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Mayhaw Man

The boy ain't right in the head

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All I can say is "Wow. and WOW. And WOW WOW WOW!" What an undertaking. I would never have the courage, although I would absolutely love to be the "helpful and pleasant staff." I wouldn't even require food. Ok, some shrimp.

I think you have a wonderful attitude and a lot of hutzpah (sp?) (I'm not Jewish, but I love that word).

The most I have ever served is 60, at my daughter's high school graduation barbeque. I had people hovering and snatching chicken and ribs off the grill as soon as they were done. I know nothing about doing large crowds, and some things were less than stellar, but others, like the potato salad, made up for them. Everyone left happy and full.

I have really enjoyed your account of this event, Mayhaw Man. One more thing I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see in pictures...some of Robin's art??!!!! :rolleyes::wub::cool:

Thank you so much for sharing this, MM.

Love, Catherine

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I have pictures on 2 cameras and won't be able to put half of them on this computer as I don't have the software on here to do it, so they will have to wait until Monday. But I will put the ones that I have.

Today went well, but it would not have gone as well, or have been as much fun, without the help of a couple of women who were charming, funny, efficient as hell, and tireless. These women, both of whom are about my age, have been keeping house (their terminology) for the same small group of women in a small Southern town for a long time. They totally understand how to run a party, a reception, a funeral, or any other kind of social event that involves food and drink served to lots of people in a home and are not afraid, at all, to tell everybody else what to do. I cannot overstate how much fun they were to fool around with today. They were just great.

I showed up this morning at 7. I was alone for about an hour in a beautiful house with a really good feel to it. I was really happy to be there for a bit by myself to kind of get my head together and to finalize out attack. This is a crummy picture of the very front of the house. It's design is pretty simple, but something you never see anymore. There is a large sitting room as you go in the front door in the center of the veranda and the sitting room is divided from the dining room by a 2 sided, very large fireplace. There are 4 large rooms all connecting onto one of the two main rooms by way of pocket doors. On one side is a kitchen and two bedrooms. On the other side there are three bedrooms, all very large, with a bathroom on both sides. There is a sun porch on the back. There are all kinds of outbuildings, a spring fed swimming pool (very common here), grape arbors, tons of very old landscaping. The place is basically just gorgeous. This photo does not do the trick, but it's what I've got.

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I then lit the fire in the big stainless drumstyle pit that would serve as my reheat oven for all of those briskets. It worked perfectly. I built a chimney full of charcoal in one end and stacked all of the briskets on the other. At serving time, 1 p.m. they were perfect. Tender and juicy. Beautiful smoke ring and perfectly blackend on the outside. I was very proud of my work on those things.

Here is the pit. You can kind of see one of the arbors in the background. They must have been some kind of fad back in the thirties, because almost all house of this age have at least one of them on the property.

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While I was dorking around with the pit, everyone else was running around like made getting linens and flowers in place, setting up the bars and drink stations, and popping up a couple of tents. I had some pretty good help today, my two sons and a friend of theirs that is close to all of us and they all worked pretty well with a minimum of whining. They set up and broke down both of the tents;

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The kitchen was in full swing. There were a ton of dishes to assemble at the last minute, as many of them had to do with salads or refrigerated stuff that couldn''t be put together ahead of time. Robin and Marie worked great together.

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So a few of the plates started out to the tables (this is a seriously partial list as there were 2 cameras in use, I will fix that later)

Pate

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Asparagus and Bell Peppers with currried dip

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Goat Cheese Dip (terrible presentation-not what we had planned, but there was a serving dish issue that I couldn't fix quickly, but no one complained :wink: )

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Blue Cheese dip with Grannyh Smith apple slices and bread sticks (this looked better when we got it all set up right, but I don't think that I got a photo of the final)

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While we were pripping in the kitchen, the bars were set up.

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My computer is acting nuts. I am going to post this and start in another frame rather than doing this all over again.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Robin knocked out a stunning salad. Well, actually, about 5 salads this size, but they were all the same. This is a take on a salad served at Joe's Dreyfus Store here in Louisiana. At Joe's, it is simply butter lettuce, grapefruit slices, avacado slices, and toasted pecan halves with a very thin, only slightly sweet poppyseed dressing. Today's salad was this but it had hearts of palm chunks, cranraisins, some romaine. It was served in a great big bowl lined with kale and in the back of the bowl was a nice colorful bit of chard and a crown of dill on a very thick stalk. It looked pretty damn colorful and was a great salad. We went through it all. Hell, they even ate the kale.

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One of my helpers started screwing around-so I drove a tent spike in his head. He went back to work after he got it out.

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And now ladies and gentlemen, the main attraction. There were 8 of these, which worked out to a precooked weight of roughly 95 lbs. They were all perfect. I tightly wrapped them in foil last night after they had cooled and today put them into the pit shown above for about 2 hours before service. They were tender and delicious. People went crazy. One guy, who claimed that he was a "barbeque freak" and a member of one of those teams that competes, said that is was "hands down" the best he had ever eaten. I don't know about all of that, but 120 or so people left me with nothing but half of the last one which I didn't even put out because my pals in the kitchen were worried about their husbands not getting any of it when they got home. So I made sure they went home with all they wanted. And a not about the fine knife. That is an electric knife made for fileting fish. It has a thin blade with a point on the end that allows you to do some pretty fine trimming. They are cheap and work great. You can spend more, but you won't get better. You also won't get cool yellow and green colors on more expensive models. Sometimes cheap is better.

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And here it is sliced. I didn't do any closeups, but it had a gorgeous smoke ring on it and was really nice to look at, but better to eat.

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At this point it was 3 hours or so of full work mode. They all showed up more or less at once and everybody was starving after 3 hours of "as we go forth" and "today we are at a turning point" speeches.

The Plantation tea was a big hit. It's pretty easy to make. It's basically just very strong iced tea, simple syrup, fresh mint, pineapple juice, and ginger ale added at serving. No one seemed to really have had it before. maybe it's a Delta thing, but I've been drinking it at parties for as long as I can remember.

The lemonade was a big hit. That kid up there with the spike in his head was up squeezing lemons this morning. I made it with lemon juice and simple syrup. Piece of cake. Tasted great. Had it in a 3 gallon crock and we had to refill it twice. Thirsty kids and adults, as it was about 80F today at 1 p.m. I put all of this out by the pool house. this worked great for two reasons: 1) there is a small kitchen and a huge fridge out there. I was able to keep things cold and had plenty of water to work with, plus it is shaded by a porch and a huge old sycamore tree 2) This kept the seniors away from the beer, a long way from the beer. The parents made this request, although I don't think that it was much of an issue. They all seemed to have a great time.

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Robin takes a break. She worked hard.

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Well, they both worked hard, although he doesn't seem to happy about it in this photo, but he was generally pretty cheerful and as they were working the tables clearing dishes and so forth, he must have made some connection with some of these people-because several people told me how helpful he was. It's nice to hear people say nice things about your kids. Almost as much fun as bragging about them.

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Ok, there is not cheese, no muffeletta pasta salad (which was really good, inspite of the fact that I hate pasta salad), no jambalaya, and no two or three other things that I can't even think of at this point. Oh yeah, no cake, no ice cream coffee punch (that stuff is the bomb-rich but delicious-it was a huge hit), and no really, really pretty silver coffee service with all of these demitasse cups from a bunch of different patterns (not my idea, but a great one, a bunch of the hosts put it together. I would do it again. In fact, a dinner party where everyone brought their own place settings ahead of time would be great fun, I think-but I love china, and it might not be everybody's "cup of tea" :wink: )

This is a terrible photo, and it was very late in the day (this is basically the hosts and their families left). There were about twenty tables spread around and a couple of tents. All of the food was served under the roof of the veranda on the front of this great house. I only took it because the sycamore tree looked so great with all of the sun coming down through it. That's the pool house there off to the left of the photograph.

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I'll come back and replace some of the food photos that I am missing, but that about covers it.

One more thing. It's not exactly food, but it is a goat. A 64 GTO Convertible

that is in the garage where I was working today. It's perfect. I would steal it, but the drool that I left all over it would be a dead giveaway if they used DNA to try to catch me. It's pretty swell.

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Good night all. I am exhausted.

But pretty happy.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Thank you. That was fun to read. I now have a craving for lemondade. Waiting to see Monday's photos.


"One chocolate truffle is more satisfying than a dozen artificially flavored dessert cakes." Darra Goldstein, Gastronomica Journal, Spring 2005 Edition

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Great stuff, Brooks. An heroic effort.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Wow, great work! I wish my graduation party had been more like that (plastic cheese and keg beer anyone?)


Cutting the lemon/the knife/leaves a little cathedral:/alcoves unguessed by the eye/that open acidulous glass/to the light; topazes/riding the droplets,/altars,/aromatic facades. - Ode to a Lemon, Pablo Neruda

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Amazing, Brooks.

The area where you live is simply gorgeous. That house where you had the party was incredible too. I know it can be difficult to make sure that you get final pictures of everything because everything builds up and then it's all set out at once. I often miss presentation shots because of that. Did you make the ice cream or did the person who made the cakes make it?

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Amazing, Brooks. 

The area where you live is simply gorgeous.  That house where you had the party was incredible too.  I know it can be difficult to make sure that you get final pictures of everything because everything builds up and then it's all set out at once.  I often miss presentation shots because of that. Did you make the ice cream or did the person who made the cakes make it?

She made it. The cake and the ice cream were a gift from one of the hosts (there were 6 couples hosting this for 6 boys who graduated). The cake, which I didn't manage to photograph, was great. It was a huge two layer cake that had a layer of strawberry jam between the layers and a really well made butter cream icing on it. Not that anyone care about how it looked, as it got inhaled upon cutting, but it was a really pretty cake as well.

I have another party about this size in June, with a little more upscale, cocktail oriented menu and I think that I will just assign someone to do the photos, because I was either too busy or too late to take presentation photos, on top of the fact that I take terrible photos.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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I am going to be doing salads and the like for a group of approx. 100 in a few weeks for a golf tournament that we are holding for my workplace. I am eagerly awaiting the recipes for your event and hoping that I can do something besides the usual potato salad, caesar salad and mayo based pasta salad that is typical for these events. I'm not in the catering business but do love to cook and am a tad unsure about quantities so I am hoping that your recipes will aid me in gauging how much I am going to need.


A truly destitute man is not one without riches, but the poor wretch who has never partaken of lobster. - anonymous

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Way upthread I asked about what looks like 2x4's sticking through the brickwork of your fire pit at home. When the dust settles, I'd still like to know what those really are, and why they're there.

What a great party! The photo of the sycamore really drives home the summery feel.


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Way upthread I asked about what looks like 2x4's sticking through the brickwork of your fire pit at home.  When the dust settles, I'd still like to know what those really are, and why they're there.

What a great party!  The photo of the sycamore really drives home the summery feel.

Those are firebricks that are set in on end. They can be removed to add more air to the fire if needed. I will take another one of the thing if I get home before dark that might show the way that it works a bit better. I will also give you the dimensions if you are interested. Once you get used to the thing, which takes a while (think years) it works really, really great. But it would make a good home project for someone, expecially if you built it for a light sheetmetal top, instead of having to build one after the fact. This project has inspired me to have a new top made for the thing, and I think that I will level the top off while I am at it. I have to figure out exactly how to do this, but I am going to work on it.

Warning: This thing is built of FIREBRICK. It gets hot. Do not use regular brick for this. It will not last and it could (probably not, but maybe) even be damgerous.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Great stuff. Kudos, Brooks.


-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

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Well, of course all y’all mudbugs liked the brisket best! :biggrin:

Thank you so much for sharing your cooking adventure with us Brooks! It looks like it was a lovely party and food divine.

It must be nice to think that all of your and your family's hard work will now be a permanent and pleasant memory for the graduates.

The weather looked beautiful. You are right, outdoor events like that simply cannot be enjoyed in this part of the world past May. :sad:

I am definitely going to try both of the salad recipes for my next big group.


Edited by Lone Star (log)

If you can't act fit to eat like folks, you can just set here and eat in the kitchen - Calpurnia

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Thank you for sharing this! Please let us know when you have put the recipes on line!


"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" (coined while playing with my food at Lolita).

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Truly inspiring. Such that I was torn over what to do for my summer party. Looking at all that wonderful food I must do a Madi Gras party again..THis time with pictures!

Brooks can you provide a link to your recipes?


**************************************************

Ah, it's been way too long since I did a butt. - Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

--------------------

One summers evening drunk to hell, I sat there nearly lifeless…Warren

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Once Brooks has input the recipes into RecipeGullet, we'll link to them. What's really cool is that RecipeGullet features a "scale" feature so we'll all be able to cut them down to family size, or increase them for that 1,000 person gathering.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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OKOKOK. I'm working on it. I'll have some of them up in the morning and the rest by the end of the day. It's not quite as simple as it sounds, but I'm getting on it tonight.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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OKOKOK. I'm working on it. I'll have some of them up in the morning and the rest by the end of the day. It's not quite as simple as it sounds, but I'm getting on it tonight.

Oh man.....I think you should be resting or going on vacation after pulling that together in a short amount of time and with no kitchen!

The food all looked wonderful.

cm

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Alright, I have recruited a secret angel to help me with the recipes. I tried to put the jambalaya one into RecipeGullet and it turns out that while I can make beer by the thousands of gallons, make perfectly passable distilled spirits, cook, bake, and lots of other things that don't pay very well, I am completely incapable of getting the ingredients in RecipeGullet. I will take a lesson Tuesday and try to figure it out. But for tonight? I sent them packing to someone more competent. She should have some of them done in the morning, I would suspect, as it will only take someone who knows what they are doing about 2 minutes.

The other problem with all of this is that I work in a narrative form, even when I write recipes. Inputting things in exact form with the right kind of terminology doesn't fit with my off the wall way of doing things. But I am adaptable and I know people. We will get them all in there pretty quickly now that I have yelled uncle. Sorry for the delay.


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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My mother makes a punch similar to your "Plantation Tea" for all parties or gatherings. She calls it "McCamey" punch and uses very strong tea, canned OJ and canned pineapple juice and ginger ale.

She told me that it was what they always made growing up as during the war there was no fresh fruits (especially in West Texas) and all they could get was canned juices, if that.

It is my favorite party punch.


If you can't act fit to eat like folks, you can just set here and eat in the kitchen - Calpurnia

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Also upthread, I requested pics of some of your wife's art. I know it's off topic and you are busy recovering and documenting, but the thing in life that runs a close second to good food, for me, is good art. Just one little pic? I'd love to see it. Thank you, even if you can't. :wink:

I'm glad your event went so well. Bunch of lucky people, I say. Around here, big events are held in too-small facilities with icky bathrooms, because the weather is always a threat and the thin population doesn't warrant any nice BIG facilities. I dread going, but I always do. :wacko:

Catherine

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Adopt me?

Me too? :biggrin:

As I've been wont to say at the end of any cooking extravaganza I've ever helped organize (or any other extravaganza, for that matter), it sure does take a helluva lot of energy to have this good of a time, don't it? :laugh:

Thanks like crazy for sharing all of this.

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