Next was the return of condensed Campbell's cheese soup (yeay!) with the ridiculously salty Cheddar Cheese Baked Potato Soup. First you take a russet potato and put it in the microwave for 7-8 minutes. Never having cooked a potato this way, I was happy my aunt told me to poke holes in it, lest I want the thing to explode, because the russipie gives no such instruction. After 7.5 minutes, the potato was shriveled and sad looking, so I supposed it was "done." While the nuked potato cools (Sandy warns "it will be HOT!"), you heat up 2 cans cheddar cheese soup, 2.5 cups low-sodium chicken stock and 1/4 c. real bacon pieces into a medium pan. You let it simmer for a bit, add the potato (which you cut into 1/2 inch cubes once it cools) and let the whole thing simmer for 5 more minutes. To serve you garnish the soup with a dollop of sour cream. Okay first, can I just tell you that the low-sodium broth, I imagine, does nothing to compensate for the insane amount of salt in the canned cheddar soup, not to mention the bacon?! My dad took one spoonful and said, "well, that's my daily intake of sodium for the day." He wouldn't eat any more...and my dad loves salt. My sister, cousin and I actually ate some. It tasted good once our tongues were numb from the sodium overload. The potato chunks left something to be desired. Their texture felt like a really poorly made, dense gnocchi: they were gooey, chewy and gummy.
Since the soup was a bust, we moved on to a real cocktail, the Palm Springs Punch. Once 11 oz. can of pineapple jews mixes with 1 L. ginger ale and 1 c. bourbon. You pour this over ice and then add 2 (15 oz.) cans of fruit cocktail. Yes, you heard me right, fruit cocktail in a fruity cocktail...how clever, Aunt Sandy. Now as you will notice in the picture below, the can of fruit cocktail (which looked completely normal on the outside) was completely ruined and void of jews on the inside, so we had to throw away the kind with cherries (my favorite) in exchange for some fruit cocktail cups my mom had stored in the pantry for god-only-knows how long.
I didn't make as much as the russsipe called for, because no one was really interested in drinking in the middle of the afternoon (my family was not interested in following the sacred rules of cocktail time), but they were sports and took a sip. My sister's boyfriend said it tasted rancid, but that was really the worst review it got. My sister and I thought it was quite tasty (I drank mine and then picked out the booze soaked fruit afterwards), but then again we loved fruit cocktail as children, so anything that reminds us of that is delicious. In all honesty, I think it would make an excellent springtime cocktail. It also wasn't nearly as boozy as Aunt Sandy's normal monstrosities.
Pleasantly pleased, we moved onto the final dish: Sweet and Sour Chicken Skewers. In a pan, you bring to a boil: 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar, 1/4 c. brown sugar, pineapple jews, 1 T. cornstarch and 1 T. water. You let the sauce thicken for about 8 minutes, then you reserve half for the dipping sauce. As this was cooking my sister said it smelled like feet. When my Aunt and cousin came over, they said the same thing. It got so bad, my mom had to open a window. As the sauce cooled and the kitchen aired out, my cousin and I made the skewers. We alternated chunks of chicken, pineapple and red pepper, salt and peppered them, and then popped them onto a medium hot greased grill. After cooking for 4 minutes on each side, we basted them in the sweet and sour sauce. These are to be served with the dipping sauce, but my mom threw it out as soon as everyone tasted it (but me). It tasted like feet apparently. The skewers themselves weren't bad. They weren't very sweet or sour, but they had a nice mild flavor to them...and really, can you go wrong with grilled kabobs? That nice charred taste will subdue any nasty foot flavor a sauce may have.
So that just about does it for my California Cocktail Time. Liz and I will have time for a couple more entries before our winter break is over, so keep a lookout! Until then, remember to keep it a cocktail, keep it botulism free, keep it footloose, and always keep it Semi-Edible!