I'm just an ordinary guy trying to feed his family & I love food! Cooking it, shopping for it, learning about it & of course, eating it! And I love watching my family enjoy what I make for them. I am definitely NOT a chef, though someday, maybe someday, I'll try culinary school & learn to do things the "right way". In the mean time, I'll keep doing what I do, trying new things, learning product, technique & trying to share it with you.
We've been using the same old colander for over 20 years - a cheap (yet obviously sturdy) buck ninety-nine Odd Lots plastic colander. Now, if yuou've read some of my older posts, you know I have nothing against using durable old kitchen equipment. As a matter of fact, I prefer it. So when a 50+ year old Ecko Flint Stainless colander came up on my saved search for Ecko stuff on Ebay, I was pretty jazzed. I immediately put it on my watch list and bid on it onthe final day of the auction. I probably paid more for it than I should have, and shipping was, wel, shipping always seems high to me, but the seller sent it out immediately, it was exactly as described and packed very well. Into the dishwater and then right to work it went, draining that night's pasta for dinner.
Another addition to my working Ecko collection. Yippe for me!
What to make tonight...Same old question, made harder by long stretches between grocery store excursions due to colds and bronchitis...I got lucky, though, a couple of weeks ago as we were "recovering". We all felt somewhat better and were hungry for dinner. What do we have? Nothing obvious... Lets dig around in the freezer... Hey, look Tilapia! Ok, that could be good if I had some way of making it, um, interesting. Tilapia *can* be a little bland. So I went rooting around for something, anything to do with the fish & I found this recipe on Recipezaar. I've had a can of crabmeat in the cupboard for a couple of months just itching to be used. The perfect opportunity, I thought.
I was right.
The recipezaar version calls it "Crabmeat Stuffed Tilapia". Well, not really. I couldn't see anyway to roll the little fillets around the crab mixture, as the original recipe on http://www.blogger.com/www.tilapia.ws describes, and I didn't want to "sandwhich" the stuffing between fillets as the recipezaar recipe called for. I did something just slightly different and wrapped a fillet over a mound of crabmeat mixture. They were big enough. You'll see what I mean below.
This was a very good tasting & easy to prepare dish. Nice crab flavor (even better with some fresher fillets & crabmeat if handy). We'll definately be making this again.
Tilapia Stuffed with Crabmeat Ingredients: 1 small onion, chopped fine 1 celery rib, chopped fine 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 1/4 cup fresh parsley (yeah, I had to use dried, but it worked just fine) 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, unseasoned (we used fresh from whole wheat bread) 8 ounces white crab meat (I only had a 6 oz. can of BumbleBee) 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/8 tablespoon cayenne pepper 4 (6 ounce) tilapia fillets, approximately 6 oz each (had 6 fillets in the bag) 2 tablespoons butter, Melted paprika
Directions: 1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. 2. Chop the onion and celery into fine pieces. 3. Flake the crabmeat and check for pieces of shells. I drained it a bit, too. 4. Sauté the onion and celery in butter until tender. 5. Add the parsley, stir, saute for just a bit more and remove from heat. 6. Stir in the bread crumbs, crab meat, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. 7. Spray a casserole or oven pan with cooking spray. I used a foil lined pan. 8. Make a small mound of the mixture, then drape a tilapia fillets over it as shown inthe photo. 9. Sprinkle with melted butter and paprika. 10. Place in a 400°F oven for about 15 to20 minutes until the tilapia flakes easily with a fork.
Our friend, Jenny, gave us this recipe several years ago. She's made them every Christmas for years, and since we got the recipe, so do we. As a matter of fact, Santa gets a batch, fresh made on Christmas Eve, right along side the reindeer's carrot and a can of Coke (you did know Santa loves his Coca-Cola, didn't you?).
Me and Boogie, XMas Eve, 2004
The Boog, XMas Eve, 2012
The Boog, XMas Eve, 2014
The Boog, XMas Eve, 2016
We always enjoy making these simple cookies. It's a lot of fun rolling the dough in the sugar crystals and squishing them down. We used to use a glass that was just the right size, but it cracked and broke several springs ago, and for a while we struggled to find a new "squisher". We even used the bottom of a pinot grigio bottle one year until we discovered that the bottom of our sugar shaker was a perfect fit. Usually we empty it out first 'cause it needs to be degreased afterwards...
This recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies.
Jenny's Butter Cookies
1 Cup (2 Sticks) Butter
¾ cup light Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 Cups sifted flour
colored granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 350˚.
Cream the butter & the brown sugar
Blend in the vanilla
Gradually add the flour, mixing well.
Chill the dough for at least ½ hour.
Pull off about 1 teaspoon of the dough and roll it into a ball.
Roll the dough ball in the sugar crystals to coat it well.
Flatten the ball to about ¼” thickness.
Press a pecan halve into the center.
Place the cookie on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake 10-12 minutes at 350˚.
Let cool, bite, chew, swallow, say yum...
Some years ago I bought this HUGE cookbook at a book sale they had at work, "The Complete Step-By-Step Cook Book". The thing is so big that it won't even fit on my scanner. I've made a few dishes from it over the years, including this one a couple of times just this past fall. It's pretty straight forward and has lots of garlic in it, always a plus! We all liked it very much and I'll be making it again soon. The recipe calls for sherry vinegar,which I didn't have, so I used what I did have - champagne vinegar the first time and red wine vinegar the second. Both worked just fine. I suppose I might even try rice wine vinegar next time. I served this dish with couscous the first time and egg noodles the second.
Ingredients: 4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts 1/3 cup Olive oil 12 garlic cloves, sliced, divided, 4 cloves and 8 cloves -(see, I told you there was lots of garlic!) 1 small onion, finely chopped 3 Tablespoons Sherry Vinegar (or whatever you have...) 1 Tablespoon Paprika 1 ½ Tablespoons chopped fresh Oregano 2 Tablespoons fresh Breadcrumbs 1 ¼ cups Chicken Stock salt & fresh ground pepper
Directions: 1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper 2. Heat the olive oil in heavy pot just large enought o hold the breasts with out crowding. Add the chicken and cook on both sides, 10 minutes over medium heat. 3. Add 4 cloves of the sliced garlic and onion. Continue to cook until the chicken os lightly browned all over, about 5 minutes more.
4. Remove the chicken to a plate and keep warm. Stir in the vinegar and bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes. 5. Combine the remaining 8 cloves of garlic with a little salt, the oregano, and paprika. Pound it all together then add the bread crumbs and stir in a quarter of the chicken stock. 6. Pour the garlic-stock mixture over the chicken and add the remaining stock. 7. Cook for 20 minutes, until the chicken is tender and the sauce is fairly thick.
The last part of the recipe says to "Adjust seasoning and amout of vinegar, if necessary". I never know what this means when I first make a new dish, so I do the adjustments the next time around. In the case of this dish, I didn't have to do anything.
Today, I came across a very nice website called Indian Food Rocks, and on one of the pages there was a very nice entry on making Homemade Sweet Cream Butter. I read it and couldn't believe it could possibly be that simple to make fresh homemade butter. I decided to stop on the way home, pick up some heavy whipping cream and make some to have with dinner (Classic Stuffed Green Pappers).
IFR has a great description and some fabulous photos of the process. After getting the peppers into the water to parboil, I started the butter process. I didn't have a jar to put it in, so I used a 2 cup Rubbermaid container that I knew would seal tightly, then started shaking. And shaking. And shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking...I shook it alot, for about 15 minutes. At one point towards the end of the shaking, it seemed like there was just a solid mass in the container and nothing was moving around, so I shook it REALLY hard for a minute and all of a sudden the solid seperated out from the liquid and I had butter. Real butter. couldn't belive it - it really was that simple!
Here's the start: and the end product: Ready for the table:
And here's how you can do it:
Pour about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream into a container that will seal tightly and not come loose even with vigorous shaking. Close the lid (make sure it is sealed well!) and shake the bejesus out of it for a good 10 minutes. When I was shaking it, I was getting 300+ shakes per minute. After about 10 minutes, you will notice that the cream isn't moving very well inside the container. Don't worry, you're almost there, just shake harder. HARDER DAMN IT, HARDER! When it looks like there's a solid mass in the bottom of the container and just a bunch of milk sloshing around it, it's probably done. Wait... Shake it some more! Ok, now it's done. Pour off the liquid (buttermilk! You can save it to bake with, or make curry with or just drink). Put the butter into a container for use. I refrigerated mine until the peppers were ready and we spread it on some store bought crusty bread. Mmmmmm....
since there are no presevratives at all in this, it won't keep long, but if you find it as yummy as we did, it won't be around long enough to worry about.
Yes, we finally gorged ourselves for Thanksgiving with a huge meal today. Our annual feast was delayed for us due to what seems to be another annual event - colds and bronchitis. With everyone feeling better, we deemed this year's phlegm fest to be over & time to eat!
Boogie and I prepared the menu, a host of traditional foods for the day. This is the menu he helped design: We started of with Devilishly Good Dijon Deviled Eggs, a real family favorite. I used jumbo eggs this time, so I had to adjust the measurements up a bit. Our main course was also a variation on our regular. I made a ½ turkey from Jennie-O, an "Oven-Ready" turkey. This worked out very well for us since we were able to just keep the turkey in the freezer without having to worry about thawing, and since there would only be 5 of us for dinner, a whole turkey seemed to be a bit much. On the side we had my favorite potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes using the easy recipe from Cook's Illustrated. The recipe can be found here and here (pdf version). I've made this recipe several times and it comes out perfect every time. It also gives me an opportunity to use my wonderful 50-some year old Ecko Flint potato masher. This time, though, I added a layer of mini-marshmallows on top for Karen, and popped the casserole into the oven with turkey and beans for a few minutes, just to toast the marshmallows. Our other side dish was traditional green bean casserole. Usually it comes out great, but despite the good reviews from my family, I wasn't pleased with it this year. The beans were off - I couldn't find the right beans. I prefer frozen french-style, but no one seemed to have them so I wound up using frozen cut green beans. It just wasn't the same for me. The Sister Schubert's yeast rolls were good, though - Karen discovered their great taste a few months back. I'd seen them in the store but hadn't tried them before. They're readily available pretty much everywhere since the Columbus, Ohio-based T. Marzetti Company acquired them a few years back. And what can you say about store-brand canned jellied can-berry sauce? Is there anything better on this cranberriest of cranberry days? God, I love that stuff (ColumbusFoodie has a great photo of it here, better than the blurry shots I kept taking...)
For desert we had a Mrs. Smith's Cinnabon® Apple Crumb Pie. It's huge, heavy and comes with a bag of cream cheese frosting to drizzle over the dutch apple pie style sugary crumb crisp topping. Yeah, that was pretty darn good. Grandma brought a variety of Kroger Private Select cheesecake slices - I had a couple of those, too, plain and turtle. Yum. Here's a really bad photo of the spread before I sat down.
Besides the good feeling of a full belly, I also felt thankful for my family, my health (crappy as it's been lately, it's still better than many), my work, my good fortune, and my life in general. All in all, a pretty good Thanksgiving. I hope yours was good, too.
In October of 1992, our Renault Reliant's transmission died ( A Renault? What the hell were we thinking?!?). We wound up buying our first brand spankin' new car, a green Toyota Tercel Dx. 15 years later, she burns oil (typical for a Tercel) to the tune of a quart every three weeks, but she still gets great gas, rides real smooth and is completely dependable. She's only had one battery replacement (a new Diehard after 11 years of using the original) and no major engine work in all those years.
Today, she finally rolled over the 100,000 mile mark. Last night the odometer read 99999.0: After dropping Boogie off at school, I got to see this:
and I even got to make a small blurry shaky darkish video to commemorate the occasion (Martin Scorsese I'm not...) :
I know 100,000 miles isn't that big of a deal these days, but after 15 years of driving this old faithful car, I'm pretty excited to finally reach this milestone.
In April of 2007 I posted a recipe for Kheema that was given to me by Vijay, the husband of one of my co-workers. Earlier that month, Vijay had a very serious intracranial bleed (stroke) that doctors say only 5% of those stricken with survive. Thankfully, Vijay has not only survived, but has amazed his doctors with his recovery, and he seems to improve daily still. When they went to make kheema a few weeks ago, they actually printed my posting since the original recipe was in Vijay's head , and Vijay's memory was still in recovery (ok, yes it is on paper, but in his native tongue which his wife can't read...). Proof of Vijay's recovery came quickly as he realized that what I had posted was missing a few ingredients and steps.
The original recipe has been updated to include the additional seasonings (curry leaves, cardamom, cumin seeds) and the process of grinding them first... Check it out here. Nothin' like some good ol' spicy Punjabi comfort food when the weather turns cool...
From everything I've ever heard, I now know that I've reached the brink of sanity, the precipice of psychosis, the ledge of lunacy...yes, if you've done it yourself, you know what I'm talking about - remodeling the kitchen.
We're not going for the full Bob Vila - a complete tear-out; no I'm not THAT crazy. I suppose you could say we're just rehabbing the kitchen. But to a guy that hasn't done it before and hasn't done any painting/papering, or much of anything like it in at least 5 years, it sure seems like a full remodel.
So, what's the a plan, you ask...ok, I'll tell ya:
Strip the wallpaper off and clean all of the old wallpaper glue/residue off
Clean all of the dirt & grease from the last 25 years off of the ceiling and walls
Strip the paint off of all of the woodwork around the doors and windows
Strip the top finish off of the 60 year old wood cabinets
Re-stain/urethane the cabinets.
Re-stain/urethane or repaint the door & window frames (not sure which yet)
Replace the 20+ year old faux-brick linoleum with new vinyl
and I've narrowed my choice of range down to three or four - all dual fuel, gas on top , electric in the oven, with convection: A Jenn-Air, a GE Profile, a Bosch, and a Kenmore Elite. (yup, all in black...)
Here's some "before" photos:
Above: From the back of the kitchen looking towards the front
Above: from the front looking at the back
Above: The current range (a 1950 Frigidaire model RM-60 electric range) & fridge
Above: The counter, sink & cabinets
Above: Over the sink, the cabinets, & window (and tomatoes from the garden!)
Definitely ready for an update, don't you think?
So far, I've gotten the wallpaper down and about 1/4 of the gluey residue off. What a pain. And as with all remodels, I've hit a snag - I'm going to have to have some of the wall covered over - the wallpaper pulled off layers of paint with it, right down to the original snowy white plaster. It's only happened on the soffit over the sink/counter. I'd scrape it off, but I don't know if it's lead paint so I'm just going to have it covered over with some drywall and mudded up. It's not too much, so it should take long or cost TOO much (oh, I hope those words don't come back to haunt me...)
This is going to be my first rant... bear with me, please.
I was off to do the grocery shopping today, with Boogie, my trusty sidekick, in tow. We usually go to a Kroger about 5 miles away, bypassing the Kroger closest to us, because, well, because the closer one sucks. I'd been going there for years, but last year they remodeled it, took out he service meats and seafood, moved everything around, stopped carrying products I like, etc...it just sucks there. So off to Grandview we go, to a much nicer, cleaner, well stocked, SERVICE-ORIENTED store. I like it there. It's pretty nice for a Kroger store. They even have a computerized touch-screen deli ordering system, so we never have to wait at the deli to place our order, wait for it to be sliced, etc... They have a sushi counter where I can actually see the sushi chef making the day's selections. They have a Starbucks (I know, the devil's coffee shop, but still..) , they have everything in the weekly flier in stock, even on the last day of the sale, and I don't get sneered at asking for paper bags - if I even have to ask; the cashiers there usually ask first.
The clientèle are even prettier there.
Anyway, we're on our way, driving along, obeying the speed limit (please don't speed through Valleyview) and I'm approaching the intersection of Hague and Fisher when I realize there is a light blue mini-van riding my rear bumper. I turn onto Fisher and he's right behind me still, so close I can read the number on the handicap placard dangling from his rear view mirror. I proceed as I normally do down Fisher at 35 MPH - I generally drive the speed limit, especially in town, and Mr. mini-van is still right there climbing into my trunk. I turn onto McKinley and he's still right behind me, trying to climb up my tailpipe, starting to appear a bit impatient. I then turn onto 5th, where the speed limit drops to 25 MPH and the cops like to hang out. I am NOT going any faster just because Mr mini-van can practically change my radio station. I can almost count his nose hairs he so close now, and he's getting pissed - most people fly right down this section of 5th Ave at 40-45 MPH. Not me. Never do. Especially now. We get to Lake Shore, where the road widens from 1 lane each way to 2. Mr Mini-van jumps on the gas, swerves around me on the right, blasts ahead and cuts in front of me, just in time to get stopped behind another car at the light at Dublin Rd. This desperate passing all happens in the length of perhaps 300 feet. No kidding see for yourself. So now he's in front of me. He should be happy. I'm a bit peeved.
And that's when I see it. The sticker on his rear window. It's one of these:I'm laughing now. Yep. This idiot wants an "Idiot Free America". Then I notice exactly where on the rear window the sticker is placed . It's completely covering his 3rd light, the required safety light in the center of the rear window., just like this:
(Note: this is not the ACTUAL idiot mini-van, just my own personal rendering of it)
All I could think of was that someone gave Mr mini-van the sticker in jest and he still doesn't get that the joke is on him.
I was gladdened a bit more, even, as the car in from of Mr Mini-van wasn't in as much of a hurry as Mr Minivan was either. Am I evil for this making me feel very good inside.? Once they got up to Arlington Ave, Mr Mini-van squeezed between the car in front of him and the curb on the right so he could make a right turn, almost jumping the curb to do it... Good riddance.
So here's to you, Mr minivan, and on the off-chance that you're reading this, on the even slimmer chance that you recognize yourself in this rant, I salute you - one finger only, though.
A 20th birthday may not sound like that big of a deal, but for Emily it sure is. Well, maybe not for her, but certainly for us. Emily has been around for 20 years now and, in early October will also celebrate 20 years of living with us. She's not our daughter, cousin, sister, or for that matter, any kind of blood relative - we don't share the same DNA in any way. She's not even the same species...
Emily, you see, is our cat, our first cat, and we also call her our first born since we took her in after being married less than a month.
One of Karen's brothers found her in a parking lot while working on a construction site in southern Ohio. It was a cold, rainy early October evening when he saw her brutally ejected from the parking lot's guard shack by the foot of the lot's attendant. He went over and picked up the little kitten, barely a month old as far as he could tell, cold and shivering and hungry. He brought her to his car, so she could stay dry and wrapped her so she could warm up. After he got off work, he brought her home to his mom's house. Karen arrived the next day and took her to the vet, who gave her a shot of something, cleaned her eyes and ears (both were badly infected) and gave her a positive prognosis, given continued care. Her sense of smell worked fine as she was easily ab;e to sniff out her food bowl and munched down with great gusto. As she began to regain her sight (rather quickly after the vet visit), one of the first things she seemed to see clearly was Karen. Munch, munch, look - ok, good, she's still there watching me eat...munch, minch look- ok, good, she's still there watching me eat...
Karen brought her right home after that and the two have been inseparable ever since.
This is Emily at what we think is about 6 weeks old , shortly after we brought her home in early October, 1987
About a year later we brought home Gretchen, a "sister" for Emily.
Emily was NOT pleased, and though the two occasionally got along, Emily was usually pretty indifferent to Gretchen. The above photo was in August of 1988, when we brought little 6 week old Gretchen home. Emily made sure to eat all of Gretchen's food -as you can tell Emily was already very skilled at eating all of her OWN food. This was also just before Emily tried to eat Gretchen's head...
Gretchen left us in April, 2003 after losing her long battle with irritable bowel and diabetes, but Emily pushed on, doing just as well as ever, and as the years past, continuing to impress her vet, Dr. Seimer, of Suburban Animal Clinic, even rebounding well from her recent diagnosis of high blood pressure...
(Suburban Animal Clinic, Wilson Road, Columbus, Oh)
Dr. Seimer is a wonderful vet, and has been Emily's vet almost from the start - of course there was that first visit in Huber Heights, then her first routine shots were administered by a friend of mine, Cheryl Burger, who was a vet student at O.S.U. at the time (and is now a vet in Beavercreek). Emily has on occasion also seen some of the other doctors at Suburban, like Dr Weale, and we like them all. I can't say enough good things about the staff at Suburban; they're all wonderful and have treated us and our feline family with great care and kindness over the years.
And today we saw this as we drove past:
So, Happy Birthday, Emily, with hopefully many more to come.
(Emily's little Birthday cake)
(Emily licking her slice of cake)
And thanks to Suburban for the great care, support, and birthday wishes.
UPDATE: 12/28/2007 It is with deep sadness that I pass along the news that our beloved feline family member, Emily, died the morning of December 26th, 2007. Her death came quite suddenly, but she died in the arms of her "mom", Karen. Her vet, Dr. Siemer was also present. We will miss her very much.
Again, we'd like to thank the entire staff of Suburban Animal Clinic for the wonderful care they provided to Emily and to us.
In my unending quest to make something tasty using pre-existing products, I bring you "Dinner from a bag, the Third". The previous one was horrible, and as The Columbus Foodie properly pointed out, would have been far tastier and just as simple if I could only get my butt up to Carfanga's. Everytime I turn around, someone is telling me about something wonderful they got from Carfagna's. It's a 25 minute drive for me, way up I-71. I hate going way up there, but I think I'm going to have to bite the bullet...
Enough about the last time. this time was a bit better.
We've had a very busy summer and last week was no exception, with something scheduled for every evening except Friday, so it was on to the next "bag" dinner. This time we went seaside.
While shopping the week before, I grabbed a "family size" Vigo brand Saffron Yellow Rice mix, a 1 lb bag and picked up about a pound of tilapia fillets from the seafood counter ( I think it was on sale for $4.99/lb) . I began by preparing the rice per the package directions, but I added an extra 1/2 cup of water. Once the rice was down to a simmer and about to be covered, I added the tilapia fillets, pushing them lightly down into the rice mixture. I then placed a couple of fresh tarragon sprigs (about 5 inches long) on top, covered the pan, then let the dish simmer for the time indicated on the package directions, about 20 minutes.
(just before adding the tarragon and covering)
I removed the tarragon sprigs before serving. (no other pictures - no time...ok, plenty of time, I just forgot.)
This was a rousing success! Both Karen and boogie gave it a thumbs up, especially since it was done, eaten and enjoyed with enough time to not have to rush out of the house to our activity du jour. The rice was a bit sticky, which gave the dish a more substantive feel, and the fish was flaky and flavored well by the rice's seasonings and the tarragon. I'll be making this again when we have another busy week.
If you don't like "fishy" fish, give tilapia a go. It' s quite mild, yet seems to have more of a thickness, a bite to it than other thin mild white fish fillets. According the to the American Tilapia Association (seems like there's an association for everything, doesn't it?), Tilapia is now the fifth most popular seafood consumed in the United States (and, no, I don't know what the first 4 are...let me know if you do. I'm pretty sure shrimp is number 1, though). It seems to accept other flavors really well, kind of like a blank canvas to apply what you like to.
I finally have a gril! Hooray for me! Hooray for Father's day! boogie took me to Target and showed me the grill he wanted me to get, a little Aussie with a side burner ("You know you want one with a side burner, Daddy"). It took us the better part of an evening to get it put together (1/2 hour, my ass...): Of course, this time included a good 10 minute hunt for a dropped wing nut on the driveway as darkness crept in...
Eventually (2 hours later) we were approaching the finish line... And finally arrived! A couple of days later we made it to the store for a Blue Rhino and we were a'grillin'! But, Whoa! not so fast...the valve on the first gas tank we brought home was stuck - I could open it, but nothing came out at all - couldn't get the grill to light. We brought it back, got an exchange from the nice lady there and hooked it up, turned the knobs and pressed the button - FOOM!
Ah, I Man! Make Fire! Fire Good!!!!
I walked around and grunted for a minute or so, letting my inner caveman out. Felt good.
So now I have fire, er, a hot grill. It would have been nice if I had remembered to get something good to toss on the grill, though, once I was ready to start. Yeah, that would've been smart.
all I had was a round steak, so I figured that would have to do. I seasoned it up with some worchestershire, soy, and some garlic powder and tossed it on the grate. Ah, yes, the sound of sizzling beef, music to my ears. It was far from perfect, but I had to start somewhere, and I'm desperately out of practice (Dave would be so ashamed of me).