A Very Special Update!

Hello Very Special Readers!

I know I’ve been sporadically posting for the last few years. The truth is, I just cannot stand the way WordPress is setup now.

Oh how I long for the days of that old school “classic editor”! I can’t tell you how many times I accidentally deleted shit when writing last year’s Summer of Swayze and I kinda just didn’t want to finish it because the formatting process was so cumbersome and unfulfilling. And I don’t feel good about how many projects I’ve deprioritized because it takes too long to make them work on here.

That’s why I’m going to move on over to Substack. I hope you’ll join me! You can either read “The Very Special Blog” directly on Substack or subscribe to receive my newsletter directly to your email. It’s real easy, just head to: https://theveryspecialblog.substack.com/

I’m starting a new series this summer where I will be covering the “Malibu Sands” episodes of Saved by the Bell. In addition to my hot takes on Jesse Spano’s perfect beach waves, you’ll also be receiving a cool homemade ice cream recipe with each episode. (I couldn’t even crack an egg when I started this blog, so if I can make ice cream, then you can too!! As an added bonus my recipes do not require an ice cream machine.)

I’m keeping this blog active because there’s almost eight years worth of content on here! And I’m not ruling out posting on here in the future…but I think it’s time for something new.

Greetings from The Golden Girls Cookbook!

Last month I was the grateful recipient of The Golden Girls Cookbook. First of all, this book is gorgeous. Every page is trimmed with a cheesecake illustration or the classic GG wallpaper. Packed with full-color photos and peppered with snippets of dialogue from the show, the book is a true keepsake that any fan would treasure. Even more importantly, this cookbook contains truly delicious recipes.

The sections are organized by character with a lovely full profile of each at the top of her section. That said, this can make browsing a little difficult. So you would want to navigate the table of contents if you’re trying to pick out a quick appetizer or dessert to complete your menu.

Most of the dishes featured in this post came from Blanche’s section:
-Cheesy Grits Casserole
-Panfried Okra
-Honey-Bourbon Glazed Carrots

The one exception is the Pot Pie recipe, which came from Rose’s section. (Sorry, Dorothy & Sophia. I’ll have to try your recipes out later!)

A quick note for those making the pot pie (pictured second from left below): I would go easy on the milk/broth requirements. It was delicious but more of a bisque than a pie filling, and even adding more flour wouldn’t have thickened it into the filling I really wanted. If I were to make it again, I would cut back on some of the liquid. On a more positive note, the recipes are well written, which makes it easy to sub out ingredients. For example, my pot pie used shrimp instead of chicken. Stay tuned for cheesecake next time!

Kenan & Kel Inspired Orange Soda Donuts: A 6 Step Recipe

{I guess technically this was more Kel inspired since I’m not sure Kenan was as into the whole orange soda thing.}

I’m not really a person who makes things in the kitchen, but I found a mini donut maker on Amazon and eyed it for a very long time before purchasing it. Then I left it in its box for a couple of months until I finally decided to use it tonight. So if I can make this ridiculously easy recipe, then anyone can. Also, if you don’t have a donut maker, then you can also use a donut pan in your oven. These are cake donuts, baked not fried. And they’re very tasty! I used a cake mix donut recipe from “It’s Always Autumn” and added a little Kenan & Kel twist.

The ingredients are simple:

-1 box orange cake mix
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-1 egg
-1 cup orange soda
-Cream Cheese Frosting
-Cooking spray for your pan/donut maker

Step 1. Combine cake mix, vegetable oil, egg, and orange soda in a large mixing bowl.

Step 2. Whisk the ingredients together. I realized after starting this process that I do not own a whisk. So I used an egg beater. It worked.
Step 3. Shovel some batter into a plastic baggy, cut one of the corners, and pipe that batter into the pan. img_1081

Step 4. Use a plastic spatula or wooden spoon to remove the donuts from the pan and place them on a plate too cool.
Step 5. Lather, rinse, repeat. Seriously, this makes like 24 donuts and with only 7 fitting in the pan at a time, I felt like the “Time to Make the Donuts” guy was my kindred spirit.
Step 6. Apply a thin layer of cream cheese frosting to your donuts.

Although I did not use her recipe, the concept behind this post was inspired by Jessica Segarra’s “The Kenan and Kel: Orange Soda Mini Donut” in Mini Donuts: 100 Bite-Sized Donut Recipes to Sweeten Your “Hole” Day, available on Amazon.

Chopped: Sitcom Moms

600x600bb-85I’m going into uncharted territory here, Very Special Readers! This post covers food-blogging. Is that what you call it? Or cooking blogging? Cooking is not something I know much about, but if anyone can pull me out of my blogging comfort-zone then it’s Jackée Harry and Betsy Randle.

I’m more of a Cupcake Wars fan myself, but Chopped drew me in with this “sitcom mom” episode. Shout out to my boyfriend for interrupting my Disney Vacation to tell me this was on TV, but I had to track down the youtube link on my own when he falsely told me it was “live TV.”

The Contestants:
Tichina Arnold from Everybody Hates Chris
Betsy Randle from Boy Meets World
Jo Marie Payton from Family Matters
Jackée Harry from Sister, Sister

The Appetizer Round:
The Ingredients:
TV Dinners, Portobello Mushrooms, Fresh Spinach, Sour Cream

cqf-o6bu8aalqwwWhat I would have made: TV Dinner with diced mushrooms mixed in. Spinach and Sour Cream pudding. (Maybe saying cooking was “not something I know much about” is vast underestimation.)

What they made:
Tichina- Spinach salad (mushrooms, olive oil, fresh lemon, balsamic vinegar)
Jackée- Sautéed TV Dinner with Spinach
Jo Marie- Sautéed Mushrooms with Cajun Stuffing
Betsy- Mushroom and turkey casserole with garlic mashed potatoes on bed of spinach drizzled with champagne vinaigrette.

mv5bmjexodkzmti3nl5bml5banbnxkftztgwnda0njq5nje-_v1_uy1200_cr48506301200_al_Backstage: All of the moms are pretty disgusted that they had to use TV Dinners. Tichina hates this especially because she is competing for her Lupus charity and learned how to cook with fresh foods when her sister was diagnosed.

Who Got Chopped: The judges chopped Jo Marie because her mushrooms were under-cooked and she dumped too many spices into the stuffing. But Jackée mentioned earlier that she loves Jo Marie’s cooking, so I feel like this just wasn’t her night.

The Entree Round:
The Ingredients: Minute Steak, Rainbow Carrots, Cream of Celery Soup, French Toast

What I would have made
Carrot and celery soup with a french toast steak sandwich.

What they made:
Betsy- Seared minute steak with french toast stuffing and deep-fried carrots
Jackée- Celery Steak avec Carrots
Tichina- Tichina’s Pepper Steak Carnivale

The screw-ups: I’m pretty sure that Tichina is drunk on wine at this point and she’s also trying to throw Jackée off by gas-lighting her into thinking she messed up her carrots. Betsy forgets to use the cream of celery soup. Jackée mistakes cilantro for parsley and uses it as garnish. So really, I’m feeling like maybe the sitcom moms don’t know much more about cooking than I do.

Who Got Chopped: Tichina got chopped for basically not altering 75% of the ingredients from the basket.

The Dessert Round:
The Ingredients: Tiramisu, bananas, strawberry sauce, and almonds.

What I would have Made: Yuck, banana! I would have pureed the heck out of that banana with the strawberry sauce to off-set some of the banana yuck. Then I’d deconstruct that tiramisu and food-process some almonds to mix into it. And then I guess I’d make some kind of tiramisu almond strawberry parfait thing. 

screen-shot-2015-10-07-at-2-24-03-amWhat they made:
Betsy- Vanilla ice cream sundae topped with a dollop of tiramisu and almond goop
Jackée- Off-beat banana flambé au strawberry

Who Got Chopped: Betsy. Turns out only one of the judges liked her goop, but ultimately they didn’t like that she left the bananas as “just bananas.”

The Winner: Jackée! And she’s giving $10,000 to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

I don’t like to cook, but I have to

For me, the largest struggle of adulthood has been feeding myself. I don’t enjoy cooking, I try to eat as many raw things as possible, and I eat out as much as I can afford to. However, I’ve come to the point where I have to admit that this is not fiscally responsible. And it’s not really healthy either. I do think I make healthy choices when I eat out, but it’s cold and flu season and as much as I trust the health department and general food worker, germs still happen.

First I learned how to cook eggs. And this was how I truly realized that my college days were behind me. I was using my iphone to take pictures when the group I volunteer with was rendered camera-less due to low batteries. The facilitator came over to me and said, “Are you getting the pictures okay with your iphone?” And I quickly said, “Yeah!”and shielded my screen. This wasn’t because of anything particularly sordid in my camera roll, but rather at that moment I realized that my pictures from the last couple of weeks were all a mixture of scrambled eggs and lumps. The eggs being food the lumps being a swollen lymph node and a couple of spider bites on my arm (separate incidences).

I thought something was wrong with this egg because I couldn't crack it. And I am not a bad egg cracker.
I thought something was wrong with this egg because I couldn’t crack it. And I am not a bad egg cracker.

But it looked fine and Google told me that healthier chickens have harder egg shells than less healthy chickens. Yay organic cage-free!
But it looked fine and Google told me that healthier chickens have harder egg shells than less healthy chickens. Yay organic cage-free!

I have now realized that I’m a real grown up.

I may have thought I was before, but I was just kid masquerading as a grown person. And that my concerns are real grown up concerns. “Is this lump normal? Was this bite from a brown recluse? Will my eggs be undercooked and give me salmonella?” Okay, well maybe these are not normal grownup concerns, but they are my grown up concerns.

So tonight, I conquered one of my biggest fears. I touched raw meat. Thus far, I haven’t been able to do that. I have only cooked with soy protein or fish (which I don’t really have to touch). But I used chicken tonight. My roommate witnessed all of this and decided that I should stat a YouTube cooking series for “Girls Who Don’t Know How to Cook.” A blind leading the blind sort of thing. And while I’m too afraid of YouTube to actually do this (too many haters in the comments and alleged rapists in the videos), I did make a list of the things that made her laugh the most. And hey! Maybe there actually are some helpful cooking tips in here for those of you who like me, maybe hadn’t touched raw chicken before tonight. It should be noted that my roommate has also never touched raw chicken.

“It’s starting to smell like food now”

“It’s okay if you cry the first time you touch the raw chicken. I was surprised I didn’t cry.”

“I think the juices are clear. Is it a bad sign if you can’t cut the chicken? Maybe it’s because I’m using a dinner fork.”

“Do you find that the potatoes are a little crunchy when you make this?”