#TBT Moron Test Kitchen – Spicy Saltines

This was originally posted 5 years ago. I was in Livingston for the family reunion, and I’ll be heading there again tomorrow. Hopefully mom will have some crackers!

My Aunt Faye gave me this recipe weeks ago and I did it immediately. Then I promptly forgot the instructions. I’m sure she can leave a comment to tell me where I went wrong. This is not a spoiler alert – I ALWAYS go wrong.

The ingredients are simple. A package of ranch dressing, 4 sleeves of saltines, red pepper flakes and CANOLA oil.

Me: Do you have any canola oil?

Mom: No, use Olive Oil.

Me: Faye was adamant, she said it MUST be canola oil.

Mom: Use Olive Oil.

Me: But..

Mom: Just USE IT!

You should know I get all of my cooking skills from my mother.

The recipe calls for 1 and 1/4 oil (I think) but Faye says to  trim it back  to 1 cup. It also calls for 2 tablespoons of red pepper, but she says to use 1. I come from a long line of cooking rebels. Anyway, put the red pepper in the oil and set aside for an hour.

Now add the package of ranch dressing and stir well. Put the crackers in a large bowl with a lid and our the oil/pepper/ranch over them. Then gently turn them over and let sit. Then turn them over again. Then again. You get the idea, until they are coated evenly. One recipe I read said to use a gallon zip-lock bag and shuffle around for 15 minutes.

Okay, I didn’t HAVE a bowl with a lid. So when I turned it over, oil just ran out on the counter. Eventually, we just pronounced it good enough and ate them.

Moron Test Grade: Undecided. On the plus side, it was SUPER easy. Aunt Faye raved about them and a similar recipe has 5 stars on www.RecipeZaar.com.

On the con side was that I threw up after eating 200. FYI, throwing up saltines is like heaving sawdust. Of course, I didn’t use CANOLA oil. Or the correct bowl. I consider the whole thing inconclusive.

I would like to try it again with some oyster crackers . Or better yet, I’ll wait for Fay to invite me over. Fay? I can come over right? Hello? I promise to only eat 100. 150 at most.

Moron Test Kitchen – Pecan Pie

You guys have heard me mention our friends Brat and Kit? Well Kit is out of town so I worked a deal with her husband that I would make him some pecan pies in exchange for some deer meat. I know what you’re thinking – has he ever HAD your cooking? I know, I don’t get it either, but for some reason he swears that my pecan pie is good and Kit swears she can’t make it.

Brat often says he can tell when Kit has been hanging out with me because she gets a certain “attitude”. I’m guessing that’s a compliment. Anyway, it occurred to me as I was making the pie, the super easy pie that anyone can make, that maybe Kit has learned something from me after all.

Zolli Rule Number One: If you don’t know how to do something, don’t learn.

So this recipe is for everyone BUT Kit.


Start with one cup of Karo syrup. I used light but you can use either light or dark.


Add in 3 eggs. These came from my mama’s fresh stash. Not HER eggs, that would be gross. These came from her chickens.


Add in 1 cup of sugar.


And 2 tablespoons of butter, softened.


Add 1 tsp. of vanilla, then mix all of the ingredients thoroughly.


Next, add in 1 – 1.5 cups of pecans. I didn’t chop mine, just threw in the half pieces, and then pour into pie crust. I used the frozen variety.


Spread it around to make it pretty then put in the oven – 350 for 60 – 70 minutes. Two tips: If you’re using frozen crusts like mine, put the cookie sheet in the oven to preheat before putting the pies in. Secondly, the crust tends to get brown first, so we made pie shields out of aluminum foil to prevent that.


The pie LOOKED nice. I didn’t get to taste it but Brat assured me that they were good.


Since I got this text about an hour after he left my house, (did I mention he was home ALONE), I’m going to give this a Moron Test Grade A.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!





Moron Test Kitchen – Yummy Green Beans

I don’t really know what the name of the dish is, but my friend Lisa made them for the church Christmas party and they were delish. She swears it’s easy – let’s see if she’s right.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

I was making enough for 4 adults and 4 kids. Lisa H. said to use two big (32oz) cans of beans, but I sent my husband to the store and he came home with this 100 oz monstrosity!

Drain the beans, then rinse them and drain them again.

While they’re draining, spray a dish with Pam or something similar.

Pour the beans into the dish. It’s okay if it makes a mound, they’ll cook down.

Cut up a STICK of butter and put it on the beans. Then sprinkle a CUP of brown sugar all over them.

Next sprinkle 4 TABLESPOONS of soy over the beans. Finish by adding 2 – 4 cloves of garlic to the whole thing. I didn’t have cloves so I used 3 teaspoons of minced garlic.

This is the whole shebang ready to go into the oven. Cook for 45 min to 1 hour, stirring a couple of times during the baking process.

These were YUMMY. I took them to bridge and even the kids liked them. Well, one kid, let’s just call him “Fave” ate two helpings and said they were awesome. Sure another kid, let’s just call him “Blacksheep” said they were two sweet, but there’s a good chance he was dropped on his head as a baby. No, I mean he really might have been. I held him a lot.

Moron Test Kitchen – A+    They were super easy and super good. I’d say they were better than cookies, but you know where that can lead.

There are similar recipes out there that call for less brown sugar if you have also been dropped on YOUR head. Some people add bacon to the top, but I liked it super fine as is.

Moron Test Kitchen – Biscuits 2.0

After my last attempt at making Cuma’s biscuits went so horribly wrong, you might think I’d give up. But NO, I will not be deterred. Also, I have a lot of leftover lard to get rid of.

I took to heart all of the comments you left, and while visiting with my mother this weekend, she showed me the process that Cuma used so I thought I’d give it another try.

1. Put a bunch of flour in a bowl.

I love that Cuma didn’t measure the flour. Anything that saves me a step is good. Everyone seemed to agree that there was no need to use all-purpose flour, so this is the good old-fashioned self-rising kind.

2. Put an egg-sized lump of lard in the middle of the flour.

At Supper Club, my friend Forrest said he uses butter, but I wanted to try lard one last time since Cuma used it. Forrest also said that “dough knows its maker” which sounded kinda ominous. In an attempt to get on the right foot with my dough, I started talking to it. If it works for plants, maybe it would work for dough!

3. Cut the lard into the dough. Jean and DE said that I should use my hands, so that’s what I did. It actually seemed to work better than the fork and whisk. I don’t have any pictures because my hands were covered with flour and lard, but you’ll have to trust me.

Next I made a hole in the flour and poured in some buttermilk. I worked it with my hands, adding flour, adding milk, until I got a nice feeling lump of dough.

This is the point where I ran out of things to talk to the dough about and so I decided to pray while I kneaded. But my dog was whining and whining and whining, hoping that I’d drop something on the floor and my prayers were more of the “Good LORD, please give me PATIENCE. OMG!” variety. I took a deep breath and decided to think nice thoughts, like how maybe Cuma could see me in heaven and how happy she’d be knowing she was being thought about.

I got so distracted trying to be a nice person for my dough that I rolled it too thin, and when I cut out the biscuits they were like paper and they were RIPPING because I forgot to flour the wax paper and the whining was still happening and I finally lost it and yelled SHUT UP to my 112 year-old dog and I might have, just maybe, cussed Cuma and her flipping biscuits!

This is the only photo I have of the biscuits. After cooking them, they were eaten so fast I didn’t have time to get a shot. Have you SEEN how fast dogs can eat a biscuit? Crazy.

This dough not only knew me, it became me. These were some hard and sour biscuits! Next time, I’m going to forget about the lard and buttermilk. It’s going to be butter and whole milk for the next lot, AND no talking. I’m going to lock the dog outside and put on some easy-listening music, and the next batch of biscuits is going to be like me – the better me.

Fat and soft and flaky – sounds yummy to me!

(Cuma would sift the flour to get the odd pieces of lard out and dump it back into her larder, but I’m guessing she didn’t have a WalMart across the street like I do. I just threw it away.)

Moron Test Kitchen – Old Fashioned Biscuits

Last week I wrote a post about visiting with my great-grandparents, and my mother said something in the comments that I couldn’t shake –

Her biscuits were as good as cookies.

Now THAT is a biscuit I’d like to try. I called my mom, but of course no recipe exists. The only thing I could get out of her was that Cuma used lard and that she had a big bowl of flour. I’m not even sure those two things were related, but whatever. I googled and found a recipe for southern biscuits that included lard, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

What I needed: Lard, Flour, Baking Powder, Milk (I went for buttermilk because it seems like something a country person would do) and salt. Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup lard or shortening
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • I gathered all of the ingredients, pulled out a bowl, and grabbed my computer so I could read what to do first. Immediately, things went awry.
  • Preheat oven 450 degrees.  Make sure the rack is in the center.
  • In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Cut in lard til it all resembles small peas.
  • Pepper?? Where does the list of ingredients mention pepper? I consulted JD who said just to leave it out, then I called my mom and she seconded the opinion, but it unnerved me. How could I trust anything this person had to say?

    It flustered me so much I forgot everything and just dumped all of the ingredients into the bowl.

    Yes, I stopped to take a picture of the milk, but not to actually READ the recipe, because if I had, I’d have known that the milk goes in much later. Oh well.
    Using the same, no-reading strategy as above, I also dumped the lard into the bowl. Thankfully I realized that looked a little odd, so I pulled it back out and began to s-l-o-w-l-y cut it into the mix.
    Then I began to use a whisk and a fork to work all the ingredients together. I realized something in the midst of this – good cooking takes patience. Even though I had no where to be, and no one was waiting on breakfast, I kept trying to rush through this part. I can see where this would be a good activity for a mother/daughter to do together. A pair could really bond over the mixing bowls.  Moon and I would probably go insane, but some other mother/daughter pair ought to try it.
    Anyway, my mixture looked dry so I called my mom and she said to add a little more milk, and then it looked wet and she said to add a little more flour. Then it looked dry again. That went on for approximately 108 minutes, until finally, I got something that resembled dough.
    Now it was time to knead. My mother was on my phone’s speaker by this point and she said I had to get air into the dough. I pointed out that I could handle this part, thank you very much, because I had taken several pottery classes and was familiar with kneading clay. And she pointed out that you knead clay to get the air OUT and I realized that I know nothing.
    So after kneading the dough 4 times, per the recipe, I used a roller to make it thin.
    Then I used a glass out of the pantry to cut the biscuits out of the dough. This is the one thing I remember my mom doing. I think I got the size of the glass just right!

    Next I put them on an ungreased sheet, on the middle rack, and cooked them for 12 minutes. And, VIOLA!

    Spoiler alert: They weren’t better than cookies.

    They were thin and dense, and no amount of butter or jelly could save them.

    Moon tried a bite and immediately drank an entire glass of chocolate milk to get the taste out of her mouth.

    JD might have chipped a tooth.

    Moron Test Kitchen grade – D. Yes, I read the recipe wrong, but it was still too hard for the average moron. I’m going to try again using self-rising flour, which according to my mother, is a suitable substitute for all-purpose/baking powder. If I do that, and put the ingredients in the right order, I’ll get a much better biscuit.

    Still, it makes you wonder. Just how bad were Cuma’s cookies?

    Moron Test Kitchen – Pasta with Avocado Sauce

    I’m going to be straight with you – I can’t get my photos off the camera so this may be the lamest MTK ever. I put the card into the card reader, my computer sees it for 5 seconds, then it disappears. Lovely.

    I’ll do my best to paint you a picture. The other night, my sister said she was trying a new recipe, and to be honest, it sounded kind of yucky. I like pasta and I like guacamole but combined? I don’t think so. Still, she said it was yummy.

    While I was at Trader Joe’s the other day, I picked up this:

    So I thought I’d give it a try. Boil the pasta as per the instructions, then while it’s cooking, make the sauce.

    The sauce is simple. You need 1 ripe avocado, 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, 1 clove of fresh garlic – minced, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of lime juice. Mix everything together and add pepper and more salt if needed. You’ll need to blend it well. As soon as your pasta is done, drain it, then toss everything together until it’s well coated.

    Voila. Your meal is finished.

    And it’s a good meal. My first taste was a little bland, probably because I wasn’t sure how much salt to add, but JD grabbed some creole salt and sprinkled it over our plates – NOW it was delish. I would definitely make it again. When I googled  “creamy avocado sauce” several recipe variations popped up, so play around and try your own.

    Here’s the original recipe – with photos if you still need that kind of stuff.

    Happy eating!

    Moron Test Kitchen – Watermelon Feta Salad

    Last week, Mantamy served a delicious Watermelon/Cucumber salad that I’ve been dreaming about ever since. Today as I was walking through Publix, I noticed they were getting ready to prepare something similar, so I decided to give it a try.

    First, quarter 2 pounds of watermelon, and set aside. I went seedless cause I am fancy.

    Next, whisk together 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar. (Just so you know, I used regular balsamic vinegar and sea salt and it was just fine. My fanciness has its limits.)

    Chop 1 cup of red onion.

    Cut 8 oz. of grape tomatoes in half, then mix with 3 cups of arugula and the onions. Add vinaigrette and toss to coat.

    Add in watermelon and 4 oz. of crumbled feta cheese. That’s it!

    Moron Test Kitchen – A++! Seriously, this may be the best thing I’ve ever made. The arugula is bitter by itself, but as soon as you put all of the ingredients together, it works. JD loved it, too. We had it for dinner, along with grilled portobello mushrooms topped with asparagus and corn on the cob.

    By the way, I’ve lost 6 pounds in the last week and a half and JD has lost 11. Clean. Eating. Works. 412 pounds to go!

    Moron Test Kitchen – Raw Chocolate Pudding

    Sounds yummy, amiright? This is a clean eating recipe that my friend KEEKLE gave me. I’ve modified it as I am wont to do.

    Here’s what you need:

    One RIPE avocado chopped into chunks. If it’s not ripe, it will leave tiny green specks in your pudding. It doesn’t taste bad, but some people find that unappealing.

    One banana, chopped into chunks.

    3/4 cup of coconut milk. Keekle actually said to use 1/4 cup but it made the pudding a little to thick for my taste.

    2 tablespoons of cocoa and liquid stevia to taste.

    Put everything in a blender and mix until smooth.

    Voila! This tastes like – banana chocolate pudding. Seriously. It doesn’t taste like avocado at all, and is actually very good! I made the mistake of putting too much stevia in the first batch I made and it had a bitter after-taste. Save that for last and put in a little at a time. Some recipes call for agave nectar instead, or even a cup of maple syrup. Play around with it.

    Moron test grade – A. Sure I’m grading on a curve ’cause it’s RAW and I haven’t eaten real sugar in 10 days, but still. It’s CHOCOLATE.