Look out, it's another food post!

This blog is in danger of becoming all about food, but a) the writing stuff is in motion but still hush-hush, and b) the family sees each other so rarely right now that we don't even get much in the way of Snippets. That is, unless you could yesterday's endless snark of poor Jim on his 51st birthday, which I kept misremembering as 61 with a big ol' grin. And yet he married me.

If you're curious what's going on, you can catch up with the Literary Underworld crew at its site; with my professional photography and newstuff at Donald Media; and of course my Facebook and Twitter. I promise there's going to be very big changes soon.

In the meantime, our observance of Memorial Day means the family gets to spend a few days actually in each other's company. Not Friday, as Boy had rehearsal for Beauty and the Beast and I had the night shift. And not tonight (Sunday night), because Jim has a night shift and Boy is seeing one of his friends in a play.

(In case you missed it, Boy's collegiate theater debut is June 15 for the 10-day run of Beauty and the Beast. He is a villager, the leader of the wolf pack, and flatware. As he texted me when they handed out the assignments: I'M A SPOON. RESPECT ME.)

But we got to spend Jim's birthday together on Saturday (movie and steak dinner), and we'll get all day Monday to hang out, watch movies, and eat. Our favorite pasttimes.

---- THE FOOD STUFF ----

Jim's birthday cake is a triple-layer scratch dark chocolate cake with boiled chocolate frosting. Now, I knew the triple-layer recipe is crazy big, and in the past I've done double-layer cakes with it and used the rest to make cupcakes. I should have done this, because it turns out a batch of boiled chocolate frosting is only enough to make a "naked cake" - frosting in between the layers, but not on the side.

In addition, the cake recipe is super moist and generally melts in your mouth, which tastes incredible, but doesn't hold together well - for the weight and balance of a triple-layer cake you generally need something a little tougher. Or it could have been a problem that I was using medium eggs. That makes it Jim's fault for buying them. QED.

Click here for image and wanton singing.

Saturday morning's breakfast was eggs Benedict, with open-face egg McMuffins for the Boy because he is a space alien who doesn't like hollandaise. Eggs Benedict was one of my mother's specialities, and she always doubled the amount of lemon in the sauce because otherwise it just tastes like butter sauce. It's a pain to make, and so I've ordered it in restaurants from time to time, always trying to find the eggs Benedict that is better than I can make.

Never happens. Restaurants might make funky-cool Benedicts with sliced avocado, or thick-slab bacon, or spinach and baby asparagus, or crab cakes, or other weird things that taste good under hollandaise. I usually don't have those things on hand. But I have yet to find a restaurant that has real flavor to its hollandaise. It's always just butter sauce. I guess I'll just have to keep making it myself.

Tonight was supposed to be chuckwagon beans. That's another Mom specialty - it's technically a baked-beans side dish, but so thick and hearty it's pretty much a main dish by itself. It'll be a tad bastardized, because someone threw away my celery (or ate it, giant rabbit that he is), but who needs celery? Extra onion for everyone!

Also on the menu:

• a variation on Rice Krispy treats I found on Pinterest;
• crackers and my ranch cheese ball;
• fresh pineapple;
• Disney banana bread;
• strawberries and pound cake if the strawberries are in decent shape;
• deviled eggs a la Instant Pot;
• and a scratch creamy artichoke dip so we can use up all the tortilla chips we thought we would need for Boris Karloff's guacamole recipe but the avocados went over because of course they did.

Tomorrow's main event, of course, is Jim at the barbecue grill. Pork steaks grilled and basted with a Memphis barbecue sauce we smuggle home by the case every time we go back to the old homestead. Also brats from a specialty butcher in rural Missouri we visit whenever we're on our way back from Memphis - so flavorful. We're also going to do some corn on the cob, of which Jim inexplicably bought five ears when there are only three of us, and I'm making Watergate salad because I like it so there.

I was going to do a key lime pie, but no one would eat it but me. We need hungry friends so I have an excuse to make all the stuff I want to try but the menfolk won't eat.


Before you yell, we are very aware of the reality of this holiday. Moreso this year than others; as you know if you read the news, someone defaced hundreds of graves in our town's cemetery with swastikas. I took a great many photos, which the newspaper ended up not needing, so they'll be on Donald Media after they get processed.

And there's a soldier's grave I have visited several times over the years. I'm not sure if he has any family left; there is usually a flag on his grave at this time of year, but that might be just because it's a military headstone and they're doing it for all the graves. I'll be making my way back out there late tomorrow so as to not intrude on all the people who are visiting loved ones' graves.

He's the lonely soldier, buried far off in the corner of the cemetery and I've never found out why he was placed so far away from everyone else that he's barely within the hallowed ground. He died in 1926, and his odd, lonely grave inspired the best novel I have ever written (as yet unpublished). Whether it ever sees print or not, he gave me my best work, and thus I visit him.

But the rest of the time belongs to my family. We are blessed to be together, and those times are few - something the families of those with the military headstones know all too well. As the late (dammit) Gardner Dozois made a habit of saying in the last year, spend time with your loved ones, because you don't know how long you have with them. He knew that too well, having been widowed last year, and now we have lost him, as well.

Honor those who gave their lives, and celebrate the lives and loves we have here and now. That is how we honor them, too.