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.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Beef Stroganoff

Last night we had one of my favorites. This recipe is a hybrid of a couple different recipes and it worked pretty well.

Beef Stroganoff

1 1/2 pounds top or bottom round steak, tenderized with a needle tenderizer

All purpose flour

2T vegetable oil

1 carton fresh sliced mushrooms

1T unsalted butter

A few diced shallots

1T tomato paste

½ c dry sherry

½ c chicken broth

½ c beef broth

1/2 T Dijon Mustard

Season cut up meat with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour and sear well in the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Sauté mushrooms in butter until golden. Remove from the pan. Add the shallots and tomato paste and sauté.

Deglaze the pan with the sherry and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the broths and return the beef to the pan. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to braise another 15 minutes. At the end of cooking add 4 T sour cream and the Dijon Mustard to the pan and heat through. Add salt to taste. Add some fresh dill and serve.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Humboldt County Fair

We stopped by the Humboldt county fair last night. The first thing we did was stop for a snow cone.
We walked around and found some nice displays of impressive farm equipment.
I think they put a boat in for the farms that are underwater.

Next we stopped by the grandstand where we watched some motocross races.
We were amazed but Verne Troyer (mini me) made an appearance.

Benn-chiladas Version 1.2

We decided to have some Benn-chiladas tonight. I changed just a couple tiny things tonight. One thing I did was to cut the recipe in half to make 8 enchiladas but I kept the amount of sauce the same. We like saucy enchiladas! I made a minor change to the preparation of the chicken and I made the cream cheese sauce in a double boiler. It makes it really easy to make the sauce without scorching it and to keep it warm. All changes received a prior Benn-pproval.


Makes 8 enchiladas

2 ½ pounds chicken breast, cooked as directed below

8 burrito-sized tortillas

1 container fresh salsa

1 can mild enchilada sauce

1 T cinnamon

1/4 cup lime juice

1 t pepper

2 t ground cumin

Vegetable oil

One package shredded Mexican cheese

Preparing the chicken

Broil chicken for a few minutes on each side until nice and brown. Reduce heat in oven to 350 and bake, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 170 degrees. Allow to completely cool. Shred chicken. In a mixing bowl, add shredded chicken, lime juice, cumin, half a can of the enchilada sauce and

pepper - mix well.

Preparing the Sauce

In a blender add fresh salsa, the other half of the enchilada sauce, cinnamon, and blend well. Add a little salt to taste.

Making the enchiladas

Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a cast iron or non-stick pan large enough to accommodate the tortillas. Cook tortillas for about 10-12 seconds/side.

In each tortilla, add big pinch of the shredded chicken mix and little pinch of the shredded cheese. Roll up and place seam-down in a 13X9 baking pan coated with a thin layer of the sauce. You should be able to fit 8 enchiladas per pan. Drizzle the sauce over the enchiladas, spread it around with a spatula, and add a thin layer of cheese.

Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes. Serve with cream cheese sauce poured over each enchilada.

Chipotle Cream Cheese Sauce

8 oz package of cream cheese at room temperature

1 finely chopped chipotle pepper (the kind in the can with sauce)

a little milk

A little bit of fresh cilantro

Put the milk in a sauce pan or double broiler along with the cream cheese. Heat it up gently.

You need just enough milk to make a smooth sauce. Add in the chipotle and heat until warm. You can add a little salt if you want. Add in just a touch of fresh cilantro.

Tonight I cracked open a BNA to accompany my Benn-chiladas.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Update from the Jackson Hole Correspondent

Our Jackson Hole Correspondent sends this update:

Week One complete in God's Country - Jackson, WY. I arrived to a hazy valley on July 18th. The smoke from the California wildfires keep the Teton Range in a foggy haze to its viewers. However when a thunderstorm rolls through, the haze subsides and the Tetons present themselves in all of their geological magnificence.

I am doing my orthopaedic rotation with Heidi Jost, M.D. at Teton Orthopaedics. She specialized in the hand, wrist, ankle, and foot. Her and her partners have been more than willing to invite me to surgical cases and patient visits to show me interesting pathology. This is one BUSY group. I would have thought that winter would be their busiest time of the year, but apparently July-September is their busiest due to the tourist factor. I have been on call since Thursday, and have seen some displaced distal radius and tib/fib fractures. The tib/fib repair is pretty gruesome. An intermedullary (within the bone marrow) rod is literally pounded into the drilled-out marrow of the tibia for repair, and the site around the fracture is secured with screws. That fracture has to hurt

like a son of a bitch.

Haven't had a lot of time to screw around yet. I hiked the weekend before this rotation started, and shot the picture below from the summit (8,005 ft) of Snow King Mountain. I am looking forward to an all-day hiking and sight-seeing adventure next Saturday. I will start by getting up at 5:30am to capture some pictures of the wildlife and the sunrise off the Tetons. I then plan to hike 10 miles up to Ampitheater Lake at the base of the Grand Teton, which is around 10,000 ft. I'll then conclude my day by returning to Jackson around sunset and capturing some pictures of the sun setting behind the Tetons.

The people of Jackson are beautiful. Everyone is active here, hence their bodies show it. It's refreshing to be in an environment where the population takes advantage of the resources here.

More to come...

Pulled Pork and Ribs

Before I begin the post I am going to give a community service announcement for home BBQ'ers:

Go easy on the wood chips. A little smoke goes a long way. No one likes the taste of ashtrays, and that is what your food will taste like if you use too many wood chips or do multiple rounds of wood chips. You are allowed one double handful of woodchips per day.

Yesterday I fired up the smoker for some pulled pork and ribs. The furriest little one stood guard as things were smoking.

Smoked Pork Shoulder

You need a 7 or 8 pound pork shoulder, butt portion.

Ye Olde Rub
¼ cup black pepper
¼ cup paprika
¼ cup brown sugar
2 T salt
2 t dry mustard
1 t cayenne
1 t celery salt
1 t ground ginger
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder

Rub the pork down with the rub and sit it in the fridge overnight.Baste pork with melted butter every 1 to 2 hours during the smoking, or whenever you have the lid off for another purpose. It will take about an hour to an hour and a half per pound. Smoke until the meat hits 180 degrees.

When the pork hits 180 degrees it will be fall apart tender. In the photo above you can see that the pork fell apart because of its own weight in the smoker. Let the pork cool a little bit and then shred it. Remove the fat as you are shredding.

Mr. Duck posed with the pork.

A really good BBQ sauce for this pork is my new favorite sauce - honey mustard BBQ sauce. I've been working on this recipe for some time. I love it but it is a hard sell up North here because people are more used to ketchup based sauce of Kansas City fame.

Honey Mustard BBQ Sauce
1 cup vinegar
½ cup prepared yellow mustard
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic
1 ½ t salt
½ onion, minced
1/3 cup water
1 t paprika
½ t cayenne
½ t fresh ground black pepper
1 t ground ginger
½ T soy sauce
2 T butter

Combine everything, bring to a simmer. When onions and garlic are soft, blend in the blender until smooth. While sauce is till in the blender add:

¼ cup honey
Sugar to taste

How to Trim Spare Ribs

I like spare ribs better than back ribs. Spare ribs have more meat on them but require a little trimming. I found a good video on youtube that explains how to do it. Check out how good this guy is with a knife!

Smoked Spare Ribs

Rib Rub

Enough for 1 slab

1/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup paprika
1 T black pepper
1 T salt
1/2 T chili powder
½ T garlic powder
½ T onion powder
1/2 t cayenne

These require about 4 1/2 hours in the smoker. During the last hour, baste with some BBQ sauce.

Here is the recipe for my Kansas City style BBQ sauce. Most people like this sauce pretty well. I'm not saying what DS stands for. My friend Raff eats it on his mac and cheese!

DS BBQ Sauce

Makes a squeeze bottle worth or about 2 cups.

1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup honey
2 T molasses
1/3 c vinegar
1 t paprika
2 dashes cayenne pepper
1 t black pepper
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t celery salt
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 t MSG
5 T sugar or more or less to taste

Mix everything up in a bowl. The sauce tastes better as it ages, so make it up a day or two in advance. It should keep as long in the fridge as ketchup would.

Last night we had company up. NJ and Easy E really like Uncle Ben's so I served some. I love Uncle Ben's because we must have had it like 4 times a week when I was growing up. In the photo above you can see how I like my pulled pork. I like the slaw on top of the pork. You need to make a vinegar slaw if you want to try it on the bun. Creamy slaws don't work. Here is my recipe:

Celery Seed Coleslaw

1 large head of cabbage, finely shredded
1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium sweet onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, grated

1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 cup cider vinegar

Combine coleslaw vegetable ingredients; chopped cabbage, chopped bell pepper, chopped onions, and grated carrots in a large serving bowl.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring, until sugar is dissolved; pour over vegetables and toss well. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Enough slaw for 8 to 10 servings. Delicious with pulled pork!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pasquale's Pizza

Pasquale's Pizza is a Humboldt Dining fixture. They have a restaurant right on 169 and they also sell pizzas in most of the area grocery stores. I remember buying the frozen pizzas when I was a kid. I never actually ate at the restaurant until a couple weeks ago.

My 2 favorites are the Canadian Bacon and Sauerkraut, and the Special.

The Special comes with bacon, pepperoni, sausage, onions, mushrooms, green pepper and a scattering of tiny shrimps.
One thing to notice about Pasquale's pizza is that they don't seem to use any yeast in the crust.

Brew Pig

A few weeks ago I started a new hobby. Because a lot of my readers don't like alcohol I am putting all info related to that hobby on another blog. If you are interested you can visit Brew Pig.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Summertime and the Livin' is Easy

Here is my patio in perfect shade as I grilled the pork chops.

Cuban Pork Chops

Tonight we had my grandmother and some long time family friends up for her 88th birthday!

We had Cuban Pork Chops, macaroni salad, fresh sweet corn, baked beans and chocolate cake. The Cuban Pork Chops were Iowa chops that I prepared like I would a Cuban Pork Roast only I made chops instead.

Cuban Pork Chops

4 pounds of pork chops
juice of 3 limes
1 t sea salt
1 t ground oregano
1 t ground cumin
2 bay leaves, ground
1 t black pepper
1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

Combine everything and marinate in a gallon ziplock bag overnight.

Grill until internal temperature is 170.

The best pork in the world comes from Iowa. The best thing is it is CHEAP. All of those chops are greater than 1 inch thick and greater than 6 inches wide. Look at the size of those chops versus the size of an orange. All of the meat on that plate cost $12.53. How can you beat Iowa chops?

Other recipes served tonight include:

Macaroni Salad

6-8 green onions, sliced

2 cups macaroni, cooked until al dante (just about done)

6-8 radishes, sliced

½ green pepper seeded and diced

3 stalks of celery, sliced

slice, dice and seed one large tomato

boil 6-8 eggs, reserve for topping

a good squirt of mustard

a cup or so of miracle whip

1 cup ham, diced

1 cup Colby cheese, diced

dice 3-4 bread and butter pickles and add 1-2 teaspoons pickle juice

In A Large bowl

1. Combine onions, green pepper, radish, celery, macaroni, salt, pepper, and Hungarian paprika to taste. Set aside to rest for 15 minutes.

2. Chill. To start with add 1 cup Miracle Whip and a good squirt of mustard.

3. Mix in tomato and egg, pickles, cheese and ham.

4. Before serving shred ½ head of lettuce. Add more Miracle Whip as needed. Add more salt, pepper and paprika as needed. *I almost never add the lettuce*

5. Top with 2 sliced eggs and paprika. Chill 2 hours before serving.

Wacky Cake

My favorite chocolate cake is my mom's recipe for Crazy Chocolate cake AKA Wacky Cake. I was doing a search to see if anyone else made it and I was surprised to find an entry on wikipedia.

It is commonly believed Wacky Cake may have been created as the result of rationing during World War II, when milk and eggs were scarce. Active ingredients in wacky cake include flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, vegetable oil, white vinegar and vanilla extract. Some recipes add brewed coffee as an additional ingredient. The cake may be topped with icing or confectioner's sugar, or even served plain.

It is not known where Wacky Cake first originated, or who created it. However, the cake is considered a popular delicacy at bake sales in numerous rural regions of the United States, particularly Southern Maryland, which is thought to be where it originated.

Mom’s Crazy Chocolate Cake

3 cups flour

2 tsp. Soda

2 c. sugar

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa

1 tsp vanilla

2 T. vinegar

1 c. salad oil

2 c. water

Mix everything up and bake 30 to 45 minutes at 350.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Jackson Hole

My Jackson Hole correspondent sends this photo.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pergola Update

The pergola is in the shade in the morning up until about 11:00 AM, making it perfect for an outside breakfast. It becomes perfectly shaded at the table again at 5:00PM and it stays that way until sunset! We were just out there and it was absolutely AMAZING. It was worth every drop of blood and sweat that it took to build.


One of my relatives is studying to be a physician's assistant. He came up to learn general surgery from my father. As it happens I ended up scrubbing on quite a few cases with him.

One night he made these delicious chicken enchiladas and some stuff he calls cowboy caviar. The chicken enchiladas have a secret spice that makes them extra tasty. I waited almost a week to get these things and let me tell you, they were worth the wait. His original recipe calls for a sour cream topping but we have decided to collaborate to make this a joint project. I have contributed a chipotle cream cheese sauce.


Serves around 16

5 chicken breasts, broiled
16 burrito-sized tortillas
1 container fresh salsa
1 can mild enchilada sauce
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon pepper
Vegetable oil
One package shredded Mexican cheese

Broil chicken for 5 minutes/side. Allow to completely cool. Shred chicken in
food processor. In a mixing bowl, add shredded chicken, lime juice and
pepper - mix well. In a blender or food processor, add fresh salsa, half of
the enchilada sauce, cinnamon, and blend well. Heat vegetable oil over
medium-high heat in a cast iron or non-stick pan large enough to accommodate
the tortillas. Cook tortillas for about 10-12 seconds/side.

In each tortilla, add big pinch of the shredded chicken mix and little pinch
of the shredded cheese. Roll up and place seam-down in a 13X9 baking pan
coated with a thin layer of the sauce. You should be able to fit 8
enchiladas per pan. Drizzle the sauce over the enchiladas, spread it around
with a spatula, and add a thin layer of cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 25-27 minutes. Serve with cream cheese
sauce poured over each enchilada.

Chipotle Cream Cheese Sauce
8 oz package of cream cheese at room temperature
1 finely chopped chipotle pepper (the kind in the can with sauce)
a little milk
A little bit of fresh cilantro

Put the milk in a sauce pan along with the cream cheese. Heat it up gently. You need just enough milk to make a smooth sauce. Add in the chipotle and heat until warm. You can add a little salt if you want. Add in just a touch of fresh cilantro.
Cowboy Caviar

1 bag frozen corn
1 container fresh salsa
2 (15 oz) cans black beans
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Drain and rinse the black beans. Combine all in serving bowl, mix well, serve immediately.

How to Build a Pergola

After I laid my patio I quickly discovered that the evening sun beat down on the patio and made it almost unusable. I thought for a while about how to solve the problem and I came up with the idea of a pergola. A pergola is a garden feature forming a shaded walk or passageway of pillars that support cross beams and a sturdy open lattice, upon which woody vines are trained. As a type of gazebo, it may also be part of a building, as protection for an open terrace.

To build a pergola the first thing you have to do is sink posts and level them with some flying buttresses. Then you pour cement to lock them in place.
I used 6X6 inch treated posts. After the cement dries the next thing to do is hang the support beams. Since I didn't have anyone to help me with most of this, I had to make the project doable solo. The support beams are 2X8 inch treated lumber, longer than 12 feet. Each one weighs about 70 pounds or so. You can imagine how hard it would be to hold those up and get everything level. To aid in the process I hung 1X4's and leveled them.
Once the 1X4's were up it was easy to hang the support beams and rest them on the 1X4's. I held them in place with clamps and then deck screws.
The next thing to do is to drill some 10 inch carriage bolts through the support beams and the 6X6's.
After the support beams are hung it is time to hang the rafters.
The next thing I did was to hang some 2X2's to make a nice grid.
All of the wood is treated. The lumber yard didn't have 2X2's that were 12 feet long so my father in law helped me turn 2X4's into 2X2's.
Finally, to block out the Western evening sun, I hung some tight lattice.
I might need to change a few small things over time but the bulk of this project is completed. Here is a clue photo of another top secret project that is underway:

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Letters stuffed

I spent the day stuffing practice announcement letters. What a drag!

Sourdough Culture Survived the Move

My sourdough culture survived the move just fine. I made a loaf and brought it to a BBQ at my aunt's house. It was a huge hit. My naughty cousin made an excellent salad with quinoa!

1 1/2 cups quinoa (small disk-shaped seeds)*
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed if canned
1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups cooked corn (cut from about 2 large ears)
3/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
2 pickled jalapeño chilies, seeded and minced (wear rubber gloves)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander

For dressing
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste
1/3 cup olive oil

*available at specialty foods shops and natural foods stores
In a bowl wash quinoa in at least 5 changes cold water, rubbing grains and letting them settle before pouring off most of water, until water runs clear and drain in a large fine sieve.

In a saucepan of salted boiling water cook quinoa 10 minutes. Drain quinoa in sieve and rinse under cold water. Set sieve over a saucepan of boiling water (quinoa should not touch water) and steam quinoa, covered with a kitchen towel and lid, until fluffy and dry, about
10 minutes (check water level in kettle occasionally, adding water if necessary).

While quinoa is cooking, in a small bowl toss beans with vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and cool. Add beans, corn, bell pepper, jalapeños, and coriander and toss well.

Make dressing:
In a small bowl whisk together lime juice, salt, and cumin and add oil in a stream, whisking.

Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well with salt and pepper to taste. Salad may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring salad to room temperature before serving.

Sorry I didn't snap a photo.

I did, however, snap a photo of my latest creation using the sourdough starter - pumpernickel bread. We are bringing it to Sunday dinner tomorrow.

Dorothy Lynch!

One of the first things we did when we got back was buy a bottle of Dorothy Lynch salad dressing.
You can't get Dorothy Lynch outside of the upper Midwest. We couldn't even get it in Kansas. The first meal we had in our new house was spaghetti and salads with Dorothy Lynch.

How to lay a patio

I laid a patio in the back of the house. It is easy enough to do if you are careful and plan adequately.

First, you need to make sure the outline is square and is the right size to accomodate your patio stones with a little sand in between. The best way to do this is to mark the corners out using string and batterboards.
When everything is perfect you are ready to start digging. Just make sure you have something to do with the dirt. Because I was laying a 4 inch base of gravel followed by 2 inches of sand and 2 inch pavers, I dug out an 8 inch deep hole. Thats a lot of dirt!

The next thing to do is make sure that there is a 1 inch drop per 4 feet away from the house so that water drains away from the house. You'll want to frame up the hole and then rent a gasoline powered tamper to compact the dirt.
Next you're ready for a trip to the quarry where you will buy some 3/8th minus gravel.
You want to lay down a 4 inch base of gravel and compact it.
Next lay down 2 inches of sand and compact it. You will also want to make a board to screed the sand (make it level for the paving).
Next you start laying pavers, screeding just a little at a time as you go.
It doesn't take long once you start.
Finally you need to sweep sand into the cracks between the pavers.
Over the next few weeks sand will settle in the cracks and you will need to sweep in a little more.

Move to Humboldt

We're all moved in and mostly unpacked. I rented the biggest truck that Uhaul has.
We hired some guys to load it in Louisville and some suckers in Humboldt to unload it.

Given the enormity of moving from Louisville to Humboldt, things went surprisingly smooth. The only low point was that it cost about a dollar per mile in gas. Here is a photo of our caravan getting ready to leave Louisville.
The dog got to ride in the truck with me.
When we got to Humboldt we were pleasantly surprised to see a feathered occupant.