The continuation of love and hate

Dec. 31, 2013 @ 01:54 PM

The first time I met Mildred Council (Mama Dip), she made me mad.
She had come to the bookstore where I worked to sign copies of her first cookbook, “Mama Dip’s Kitchen.” She also brought a few items that she’d cooked up from the cookbook.  One of them was her pecan pie.
That pie was the basis of my ire.
I told her I could always claim that my mom made the best pecan pie in the world.  After tasting her version, I could no longer say that; hers was as delicious as my mom’s.
And here, for the first time, I will reveal the secret of my mother’s amazing pecan pie.
The recipe is from the back of the Karo syrup bottle. And the pastry for it is Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust. Really, I promise.
Thus continues my love/hate list. Gosh I love that pie.
If you want to start a ruckus with an Italian, tell them that you think cheese belongs on fish. It’s wrong, and bad. There is only one time that they go together, and that’s on a Mickey D’s Filet-O-Fish. And that doesn’t count because I’m not really convinced it’s actual fish (or cheese).
At Daisycakes (401 A Foster St., Durham), they have a crazy sandwich that I adore.  It’s carnitas hash. Carnitas is very slowly roasted pork, crisped up in a skillet. They take it and make hash, with potatoes, chilis, and red onion then put it on a ciabatta roll with avocado. I know, spuds on a sandwich are pretty darn out there, but it really, really works. Stop by and see for yourself.
I always keep some kind of dried fruit at the house.  I use it for my hot cereal, and grab a handful for a quick snack. When I’m feeling particularly indulgent, I treat myself to what I think is the Cadillac (price-wise and flavor-wise) of dried fruit; the Cherry & Berry Mix at Whole Foods.  It contains two kinds of cherries, blueberries, and strawberries.
Another item at Whole Foods that everybody in the family loves is Mom’s Dinner Rolls. They are big fat yeast rolls, very similar to what they used to serve at Quincy’s Steakhouse. I brush them with butter and pop them in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes. They come out soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. If I let myself, I could probably put away a half dozen.
There are two edibles that I love and hate at the same time.
Many years ago, Chef Chrissie’s mother introduced my palate to ranch dressing.  Back then it was not the ubiquitous fluid that is found everywhere and on everything that it is today. She made hers with a packet, mayo and buttermilk. To this day I love it on everything from salad to chicken tenders. I make the original buttermilk, but use non-fat buttermilk, so it’s a little lighter with absolutely no loss of flavor.
But … bottled ranch is an abomination. It’s watery and tastes overwhelmingly of the vinegar used to keep it shelf stable. I’d rather nibble dry greens like a rabbit than use that stuff.
Eastern North Carolina barbecue I love. Mustard-based barbecue is just plain wrong. I once dined at a barbecue place that I thought had the worst barbecue in the world. Then I was informed it was dressed with a mustard sauce. My opinion didn’t change — it was the worst on the world. A piece of advice; just skip it.
I saved my best love for last.  It’s the sole reason for cake, as far as I’m concerned.  It’s buttercream frosting. It makes me happy to own taste buds.
And the Cupcake Bar (101 E Chapel Hill St., Durham), has a treat which they must have developed with me in mind. It serves frosting shots. It’s actually shot glasses filled with frosting. It’s so decadent it’s like an X-rated food. But good grief; frosting shots? Genius!
There are a gillion other things about food that I love (and a few more I hate), but these are the chart-toppers. 
Ain’t life just grand?
Thanks for your time.
Debbie Matthews lives, writes and cooks in Durham. Her email address is