My Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines serendipity as: "the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for."
I got a dose of that earlier this month in the form of a certificate from Pillsbury naming me as a recipient of its "Best cooK" award (the capital letters are theirs) for Outstanding Food Reporting (both the italics and capital letters are theirs).
"To recognize you for food news that informs and inspires your readers," it said, "Kudos from the Doughboy & Me, Marlene Johnson."
Well, folks, you could've knocked me over with a feather when I received the news because I have been involved in absolutely no "food reporting" and – in the immortal almost-words of Richard Nixon – "I am not a cook!"
This is not to say that I have total ineptness when it comes to adeptness in the culinary field, though. I'm very good, in fact, when it comes to two preparations in particular and so – since Pillsbury came through with the recognition – I think it behooves me to share them with you.
Jazzy Banana-Peanut-Mayo Salad
Handful of Spanish (red-husk) peanuts
Miracle Whip (I know that when you come right down to it that this ingredient is technically salad dressing instead of mayonnaise, but "Jazzy Banana-Peanut-Salad Dressing Salad" is cumbersome, if not redundant.)
Preparation: Peel banana and discard the peel in a Ziploc bag; otherwise, your garbage will start smelling like the monkey cage down at the zoo. Use a sharp knife (or even a dull one if a sharp one isn't handy) and cut the naked banana in half, placing it face-up, with its little seeds showing, on a plate. Slather on however much Miracle Whip that suits you and then sprinkle on the peanuts. Eat within a reasonable length of time or the banana will turn all brown and yucky.
Hot Chocolate Supreme
4 cups milk (regular or unleaded)
4 tsp Hershey's cocoa (rounded)
8 tsp sugar(granulated, rounded)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Kraft Jet-Puffed marshmallow creme
Place cocoa and sugar in a 2-quart pot, add a bit of water and stir until the whole mess is nice and smooth. Heat until it starts to bubble. Add milk and extract, stirring all the while. When it starts steaming, douse the fire, because bringing it to a boil is a no-no.
(Trust me, it tastes better if it hasn't boiled, so stay alert, OK?) After pouring into cups, add a heaping teaspoon – or heaping tablespoon if you feel adventuresome – of the marshmallow creme. (This stuff is a lot like Ivory soap. It floats, and keeps the cocoa from skimming over if you don't drink it immediately or stir it regularly.)
I hope both of the above recipes will help you in planning meals or when having guests over for a snack.
As for me, I appreciate the recognition from Pillsbury and plan to give Doughboy a friendly nudge in the tummy next time I see him.
Contact Jerry Jackson at email@example.com