Doing Herb with Martha! – Rosemary Butter Cookies! -288 eggs, 212 cups of sugar, 215 1/4 sticks of Butter, and 270 cups of flour used so far- 4 recipes to go!

September 2, 2013


Martha’s Rosemary Butter Cookies


André’s Rosemary Butter Cookies

Rosemary is one of those herbs that can dominate the flavor of a dish if not used frugally. It is a delicious accompaniment to savory dishes, particularly lamb, pork, eggplant, and beef. My sister once prepared rosemary mashed potatoes. They were pretty dreadful. There was simply too much rosemary in the recipe ending in a side dish which can only be described as menthol-flavored mashed potatoes.  It was this bad experience which fueled my reluctance to approaching this particular cookie.  The recipe was simple enough- butter, sugar, flour, eggs- the usual suspects with the added ingredient of freshly chopped rosemary. Not a lot. Just enough to infuse the dough with a slight herbal freshness. The end result was a delicate, buttery, and sophisticated cookie that my co-workers enjoyed immensely. I was quite surprised at how remarkably delicious this cookie turned out to be given my bad experiences with rosemary in the past.  My husband’s mom’s name is Rosemary. (Yes… I married Rosemary’s baby.)  This has no relevance to the cookie or my story. I just thought I’d throw it out there.

I have been more than a little remiss in keeping up with this blog. I’ve no real excuse other than I’ve been depressed and frustrated with a lot of things in my life. My career, my household, my world, all have been spinning a bit out of control and I find myself longing to be somewhere else, doing something else, finding some fulfillment in my life that is currently and seriously absent. Perhaps I’m having a midlife crisis? That said, I don’t feel the need to purchase a sports car, have an affair with a twenty-something, or enroll in hair restoration, so it can’t be all that serious.  Ah, well.

I just returned from my annual visit with my family over the holidays. My workplace closes each year between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. It’s mandatory that I not be at work and equally mandatory that I use my personal time off to do so. My husband, Dan, however, works in retail management and cannot be away from his job during the busiest time of the year. It’s the most opportune time for me to step away and be a dutiful brother, uncle, and son. It’s always strange going home. I step out of the skin I live in and into the skin of the person I used to be back at home. It feels awkward and strained. Every question asked and answered feels a bit inauthentic to who I am and what I believe. Perhaps I live a bit more selfishly here away from my family. When I’m with them, I find myself engaged in conversations that I would never partake in otherwise. There’s very little left to my hometown that feels familiar, warm, or inviting.  One place, however, has never changed and during this recent trip, I stopped by this old watering hole to have a drink and a look-see.

George’s Place is a gay bar established over forty years ago by its namesake. It rests on the outskirts of Baton Rouge’s tiny downtown area just north of the Mississippi River bridge. It is a tiny dive filled with tap beer, video screens, a centered rectangular bar, a tiny stage, and a lot of cigarette smoke. The patrons are of all ages, ethnicities, educational and economic backgrounds. I had a regular piano gig there in the mid-nineties, accompanying several local vocalists and drag personas who would work the tiny crowds into frenzies every Tuesday night.  Nearly thirty years ago, the barroom was purchased from George  by two gentlemen named Guy and Richard who have kept the place humming with cheap drinks, gaudy décor and reasonably attentive bartenders/eye candy.  Richard and Guy were both generous and kind individuals who attracted a slew of regulars to their establishment… me included.

Many an evening was spent at George’s Place drinking away the hours and listening to the inane ramblings of soused locals who expounded their political philosophies in fluent drunkenese. Over the many years I had witnessed strangenesses within the walls of this foul-smelling parlor of iniquity and I loved every one of them. The most unusual experience came in the early nineties when I had stopped by after a particularly rough Thursday at work. It was early evening and the sun was just setting across the river. I noticed a large tour bus parked outside in the gravel parking lot. I entered the bar and was greeted by a bizarre and, even by George’s Place’s questionable standards, disturbing sight. A dozen male and female patrons sat around the bar, all holding hands with their eyes towards the ceiling. Each had a drink in front of them and smiles on their faces. Many wore sunglasses and a few had sun visors.  No one spoke. They quietly held each others hands and smiled serenely. There they sat in silence as a recording of Patsy Cline lilted in the background. I ordered a beer and sat among them, peering up at the ceiling, trying to figure out what they found so fascinating. The bartender chuckled. Was this some sort of a joke?- I thought to myself.

After several minutes, I noticed another man slightly older than myself at the end of the bar. He had been eyeing me with a bemused smile since I entered the room. I approached him and whispered to him inquisitively, “What is going on here?”  He gave a short laugh and explained that he was the driver of the bus outside and that his payload was a group of blind and deaf students from North Mississippi on their way to a conference downtown. “They’re not holding hands, see?! They talking to each other!”  I then noticed the tapping out of words between each of the couples. I began to laugh with relief and sat down to enjoy the company of the quietest most talkative group of people I had ever been around.

I shared this story with Guy during this latest visit. He remembered that evening as vividly as I do. His partner, Richard, sat in the corner with a large smile on his weathered face and a name tag that simply read “Alzheimer’s Patient”.  This was not a mean-spirited or tasteless joke. Richard, over the past few years had, in fact, been declining into a permanent state of dementia. He did not recognize me but seemed happy to see me nonetheless. Guy and Richard still own George’s Place but have passed on the management of the facility to Richard’s rough-and-tumble lesbian niece.  It was good to see them and aside from Richard’s illness, very little has changed. There’s still the buzzer at the door in order to be let in. This was installed in the late nineties after an early evening armed robbery which left several patrons injured by gunshots. The clientele was still eclectic and ornery, filled with many opinions but not many facts. The place still smells of stale beer, urine, and cigarette smoke.

It was all strangely comforting.

As the saying goes…

It may not be much, but it’s home.


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