By SHANNON WATKINS
I try not to be superstitious, but sometimes I frankly think there’s an imp assigned to me for the sole purpose of meting out petty karma. Let’s call him Fred. “Oh, she forgot to return that phone call she said she would?” says Fred’s boss. “Well, go up there and make sure nobody returns her calls for ANYTHING.”
This is especially stressful when you have less than a month to find an affordable place to live and potential renters can’t be bothered to get back to you; I’m seriously considering just hauling my stuff out in the woods, stringing a tarp up over the leaf canopy, and hoping for the best.
Apparently somewhere in this mess I must have built up bad kitchen karma by promising someone a dish I never delivered on, because I can’t get a single thing I cook to come out right. Or I can get a main course to work out OK, but then for some reason I’m determined to make side dishes that clash with it and taste odd. “Why on earth did I think Chinese five-spice eggplant would go with maple-roasted pork tenderloin?” I’ll marvel at myself after coming out of some bad-food trance. I don’t especially care for eggplant, but for some reason, probably Fred, I was seized with the urge to make a plateful.
(Speaking of tenderloin, it came out great, but I burned my finger on the maple glaze. Now the skin is shiny and crinkly while healing, like I’m turning into a zombie but just in that one spot. I guess that means my finger craves brains, which is no weirder than anything else I’ve made lately, but I’d probably overseason them. Maybe they’re good with eggplant?)
I have a recipe that I do like, though I’m hesitant to call it foolproof lest Fred is reading over my shoulder as I type this. But it’s really easy, very delicious, and requires only three ingredients, plus whatever you want to dip into it with. I’m very temped to make some, on the theory that if I can just get one simple standalone recipe to come out right, I will once again be able to wield a mixing spoon or chef’s knife without having to fear the results.
Normally this is my go-to for informal get-togethers. I think of it as tailgate food, or indoor Superbowl party fare, but it’s just as nice for a shower of some sort or a potluck. I had it at a Christmas party during a temp job a couple of years ago, and immediately wrestled it out of the then-coworker who brought it. She was a serene, confident cook who could make anything tasty in job lots while minding her grandkids and balancing a checkbook. I bet she never lost skin on a maple glaze, either.
1 lb. Jimmy Dean sage sausage (not any other kind)
1 8-oz block cream cheese
1 regular can Ro-Tel tomatoes with green chiles, hot or mild, undrained
Crumble and cook the sausage in a skillet until just done. Drain off grease and put in cream cheese; stir until melted and incorporated. Pour in Ro-Tel and stir until mixed in and all is heated. Serve.
The person who gave me the recipe informed me that it MUST be a tube of Jimmy Dean SAGE sausage and no other kind; normally I’d experiment but lately I feel that’s just inviting trouble. I’d probably lose my eyebrows at the very least.
You can double or triple or quadruple it as needed; you will likely not have much, if any, left over. I recommend you use those scoop-shaped tortilla chips to get at it; they’re about sturdy enough.
Or you could just make a single recipe, plop it in a bowl, and eat it with a spoon. It should make enough for you and Fred, with some left over to go with that eggplant tomorrow.