Wednesday, November 26, 2008


There's that magical moment. That delicious instant in every cook's life. That particular second when your entire apartment or house smells like what you created.

It's meatloaf. Classic 2/3 beef and 1/3 pork. Half sauteed onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and half is fresh (minus garlic). A little surprise of Swiss and cheddar in the center. Oregano and basil. Bread crumbs. Glaze is tomato paste, BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce.

And my whole damn apartment smells like it.

Let me tell you, in a small apartment like mine, that's a LOT of beefy, porky, loafy goodness.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Catching Up and a Quesadilla

Lot's to catch you up on. Quick hits will have to suffice for now.

New Gig

Started working at Sam's to put a few sheckles in my pocket. My first shift was in the kitchen.

Yup, first time in a commercial kitchen. And I didn't kill anyone or myself.

The first rush was an 8 item delivery order with several fryer bits and several sandwiches. Greco helped out with the timing of what to start when.

Second rush was three delivery orders, four tables, and a couple things for the folks upstairs. It took me a while, and I damn near swallowed my tongue when I looked up and saw nine tickets.

Start the first two, get the third prepped. Plate the first, move the second, start the third, prep the fourth.

$328 in food sales from 6pm to 2am, average price of $6.50.

Used my one mulligan on a Samburger that didn't get cooked all the way through.

Road Trip

Greco and I took a trip up to Philly. He was picking up a car that a local attorney had purchased from a guy up there. We picked up Six-Pack on the way through Mo-Town. 5 hours up, get the car, eat a cheesesteak, five hours back.

Y'all should stop in at Nino's Pizzarama if you get the chance. Delicious cheese steaks, clean spot, friendly people.

Cheese steak specials with peppers, onions, banana peppers, and sauce. Fresh bread, made to order sandwiches, scads of pizza options including a white pie with garlic, and a pie with rigatoni and sauce under an avalanche of cheese.

And zepoli. Tasty fried dough dusted with sugar. Save room, or take some with you.

Six Pack decided he needed the Wedding Soup too, and the half loaf of bread that came with it.

I brought Big Seester a cheese steak back. She ate it for breakfast at 9am. Atta girl!

Dang Quesadilla

Made this for lunch today.

Half an onion, diced
4 minced cloves of garlic
1 chicken breast, diced
1 can Rotel tomatoes with chilies
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 flour tortillas
1/2 T oregano
salt and pepper
olive oil
green onion for garnish

Saute the onion, garlic, chicken. Add the Rotel. Cook off the liquid. Tortilla, cheese, chicken, cheese, tortilla, bake.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cookstr Comes to Town

Received an e-mail this morning from MW (with whom I'll be dining at the Taiwanese wonder - Lavender Cafe in Morgantown - tomorrow). She forwarded on this story from the New York Times about a new website called Cookstr.

Cookstr, which will be supported by advertising revenues, will aggregate recipes from published cookbooks. All of the authors will have their own pages, with biographies, links to recipes and books, and in the case of restaurant chefs, links to their locations on Google maps.

Visitors to the site can search for recipes using a wide range of parameters, from the more obvious — ingredients, season, occasion — to more specialized criteria, like lactose-free, kid-friendly or requires-only-one-pot-to-cook. The site will start with 2,500 recipes, most likely to increase to 10,000 within a year.

I am by no means a copyright expert. But I gather there has been a fairly large subset of food blog conversations about whether and when it is appropriate to publish a recipe from a cookbook on your own blog. My take has been to link to it if it's online somewhere else, or to source it appropriately if I've changed the recipe enough that it really could be considered a new dish.

I wonder if Cookstr will clear up the mess about recipes online or confuse the issue more.

The Terms of Use state:

You are hereby granted, subject to these terms and conditions, a limited, revocable, non-exclusive, non-transferable, fully-paid, royalty-free license solely to view the screens and materials on the Web Site and to print only such limited number of hard copies of discrete excerpts of those screens and materials as is needed for your own internal, non-commercial, non-public use in order for you obtain information presented on or through the Web Site (the “Web Site License”). Permitted access to and use of the Web Site is limited to your viewing the Web Site solely to access information displayed thereon. You are not permitted to download any Web Site Content. You are also not permitted to copy/paste any Web Site Content from the Web Site for use in any manner.

So Cookstr is saying keep your grubby, Internet-Tubey paws off the Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V keys while you're on our site. But go ahead and print it off so you can keep using it personally forever.

Here's the my blog personal use or commercial? I mean, have you heard me gloating about GoogleAd revenue anytime recently? Or anytime?

And if I took all the AdSense and Google Search ads stuff off the site, does that remove and legal 'commercial' aspect to my site?

I was heartened to read two of the quotes from authors.

Mollie Katzen, author of “The Moosewood Cookbook,” said she was not worried about the site’s pre-empting book sales. “There’s a whole lot more than the sum of its parts, a kind of presence and ambience that a book has that isn’t just a critical mass of recipes,” Ms. Katzen said. “A lot of the feedback that people have given me on my books is that they like to curl up in a chair with it.”

You're right Mollie. In fact, I did that just yesterday with my well-worn copy of Low-Fat Favorites. So Mollie's on board with the good cookbooks being so much more than a collection of recipes.

My all-time favorite example of that notion is The Daily Soup Cookbook, where the authors are witty like Ace of Cakes on a page. If you're not into that humor, then forget it. But the stories of customers reactions to soups in the margins of the recipes, the periodic table of soups, noting that the tongue is a required utensil in cooking soups, and recommending listening to any Menudo song while preparing and eating their Yucatan Chicken Lime soup.

And I digress by pointing out that you really can "read" a cookbook like a novel. If it's the right cookbook.

Joan Nathan, the author of “Jewish Cooking in America” and “The New American Cooking,” said she suspected that the current ubiquity of recipes online had diminished sales of her most recent book. But she hoped Cookstr might still attract new buyers.

“Who knows?” Ms. Nathan said. “I guess I hope for something wonderful. The worst-case scenario for me is that people use my recipes.”

And finally, let that sink in. Perhaps, just maybe, people who cook and write books understand more than others who "X" and write books about it that while they may be selling copies, they are also giving something. That admission probably just got Ms. Nathan one more sale. I'd like to make the food that comes from the heart of the person who thinks the worst thing that could happen in the tubes is that someone gets the gumption to actually cook her recipes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Breakfast of Champions

Coffee with a touch of sugar and half-n-half I didn't worry about smelling first because I actually went to the store yesterday.

Fluffy scrambled eggs with green onion tossed in right before I wrapped in the tortilla. Shredded cheddar.

Greatest bachelor cooking implement, the toaster oven, for 5 minutes.

Pretty tasty.

Damn You, Wendy's

I mean, I love you and all. But, really, how can one delicious double-pattied goodness be so DAMN TASTY.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Spaghetti Squash with Veg and Feta

I was stuck. Completely frozen by recipe overload.

I was staring at a half dozen cookbooks trying to figure out what to make tonight.

Then, the internet happened.

I told Chez I was cooking (she was excited...cause really, it meant grub for her!) and that I couldn't figure out what to make.

We chatted over stir fries and making sure I ate vegetables today.

Then she got crafty with the Google and came across this.

And because I had company (haw!) I needed an appetizer too.

Slice baguette, add a wedge of brie and a sliver of sun dried tomato on top. Bake at 375 for 12 minutes. Sprinkle three or four toasted pine nuts on top.

I was missing something here. I mean, the sweet sun dried tomato and the gooey brie was delicious with the crusty baked bread underneath.

Maybe some marmalade or honey?

Chez is probably right, I was just trying to recreate my baked brie with fruit preserves in bruschetta format.

I ad-libbed a bit from the recipe online to get more veg into my body and included some diced yellow squash and zucchini.

Since I'm usually anti-olive, I nixed those from the recipe. I also probably cooked the tomato more than the recipe folks had in mind.

Fah on them I say.

The feta really creamed out the dish into a velvetty texture. The squash had just a hint of chew left to it, and the basil and cooked tomatoes offered a familiar sweetness that was perfect with the salty brine flavor the feta gave.

Cake in a Mug

Go Here.

Hat tip to Miss_Sociable for pointing it out.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jamaican Meat Pie Party

So Wendy and I threw a dinner party. Started simply enough. We were out at happy hour talking about the nothing I was doing with my life and how much I enjoyed it.

We decided it was high time we reprised the Easter Supper feast from the spring and invite all sorts of buddies over for an informal night of wine, Red Stripe, and food.

It turned into a spread of:

Curried Pork Pies with Cilantro Chutney and Mango Yogurt Sauce

Dirty Rice with Black Beans and Ham

Red Cabbage/Pineapple slaw with Cilantro, Mint, and a Citrus Buttermilk Dressing

Lime Sorbet Raspberry Layer Shots

Wendy popped the swine into the crock pot with some Jamaican Curry rub, broth, and quartered onions for the day.

Then she made the curry paste with some prepared curry powder, fresh ginger and garlic, and other bits she'll have to tell you about. It was HEAVEN.

I showed up about 3:30 to start making the sauce, slaw, and rice.

Take a blender, pour in mango, milk, sugar, yogurt, and mint. Blend. Refrigerate.

Really, you could also pour it into a glass and call it a smoothie. Damn tasty stuff.

About this time I decided it was time to the Jamaican Hand Grenade of a Red Stripe. Friggin' tasty beer. Do what Dave Thomas taught me one day and throw a lemon wedge in there. Better than lime in a Corona.

Then shred the cabbage, dice the pineapple, chop some red onion, dice a Granny Smith apple, shred a few carrots, and rough chop cilantro and mint. Dressing was buttermilk, mayo, orange juice, lime juice, lime zest, and salt. Dress it about 45 minutes before dinner to get the juices flowing and soften the cabbage just a bit. The citrus keeps the apple from discoloring, so you're safe there. Fantastic crunch and sweetness.

Greco was there. You're not surprised.

You're also not surprised that I have video of karaoke happening. What will shock you is that I don't intend on posting it.

I like having friends AND keeping them.

About 35 minutes out I started the dirty rice. Dice a Spanish White Onion, saute it in some oil and add some prepared sofrito, add in the rice and stir through to develop a bit o' starch. Add in the veggie broth and the ham, bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and walk away.

When it's all done, remove the ham, dice it, and throw it back in. Add in the black beans with a bit of their liquid, and stir through a bunch of chopped scallions.

Plating was aided by some chopped flat leaf parsley.

Wendy made the dough. It was simple and delicious. And we didn't pay attention to sealing the meat pies.

So we had meaty dough clams. A dollop of prepared cilantro chutney and a spoonful or two of mango yogurt suace on top.

A spoonful of dirty rice, a pile of slaw, and a fork complete the plate.

Dessert was originally going to be lime sorbet on coconut tarlets with raspberry puree. The sorbet didn't set, so we improvised and put Greco in charge. Triple layer glassed with lime sorbet on the bottom, raspberry puree in the middle, and a splash of chilled Grey Goose floating on top. Really flippin' delicious.

And the coconut was chopped up and treated like bar peanuts instead. Sweet, chewy goodness. I think Ed and I polished most of it off.

Recipes later y'all.

UPDATE: More Photos HERE

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sweet Potato Bacon Hash

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I cooked AGAIN today. In the MORNING. Without benefit of stimulants other than caffeine.

Completely random day. I wanted to get up since I'm cooking an uber-meal for about 10 folks tonight...hint, the pork has been cooking overnight on site.

But I digress, to tasty breakfasts.

Take what's in your kitchen (in my case onions, sweet potatoes, garlic, broth, and a cream of some sort). Put them together in a pan. Put an egg on top.

Serve one plate to your neighbor who knocked on the door at JUST the right time.

Serve one to yourself.

Wonder what toasted Challah bread would have added to the mix.

Talk for just a minute about the perfect heat, creamy texture, and sweetness of the potato and for just a minute more about subbing some of the fresh cracked black pepper with some ground white pepper.

Think out loud about wanting something green (scallions would be AWESOME) to scatter on top.

Get on with the eating. Reheat your coffee cup.

Sweet Potato Bacon Hash

1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potato, cut into small cubes
6-8 small rounds of canadian bacon, diced
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup half & half
salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute onion and garlic with a small pinch of salt in olive oil until just starting to sweat.
2. Add the sweet potato and saute for three minutes.
3. Add the chicken stock and the bacon, stir through and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover for 8-10 minutes. Add more broth by the tablespoon full if the pan begins to dry out before the sweet potato is cooked.
4. Remove the cover and stir in the cream. Leave on low heat until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Serve with an egg on top (go poached if you're really feeling it).

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Even sam's can "uptown" it right

Prime rib with o-rings, garlic butter au jus, rolls, and a greek salad

Baked Mostaccioli Alfredo with Chicken and Broccoli

Take this tasty little Epicurious recipe from 1995. Read several of the comments and recognize that the addition of garlic when sauteing the veg and mushrooms of the cremini flavor were roundly accepted as required 'fixes,' invite over several friends, and make sure there's wine.

This was a fantastic little ditty for me to use as the first meal cooked in the kitchen post-election. There were chopping steps, stirring steps, multiple pots but not all on the burner at the same time, cheese, baking, and creamy goodness.

It even forced me to do a hasty little bit of cleaning so I could entertain Chez, Jer, and Ms. Krista.They all seemed to enjoy themselves.

Had to do wine in coffee mugs since I think all my wine glasses are still tied up in UGK storage.

Funny, it still tasted pretty good to all of us.

I was hoping the pasta would be a warm dish for a cooling autumn night. The cream sauce was light enough that it was more a remembrance of summer than anything else. Still damn tasty.

Chez, Krista, and I all agreed that the chicken was tasty, but this was a dish you could remove the meat from.

If I do this again, I'll keep the cremini's chopped and also add some 'meatier' chunks of portabellos to the mix.

A bit more of an earthy undertone would really be a nice addition.

And of course, I went heavier on the cheese and cream for more sauce. The breadcrumbs on top were a nice crunchy edition as well.

Because they were on top, I lowered the oven temp and baked it for about 20 minutes instead of the 3 minutes under the broiler in the recipe. Worked pretty well.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

30-Mile Roadtrips

Greco does not often have enough time to just head off on a day trip. I never have until my current blissful unemployment.

The ostensible purpose was to get to the closest Best Buy so G could potentially get himself a computer. I was technical support and general Day-Lackey for Mr. Greco.

The real purpose was to go to the closest Sonic to Charly-West. And let me tell you, G and I were excited enough that we parked the car and walked to the picnic tables at the front of the Sonic because there was no way we could fit all the food we wanted in the car.

I was also excited enough to forget there is a "Park" on my shifter. Caught myself, and the car, about 4 feet into a slow roll backwards.

Fear not intrepid reader o' mine, G was fine.

One Chili-Cheese Coney with Tots and a soda for each of us, a SuperSonic Jalapeno DOuble Cheeseburger and Butterfinger Blast for Greco, and a BBQ Cheeseburger Toaster (yes, with bacon AND onion rings on it) and Cherry CreamSlush Treat for me.

The waitress came out with the tray, looked at me as I said "Yeah, that's just for us," said "WOW," laughed and walked off.

Here you can see the joy inspired by this trip.

The joy that caused Greco to text DT every mile on the interstate to let him know we were one mile closer.

The joy that permitted us to fit all of our food into our bellies.

What, you don't believe me?

Trust me, I wanted to make sure you believed me, there's photographic evidence.

There was, sadly, one lonely tater tot which had fallen off the table unbeknownst to us. I saw it as we were leaving and realized we had LONG ago passed the five-second rule.

Although I also must admit that speed was our ally in finishing the food. Total time from food brought to us through food all in bellies could not have exceed 15 minutes.

Don't worry Mom and Dad, this is NOT what I do everyday. Or even once a week. Maybe once a month. And usually with much better ingredients and less processed schtuff.

Speaking of which, I have menu planning to do for a Saturday night dinner party. It came together in the bar last night. There's pork, jerk, and mango involved. Check back next week for the goods...

I am SO back Really?

You people seriously need to consider an intervention, because this website, combined with what I ate yesterday, is really not on that eat healthier after the campaign ticket.

Monday, November 10, 2008

East and West

My first cooking in three months. One standard I know works and one simple riff on something my mother used to make.

I added radishes and red onion to a sweet sesame cucumber salad mom used to make. Guess I should have asked Dirt if he was down with the had a pile of radish crescents and red onion straws on his salad plate.

East - Cucumber and Radish Salad with Sweet Sesame Dressing

1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and cut into thin crescents
2 cups radishs, halved and sliced into thin crescents
1 medium red onion, halved and sliced into thin ribbons
1 T dark sesame oil
1 T sugar
1 T olive oil
1 T white vinegar
1 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper

1. Place all the veg in a bowl.
2. Add the dressing ingredients and toss well.
3. Let marinade in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

West - Baked Rigatoni with Eggplant and Italian Sausage

Look at the gooey cheese. Get lost in it. Know that there is MORE underneath it mixed in with the fresh marinara and holding those rigatoni together.

My first crack at it, with a link to the recipe here.

The Mountains Were Painted in Rust

Driving up to Canaan on Friday for the post-election crash at the boss's place I was sad at first that we'd missed the peak foliage. We'd missed the last of the brilliant green clashing with the first maple to explode Christmas red. There weren't any yellows and oranges left that hadn't faded and muted.

But after the weekend, on my drive back, I realized that wasn't a problem. I was driving on top of the ridge line between South Weston and Burnsville and realized I saw the top of the world and it was painted in rust. Even through the slate grey November sky spitting a drop and a flurry here or there.

So those were the first and last thoughts about the trip I took to relax and reconnect. Last time I spent much time up there I ended up with a double-spiral fracture. Better results this time. Calmer results. Results not requiring my mother to stop at the hospital ER in Oakland, MD after a McDonald's drive thru because I was not having anymore of this leg in ice on the way back home.

Sorry, stream of consciousness is entirely possible since my writing has been so infrequent.

Here's the view from the deck at Dirt's place. Straight down the open gulley to the east ridge of the Valley. Back over to your right would be Timberline. You can see it from the resort's lodge.

Dirt and I got there about 2:30 on Friday. Dinner was set for 7:30.

So I poured generous glasses of Woodford Reserve and we watched our boss give his first press conference as President-Elect. Around two hours after that, we were officially off payroll and unemployed, but still...

I forgot to take pictures of Friday's dinner because I'm so out of practice at all this. I didn't even have my camera until I picked Dirt up at his house. Clint had taken both my cameras to use for the campaign. And he did good work with them.

Dirt cooked Friday. He made some damn tasty filets on the grill with nothing but seasoned salt. I'm usually a 'more fat is more flavor' cut of meat guy. You know this. But a perfectly cooked choice filet is never something I'll walk away from. The man steamed some asparagus and baked sweet potatoes to go along with it all. Did I mention the steaks were grilled perfectly?

Yeah, I could taste smoke, fire, and beef. That was it. Delicious.

We had a couple of Dirt's friends over for dinner on Friday. Picked apart the Presidential race, some statewide races, and the general sense of the world we all had. Red wine made for smooth conversation.

Even better was waking up Saturday morning. When, I awoke to a fresh pot of coffee...and this...Handsome man isn't he? You can see why Michelle has stuck with him for all their years.

Little ditty from the weekend as Tom's cooking bacon and making eggs to order. Breezy, Clint and I asked when Michelle was cooking breakfast. She said the first weekend they were married Dirt asked what was for breakfast. Michelle replied "My Dad always cooked weekend breakfast. So it's whatever you cook when you get into the kitchen. What are we having?"

Dirt's been cooking weekend breakfasts ever since.

Michelle also tells a wonderful story of her father, her husband, and her son in the kitchen together making pies. Apparently, there just were not gender stereotypes getting in the way of this family at all.

Still haven't had a pie, but I have Dirt's cell phone and directions to the cabin at Canaan. I'll report back soon.