Posts Tagged With: peanut butter

Texas State Fair – FINALLY

Big Tex says, "It's about time you got here!"

Big Tex says, “It’s about time you got here!”

I don’t really have a fully thought out, detailed, written bucket list. There are things I want to do and places I want to see before the proverbial bucket is kicked, but my list is more of a loosely formed series of random thoughts bouncing around in my head. Mostly. There was one box to check that until last week hovered over all the others, and it was this: go to the Texas State Fair. I am not a rider of fairground rides – about a decade or two ago my dizzy gene kicked in, and I generally stick to roller coasters in locations where they are actually bolted to the ground. I do not show cows or make prize-winning jars of preserved anything. My goal was to eat my way through the fair. And so I did.
Though I have been to only a few state fairs prior to this one, my guess is that nowadays most of them serve fried foods of some sort, many on a stick. Fried is the new black. Texas, however, has become famous for upping the ante in that culinary genre. It’s not unusual for one state to take the lead within certain foodways, and from what I have observed, Texas is the fried pied piper. If a food has ever been fried, it was probably fried first there.
The best example may be the deep fried butter. I can just sense the looks on some of your faces now. When I posted the picture of this creation on social media, I got quite a few comments prophesying my early demise – others recommended Lipitor, angioplasty, and my own personal AED kit. So let me set the record straight. First of all, that was at the tippy top of my bucket list. (Make up your own “hurrying up the bucket” joke here.) If that had been the only thing I got at the fair that day, it would have been worth the trip. I have been searching for it at other fairs since I first heard about it years ago. Secondly, it was about the size of a small hush puppy. I figure there are more carbohydrates and fat in a grilled cheese sandwich than one of these little balls of buttery deliciousness. And I bet you’ve had more grilled cheese sandwiches in your life than I’ve had balls of deep fried butter. You can borrow my defibrillator. And finally, it was indeed delicious. One tip: eat it all at once. If you bite it in half so you can see inside and take a picture, butter will run all over your arm. Also, it did not escape my notice that the line at this vendor was the absolute longest at the fairgrounds.

Deep Fried Butter.  Yes. They. Did.

Deep Fried Butter. Yes. They. Did.

At this point I may lose the argument I just made. See, the butter was not the only DFO (deep fried object) we had that day. If I counted properly, we had a baker’s dozen. But if it will help swing me back towards a healthier middle, I did have help. One friend flew to Dallas to meet me, just so we could experience it together. (That’s serious, folks.) Another college buddy who lives nearby met us there. So instead of singlehandedly eating a dozen different DFO’s, by the time you do the math, it amounted to about four per person. I like to think of it as a four course progressive dinner, with exercise in between each station. That’s my story, and my arteries are sticking to it.
The Texas State Fair has a contest every year called The Big Tex Choice Awards. I thought there had to be a fried element in order to qualify, but the winner of Most Creative went to a Funnel Cake flavored ale (served with powdered sugar on the rim of the glass), so I guess I was wrong. That’s also the only one of the eight finalists that we didn’t try, but no doubt it was creative. Our goal as a self-appointed tasting team was to try all the of other seven finalists, and whatever else (butter included) we came across that we just couldn’t resist.
The winner for best taste was the Fried Gulf Shrimp Boil. It was baby shrimp, potatoes, lemon, onion and seasoning all rolled around a cocktail shrimp (the tail stuck out like a handle), dusted with fish fry, and fried till crispy. Lots and lots of flavor in one bite – I think I would have voted for this one, too.

Shrimp Boil with a Handle

Shrimp Boil with a Handle

We actually started and ended with desserts. Our first dish of the day was the Fried Sweet Texas: pie dough filled with pecan pie, peach cobbler, and buttermilk pie, then fried – with a side of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream.

Fried Sweet Texas - Pies ala Blue Bell

Fried Sweet Texas – Pies ala Blue Bell

To close out the day we tried Fried Coke – little fried balls of Coke-based batter, drizzled with Coke syrup, topped with Coke-infused whipped cream.

Coke Three Ways

Coke Three Ways

The other dessert (somewhere near the middle of the day) was another finalist, the Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet. Blueberry muffin stuffed with cream cheese, white chocolate and blueberries, baked and fried, then topped with more white chocolate, blueberries, whipped cream and blueberry glaze. Plain blueberry muffins will never look the same again.

Everything's Better with Bluebonnet

Everything’s Better with Bluebonnet

Wait! There was another dessert. How could I forget the Fried Bacon Cinnamon Roll? To get the full effect of this, you need to first imagine an average sized cinnamon roll with finely-chopped pecans, but instead of pecans, the cinnamon-sugar layer is packed with little bits of bacon. Put it on a stick, drop it in the deep fryer, pour glaze on top when it comes out, then add more bacon. Oh yes they did. And so did we.

It's perfectly normal to eat bacon with (or in, or on) a cinnamon roll.

It’s perfectly normal to eat bacon with (or in, or on) a cinnamon roll.

Stay tuned for the seven savory servings and my visit with a famous funnel cake lady. With this kind of food, it’s good to read in moderation.

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Semi-Random Thoughts: Scones and Peanut Butter

I think it’s just about time for another series of random food stories that have little other connection save the title of this blog: they are Eats that One (that one being me) Ate. Somewhere. Sometime. Not necessarily from an event or road trip but still tasty (or at least interesting) enough to warrant a mention.
A year or so ago I wrote about the myriad of breakfast options One can find in West Point, Mississippi. At the time I was passing through there a good bit on my way to work in Aberdeen, and it was usually around breakfast time when I hit the city limits. A few weeks ago I happened to be there early in the day and saw a sign for Jubilations Coffee House. I knew Jubilations from their famous cheesecakes, so I was intrigued by what breakfast selections they might offer. Upon first walking in, you face a long window that looks into the cheesecake-making facility, so to speak, where on one visit I got to watch the nice cheesecake man send some famous cheesecakes through the slicer. The first time I stopped, I got a blueberry scone, some coffee, and a sample of a granola bar. The scone was thin, packed with plump, juicy blueberries, and drizzled with glaze. It was so good, in fact, that I was not disappointed the next time I stopped in to find it was the flavor of the day again, despite my inner need for variety.

The scone would not wait for the camera.  Yes.  It's the scone's fault.

The scone would not wait for the camera. Yes. It’s the scone’s fault.

That second visit to Jubilations was more intentional. I was on my way to Florence, Alabama, and the nice lady in my GPS told me I should go through Columbus. But my inner voice (the Gastrointestinal Positioning System) overruled and sent me back through West Point. As I waited for them to bag up my scone and full-size granola bar (with not a trace of coconut, as the good Lord intended, thank you very much), I discovered the red velvet cheesecake – a layer of red velvet cake on the bottom, cheesecake in the middle, and cream cheese icing on top. I know what I want to get next time I’m there. Even if it is for breakfast.
The ginormous granola bar turned out to be quite a practical buy. I nibbled a little on it on the way to Florence, but didn’t want to ruin my appetite because I knew my buddies there would feed me well. On the way back, however, my luck was not as good. My final stop was at Jay’s Country Squire restaurant in Sulligent, Alabama. I have a special connection to Jay’s not just because of the excellent choice of name, and not just because it’s a good old-fashioned steak and catfish place. Jay’s is where I learned to be careful with certain artificial sweeteners. Some friends took us there for dinner when we visited them in Sulligent a few years back. For dessert, I got a piece of sugar-free peanut butter pie. I am a real sucker for anything peanut-buttery (I bought The Wife a painting of a Butterfinger bar for Mother’s Day), and it was really good. I asked the nice waitress how they managed it and she named the artificial sweetener that was used. We finished dinner, went back to the B&B, and got ready for the next morning. When I woke up, I had a tummy ache. This was terribly inconvenient as we were about to speak to a large group of people, but somehow it all worked out. I guess it could have been another ingredient in the pie that was the troublemaker, or perhaps the volume of steak, catfish, and all the trimmings I ate before the desserts ever came. But since then I’ve been careful to limit my artificial sweetener intake. Just in case.

The Wife loves her Butterfingers.  I'm not sure this helps, but we like it.

The Wife loves her Butterfingers. I’m not sure this helps, but we like it.

On the more recent trip, Jay’s was my last hope for a memorable dinner before I got back home, but it was getting late, and I didn’t think it would be a good idea to order a plate of catfish to go, wait for it, then eat it even later. Peanut butter pie or not, I knew I would not feel good in the morning. (This is why I am not five hundred pounds, for those of you who wonder. Occasionally, I make a good decision.) So I ate the granola bar. And as I said, it was a pretty big one, wrapped tightly in cellophane, which was a great idea because it was a bit on the crumbly side. It curbed my hunger and I declared it healthy. I’ll have to visit Jay again another time.
Speaking of peanut butter (apparently these thoughts are more connected than I anticipated) I know a lot of you are looking forward to the summer months – and for the most part, I am, too. But it’s once again that season of year when there are no special shapes of Reese’s on the horizon in the foreseeable future – the usual drought between Easter and Halloween. It’s even harder this year because at Easter I discovered the Reester Bunny, in milk and white chocolate. This Bunny, if you didn’t have the pleasure, was smaller than your average chocolate rabbit, and I think the chocolate (or peanut butter, or both) was a bit sweeter. Either that or the chocolate to peanut butter ratio was drastically heavier on the chocolate side. Whatever it was, I liked them very much. Thank you, Reester Bunny. And darn you, Reester Bunny. My only hope now is to find a Reese’s Football at a fall away game where Daughter is cheering, as I did last year. I’m pretty sure that it was a re-wrapped fun-sized Reese’s Egg, but of course I didn’t care.

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