24 March 2017

Brown Sugar Shrimp and Pasta

Consider this a kind of quick-and-dirty, Italian-ish sweet and sour dish.  And spicy, and garlicky...

Brown Sugar Shrimp and Pasta

Serves 4

12 oz. large shrimp, deveined and peeled
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 teaspoons olive oil
small bunch kale, washed and cut into thin strips
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into a small dice
2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
4 scallion, thinly sliced (green and white parts)
1 tablespoon capers
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more)
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
1 package spaghetti-like product of your choice

Bring a salty pot of water to boil. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions.

Place the (thawed) shrimp in a bowl and add the brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Stir to coat thoroughly and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the kale, red bell pepper, garlic, and green onion over medium heat until everything is tender, about five minutes. Push to one side and add the shrimp to the middle of the pan. Cook until golden, about five minutes on each side. Add the crushed red pepper and capers and stir everything together; taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Stir in the vinegar, scraping off any brown bits in the skillet.

Add the cooked, drained pasta to the skillet along with the butter. Stir to combine everything thoroughly and serve immediately in bowls.

23 March 2017

Cocktails for These Political Times: rated R for language

It's hard to come up with a Supreme Court-themed cocktail, you know? But I am your humble servant, and so I try...

GET TO KNOW Neil Gorsuch, Supreme Court nominee. Born in August 29, 1967, this silver-haired fox and virtuous Virgo wants you ladies to ask permission before doing stuff with your bodies (you will be told no), and you truckers can just sarcastically freeze in your trucks, I guess. He is also a steadfast hand-shaker. Get to know what else he stands for with this Denver Post cheat-sheet and drink away your fears with the ...

Rocky Mountain Mother F*cker

Makes 1 drink

1/2 ounce amaretto almond liqueur
1/2 ounce whisky
1/2 ounce lime juice

Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice and chill. Strain, pour into a shot glass, and serve.

17 March 2017

DFT goes to the Mississippi Delta!

March is a great time to visit the Southeast; the flowers are already starting to bloom, and the temperatures/humidity are nowhere near oppressive yet (by May, in this Yankee's opinion, it's best to steer clear of the Mason-Dixon line if you care at all about physical comfort). It's a great place for lovers of blues and its history, Southern Gothic novelists, Roman(ish) columns on EVERYTHING, and of course, barbecue. I went last week on a short master class tour and a visit to the inaugural Music by Women Festival at Mississippi University for Women (a unique experience in itself), and here's what I can recommend:

Cleveland, MS: Home of Delta State University (go Fightin' Okra!) and a (though not theGrammy Museum. The tiny downtown is adorbs and can be walked in about 10 minutes. 

Mississippi Grounds
219 S. Court Street
(662) 545– 4528
Coffee House with great breakfast burritos and a killer cappucino

Mosquito Burrito
301 Cotton Row
(662) 843-4822
Fresh-Mexi Cuisine for the hipster student crowd

Hey Joe's Cafe & Record Shop
118 E. Sunflower Rd, Suite C
(662) 843-5425
I didn't try the gourmet burgers, but the local craft beer menu was impressive.

Starkville, MS: Home of Mississippi State University and a bigger downtown.  They host a film festival March 2-4 (or thereabouts) every year and a restaurant week charity event in mid-April. This place is pretty hoppin', actually. 

Nine-twentynine Coffee Bar
106 E. Main Street
Starkville, MS 39759
(662) 268-8014
Not only beautiful inside, they will make coffee however you can imagine for it to be made.  The pour-over was divine.

UMI Japanese Cuisine
315 Highway 12 W
Starkville, MS 39759
(662) 323-5258
Two tasty rolls for $6.95 for lunch? Yes please.

Lost Pizza Company
325 Highway 12 W
Starkville, MS 39759
(662) 324-0050
Chewy crust and a plethora of toppings, this is a local favorite with several locations across northern MS.

The Little Dooey
100 Fellowship Street
Starkville, MS 39759
(662) 323-6094
If you want a proper plate lunch, this is the real deal.  Suggested by a local, I do not regret the gut-busting plate of spicy pork, potato salad, and turnip greens that kept me full for over 24 hours (see below).

406 Hwy 12 East
Starkville, MS 39759
(662) 323-1639
Upscale local chain (there's one in Columbus, below, too). Known for the broccoli bites, which as far as I can tell are delicious blobs of broccoli smothered in cheese sauce, battered into balls and deep fried.  And the bartender makes a mean Old Fashioned. 

Oxford, MS: I was there to visit the flute studio at Ole Miss, but of course couldn't resist driving by Faulkner's house (disappointingly surrounded by gas stations and other modern crap on the edge of campus, but still...). This is the center of intellectual and artistic activity in northern Mississippi, and it shows.  Oh, and the campus is ridiculously beautiful (below).

Burns-Belfry museum about African American history:
710 Jackson Ave. East
Oxford, MS 38655
Sunday 1:00 to 4:00 and Wednesday through Friday 12:00 to 3:00
Admission is free

Civil Rights Monument on campus:
University Circle,
University of Mississippi,
University, MS 38677

I did more wandering than eating here, but the local chain deli Newk's on campus was actually super delish.  The Square is also a great downtown area for shopping and eating, it would seem, but alas, I had to hurry back to a rehearsal in...

Columbus, MS: Birthplace of Tennessee Williams and home of Mississippi University for Women, now a coed school that prefers to be known as The W. Also an insanely beautiful campus, this one has a certain kind of private school opulence you can only find in the good old South (I think).

There's another Harvey's at 200 Main Street, I can tell you now that the Cajun Pasta (very much like Crawfish Monica) was fantastic.  Still liked the Old Fashioneds here, too. 

Mississippi State Committee of the National Museum for Women in the Arts Exhibition. Visit www.muw.edu/as/art/gallery for information on this and other W exhibits.
Gallery hours are Monday - Friday, 8am-5pm. The exhibits are free and open to the public.
1100 College Street MUW-70 
(662) 329-7291

Other restaurants recommended to me by locals, but which I did not get to try, include

121 S 5th St
Columbus, MS 39701Phone number(662) 327-6500
Cajun/Creole: great fried green tomatoes

Jackson Square Grill
1927 U.S. 45
Columbus, MS 39701(662) 328-8656
Big on seafood and with a great brunch

Hana Korean Restaurant and Market
4226 Mississippi 373
Columbus, MS 39705
(662) 434-8881
Cheap and comforting stone pots and curries.

16 March 2017

Cocktails for These Political Times: Ode to the ACLU

I went through the ACLU's Lobby Training Day in Denver Tuesday, and it was so eye-opening.  We had a brief meeting followed by a morning of wandering around the state Senate and House of Reps offices bugging politicians (and often their aides) not to torture incarcerated minors and to protect free speech  on campus.  In all of my years, and multiple civics classes I was required to take but never took seriously, I never learned so much about how bills are introduced, amended, and voted on. And after seeing up-close how many people are working tirelessly to go through every piece of legislature with a fine-toothed comb to ensure American's civil liberties, I have a renewed sense of appreciation for the ACLU (as do many of you; in Colorado alone, the number of volunteers jumped from 30 before election day to 1700 after their first legislative battles with the so-called Muslim ban).

The ACLU is a non-partisan group invested in calling everyone, on both sides of the aisle, on their bullshit. And if you can't get behind that, then you don't deserve this drink or any other except maybe prune juice.

The Black and White

Makes 1 drink

Ice cubes
2 fluid ounces heavy cream
1 fluid ounce vanilla flavored vodka
1 1/2 fluid ounces chocolate liqueur
Chocolate swizzle sticks, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the cream and vodka. Cover and shake vigorously, or stir, until combined and chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Slowly pour the chocolate liqueur into the center of the drink to make a layered black and white cocktail. Lay a chocolate swizzle stick across the top rim of the glass. Serve. (Stir the layers together with the swizzle stick before drinking.)