Dixie Belle

Way down in the Southland
Lives the girl I love so well.
She’s got ruby lips
And satin hair-
She’s my Dixie Belle!

When we’re dancin’ in the moonlight
My heart just wants to yell!
She’s got smooth moves
And starry eyes-
She’s my Dixie Belle!

I want to feel her sweet, sweet kisses all night long,
And in the morning hear her sing her sweet, sweet song!

I’m on the corner in a hat and tie
Waitin’ on that chapel bell.
I’m so happy
I’m getting married
To my Dixie Belle!


(Painting by Lou Shabner)

The Well-Tempered Skillet

When you season a skillet, what you’re doing is cooking layers of oil onto the metal. I’ve asked metallurgists what makes a skillet seasoned, and the only reasonable response I got was from a professor in Missouri who said that heat makes molecules expand and allows oil and iron molecules to bond, or polymerize). The key is a clean, even heat, so don’t listen to those macho types who claim that the best way to season a skillet is on a flaming grill; that will guarantee a black coating, but the oil doesn’t bond to the iron properly and you’ll end up with black flecks of carbon on or in whatever you cook.

To season a new skillet properly, scrub it with soap and water, rinse thoroughly, dry well, rub with salt, and brush with vegetable oil or lard. Do NOT use olive oil. Pop it into a medium oven, like 250, and brush lightly with more oil every quarter/half hour. Do not let the oil pool up on any surface or you’ll end up with a mini tar pit. Eventually the oil will cook to the metal. The longer you heat it, the better. The skillet might have a brownish/purplish cast, at first, but with use and proper care it will blacken. Wipe the skillet clean of excess oil, and dry it well with paper towels or do like your Granny did and use a wadded-up brown paper bag. Use salt to scrub away the stickiness, since the surface of a newly-seasoned skillet can be tacky at first. After the salt scrub, place the skillet or whatever cast iron utensil you’re seasoning in a paper sack for a day or two.

Wipe cast iron with a rough cloth after use, and be sparing with soap and water washings. Always dry thoroughly. If you scorch and have to scrub, use a non-metallic pad with coarse salt, then rub lightly with oil, and wipe again before storing.. If you’ve really screwed up, you’ll have to use a metal scrub to remove the carbon and re-season.


Roast Pearl Potatoes

Wash and pick through two pounds very small potatoes. Season with three cloves minced garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper. Toss with olive oil, spread in a skillet and roast, stirring every five minutes or so, until the larger ones can be pierced easily with a toothpick. Toss with a very light vinaigrette before serving.