There’s a scene in A Muppet Family Christmas where Ernie and Burt (from Sesame Street) have a conversation with Doc (from Fraggles) and Ernie and Burt can’t help pointing out what letter every word begins with. “Bunk beds: B words!” they say as Ernie chortles. When Doc looks at them askance they explain, “Where we come from, this is small talk.” My sister once said that the scene reminded her of our family — except that complaining, not letters, are our family’s small talk. It’s not that we are unhappy people. We just like to air our grievances. But sometimes it’s good to air positive feelings too and that’s just what I plan to do. In this 20-part series, I focus on the many reasons I have to be happy.
A SOUTHERN SUPPER AND TRUE DETECTIVE
Since cracking my first Nancy Drew in first grade, I’ve been a voracious reader of anything in the mystery genre. From cozies, to police procedurals, to hard-boiled detective novels, to thrillers — I love them all. That’s why I first envisioned this post as “dinner and a mystery novel.” Oddly enough, though, I haven’t read a single mystery in the past two months. Instead, I’ve read parenting books, job hunting books, cookbooks and 90% of Team of Rivals.
As I pondered the possibilities of a Lincoln-themed dinner, HBO saved the day by premiering a new detective drama that pairs perfectly with vegan food. True Detective stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as Louisiana detectives hunting for a serial killer. The entire first season was directed by director and cinematographer Cary Joji Fukanaga, who appealed to my inner film-geek by shooting on actual film. (I attended film school just as digital was beginning to take hold, but my college was old-school, so I spent many happy hours physically cutting and splicing my projects). The first episode was beautifully shot and I think that the texture that film provides is perfect both for providing atmosphere and for rooting the story in a particular place in time (the show shifts back and forth from the original investigation in 1996 to the reopened investigation that takes place roughly in the present day).
Because the show takes place in Louisiana, I had to make a decision between doing a Cajun meal or a Southern soul food type supper. In the end, I went with my absolute favorite take on barbecue sandwiches — soy curls in Rough Rider Barbecue Sauce from Vegan Diner topped with the Sandwich Slaw from the same book. Although I might be a state or two off in my choice of barbecue sauce style, I deemed the meal sufficiently “Southern” to provide an appropriate accompaniment for my night in. (It helps that this meal is easy-as-can-be to make. I used pre-made slaw mix, so I didn’t even need to do any chopping).
For dessert, I thought that the praline cookies from Cookin’ Crunk would be a perfect choice, but my husband was rather vocal in his demand for cream filled chocolate cupcakes. I used the chocolate cupcake, vanilla butter-cream and ganache recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Though they fit the theme not-at-all, they were tasty. And, fortunately, there are seven episodes of True Detective left, providing seven more opportunities to make those praline cookies.