Saturday, August 29, 2009

Gimme Coffee

I got up late this morning, owing to a late night last night, and staggered around in a foul mood for a while, wondering if I had gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, when it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t had my coffee.

I hate to admit that I’m addicted to coffee, but I am.  It’s my one real food vice, for even though I really enjoy just about anything edible or potable, coffee is the only thing I can barely do without.  I realize that I have a monkey on my back, and every few years, I try to break the habit.  In fact, I’ve been known to go for years at a time without.  But I’ve always succumbed in the end, and I’ve finally resolved that I shall forevermore give up giving it up.  It gives me immense pleasure, after all, and reports of its deleterious effects on one’s health were greatly exaggerated.

I’m even something of a connoisseur, these days, as discerning as a wine aficionado.  I find I can even swish a little around, suck in a little air, and tell whether it’s an African or South American blend.

My parents were big coffee drinkers, but I wasn’t attracted in the least, until I was twenty-one and went to Europe with a girlfriend.  We were there for a couple of months, but for the first three weeks, we took one of those “If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium” bus tours.  We were rousted out of bed every morning at five, herded down to the hotel restaurant, and plied with pots of strong coffee and croissants.  I resisted the coffee, at first, but by day 3 or 4, I succumbed to a big old hit of caffeine just to get my eyes open.  By the time I got back to the U.S., I was hooked.

After I got out of college, I became an elementary school teacher.  I had to be at work by seven, before the school busses started dropping off the kids.  I found that an entire pot of coffee before setting out gave me the grit to handle the little darlings.

My grandmother boiled coffee in a tin pot on the stove.  She often dropped a couple of eggshells in the pot after it came off the fire to settle the grounds.  Her coffee was so strong it would corrode the spoon.  My uncles teased her about it mercilessly.  My mother, on the other hand, liked her coffee weak.  She brewed it in a percolator, with just enough coffee to tint the water.  Then she doctored it up with so much cream and sugar that it barely resembled coffee at all, in the end.

I like mine somewhere in between.  I like a smooth, smokey blend, if I can get it, when I drink with meals.  Between meals, I occasionally like a flavored coffee.  Nut flavors are good, and I love a very strong vanilla.  Irish cream will do, and chocolates are all right.  Fruit flavors, not so much.   I brew mine these days in a French press, which is handy, since I’m the only one in the house who drinks it.

And the grounds are great for the garden.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Diet-Coke Fueled Life

Is Diet Coke good enough to build a blog around? Yes! If you don't believe me, just ask Penny Piva. Her blog is, in fact, Diet Coke-Fueled Life. I have to admit, I also love the fact that the blog address is Sweet brown poison. . . a can of which I'm drinking at this very moment. :-)

Penny's blog is about so much more than Diet Coke, however. And I feel I have a lot in common with this woman who is "more than 41 but less than 43 years old who can't focus gets it all done: university instructor, writer, pastry chef, Mary Kay consultant, mom, crazy aunt, friend, divorcee (rhymes with "Yay!"), MS-battler--all fueled by the sweet brown poison itself--Diet Coke. Wheee!"

See? I told you she was fun. Check out the blog, which is sure to bring a grin.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chili Cheese Fries, Goldfish, Cotton Candy and a Rainstorm

The Appalachian Fair is in town this week. As you can see, Calli had a blast. The crowning moment occurred when my husband won a goldfish. He spent $5 to win a 25 cent fish, but you should have seen the pride Calli had as she walked around holding that plastic bag that held her new critter. It was a "Look what my daddy did for me!" moment.
The Appalachian Fair has everything one would expect from a fair; carnival rides, game booths, beauty pageants, livestock and farm produce on display, and of course, lots of food.
Several of the booths are run by local civic organizations. My family got our dinner from one of these stands. I had chili cheese fries, which is something I would never normally eat, but hey, I was at the fair! The menu also included corn dogs, cheeseburgers, and soup beans. I noticed the menu board of one stand offered a 16 oz. cup of buttermilk.
The array of junk food was glorious! At every turn there was ice cream, cotton candy, candy apples and funnel cakes. For days, I dreamed of what sweet treat I would get before leaving the fair. My dream came to a shocking and abrupt end when our time at the fair was cut short by a rainstorm. Calli did secure a bag of cotton candy before we made our mad dash to the car. The unfinished bag of cotton candy is on our kitchen counter and Calli's at school. Hum, do you think she will notice if a little of it is gone?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Price of Passion

The following story is true.

The lovers met for their tryst in the dead of night. Their place of assignation was secluded and quiet. The only light was dim and far away, but it glowed upon the white walls with a pearl-like radiance.

"Oh, Elmer," Beulah sighed. "This is so wrong! I should be home with McTavish and the little ones, and you should be with Francine."

"The heart wants what it wants, Beulah," Elmer growled, pulling her closer. "Is it our fault that Fate led us to each other too late for honor? All we can do is follow our destiny, come what will."

I found them in the morning, their limbs entwined, their heads together for one final kiss. Was it a double murder, or was it a suicide pact? Or did my husband knock them from their web when he turned on the shower, he unaware of their invisible love nest, they too entranced with one another to see the doom ready to rush down on them in a sudden flood?

What price, obsessive love, Gentle Reader? What price, passion?


Saturday, August 22, 2009


This is the final installment in my series about my grandmother’s cafe, how it influenced my life, and turned me into the foodie I am today.  She owned her cafe from 1927 until about 1972, if my memory serves me.  It supported her and her family, helped put her children through college and start them off in life, and left each of her grandchildren a legacy when she died.

The food she served was typical small town lunch-counter fare.  A hamburger cost ten cents (mustard and pickles, onion on request), and a cheeseburger cost a quarter (cheese, mayo, tomato and lettuce.  Onion on request).  She offered a special every day.  I wish I could remember them all and which days they were served, but I do know that they included a plateful of navy beans with ham and a hunk of cornbread, chicken fried steak and gravy, hot beef sandwich, pot roast, and fried chicken on Sunday.  Oh, yes, fried catfish, coleslaw and hushpuppies.  That would be on the menu after she or one of her relatives had been fishing. Most plates came with mashed potatoes, though there were plenty of home fries and french fries to be had.

She’d grill you a cheese sandwich or onions on the side, or you could get a vegetable plate of fried okra or crookneck squash, green beans with bacon, fried potatoes, lima beans and fatback, maybe some fresh tomato slices.  Depended on what was in season.  You could count on getting a hunk of cornbread with it, whatever it was.

There way always pie.  My sisters and I cherish the memory of the glass pie case behind the counter, displaying a tower of pie slices for your delectation.  She made the pies herself.  I mostly recollect fruit pies in the case, though there may have been the occasional lemon meringue.  Apple was never missing, and cherry and peach were always there in season.  Rarely, she would have pineapple pie, and I thought it a red-letter day when she did.

In the center of her kitchen stood a very large butcher block upon which sat a couple of enormous hunks of meat, a ham and a joint of rare roast beef, right out there in front of God and everybody, covered with dishtowels to keep off the flies.  Not only was this meat not refrigerated, the cafe wasn’t even air conditioned.  In the summer, the doors stood open - there were squeaky screen doors, of course - and ceiling fans moved the humid air around.  If you ordered a hot beef sandwich, Grandma would throw the dishtowel off the beef joint, carve you off a piece, plop it on a piece of white bread, spoon some mashed potatoes on the side, and slather hot beef gravy over all. It was scrumptious.

If a 21st Century health inspector were to somehow be transported back in time to the 1950s and observe the scene described above, Grandma would be out of business in a trice and the inspector would have to sit down and put his head between his knees until he recovered from the shock.  But we all ate it.   Everyone in Boynton ate at Mrs. Casey’s Cafe for almost 50 years, and thrived.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Caramel, apples and caramel apples

Where did I go wrong? The other day, I put a sliced apple and a tiny tub of caramel dip in my daughter's lunch. I asked her later if she liked it.

"The apple, yes. The caramel? Not so much."

I stared in disbelief. My confused brain scrambled for a reason. Finally, I concluded it must not be very good caramel. There had to be something wrong with it.

So today I had a sliced apple with the same caramel dip. I swiped the first slice of apple through the dip and got a generous dollop of caramel. I put it into my mouth, and my senses were flooded with sweetness and nostalgia.

The taste took me back to crisp autumn nights trick-or-treating in my neighborhood. There was a woman named Peggy who always--at least, back then--gave out caramel apples, popcorn balls or homemade cookies. And the children who lived in the neighborhood weren't afraid to eat them. Nor were the parents afraid for them to. Does anyone remember those days?

I was also transported to the fairs and carnivals of my youth where, as an adult, I'd probably be terrified to eat a caramel apple or anything else. But then, one didn't consider whether or not the rides were safe or the "kitchens" sanitary. And the scary guys who operated the rides merely added to the ambience.

I've decided to persuade my daughter to take another chance on the caramel dip. Maybe the dip was still too cold when she had lunch. Maybe we need to let it sit out on the counter for a few minutes and warm up a bit so it's more pliable.

And, if that doesn't work, I think there's a fair in town next week....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Fun Little Dive

My family vacationed in Hilton Head Island , South Carolina last week. We had lots of good food, but one place stood out. It looked like a dive, but was one of our best meals.

When the first restaurant we went to informed us that the wait would be quite long we decided to try for something else. Just behind the first restaurant was a strip mall that housed a little place called Kenny B's French Quarter Cafe. A guy that my mother-in-law works with had told her that it was a good place to eat.

The interior was University of Georgia fanatic meets New Orleans. The food was cheap and good! The menu offered fried seafood, French cafe influenced soups and quiches and all sorts of cajun dishes.

Kenny B's turned out to be a nice little find that we will surely return to in the future. If you are a fan of finding little gems like Kenny B's, you might love watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network. The show's host tours the country in search of humble looking places that serve amazing food.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What Kind of Dog?

Our dog is a Lab/Dalmatian mix...or is he a setter...or a sitter? He loves to lol in the flowers, and can't seem to understand that when we order him out, we mean FOREVER, not just until we turn our backs. Rocks don't deter him. Nothing deters him.

I have, however, trained him not to get into the vegetable garden, to the point where rabbits eat the green beans with impunity.

I think he does it to spite us.

Here is a poem I posted on my blog a couple of days ago:

Ballad of a Doomed Dog
by Marian Allen

Hang down your head, you Joe-dog,
Hang down your head and whine.
Hang down your head, you Joe-dog,
Poor dog, your butt is mine.

Caught him in the garden
Mashing down the plants
If he’d been wearing trousers,
I’d-a kicked him in the pants.


Hosta, moss and fern–
Joe will nap upon them.
–Dog, you’re a-gonna burn.


Every time I catch him,
He slopes off with looks of shame
Says, “If it’s a plant bed,
What have I done to blame?”

Hang down your head, you Joe-dog,
Hang down your head and whine.
Hang down your head, you Joe-dog,
Poor dog, your butt is mine.

He's mostly a good dog, though. He means well, and many of us can make no stronger appeal than that for ourselves.


Monday, August 17, 2009


I swear, I am behind in life these days! Give me a deadline and I'll watch it slither by me, unable to do more than give a feeble grab at its retreating tail. I'm perpetually catching up with everything.


When I get this rattled and stressed, there's nothing better than NOT having to cook when I get home from work. Especially after a weekend of intensive party prep (Friday night/Saturday morning and afternoon) and then the party itself (Saturday from 4pm till ???). Our friend Pete came up to cook the main dishes (skewers of marinated beef and shrimp, grilled veggies, jerk chicken legs, and an amazing salad with scallops, black olives, avocado and a spicy remoulade dressing to die for) and our friends brought wine, beer, side dishes, cheese, hummus, homemade cheesecake, and oh, so many tasty delights! The party was a success and our fridge is now stuffed full of leftover yumminess, including my favorite item, the grilled shrimp.

Both Dave and I have writing deadlines we absolutely have to meet, so tonight (and for most of this week), we'll be heading straight home after work, take care of the necessary housework (with multiple cats, this is Sisyphean endeavor), enjoy leftovers and get to the writing. No fuss, no cooking, no bother! Although considering the amount of food leftover, we really should have another party so it doesn't go to waste...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Grandma Casey's Cafe, Part II- Soda Pop

My grandmother’s cafe held many delights for me and my sibs while we were growing up, and one of the best was the drinks cooler.  

This was a long chest-like refrigerator about waist high with two compartments.  One side held beer bottles and the other held a variety of pop bottles. And they were bottles, too, eight ounce glass bottles with a long neck and a metal cap that had to be wrenched off with the bottle opener attached to the side of the cooler.  I doubt if they even make eight ounce pop bottles anymore, unless it’s for some special memorial collection. The sliding tops of the compartments were not see-through, like the refrigerated chests you see today at the local mini-mart.  They worked rather like a roll-top desk, so you never knew what you were going to find until you opened them. It was sort of like a treasure chest.

As I said last week, Grandma’s cafe was a small affair, so she couldn’t afford to have all varieties of pop in stock at all times.  Coca Cola was always available (or as the natives called it, “Co’Cola”).  I don’t remember Pepsi when I was very small, but it began showing up in the cooler when I was in my early teens.  She kept good supplies of Dad’s Root Beer (absolutely the best for making ice cream floats) 7Up,  and Dr. Pepper - this was the South, after all.

The time-honored Bubba way to drink Dr. Pepper, of course, is to drop salted peanuts down the neck of the bottle and slurp ‘em down.  Not that I ever did that.

She usually had a stock of Grape and Orange NeHi, and sometimes Grapette, which I prefered.  Sometimes, Strawberry NeHi would show up, and even though I was never much of a fruit-flavored pop aficionado, I’d drink one just because it was different.

But the real treats for me were the rare appearances of Chocolate Soldier, YooHoo (basically the same thing), and my favorite, Cream Soda.

Coke was the thing, though, the basic fizzy nectar of the gods upon which all of us were raised.  My parents always kept a stockpile.  When I was young, my father brought in the little glass bottles by the wooden, compartmentalized case.  By the time we had all left home, my mother was hauling home two-liter plastic bottles from WalMart.  Every night of my youth, my father popped popcorn after dinner, and we would all adjourn to the den to watch “Father Knows Best”, much popcorn, and have a Coke.

The joy of soda pop is behind me now.  I lost my taste for sweet drinks after I grew up, on top of the fact that my husband can’t tolerate carbonation.

But as bad for us as it may have been, I’ll always have fond memories of those bottle-cap soldiers all standing in a chilly row at the bottom of my grandmother’s cooler.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Worst diet advice ever

This was in my in-box this morning from

Eat Your Food Naked
Lean, healthy salads, fish and chicken quickly turn into high-calorie indulgences with the addition of dressings and sauces. Particularly when you're dining out, order salad dressings and other sauces on the side. This way, you have control over how much or how little you add. When you order grilled fish or vegetables, ask that the food either be grilled without butter or oil or prepared "light," with as little oil or butter as possible.

Uh. . .what? First off, this paragraph completely veers away from the title . . . or does it? Are we supposed to order our grilled fish in the nude? First off, that would not only ruin my meal but everyone else's. Then I'd be arrested for public indecency and have my mug shot taken in an unflattering orange jail-issued jumpsuit/canvas shoe ensemble. I suppose I could use the opportunity to promote my book, but that's really a stretch. I mean, who'd want to read a book written by someone who'd go to a restaurant naked?

Wait a second.... Who wouldn't want to read a book written by someone who'd go to a restaurant naked? Look at all the people who've gained attention by doing things almost as bad . . . or worse. I know you can think of a dozen off the top of your head, so I won't name names.

But, seriously, I'll try a lot of weight loss tactics. But eating naked? N E V E R .

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pie on Your Plate and Egg on Your Face

I have never traveled to Key West, but hope to one day. There must be something very magical about the place that has inspired men like Ernest Hemingway and Jimmy Buffett.
For now, the closest I get to Key West is making Key Lime Pie. This recipe is very basic and delicious. The filling will be yellow unless you add green food coloring:
one 9-inch graham cracker pie shell
one 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks (whites not used)
1/2 cup key lime juice
Combine milk, egg yolks and lime juice. Blend until smooth. Pour filling into pie shell. Bake @ 350 for 15 minutes. Allow to stand 10 minutes before refrigerating. Top with whipped cream and garnish with lime slices.
Now, here is what to do with the egg whites that are left from seperating out the yolks:
Egg White Face Mask
Mix eggs whites with a splash of white vinegar. Shake it up. Rub on face. Leave for 10 minutes and rinse.
Here's to good pie and tight pores!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

World on the Square

This past weekend, I participated in World on the Square in Corydon, Indiana. It will surprise nobody to learn that I volunteer in the International Tasting Buffet.

Local restaurants, Homemaker Clubs, churches and individuals donate food for the buffet, which is free.

This year, I made bratwurst and cabbage, from the German Leister side of the family. A friend of mine makes gaufrettes, or Belgian waffles. These are thin and crisp and sweet and beautiful. The recipe is at this wonderful blog called TATTING MY DOILIES, which totally cracks me up.

Anyway, the food ranged from quiche to moussaka to lasagna to taco salad to Greek salad to plain old watermelon. People of all ages loved the chance to try things they'd never tried before along with foods from other countries which have become familiar here.

A fine time was had by all.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Short, but sweet

It's been a rough couple of weeks for me. I will not bore you with the details (heck, I find 'em boring and I've been suffering through them!), but I will share one of my favorite treats, something that's helped cheer me up when things have been rough.

I found an amazing Argentinian bubbly at a little store on Noriega. Quiros. Marked down from 19.99 to $5.49, this stuff is good. The owner of the store told me he'd bought a case to try, loved it, then found out the winery was going out of business. So he got all the rest of the stock for a steal and is passing on his savings to his customers. I like this guy.

The bubby is wheaty-gold in color and the taste is sublime. We have it with fresh organic raspberries, also bought at the same store. Then, after the raspberries have soaked in the bubbly for an hour or so, we enjoy the spiked fruit.

Ah, the little joys of life. :-)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Grandma Casey's Cafe, Part I - Candy Bars

  A few days ago, my husband and I were driving down the street discussing candy bars.  He’s one of the few people in the world who doesn’t like chocolate, so we were trying to think of as many non-chocolate candy bars as we could.  I mentioned Zeros, and suddenly was transported back half a century, to Boynton, Oklahoma, and the eatery that my grandmother owned for over forty years, Mrs. Casey’s Cafe, on Main Street.  That cafe was a very large part of my childhood, since we traveled to Boynton from Tulsa every other weekend to visit my dad’s mom, and we kids spent at least two weeks with my grandmother every summer.

Our two summer weeks were no vacation, either.  My grandmother couldn’t afford to take time off from her cafe, so she put us to work.  I imagine that at the time we were like any other family ristorante in Italy or corner cafe in Greece, where a ten year old with a dishtowel wrapped around his waist comes to your table to take your order.  I don’t know what Family Services would say these days about all the times I carried a tray full of open beer bottles to the men in the back room when I was pre-pubescent, or fried up hamburgers on the grill, or stood on a step stool in the kitchen to wash up glasses in a sink full of lukewarm dishwater

 Her cafe was a very small affair; a counter with half a dozen twirling stools that we kids made good if annoying use of, and three booths. Every weekend that we went down there, one of the rituals my sisters and I indulged in was to take a small paper sack and fill it with candy bars from the display behind Grandma’s counter to take  home with us.  We were thoughtless and greedy little buggers, and it never occurred to me that this was costing my grandma money.  I hope that my father reimbursed her.  I wasn’t aware of it, but knowing Grandma, she probably did bill him.

There were certain candies and treats that she always stocked, such as Hershey Bars, Mounds, Milky Ways, Snickers, Mr. Goodbar, Baby Ruth, Butterfingers, Three Musketeers, Pay-Days, Twinkies, Hostess Cupcakes.  But there were others that only made an occasional appearance, and we would snap those up with delight when they did show up.  One of these was the aforementioned Zero Bar, which resembled a Milky way, except for the fact that it was white chocolate, or something-that-would-be-called-white-chocolate-in-the-future.  I don’t remember that term being in wide use back in the olden days.  I also kept a sharp eye out for Heath Bars, Brown Cows, Almond Joy, Krackles, and good old Hostess Sno-Balls, which came in white and pink.  I liked the white.  Pink snow balls just seemed wrong to me.  We didn’t neglect the chewing gum, either.  My sister liked Double Bubble and Juicy Fruit, but both were too sweet for me.  I liked Spearmint and Beeches Clove gum.

 I can’t say I enjoyed bussing tables every summer all that much, but I’m sure it was good for my character. Perhaps one of the reasons I write about food so much in my fiction doesn’t have something to do with the experience.

I wonder if they still make Zeros?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Food for thought

Yesterday, my family and I went to Gatlinburg, TN. We had a lot of fun, especially in the Hollywood Wax Museum. That's Nicholas, Duane "the Rock" Johnson as the Scorpion King, me and Lianna. As you can see, my children are hammy. I think they get it from their dad. Yeah. . . their dad . . . that's it.

But "ham" is not the food for thought I intended to talk about in this post. After leaving the wax museum, we went to Fort Fun, a place where they have laser tag, 3-D movies, motion rides, gem mining (we each got a bag of rocks--whoo-hoo!), boogie bodies and mini-golf.

Here's the thing: As we were walking out of the 3-D movie theater under the black lights, I noticed a fingerprint on my shirt! It was as clear as could be. I was completely amazed. In the regular light (daylight and white lights), the fingerprint was invisible. But under the black lights, there it was. Only one. And it was in a weird position. Pointing down from the top of my shirt. It must've got there when I was putting the shirt on. My husband said maybe I had a little makeup on my hands when I put on the shirt. And yet, there was only the one fingerprint.

Naturally, I went in search of the use of black lights as fingerprint detection devices and found this: And, of course, this will probably show up in a novel eventually. It's just too good to waste.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Colonel Needs You!

This past weekend, I visited some of my family in Kentucky.It is the state where I was born, my parents were raised and most of my family still lives.
The state has produced many famous people. Rosemary Clooney, Mohammed Ali, model/actress Molly Sims, Loretta Lynn and Diane Sawyer are all from Kentucky. Perhaps none are any more famous or iconic than Colonel Sanders.
Kentucky Fried Chicken came from humble beginning, when Colonel Sanders began making chicken in a Corbin, Kentucky gas station during the Great Depression. The restaurant has become a part of Americana. Who hasn't picked up a bucket of KFC on the way to a picnic or tailgate?
Now, there is a movement to put the Colonel's face on a postage stamp, but your signature is needed. Find the petition and lots of KFC information on this site:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Gift of Murder

Wheeeee! I've had a story accepted into Wolfmont's 2009 Toys for Tots benefit anthology, THE GIFT OF MURDER. The preceding link is to the call for submissions. The call is over, but the information is still valid. I'M SO EXCITED! I was in the anthology last year, DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND, and it was my favorite "sale" ever!

None of the authors get any money for their stories, and Wolfmont makes no profit. Every penny over production goes to the Marines' Toys for Tots program. There's so much enthusiasm and energy involved in this project, it's amazing.

Storming. Better get off!


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

Today is the first day of the month.  When I was a kid, I learned that if the first thing out of your mouth the moment you woke up on the first day of the month were the words, "Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit," you would have good luck all month.  I never fail to think of this on the first of any month, but I never manage to utter the words in time, either, so I can't testify to the efficacy of the practice.

The other thing this old superstition always calls to mind is rabbit stew.  We decided to become vegetarians on New Year's Day, 1977.  We were in France at the time, and the very last meat dish I ate was lapin a la chasseur,  which is a savory rabbit stew made with potatoes and onions, garlic, carrots, and red wine, cooked so slowly and so long that the rabbit falls off the bone and the flavors meld.

It was delicious.  But I'd never eat a bunny, now.  So instead, I make myself content with a nice Welsh rarebit, which is nothing more than toast smothered in a yummy cheesy 'gravy'.  It's so simple, and yet it's one of the great comfort foods.  Here's how I like to do it :

Make a roux in a skillet by melting 2 tablespoons of butter and mixing in 2 tablespoons of flour to make a smooth paste.  Then whisk in about a half cup of room-temperature beer, 3/4 cup of whole milk, and about a tablespoon of mustard.  ( I like Dijon).  If I have it on hand, I like to add a teaspoon of prepared horseradish.  I've also perked it up with vegetarian Worchestershire sauce, or sometimes a little hot sauce.  Depends on how spicy you feel while you're making it. When the roux is nice and smooth, add a cup to a cup and a half of shredded sharp Cheddar cheese and stir until it's all melted in.

Then pour the 'rarebit' over a couple of pieces of toast.  Toast some really good bread in order to make the dish something special.  A thick slice or two of an artisan rye is great.  Or if you're a better cook than I, bake up a homemade loaf.  

Enjoy, and have a really lucky August.