social gatherings

Bubba’s Cake Baking for the Holidays

After the age of 50 some of us begin to assume different character traits.  Some of these traits may be due to a smaller dose of testosterone flowing through our bodies or it may be we have just mellowed over the years.  The kids are grown, weddings are done, and retirement is just around the corner.  Now is the time for those hobbies and pastimes we never took time for as younger individuals.  Some of us have even taken to reading Southern Living Magazine.  (There are some good looking young women in this magazine, and they cover SEC football during the fall of the year.) Southern Living also has features on golf courses and they always have several articles on one of our favorite pastimes…………FOOD.

Now the good news about cooking when you reach the double nickel (age 55) would be that your wife no longer tries to tell you how to cook or what you are doing wrong.  She does not generally care if you cook a whole pound of bacon or use a pound of butter on one dish.  My spouse is so happy she does not have to make another decision about food or a meal she says absolutely nothing about any of my cooking.  Let me tell you guys who think you have to be a girly-man to cook.  Get a grip.  This is the ideal time to partake of your favorite adult beverage.  The female of the species does not think it is inappropriate for men to drink while slaving over a hot grill or gas range.

Another benefit to cooking is the trip to the local grocery.  I have become fast friends with the wine section in my Kroger and women of all ages believe if you are a man and shopping for food that you will have the answers to all their cooking questions.  Go figure!  I do not cheat on my wife but it is always entertaining to offer sage advice to women and the occasional man regarding the proper preparation and cooking time for various dishes.  I try to stick to the basics such as pork tenderloin, chicken, steak and specialty burgers but every now and then I will offer advice on complicated dishes of which I know absolutely nothing. 

This past Thanksgiving I determined that I would make a special chocolate cake for friends and family.  The ingredients alone cost me $45.  Did I mention the recipe called for Bourbon and I figured what the hell, I may as well buy a half gallon since I was already at the store.  One can never tell when a friend or two might drop by while you are cooking and it would be downright inhospitable not to offer a libation or two.  Most of my friends like sour mash bourbon anyway and if they find out I am cooking they will make a special trip to: number one, watch me make a mess, and number two, to have a couple of drinks and solve the worlds mysteries.

The aforementioned cake includes 1/3 cup of bourbon (or was it 1 cup, I do not remember) but it was a great cake and eaten by all my friends and family.  I do remember the cake, frosting and glaze took a total of 1 pound of butter and 1 pound of sugar and ½ pound of brown sugar.  In addition there was buttermilk and powdered sugar included.  Needless to say the thing melted in your mouth and was totally consumed. 

The only bad news to the whole story is the necessity of clean up once you are finished.  When grilling the clean up is simple, burn the grease off of the grill, throw away the tin foil and disposable plates and clean up the beer cans.  Cooking inside is a totally different animal.  Your wife or significant other expects you to wash all the pans and utensils used during the cooking and to wipe off the stove and counter.  Why is that? You would think they would be so happy we cooked a meal or dessert that they would at least volunteer to clean up – I mean really – cleaning up ain’t brain surgery.  Not gonna happen.  Just go ahead and do it.

Bubba Terry

One of the rights of passage for a lot of young males and some females is the annual preparation and participation in opening day of deer season.  For some fortunate individuals this event can actually happen twice per year, once for bow season and once for gun season.  If one is really lucky and lives in a state that separates black powder hunting from bow and gun seasons, they get to participate three times.


I am not one of those people against deer hunting!  I have fond memories of participating in opening day and the entire season and I actually miss some of the camaraderie enjoyed with my family and friends.  Some of my best non-hunting friends never understood why anyone would want to shoot bambi or his mother and father but they never experienced the thrill of opening day.


In my part of the country deer season runs for a month or more and allows one to properly prepare their deer camp or leased hunting area in advance.  The preparation process begins in late August and early September when several trips to the woods are required to build tree stands.  My father-in-law was such a perfectionist. We had to build tree houses that included sides for our deer stands.  These structures were usually 4 X 6 feet and included chairs, an alcohol heater, and an empty can in the event mother nature beckoned.


Opening day morning began with breakfast at my father-in-law’s house and included myself and two brothers-in-law eating a massive breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage and grits at 2:30 in the morning.  Some years we actually got some sleep.  The breakfast was completed when my father-in-law would reach for a half-gallon of Jack Daniels and announce to all of us that it was now time to quote “be somebody” and we would all partake of a least one shot of sour mash bourbon.  Well hell, when I was younger, drinking at 3 A.M. was accepted and besides we never loaded our high powered weapons until we arrived in the woods.


After a shot or two we would load up the vehicles with all manner of firearms, ammunition, food, liquor, beer, jackets, radios, chairs, toilet tissue, sleeping bags and anything else we would need for our day in the woods.  All of this paraphernalia was loaded into the back of an aging Ford Falcon and then four or five of us would pile in the vehicle for the 45 minute ride to the woods.  Upon arrival we would greet the hardy souls who had spent the night and then pour another shot or two just to be socialable.  The obligatory lies would be told and around 5 A.M. the caravan would drive the final 15 minutes to the hunting area. 


Prior to actually walking to the deer stands we had to apply doe urine to our shoes to cover our scents.  Then, under the cover of darkness we would stealthily find our way to the aforementioned deer stands (tree houses) by shining our flashlights on the path and looking for red or green plastic tape we had tied on branches.  I always had visions of Elmer Fudd walking to a deer stand on his tiptoes.  (If you do not know Elmer Fudd look it up on Google.)


Were the truth told just about everyone went to sleep as soon as they climbed into the stand.  There is always one exception and he or she usually got the first deer.  Naturally the truth has never been told in a deer camp so there were many stories of massive 10-point bucks walking just behind some brush so that no one could get off a good shot.  Whoever fired the first shot would wake up the rest of the fearless hunters and everyone would come down from their stands agreeing that all of the deer in the county were now long gone after the first shot was fired.  This normally happens around 9:30 in the morning.  Everyone would walk to the rally point and wait to see who had fired the shot.  If the person who fired the shot had no carcass to display as a result of his shooting then the razzing and kidding would continue for the remainder of the season.


By 10:30 almost everyone was back at the camp telling lies, smoking cigars and drinking their beverage of choice.  Two or three members of the hunting party would be cooking enough lunch to feed a third world country and someone would always have a portable TV with enough tin foil wrapped around the antenna to bring in some kind of signal.  The ball game would be on and drinking, smoking and eating dominated the remainder of the day.  Oh yeah, there were always one or two smart asses who wanted to hunt in the afternoon but we did not bother them if they did not bother us.


Deer hunting after all, ain’t brain surgery.


Bubba Terry

I love this country!  Where else in the known universe could you find a book on grilling for dummies?  Keep in mind that those of us raised in the South have been burning meat on open fires our entire lives and have some disdain for books on how to accomplish this feat. Grilling is not brain surgery.  You only have a couple of decisions to make.  The first is the type of grill you want to use.  Charcoal or gas.  True aficionados of grilling swear by the charcoal method and if this is your preference for heavens sake buy a good grill.  The Weber Kettle grill is a great grill for the money and the dampers on the lid work like a charm.  If you are really serious about charcoal cooking then dig deep in your pockets and purchase a Green Egg grill.  This thing is ceramic and cooks like an oven with grilled taste.  Personally, I have reached the stage in my life where I seek simplicity over GC. (Grilling Correctness)  A good stainless steel propane gas grill is hard to beat for ease of use and convenience.  They can be purchased for $300 or more and they immediately produce high evenly dispersed heat.  Steaks and burgers lack some of the flavor experienced with genuine charcoal cooking but speed and convenience are worth a little sacrifice.

The second and maybe the most important decision is the quality of meat you choose to grill.  If you go with cheap cuts of beef for grilling then expect the result to taste like a grilled wallet.  Spend the money and get a good cut of meat.  If you do not know how to choose the meat then by all means get a butcher to help you.  Pork and chicken will cook faster than you think so watch them closely.  If you choose to cook pork loins or other large meat portions I highly recommend you invest in a meat thermometer.  The alternative could result in spending the night in the bathroom swearing you will never again cook over an open fire.  Now, get out there and burn some meat.


If you have daughters, want to have daughters or are on the verge of having a son-in-law, you owe it to yourself to read the following. Regardless of what you may be told there are only two types of fathers of the bride. Those who pay for receptions and those who are glad they did not have to pay.  I speak with some authority here as both of my daughters had rather large weddings and big, boisterous receptions.

As the father of the bride your responsibility includes the following: Shut Up, Show Up and Pay Up.  Remember those three terms and you will maintain a happy relationship with your wife, your daughter, your family and your daughter’s new family. It ain’t brain surgery.

Shut Up

When your future son-in-law’s mother wants to publish the wedding invitation in the local small town newspaper don’t panic.  I told my daughter and future son-in-law that I would have two no-neck thugs dressed in tuxes checking invitations at the door of the reception.  This comment cost me in ways you do not want to know.

Show Up

As father of the bride you must meet and greet all the attendees at the reception.  This involves a lot of handshaking (Grinning & Grabbing) and you do not want to know where some of those hands have been lately.  You also will have the opportunity to hug all of the ladies.  This is a two-edged sword.  Hugging the young and well endowed females is fun as they often wear low cut dresses and enjoy full frontal hugs.  Your friends and entire family will watch your every move and report every indiscretion.  The other side of the sword is the hugs with the older ladies who use too much perfume and press you close to their aging bosoms while telling you how beautiful the bride and your wife look.

Pay Up

The pay up portion is the most painful.  You will look at every half eaten tidbit and bemoan the fact that someone took one bite from a $5.00 hors’d’ourve.  Your friends will slap you on the back and rave over the fact that you are financing their drinking binge. The 4 bottles of wine you ordered for 400 guests runs out in 30 seconds and by the end of the evening your alcohol count is at 90 bottles of wine and 3 kegs of beer plus a few mixed drinks.  The band informs you that they played an hour over the contract and they want more money and then your daughter runs to you with open arms, gives you a kiss and says thank you for a wonderful evening.  More wine anyone!!!


The subject of this post falls under the larger category we call “Grinning and Grabbing” (smiling a lot and shaking hands a lot). We’ll have more posts on Grinning and Grabbing as time goes on. Perfecting the art of Grinning and Grabbing can be very beneficial in many ways.  A lot of folks would say this category could also be called The Art of Bullshitting – we won’t argue that point at all.

Those who master the art of social chit chat and cocktail banter will find themselves being promoted in their business, going home with eligible singles and sought after on local boards and civic organizations. The process is quite simple but it does require a little preparation prior to venturing out into the real world of phonies, near do wells and ego maniacs.

Remember the phrase Knowledge is Power? Well this is of dire importance if you are to succeed in mastering the fine art of Grinning and Grabbing (bullshit). By the way, we do not mean to offend anyone by using the term bullshit but after all most of the jabber at meetings and cocktail parties really is nothing more than BS. The only way to get through to those who have mastered the art of BS is to out-BS them. This may seem to be an overwhelming task when first taken on but trust us, it is as easy as 1.2.3. Remember this: If you can’t dazzle them with your brillance, baffle them with your bullshit.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you are married to a professional educator and find yourself at a get together with other educators. This can be any level of education from Kindergarten through college. Naturally the conversation will gravitate toward classroom experiences and discussions regarding the education of the great unwashed. You may try to engage these educators in a conversation involving your particular work area but forget it. Remember this will work for any profession.

Do a little research prior to the get together. For instance you might ask the following question. What impact if any is the home schooling phenomenon having on your school district? (you can perform an Internet search using home schooling followed by any state in the union and you will get a plethora of information.) Regardless of the state you will open up a can of worms that will generate a lot of discussion. Please note, you should read a couple of articles regarding the subject and steer the conversation in the direction of your knowledge. This process will work in almost any circumstance.

We can hear some of you already. For instance those of you who are forced to interact socially with a genuine brain surgeon will undoubtedly be apprehensive to look up brain surgery procedures on the Internet and enter into a conversation on the subject in a social gathering. You may be afraid because there is always the possibility that you will find you know as much as the real surgeon and that scares the bejeezus out of you, and it should.

One ice breaker that works very well for us in this circumstance is to say something like this. My college room mate was hit in the head several years ago and underwent brain surgery to relieve some kind of pressure in his cranial cavity. He died and his wife sued the Doctor, the hospital and the HMO. Things worked out well however because she married a podiatrist and now lives in West Palm Beach. This will usually get the conversation changed to something like football or the latest sexual conquest. You win.

Remember you control your own destiny at any social gathering and you can choose to be a wallflower and follow the proven age old adage which is: It is better to stay silent and be thought to be stupid rather than open your mouth and remove all doubt. This old adage was written by someone who was afraid of their own shadow. You have to venture out of your shell if you are to mature and enjoy life to the fullest.

Life Ain’t Brain Surgery. Have an awesome day!

Richard & Terry