Monday, January 29, 2007
Saturday, January 27, 2007
I was at my Uncle's house last fall watching the Iowa vs. Michigan State game. I was insanely jealous of his wood burning stove in the basement. It heats up the whole basement in no time at all and it is such a wonderful thing to have right there next to the TV. If it wasn't enough that he has this awesome stove, he also had Strike Anywhere matches! I've spent the last 3 months looking for a box with no luck. Finally I just broke down and bought some on the internet. I'll let the readers know whether it worked or not, and if I get my order, where they can be purchased.
I was walking the dog down by Steamer Cove tonight and I had a funny thought. I was watching her walk a few steps and sniff, walk a few more and sniff. Every once in a while she would leave a little something behind. Watching her do this was like watching someone surf the internet. She seemed very interested in what she was sniffing. When she would leave a little something it was almost like she was responding to a message. So I got to thinking. Maybe when she is sniffing around in a public space like that where there have been a bunch of dogs it is like she is reading the newspaper or looking at a website. I've decided that she is checking her pee-mail. I think she is keeping up with the other local dogs and all the gossip. A decrypted message would probably read to us like it is about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolle, but to her its Rin Tin Tin and Lassie.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Broccoli Cheese Soup
It has been good soup weather down here in Kentucky lately. My wife made a great cheese soup that she got from her grandmother. We had ours with sandwiches. A bowl of this warms you up when you are coming in from cold weather. I had a bowl after taking our dog to Steamer Cove. Steamer Cove is what I call the little pond by our apartment that our dog likes to go to leave steamers.
Broccoli Cheese Soup
2 C. carrots, thinkly sliced
2 C chopped broccoli
3 C. chicken broth
1 1/2 t salt
pepper to taste
1 1/2 c milk or half and half
1/2 to 3/4 lb. velveeta cheese, chopped
2 T dried onion flakes or fresh onion
6 heaping T flour
Cook broccoli and carrots in broth for 20 minutes. Add onion. Combine flour and water to make a thickening, then slowly add to broth, stirring constantly until thickened. Slowly add cheese, stirring constantly until it melts. Slowly add milk and heat until the soup is warm.
Split Pea with Hand Soup
There is a scene in "Conan the Barbarian" where Conan is in the throne room of the castle. The guards are serving a green soup that has body parts in it like heads and hands. When I was in general surgery residency that movie got a lot of play in our lounge, called the swamp. Someone had a copy that had commentary by the director. During that scene the director said that they called the soup "Split Pea with Hand Soup."
I have a recipe for split pea with ham soup from Holland. It has sausage, bacon and all sorts of other tasty things in it. I recently had a bowl with a Cuban sandwich.
(Dutch Pea Soup)
2 pounds dried green split peas (soak overnight)
4 leeks chopped
4 stalks celery
1 pound onions
2 hamhocks (or ham)
1 pound smoked bacon
12 ounces Gelderland Sausage, sliced (or use Jimmy Dean regular sausage)
Soak peas overnight. Place peas, water and hamhock in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for 1 hour. Remove hamhock, strip off the meat and return to the pan. Give the bone to a dog but only if it has been very good. Cook about 3 hours or until it has the right texture. Then add all of the other ingredients and cook until just softened (about ½ hour). Tastes very good if served with pumpernickle bread.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Perfect Birthday Cake
It was the little one's birthday the other day. She got a toy cash register. We went to Chuck E. Cheese. I'd never been to one before. I was hoping to get a beer with my pizza but it was not to be. After observing the clientelle for a while, I can see why serving alcohol would not be a good idea. My wife made her a great cake.
This recipe is taken from the Gourmet Cookbook, a compilation of the best loved recipes from Gourmet Magazine. It is described as the perfect birthday cake.
Devil’s Food Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting
1 cup boiling water
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa (do not use Dutch-process)
½ cup whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 sticks (1/2 lb.) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter cake pans and line bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Butter paper and dust pans with flour, knocking out the excess.
Whisk together boiling water and cocoa in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in milk and vanilla. Sift together flour, banking soda, and salt into another bowl.
Beat together butter and sugars at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in flour and cocoa mixtures alternately in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (batter may appear curdled.)
Divide batter among pans and smooth tops. Place pans in middle of oven. Bakeuntil a wooden pick comes out clean and the layers begin to pull away from the sides of the pans (20-25 minutes.)
Cool in pans on racks for 10 minutes, then invert, remove paper and cool completely. Frost layer cake with buttercream frosting below.
3 large egg whites, left at room temperature 30 minutes
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup water
½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
3 sticks (3/4 lb.) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened
2 tsp. vanilla
Boil water and brown sugar at medium high heat in a heavy saucepan. Clip a candy thermometer to the side. Wash down sides as necessary with cold water and a pastry brush.
When the syrup reaches a boil beat the egg whites and salt on medium-high speed until frothy, then add lemon juice and beat on medium until whites just hold soft peaks. Do not beat again until syrup is ready.
Meanwhile, continue boiling syrup until it reaches 238-242 degrees F. Immediately remove from heat and transfer to a heatproof glass measuring cup. Slowly pour hot syrup in a thin stream down the side of the mixing bowl of egg whites, beating constantly at high speed. Scrape sides as necessary and continue about 6 minutes or until completely cool to the touch. This cooling is very crucial.
With mixer at medium speed, add butter 1 T at a time, mixing well after each addition until fully incorporated. Beat until buttercream is smooth. It may appear curdled but will return to the desired texture when finished. Add vanilla and beat 2 minutes more.
*Buttercream can be refrigerated in an air tight container. Bring to room temperature and beat until smooth before spreading on cake.
My new toy
I got myself an old k98k Mauser rifle for my birthday last month. I have been in the process of restoring it. It was packed in grease for 60 years so I had a lot of cleaning to do. I also cleaned up the stock and rubbed it with linseed oil. I also bought a reproduction sling so I can carry it hunting.
Early on I took it out to Knob Creek, a firing range close to Louisville. It shot very well but it shot about 8 inches too high at 100 yards. I think this is because the Germans were anticipating combat at about 250 yards and sighted the k98k's in for that range. It was impossible to adjust the elevation on the sights any lower so I installed new ones, saving the old sights for posterity. Now it shoots great. I got 10/10 rounds into a 7 inch ring at 100 yards and 4/5 at 200 yards, with the stray shot being just outside. I will practice with it over the course of the year. I am planning on going deer hunting with it in South Dakota next fall. I don't really care if I get a deer or not, but if one walks within 200 yards of me I'll be eating venison for a while.
My wife also made me a very tasty cheesecake, recipe below.
White Chocolate Cheesecake
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. This takes about an hour to prepare but it must cool and then chill in the refrigerator for several hours before serving. Prepare the night before or on the morning of the day you wish to serve this dessert.
Process 2T sugar, a pinch of salt, 4 chocolate and 4 regular graham crackers (whole sheets) in a food processor. After you have a finely ground consistency add 3T melted butter to the processor and pulse. Press into the bottom of a 9” spring form pan.
10-14 oz fruit of your choice. Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries all work well. If necessary frozen berries are ok. Pulse in a food processor until smooth. Add 2T fruit preserves of the same flavor as the fruit you choose for the sauce. Transfer to a sauce pan. Add 3T sugar, the juice of half a lemon and simmer. Add 2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 2 T water and whisk until thickened a little bit. Chill in the refrigerator.
Melt 8 oz chopped white chocolate in a double boiler. Blend 16 oz. cream cheese and 3/4c sugar in a mixer. Add 3 eggs separately, beating well after each egg is added. Add 1 tsp. vanilla and the juice of ½ a lemon. Pour in melted chocolate and mix until combined well. Pour into spring form pan lined with the crust. Drizzle a small amount of the chilled fruit sauce (about 1/3 – 1/3 cup over the top and swirl with a toothpick so it appears marbled. Place pan on a cookie sheet and bake 60-80 minutes at 300 degrees. The cake is done when the edges set and puff slightly but the center is still somewhat jiggly. Crack the oven door and turn off the heat. Place a wooden spoon to prop open door and cool in the oven gradually for an hour. Then remove and cool on a wire rack completely.
Remove the cake from the pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours or overnight. To serve, drizzle some sauce on the plate, place a piece of the cheesecake on top and drizzle with more fruit sauce.
Our Christmas present
This year my wife and I got each other a Chemnitzer concertina. It would not have been possible without our man in the field tracking it down. The concertina scene in the US mainly consists of a few people in the upper Midwest who all know each other. The concertina is a very complicated wind instrument and new ones are incredibly expensive, and by expensive I mean in the 10-20 thousand dollar range. Neither one of us know how to play a concertina so our man in the field was able to find us a very old but perfectly serviceable one for $300.
I like ham on Christmas. This year we had ham with traditional sides.
By traditional I mean potatoes au gratin, green bean casserole, cranberries etc. When I was a kid we also used to have a huge spread of appetizers and a relish tray but it was just the 4 of us this year (the 4th being the dog).
It is a hanging offense to serve ham or pork roast without fresh horseradish in every decent household in northern Iowa. We had a particularly strong jar of it and I spent a lot of time rubbing my eyes and gasping for breath. Once when I was younger my dad covertly mixed some horseradish into one of my little sister's mashed potatoes. The result was spectacular.
Every Christmas morning we used to have brunch consisting of some sort of egg casserole and homemade sticky buns. My mom always made them with pecans and my Grandmother made hers as butterscotch rolls. I am currently researching the butterscotch roll recipe. This year we had an egg casserole from one of my Wife's aunts. It was pretty darn tasty.
Aunt Caty’s Wake Up Casserole
8 frozen hash brown patties
4 cups shredded cheese
1 lb. cooked, cubed ham
1 cup milk
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground mustard
Place a single layer of hash browns in a greased, 9x13” pan. Sprinkle with cheese and ham. Beat eggs, milk, salt and mustard. Pour over potatoes. Cover and nake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Uncover and bake 15 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
When I was a kid, we usually had Christmas Eve dinner at one of the sets of grandparent's house. On both sides of the family, the tradition on Christmas eve was oyster stew for the adults and chili for the kids. I never really developed a taste for oyster stew so we have chili on Christmas Eve. When I was growing up in the public school system they had great cinnamon rolls. Cinnamon rolls appeared every other Friday, paired either with chili or tacos. I really got to like the combination of chili and cinnamon rolls, so we add cinnamon rolls to our Christmas Eve feast.
We also got to open one present on Christmas eve, so we have continued that tradition. This year the little one would not have anything to do with Santa. She was terrified of him and there was no way she was getting any pictures taken with him. She seems to be OK with gigantic stuffed animal people, so we were able to get one of her with Rudolph, although she wouldn't specifically pose with him.
Whenever I buy bananas, I buy a few extra to make into banana bread. I think its best to let them ripen on the counter for a while.
2-3 ripe bananas, mashed ( I use 3 because is makes for a moister bread)
1 ¾ c flour
2/3 c sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1/3 c softened shortening, butter or margarine
2 T milk
¼ c chopped nuts ( I use walnuts)
Combine 1 cup of the flour and the rest of the dry ingredients. Add the bananas, butter and milk. Beat with a mixer on low until blended and then on high for about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and the rest of the flour and beat until blended. Add nuts and stir until mixed in. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
My wife made up this batch.