Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Is Cool!

Ever since I was a little kid, Halloween has been one of my favorite times! Buffalo Dick at 5yrs old: "You mean we get to dress up in a costume so no one knows who we are and scream Trick or Treat at our neighbors-and they give us candy!!??" I was hooked. I grew up as part of the "Baby Boom" in a predominently Catholic neighborhood. This meant untold numbers of children running up and down the streets, gathering as much loot as possible before 9pm when we had to be home! You always went in a mob of kids to be safer from predators. No not perverts! Older kids that would steal your candy! By age 12 you had the drill down pat, but you knew soon you'd be too old to be doing this candy thing next year. Age 13-18. Roam the streets throwing eggs at other teens, cars, and houses! My high school had an unsanctioned Junior/Senior egg fight every year at a riverside park. It got so big, the cops patrolled so it wouldn't happen. So a hundred or so guys armed with thousands of eggs(some rotten) were turned away to go into the neighborhoods instead! Real bright, huh? Buffalo Dick at 30-40: Wife takes our two boys T or T, while dad stays home and passes out candy. Buffalo Dick at 40-50: Adult costume parties! Dressing up and handing out candy to kids! Throwing flash paper fireballs for their entertainment! Nowadays, we just hand out treats at home, missing the days when Hell was actually raised on All Hallows' Eve.....Buahahahahaa.....
Oh yeah, as we have no kids at home anymore we just put the ceramic jack-o-lantern in the window. I miss carving scary faces in pumpkins and roasting salted pumpkin seeds!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Project, Then A Bite To Eat....

Saturday and then Sunday until about 1PM, We stayed pretty busy! It's that time of year when we do a little bit to get the homestead ready for when the weather isn't so nice. Yesterday, that meant going to Sams' Club and stocking up on food related stuff we will need for the holidays. After that, it was replace the light bulbs outside that had burned out, fix the storm door, and fix the door knob to the garage service door. As by now we were on kind of a roll (You know what I mean!) I decided to grocery shop, talking my wife into going to Lowes for a specialty light bulb while I was busy at the other store. She thought it was a great idea, but really didn't want to go (again, you know what I mean!). Lowes is like 1/2 mile from our house, so the debate was short and unheated!
This morning, I thought it was time to hang the decorative clock we had bought for our dining area. How long had we waited to do this, you ask? Eleven and a half months.... Why so long, you ask? That's what happens when we're not on that roll anymore. Anyway, we got that 20 minute project done in less than 2 hrs, which is about normal for my wife and I when we work together on something! We hardly ever yell at each other anymore either... Life sure beats it out of you, doesn't it?
We wrapped it up in time to start dinner- chicken on the grill, blueberry muffins, spice cake for dessert, and scalloped potatoes- sliced in our new food processor! No one needs one this powerful, really! My son called from K.C. MO and I told him I'd found a new way to get rid of unwanted body parts... Hope your weekends are going well, and see you later!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Let's Talk About Coffee.....

A few years back, I was cruising the cookbook section of a used bookstore I'd never been in, when I came across a hard cover book about coffee. It had everything I like in a book, hard cover, in good shape, covered history, methods, chemistry, how to's, and equipment required. Right. I really bought it because it was cheap! I like cook books that read like a story occasionally, and this was well written. Up until that book, Nescafe instant, 1-2 cups in the morning to jump start the brain, and I was good to go! However, after reading what an incredible peasant I had been to this noble beverage, I went on my new mission: To become a Coffee Snob! I shopped the Internet for information on the best burr grinder for the money. Snobs must grind their own coffee. It must be done in a burr grinder, so you don't overheat the ground coffee. Now I went forth and bought an automatic drip coffee maker. There are tons of good ones, so I got a programmable on sale. Now to actually shop for coffee! I ended up at a specialty outlet store owned by a commercial roaster of fine coffees. Every week or so, I would get a different type or blend of coffee beans and judge them as you would a fine wine. We found the ones we preferred and have enjoyed superior coffee at way cheaper prices (say, 20 cents a cup-max?) than you get at Starbuck type places. The picture is of our new coffee maker (wife doesn't ask for much, so she gets it!) with a couple of our favorites. We grind enough for just a few days, store it in a glass container and refrigerate (which you don't have to do!).
Message for today: Life is too short to drink crappy coffee!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

An Up North Saturday, And A Lasagna Sunday......

Friday night, we really didn't feel like doing anything except eat supper and flop- my wife reading her book, me on computer, then TV. The weather was supposed to be unseasonably warm and sunny Saturday, so we decided to head up North to Manistee, MI and do a little gambling at the casino there. We were sure the tree leaf colors had peaked, but still might be some spots to enjoy. It's about a 2 hr drive, and on a beautiful late Fall day in Michigan, it was the tonic we needed after the work week! On the way up US 31 we stopped in Muskegon and grabbed a quick breakfast at Bob Evans. I had been craving a Belgian waffle for weeks, so I finally got one. Not great, but not bad either! Another 1-1/4 hr and we were at the casino, which had a few things going on besides gambling. An antique show had gotten an early crowd, and we found out the club we belong to in Grand Rapids had a bus trip there too! We played the slots, losing a tolerable amount (not much!) over 3-4 hrs. I always like to go home a different way, and talked my wife into having a sandwich at an old bar and grill called the Government Lake Inn, close to a little town called Baldwin. The place had been there since the 30s, and we hadn't been in there in at least 10 yrs. They used to make the best handmade burgers, and we found out they still do! 1/2lb of irregular shaped hamburger, covered in anything you like! I didn't take pictures inside, as most of the patrons looked like they had bench warrants out on them! We hit the road and were home in about 1-1/2 hrs, greeted by an Airedale who really had to take a leak!
Sunday, at 6am I started sauce for a lasagna we were to have about 1pm. Had time to grocery shop and pickup fresh Italian bread for the meal. If it had a name, it would be; Italian Sausage 5 Cheese Lasagna! When I make one of these, it ends up weighing about 7lbs- for real! I give about half of it to my son who lives nearby, and pray some one else stops in so we don't eat it more than once as a leftover.....
Well, time to do some paperwork, so I don't start the work week behind... Have a good day, everyone!

Friday, October 19, 2007

What Do YOU Call It- A Blonde Brownie, Or A Pan Cookie...

I made this treat for the people at work, as I was off work on my birthday (Sept. 30!). I had been brought up to call this creation a "Blonde brownie". About 15yrs ago, someone I worked with brought in much the same treat on their birthday. "Oh boy! Blonde brownies!" I exclaimed. The woman looked at me in a puzzled way and said "These are pan cookies, my Mom taught me how to make them when I was young". We debated the issue, never resolving anything in what to call them going forward. They are no more than an adaptation of Toll House chocolate chip dough, spread put as one piece in a full sheet cookie pan. You can make these with dried fruit, nuts, white or butterscotch chips, or any variation of a choco chip cookie you've ever made. Watch the bake time- they are thicker than a cookie, but slightly thinner than a brownie! Enjoy your weekends everybody!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

All In One Night- A New Fish Recipe & A New Vegetable!!!

Tonight, we had one of our "Let"s Eat Healthy!" moments. We had bought quite a bit of flounder on sale ( 5lbs frozen fillets), and thought a new recipe beyond just broiling it was in order. Also this past weekend, the produce section had a sale on a product I had seen before, but had never tried- Broccoflower!
The Broccoflower is essentially a cauliflower that is about the same color as broccoli. Invented (?) in the Netherlands, it was touted to be milder smelling and sweeter than plain cauliflower. Seeds were sold to a company in California, and domestic growing commenced. For $1 a head, I had nothing to lose. Simply steamed as you would for cauliflower, then buttered and salted to taste- here's what I thought: It smelled a little stronger than expected, and the flavor was neutral, borderline bland. Good texture- all in all not too bad!
The fish recipe was; thin sliced, raw onion laid in a skillet that had been sprayed with olive oil, four fillets seasoned with Old Bay and placed on the bed of onions, with approx. 1/2 cup of V-8 juice poured into skillet. Poached ingredients for about 10 minutes, and served. I would make this again! Simple, yet flavorful, the meal was low cal and tasty! Now I'm off the hook eating healthy for a few days-at least!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Chili Cook-off Results Were.....

Saturday, we packed up the food, camp stove, cooking utensils, and us- to head for Larkins, a bar and restaurant located 20 miles east in a little town called Lowell. The purpose of the trip was to enter a chili cook-off they hold as a part of the towns' Fall Fest with our Wicked White Chili. The weather was good for this time of year, about 50F when we got there at 9:15AM. We (my wife and I) paid and set up our cooking area. The other two Buffalo Bros. I cook with were entering our Red Chili, as they have two catagories at this contest (white & red) and a Peoples' choice award, which is nothing more than a local getting all his friends to stuff the ballot box. The sun came out to make it a beautiful Fall day, with attendance by tasters way up from the previous 2 years. A bluegrass band played too long, too loud, and too badly for my taste. Any kind of music (blues, oldies, country, polkas, Celtic, etc.) played exclusively for 2-3 hours while you're trying to talk, cook, and pay attention to the business at hand will ultimately piss you off! The samples were picked up earlier than announced, which also cheesed me off- and because of that all the people waiting wanted chili early too! We made 3 gallons of white chili, and it was gone quickly. Rave reviews, and repeats make you feel good! Finally, they announced the winners: 1st White Chili-not me??!! 1st in red chili- The Buffalo Bros.! My buddies were flippin' out happy, as the prize was 4 tickets to the Denver vs Lions game and a trophy! 2nd in Red was our good friends Team Dragon Spit, and to ever beat them means your chili was really really good!
For those interested, the recipe for Buffalo Dicks' Wicked White Chili is as follows:
4lbs boneless, skinless chix breasts, cubed 1", sauteed in splash of chix broth
2lbs sweet Italian sausage, bite size pcs, browned
2 green bell peppers, diced to fingernail size
2 medium yellow onions, " "
6 Jalepeno peppers, diced small as poss. no seeds.
2 cans 15oz. chix broth
Put all in pot, season with 2 tbsp Mexican oregano,crushed, 3 tbsp crushed garlic, 1 tbsp white pepper, splashes of jalepeno hot sauce to taste, 2 tbsp celery seed, 1 tsp ground cumin. Bring to simmer, cover and simmer for 1 hr.
Add 48-60oz of cooked white beans(great northern), drained.
2 jars prepared alfredo sauce
1-2 tbsp ground cumin
1 15oz can of corn
Add hot sauce to taste
Simmer for 15 min. or until all is heated through. Thicken with masa harina if needed.
Top with grated Parmesan, or Romano (or both) stir in til melted.
Serve with grated cheese and sliced black olives.
Sorry,no pictures as I forgot my camera in the hectic loading-of-everything process.... Also, this cook-off gives you a gift basket from the local merchants that probably covers the entrance fee of the contest! Nice people, nice town!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Just What I Needed, Another Monster Kitchen Appliance...

I mentioned in an earlier post, we were getting our first food processor. Never one to do anything half-assed, I got about the biggest one available without going to a commercial unit! It was delivered late Wed. so Thursday I unpacked it, ran the parts and attachments thru the dishwasher, and READ THE MANUAL. Those last three words should scare the heck out of you, because if you know me, I never read a manual in my life-I'm a guy! There were enough parts with this thing, that to use it or put it away right when done using it required a video, not a manual! The friggin' thing weighs a ton. Finally I was comfortable with how it worked, so I plugged it in and turned it on. The motor was so powerful, it hummed like a wood chipper before you jam in a tree limb! I'm thinking about going to the grocery store and buying a bunch of "Marked down for quick sale" fruits and veggies just to see how each attachment works. We'll see how much we use it- I'm still a sharp knife fan for cutting and chopping...
Tomorrow we have the last outside chili contest of the year(that we go to!)Our famous "Wicked White" chili is what we'll be making, while my buddy plans on doing our traditional red chili as a separate entry. Results will be forthcoming in a Sunday post. Enjoy your week end!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I'm Eating Healthier, Just Not Tonight!!!!

This morning my wife and I discussed what sounded good to have for supper tonight. She surprised me by saying "We haven't had hot dogs for awhile- that sounds good". Usually I'm the one that dings for a couple of chili dogs, not her. She doesn't even eat chili dogs! She prefers a hot dog with mustard, catsup, chopped onion, and a couple of hamburger pickle slices (That is, when we're not having the infamous hot dog, 2 strips of bacon, and cheese creation we call a "frank-cheesy"!). I like a chili dog with a good dose of chili, melted co-jack cheese, and a couple of light squirts of mustard. We are not Jewish, but always buy Hebrew National brand all beef jumbo hot dogs- 'cause they are the best! I love their slogan "We answer to a higher authority"! My home made chili sauce recipe is published somewhere in my old posts- I share it with anybody, but I spent a long time getting this just right, so if you change anything in it, don't tell me! I figured I'd better take a picture of this, so I piled the finished dogs on one plate along with a bowl of another health food- cheese puffs! Ever since "South Park" came out, we have referred to them as "Cheesy Poofs" ala Cartman ("Hell yes, I want some Cheesy Poofs!"). We ate the heck out of them right after the photo session, and now I'm waiting for the thirsties to hit me- there's alot of Kosher salt in those Hebrew Nationals....
Oh, by the way- What do you like on your hot dog? And don't answer "everything"!!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Latest Kitchen Adventures......$$$

Friday, I decided to make a "Dad" pizza. For many years- before, during, and after kids, pizza was/is our traditional Friday food! I make a killer sauce about 4 times a year, making enough to freeze pizza sized portions to last for a few months. I also make the dough from scratch, utilizing the convenience of a bread machine set on "dough" cycle to do the grunt work. Except last night... I was looking right at the bread machine wondering how old it actually was (20yrs!), when it started making a very odd noise. I opened the top, looked in, and no dough was mixing merrily as I hoped. In mid-pizza crust, it had croaked (Sh*t the bed, Tits up, Gave up the ghost, etc.). I grabbed the blob of dough and started kneading it, like I saw once on the Food Channel, feeling like I was trying to give some sort of weird life saving class to a bunch of student bakers. I realized then; This is how people really make bread! Came out great, topped with Mozzerella, Aged Provolone, real Italian Parmesean, and Romano cheeses, with Italian sausage, sauted mushrooms, and Pepperoni. We aren't buying a replacement bread maker, as we have a heavy duty Kitchenaid 6 quart mixer, with a dough hook attachment! Also, it did push us to ditch our harvest gold, 34yr old wedding present blender for a diecast base brushed nickel 700watt Kitchenaid Food processor- with attachments!
Tomorrow, a 5lb. Cajun marinated Boston Butt roast, slow cooked 5-6 hrs at 275F with baked Yukon Gold potatoes! The home made Toll House chocolate chip cookies I baked will have to be the dessert.....

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Light, Even Maybe Healthy Supper....

Last night, I made some cheesy broccoli soup to go with the salmon I was going to cook that night. The salmon was done in an oriental flavored marinade, then broiled til done. We ended up having quite a bit of the soup, which left us kind of full and with a fair amount of salmon left. I wanted to use it soon, so tonight I made an oriental flavored salmon salad to put into a half of a fresh muskmelon. The salad contained fresh green cabbage, chopped carrots, chopped celery, salmon cut into bite size pieces, chopped red onion, green onion, and pineapple chunks. The dressing was cole slaw dressing, fish sauce, soy sauce, chopped ginger, a little honey, white pepper, and chopped garlic. Quite light, and refreshing to boot! Cooking for two sometimes means not so many courses, but something done well....

A Light, Maybe Even Healthy Supper...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Any Other Parts Of The Country Have A "Wet Burrito"?

For over thirty years, Grand Rapids, MI has had a creation that is on almost any bar menu in town- The Wet Burrito! It started with a small restaurant called the Beltline Bar in about 1973. It was a tortilla (soft) filled with spiced ground beef, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, with refried beans(optional). It was then wrapped shut, covered in an enchilada sauce, then covered in shredded colby cheese and heated until ingredients hot and the cheese melted. Sides of tortilla chips, sour cream, chopped onion, hot sauce, or sliced Jalepeno peppers were the norm. This phenom swept the metro area, and within 20+ miles of G.R. you could have a "wet burrito" just about anywhere that had a liquor license! I have noticed that the national chains (Taco Bell, Chilis, etc.) really don't have this on their menus, so I wondered if we were the only region in U.S. that has such a creation on the menu? I'm making my version of a wet burrito tonight for dinner, so I'll include a picture as to what it sorta should look like! Let me know if you have ever heard of such a thing in your stompin' grounds, and also feel free to mention any food you might think is only found around your neck of the woods!