One of the courses that I teach at Baylor each fall semester is a section of Introduction to Mass Communication. It’s offered as a New Student Experience, which means enrollment is pretty much limited to only first-year Baylor students who are journalism majors.
For the mass comm curriculum, we talk about the history of books, newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, film, music…all kinds of things. It’s one of my favorite classes to teach because we watch a lot of videos and listen to a variety of music. I mean, we can’t talk about the history of American music without listening to Elvis Presley, and we can’t talk about Elvis without listening to Big Mama Thornton, who recorded Hound Dog a full four years before The King recorded his version.
For the new student portion of the class, I bring in guest speakers to talk about topics that are of importance to students who are living on their own for the first time: how to study, how to stay healthy, making good use of free time. And since most of the students are new to Waco, we talk about places they need to visit in town. (For the upcoming semester, I’m going to give each student a copy of last month’s comprehensive Best of Waco issue of the WACOAN.) We always talk about the best restaurants in town, and I always point them to our favorites, the family-owned places that have been around for years. One semester, we talked about tattoo shops, because one young man had made an unfortunate decision in getting his first ink. I often let the students guide the conversation, and we talk about what’s important to them.
For a few years, New Student Experience faculty were encouraged to invite their NSE students to their homes for dinner. Baylor’s dining services would provide the food, and we would provide the space. We like hosting folks for meals, so we did that, but only used the dining services food once. Mass-produced lasagna isn’t always the best.
So we started cooking our own meals for students. Last year, for example, we had students over relatively late in the semester, so it was cool enough for soup, but not too cold to sit outside. We set tables up on the front porch and driveway and offered up lemon chicken, tomato and taco soups, along with some homemade bread. And a fun part of the evening was having the students draw pictures on our garage door, which we painted with outdoor chalkboard paint a few years ago.
One student meal that stands out in our memory, and not necessarily for a good reason, took place eight or so years ago. We invited the students over really early in the semester, so the weather was still hot. And we made the mistake of serving pasta with broccoli and sausage. What that meant, of course, was having open-flame burners on the stove going full blast for what seemed like hours. We had to brown the sausage, cook the pasta and boil the broccoli, and we had to make enough to feed 30 or so. We were running a little behind when the students started arriving, so we were still cooking, and with them getting here a carload at a time, the front door was being opened and closed constantly. Our house was So. Dang. Hot. We could not get it to cool off. We kept turning the thermostat lower and lower, until we thought our air conditioner had finally just quit. It took, literally, two days for our house to return to a comfortable temperature.
And now, we’re in the middle of another hot summer. As I write this on a Saturday afternoon, it’s 106 degrees in Waco. That’s stupid hot. For dinner tonight — and for the foreseeable future, at least according to the latest forecast — the last thing anyone wants to do for dinner is have the oven or stove on for too long. That’s what makes these Sheet Pan Nachos a good choice for a quick dinner on a hot night. They only need to be in the oven for about 10 minutes. The nachos are topped with a unique green pico de gallo. The crust for the Coffee Ice Cream pie bakes for only 10 minutes as well. It’s the base for a wonderful, cold dessert. A pinch of cinnamon and dash of vanilla liven up a traditional fudge sauce. And this month’s cocktail, the Miami Vice, combines two of our favorite summer drinks — a pina colada and a strawberry daiquiri — into one glass, so you get the best of both.
Sheet Pan Nachos
- 1/2 (16-ounce) bag tortilla chips
- 2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
- 1 can (15 ounces) whole black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can (11 ounces) whole corn, drained and rinsed
- 1 rotisserie chicken, chopped
- 1 or 2 fresh jalapenos, thinly sliced, to taste
- 1 cup pico de gallo verde (recipe follows)
Heat oven to 400 F.
Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Spread the tortilla chips in an even layer on the baking pan, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until cheese is bubbly and light golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Top the chips with black beans, corn, chicken, jalapenos and pico. Serve with guacamole and sour cream. Makes 4-6 servings.
Pico de Gallo Verde
- 1 English cucumber, finely chopped
- 1 avocado, finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped, plus 1/4 cup finely chopped celery leaves
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 small poblano chile or Anaheim pepper, seeds removed, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño, seeds removed, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- 1/4 cup finely chopped pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
- 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt
Toss cucumber, avocado, celery and celery leaves, green onions, poblano or Anaheim pepper, jalapeño, garlic, pumpkin seeds, lime juice, cilantro and mint in a large bowl.
Drizzle with oil, season with salt, and toss again.
Cover and chill 20 minutes before serving. Makes about 8 servings.
Coffee Ice Cream Pie
For the crust:
- 1 egg white
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 ½ cups chopped pecans
- 1 quart coffee ice cream, softened
- 1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
- Fudge Sauce (recipe follows)
For the filling:
In a medium bowl, stir the radishes, basil and sea salt into the softened butter. Using the back of fork works well to combine all of the ingredients. Taste and add more salt if needed.
On a piece of parchment or wax paper, form the butter into a 1-inch wide log. Wrap the paper around the butter, pressing gently to make a smooth log, and roll to seal. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Unwrap the compound butter when ready to use and spread on sliced radishes. Top
with sea salt or Maldon salt.
Makes about 4 servings.
- 4 ounces chocolate, chopped
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of salt
Place the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When the chocolate has melted, add the sugar, evaporated milk, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Stir until the mixture is thoroughly combined and the sauce is thick, about 5-10 minutes. Makes about 4 cups.
- 2 ounces rum, divided
- 1 cup strawberries, chopped
- 1 ounce lime juice
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 2 ounces cream of coconut
- 2 ounces pineapple juice
- strawberry or pineapple slice, for garnish
In a blender, add 1 ounce of the rum, strawberries, lime juice, simple syrup and 1 cup crushed ice and blend until smooth.
Pour into a hurricane glass and place in the freezer.
Wash and dry the blender thoroughly.
In the clean blender jar, add the remaining 1 ounce of rum, cream of coconut, pineapple juice and 1 cup crushed ice and blend until smooth.
Pour into the hurricane glass that already contains the strawberry daiquiri, creating a layered effect. (Leave the strawberry daquiri in the freezer for 30 minutes or so if you want distinct layers; otherwise, the pina colada will sink into the daquiri, which doesn’t affect the flavor at all.)
Garnish with a pineapple slice or strawberry. Makes 1 drink.