This week I’m pleased to bring you the edible thoughts of another fellow Lawrencian, and – are you ready for this? – our first-ever Tell Simmer guy. A mild-mannered teacher by day, at night he becomes “Muddywaters” and writes The Greasy Skillet, a delightful blog about food, family, music, Kansas, and…food. Whether he’s tackling Pizza Bianca all Romana or sharing a daddy-daughter ice treat, his posts display a curious, hungry heart and a literary ear. Move down the couch, girls, and let’s give a warm welcome to our first (but not last) male guest on Simmer, Mike “Greasy Skillet” Trendel.
How often do you think about eating?
I think about food as much as adolescent boys think about sex. This often leads to irrational behavior.
I just started drinking coffee two years ago, and now I’m hooked. Coffee tastes best on a weekend when I can really slow down and savor the experience.
Favorite hometown food?
Ever been served breakfast in bed?
No. I don’t like to eat in bed. As a child I fell asleep with a bag of Cheetos, and the aftermath the next morning traumatized me forever.
Your absolutely reliable, go-to food for entertaining is:
Chicken Parmesan. I also make great pizzas for informal entertaining. I also barbecue some great pulled pork.
Food that makes you gag?
Head cheese. Liver cheese. Souse. Even the names of these foods make me gag.
Worst kitchen disaster:
Before I knew anything about chile peppers, I attempted to make a chile cheese chowder. The recipe called for one cup of chopped poblano peppers, but I used Serrano peppers, which is like using a sledge hammer to drive a finishing nail. A pepper vapor hit my wife when she entered the house. With red, watery eyes, my wife asked, “What the hell are you cooking?” When a cook is greeted with this question, it’s a sure sign of disaster.
Three things in your refrigerator right now:
Some Hatch green chiles I recently roasted, Maytag blue cheese – and I always have some pizza dough in the freezer. You never know when a pizza craving will hit.
Your idea of a romantic meal is:
I should channel Cary Grant when answering this question, but allow me to muddle romance with the following fantasy: my wife comes home from work dressed as a Southern Belle – I’d also settle for Wonder Woman – and with a syrupy-sweet, Southern accent, she invites me on a picnic. Underneath an ol’ oak tree, we dine on Kansas City barbecue and wash it down with sangria. A picnic, like romance, makes me feels young.
Secret snack of shame?
Pillsbury Cookie Dough. I’ve also been known to eat pie and cake for breakfast.
Most ambitious thing you’ve ever done in the kitchen:
I stay away from anything that demands a lot of grace and skill. When I made cheesecake truffle bombs, I couldn’t even drizzle white chocolate. I just made a “globby” mess. Fortunately I surround myself with graceful individuals, so my wife artfully put the finishing touches on the truffle bombs. I’m very aware of my shortcomings, so I’m not too ambitious in the kitchen. However, I still dream of someday making my own cheese.
Best restaurant if you’re not paying:
If you were a cocktail, what would you be, and why?
A Margarita: It captures the duality of my personality – the sweet and the sour.
Extra Credit: Where is the world’s best pizza?
I haven’t been to any of the pizza meccas in New York, Chicago, or New Haven. I like the pizza at Hernando’s in Winter Park, Colorado. I also had a great crawfish pizza at a place just off the square in downtown Oxford, Mississippi.