Writer of Soul-Searching Snark

Posts tagged ‘recipes’

Barimisu–Barrow Version of Tiramisu

People come and go quite regularly on the North Slope of Alaska. Personnel changes at some North Slope Borough (NSB) departments is staggering. No point in learning a person’s name unless they’ve stayed there for a year. Just kidding, we’re a friendly bunch of folk, but it is a common joke among the long-timers. When you do find work with someone you like, when they leave it can be heartbreaking.

A colleague was leaving NSB HOE (Hell on Earth) Department to obtain her master’s degree in some foreign place…I can’t remember if it was Pennsylvania or Prague. I was saddened to see her leave—very nice woman.

For her going away party, and we love going away parties—well, parties in general—I decided to concoct a fabulous Tiramisu. Graduate-school-bound co-worker loved Italian food. Certain things can’t be purchased in bush Alaska—or Booger County Arkansas for that matter. Ladyfingers would be the top of the list. Mascarpone cheese? Please!! Alcohol in which to soak the non-existent ladyfingers—not buying it in Barrow. Damp community—more on that later. And Booger County is dry.

A very wimpy substitution for ladyfingers is to bake a cake and slice it in thin slivers. As for the mascarpone cheese, I planned ahead and purchased some the week before when I was in Anchorage. You can use cream cheese. Booze? Well, admittedly, I had quite the stash. Only thing missing was the required Kahlua—funny how I can’t remember what happened to the bottle we brought back from Mexico.

After researching several tiramisu recipes and creative substitutions, I was able to concoct this recipe.


I hate to admit this bit, so Tarimisu afficiandos, please don’t cringe.

STEP ONE: Bake a yellow cake according to the directions on the box. Bake in 9 X 13” pan. Cool and slice into thin slices.

1 ½ cups strong coffee.
½ sugar
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier—which is what I had on hand—you can also replace the Grand Mariner with Kahlua.
3 tablespoons of rum

Boil the coffee and sugar for about 2 minutes. Remove from stove and add alcohol. At this point, it’s always nice to add some alcohol to your system as well. I’ve found that cooking under the influence of wine is quite enjoyable.

1 ½ cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
16 oz. mascarpone—if using cream cheese, use 14 oz and add 2 T of cream—mix together until creamy

Whip cream and sugar and vanilla into stiff peaks. Gradually add mascarpone


Line the bottom of a 9 x 13” pan with slices of the yellow cake. Drizzle with coffee mixture and then a layer of mascarpone—REPEAT—you’ll have TWO layers of dessert—cake, coffee, cream. Cake, coffee, cream

Chill for at least 4 hours. Before serving garnish with chocolate curls.


Eggnog Recipe

There are a lot of good things about the holiday season: Christmas trees decorated with rows of garland and shiny ornaments, houses bedazzled with pretty lights with fake Santas residing on their rooftops (don’t get me started on those giant blow up thingies–saw one the other day with Santa in a helicopter. WTH?) and the lovely ringing of the Salvation Army bells.

It’s all beautiful; however, my favorite part of the holiday season is the opportunity to make mulled wine and eggnog. I’m not talking about that stuff that comes in cardboard cartons sold in the grocery store. I’m talking EGGNOG–from scratch.

Trust me, my friends, if you don’t like eggnog it’s because you haven’t had the real thing. So, get out every bowl you own and a couple of mixers so you can whip up a batch of this creamy, luscious delight.

Traditional Eggnog Ingredients
You can make the eggnog without alcohol. It’s just a delicious, but not quite as much fun. 🙂

12 eggs, separated
6 cups milk
2 cups heavy/ thickened cream
2 cups rum (you can also use bourbon)
1+ 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup brandy
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

Traditional Eggnog Directions:
For those of you who don’t separate eggs that often, remember to use 2 bowls for this process. Break the egg shell, use one side to contain the yolk and let the whites pour into a bowl. Then, put the yolk in the mixing bowl and the white in the second bowl. You need to do this with every egg to assure that you don’t get any yolk in the whites because the whites won’t whip if they’re contaminated. Don’t you wonder about the person who discovered this?

In a large bowl and using a mixer, beat the egg yolks together with the sugar for approx 10 minutes (you want the mixture to be firm and the color of butter.) Seriously, we’re talking 10 minutes! It’s very important.

Very slowly, add in the rum and brandy – just a little at a time.
When rum and brandy have been added, allow the mixture to cool in the fridge (for up to 6 hours, depending on how long before your party you’re making the eggnog).

30 minutes before your guests arrive, stir the milk into the chilled yolk mixture.
Stir in 1+ 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, beat the cream with a mixer on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks.

In yet another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture.

Gently fold the cream into the egg mixture.

After ladling into cups, garnish with the remainder of the ground nutmeg.

Angel Graham Bars Recipes x 2

There are two versions of the recipe for ANGEL GRAHAM BARS. The first version is when the night before the work potluck you decide you have to make something, but you don’t feel like it. It’s the lazy version you make for the co-workers you don’t really care that much about. Not that I would ever do that! I’ve always loved my co-workers and gone to great effort to make them happy. You know who you are: Pearl, Amm, Stretch, Norma, Lon . . .

Great and very impressive. There won’t be any leftover:

Layer the bottom of a jelly roll pan—10 ½” x 15 ½”—with graham crackers
Spread a can of Coconut Pecan frosting over the crackers
Top with another layer of graham crackers
Frost with a can of butter cream frosting

Let set for a few hours and cut into squares.

ANGEL GRAHAM BARSDrop ‘em in Their Tracks Version

Layer the bottom of a jelly roll pan—10 ½” x 15 ½”—with graham crackers

1 cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup melted butter
½ cup evaporated milk
1 cup coconut
1 cup graham cracker crumbs

In a saucepan, combine melted butter, sugar, milk and egg. Heat, stirring constantly, until it starts to boil. Remove from stove. Add coconut, nuts and graham cracker crumbs. Pour over layer of graham crackers.

On top of the filling, add one more layer of whole graham crackers. It’s layered: graham crackers, filling, graham crackers


2 cups powdered sugar
½ cup butter—softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk

Mix sugar and butter until soft. Add vanilla and milk until frosting is at spreading consistency. Frost the second layer of graham crackers.

Chill and cut into bars. These do freeze well, if you have any left over.

The World’s Creamiest Cheesecake

Lonnie and Roberta Stith September 3, 1957

My parents married n 1957. Daddy was in the Army. When Mama finished her last year of nurses’ training, they moved to Fort Riley, Kansas and lived in a trailer. When asked, if it was a mobile home, Mama said, “Don’t dress it up. It was a trailer!” One bedroom, a small living room and a kitchen with a built-in table. I remember seeing a picture of Daddy sitting at that table—all knees and elbows. Apparently, a very small trailer!

Mama tells the story of living next door to an Italian woman, Carmella, who made the most delicious dessert my parents had ever tasted. Cheesecake. Not just any cheesecake. No dense, thick New York concoction, but a rich, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth delight.

Daddy, Mama, Darryl and My Other Brother Darryl

Daddy got paid once a month—$90—and Mama would go to the store to buy the ingredients for the cheesecake. It was their monthly treat. When we were growing up, she didn’t make it that often. When she did, it was a time for celebration. I started cooking when I was four. My first dessert was an apple pie, but by 4 ½ I was making the cheesecake. Had no idea it was supposedly a challenge to make until my mother-in-law gave me The Joy of Cooking. If I had read all the disclaimers on perfect cheesecake preparation before I’d attempted my first one, I never would have tried it. I’m glad Ma’s approach to learning was: just try it!

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I think there are some other body parts that lead to the heart as well, but that’s information reserved for the Internet Bordello my friend and I are going to start one day. But, I digress. Stomach—pathway to heart—I’ve gotten three marriage proposals as a result of making this dessert for functions. So, folks, prepare yourselves to become the most popular person at the potluck.


2 packages of graham crackers—crushed
1 stick of butter—melted
2 tablespoons sugar

Mix together and press into the bottom of a spring form pan.


16 oz. cream cheese—softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs—one at a time—beating well after each egg. Add vanilla.

Pour filling over crust and bake at 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. It is helpful to have a bowl of water in the oven along with the cake. It keeps the top of the cake from cracking. Remove cake from oven and cool 20 minutes. Add topping.


16 oz. sour cream
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour topping over the top of the cake. Bake 10 minutes.

The center of the cake should be firm. It will set up a little, but not much.

Chill for at least 2 hours. It’s better if it is made the night before the event, but I’ve never known anyone able to resist the temptation to dive in.

Grandma’s Sugar Cookies


Edna Eliza Lindsay

My grandmother was one of the best cooks EVER. A real cook. The type of person who could whip up a meal for twenty from a bare cupboard with only an hour’s notice.

Her fried chicken would make you weep. When I was in high school, I was member of the Future Farmers of America poultry judging team. We kept the chicken we used for poultry judging practice—and people want to know where I got the stories for Redneck Ex—at Grandma’s house. One day a couple escaped their confines and were waltzing around Grandma’s yard. When they started pecking at her roses, she went outside, grabbed them and wrung their necks. Right there in the middle of town. Snap! Guess what we had for dinner? Fabulous chicken!

As a kid, I used to fake an illness simply so I could stay at Grandma’s. She had a yellow cookie jar with a giant red poppy painted on front of it. Really tacky, but I never noticed because it was always filled with delicious treats. On one of my ‘sick’ days, Grandma taught me how to make her sugar cookies. I think I was in the 2nd grade. No measurements. No fancy mixer. With dabs, dashes and really tired arms from the wooden-spoon action, I made my first batch.

Mama was onto my pseudo-sickness ruse, but if I didn’t do it too often and I brought home baked goods at the end of the day, she let me get by with it. Everyone knows learning how to be a good cook is way more important than book learning anyway.

These are crunchy and spicy—more snickerdoodlish than a simple sugar cookie
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
Cream together sugar, butter, egg and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder and spices. Mix together until stiff. Add milk.

Roll out and cut (I use a jelly jar since that’s what Grandma always used.) Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool on pan for 2 minutes then remove to wire rack.

Risotto Recipe

Butter is the secret to happiness . . . and good risotto. If you haven’t noticed yet, you will soon enough. No recipe that graces my cookbook contains margarine. Butter. Its rich, creamy goodness brings happiness to all. Even your arteries. Ask them. Would they rather be free-flowing or would they rather be clogged with delicious, fat-laden butter. I mean really. Some things are worth dying for. Your family. Your Country. Buttered popcorn.

When I lived in Kaktovik, I befriended a teaching couple. Nice folks, but they were vegetarians. Being a vegetarian in a subsistence community above the Arctic Circle where nothing grows—definitely no vegetables—has to be a challenge. So, when they came to my house for dinner, I tried to make food they could eat. I later found out that they weren’t vegetarians they were vegans. What the hell did they eat? I hope I didn’t kill them off with the butter and cheese in my risotto. Oh yeah, and the chicken broth. Although, it couldn’t have been too bad because they always took second helpings.

Aerial View of Kaktovik

Downtown Kaktovik, Alaska

Friendly Neighbors

My Risotto was in the truck and this dude wasn't about to share

Silly man, give him the risotto. I'll make more

2 cups mushrooms
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup Asiago cheese
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons parsley
¼ cup butter

Sauté mushrooms, onions and garlic in the oil until soft. Remove from the pan and using the remaining oil, stir in the rice. Brown the rice—about 5 minutes. Slowly add 1 cup of broth. Stir until liquid is gone. Add 1 more cup of broth. Stir until liquid is gone. Add remaining cup of broth. Stir until the liquid is gone—around 20 minutes total for the entire process. Make sure the rice is soft—not crunchy. Remove rice from heat and stir in cheeses, parsley and butter. Top with mushrooms and onions.

This is wonderful served with steamed seafood and/or veggies.

Monterey Jack Cheese Soup

Monterey Jack Cheese Soup.