Saturday, September 29, 2012

My first day as a Texan

Left Brain trying to figure out how we'd tow it
I woke this morning as a Southern Belle and felt an urge to cook and bake.  It seems becoming a Texan has opened up the domestic goddess in me.  So the first thing I planned on was trying a new banana date bread recipe I had found that features a brown sugar and cinnamon crumble on top – YUM!  But alas, I had no cinnamon.  So after cleaning up the kitchen from the mess I had already made I jumped in the Honda and boot scooting boogied my way to HEB. 

Left Brain looked a bit shocked when I said I’d be home to fix lunch; not so much that I’d be fixing lunch but it was only 9:30 when I left.  I had other plans in addition to the grocery run and took along my computer. 

church tower with textures added
Driving down the main drag I noted where the HEB was and pulled around and into the McDonalds McCafe.  The first thing I did was try to locate a free wi-fi using my Wi-Fi Ranger.  Duh!  This does me no good here as it’s mounted on top of See-More, our RV.  So I just used their free wi-fi.  Gotta love McDonalds for that.  I only stayed long enough to post the blog for the day and then headed over to HEB.

It didn’t take long before I was leaving with my tiny purchases in my hand and then set off to explore.  I needed another check register for my checkbook but there were no banks of my kind in town, so I pulled into the first bank I saw and sauntered in.  I chose the youngest clerk there who had to be pulled away from a conversation to wait on me, figuring she’d ask the fewer question.  When asked for a couple of check registers she just said “sure” and handed them over.  I thanked her and left and she resumed her chat with her friend.

Then I spied a library!  Again I pulled over and scooted inside to get myself a new Texas library card.  This involved a $5 fee (cash only) and I found it charming that they still used an old card catalog system, but offered internet services.  It was the use of internet that I really wanted, so this was perfect.  My application was completed using an index card and pencil and handled very smoothly by Marian the Librarian.  I half expected to see Opie come around the corner. 

She had the card right there and I expected her to hand it to me but she said they’d mail it to me.  Huh?  When I questioned this she simply smiled and said “it’s our policy” and I knew there’d be no further discussion on the matter.  But she was friend and knowledgeable so I asked where the Visitors Center was so I could become more familiar with my new town.

an old crumbling wall with textures added
She gave explicit directions included drawing a map on the countertop with her pencil which she then erased.  I thought perhaps she’d rip off the top of the desk for me to use as a guide.  I was to head back towards Wal-Mart and turn between the Whataburger and the pond and then it loops around.  The Chamber of Commerce was across the street from the Catfish King Café.  Okay, got it.

I retraced my steps back the way I had come, towards Wal-Mart, and sure enough…there was Whataburger and a pond.  I pulled into the lane between the two and found myself going the wrong way on the drive through for Whataburger.  Luckily there were no cars coming and I escaped without any arrests, honking horns or dirty looks.  Perhaps this is a strange southern initiation ceremony?

I tried the next exit and this took me back on Hwy 59 heading north.  As I passed the Catfish King Café I noticed there was a Chamber of Commerce on the other side of the highway.  I had to continue north until I could do a U-turn and get back on the highway heading south, but I got there safely.

When entering the Chamber of Commerce I was greeted by a young lady and I explained I was new in town and wanted to get some local information.  She told me very politely that as soon as she finished her text message she’d be right with me.  So, left to my own devices I started to wander through the sparse materials on Livingston. 

tower with textures added
After she was done with her texting, she came over and started handing me all kinds of generic materials.  She inquired if I was looking for anything in particular.  I said I’d like to know where the local cinema was.  My fears were confirmed when she said they only had one and it only showed one movie at a time.  But if I wanted to rent movies her brother happened to own the only video rental store in town and she launched into a sales pitch for his business, of which I had no interest at all.

Then just to be mean I asked her where the local synagogue was and watched the wheels turning in her head.  She was helpful in pointing out many temples in the area, but they seemed to be of the Baptist variety.  When I explained this was for a Jewish service she said I’d probably have to drive into Houston for that. That seemed to stump her so I thanked her for her time, took my gatherings and turned back to the car with a smile on my face. 

tower before textures
When I returned I morphed into cooking woman.  I like to do as much cooking as possible when the AC is running as it just makes life easier.  So I started frying the potatoes for our lunch and tucked the bread into the oven.  After adding some bacon to the potatoes I scooped them out to drain the grease and used the hot bacon grease to sear the chuck roast for Sunday.

While the potatoes were frying I cut and cleaned the peppers and chopped them up with some onion for the stuffed pepper soup.  I also chopped the onion, carrots, celery and pickles for the German pot roast for Sunday.  This was about the time Left Brain was overwhelmed with the onion smell and had to go outside.  Wow, my head just really be stuffed up, this isn’t bothering me at all.

When the potatoes and onions were ready I tossed in some chopped green chilis and added some eggs to the top.   After these set up a bit I added some sharp cheddar cheese and put the lid on to finish it up.  Just as we were ready to eat the bread came out of the oven looking glorious, so I set it to cool in the pan while we ate.  I served the potatoes, bacon, eggs & cheese with some salsa and called it huevos rancheros.  After our lunch the bread was cool enough to cut so we each had the heel of it.

This might be my favorite banana bread yet!  I added some chopped dates and walnuts to it and it has this brown sugar & cinnamon crumble on the top.  I’m thinking next time I’ll add some cranberries into it for color and see what that does.  Now that I’m over my fear of making banana bread I just can’t seem to stop.  It’s so easy to dump fun things into it and see how it turns out.

After lunch Left Brain went in search of a liquor store in his quest for brandy.  It seems the south doesn’t have an abundant supply of this like in Wisconsin.  There seems to be a shortage of lefse also, but I can life without that.  While he was gone I fried up the hamburger and peppers for the stuffed pepper soup and the hamburger and onions for the Italian stuffed shells.  It looks like I’m not going to have to do much the next few days other than assemble stuff into the crock pot and sit back and read a book.

Well, the kitchen work is done.  I’m gonna go read outside for a while and let the meat cool down for storage in the fridge for later.  You take care, y’all.

Long Live the Queen of Southern Cooking


  1. Gosh, you really are mean!! You probably gave that little gal at the chamber of commerce enough to talk about for a week. I just finished a bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayo sandwich, but after listening to all that wonderful stuff you are cooking, and all those delicious smells, I'm eyeing my kitchen with a new hunger!! Now I have to go back to my laundry. You have a fabulous day. Hugs, Edna B.

  2. Dearest Queen of Mayhem,

    You tired me out and made me hungry with all your bashing about and baking.
    Beautiful day in Wisconsin, did bike ride and pictures in Myrick Park. Keep up the exciting daily doings. pond lois

  3. Aaaahhhh HEB, home of fresh cooked tortillas still warm when bagged. At least that was my experience of a HEB outside San Antonio.