I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Porkchops Mit Kraut

Tonight we had one of Elvis' favorites - Porkchops with Sauerkraut. It was delicious. Babies don't much like sauerkraut though, so she mostly at applesauce and maybe like 1 bite of hashbrown casserole. When we were cleaning up she saw me sneaking applesauce out of the jar and begged for some. I quick did some slight of hand (the hand is quicker than the baby's eye) and gave her a spoonful of sauerkraut. She got a real sauer look on her face and acted like she was going to bawl. The wife came to the rescue and let her spit it out into a napkin. I guess it is an acquired taste. So that she would trust me in the future I followed up with several healthy spoons of applesauce.

Porkchops Mit Kraut

3 pork chops
a healthy amount of kraut
1 beer
about 1/3 cup applesauce
a real good squirt of Dijon style mustard
salt and pepper for the chops

Apply salt and pepper to the chops, then fry them until they are well fried on each side. I used a cast iron skillet and a little oil. Meanwhile combine the rest of the ingredients in a big pot like a Dutch oven. When chops are done browning toss them in the Dutch oven with the rest of the ingredients. Cook, covered, on the stove on a low simmer until the chops are fall-apart soft.

Hashbrown Casserole

1 can cream of chicken soup
3 T melted butter
1 t salt
½ t black pepper
½ c diced onion
2 c grated colby
2 pounds thawed hash browns

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9X13 pan. Mix everything together and bake uncovered for 35 minutes.

It makes a pretty sizeable amount of casserole but it cooks down. For 2 people you might want to cut the recipe in 1/4.

In other news I finally got around to trying Dave's Insanity Sauce.

Its pretty hot. I used to grow a kind of pepper called the Caribbean Red Hot.

Those were HOT peppers. I used to make a sauce out of it called "Asses of Fire." I used to draw a burning buttocks on every jar. Dave's Insanity Sauce is as hot as the sauce I used to make. One drop is enough to make you sweat and burn. Keep in mind, I practically drink Tobasco and Louisiana Hot sauce. I consider those to be very mild. Dave's Insanity Sauce is on a whole different level. Its hotter because in addition to using very hot peppers they add hot pepper extract. A drop of that on the tongue is like being hit by pepper spray. Pleasant to me, but fear factor to most. I used to pickle the Red Hots to eat whole. That is until I tried one. I tricked my friend into eating one and he was instantly on the ground sweating, nose running, hiccupping, and eyes leaking. I fealt real bad so I popped one down thinking - no big deal. WRONG! The exact same thing happened to me. At first you think, that isn't so bad. Then it keeps getting hotter and hotter and finally your nose runs and you break into a sweat and your eyes start watering. Then it hits your stomach and you start hiccuping. Dave's Insanity Sauce isn't that bad but it is about 1/3 of that. Its still edible but only for the seasoned chili eater.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Loose Meat Sandwiches

Our man in the field in Ledyard has been travelling around the state sampling loose meat sandwiches. He went to a little cafe that is selling something called "crumble burgers" like mad. People pack the place at lunch and the phone is ringing off the hook for take out orders. From his description, the "crumbleburger" is very similar to a Maid Rite.

Astute readers may remember that I did a ton of research on Maid Rites and came up with a method. You can see all of that information in thispost. A Maid Rite is not to be confused with a Sloppy Joe. There must be a billion versions of the Sloppy Joe. The main differences between a Sloppy Joe and a Maid Rite is that the Sloppy Joe usually has some sort of sauce. I have been making my own version lately. You can see the one I make most frequently in this post.

Here is a sloppy Joe:

And here is a Maid Rite - notice the lack of sauce!

One thing about loose meat sandwiches that makes them attractive to school lunch programs is that the meat can be of the cheapest possible quality and can be cut with fillers like rice. The other thing about loose meat sandwiches is that they are very very very inexpensive to manufacture in large batches. This can be done by almost anyone. As a result I ate a lot of loose meat sandwiches in the public school system in Iowa.

Here is a version that my mom made all the time when we were growing up. She called them Maid Rites but clearly these are more related to a Sloppy Joe. I like this version because it is different from just about any other recipe for a Sloppy Joe. Instead of being tomato based and sweet, these are more tangy.

Loose Meat Sandwiches

1 pound hamburger
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 good squirts of plain yellow mustard (about 3 T)
1 T steak sauce, your choice
1 T Worchestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 can cream of mushroom soup + 1 can water
1/4 cup minute rice

Brown hamburger and saute onions. When this is done, add all of the rest of the ingredients, cover, and simmer until flavors are well combined. You can also do this in a crock pot by just browning the hamburger and onion and dumping everything into the crock pot. In a crock pot you can cook it as long as you like. I made some today that were in the crock pot on Hi for about 4 1/2 hours.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Stuffed Peppers and Twice Baked Potatoes

Even this far south it is beginning to feel like fall. We decided to have a more Fall-type meal this weekend. One thing I ate a lot when growing up was stuffed peppers. Every culture has their own variation of stuffed peppers. Mexicans have Chiles Rillenos. Middle Easterners have their own versions. I'm sure the Russians have a version that includes vodka. This version is the one that I ate while growing up as an upper midwest white boy. The other thing we made this weekend was twice baked potatoes. I never ate those when growing up. I think that upper midwest cooks are offended at the thought of baking something twice.

Stuffed Peppers

4 large green peppers
1 lb. Hamburger
1/2 chopped onion
1 can of tomatoes, cut up
1 can tomato soup + 1 can water
1 c. uncooked rice
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. oregano
Salt and pepper
½ c. shredded cheese

Cut tops off peppers and seed. Sprinkle with salt and set aside. Brown the hamburger and onion and stir in undrained tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and spices. Cook covered until flavors combine, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in the uncooked rice, and the ½ cup cheese. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile combine the tomato soup + can water in your baking dish (Dutch oven works well). Stuff the peppers with the meat mixture and place in the baking dish. Spoon some of the tomato soup mixture over the top of each pepper. Bake covered at 375 degrees until the green peppers soften, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Twice Baked Potatoes

4 large baking potatoes
8 slices bacon
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
8 green onions, sliced, divided

Bake potatoes in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. You want the potatoes to be soft enough that you can scoop out the pulp, leaving a small rim of potato and the skin behind to form a boat. Bake them naked, unwrapped by anything, so that the skin dries out and hardens a bit.
Fry or microwave bacon, crumble and set aside.

When potatoes are done allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh into a large bowl; save skins. As mentioned above, the scooping is done with an ice cream scoop, leaving behind a little bit of intact potato to form a shell.

To the potato flesh add sour cream, milk, butter, salt, pepper, 1/2 cup cheese and 1/2 the green onions. Mix with a hand mixer until well blended and creamy. Spoon the mixture into the potato skins.
Top each with remaining cheese, green onions and bacon. Bake an additional 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bigos - Polish National Dish

I was at the hospital yesterday and I stopped by the hot dog stand outside. The guy that runs it has a grill running from about 10 in the morning until about 3. He serves up hot dogs, chili dogs, brats, polish sausages and a few sundries to go with. I got a polish sausage with kraut. I would normally have gotten the bratwurst with kraut but he was fresh out. It was delicious! It has been about 20 years since I had a good Polish sausage. I decided to make something tonight with Polish Sausage. I used Kielbasa which is the typical Polish sausage. The following is my version of the Polish National Dish called Bigos. According to my super secret source, there is no one true recipe, but most incorporate some form of sausage with another meat, cabbage, kraut and some vegetables like mushrooms. It is served as a stew. I decided that I would like it better in a hogie bun, so I adapted the basic recipe to serve my needs.

Bigos - the Polish National Dish

1 Kielbasa sausage, cut into bun sized links
1 can beer + 1 beercan of water
a good amount of sauerkraut with a little juice
A healthy squirt or two of Dijon mustard or even better - horseradish mustard
1 onion sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Dump everything into a pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until everything is nice and soft - maybe 45 minutes or so. Remove cover and boil until liquid reduces. Serve over hoagie buns with a little of the reduced sauce on top. Don't forget some serious polka music or something of the sort.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Our Man in the Field in Ledyard has recently acquired a supply of most delicious lamb, which he has crowned 'king of meats.' I have been remaking and posting my best lamb recipes. Moussaka is one of my all time favorites. I love anything with eggplant in it, but the combination of eggplant and lamb is a reportable evil. No doubt the Puritans would have me in stocks.

I got this recipe from the book The Complete Greek Cookbook. It is a really good source for Greek cooking, if you're into that sort of thing. It has recipes from 3000 years ago, including one called Spartan Stew, which according to Plutarch, tasted terrible. There is also a recipe called Spiced Wine Hippocrates, which I will have to try shortly.


Preparing Ye Olde Eggplant
Slice 1 large eggplant into thing slices and salt. Place in a bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. Rinse. Pat dry with paper towels and place side by side onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Melt 1 stick of butter in 1/2 cup of olive oil and brush some of the oil/butter mixture on top of the eggplant slices. Bake in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes.

Making Ye Olde Filling

Brown 1 pound ground lamb (or hamburger) in 1 tablespoon of the oil/butter mixture. Add in two diced onions and cook until the onions turn translucent. Add 1 clove pressed garlic, 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 1/2 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 cup wine and 1 cup water. Cover and simmer for a while so that the flavors combine. Remove lid and cook a little longer until the sauce thickens up a bit. Taste it and salt it to your tastes.

Making the White Sauce
Take 1 tablespoon of the butter/oil mixture and heat in a saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cups milk. Dissolve 2 T cornstarch in 1/2 cup milk. Add the cornstarch/milk mixture to the pan and heat, stirring constantly until it thickens. Taste it, and salt it to your tastes. Just before you are about to use it, add 4 eggs and whisk until combined well.

Oil a square or rectangular cake pan. Make 1 layer of eggplant slices. Spread the meat sauce over the top. Add the remaining eggplant slices on top. Pour over the white sauce. Top with 1 cup parmesan and 1/4 t cinnamon. Bake in the oven at 325 for 45 minutes. Cut into squares like a cake and serve immediately.

Ledyard Oatfest '06

I recently received photos from the Ledyard Oatfest for 2006 from our man in the field. Someone up there has 3 acres of oats and every year for the past 4 years they have a communal threshing of the oats. They are using old school equipment with all these belts going crazy pulling off limbs etc. Here is a photo that I took of a similar event at the Wyandotte County Agricultural Hall of Fame.

At that particular event they also had a tractor pull.

My photos from Ledyard indicate that similar things were occurring up there. They had all kinds of old tractors that were no doubt hauling ass all over town. I would also suspect that the Ledyard participants were more adept at the whole business, practicing their art for real, instead of for demonstration purposes. If my previous experience with such events is any indication, no doubt a sizable quantity of Hamm's, Grain Belt, and Schmidt beer was consumed after all the moving parts were quieted.

Kentucky Road Trip

Yesterday we decided to take a little road trip to Gravel Switch, Kentucky.

Why Gravel Switch, you ask? Just south of town there is an old general store called Penn's Store. It is the oldest general store in the country. They were having a motorcycle rally, antique car show, musicfest and outhouse race.

I plotted a course and we set out. It was only 70 miles but the roads there are really winding and people drive at least 5 miles an hour under the speed limit in Kentucky. It also doesn't help when the baby is driving.

We got there and it was a little sketchy. There were half a dozen motorcycles and probably 15 antique cars. They had some live bands playing like crazy on banjos. They also had a few tents selling food.

I got a burger from the Cattleman's Convention and the wife and baby had pulled pork from a local BBQ joint. We decided to check out the general store.

They had a selection of old-time general store wares.

They also had some of the new-fangled wares.

After a brief tour of the store we watched an outhouse race.

Then, seeing not much else to do, we left. We went through historic Bardstown on the way down and I spied some interesting things, including "My Old Kentucky Home" State Park. That is another trip and another tank of gas.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Double Overtime? Whats that?

Although the Hawks appeared to be the technically superior team, Syracuse probably deserved to win. Syracuse was much hungrier. Whats this pulled abdominal muscle? Hasn't he seen Rocky? Old Rock would do his situps with somebody punching him in the stomach.

I wasn't quite ready to see Chuck Long's number (16) on another quarterback yet. Can't he be number 15?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Kentucky State Fair

We went to the Kentucky State Fair this year. Our first attempt was thwarted. We got stuck in a traffic jam on the way there and after about 1/2 hour the baby was fed up. She threw such a big fit that she barfed all over the car.

The next morning we went and there was no traffic.

Being from Iowa, I am an expert on state fairs. Kentucky's was pretty good, but it just wasn't the same. It was in a concrete parking lot, and all the shows were in air conditioned convention buildings.

We walked through the midway and saw some stands that are pretty standard.

We walked through the livestock barns first. They had some Brunhilda looking cows, but nothing quite as big as the Behemoths we grow in Iowa.

Thats OK. Not everyone can raise up monstrous cows or grow miles and miles of luscious corn. Kentucky does raise excellent race horses. They also grow a lot of fine tobacco.

Kentuckians are also adept at owning ugly lamps.

We walked through all the exhibits. They had the manditory bee and honey exhibit. They also had a flea market which was sadly not quite as various or flea-ish as the one at the Iowa State Fair.

Here is a photo of someone about to enjoy here very first funnel cake!