Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Torte Tort

I like tortes.


A torte is multi-layer cake made with little or no flour, usually substituting ground nuts. I have a recipe for a hazelnut chocolate torte that takes about 8 hours to make and 8 minutes to eat, assuming you stare at it for 7 minutes.

An e-less torte, on the other hand, is a legal term for a civil wrong. A tort can result from an intentional injury such as smacking someone in the head with a hazelnut chocolate torte, but is more likely the result of an unintentional injury such as a person banging their head on your table after passing out from ecstasy having just eaten your hazelnut chocolate torte.

In either case, an injury suffered.

In my case, Your Honor, the Torte Tort was self-inflicted.

You see, it's like this. In my house I'm known as Dr. Devious when it comes to Scrabble. That's because I have a sneaky, crafty little mind full of rats and snakes who are always looking for nooks and crannies to crawl into. Sneaky little words that I can drop into tight places to garner both horizontal and vertical scores. Those are my speciality.

Consequently, if a double-word or triple-word box is even remotely exposed, I'll find a way to claim it.

Except for last night.

Last night I played the word "tort" for a few points, hoping to pick up some better letters. I picked up H, V and E. I already had O, L, R and I.

As the other players took their turns I scanned the board for a tricky play, but none were to be had. It was near the end of the game and there would only be another round or so; I plotted my end game, how to use up my remaining letters.

The word TORT dangled near the triple-word box. One letter off.

An S, an S! My kingdom for an S. If I had an S, I could play VISOR across, thus, claiming the triple and TORTS down. But, I had no S. NO SSSSSSSSS!


I played my backup to use the V, attaching to a hanging E to make VOLE.

There was an audible sigh of relief to my left.

"I thought you were going to play TORTE and claim the triple."

Not understanding the significance of that statement I said, "I didn't have an S."

There was a pause. Crickets chirped. In the distance a dog howled.

"S? You needed an E, like this."

My opponent laid down W I R E D to claim the horizontal triple word, and TORTE on the vertical.

"TORTE?" I said, "What's a TORTE?" And, even as the words left my mouth I realized my blunder. I was so focused on needing an S for TORTS that I completely overlooked TORTE. Adding insult to injury, salt in the wound and a fork in the eye, I had an E to play in the word HOVEL.

That was the defining move and in another round the game was over even though I unloaded all but one letter. It was not enough and Dr. Devious fell to Dr. Obvious.

In our house the Scrabble Vanquished must do the bidding of the Scrabble Conqueror. It had been a while since I had been in this position, but I accepted my fate and asked what task I was to perform.

"Hmmmmm," mused the Conqueror, "I'm thinking of a dessert for tomorrow night's dinner. Something sweet, chocolaty and rare. I know! How 'bout you whip up your famous Hazelnut Chocolate Torte? Yes, that would hit the spot."

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

From Kink, the Christmas Cat.

Kink and Sandy had a great time playing in the wrapping paper, chasing each other around, stuffing themselves with turkey and sleeping. Much like the rest of the family.

I worked on my plating technique focusing on "less is more" and saved room for seconds. Or was it thirds?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fondue IV - The Story

Now I remember why I have a fondue party once a year. It's exhausting!

Although the preparations started early in the day, the actual party didn't start until 7 pm and ran until 3:30 am the following day. That's eight hours of fonduing. We got through a lot of food, libations and had a great time.

With the house tidied up, Christmas decorations in place and the dining room laden with food and drink, the party quickly moved into the kitchen where it remained throughout the evening. That's the way it usually goes. The kitchen is the heart of our house and what better place for our friends to gather.

As a special diversion I brought down my venerable 21-year old Macintosh Plus, fired it up, and we played the old games that are still a lot of fun: Brickles, Shuffle Puck, Cairo Duck Hunt and my favorite, Daleks. Despite its age the old Mac held its own against players of Brickles defeating all opponents with it's little 1 MHz processor that is over 2000 times slower than today's machines. Lots of fun was had by all.

Later in the evening we set up a local area gaming network and engaged in a Battlefield 2142 tournament. While T-Mart and Colester battled to the bitter end, Kink was nonplussed walking through No Man's Land between the warring factions.

Josh provided entertainment on the base guitar while T-Mart streamed what I think was music over the wireless network to the stereo. All this to the constant background sound of cell phone ringtones made for an interesting, if noisy, evening.

Time flies when you're having fun but all good things come to an end, and such it was with Twelve Two Two Fondue IV. Kink slinked off to find a warm place to sleep, Sandy the Cat was already asleep on the couch, a cold front had blown in bringing a chill to the air and the last of the guests bid their fond farewells and made their way home. I surveyed the wreckage with satisfaction: bottles, plates, glasses, trays of crumbs, bits and pieces. It was all good.

It was the best fondue party ever, but we said that last year, too. That means that next years party will be even better than the Best Ever.

I can hardly wait! I'll start planning right away. Let's see, that will be Monday, December 22, 2008. OK, the date's set, I'm ready!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Fondue IV

Today is the day! Check this site for updates on the festivities as they unfold today!

Worldwide fondue! Yeah, baby!

Preparations Under Way!


Helen Commits Party Foul with Red Wine!

The Fun Continues

Cole Meets the Mac Plus

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Great Hippo Calamity

The Great Hippo Calamity

With just a few minutes remaining until 12-22 rolls across Texas I am reminded of a spectacle I witnessed many years ago at the zoo in Chester, England.

It was a warm summer’s day in Chester, about as warm as it is here in Houston only a few days before Christmas, nearly 80 degrees warm. Unlike Houston where 80 degrees is nearly considered a cool spell, in Chester it seemed downright hot.

We decided to take a day trip to see the zoo partly because of the weather, and we’re always looking for something educational (cheap) to entertain the kids for a few microseconds. The zoo met all criteria.

Once in the zoo we noticed that all the animals were on break. I guess it was the lunch hour because all the critters were either asleep in the shade or moseying to the shade to go to sleep.

Not much was happening at the zoo.

The other patrons were also pretty lethargic and we chalked it up to the unseasonably warm, although not by Houston standards, weather.

Then we rounded a bend and joined a huge throng of people gathered around a large, round pit surrounded by a tall, wrought iron fence.

What’s that, we thought? Let’s go see!

It was the hippopotamus pit, oh, and what a pit it was. The pit was about 50 feet across and 10 feet deep. There was a muddy pond in the middle inhabited by a couple of dirty, bored-looking hippos, a large trough of food, a couple of scraggly trees and about an acre of mud. I guess it was a penthouse to a hippo, but it looked pretty disgusting and smelled even worse. We joined the crowd huddled under a nearby tree for shade and we were immediately assaulted by the smell blowing downwind towards us. The stench was gaggingly strong. We were so surprised by the sudden blast of Eau d’Hippo that we nearly fainted.

Beating a hasty retreat to the sunny, upwind, side of the pit seemed the best course of action. Thus, we did and found ourselves alone in the sun but at least not having to cover our noses with handkerchiefs as were the folks opposite us.

No sooner had we taken up our observation post, the largest hippo in the pond hauled himself out, shook himself a bit which caused all the children to squeal with delight, and sauntered over to one of the scraggly trees nearest the crowd.

The crowd cheered as the hippo moved closer, they got out their cameras and snapped photos and, we thought, the hippo was enjoying all the attention.
When the hippo reached the wall directly under the great crowd, he turned around as if to return to the pond, but backed up into the wall and started to rub his rear end back and forth.

The crowd went wild.

Children squealed. Parents snapped photos and it was all glorious.

Then the hippo closed his eyes very tightly. We could see this because he was facing us but the crowd was unaware. The hippo squeeze his eyes and squeezed and squeezed and we thought we could see tears dropping out when suddenly

It. Let. Loose.

If you have a mental image of a fire hydrant that has been knocked over where a large stream of water is shooting upwards...

If you have a mental image of a waterfall, falling up...

If you can take those two images and replace the clear, white water spray with GREEN...

Then you have some idea of what we saw occur.

Looking back, we think the hippo had been eating All Day Long and was possibly plugged up, if you get my drift.

He was ready to go.

He wanted to go.


And he went. With a vengeance and lots of pressure.

The spray of liquid hippo poop propelled out of his rear end hit the wall with such force that it shot upwards about 20 feet. The crowd watching this spectacle went quiet instantly and was in awe of the green fountain shooting upwards.

However, awe soon became horror as the realization set in that What goes Up, Comes Down.

Alas, it was too late to do anything about it.

Within a second or so a great arcing sheet of green liquid hippo poo rained down upon the crowd with a thunderous splatter that was terrible to behold, much less hear. Unfortunately for the crowd the instinct was to scream which left the mouth open and during a hippo poo shower that’s probably the last thing you want to do.

The panic was short lived, though, as people fled in all directions, screaming, wiping hippo poo out of their eyes and mouths, slipping and falling; all covered in green slime. Children in strollers were either horrified and crying or gleeful and laughing at the debacle. Parents scurried for refuge.

After the screams subsided and the zoo crew showed up to hose down the walkway and tend to the distressed I turned to the family and asked the obvious question,

“Who’s ready for lunch?”

Monday, December 03, 2007

Storm’s a-comin’

Here in Houston we get storms all the time. Well, that’s not exactly true. Mostly it’s very calm here. We can get storms at any time of the year which is more accurate.

Tonight a front is rolling through. We’ve had some wind, some rain and now it’s windy again.

There’s something different about winter wind than summer wind. Maybe it’s the dry leaves on the trees or maybe it’s just the way the wind comes in gusts. It’s definitely different from spring and summer winds.

Spring winds are steady and can be fierce and they can blow all day long.

Summer winds are more gentle and somewhat surprising and definitely welcomed. Ah, nothing like sitting under a live oak tree with a summer’s breeze cooling the air.

Back to tonight, the wind is coming in large gusts. Great exhales from the northwest starting off quietly and building to a great roar that suddenly loses intensity as if to say, “Sorry! Was that too loud?” The wind sounds cold but the outside temperature is 81!

Winter wannabe.

Years ago I lived in Indiana and there the winter storms would come through with gusto and purpose. Yep, no mistaking a winter storm. You’d get sleet, snow, sleet and snow and snow with sleet. Great stuff. Lots of it.

My most memorable weather experience in Indiana was in April. Spring had sprung and we had shed our winter clothes for the more traditional graduate student garb of t-shirts, shorts and sandals. I walked to lab that day dressed appropriately for April.

By 4 PM nearly six inches of snow had fallen. I remember the long walk home, barefoot except for my sandals, trying not to step in the deep snow, but unable to avoid it. At least I can tell the story of walking someplace in the snow barefoot (nearly). I was quite cold when I arrived back at my apartment and that was one of the few times I filled the tub with hot water to ensure my survival.

That’s not going to be a problem tonight. Already the wind is dying down and tomorrow will be another warm, sunny day here in Houston. Sorry, all you guys north of the snow line, but I’ll be wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt tomorrow.

After all, it’s only December!

Friday, November 30, 2007

NaBloMoPo Celebration

It's hard to believe it's the end of November already! Where did the time fly?

Thirty blog postings in 30 days. That was the rule. Thirty days of cooking or dealing with leftovers, too.

Well, tonight we celebrate. I don't know what's on the menu, yet, but I'm heading out to the grocery store thinking I might go hog wild on wild hog. Or something like that.

Full report with pictures later this evening.

Until, then, tally-ho!

And here's the feast: grilled filet mignon with grilled vegetables and avocado, and French onion soup. Capped with a Paradise Ridge Cabernet.

Perfect end to a perfect month.

French onion soup is one of my favorites and it's so easy to make. Just saute some onions (I use 3 Spanish onions) in about 3 tablespoons of butter for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. You want to brown the onions and they will reduce to quite a mass after 20-30 minutes. Then I add a half cup of vermouth to deglaze the pot and finally top it up with 2-3 cups of chicken stock. You can also use vegetable stock with the same effect. Grind in some salt and pepper and let it cook for 30 minutes.

To finish off my soup I ladle it out into oven proof bowls, toss in a crust of toasted bread (tonight I used English muffins), top it off with some fresh mozzarella and brown in the oven under the broiler. The result should be tasty, brown cheese on top of the bread on top of the soup.

As for the rest of the meal, it was grilled outside. I let the filets sit for 10 minutes before slicing them and I could have sliced them thinner except I was about to grab them and chomp them down off the grill.

Try not to cook when you're hungry!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Coq au Vin-ish

One of the things I like about cooking is the creative process that goes into making a great meal by just following your instincts.

It's sort of like a personal Iron Chef. Every day!

Tonight we had a variety of undesignated ingredients. By that I mean we had some vegetables, potatoes, chicken parts, sausage, rice and some red wine.

Perfect for a French country sort-of hearty winter chicken dish. Winter? It's 70 degrees (21 C)! Oh, well, here's the blueprint:

1 package chicken thighs, about 6
1 onion
1 box fresh mushrooms
2 carrots
2 potatoes
2 leeks
1 turnip
1 Knorr chicken stock cube, or whatever you have
1 cup red wine
some Andouille sausage, or whatever you have

Saute the chopped onion in a little EVOO and toss in the chicken. When the chicken is browned add the rest of the vegetables, chopped, the wine, some salt and pepper and herbs that you like. A bay leaf would be OK.

Add enough water to just cover the vegetables, bring to a boil and simmer for 90 minutes. Check the liquid level every 30 minutes or so and add water if it gets too low. Thicken with a little cornstarch in water before serving.

Quick, EZ-2-Prepare and tasty. A great combination.

Hat tip to Chef Helen for this great meal.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Twelve Two Two Fondue IV

Twelve Two Two Fondue IV, a Worldwide synchronized fondue party will be held on Saturday, December 22, 2007 ( 12-22) starting at 7pm local time.

You are all invited to host your own fondue parties on Twelve Two Two and send pictures to me which will be posted. Invite your friends, family, co-workers and total strangers to feast on fondue and celebrate Twelve Two Two.

As usual, the festivities here at Twelve Two Two Central will be webcast. Look for a link shortly before the celebrated date.

Recipes for fondue and fresh bread will also be available prior to the event.

Mark your calendars today and get ready to Par-Tay!

And in other news, it is true that I couldn't wait for Santa to deliver an iPhone. But, I had to promise to wrap the box and act surprised and delighted when I open it on Christmas morning!

It's a wrap.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The iPhone Has Landed

Now, if I only had somebody to call...

Monday, November 26, 2007


Here it is. My greatest weakness: presentation.

Look at that plate! I want to dive into it like a pig into a trough. The problem is, the plate looks too much like a trough.

Presentation. How to plate food and make it look attractive.

This is me: FAIL.

What we've got here is turkey and stuffing, baked yams, brussels sprouts with chestnuts and Claire's bean casserole. Yes, it was even tastier than it looks.

But look at the looks! It's a train wreck, both terrible and wonderful to behold.

I've tried plating high, plating low, being minimal, being maximal. More often than not it looks like this: good food sort of dished out. Glop. Glop. Glop.

Since I'm not an artist, nor do I play one on TV, I'm not likely to develop a style that works on my own. I need rules. Yes, rules and lots of rules!

I want my plates to be cute as a button.

Rachael Ray, where are you?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

On the Road

“Do you know where you’re going?”


“Do you know how to get there?”


“Are you sure?”


“Well, you just missed your exit.”

“What? Where?”

“Back there. About a mile. You missed your exit ‘cause you were listening to the Beatles and you can’t get Back to the U.S.S.R. from here.”

“Why didn’t you say something a mile ago!”

“You said you knew where you were going.”

Have you ever been in this situation? Yeah, you know where you’re going but you get distracted, pulled back to Woodstock or whatever and time and distance just drifts by. Before you know it you’re past the turnoff and heading to Who Knows Where.

Yes, we’ve all done that. And, to make matters worse, you’ll never be allowed to forget that momentary lapse of attentiveness.


Years from now it will be, “Remember that time you missed the exit and we ended up in Moscow?”

Well, I’m glad to say those days are over! Yes, thanks to the good people at Garmin you can know how to get somewhere, not pay attention and STILL get there!

I just bought a Garmin Nuvi navigator and I’m here to tell you it’s a wonderful little device. About the size of a serving of meatloaf, the Nuvi comes loaded with maps of major cities, highways, restaurants, gas stations and all sorts of useful information for the traveler.

Need an IHOP? Nuvi’s got you covered!

I was a little hesitant about buying a personal navigator because, you see, I’m a map guy. I navigate by maps just like Christopher Columbus and Francis Drake. Give me a map and I’ll get there. Eventually.

Ask directions? HA! and Double HA! NEVER! Let some other weak sap ask directions but not me. I’ll consult my chart, sacrifice a sparrow to the gods and make sail for the fo’castle. Whatever that is.

And that’s the beauty of the Garmin Nuvi, you don’t have to ask for directions! You simply type in your destination, press the GO button and the Nuvi does the rest. Here’s a sample.

Nuvi says, “Proceed 2 miles and turn left.”

How cool is that?

“Proceed 2 miles and turn left” instead of “Where are you going? Aren’t you going too fast?”

The best thing about a Nuvi is that you can take a shortcut and it doesn’t get all bent out of shape. For example, suppose you turn off the indicated route to go through a neighborhood because you want to look at Christmas lights or check out a new park.

Nuvi says, “Recalculating. Proceed one mile then turn left.” Nuvi simply takes the detour in stride and calculates a new route.

Compare that to the human navigator who is likely to say, “Why’d you turn? Where are you going? This is out of our way. Do you think we own an oil company? We’ll get lost in this neighborhood and they’ll never find us.” And so on.

The electronic navigator is never wrong, always polite and is infinitely patient. Take a zillion detours and the Nuvi will announce “Recalculating” a zillion times. It never gets tired of “recalculating” and it will always get you to your destination.

But, you know, after using the electronic navigator for a few months I sort of miss the banter that only comes from a human navigator. Where’s the excitement of taking a wrong turn on purpose just to jack up the navigator if the navigator takes in stride and says, simply, “Recalculating.” There’s no sport.

So, I think the electronic navigators need some preferences that you can set to give the device a personality. I’d suggest general settings like Uncaring, Concerned and Paranoid, to give a general range.

Click Uncaring and take a detour.

“Oh, you’ve departed from the designated route. Whatever. Let me know if you drive into a river or something.”


“Ah, that was unexpected. You should be going east but now you’re going south. Unless you return to the designated route this will take us to Mexico. ¿Hablan español?”


“What are you doing? Are you nuts? You always do this to me! How am I going to find my way back? Can’t you follow simple directions? We’re all going to die!”

The ultimate, though, would be a model that you could set to a profile but override with a button. That would be cool.

“Why are we going this way? We were going east and now we’re going south. We’ll have to turn left somewhere to get back to the main road. You always do this to me! Why can’t you just stay on the road. Now we’re going to be late. How you ever got a driving license I’ll never know.”


“Recalculating. Proceed one mile then turn left.”

Yeah, that would be cool.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

al dental

Here's the blueprint:

leftover turkey
cooked spaghetti
sauted sliced mushrooms
slivered almonds

Mix and bake at 350 until golden brown. Gobble loudly.

Friday, November 23, 2007

No Cook Friday

Today was officially No Cook Friday.

And I didn't.

Here's the blueprint:

Starbucks Mocha Coffee thing in a bottle from the fridge
bowl of Special K
cold turkey
microwaved yesterday's stuffing
microwaved yesterday's yams
microwaved yesterday yesterdays and possibly the day before meatie zeetie
bottle of wine

Tomorrow, though, I'm breaking out the November Gourmet and re-open the Kitchen Arena.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey Time



Stuffed cat.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Just Pie

Chess Pie is a favorite treat in our house, probably because I don't cook it all that often. I got the recipe from an old cook book years ago and tried it a couple of times and I guess it worked out OK.

I often get requests for Chess Pie.

This Thanksgiving we're having Chess Pie and it's already in the pie pan ready to be served. Since it keeps very well we can cook it a day before.

Here's the blueprint:

3 eggs
1/2 cup Kayro Syrup
3 oz butter
tablespoon corn meal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp lemon juice
pie shell

Mix all the ingredients, pour into pie shell and cook at 350 for an hour or until set. It's best to lightly blend the ingredients rather than mixing them into a frothy foam.

Chess Pie is sometimes called Just Pie in the Southern United States. It's a simple custard pie made with ingredients on hand and is nothing fancy. It's very tasty, though, and if you haven't had it before it's worth trying. Check out Google for recipes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dog's Dinner?

Can you believe Someone referred to my new shoes as a "dog's dinner?"

Here's the blueprint:

1 looking for something new and different (thank you very much) to wear
1 sale in a shoe store
1 pr Adidas Oddities ZX 750
large dose of No Fear

According to the Free Dictionary a "dog's dinner" or "breakfast" is defined thusly:

A dog's breakfast/dinner (British & Australian, informal) something that has been done very badly. She tried to cut her hair and made a real dog's breakfast of it. You should have seen the ceiling after he'd finished painting it. It was a complete dog's breakfast.

Meaning, food or scraps only fit for our canine garbage disposal friend to eat.

However, I say that one man's dog's dinner is another man's gourmet feast. Especially if said man (moi) possesses exceptionally fine taste and No Fear.

In conclusion I present Exhibit A, The Shoes:

Mushroom Soup 2.0

The other day I bought a new computer because I needed a new computer, not wanted a new computer, right? Needed. Not like needed knee surgery but more like needed a Swedish au pair. That sort of needed.

Computer stores are very special. You walk in with that certain look in your eye and within billions of nanoseconds trained personnel help you select what you need, give you a bunch of free stuff and sell you a whole bunch of other stuff you had no idea how you lived without. They make you king of your world .

Anyway, I had the most excellent experience at the computer store, and how can one have anything but a most excellent experience at a computer store, got me to thinking about how it would be if all stores were like computer stores.

I mean, what if Kroger’s operated like a computer store.

Cue “Dream Sequence” music...

“Hello, Sir, welcome to Kroger’s. My name is Bob and I’m here to make your shopping experience efficient and memorable. How might I help you today?”

“Well, actually, I’m looking for a can of mushroom soup.”

“Mushroom soup? Excellent choice! (Bob scans the store for a Soup Specialist.) Here, let me introduce you to Hari who is one of our Soup Specialists. Hari, this gentleman is interested in our Mushroom Soup offerings and perhaps you could get him acquainted with our product line. Nice meeting you, Sir.” Bob spotted a new customer and set off to greet her.

Hari said, “If you will accompany me to Aisle 9 I can show you what we have in stock and answer any questions you have about applications for Mushroom Soup. Were you planning on just cooking the soup or making some other kind of dish with it?”

“Well, I was thinking about making a green bean casserole that would use mushroom soup, topped with fried onion bits.”

Hari noted this on his ScratchPad, and subtly signaled for Bean and Onion specialists to meet him at Aisle 9.

“Here we are, sir,” said Hari, arriving at Aisle 9, “As you can see we have a lot of Mushroom Soup in stock. Uh, were you contemplating any particular size?”

“Yes, I was thinking of getting a seven point five ounce can. The recipe called for an eight ounce can but I figured I could get by with seven point five.”

Hari looked at his feet, then at the ceiling as if invoking wisdom from the gods, then locked eyes and delivered the facts, that is the bad and good news.

“If you had come in two months ago, sir, we would have had seven point five ounce cans of Mushroom Soup in stock and plenty to spare. But, soup technology moves on and the company has upgraded the entire product line.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means, sir, that the most basic Mushroom Soup we provide today is ten point seven five ounces.”

“Whoa, baby! Ten point seven five? Really! That’s amazing. I didn’t think anybody could ever use ten point seven five. That just boggles the mind.”

About that time the Bean and Onion specialists arrived and, Hari thought, not a moment too soon.

Hari pulled a can of Mushroom Soup off the shelf and presented the problem to the new specialists.

“We have a requirement for a bean and mushroom soup casserole with fried onion topping that calls for a seven point five ounce can of mushroom soup, but our new product line starts at ten point seven five. So, what can we do to help this customer meet his business requirement?”

The Bean Specialist spoke first. “Well, Bean technology has been keeping pace with the Mushroom Soup and we now offer a nine point zero ounce can of French cut green beans that, if drained properly, would be the perfect compliment to the increased size of Mushroom Soup.”

The Onion Specialist picked up on the cue and added, “Yes, in addition our new line of Fried Onions come in eight, nine and ten ounce cans and I think the mid-range offering, nine ounce, would be perfect for this application.”

Hari mulled this over briefly and didn’t look too happy. “But what about the casserole dish? Won’t we need at least a one quart glass dish?”

A pall descended on the team. This new revelation seemed to be a sticking point. Granted, the upgraded sizes of soup and beans presented a delivery problem for the customer.

Suddenly, the Bean Specialist had an idea. “Wait a second! We just got a shipment of one quart flan dishes over on Aisle 7 and they would be perfect.”

“Are you sure,” Hari inquired.

“Certain, sir. The expansion factor with the new bean can size is negligible and the onions will cover it perfectly.”

Hari keyed his radio, “Hari to Aisle 7. We need a Flan Dish Specialist over here on Aisle 9 and bring a one quart. Over.”

Soon I was on my way back to the truck with my ingredients and a brand new one quart flan dish that I didn’t even knew I needed. Arriving at the truck I unloaded the shopping and in doing so a small piece of paper fluttered to the asphalt.

Oh, the shopping list. I had a quick check and read “mushroom soup, beans, fried onions, milk, bread.”

Dang, forgot the milk and bread. No matter, as long as I’m here I’ll just go back and get them.

Entering the store...

“Hello, Sir, my name is Bob how might I help you today.”

“No problem, Bob, I’m just picking up some milk and bread.”

Bob keyed his radio, “I need Milk and Bread Specialists to the red zone. I repeat. I need Milk and Bread Specialists to the red zone.”

Bob turned and said, “Don’t worry, sir, someone will be here to help you shortly.”

Monday, November 19, 2007

Spag Bol

This recipe has been discussed here before and, again, it's one of those things you just throw together and let cook for a while.

Here's the blueprint:

bacon, chopped
box of chopped tomatoes
can of tomato paste
Worcestershire Sauce
red wine (lots for the sauce, more for the cook)
hot sauce
spices from the garden

Basically, fry up the bacon, hamburger and onions. Toss into a large pot with the rest of the ingredients. Stir and cook for a while. Adjust the seasonings to make it hotter or saltier or whatever. Thicken with corn flour and water. Serve over spaghetti.

It's an easy favorite at our house and sometimes we add smoked sausage just for fun. This batch turned out very dark because the wine used was a Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Chicken Soup

We had these Cornish Game Hen carcasses that we picked over for a couple of meals and it seemed like a good idea to boil them up and make a stock. Turns out there was about a cup and a half of meat to be picked over so a chicken soup seemed reasonable.

Here’s the blueprint:

2 carcasses of Cornish Game Hens
1 onion
2 leeks
3 carrots
1 turnip
2 small red potatoes
2 ears corn, stripped plus one cob
1 can chopped tomatoes
fresh spinach
pepper, garlic, etc

The carcasses were cooked in water for a few hours, then picked over to remove the bones. Into the resulting stock went all the vegetables, chopped. This was brought to a boil, salted, and left to simmer for an hour or so. Then, the picked over chicken meat was added. Simmered for an hour longer.

The corn cob was tossed in to add thickening to the soup and was removed before serving.

A little fresh spinach was tossed in at the last minute and the final dish was served with fresh, warm wheat bread.

A perfect winter’s meal, except that it’s 74 degrees here.

Chicken soup. It’s good for the soul.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Les Moules

What's wrong with this picture?

They're all empty!

Friday, November 16, 2007

TV Gone Wonky

The TV's gone black and white!

What did you do to it?

I just watched it!

That explains it!

Cornish Hens

A cold wind blows in Houston. It must be at least 60 degrees or lower! Time for a fur coat.

Here's the blueprint:

2 cornish game hens
wild rice
acorn squash
bottle of chardonnay

The plan was to create a wine mushroom sauce for the hens. This was to be accomplished by reducing an entire bottle of chardonnay, mixing with mushrooms and butter and making a sauce. Somehow.

The hens were roasted in the oven at 375 for about an hour.

The wild rice was cooked according to directions, about an hour.

The acorn squash was sliced up, placed in a bread pan (because it fits in the oven next to my roasting pan) and it cooked for an hour or so.

The carrots took 10 minutes to steam.

In the bottom line I added the mushrooms and reduced wine to the pan containing the Cornish hen drippings and stirred it around. It made a nice gravy which I served over the hens and rice.

Here's the result of about 2 hours work.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tastes Like Hot Chicken

Having slept on yesterday's conversation I awoke with the immediate thought, "What's for dinner?"

Chicken! Really. Says so right there on the package. Somewhere. Oh, there it is. "Chiken"

Close enough.

Again with the tight schedules we had to do something quick and fewer dishes are quicker or easier to prepare than Chicken Enchilada Casserole.

Here's the blueprint:

corn tortillas
can of green enchilada sauce
can of green chilies

First, the chicken was boiled with a chopped onion for about 30 minutes. The chicken was strained out, cooled and shredded, while the chicken stock will be used for something this weekend.

Then, a casserole dish is coated with some enchilada sauce, corn tortillas layered on, more enchilada sauce, chicken, shredded cheese and some chilies. Add another layer of corn tortillas and repeat until you run out of chicken. Grate a healthy layer of cheese on the top and bake in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes.

Serve with lots of shredded lettuce and chopped tomato. Quick, tasty and filling. Yep, that's just what we needed for tonight.

Friday I have the day off so I'll be out shopping and thinking up something spectacular with which to end the week.

Until then, here's a shot of the remains of the day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tastes Like...

Overheard at the mall.

Food vendor: Hey, you want to try stir-fry chicken.

Young lady: No, thanks. I don't eat chicken.

Food vendor: No worry. This not chicken.

I didn't even look back.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Salmon Finale

Finally, the end of the salmon extravaganza!

Simple salmon salad made with salmon, green onions, celery, mayonnaise and seasoning. Served on a bed of lettuce and spinach leaves.

Supposedly good for you.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Irish Sorta Bread

I wrote about yesterday's meal before I ate it. Don't worry, it was great! But, I mentioned how well it would go with some crusty bread. The only problem was I didn't have any crusty or non-crusty bread. No tortillas. No pitas. Not even a cracker.

Dinner was about 40 minutes away. What to do?

Then I thought about Irish Soda Bread and looked up a recipe.

Here's the blueprint:

4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp butter
1 egg
2 cups buttermilk

Notice for a change I've included quantities. Usually for "regular" cooking I can find my way with just the ingredients and not much of a guide on quantities, but when it comes to baking that's a whole 'nother story!

Baking is an art and if you're not a baking artist (include me in that category) then it's best to go with an exact recipe and follow it as closely as possible.

Soda bread is a so-called "quick" bread because it doesn't use yeast and, thus, does not need to rise. The rising happens in the oven. Carbon dioxide bubbles are created by the reaction of baking soda and the acidic buttermilk, which is why I added the Real Lemon to ordinary milk; boost the acidity of the milk.

I didn't have any buttermilk so I simulated buttermilk by adding a couple of tablespoons of Real Lemon juice to two cups of milk. That seemed to do the trick.

Here's the basic procedure:

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until the consistency is like bread crumbs. I ended up adding an extra tablespoon of butter to get the desired consistency. Make a well in the center and mix in the egg. Then mix in the buttermilk a bit at a time stirring to combine. The resulting mixture should be a stiff dough.

Mine ended up not so stiff and I probably should have added more flour. I'll try that next time.

Knead the mixture briefly but not as much as you would do a yeast dough, but more than you'd do for muffin batter. I ended up with a somewhat sticky mess that I covered with flour so it wouldn't stick to my hands.

Transfer the dough to a greased cast iron skillet or baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes at 425.

My bread took about 45 minutes to cook through and even so it was a little moist in the middle. I probably should have added more baking powder or kneaded the mixture more.

In any case, the bread turned out OK and it was certainly crusty enough. Better yet, it was quick and provided the crustiness I needed.

Other recipes for Irish Soda bread call for raisins or caraway seeds, but for my needs a plain bread was perfect.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Twelve Tattoo Fondue

Tattoos intrigue me but I’m not planning on getting one any time soon, although I’ve often wondered how many tattoos are actually planned.

I can visualize myself waking up with a tattoo after a hard night out during which it seemed an eminently grand idea to get a tattoo, in fact, how could such a grand night not end by getting a tattoo.

Now, when I was a kid only men had tattoos and they were invariably ex-Navy men. Anchors, skulls, knives, slogans like “Victory or Death!” were common. Almost always in blue with a little red, these tattoos looked like they had been through the hot rinse cycle a few times too many. Most were faded and splodgy looking. Sometimes the tattoo looked like a bruise in the shape of a heart or whatever.

I don’t remember when I saw my first woman with a tattoo, outside of the circus, of course, but my eyes must have bugged out. Tattoos for women became popular in the 80’s and all the hot singers had a dainty ankle tattoo of a rose or a bear or for the more edgy singers, a strand of barbed wire. Cher was famous for her tattoos. These tattoos were small, discrete and easily hidden by hiking boots and thick socks.

Time marches on, though, and so have women’s tattoos. Today it’s not uncommon to see elaborate filigrees on a lower back, or Chinese letters on the back of a neck.

But, nothing prepared me for what I saw today at the grocery store. The grocery store! Not some heavy metal rock concert with people waving their iPhones in the air. No, a grocery store where one goes to be with the vegetables and contemplate less filling with tastes great.

A young mother with her two young kids in tow was checking out a few lines down from me and from that distance I could tell she was wearing a sleeveless denim vest. But, it was her arms that caught my attention. They were COVERED with tattoos from shoulder to wrist. Tattoo upon tattoo upon tattoo to the extent you couldn’t tell where one ended and the next one started. Her arms were a mass of red and blue and green, and from the distance I couldn’t tell if it was skulls, hearts, knives, snakes or whatever.

All I knew instinctively was “Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!”

I was shocked, I say, shocked! I mean, how could you walk around in public like that? Call me fuddy-duddy, but it took me quite a while to get over the heart-on-the-ankle, but this ... this!

It was like a horror show in real life. I couldn’t take my eyes away. As I pushed my cart to the door past where this unfortunate woman was standing I could only think


As I drew closer I prepared to scuttle past her and try not to look, even though it was like a human train wreck, terrible and fascinating at the same time.

At which point I made a startling discovery. She didn’t have any tattoos at all! No, shock upon shock, she was wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt that was printed with a denim vest along the body, and tattoo images down the flesh-colored sleeves.

I stopped to have a good old stare.

It was a shirt, not tattoos. The whole thing was an optical illusion, a fake, a deception.

As my mind shifted gears, my first thought was, “How cool is this! That is such a cool shirt!” None of the pain and all of the gain.

I gotta get me one of those. Santa! Tattoo shirt, please and make it an XL!

Lamb Hot Pot

Due to various activities going on today and this evening we needed a meal that could be cooked over a period of time and served when needed, but was not time-critical.

Lamb Hot Pot was the answer.

Here's the blueprint:

lamb (chops, neck, shank - whatever is available)
Worcestershire sauce
bay leaf

Hot Pot is the ultimate simple dish. Brown the meat in a large casserole dish, add the chopped vegetables, water to cover and cook slowly for as long as you like.

That's it.

There are variations of Hot Pot, but the basics include lamb, potato and onions. Lancashire Hot Pot contains just these ingredients. Irish Stew adds parsley.

There are many variations of Hot Pot that include carrot, leeks, turnip, parsnips, thyme and Worcestershire Sauce, however, the basic recipe seems to call for lamb and vegetables cooked slowly as a stew.

The quantity of meat is not important as the dish was created to use up scraps of lamb like neck and shank. Lamb imparts a wonderful flavor to this simple dish, and the flavor improves considerably between 1 and 2 hours of cooking.

Because Hot Pot can be "stretched out" by adding water it has been a staple of poor students for centuries. Hot Pot, crusty bread and cheap wine have inspired great discussions into the meaning of life on many a cold winter's evening at campuses around England.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Salmon Two Two

Yesterday, in order to cover my bases in case the Salmon Cider/Cream recipe didn't work out, I bought a LARGE piece of salmon. I nearly needed a second shopping cart to haul it out of the store.

"Feeding an army," Kathy the Fish Lady asked?

"Nope, just me."

"Hope you have a cat," Kathy offered as a parting shot.

If she only knew!

As we all know the Salmon Cider/Cream recipe was a great success, but I baked the other half of salmon figuring I could use it to make salmon croquets or salmon salad sandwiches or something like that.

Tonight, Chef Helen entered the kitchen arena and invented a version of Shepherd's Pie using salmon and cheese instead of ground beef and vegetables.

Here's the blueprint:

cooked salmon
sharp cheddar cheese
corn starch

The recipe outline is to make a cheese sauce, mix it with the salmon, cover it with mashed potatoes and cheese and bake until heated through.

First, get the potatoes boiling. You'll want them cooked soft enough to mash.

The cheese sauce is made by taking a cup of milk or so, mixing in a tablespoon or less of corn starch, and stirring like mad over a medium heat until the mixture thickens. If you don't stir constantly the sauce will clump up which is not good. Once thickened, remove the sauce from the heat and add a couple of handfuls of grated cheese. Stir so the cheese melts.

Flake the salmon in a bowl, add the cheese sauce and mix.

Once the potatoes are cooked, mash them in the pot with a little butter and milk. You can also add grated cheese at this point if you'd like cheesy mashed potatoes.

Spoon the salmon mixture into small baking dishes if you're making individual servings, or into a large one if not. Cover with mashed potatoes and grate some cheese on top.

Pop into the oven at 350 and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is crusty brown.

WARNING: Like Shepherd's Pie this dish will remain incredibly hot on the inside for an incredibly long time and you will, like, so incredibly burn your mouth if you're not careful that you will shout incredibly sailor-ish words.

The vegetables tonight consist of a saute of zucchini, onion, grape tomatoes and nopalitos (prickly pear cactus) because we had some in the fridge and they add a tangy, zesty taste.

Thus ends Day 10 of National Blog Posting Month. Where does the time go!

Fish Pie

(Blogger image uploads isn't working at the moment. I'll have to post a picture later.)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Cider Time

It's late autumn and fresh apple cider is on the shelves.

I love fresh apple cider. It's refreshing, tangy and good for you. So I'm told.

It turns out that you use fresh apple cider in a number of "glazed" dishes, that is, using the cider to add a little sweet, tangy touch to your favorite recipe.

Here's one with salmon.

Season a couple of cups of boiling cider with onion and pepper. Add some salmon filets and cook for about ten minutes.

Remove the fish and reduce the liquid to a quarter of a cup or so. Add some butter and cream. Boil to thicken and spoon over the cooked fish.

As our Cute as a Button Pal would say, Yum-O!

Check this out.

The potatoes were done by slicing them, seasoning and spraying with Olive Oil Pam and baking for 10 minutes a side. The acorn squash was baked with butter for about 40 minutes at the same temp as the potatoes, 350.

The spinach was prepared by frying a chopped onion in butter, adding the spinach, cooking for a bit, adding some water, and a few ounces of diced Mexican farm cheese. Any mild cheese will do and if you make your own Indian cheese, that's ideal.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Curry Up

Tonight's dinner was a bit rushed because I had to be on the road by 7 PM. To make matters worse, rather, challenging, I didn't have a plan.

A quick look through the fridge and pantry uncovered enough for a decent dinner: chicken curry and lentils.

Here's the blueprint:

chicken tenders
plain yogurt
curry powder
chicken stock

dried lentils
mango chutney
coconut milk
curry powder

In the picture you'll see a box of chopped tomatoes which at the time I took the picture I planned to use, but later decided against.

To prepare the chicken I tossed the tenders with a small tub of plain yogurt, about 6 oz, with some curry powder and put it in the fridge to marinate.

While the chicken was getting zesty in the fridge I covered a cup of lentils with about two fingers of water and got it boiling. Turning down the heat I simmered the lentils for 5-6 minutes then added a tablespoon of chutney and the coconut milk. I turned down the heat to the lowest setting and let it cook while I got the chicken going.

I cooked the onions and carrots together over a high heat in some peanut oil then dumped in the chicken/yogurt mixture. After stirring this messy looking mixture for a few minutes, I transferred it to a casserole dish, added enough chicken stock to nearly cover the chicken and popped it into the oven, set to 350.

That's basically it. Aside from checking on the lentils from time to time to make sure they weren't sticking to the bottom of the pot or scorching, there wasn't anything to do for about an hour, although I turned off the lentils after about 30 minutes and just let them sit and soak up all that coconuttyness and mango mojo.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Strog is one of my favorites and one of the first thing I learned to cook. I'm sure I deviate from the "proper" recipe but I do that a lot, anyway.

Here's the blueprint:

good cut of beef, top sirloin, roast, ribeye steak, whatever you got
onions or shallots
beef stock cube (I use Knorr)
tomato paste

I sauté the sliced onions or shallots in butter until soft. Then I add the beef which has been sliced into strips. After the beef has cooked for a while I add the mushrooms, stock cube, some water and red wine and let it simmer for a while, maybe 40 minutes or so. Then I add some tomato paste, stir and add more water if it looks too thick and let it go for another 20-30 minutes, checking occasionally that it's not drying out or sticking.

That's it.

I serve the Strog over rice with a dollop of sour cream, but it's fine without.

You have a lot of flexibility with the Strog sauce, that is, the water and wine and tomato paste. If it's too thick add some water. If you add too much water you can either cook it down or add some corn starch (mixed with a little water) to thicken it. It's a very flexible recipe and can be stretched to feed a crew.

I have read that a really proper Beef Stroganoff calls for a very good cut of beef cut against the grain into thin slices, and the entire cooking process is very quick. Basically, searing the meat and onions, then creating a sauce with tomato paste, water, wine or brandy very quickly and reducing it to a sauce. I once tried to cook Strog like this using filet mignon, shallots and brandy and although the result was very good, the cooking was quite frantic and the dish was not that memorable from the more pedestrian version I've described.

When it comes to flavor, color, texture and taste, flavor and yummyness I don't think you can beat Beef Strog. I'd go have a second helping right now, except I know it's all gone. All that remains is the memory.

p.s. The candle is on the dish because the kitchen light burnt out and I didn't fix it because I was working with the garage door people to fix the broken garage door spring. Priorities, people, priorities!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Mousey, Mousey

Kink the Cat has an endearing habit of bringing a toy, usually one of several stuffed mice, to the bedroom in the morning and having a little pre-dawn play. Kink rattles around the room tossing the toy and by the time we notice him, the alarm is shrieking and day has begun. Kink will continue to play while we shower, get the coffee started and prepare for the day.

Often, (OK, always!) I’m the last one up and Kink will hop on the bed and try to get me to play Toss the Mouse, a game that entails me tossing his toy across the room, causing him to dash off the bed, retrieve the mouse and return for another go. He can do this about a dozen times before I get tired of the game.

This morning the ritual started just before the alarm.

Bound, bound, bound. Leap, leap, leap. Toss, toss, toss. Accompanied by the little meow-purrs that Kink makes when he’s playing.

Meow-purr-bound. Meow-purr-leap. Meow-purr-toss.

Nice kitty, Kink, me tired. Go away.

Kink was insistent, digging into my bare back with his claws and pouncing around the bed chasing his imaginary prey. Then, as I rose to a minimal level of consciousness I felt something distinctly un-Kink like scrabble across my back.

I opened one eye. There on the floor in front of me was Kink, tail twitching, ears forward, looking alert.

There on my back behind me was the scrabbling.

Urrrrrough? No scrabbling on my back should there be. I propped myself on one elbow and looked behind me and there on the bed looking pretty pathetic and not scrabbling all that much was a good sized mouse.

Now, I’ve been to Disneyland several times. And never, not once, in all the times I’ve been to Disneyland have I seen a kid turn around, see Mickey Mouse and exclaim, “Holy shit!”

Just never happened.

However, I don’t live in Disneyland and Mickey Mouse doesn’t visit me all that often and that’s exactly what I said as I leapt out of bed, switching into Mouse Out of the House Mode!

I grabbed a wastepaper basket and a sock and scooped up the nearly comatose mouse , but missed the basket and he fell to the floor, crawling between the bed and the nightstand.

“Get the mousie!” I urged Kink, who surprisingly obliged and neatly hooked the critter and pulled him back.

That was enough for me to re-scoop mousie into the basket, scuttle to the back door and heave-ho my uninvited guest into the back yard. I figured he could fend for himself out there and just as I closed the back door the lawn sprinklers came on as if to add insult to injury.

(Yes, lawn sprinklers. In November. Houston, people, Houston!)

By this time my heart was racing, adrenaline pumping, coffee was brewing and I was awake. Might as well shower and get on with the day.

Calming down in the shower I had a chuckle at the image of old Kink dragging in a half-dead mouse and playing with it in my bed.

Ah, Kink, you are such a lovable skamp!

Toweling off and walking back to the bedroom there was Kink sitting on the bed all perky-looking and ready for some play.

At his feet, on my pillow was a large, even more near-death, wet mouse.

Kink gave me his Aren’t-I-Clever look and I was too not-awake to care. I picked up the mouse by the tail and headed to the kitchen. Kink bounded ahead of me, into the garage, out the cat door and waited in the back yard for another “go” at the mouse. By this time, though, mousey had passed to that Great Swiss Cheese in the sky and I unceremoniously disposed of him in a plastic bag placed in the dumpster in the street.

I looked at the clock. 7 AM. The day was young. I could see Kink out back prowling along the hedge swatting at grasshoppers. In the distance a young squirrel was making his way towards our oak tree to harvest some acorns. Kink spied him and crouched low.

I closed the garage door, then the curtains and poured myself a cup of coffee.

A few minutes later I thought I heard a high pitched squeak, but figured it was just the wind.

Yeah, just the wind.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Maque Choux Two Two

First, let me proclaim Happy Guy Fawkes Day to all my English friends. Both of them.

You can read about Guy then ask the burning question. What does this posting have to do with Guy Fawkes?

The answer is: Absolutely Nothing.

It just happens to be November 5th, which you now know has significance if you read the history lesson above.

Today's meal is a reincarnation of yesterday's Rib Feast with a tasty addition, Maque Choux, a cajun recipe provided to me by NOLA Cuisine. It's easy to make and tasty to boot, a great combination.

Here's the blueprint:

4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup Tasso, finely diced
3 Ears of Corn
1/2 cup Onion, finely diced
1/4 cup Celery, finely diced
1/2 cup Green Pepper, finely diced
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme leaves
1/8 cup Garlic, minced
1 Cup Tomato, diced
1/2 Cup Green Onions, finely sliced
Kosher salt, black pepper and Cayenne to taste

Basically, you saute the sausage or bacon, add the ingredients up to the celery, cook for a while, then add the remaining ingredients, cook for a while longer and dinner is served.


Where is Rachael Ray to say "Yum" about a million times?

Here's the cooking

And here's the presentation

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Rib Rub

Spices rubbed into meat, left to do its thing for a while, then cooked.

I have learned that the success to a dry rub is brown sugar. I used to just rub the spices into the meat and hope for the best. Now I mix the spices at least half-and-half with brown sugar and let the magic happen.

Here's a mixture of the following stuff:

garlic powder
onion powder
chili powder
chili flakes

Mix a tablespoon of this with a tablespoon of brown sugar and you've got Rub Magic.

Spread it on neat and you've got Salty Nastiness.

Here's what it looks like after an hour or so of resting in the fridge:

Of course, if you don't want to risk making your own rub, check out the professionals like my friend Shane of Payne County.

Here's his stuff which he recommends cutting with brown sugar. Like the Stones said, brown sugar.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Veggie Stoup Redoux

Just keep adding water and eventually it will go away. That was the idea anyway.

The veggie stoup finally met its end tonight as the base for a leftover extravaganza.

Here’s the blueprint:

leftover rice base
leftover vegetable soup
leftover lamb meatballs with pine nuts and cilantro
leftover lamb meatballs sauce of yogurt, lemon and cumin
last two flour tortillas, toasted

I heated up the rice and meatballs separately and combined the ingredients right in the bowl.

Everyday is an invention around here, whether using original or pre-cooked ingredients.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Vegetable Stoup

I planned to make some kind of chicken soup. I was thinking of making dumplings or noodles to go with it. In the end it turned out completely different.

Not quite a vegetable stew.

Not quit a vegetable soup.

I called it Vegetable Stoup.

Here’s the blueprint.

can of chopped tomatoes
ear of corn
can of red kidney beans

Most of the ingredients I had in the fridge and I bought the tomatillos for another dinner but decided to toss them in to give the dish a tangy taste.

In a large pot (I use a cast iron Dutch oven) sauté the onions in Rachael Ray Extra Virgin Olive Oil to make them cute-as-a-button. Chop and toss in the rest of the ingredients, add some water and seasoning. I used salt, pepper, garlic powder and a good shake of Tabasco sauce.

Simmer for 1-2 hours, checking the liquid level and topping up with water as necessary. Layer in more seasoning to your taste.

I served this with warm tortillas since I seem to have an abundance of tortillas at the moment, but a good, crusty bread would be excellent also.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Chicken Curry Salad

It’s November!

And that means NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month.

This year I’m going to attempt to write about food I prepare every day this month. It’s a crazy challenge.

On the menu today was everybody’s favorite: leftovers.

Mmmmmmm, leftovers.

Let’s see what we had in the fridge:

some roasted chicken
a celery rib
an orange bell pepper
curry powder
pistachio nut kernals
a flour tortilla

Add chives from the garden and we have lunch. I chopped all the ingredients and mixed them in a small bowl with curry powder to coat. Then I added about ‘this’ much mayo, mixed again and served it on the tortilla which I toasted lightly.

Here’s the result:

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mr. Observant Man

Mr. Observant Man needed corn starch. Argo corn starch. It comes in a bright yellow box and is located on the top shelf, mid-way on the north side of the baking aisle.

Mr. Observant Man could find Argo corn starch blindfolded. It’s that easy. Six giant steps, reach left and stretch and corn starch is at hand and in hand. Done.

Mr. Observant Man should have been blindfolded because with his eyes wide open he couldn’t find the Argo corn starch to save his hide.

Bright yellow box. Top shelf. Mid-way. North side of baking aisle.

Mr. Observant Man stared and he stared. He stared until his eyeballs dried out and shrank two sizes. No yellow boxes in sight. No corn starch! Argo, where for art thou?

Then, suddenly, without warning a bright PINK Argo corn starch box leapt out at Mr. Observant Man and conked him on the head.

“Wow,” said Mr. Observant Man, “a flying Argo corn starch box. And, hey, it’s PINK .”

Whaaaa? PINK ?

The conk on the head threw Mr. Observant Man into full Observant Mode and as he gazed around the store all sorts of PINK things grabbed his attention. Soup, candy, cereal, breath mints and products of all shapes and sizes screamed at him in PINK .

What did it mean?

Mr. Observant Man purchased several PINK products and made his way home to study them. He Googled Susan G. Komen and discovered this.

Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever.
In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen for the Cure and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen for the Cure is the world's largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure, we have invested nearly $1 billion to fulfill our promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.

Corporations who support Susan G. Komen for the Cure pledge large sums of money and show their support for finding a cure for breast cancer by displaying their products in PINK .

Mr. Observant Man learned a valuable lesson and pledged to do his best to help. After the conk on the head he became

Mr. Observant Man .

Sunday, October 28, 2007



So far, so good.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Introducing "The Hulk"

Leopard arrives Friday and with it Time Machine. Finally, Zero Touch backup for the entire house.

Right there on The Hulk. All backup, all the time.

I need a bumper sticker: Ask Me About My Terabyte

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Said and Done

"Hey, did you run some laundry?"

It was an innocent question full of promise.

It could have meant, "Hey, you ran some laundry and folded it and put it away! That was nice!"

Or, "Hey, thanks for running the laundry! You're so thoughtful."

Or, "Hey, I didn't expect you to run some laundry! What a nice surprise."

In fact, simple questions often require long, drawn-out answers and I'm always looking for a way to cut to the chase and move on.

So, when the kids asked, "Where does air come from?"

I would answer, "Ask Mom. She knows."

Ninety percent of all questions can be answered with those four words. Here, though, I was stuck. Yes, I had run some laundry but it was only my camping gear smelling of bug spray, sunscreen, smoke and whatever chemicals my feet produce. I'm sure they have scientific names, but they are collectively known as Ewww-What's-That-Smell.

To the question, "Hey, did you run some laundry?" I should have answered, "Yes, I did. I sorted all the laundry and I have two more loads to run, but I did my camping stuff first to protect your delicate nose."

That's what I should have said; wordy, but correct.

What I actually said was this:

"Yeah, I ran my stuff."

As soon as I heard my words with my own ears, my brain all the while screaming, "Noooooooooooo!" I knew I was doomed.

A deafening silence followed. There were footsteps in the distance and the sound of a door closing. With emphasis. The conversation, such as it was, was over.

Mouth said, "Sorry, Brain, I guess I let you down. Again. What do we do now?"

After a short pause Brain said, "We die."

I sloped off to the laundry room and got the dark wash going. Might as well finish it up, I told Brain, it's going to be a long night.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

George's Grill

This is a real American hamburger made in a real American diner, the kind of place that has been around forever and, hopefully, forever more. It's the kind of place your parents went to when they were young. The kind of place you went to. And the kind of place you're kids will go to. Good food, atmosphere, reasonable prices and a guy named George behind the counter.

George has been working this joint for 47 years and by now he knows the ropes. All of them.

The ropes include "plate" lunches, served on a real plate and set on the menu from Monday through Friday.

Monday is meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans.

Tuesday is spaghetti with garlic bread and a green salad.

Wednesday is fried chicken with cut corn and apple pie.

Thursday is roast beef with gravy, baked potato and salad.

Friday is pork chops with apple sauce and cole slaw.

I chose a cheeseburger with the works: lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion. With a side of fries. Fresh, not frozen. And iced tea, shaken not stirred.

George busied himself around the kitchen making sure everything was being served to his standard, and he worked the cash register.

After our lunch the waitress asked us if we had saved room for dessert. By a strange stroke of fate we had, and ice box pie was made to order to fill that room.

Ice box pie. Made in George's kitchen daily. Never a slice remaining at the end of the day, according to George. An ice box pie consists of a flakey crust filled with a pudding or fruit filling and topped with meringue. So good. I was half-way into it before I remembered to take a picture!

And, here's George, the owner, cook and chief bottle washer.

George said, "Haven't I seen you before? You've been here before."

"It's been a while, George, like 43 years. I was probably a bit skinnier."

"Yeah," George said, "I remember. Your hair wasn't so grey."

And he was absolutely right.

George's Grill
175 E. Kings Highway
Shreveport, Louisiana