The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

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The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Jenise » Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:22 pm

This took place last Saturday night. When Tammy's situation got more critical late in the week, I'd written the group to warn them we might be no-shows. Their reaction was a collective "we hope you can't come", because of course that would mean Tammy was still here. Saturday morning I was too blue to even consider it until the morning wore into what looked like a long, empty day of wall-staring and I realized that all four of the other couples are childless and pet-crazy just like us. What better place to be? Around noon, I sent a message saying, "Unfortunately, we'll be joining you."

I'd been released from any obligation to prepare or bring food, of course. And I didn't feel the least like cooking--I for sure didn't have the time to make the tater tot and goat cheese ravioli I'd dreamed up (with a Cheez Whiz sauce). I told Bob maybe I should try to think of a way to make a sophisticated version of Howie's idea: just saute Vienna Sausage in Welch's grape jelly. How would you do that, he wondered. I don't know, I answered, add vinegar and garlic? Doesn't sound like much of a conversation, of course, but you've got to picture these two broken-hearted adults sitting side by side on a sofa staring at the wall, not each other, speaking in low, lifeless monotones with long dead-zones between sentences. Finally, Bob said, "Sounds good. Let's go to the store."

By the time we got there, my creative side had woken up a bit and I had a new idea: what if I 'made' Vienna Sausage out of some deli knockwurst? I had these cute little tiny canning jars just about the right size. So we wandered the aisles looking for more inspiration. I bought frozen peas and carrots and a loaf of the cheapest white bread the store had for toast points: $1.29. When we got home, I cut the knockwurst into one and a half inch lengths and then simmered them with wine, chicken stock, bay leaves, juniper berries and cloves, until the broth was flavorful and the cut ends of the sausages were rounded. I then stuffed four into each jar and turned the broth into an aspic, which I poured over with all the spices and set to chill. Separately, I mixed the peas and carrots with capers and a mayo-lemon dressing to mimic Miracle Whip. I had planned to serve that with plain toast, but before I was done it occurred to me that I had enough stuff on hand to make a pimento cheese. Mind you, I've never so much as tasted pimento cheese, but that was good because I had no borders about what it should be. Bob, on the other hand, growing up in the South on the commercial version, which he despised, had very firm ideas about what it should NOT be! So I mixed Tillamook cheddar, mayo, roasted onions and charred red cocktail peppers for the basic flavor and then stirred in habanero Melinda's XXXX and a lot of chopped pepperoncini for attitude. I took five small rectangular plates and served each couple a shared appetizer trio: pea and carrot salad, home-made vienna sausage and three square little pimento cheese toasts. Wouldn't make homemade Vienna Sausage again (it tasted good, but WHY?) but Pimento Cheese, at least made my way, has a place in our future.

When we got to the party, everyone was outside on the deck. Our hostess was wearing a sparkly black dress under a bath robe, and her husband Rich was bare chested in a black leather vest. Nothing says fun like a bare chest and a black leather vest! A bowl of Cheetos was on the appetizer table along with a fine pate made by one of the guests and stuffed into a SPAM can. To go with that, Ritz crackers and two excellent mustards she'd also made. My course was the first sit-down course, and that was followed by Frito Pies: Fritos in a bowl topped with homemade beans (from Rancho Gordo). SO good. I would have been very happy to eat a second helping of that and skip the rest of the meal. They had wanted to serve this in individual little Frito bags, but couldn't find enough small bags of Fritos in Mt. Vernon to do that. Very clever nonetheless.

The main course items were a crock pot sludge made from tater tots, mushroom soup and ground lamb, three bean salad, and a Cola-basted ham (covered with pineapple rings and maraschino cherries). The latter was a Paula Deen recipe (only the cook subbed fresh pineapple for canned), which got extra points for the duality of topical as well as culinary tackiness.

For dessert, a vanilla pudding/pecan thing called Republican Pie. Jessamyn based this on a dessert that came to Grange pot lucks she went to as a child growing up near Wenatchee. Granges were very strong in Washington state back in thos days, and she believes the name might have simply been based on its being so rich. It would have been made with instant pudding and Vanilla Wafers back then, but of course she made her own custard and crust.

After dinner we sipped bourbon, and there I had an epiphany. I've always detested ryes based on a bad experience with Canadian Club manhattans at my first--and last--drunken office party. I was only 20, and not an experienced drinker to say the least. But Georgiann and Rich served me a rye called "Ry: 1", if I got the name right, that was DELIGHTFUL. Halfway, it struck me, between bourbon and scotch--less smokey, less sweet than most bourbons and quite sophisticated. And nothing like Canadian Club as I remember it.

Fun night. Just what we needed.

And by the way, while there I brought up Dale W's issue about 'Trailer Trash' being insensitive. Rich, of course, asserted his right as someone who grew up very poor and in a trailer in Ohio. The rest of us talked about our own down-and-out pasts--not one of us was born into money or considers ourselves particularly rich now, and most of us have actually lived in trailer at some point (including moi). So we all ended up agreeing that 'Trailer Trash' is like a number of other terms that are best only joked about from within that group.
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Jo Ann Henderson » Mon Jul 15, 2013 2:37 pm

Loved the story, Jenise. Glad you and Bob were able to make it. Agree about the term trailer trash. I abhor name-calling, but within the group there is a space for acceptability. Sorry to hear about Tammy Fay. Know now I would feel if it were one of my kids -- pretty much the same thing. Bon chance! from here forward. Look forward to reading more stories from the cooking club.
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Tom NJ » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:38 am

What a great story about a fun evening! The vest over nekkid chest was definitely a faux pas, though. A wife beater is universally acknowledged to be the appropriate male attire for soirees such as this. What was he thinking? Still, the Cheetos were at least partial redemption. Orange fingers are always in fashion.

Cool about the rye revelation! I had no idea they made upscale versions. Thanks!
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Jenise » Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:20 pm

Tom NJ wrote:What was he thinking?


That he has a black vest but not a wife beater? :) Wish I'd thought of that for Bob. Probably would have if I'd found his mullet wig from several Halloweens back. Apparently, though, afraid I'd find another excuse for him to wear it he tossed it out. Bad Bob.

Totally agree about orange fingers, though.

I forgot to mention the table setting! Each guest got a pile of super flimsy paper plates. After you dirtied one for a course, you just shuffled it to the bottom and used the fresh plate on top.
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Tom NJ » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:35 pm

Great idea! But washing them later must have been a beyotch....
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby David Creighton » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:09 pm

trailer trash being insensitive - i think that is a gross understatement. yes, some people use the n word among themselves. but this was used publicly on the internet. shame.
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Howie Hart » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:19 pm

Not actually on theme, except for the whiskey: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVw96wzmZC8 :roll:
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Groucho - That's because it's dry Champagne.
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Jenise » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:13 am

David Creighton wrote:trailer trash being insensitive - i think that is a gross understatement. yes, some people use the n word among themselves. but this was used publicly on the internet. shame.


Yeah, mentioning a dinner I'd been invited to. Not calling any person a name or making up a new concept but playing off a category of food/cooking about which books have been printed and websites devoted to. My friends were inspired by the an annual event in the farming community they live in, a "Trailer Trash Cook-off" a local festival whose intent is the absolute opposite of derogatory: it a celebration of anti-snobbery. For that very reason, writer Tom Robbins, who lives nearby, and who otherwise avoids public appearances, comes out for it--I believe he actually emcees it. So, insensitive? I'm only guilty of being insensitive to the fact that some people take things too seriously. You confer a lot more judgement on me with your 'shame' than I conferred on any person or group of people by mentioning my participation.
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Thu Jul 18, 2013 5:35 pm

On the rye thing, I'd say there's no going back for you now, Jenise. Over the last five or ten years, a whole world of excellent rye whiskeys have started being released. Whistle Pig, Hudson Manhattan, Rittenhouse Bonded, Bulleit, Michter's, Willett, and Wild Turkey are all ones that I've enjoyed recently, either neat or in rye-centric cocktails such as Manhattans and Sazeracs. Some of them come in at excellent price points - the Rittenhouse and the Bulleit have been available here routinely for around $22. So far, my favorite was the Willett Family Single Barrel. Really lovely stuff.

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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Jon Peterson » Fri Jul 19, 2013 4:43 pm

Mike - you named all my favorites! With my oldest son being a bartender at a pretty classy restaurant, he has opened my eyes, and my wallet, to many really wonderful liquors, with rye being near the top of the list. I have reserved a section on the wine cellar for just such bottles.
As a matter of fact a renowned mixologist in the DC area just sent me a recipe for a drink that uses, Old Overholt rye (high QPR), peach shrub and prosecco.
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:36 pm

Yeah, Old Overholt is a pretty darned good whiskey for the price.

That drink sounds delicious.

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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Jon Peterson » Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:47 pm

Mike Filigenzi wrote:Yeah, Old Overholt is a pretty darned good whiskey for the price.

That drink sounds delicious.


I had it on July 6th and it was delicious and refreshing, but I'm anxious to make it myself. I've got a small batch of peach shrub sitting in the cellar right now; it should be ready in about 3 weeks.
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Bill Buitenhuys » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:09 pm

+1 for rye.
Templeton has been getting a lot of play in our cocktails these days.
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Jenise » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:37 pm

Bill, glad to see a post from you. So a question for you rye lovers: is there a king of rye--you know, a holy grail of sorts among them that I should be on the lookout for--or is it like most spirits, simply a matter of taste? I ask, though that Ry:1, both because it was so good and was the first for me to bond with, might be hard to improve on.
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Hoke » Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:10 pm

Jenise wrote:Bill, glad to see a post from you. So a question for you rye lovers: is there a king of rye--you know, a holy grail of sorts among them that I should be on the lookout for--or is it like most spirits, simply a matter of taste? I ask, though that Ry:1, both because it was so good and was the first for me to bond with, might be hard to improve on.


The best, and not even expensive, is Old Rittenhouse 100 Proof. Nicest combination of quality, style, flavor and price. Old Overholt is the stalwart, dependable, always correct but not always exciting version. There's an 80 proof, which is fine; I just dearly love the 100 proof. Damn near perfect.

Russell's Rye (there's a 6 year and a 10 year) is great too. Jimmy Russell is the master distiller for Wild Turkey. There's Wild Turkey Rye as well, but Russell Rye is mo'betta.

Jim Beam Rye is....so/so. It's a style: rough edged, leathery.

A lot depends on the 1)amount of rye in the whiskey and 2)the amount/type of other grain in the mix and 3)the blender's style of maturation.

Some people like Bulleit's Rye, which is 95% rye grain. I don't; but I think it's okay.

A more audacious rye is the new Knob Creek.

Templeton Rye has a lot of followers.

Rye can be tricky. A 100% rye might move from the spicy/herbal right over to the hard, leathery, hollow in the middle, disjointed and unbalanced style. Not uncommon for rye to do that. But sometimes you can fatten up and even lightly sweeten up the middle with a little corn and a little barley malt, and give it more balance and less astringency, while leaving the saddle leather and dried herbs and cola flavors intact. Then put a few years age on it and you get those lovely rich, full tones of chocolate and caramel and toffee...that's a good rye whiskey.

(One pedantic note, Jenise: if you were drinking Canadian Club whiskey back in the day, you probably weren't drinking rye, or not much of it anyway. That's a Canadian Blended Whiskey, which means there's a lot of things in it, but probably not much if any rye. Lotta corn and possibly wheat, but with Canadian blended they can add cheap "sherry" and "port" and flavorings (and sugar) and even fruit juices; it's basically a "whatever you want as long as it's smooth". Canadian USED to be rye based, but hasn't been for a long, long time. So even back several years ago, if you were reacting so something in CC, it probably wasn't the rye. But associations can do that to you.)
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Jenise » Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:20 pm

Hoke wrote:
The best, and not even expensive, is Old Rittenhouse 100 Proof. Nicest combination of quality, style, flavor and price. Old Overholt is the stalwart, dependable, always correct but not always exciting version. There's an 80 proof, which is fine; I just dearly love the 100 proof. Damn near perfect.

Russell's Rye (there's a 6 year and a 10 year) is great too. Jimmy Russell is the master distiller for Wild Turkey. There's Wild Turkey Rye as well, but Russell Rye is mo'betta.

Jim Beam Rye is....so/so. It's a style: rough edged, leathery.

A lot depends on the 1)amount of rye in the whiskey and 2)the amount/type of other grain in the mix and 3)the blender's style of maturation.

Some people like Bulleit's Rye, which is 95% rye grain. I don't; but I think it's okay.

A more audacious rye is the new Knob Creek.

Templeton Rye has a lot of followers.

Rye can be tricky. A 100% rye might move from the spicy/herbal right over to the hard, leathery, hollow in the middle, disjointed and unbalanced style. Not uncommon for rye to do that. But sometimes you can fatten up and even lightly sweeten up the middle with a little corn and a little barley malt, and give it more balance and less astringency, while leaving the saddle leather and dried herbs and cola flavors intact. Then put a few years age on it and you get those lovely rich, full tones of chocolate and caramel and toffee...that's a good rye whiskey.

(One pedantic note, Jenise: if you were drinking Canadian Club whiskey back in the day, you probably weren't drinking rye, or not much of it anyway. That's a Canadian Blended Whiskey, which means there's a lot of things in it, but probably not much if any rye. Lotta corn and possibly wheat, but with Canadian blended they can add cheap "sherry" and "port" and flavorings (and sugar) and even fruit juices; it's basically a "whatever you want as long as it's smooth". Canadian USED to be rye based, but hasn't been for a long, long time. So even back several years ago, if you were reacting so something in CC, it probably wasn't the rye. But associations can do that to you.)


I grew up with a cocktail-loving daddy who insisted on Canadian Club Rye in his Manhattans; I sat idly by while he schooled many a bartender on how to make his drink correctly. He had a whole lecture about the 'rye' part. It might well have been a blend by the time of that ill-fated Christmas party, but either way it was the only spirit I had ever tasted, at age 20, and the first to make me deathly ill. What I reacted to was simply having drunk way too much for a beginner. :) The couple that served me the Ry:1 last week had Bulleitt on hand for their everyday rye. I know what you think of one, what about the other?
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Hoke » Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:56 pm

Jenise, I think the Ry:1 is good; but I think it is preciously pricy.

I get more pleasure out of the Rittenhouse at $20-something than any other rye. If I'm going upscale, it's the Russell Reserve.

When I'm not drinking rye, I'm usually drinking the rye-heavy bourbons...Four Roses, Old Forester 100, that kinda stuff. Good tang of spicy rye, but balanced and full in the middle palate with malt and corn.; better in a Manhattan too.

BTW, the myth of rye still exists, even among otherwise well informed drinkers. Rye whiskey in the US shifted to corn-based whiskey beginning around the start of the country, with rye still being made in Pensylvania quite a bit. Canadian rye stayed around a while longer, but as the Canadians settled further west, that shifted to corn/barley/wheat too.
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Jul 22, 2013 8:25 pm

Hoke wrote:... myth of rye ...

Would that be why you neglected to name Pappy Van Winkle in your most excellent dissertation on rye?
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Hoke » Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:13 am

Robin Garr wrote:
Hoke wrote:... myth of rye ...

Would that be why you neglected to name Pappy Van Winkle in your most excellent dissertation on rye?


Van Winkle is more or less a wheated whiskey, originally made at the old Stitzel-Weller distillery, which was long defunct but now Buffalo Trace is making the VW in a joint venture with Julius, the current Van Winkle.

VW is unbelievably good---well, the slow trickle of VW being released out of the old warehouse stocks anyway---and I imagine the newer stuff from BT will be good too, although for that only time will tell.

The tiny amounts of VW Rye that exist is sublime, but I tend not to have vapors over what I can't access. That way lies madness. :D

Michter's is an old Pennsylvania-style rye, once popular, then defunct and now funct again. It's tasty in a very solid chunky way.

George Dickel now releases a rye whiskey---which is kinda odd in that George Dickel is a Tennessee distillery (another one that went out of production and is back in again under corporate overlordship. The funny thing is that Tennessee whiskies were never all that known for rye anyway. The other funny thing is that the rye is made in the largest indie distillery in the US, which is in Indiana, and its made by contract. I'm not that impressed by the stuff; bit light.

And in a supreme oddity, Jack Daniels released a rye---but not a whiskey, because it was white dog, clear, unaged rye spirit and therefore not whiskey. Why? Who knows. I guess because they could and somehow thought it would be an addition to the brand equity. Go figure.

BT, of course, makes Sazerac Rye, which ain't no slouch. And with the popularity of rye, there'll be more labels of rye out there soon. It's a good time for rye drinkers.
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Robin Garr » Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:52 am

Hoke wrote:
Robin Garr wrote:
Hoke wrote:... myth of rye ...

Would that be why you neglected to name Pappy Van Winkle in your most excellent dissertation on rye?


Van Winkle is more or less a wheated whiskey ....

Errr, right, but I was asking about the JW Rye.

The tiny amounts of VW Rye that exist is sublime, but I tend not to have vapors over what I can't access. That way lies madness. :D

Oh, right, got it.
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Jenise » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:56 am

Hoke wrote:BTW, the myth of rye still exists, even among otherwise well informed drinkers. Rye whiskey in the US shifted to corn-based whiskey beginning around the start of the country, with rye still being made in Pensylvania quite a bit. Canadian rye stayed around a while longer, but as the Canadians settled further west, that shifted to corn/barley/wheat too.


I think you meant century. But yeah, my father was no expert about anything, but he was convinced he was and so as a kid I was convinced he was too and right or wrong, that's how I ended up disliking what I thought was rye. Funny that it took this many years for me to get exposed to the real thing. I'm going to look for some Rittenhouse.
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Hoke » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:51 am

Jenise wrote:
Hoke wrote:BTW, the myth of rye still exists, even among otherwise well informed drinkers. Rye whiskey in the US shifted to corn-based whiskey beginning around the start of the country, with rye still being made in Pensylvania quite a bit. Canadian rye stayed around a while longer, but as the Canadians settled further west, that shifted to corn/barley/wheat too.


I think you meant century. But yeah, my father was no expert about anything, but he was convinced he was and so as a kid I was convinced he was too and right or wrong, that's how I ended up disliking what I thought was rye. Funny that it took this many years for me to get exposed to the real thing. I'm going to look for some Rittenhouse.



Nope; meant country. The Great Whiskey Rebellion in the 1790s stimulated the disgruntled settlers from the Monongahela to move to the Kentucky-Tennessee area, shifting from rye to corn and beginning the "bourbon" style of American whiskey.

I confidently predict you will like the Rittenhouse, if you can find it. If not, give it to me. :)
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:07 pm

Hey Hoke, what is the back-story on Seagram's 7? I thought it was a rye once upon a time, too, but you didn't mention it.
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Re: The Trailer Trash dinner, Rye whiskey epiphany

Postby Hoke » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:50 pm

Jeff Grossman/NYC wrote:Hey Hoke, what is the back-story on Seagram's 7? I thought it was a rye once upon a time, too, but you didn't mention it.


Seagram's 7 is a blended whisky---so it can be anything it wants to be...or anything the corporation wants it to be. :D

And what it was always intended to be was a relatively innocuous and smooth blend of whiskys made to be without any bite, something that could easily mix with anything, usually water, soda or lemon-lime for a highball drink. Hence, "7&7" or "7 & ginger".

There are some restrictions for blended whisky/whiskey, but essentially this type of blended is a portion of "straight whisky" (full strength stuff) mixed with light whisky (made at higher proof, basically pale and bland stuff) and blended to a certain style.

To be fully pedantic, it's not "Canadian Whisky" as a category. And I'd doubt there is any rye in it, unless they were trying to blend some leftover stuff to get rid of it---too spicy for blended.
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