Month: February 2011

Simple Dinner Sunday – Shepherd’s Pie

There’s just something about slow cooked stews…and mashed potatoes. Rich, heady flavors all commingling under cover in the pot… getting to know each other… getting all cozy… trading secrets… At least that’s how I like to think of it. It’s the regular covert operations of food. Digging around in the freezer this morning I came across a forgotten package of Lamb Merguez sausages from Marx Foods. Actually, they weren’t forgotten… they were buried. While I adore lamb, and nothing beats a good sausage… I couldn’t get the idea out of my head of those cheap hot dogs they used to sell when I was a kid that were 50% mutton . It was like eating a wet sheep…. in a bun. So I wedged them at the bottom of the freezer basket hoping they would evaporate… funny, they didn’t. I decided to use them in this week’s Simple Dinner Sunday – Shepherd’s Pie. First and foremost, this can’t exactly be called a true shepherd’s pie. Traditional pies are made from fresh lamb, not sausage, and …

Sleepless in Sweet Rolls

It was a sleepless night. I’m obviously still battling the remnants of whatever lung crud I got into 3 weeks ago. Along with the recent rash of rejection emails, it has destroyed my regular sleep cycle, making me irritable, cranky and down right mean. I’ve taken to lobbing insults at wrong numbers, stopping in at the gas station down the street to daily complain about his prices (seriously, he’s 10 cents higher than anyone else), and chasing down the wood rabbits with the car on the way home (I’ll get one….eventually). So when my night’s sleep ended 45 minutes after it began, I was fit to be tied. I keep a list in the kitchen of new recipes to try, gluten-free work-a rounds for some friends, and prepackaged foods to make from scratch. Since sweet slumber wasn’t happening, I figured I could at least be productive… besides, the frequency of wrong numbers after 1 am is nearly non-existent. So I thought I could scratch one off the list. When we were kids, Pillsbury made an …

And in this Corner… Rubbed Pork Rib Eye

Round 2 of the Marx Foods Ridiculously Delicious Challenge As excited as I was to make it past the preliminary “easy” round of the Marx Foods challenge, I have to say getting ready for Round 2 was proving a little “hinky”. The instructions were to – Pick 2 of the provided pantry ingredients and create an original dish.. First, the list of provided ingredients: Tepin Chilies Szechwan Peppers Coconut Sugar Grains of Paradise Dill Pollen Dried Sour Cherries Juniper Berries Iranian Saffron … Wow.. 3 hot, 1 sour, 1 sweet, and 3 aromatics. The Juniper Berries immediately caught my eye. I had been wanting to use them in a rub, but I had never gotten around to picking some up. Looking over the list, I settled on pairing them with the Grains of Paradise, a mildly hot, deep flavored pepper very similar to a spicy black peppercorn. I settled on a juniper based rub on a pork rib eye loin. I also wanted to extend the flavor to the potato cakes, so I’ve added juniper …

Good Intentions

The Road to Hell is paved with Oranges…. I always mean well. Doing my shopping, I make the usual rounds through the produce section… Cabbage… check! Romaine.. Check! Fruit …. “Yeah –  I really need to start eating more fruit… I can eat a bag of oranges in a week…” Oranges… Check, check, checky,…. Check! In itself, I probably could eat a bag of sweet, juicy, peel-able oranges.. but they never look quite as good sitting in the fruit bowl as they did under the produce enhancing lights in the market….. so I don’t eat them… well, not right away… well…  not at all. Then the next week rolls around, and I’m back at the produce counter grabbing another bag of oranges. Because (you know) I let the other ones dry up and turn to wrinkle town. So now there’s TWO bags of oranges not getting eaten in the fruit bowl, and if I don’t do something quick, shortly they’re going to have some less wrinkly relatives joining them come the next Monday. I ended …

100 (Shouldn’t there be fireworks…. or something?)

Yes, one hundred posts. Regardless of what some people think, for me it’s a milestone. In the past, writing  has always been a suffocating effort… the unfinished novels, the labored articles, even professional correspondences have left me drained and gasping. My inner dialogue, eloquent as it may be, never really seemed to make the successful transformation to ink. But this project has been different. I’ve surprised myself that I had the steam to come this far. And, the more I write, the more I find within myself to share…. I’m looking forward to the next 100. I’ve been stalling a while to complete this post. You see… There’s a very tall horse and a large box of laundry detergent just outside the door…  And they’ve been there the better part of a month – waiting for me to get my head around a couple of things. I want to talk about HFCS & Crystalline Fructose and the propaganda storm that’s brewing on both sides of the line. I want to talk about the food we …

A Winter Surprise

I was thumbing through an old copy of the Farmers & Consumers Market Bulletin the other day, looking for heirloom seeds, root stock, or anything exciting to put in this year’s Straw Bale Garden, when I stumbled on a recipe for Okra Patties. You know how I feel about okra. And, with this past winter being such a bugger (12″ of snow!  in Georgia!!), I was seriously jonzin’ for a little summer. I had some frozen okra put up from the summer, so I thought “What the heck.” The recipe looked simple enough, and I was looking for something to serve with the meatloaf sandwiches I had already decided to make for dinner. It’s not often that I gush about a low end recipe. But, the corn meal as it mixes with the liquid from the okra (you’ll notice I played down the word slime….) creates such a wonderful crispy texture. These are by far the best fritter-type things I’ve ever made. I just had to share. Okra Patties From Best of Georgia Farms Serves …

All That Lemony Goodness – 五 (that’s 5)

(If you’re keeping count) I have a sweet-ish tooth. And, when I’m stressed – I want something sweet. Not the eat a bag of Ghirardelli Chocolates in one sitting kind of thing, but something to take the edge off. Being on the job hunt this past entire year… I’ve been stressed…. a lot. In order to keep costs down, and to attempt to try and make my cravings a little less just empty calories, I’ve started baking muffins every week. I’ll bake a dozen on Monday and they will usually see us through the week for snacks, dessert, a late breakfast…. and those cravings. Since I had a few lemons left over from last week’s Shaker Lemon Pie (no, I didn’t eat the whole thing….. I sent it home with my brother) I decided to try my hand at a lemon ~ poppy seed muffin. Lemon ~ Poppy Seed Muffin Makes 12 Ingredients 1/2 Cup Butter Substitute 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Shortening (I use the additional shortening mainly because the butter substitutes are mostly water) 1 …

The Marx Foods’ Ridiculously Delicious Challenge

  So… I’ve been selected to compete in the Marx Foods Ridiculously Delicious Challenge. (You can clap… It’s kind of a big deal for me). It’s a 4-stage – “winner gets all the good stuff” kind of event – and it’s going to be tricky. If (or when) I win, the “good stuff” will be what I pick for this round. So let’s get at it… ROUND 1 Challengers, pick three items from the below list and answer this question: What ridiculously delicious thing would you do with them if you won? Kobe Beef Sliders OR Kobe Beef Burgers Whole Quail OR Semi-Boneless Quail Wild Boar St. Louis Spare Ribs Pink Salmon Fillets Kangaroo Burgers OR Ground Kangaroo Meat Wild Mushroom Sampler (contents may change) Live Oyster Sampler Ultimate Chile Head Sampler 10lb Specialty Burger Sampler Mega Pantry Sampler Pekin Duck Breasts Fresh Blood Oranges 5lbs Frozen Wild Huckleberries 20lb Heirloom Potato Sampler 1lb Fresh Daruma Wasabi Specialty Sausage Sampler 14lb Dried Bean Sampler 1lb Bourbon Vanilla Beans Superior Spanish Saffron Threads 2 Live Geoducks …

Simple Dinner Sunday – Chicken & Dumplings

Oh, I know… It’s Super Bowl Sunday. I suppose I should have been a good food guy spending the week assembling piles of game day noshes and snack foods, lining up the craft beers, loading the coolers, getting the large flat screen out of storage and relishing in the general excitement and glory of the biggest American Sports extravaganza…. eh…    I’m not that kind of guy. I hate football. I was raised believing that organized sports (baseball, basketball and yes… football) belonged in the same category as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. They simply didn’t exist. I never really got into the sports fan mindset. Oh, I was in the marching band, and I attended every football game while I was in high school, but that was only because it was the only place where you could wear funny outfits, play music and make a spectacle of yourself and not be tarred and feathered for oddness. I’ll be spending the day doing a little landscaping, scouting out a couple of fishing spots for …

All That Lemony Goodness – “Number 4”

One of the last big vacations we took as a family hurtled us up the eastern edge of the Southern States. We spent some time in Charleston, soaking up the southern coastal vibe. We then headed to North Carolina, spending some time in the Outer Banks at Kittykawk and being petrified in the car – island jumping on huge, ancient arched bridges.  (My brother and I would cling to the floorboards in terror as the car arched higher and higher, praying that the wind gusts wouldn’t blow us off into the sea.) As a side note – The bridges were replaced some years later with sensible, well constructed structures. We ended the trip in Kentucky, at the Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill. If you’ve never been, it’s worth the trip. Pleasant Hill is a restored Shaker Village, painstakingly preserved to capture a slice of Shaker life in the early 1800’s. Simple living and a stoic lifestyle are dutifully depicted in the architecture, craftsmanship and in their food. We had the opportunity to dine at the …