Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Some of you readers know that I spent many of my formative years in Grand Forks, North Dakota. It was a bleak and frigid landscape, but we had some hoo-boy interesting neighbors. The same neighbors I posted about here happened to give us a family code-word/phrase unique to just us. You have those, don't you? Little sayings that pop out of your mouth, things you've heard since you were a child...things that make no sense to anyone else?
Or are we bigger wierdos than I thought?
Anyways, our code-phrase was, "Let me guess--Emil Schraeder did it, didn't he?"
My sister's best friend Lisa had money. Well, let me correct that. Lisa's family had more money than we did, which now that I think of it, probably wasn't very hard.
Anyways, Lisa's mother, Barb, was quite progressive and liberated. She militantly refused to wear a bra and refused to vacuum and sent her husband's work shirts to the dry cleaners. Believe me, such behavior was, in my eyes, downright exotic.
One afternoon, as Barb was hanging up the freshly dry-cleaned work shirts, she noticed one that she didn't recognize. Sure enough, the shirt was quite a bit larger than her husband's size. Upon further examination, she discovered a homemade tag on the inside, emblazoned with the name: Emil Schraeder.
An odd name, don't you think? I mean, even for Scandinavian-heavy North Dakota in the early 70's, this was a goofy-ass name.
Barb returned the shirt to the dry cleaner, only to get a puzzled look and a shake of the head.
"We don't have any customer named Emil Schraeder, lady. Never heard that name in my life."
Emil Schraeder:Man of Mystery.
From then on, whenever something in the Norby household went missing or was mysteriously broken, Lisa and her brothers would insist that they were not culpable.
"Emil Schraeder must have done it," they said, grinning.
Naturally, my sister and I thought this was genius.
So Emil Schraeder ended up haunting not just one, but two houses.
I'm going somewhere with this, I swear...
Growing up, my father had an addiction to a savory crocked-cheese-spread that he could only get in Fargo. Whenever he had business in Fargo, he picked up a jar or two of this delicious little foodstuff.
He'd reverently crack open the jar, grab a knife and slather the orange concoction on crackers or stalks of celery, sighing in satisfaction. The stuff was delectable.
Alas, my father was (and still is) notoriously stingy about sharing "his" food. Daddy is the only person I know who will go to a Chinese restaurant and refuse to allow a scrap of his entree to pass anyone else's lips. His food is his food.
Thus was his attitude towards his Crack Cheese. He guarded it like a junkyard dog.
But Crack Cheese was delicious...
So we sneaked, pilfered, pillaged. Greasy little fingers would leave smears on the refrigerator door, and when my father saw the streaks of cheesy evidence, he would bellow, "Who's been into my cheese?"
Emil Schraeder, who else?
To this day, I love savory cheese spread, although my tastes have advanced to spicier fare than the Crack Cheese of yore. My cheesy bliss? Pimiento-Jalapeno cheese spread from Whole Foods. I love the stuff. Give me a toasted English muffin, topped with that spread and a slice of fresh tomato, and I'm a satisfied woman.
Problem is, as much as I love my Whole Foods snack, it doesn't lovva my ass. Pimiento cheese spread usually contains mayonnaise or butter or God forbid, both. Cheese+Mayonnaise+Butter=Backside Suicide.
So imagine my delight when I stumbled across a lightened recipe for pimiento cheese spread in Eating Well magazine. I made a batch, stirred in some finely diced jalapeno peppers, and was in snack heaven.
Eating Well Pimiento Cheese
makes 1 1/2 cups
1 1/2 cups reduced-fat Cheddar cheese**
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise (do not use fat-free)
1 (4 oz.) jar sliced pimientos, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons minced scallions or shallot
hot sauce to taste (or if you are like me, 1-2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno or serrano pepper)
salt and pepper to taste
Mix together. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Serve with crackers or crudites.
**Eating Well magazine is VERY, very fussy about the cheese used in the spread. They know their stuff, so listen to them. The ONLY low-fat Cheddar that's acceptable is Cabot or Cracker Barrel brand. And only the kind sold in block form--no pre-shredded cheese allowed. And not lower-fat than 50%. Got that? Disobey orders and your pimiento cheese will not be Crack-Worthy. I could only find Cabot low-fat Cheddar in the white variety, so you'll notice that my spread is a little pale, but it tasted just lovely.
Posted by TKW at 12:30 PM