Not-a-Burger!

Summer grills are a sizzlin’ and that means burgers. But what about those who don’t care for red meat or like the taste of a burger but don’t want the beef? Here is a tasty grill-lover’s alternative.

The Not-a-Burger gets its girth from generous slices of portobello mushrooms, Beefsteak tomatoes, peppers, cheese, onions, all on a hearty bun. Recipe creator Jane McLaughlin says, “You’ll swear you’re eating a big beefy burger.” The Not-a-Burger is a popular menu item on Bonefish Mac’s Sports Grille restaurants in south Florida which she owns with her husband Chuck.

This is a good time to fire up the grill and have a burger….NOT!

The recipe is featured in this issue of Celebrate Home Magazine, page 39. You can download it for free at www.celebratehome.com or get a free page-turning version or purchase a print copy at Magcloud.com.

Raise Your Hand if You Remember Pickled Eggs

Jane McLaughlin's pickled eggs

Jane McLaughlin’s pickled eggs

Pickled eggs can be traced back to a time when there was no refrigeration and eggs were preserved in vinegar brine. Although I didn’t live in the no-fridge era my mom made them and they were always a mainstay of dad’s 1950s-style smorgasbord restaurants.

Have you seen them lately? Probably not because they’ve fallen off the culinary map. Even the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, the red-and-white plaid standard for home cooks, has dropped the recipes for pickled beets and pickled eggs from its pages. I found this out when I went searching for the recipe in my newer copy.

There are some of us who not only like to preserve the eggs, but also the past. My sister Jane is one of those so she made some for Easter. Knowing they are loaded with nostalgia and taste, she said, “Look Barb, I made pickled eggs!”

My husband Bill said, “Oh yeah, good old bar food.”

“Huh?” my sister and I replied.

“Yes,” Hank Deitle’s Tavern on Rockville Pike [Maryland] had jars of them. That’s all they served — pickled eggs, bags of chips and beer. Then he added some advice, “Jane, you should have them in your restaurants at the bar.”

She dismissed the idea but she might reconsider when she hears this. It turns out Bill’s advice has merit. In England, pickled eggs, onions and beets were considered a working man’s food and gained popularity in pubs where the eggs tasted good with a pint of ale.  In the United States, just like Hank Deitle’s, a jar of pickled eggs were a permanent fixture on the bar.

It seems my sister and I haven’t been in enough bars to know about this but maybe she will bring the old times back in Bonefish Mac’s – a chain of restaurants in south Florida she owns with her husband Chuck. At least the old coots will appreciate them and maybe the egg jar fixture will breed a new generation of pickled egg lovers.

And by the way, Hank Deitle’s, since 1916, is still there. It’s not much to look at stuck in between luxury condos and new office buildings, but it remains a no-frills beer bar, cash only. Bill remembers his dad stopping off for a quick one while he left the 11 kids in the big station wagon to hoop and holler and make their own good times.

Jane’s recipe comes from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book that she got for a wedding present when she and Chuck married in 1973. She says about the grease-stained, dog-eared book, “I still love it! The new one can’t compare!”

Rosy Pickled Eggs

From Better Homes and Garden’s New Cook Book, 1972, Fifth Printing

  • 1 cup juice from jar of pickled beets
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 medium bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons pickling spices
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (sometimes I use garlic salt and omit the garlic clove)
  • 12 hard-cooked eggs, cooled and shelled
  • 1 small onion, sliced and separated into rings

Combine beet juice, vinegar, four cups water, garlic, bay leaf, pickling spices, and salt. Mix well. Put into a covered container and add eggs and onions. Cover tightly and refrigerate for several days. The longer they sit, the rosier and better they get.

Eggstra Special Easter

As long as you’re boiling eggs for coloring, why not throw in an extra dozen to make deviled eggs? You might think they are labor intensive, but they aren’t really. The good thing about them is you can vary the consistency (add more or less mayo) and the spices. No matter how you make them or what you top them with—real fried-up bacon, olives, paprika, pickles, capers—they are always gobbled up.

My sister Jane made deviled eggs for Easter dinner. But she didn’t stop there. She had pickled eggs, colored eggs, decorative eggs, and plastic eggs filled with money! I guess she is partial to eggs and I’m glad she is because we were the beneficiaries of her eggstra special hospitality!

Jane McLaughlin’s Deviled Eggs

  • 18 eggs, hard boiled, peeled, cooled and cut in half lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Guldens® mustard
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 pound bacon, fried, cooled, and crumbled
  • Paprika

Remove yolks from the eggs and mash them with a fork or potato masher. Add mayonnaise, mustard, celery, onion and spices. Fill the egg white halves with the yolk filling. Top with paprika and crumbled bacon.

Pale Summer Cookies


"Pale Cookies"

My brother-in-law, Chuck McLaughlin, recalls the days when we were growing up in western Pennsylvania. He and my sister Jane were married as she was the second oldest of five. I was still a young pup at home. Chuck often recalls when “Barb would spend her whole summer baking…then she would eat it all!”

Truer words were never spoken so when summer comes and the days are long, I still have the urge to bake and please my family. Summer vacation equals homemade cookies.

Last week I noticed our son (age 11) snacking frequently from the bag of chocolate chips. I said to him, “Patrick, if you want me to make homemade chocolate chip cookies just ask me.”

Minutes later, “Mom, can you make some homemade chocolate chip cookies?”

That was all I needed to hear so off I set to bake my trademark chocolate chip cookies. One problem, thanks to Patrick—not enough chocolate chips left in the bag. So I skimped on the chocolate chips and added a few butterscotch chips. The result was delicious but the color? Patrick said, “Mom, these are really good but I’m going to call them “Pale Cookies.” (He gets the naming rights.)

"Pale Cookies" named by Patrick. Read why.

Pale? First, one of the good things about my chocolate chip cookies is the texture—big, soft and chewy. TIP: This is achieved by using unsalted, melted butter cooled to room temperature in the creamed mixture with the sugar. Second, the cookies are not baked fully so they are not rock hard so they lack a truly browned finish. Add this to the lack of dark chocolate chips and you have some pretty darned awesome “pale cookies.”

We Have a Theme Going Here

Snickerdoodles, an old-fashioned cookie, definitely fits the pale cookie theme.

You can see I don’t need much encouragement, so what other “pale cookies” could I bake?

Snickerdoodles—Oh! Those are really pale for sure. This is an old-fashioned cookie made with butter, cream of tartar and the trademark cinnamon-sugar coating. You can find a recipe anywhere and they are all pretty much the same. TIP: I use a recipe with both unsalted butter and solid vegetable shortening which makes it the right amount of chewy and crispy.

So I whipped up a batch of Snickerdoodles and watched four boys devour two dozen of them with milk right before my eyes.

Kevin, a real boy, dunks his pale cookie.

You see, the boys in this neighborhood are hungry. They are a breed of boys (ages 10-14) who still play outside, climb trees, swing on ropes, ride bikes, hike to the creek and catch crawly things, play flashlight tag, flag football, kick-the-can, and more. (Okay, so the can is now Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes instead of canned green beans like the old days…) These real boys are not sitting in front of video games all day, so they get really, really hungry! Better yet, they burn off everything they eat so they are lean and healthy too!

Coconut Macaroons

You can’t get any whiter than these. They have a limited audience but for those who love coconut, they are a hit. For purposes of this blog and the pale cookie theme I did not dip these macaroons in chocolate. However, when I’m done blogging, I will. I am such a coconut nut that I like them both ways.

These are so delicious and, really, a great no-fat cookie if you don’t dip them in chocolate. If you do dip them in chocolate, choose a dark chocolate and you really do have a cookie that is good for you. Bring ’em on.

School doesn’t start until September 7, so I have a little time left to re-live the summer baking days of my past. And, a message to Chuck—I’m not eating them all up this time! Love ya bro!