Chow, Baby: Wednesday, December 19, 2002
Ideas for Bourbon Leftovers

Christmas is not Chow, Baby’s favorite time of year. Sure, on the plus side, you’ve got the presents and the caroling and the birth of Jesus and all. Big minus side: holiday sweaters. How does it happen that people who could be on the cover of Arlington Vogue 11 months out of the year all show up one day in sweaters that look like Christmas trees, complete with tinsel and ornaments? Chow, Baby had plenty of time to worry about this recently while indulging in its other least-favorite Christmas ritual: being stuck in strip-mall traffic. The occasion: Robert Earl Keen was signing copies of Merry Christmas from the Family, his picture book about a dysfunctional clan of (no offense meant) redneck trailer trash. The freakin’ hilarious 76-page tome came out a year ago, and the song that inspired it has been around almost a decade. Still, here’s a million Keenoids clogging the parking lot of the University Drive Barnes & Noble so they can stand in a line as long as any mall Santa’s just to get a glimpse of the greatest country singer Bandera has ever produced.

Make that a million Keenoids and one Chow, Baby. It’s the easy-to-fix recipes that give this book a place of honor in Chow, Baby’s kitchen: “Mom’s Bourbon Sandwich” (bourbon between two ice cubes), “Instant Astronaut” (Tang and vodka), and “Eggnog from Hell” (“3 of them cartons of eggnog” and “1 carton of the liquor of your choice”). Food concoctions include half a dozen variations on stuffed celery — Celery a la Elvis, with peanut butter and bacon and Celery a la J. Lo, with grape Jello. It’s all quite delicious, especially after a few rounds of Mom’s special sandwich. Gosh, Chow, Baby loves Christmas.

Magnetic Personality

Speaking of favorite recipes, Chow, Baby doesn’t know what it did to offend cowboy chef Grady Spears, unless it was comparing him to pork tenderloin in this fall’s Best of the West-O-Plex awards. In a good way, of course. Yet somehow the promised invite to the two-weeks-later grand opening of his Chisholm Trail restaurant never arrived. No matter. Chow, Baby does not hold grudges, much, and three months after the fact barely obsesses about it at all.

What brings this up now is that Chow, Baby is preparing to prepare its holiday feast, which it borrows, usually without credit, from Spears’ “Ultimate Holiday Feast” from the November 1998 issue of Texas Monthly (still available on TM’s web site). These pages have been magneted on the Chow, Baby fridge for years; they’re yellowed, curled, and smell funny, but they produce a darn fine spread. First comes a green salad with Texas goat cheese, toasted walnuts, and grapes tossed with sherry vinaigrette. Then a deep-fried turkey with blue-cheese cornbread stuffing. For a green veggie, bundles of bacon-wrapped asparagus. Next come sliced new potatoes coated with pureed sun-dried tomatoes. Finishing touches: buttermilk chess pie with Southern Comfort raspberry sauce and coffee with Kahlua cream. Isn’t Christmas just the best holiday ever?

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