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Jess & Jim

Photo courtesy of nakedlens.org

Jess is my best girl.

She completely gets that I am a fly off the handle type of person. She understands when I need to have a freak out and lets me do it. She’s not the friend who gives me reasons that I need to act rational and find a calm way to resolve things without resorting to bad language. She understands that I will blow up and call you a stupid pig fucking whore and once that’s done, then we can resolve things in a calm manner. Maybe. If you’re lucky.

I met Jess through mutual belly dance friends. She was dancing with a group of friends I had met when I belly danced at Isis’. Lisha and Jenn were in my class at one point, and so was Trudi. And I think Lori may have been too. Things happen as they do and we all left the studio for one reason or another. Lisha, Lori, Jenn, Jess, and Trudi were dancing together as “Visions in Dance” and there had been a time when they had thought Trudi may be moving to Florida and they had been booked for a show and needed some one to fill in for her and they invited me. I was very happy because I’d seen what they were doing and I was looking to get into some new stuff. What they were doing was more like modern dance than belly dance, and more into the musicality of dance than a set of 8 counts. Since I don’t count when I dance as a solo performer, this stuff was really up my alley. Plus, it was very physically challenging for me and I was just happy as a clam. Turned out Trudi ended up not moving to Florida and she danced with them in that show after all but I did get to perform that choreography with them at Kismet.

Kismet is a great thing. It was conceived by Jess (look at that) and her Mom to give belly dancers in the DFW area a place to dance. The belly dance community in DFW is crazy. It’s hard for a new dancer to find a place to dance. You’re not going to get a restaurant gig until somebody dies or a restaurant owner’s wife throws a coffee cup at a dancer and she quits. (Yes, that bit about the coffee cup really did happen…Not to me though) The only stage shows are put on by the troupes when they have a guest instructor/performer and then not everyone who wants to gets to perform because those spots are usually given to the shining stars in the troupe or if you do get to perform, you’re regulated to the group choreography you’ve been doing in every single show you’ve been in for the last 4 years. And then there’s all the troupe rules, and I’m just not even going to talk about that. Kismet is different. You get 6 minutes. You can dance to pretty much whatever you want. You can wear pretty much whatever you want. And you can dance. Honestly, the only rules at Kismet are “be nice” and you have to be “family friendly”.  They provide a stage and an audience and professional sound, the whole nine yards. It is just so much fun. It is where I developed my own style and got the confidence to be a solo performer.

Well anyway…

Due to other circumstances and the like, Jess had to leave Visions and eventually I left too. It was during the time when I was having issues with chronic back pain and I was driving to Carrollton once a week and sometimes more, and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was really sad to leave because I had finally found a group of friends to dance with that I had needed for many years. The girls are still some of my very best friends.

Jess moved on and started trying to break into the fledgling burlesque scene in Dallas which was worse than trying to get into the belly dance scene. She had auditioned for a local troupe and was told she was too old, too fat and she couldn’t dance. So Jess, being the innovator she is, said to herself “well fuck this and fuck you; I’ll put on my own show”. She did just what she said she was going to do.  And that, my lords and ladies, is the short version of how “Bewitching Burlesque” was born. (I’ll give you the long version another time). If it had not been for Jess, myself and A LOT of other burlesque performers and producers in DFW would not be where we are today because we would have never been given the opportunity to perform anywhere else.

Recently Jess and HerManJim, moved to Austin to give it a go down there. I miss her terribly but, at least she’s just in Austin and not in Arizona or Colorado like they had talked about. Now that would have been a tragedy of Greek proportions.

Before they went, I had them over for Jess’ favorite fried chicken dinner with all of the trimmings. I made pineapple upside down cake for dessert. Come to find out, that is Jim’s favorite dessert.

Here you go…

You need a yellow cake mix, eggs, water, oil, pineapple, cherries, brown sugar, and butter.

Mix up the cake mix like it says on the box…This is what the eggs, water and oil are for.

Always make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl. If you use a stand mixer like I do, you have GOT to make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl as well. Because of the way the mixer is designed, the beaters don’t go all the way to the bottom of the bowl so you have to make sure you get the dry stuff off the bottom or you’ll go to put your cake in the pan and have a big ol’ bunch of shit at the bottom of the bowl that didn’t get mixed up.

Melt some butter in your skillet. I don’t remember where I either read or saw that you’re supposed to make a pineapple upside down cake in a cast iron skillet but that’s how I’ve always done it. I did try to make it in a 9×13 pan once and holy hell was that a mess to try to turn out of the pan!

Butter the skillet all over. If your pan is good and seasoned, you won’t have any trouble getting your cake to turn out of the pan. Mine are hit or miss when it comes to being seasoned so I wanted to make sure and get the sides buttered.

When the butter melts, put about this much brown sugar in the pan. This is what makes the pineapple and cherries get all caramelized and good. Don’t chinch on this part, be generous with the brown sugar. There’s nothing worse than sad old pineapples somebody just threw in the bottom of the cake pan with no brown sugar. That’s just sad and lazy. Don’t be sad and lazy.

Okay, this is where it got screwed up. I didn’t have any pineapple rings in the pantry like I thought I did. I always have random shit like pineapple rings in my pantry. I didn’t have time to go to the store so I just used crushed pineapple. Don’t use crushed pineapple. It tastes okay but it’s ugly. Pineapple rings with a maraschino cherry in the middle are quintessential to the way this cake looks and there are some things you just don’t fuck with. But if you’re stuck like I was just make sure you drain the pineapple really well.

If you’re using crushed pineapple, spread it as evenly as possible in the bottom of the pan. If you use pineapple rings like I would like you to, then place them in a single layer in the pan.

Put your cherries around in the pineapple. When you do it right and use rings, put a cherry in the center of each pineapple ring.

Pour your batter on the top of the pineapple and cherries.

Bake at 350 until the cake is done. I have to tell you, I usually don’t use this big of a skillet to make this cake because it makes it too big of a cake and the cake doesn’t rise up like I like it. I wasn’t paying attention when I started and by the time I realized what I was doing, it was too late to go back. I like to use my 9 inch skillet. You will have some batter left when you use a 9 inch skillet but Boogie and Atticus don’t seem to mind.

Let your cake get fairly cool before you try to turn it out of the pan. You don’t want it too cool because the brown sugar will harden up and make it really hard to get the cake out nicely.

When you want to get the cake out of the pan, put the serving plate over the top of the skillet,

flip it,
(this is another strike against using this big pan, it’s too big for me to handle and it slid all over the place)

shake it and cuss at it,

and tah dah. Out of the pan.

Roger was all about getting the left behind pineapple bits.

This is what it turned out to look like. It’s just not very pretty and I wasn’t happy with the way it looked. It tasted good but it was ugly. Ugly is okay for homemade soap and some people’s babies but not for my cake. It tasted good though and I guess that’s what counts in the end.

I made this pineapple upside down not too long ago to take to the IOOF Home in Ennis, and is the perfect example of what this cake a should look like. The pineapple rings are perfectly caramelized with brown sugar and everything. This is what you’re going for.

I hope you make one of these, let me know if you do and tell me what you did to make it your own.

Next post will be about one of my favorites, meatloaf.

TTFN! xoxo

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2 comments on “Jess & Jim

  1. I have always used a cast iron pan for pineapple upside down cakes. My Momma did and My Grand-Nana did. They just make better cakes. The heat distributes better and the sugar caramelizes perfect every time!

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