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Cooking with Myra: Supper club provides many years of memories, recipes

June 21, 2010 at 1:21 a.m.
Updated June 22, 2010 at 1:22 a.m.

Laura's Amazing Jalapeno Beer Bread

By Myra Starkey

My friends, Doug and Laura, live in Shiner. Their town is known far-and-wide for many things, including Shiner beer, the Hobo Band, Kasper Wire Works, the several generations of Dr. Wagners, the pies at Andy's, the dinner theater and, as I mentioned earlier, Shiner beer.

Because I don't drink beer, I don't know much about the quality of Shiner beer, but those around me who drink beer act like it is a special occasion if Shiner beer is being served, especially Shiner Bock. Although I don't know beer, I do know that Shiner is a great little, clean, quaint, unique and friendly town. It is the location of one of my favorite places and that is Doug and Laura's house.

Over the years, I have made many memories in their home, and, not surprisingly, most of them are associated with food. Laura and Doug are in our supper club group, which has been getting together for a special meal once a month for almost 20 years. The tie that bound us in the beginning was a desire to get to know each of the couples in our group, while enjoying really good food. Sharing positive experiences with others, such as sitting around a table eating and visiting, can really create strong and lasting relationships, so much so, that these folks seem like family to me.

I remember those early years, when most of us were wrinkle-free and would tan while sitting around watching our kids frolic in a baby pool. The moms had early 1990's-style long hair and actually wore bathing suits, as we soaked up the sun's rays with nary a care about skin cancer. Our kids were welcome at some of the gatherings because they were small and could be watched. As the years passed and our families grew, the children no longer wanted to spend evenings with mom and dad, so we progressed to quiet and more elegant dinners with fresh flowers and candles.

At each meeting of the supper club, the hostess is responsible for the main dish. She sends out recipes ahead of time for all the other menu items to the other wives. Most of the husbands will acknowledge that all they really do is show up and eat, unless they are hosting the evening, and then more may be required of them. One of us might occasionally beg the hostess to give us the order for the salad or bread, pleading that we are too busy to prepare a long recipe.

All of us would agree that over the years, we have had some great meals and a few that were less than exceptional. We have stretched our culinary talents because we try to choose dishes that are out of the ordinary. The supper club concept has worked for us because we love being together and use that time to catch up on each other's lives.

Doug and Laura are the only ones in our group who live out of town, so when it is their turn to host, we enjoy the road trip to Shiner.

Last week, they hosted a Greek feast, and we dined on lamb chops, Greek olives with feta cheese, hummus and, of course, a traditional Greek salad.

My assignment was a fudge pie topped with vanilla Blue Bell ice cream, which Laura tried to convince us was a Greek recipe, but I have my doubts. I brought a movie, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," for background entertainment, so we could laugh once again at the funny parts, but not really have to sit and watch the entire movie.

I do love Greek food, but my favorite that evening was something that Doug insisted Laura prepare that is absolutely not Greek. I could smell the bread as I walked into their home. It was a yeasty, cheddary smell, and I recognized the loaf as a beer bread. I helped myself to a bread knife from their drawer and cut the buttery loaf. Small slices of jalapeno and cheddar could be seen as I sliced the bread and grabbed a napkin. I know an "aahhhh" sound escaped my throat, as I tasted the moist, spicy bread. I tried to move on to the Greek appetizers but continued to return to the loaf, as did the others in our group, until there was nothing left, but a few crumbs on the cutting board.

Laura shared the recipe, and I have prepared it several times with the same amazing results. Since the ingredients are simple, it is tempting to add a little more of this or that, but restrain from doing so until you have prepared it at least once by the recipe. Then feel free to add green onions, smoked crumbled bacon or even experiment with other cheeses.

Healthy does not apply to this recipe in any way, but still do your best to have only one slice or perhaps two, as you promise yourself you will skip dessert. It is absolutely worth the calories.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or e-mail myra@vicad.com.

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