over the HOME and ORIGIN of the stew for many years. Brunswick County Virginia holds an annual “Stew Off” and Brunswick, Georgia displays not one, but two separate memorial sites of where they claim the first Brunswick Stew was cooked up. Historians state that the Virginia version predates Georgia by about 70 years and was even printed in early cookbooks. There is also a Brunswick, North Carolina, but they tend to just stay out of it altogether.

Credit: Robert Moss

Credit: Courtesy of Jim Auchmutey

From my research some of the earliest recipes called for squirrel or groundhog meat and used hominy claiming that these were Native American in ancestry and the basis for the first Brunswick stew. Basically it was a “roadkill” stew. Game meat such as deer, rabbit or even bear meat was often used along with corn or squash, basically what was on hand for early Appalachian settlers, and was simmered with butter, onions, stale bread and seasoning.

While today’s Brunswick stew typically uses beef, chicken or pork, it is still a thick tomato based stew that uses a variety of basic vegetables like corn, carrots and potatoes as well as butter beans. Okra is a common vegetable used and is a great thickening agent, but I personally don’t care for it so omit it altogether. It’s typically served during cooler weather, but in reality is good anytime. 😀

Virginia favors chicken and rabbit meat. Georgia’s version typically uses a mixture of pork and beef with hotter spices and often accompanies barbecue. North Carolina favors pulled pork and Kentucky, yes even Kentucky get in on this, but they call it Burgoo.
Virginians think that Georgia’s stew is too spicy and Georgians think that Virginia’s stew is too mushy and thick. Also Georgian Brunswick stew almost always has peas and Virginian Brunswick stew almost NEVER has peas. The meat and even the vegetables vary by location, but the one thing southern cooks ALL agree on is that the stew MUST have a thick paste like consistency.

This article in Southern Living is one of the most thorough to follow but, this article at It’s A Southern Thing is one of the simplest and easiest to follow.

So after all that, I offer you MY version of Brunswick Stew loosely based on an old recipe I found in my grandmother’s pile of cut out recipes. To stay out of the fray of the debate I decided to call mine EVERETT STEW making it regional to the area I was living in when I developed the recipe.

EVERETT STEW (formerly known as Brunswick Stew) serves 4-6
4 medium new potatoes, cut into small cubes
2 medium onions, chopped SMALL
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
4 cups homemade chicken bone broth
2 or 3 cans crushed tomatoes
4 tablespoons brown sugar
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
3-3 1/2 pound pork butt, cut in half, trimmed of excess fat**
1 can white beans
1 or 2 cans of Mexican corn niblets
Chopped green onions for garnish

  • Spray the inside of your crock with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Stir together the potatoes, onions, carrots, bone broth, tomatoes, brown sugar, salt and pepper.
  • Nestle pork pieces down into the mixture, turning to coat well.
  • Cover and cook on LOW 7-9 hours or HIGH 5-6 hours until the meat shreds easily with two forks.
  • Remove meat, shred and return to the slow cooker along with the corn and white beans. Cook another 30 minutes on LOW to heat through.
  • Top with fresh chopped green onions.
  • Serve with crusty bread or FRESH rolls.

**NOTE: This recipe can be made quicker (2 hours simmering) on the stove top if you have leftover meats to use.

HAVE A BLESSED EASTER SUNDAY

Easter is late again this year! Do you ever wonder how the date is decided? Well, let me tell you what I found with a little research.

Unlike Christmas, the date of Easter Sunday changes every year and can fall anytime between March 22nd and April 25th.  Why is this you ask?

Because Easter Sunday is decided by complex calculations based on the moon.  Early on in Christianity different churches used different methods.  This led to disagreements that still exist today in some cultures.

Easter celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus which according to the Bible happened around the same time as Jewish Passover.  Passover typically begins the night of the first FULL moon AFTER the spring equinox (usually March 20th or 21st) EXCEPT in months when it is the SECOND full moon.  This most recently occurred in 2016.  The FULL moon can vary in each time zone so the Church calculates Easter from the 14th day of the ecclesiastic lunar month which is known as the paschal full moon.  Easter is the Sunday that follows the paschal full moon that falls on or after the equinox so can be from 1-7 days later. This year Passover and Easter fall on the same weekend with Passover coinciding with Good Friday.

In 1818 the full moon fell on the equinox, Saturday March 21, so Easter was the next day, March 22. Easter will not be this early again until the year 2285.  The earliest recent Easter was March 23 in 2008.  In 1943 a full moon fell on March 20, just before the equinox, so the paschal full moon was the next one on April 18 which was a Sunday so Easter was seven days later on April 25. It will not be this late again until 2038. The latest recent Easter was April 23 in the year 2000.

This year Good Friday was April 15th and today is Easter Sunday.  You can find a table for upcoming Easter Sundays here.

Here is a fun Easter egg recipe.

Using ordinary materials (vinegar, food coloring and whipping cream) you probably already have on hand to decorate gorgeous Easter eggs is so easy and fun too! You will want to wear gloves so as not to dye your fingers.

TIE-DYE EASTER EGGS
INGREDIENTS
Bowl of Vinegar
Whipped cream
Food coloring
Hard-boiled eggs

  • Boils eggs and cool to room temperature.
  • In a bowl large enough to hold all the eggs (or work in batches) place the eggs in the bowl and cover with vinegar for 20 minutes. The vinegar allows the dye to adhere to the egg shell better.
  • Dry the eggs and set aside.
  • In a large baking dish fill it with a thick layer (about 1 inch deep) of the whipping cream.
  • Generously dot the cream with various colors of food dye coating most of the surface fairly close together.
  • Drag a skewer or chopstick through the cream to create a tie-dye design, kind of like you’re making a marbled cake.
  • Place a layer of paper towels on a cookie sheet and set aside.
  • Put on gloves to protect your hands from the dye.
  • Gently place an egg on the surface of the whipped cream.
  • Slowly roll the egg over the surface to coat the shell.
  • Place the egg on the cookie sheet and repeat with remaining eggs. DO NOT WIPE ANYTHING OFF!
  • Let dry 20 minutes.
  • Fill a large bowl with water. The water will remove the excess cream leaving the design on the egg.
  • Gently submerge the egg and then GENTLY dry with paper toweling. DO NOT RUB HARD as you might rub off the design.
  • Store eggs in refrigerator.

NOTE: This can be done substituting shaving cream for whipped cream, but then they are for decoration only and NOT edible!!

And just for your information here is a great little color chart for other methods.

LIMONCELLO CAKE

LIMONCELLO CAKE adapted from MOM ON TIMEOUT

This is a SUPER MOIST cake full of lemony flavor that is PERFECT for everything from a breakfast treat, afternoon snack or an elegant dessert!

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup avocado oil
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons homemade limoncello or lemon vodka
1 cup FULL fat sour cream at room temperature
2 LARGE eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 drops yellow food coloring

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Spray a 9×5 loaf pan or decorative rounds with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, granulated sugar, sour cream, limoncello, lemon zest, eggs, lemon extract, vanilla extract and food coloring, whisking together just until combined. Be careful not to over mix.

  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth top.

  • Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs. If using decorative rounds you’ll need to adjust your baking time accordingly.
  • Let the cake rest in the pan for 10 minutes before carefully removing and transferring to a cooling rack. Allow the cake to cool completely before adding the glaze.

LIMONCELLO GLAZE
1 cup powdered sugar sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons limoncello

  • Whisk the powdered sugar and limoncello together until no lumps remain. If it’s too thin add additional powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency. If it is too thick add a bit more Limoncello, a teaspoon at a time.)

  • Drizzle glaze over the top of the cooled cake. Let the glaze set up before slicing and serving.


HOMEMADE LIMONCELLO
10 LEMONS, washed
1 770 ML bottle of VODKA (brand of your choice)
3 cups water
2 cups sugar

  • Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peels from the lemons in long strips. Reserve the lemons for another use. If any of the peels still have pith on them use a sharp knife to remove and discard the pith.
  • Place peels in a 2 quart pitcher or bowl.
  • Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with saran.
  • Steep the peels for 4 days at room temperature undisturbed.
  • Add the water and sugar to a large saucepan over medium heat, whisking 5 minutes until sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Cool completely.
  • Pour the syrup over the vodka mixture.
  • Recover and let stand overnight at room temperature.
  • Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer, discarding the peels.
  • Transfer the Limoncello to your bottle.
  • Seal and refrigerate until cold.
  • Keep refrigerated up to a month.

OLD FASHIONED GINGERBREAD

I remembered a target commercial from a few decades ago that featured Betty White making Gingerbread men so thought this was a good day for this recipe in honor of her would be 100th birthday. I even found a youtube of the old commercial.

I have been trying to recreate my grandmother’s gingerbread recipe for years. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have been written down anywhere and she is no longer with us so I cannot even try to coax it out of her 🙁

Her recipe was super moist, spicy with complex flavors. Each time I try a new recipe that sounds like it might come close I am sorely disappointed time after time. And then I ran across Jane’s recipe from The Heritage Cook. It didn’t sound right, but it sure looked right! So, I decided to give it a try and WHOA with a couple tweaks it’s so darn close that I’m calling it a day on my search.

It was the black pepper that didn’t sound right, but who am I to say that grams didn’t use black pepper? I know she didn’t use fresh ginger, but she may have compensated with a much larger amount of ground ginger.

This REALLY is NOT a timid gingerbread. It is EXTREMELY bold and FULL of bold flavor. This is really NOT like most gingerbread that you remember, but is spicy, bold and flavorful. The taste will linger on your tongue and that’s a good thing. This recipe is PERFECT for the holidays, but truly wonderful year round.

OLD FASHIONED GINGERBREAD – YIELDS 10-12 MUFFINS
ADAPTED slightly FROM JANE the HERITAGE COOK
1 cup unsalted butter
½ cup water
¾ cup mild unsulphured molasses (NOT Blackstrap)
¾ cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup  or QUALITY flavorful honey or Agave Nectar (see note)
1 cup PACKED dark brown sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 ½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoon QUALITY ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 LARGE eggs, at room temperature
½ cup WHOLE milk
2 packed tablespoons FRESH peeled and grated ginger

  • Combine the butter, water, molasses, honey and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat stirring frequently until the butter is melted and the ingredients are smoothly incorporated. Remove from the heat and pour into a large aluminum bowl as an aluminum bowl will cool much quicker than those made of other materials.
  • Set aside and cool to lukewarm. If you are in a hurry you can cool down the bowl by placing it in a cool water bath.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Lightly grease a muffin tin and set aside. Bundt and loaf pans also work well with this recipe.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice and cloves.
  • When the molasses mixture has cooled to lukewarm, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Add the milk and stir to combine.
  • With a wooden spoon fold in the dry ingredients gradually. Gingerbread is like brownies, you don’t want to over mix it.
  • Stir in the grated ginger.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when touched and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. If making a bundt or loaf pan bake time will be 1 – 1 1/4 hours. If the top is browning too quickly, tent with a piece of foil.
  • Cool for 10-20 minutes in the pan set on a wire rack, then invert onto the wire rack and cool completely.
  • Store in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. Bring to to room temperature before serving.
  • Serve with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream if desired. A dollop of whipped cream will temper the spiciness a lot.

TIPS & HINTS

  • Lyle’s Golden Syrup has a delicate butterscotch flavor and it allows the other flavors to shine through. It is a byproduct of refining sugar cane and you can use it in place of corn syrup, maple syrup, or honey. A company that follows fair trade practices and has a low carbon footprint, Lyles has created a product to be proud of.
  • There are several types of molasses available on the market and using one over another can drastically change the flavor of your baked goods. Unsulphured molasses is the highest quality, made from sun-ripened sugar cane and is from the first boiling in sugar processing while sulphured molasses is made from unripe sugar cane, treated with sulphur fumes, and is from the second boiling. It has a darker color and stronger flavor. The strongest form is called Blackstrap and is the most bitter. Whenever a recipe calls for a specific type of molasses, the balance will be off if you use a different kind.

On a side note Betty White was a fabulous dancer and while I believe she had a stunt double for parts of the season 3 dance scene that starts around the 5 minute mark in this clip, I do remember hearing that she still danced several hours a day well into her 60’s.

EPIPHANY – KING CAKE for MARDI GRAS

Mardi Gras 2022 falls on Tuesday, March 1st this year and is also known as Fat Tuesday, the last day of the Carnival season as it always falls the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Fat Tuesday is EXACTLY what it sounds like – time to party and EAT! 
Carnival runs from Epiphany, the 12th night, January 6 through March 1, 2022 so I thought this would be a good time to re-run this recipe for Mardis Gras King Cake.  I threw in some history for you also since King Cake isn’t just for Mardi Gras though that is what it is most famous for these days.
I often make this cake without the Mardi Gras colors, but using traditional Christmas colors.

A king cake (sometimes rendered as kingcake, kings’ cake, king’s cake, or three kings cake) is a type of cake associated with the festival of Epiphany in the Christmas season in a number of countries, and in other places with Mardi Gras and Carnival.

The “king cake” takes its name from the biblical three kings. Catholic tradition states that their journey to Bethlehem took twelve days (the Twelve Days of Christmas), and that they arrived to honor the Christ Child on Epiphany. The season for king cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Twelfth Night and Epiphany Day), through to Mardi Gras day. Some organizations or groups of friends may have “king cake parties” every week through the Carnival season.

Related culinary traditions are the tortell of Catalonia, the gâteau des Rois in Provence or the galette des Rois in the northern half of France, and the Greek and Cypriot vasilopita. The galette des Rois is made with puff pastry and frangipane (while the gâteau des Rois is made with brioche and candied fruits). A little bean was traditionally hidden in it, a custom taken from the Saturnalia in the Roman Empire: the one who stumbled upon the bean was called “king of the feast.” In the galette des Rois, since 1870 the beans have been replaced first by porcelain and, now by plastic figurines; while the gâteau des Rois Also known as “Rosca de Reyes” in Mexico.

In the southern United States, the tradition was brought to the area by colonists from France and Spain and it is associated with Carnival, which is celebrated in the Gulf Coast region, centered on New Orleans, but ranging from the Florida Panhandle to East Texas. King cake parties in New Orleans are documented back to the eighteenth century. The king cake of the New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition comes in a number of styles. The most simple, said to be the most traditional, is a ring of twisted bread similar to that used in brioche topped with icing or sugar, usually colored purple, green, and gold (the traditional Carnival colors) with food coloring. Cajun king cakes are traditionally deep-fat-fried as a doughnut would be, and there are many variants, some with a filling, the most common being cream cheese and praline. It has become customary in the New Orleans culture that whoever finds the trinket must provide the next king cake or host the next Mardi Gras party.

Some say that French settlers brought the custom to Louisiana in the 18th century where it remained associated with the Epiphany until the 19th century when it became a more elaborate Mardi Gras custom. In New Orleans, the first cake of the season is served on January 6. A small ceramic figurine of a baby is hidden inside the cake, by tradition. However now, the tradition is giving way to the baby being supplied and the customer placing the baby were ever they wish in the cake. Whoever finds the baby is allowed to choose a mock court and host the next King Cake party the following week (weekly cake parties were held until Mardi Gras).

The classic king cake is oval-shaped, like the pattern of a racetrack. The dough is basic coffee-cake dough, sometimes laced with cinnamon, sometimes just plain. The dough is rolled out into a long tubular shape (not unlike a thin po-boy), then shaped into an oval. The ends are twisted together to complete the shape  (HINT: if you want to find the piece with the baby, look for the twist in the oval where the two ends of the dough meet. That’s where the baby is usually inserted.) The baby hidden in the cake speaks to the fact that the three Kings had a difficult time finding the Christ Child and of the fine gifts they brought.

The cake is then baked, and decorated when it comes out. The classic decoration is simple granulated sugar, colored purple, green, and gold for the colors of Carnival. King cakes have gotten more and more fancy over the years, so now bakeries offer iced versions where there’s classic white coffee cake glaze on the cake before it’s decorated, and even king cakes filled with apple, cherry, cream cheese, or other kinds of coffee-cake fillings.

King cakes are available at bakeries all over South Louisiana, but only after January 6 through Mardi Gras Day.

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which starts on Ash Wednesday. Popular practices also include wearing masks and costumes, overturning most social conventions, dancing, sports competitions, parades and such. Similar expressions to Mardi Gras appear in other European languages sharing the Christian tradition. In English, the day is called Shrove Tuesday, associated with the religious requirement for confession before Lent begins.

This is my version of this yummy yeast bread/cake.

MARDI GRAS KING CAKE (makes 2 cakes)

PASTRY
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

FILLING
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup melted butter

FROSTING/GLAZE
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon water

  • Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of the butter.  Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  • When yeast mixture is bubbly, add the cooled milk mixture.
  • Whisk in the eggs.
  • Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg.
  • Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.
  • Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
  • When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with SILPATS or parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins.
  • Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
  • Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10×16 inches).
  • Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side.
  • Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings.
  • Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet.
  • With sharp knife make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  • Push the doll into the bottom of the cake.
  • Decorate with beads.
  • Frost while warm with the glaze.