13 April 2011

Constructing the Perfect Cheese Straw

2010 was the year of the cheese straw. My grandmother used to make these yummy cheesy and oh so spicy snacks every holiday season, and for some reason I became obsessed with this delicacy last year. I tried every recipe I could find and after much experimenting, my recipe came to resemble the following:

1 stick butter (room temp)
8oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated (room temp)
1 1/2 cup flour (usually a bit more)
1/2 tsp salt
Cayenne pepper to taste. (hint: lots)

Mix together into a firm ball of dough, roll out, slice thinly and cook at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Now there are a few tricks to the cheese straw. You have to get the right consistency. They should have a slight crumbly, melt-in-the-mouth texture. Light, crisp, and as for flavor, you should definitely feel the burn. Using the butter recipe, results seem to vary depending on the temperature of the butter and cheese, the brand of cheese, etc.

I like to mix up the butter/cheese/spices first, then add flour gradually until I have the correct firmness of dough. I've learn that the dough should be quite heavy. If you were to hit someone over the head with it, it should render them unconscious for at least 12 minutes. This is how you know the dough is right.

Baking time. More trickiness. Depends on the thickness of the slices and the amount of moisture in the cheese. They are baked until there is no doughy consistency at the center of the cheese straw.

Yeah well, after all this pissing about, and several failures, I finally found my grandmother's recipe stashed in the recipe box. No fuss, no guesswork about the flour and the dough and the cooking time. Here's how she made them:

1 lb grated cheese.

Let me stop there. Is there any phrase in the English language more beautiful than "one pound of cheese"? I think not. Okay, starting over now.

1 lb grated cheese
2/3 cup oil (olive oil for richer flavor, vegetable oil for cleaner cheese flavor)
3 1/2 cups of plain flour
1tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
Cayenne pepper to taste (hint: a lot).

She put hers in a pastry bag and piped them onto the baking sheet. This means less baking time - 15 minutes at 325 degrees. If you slice them into straws. Add about 5 minutes. If you use olive oil instead of vegetable oil, add about 5 minutes.


Since I do not have a camera, and my webcam shows nothing but a screaming face that some believe to be the angry spirit of a bear-shark victim, and others believe to be bacon crumbs adhered to the lens, there will be no picture of the perfect cheese straw.

07 April 2011

Today's Card: 5 of Wands


Good card for the first day of the Mercury Retrograde. Well maybe not good, but apt.
The 5 of Wands shows 5 young men, armed with staves, embroiled in a battle. The battle is chaotic, and no one seems to be actually getting hurt. This 5 rarely represents full-on violence, or detrimental occurrences. It is more a card of arguments, minor skirmishes, annoyances, setbacks.

Sometimes there's even a bit of a thrill to the card, for those who thrive on competition.

A pressing deadline, a challenging rival, an unexpected obstacle, a rousing debate. Any of these things could happen on a 5 of Wands day.

This 5 can set one at odds with other people, or with one's environment, but it can also represent inner conflicts. Crowley called this card Strife, and attributed to it the astrological configuration of Saturn in Leo. Saturn is not at home in Leo - Saturn is weighty and restrictive, and Leo is large, expansive and fiery. Saturn grows restless in Leo, finds it difficult to focus on the usual Saturnine responsibilities.

Today the Moon is conjunct my natal Saturn, bringing an increased awareness of my responsibilities, and at the same time the Moon is opposing my natal Uranus, bringing resistance to these responsibilities. Sounds like a 5 of Wands kind of day to me.

The card pictured is from the Druidcraft Tarot. 

01 April 2011

Recipe: Chess Pie

This is my grandmother's recipe for chess pie. I do not normally like custardy pies, but I have always loved chess pie. When I make it, i usually add a hint  of cinnamon or nutmeg to the mix. 

  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 2tbsp cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 unbaked pie shell from your favorite recipe

Mix first 7 ingredients in order, pour into shell. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30-40 minutes longer. Vinegar smell will disappear while cooking.