#OKlegacies: Melting pot of gold

Today for lunch I had what has become a bit of a usual for me: beans, cornbread and fried taters from Josie’s hole-in-the-wall diner.

I skipped the pick-up window and went inside to grab my grub. The place was packed like always in the noon hour. I’m not sure why, but for some reason I noticed people a little deeper on this trip.

A farmer, a carpenter, a doctor, a foster mom and a minister sitting along one wall. An American Indian, a black man and a white woman laughing over their meal in the corner. They also were *listening* to one another.

So simple but so important.

Americans of different backgrounds and education levels, religions and colors – all precious in his sight. All with their own opinions, convictions and hearts that make up a collective heartbeat.

And they were at a small-town Oklahoma diner owned by a native Filipino family. The marquee out front advertises the Monday special: Chinese Lo Mein or beans and cornbread. They have pretty great burritos, too. The whole lot is made by a sweet immigrant and served in mismatched dishes.

In her best moments, America shines.

But it takes the consideration of the whole eclectic menu to make it work.

Deep-Dish Pie: The time my little sister ate something and liked it

It is 3/14. You know, Pi Day.

A day about math.

Pi is numbers. A whole string of numbers that tell us the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its
diameter.

Snooze.

And math also is letters, as if life isn’t enough of a struggle. Letters and infinite numbers coexisting in an alternate universe where I always have a headache and everything is chaos. That’s math.

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Oklahoma Legacies: ‘Cash only. Closed Sundays, Hon’

When you walk past the rockin’ chairs out front and perch yourself on a barstool at the Dot’s Cafe counter, you go back in time.

It’s unavoidable.

Just a smidge off Route 66, it’s a little hole-in-the-wall slice of Americana. You’ll pay for your patty melt the same way your grandaddy did, because cash is still king at Dot’s place.

And no matter what the modern cafes do, Dot’s stays closed on the Lord’s day — because as good as those made-from-scratch pies and chicken noodles are, Dot’s leaves Sunday brunch to the ladies in the church fellowship halls. A refreshing taste of yesteryear, with a spunky tone.

When it comes to interesting cities, Claremore is one of Oklahoma’s headliners. With it being the backdrop for one of the most famous musicals of all time and frontage to America’s Main Street as it ushers cross-country travelers through, the home of Will Rogers isn’t too shabby of a spot.

Dot’s has about as much character as the city itself — and it’s had a lot of characters sitting in its booths over the years, too.

Order up some fried taters and homemade biscuits, and get a wink and a smile from the best waitress in town, who happens to be Dot’s granddaughter. Dot may be gone, but her family carries on that decades-long legacy.

Whether you stop in for the atmosphere or for the eats, you’ll leave this diner feeling a little like your soul is whistling Dixie, with a chorus of The Andy Griffith Show theme song.

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My “Oklahoma Legacies” series is dedicated to chronicling life in my great home state, because ol’ No. 46 makes my heart beat pretty steady and strong. Every person and every place has a story — past and present. These are Oklahoma’s.

Click here to see all the posts in my #OKlegacies series.


When the Girl Scouts cookies are gone

It is October and my freezer is officially void of Girl Scouts Thin Mints. After trembling in fear, with a death grip on the empty box and a glazed look in my eyes, it hit me.

I have a recipe to make these cookies myself!

The winter months will indeed be heavenly, but this knowledge comes with heavy responsibility. Raise your right hand and repeat after me: “I understand that by using this recipe, it doesn’t absolve me of my duty to buy cookies from the neighborhood Girl Scouts in the spring.”

Because there is something magical about a little girl in pigtails and a sash that makes it perfectly reasonable to fork over $4 per box.

P.S. Do we get a  baking badge for this?

 

Homemade Thin Mints

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup milk (any kind)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp peppermint extract

Preparation

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. With the mixer on low speed, add in the milk and the extracts. Mixture will look curdled. Gradually, add in the flour mixture until fully incorporated.
Shape dough into two logs, about 1 1/2 inches (or about 4 cm) in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1-2 hours, until dough is very firm.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Slice dough into rounds not more than 1/4 inch thick – if they are too thick, they will not be as crisp – and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cookies will not spread very much, so you can put them quite close together.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, until cookies are firm at the edges. Cool cookies completely on a wire rack before dipping in chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Coating
10-oz dark or semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

In a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Melt on high power in the microwave, stirring every 45-60 seconds, until chocolate is smooth. Chocolate should have a consistency somewhere between chocolate syrup and fudge for a thin coating.
Dip each cookie in melted chocolate, turn with a fork to coat, then transfer to a piece of parchment paper or wax paper to set up for at least 30 minutes, or until chocolate is cool and firm.
Reheat chocolate as needed to keep it smooth and easy to dip into.

Makes 3 1/2-4 dozen cookies.
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Baby Back Ribs and Texas Blackjack Sauce

I saw this recipe in Woman’s Day magazine in 2005. It immediately went in my Big Black Books and I prepared it for the first time that summer, my last in Chicago. I remember being very leery of the fact there was coffee (blech!) involved… but I quickly got over it. The unique flavor sent my palate over the top.

We fired up the grill on game day, spun the TV around so we could watch the action from outdoors, and every single Cubs fan who walked by en route to Wrigley Field made a comment about the divine smell. I joked that every game day I should sell ribs off the side of the balcony in brown lunch sacks.
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Berry Bliss(ful) Cake with Lemonade Glaze

It’s that time of year: Berries, berries and more berries. Farmers markets, grocery stores, roadside stands… they’re everywhere. And I love it. My favorite is raspberries, which I suppose is because they taste like candy. Good, healthy candy.

The following recipe is from Gourmet magazine. I was mesmerized with the possibilities. Raspberries. Blackberries. Blueberries. Cranberries. Even plums or peaches. I liked it so much that I clipped, um, stole it… I ripped it right from the pages of an issue in a waiting room. I know, bad girl. But because I was bad, it went into my Big Black Books and you now know about an awesome cake. This moment was worth the risk.
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