Horse Bites: Benedictine

What’s not a tapas, not an appetizer, but sort of a finger-food served in Kentucky (or anywhere anyone celebrates Derby) on the days leading up to the First Saturday in May? It’s a Horse Bite!

This isn’t so much a recipe as a technique. You’ll need cucumber, pre-cooked bacon, radishes or alfalfa sprouts, and Benedictine cream cheese spread. If you live outside Kentucky you may not be able to find Benedictine. It was named after Jenny Benedict, and here’s a basic recipe. It’s to die for! My mother-in-law made hers from scratch, and her tip was to take your time and make sure all the liquid was gone from the cukes.

First, wash the cucumber and peel off half the skin in alternating stripes. You can cut this step in half by buying an English cucumber (the plastic-wrapped thin-skinned ones). Cut the cuke into about inch-and-a-half slices. Hollow out the seedy middle portion with a small scoop or a tomato/strawberry corer.

Next is bacon. Always the life of the party! I’m lazy, so I buy pre-cooked bacon and microwave it for thirty seconds, then pat dry. If you’re doing a huge number cooking raw bacon in the oven on a broiler pan may be your best bet. Just don’t get it too crispy. It needs to curve to fit a half-strip inside each cucumber chunk.

Fill the hollow with Benedictine. I used a small decorating tool from Pampered Chef, but you can do it any old way – you’re gonna put stuff on top anyway!

The Bacon Benedictine sandwiches I used to make had alfalfa sprouts. Those are hard to come by those days since they easily harbor e-coli. You can get the same little bite of flavor and crispness from thin-sliced radishes, though! And I do like the extra pop of color.

I’m going to be adding more Derby bites over the next week or so. I can hear military aircraft flying over the house as I write this. It’s Thunder Over Louisville this evening, so there are 800,000 people downtown watching the planes and waiting for the fireworks. The Blue Angels give me chills every. single. time.

My best/worst Thunder experience was being on a friend’s parents’ houseboat for Thunder. Aaron (my 26yo) was maybe four or so at the time. It was incredibly beautiful, and we were closer than any boats were ever allowed to go thereafter. Exiting speedboats caused such a number of wakes that our boat’s anchor lifted, and we were involved in a collision. Passing out life-vests and everything. It all worked out OK for the folks on our boat, but I think a speedboat did have two casualties that year. The land and water controls get stricter every year, and the crowds for every Derby event keep climbing. It’s a wonderful or awful time to be in Louisville. . . depending on what you’re doing!

Happy Derby Festival, Y’all!

 

 

 

Bibliophile Spring Cleaning

Today I will . . . That’s the Mama Kat writing prompt I’m going with this week.

Today normal people are probably doing Spring Cleaning. They are washing windows, cleaning out closets, washing baseboards, and perhaps even alphabetizing their canned goods. I’ve never claimed to be normal. I do alphabetize my spices, but only because I have so many of them and no patience.

Instead of Spring Cleaning (which I really should be doing) I’m reorganizing my bookshelves. Yes, I buy nearly all the books I read in Kindle format and read them on my iPad. I also borrow a lot of library books in both print and eBook. But I still buy my favorite authors in hardback, and I buy local authors in hardback/softcover so I can get them signed. There are books in every single room of my home except the bathrooms. The rattiest shelves are the ones with books the whole family enjoys: Harry Potter and Stephanie Plum, to be specific!


Earlier this year my husband’s aunt passed away. She was an incredible woman, and her home reflected that. I have wonderful memories of visiting her with my mother-in-law and thinking that being there was my version of heaven. We sat and drank tea, talking about fifty different topics within a two-hour visit! Every single room (except the bathroom) was a library. Every wall in every room was covered with shelves. After she passed away her children opened the main house to family and friends, letting them take whatever books most appealed to them. I couldn’t go that day (damn F*$%ing pain), but was blessed with an opportunity to go a few weeks later. Her collection was eclectic, to say the least!


My youngest son, John, drove me over. He’d been at the memorial service, and so was already familiar with the house. I’d warned him in advance that the first-floor hallway had been narrowed by bookshelves on both sides, but since I’d been there she had also filled every closet with books! Her children had printed out hundreds of labels with her name, date of birth, and date of passing to be put into books taken home – that’s how she will best be remembered by generations of people.


I’m a bit OCD about my books. I’m about 95% Fiction, while my husband Michael is 100% History. Mine are all arranged by author, and then chronologically by year of publication. But the order of authors is pure favoritism. When Stephen King announced (several years ago) that he would continue writing but would not publish – well, I stopped giving him shelf space. Liar, liar, pants-on-fire!! He’s still publishing (for which I am very thankful), but now I need to spread his books out and move Anne Rice AND John Grisham. And since SK’s son, Joe Hill, is incredibly awesome he needs his own dedicated space.


I even have a special spot for local authors, most of which are signed First Editions. Every bookstore should have this, BTW, but odds are you’ll only find it at locally-owned shops. But that’s where you should be shopping anyway.


Tiffany Reisz gets her own section, which will expand exponentially now that I don’t have a teen boy in the house 24/7. I’ve read all of her books multiple times on Kindle, but the only print copies I had were from book signings I’d attended. Now I can indulge myself with print copies of all her books. I may even be able to get signed copies of all of them from a small bookstore near her home. YAY!


I was spoiled for many years by having a large, wonderful family-owned bookstore (Hawley-Cooke) five minutes away. All the employees were bibliophiles, and if they didn’t know how to find what a customer was looking for they took it as a personal challenge to find it. Better yet, I could tell any one of them what I liked and they’d introduce me to a new author in that genre. That’s particularly helpful in Children’s Books. If you like Richard Scarry you will not like Mo Willems. Mo Willems rocks, IMHO. And I have plenty of room to expand my collection for visiting kiddos:


What will YOU do today??

Beuller. . . Beuller?

Is anyone actually reading this? I know I dropped off the radar for a couple of months during the dead of Winter. But if there is no interest I’ll just shut down this custom-designed WordPress blog that costs me more than $200 a year and get a gmail address.

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Anything worth doing can be done in jammies!