Thursday, October 30, 2008

Beef Salami- Done In The Oven!

I haven't made summer sausage, or salami in a long time! Stopped at a Butchers' Supply last week, and picked up some supplies to make a batch with. 4-1/2lbs all beef, ground(about an 80/20 fat content) with curing salt, regular salt, whole mustard seed, cracked black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and liquid smoke is the recipe. Rolled into three logs and wrapped tightly in heavy duty aluminum foil, I allow 24 hrs. in refrigerator for it to cure.. Poke some holes in the bottom of the foil, put water pans under the rolls to catch the fat that is going to render out. Set oven for 325F and bake rolls 2-1/4 hrs. Remove from oven, open aluminum foil and drain off any fat or liquid, then patting rolls dry. Place in fridge for a couple of hours, so sausage can firm up and cut easier. Another hunting season tradition, brought to you by me! This recipe has been around for years... not really how salami is made, but it is quick, easy, and pretty tasty!
Out of the oven, tried a bit of it- and for the first time in my life didn't use enough salt! I usually go overboard with this...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Melange Of Food Offerings...

The last few days have gotten me back into cooking a bit more than I have felt like in a while! I mix of this and that, no theme, no long range mission- just food to take here and there, or to eat at home.. In no particular order, a green bean/bean sprout/ham/mushroom/bamboo shoots creation we had as a main dish! Flavored with soy sauce, it hit the spot! Scotch Eggs... Took as a treat to friends that had never heard of such a thing- all disappeared.. Marinated steak on grill, Au Gratin potatoes, homemade white bread were the main meal today! No theme or message today, beyond enjoy your food- life is short!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Halloween Mini-Meme!

As Halloween closes in on us, thoughts turn to the supernatural, the scary, horror and gore... It's not our fault- the advertising won't let us forget! It's a bigger candy holiday than Easter! Adults wear costumes as much as the kids do! But seriously, todays questions are simple and straightforward...
1. Do you believe in ghosts (apparitions, spirits, wraiths, etc.)? If you do, please explain why... perhaps an experience if you had one..
2. What was your favorite Halloween costume (as a kid or an adult)?
I usually answer first to show what I mean...

1. No. The reason I say no, is I have never experienced it. Perhaps I should say, "not yet"- I try to have an open mind...
2. Dracula- as an adult. Slicked back hair, pale face make-up, blood dripping just below my Poli-grip inserted professional quality fangs, black cape, lined with red satin... Looked good, but I lisped like a flaming gay vampire with those fangs in...

I love horror movies and books. I love science fiction same way. I just never have seen a ghost, or a UFO- yet.... I look forward to your answers!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My 300th Post.. A Mixed Bag Of Thoughts Today..

It has taken me about 2-1/2 years to get to this post... sounds like a long time but it sure did pass quickly! I started this venue of communication to read my sons' blog. He lives in K.C. MO, and it was the only way I could comment on his blog! He soon lost interest, and moved on to other, more high tech (or single person options!). I stayed. I found a way to start writing again. I found a way to document happenings in my life, both past and present...literally an on-line way to pass on a bit of my life to my family and friends- or anyone else these thoughts and memories would strike a cord with. I watched my posts evolve (and we are all still evolving, believe me!)from mini rants, observations, and self musings(which nobody first read!)- into a way to communicate and relate to wonderful people from all over the world! Look closely, and we are all very different! Look with open, understanding mind- and we have so many things in common... I had a phone conversation with Doggy Bloggy which lasted at least a half an hour... We had never spoken to each other, but the shared laughs and knowledge we had made it seem like I went to grade school with him! This blogging thing is for real.. we are all for real, whether we are pretending or not!
I left my career behind a week ago, and this is the stuff I'm starting to think about again-finally!
Dinner was as retro as I know how to make it- Herbed beef and pork meatloaf, Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, gravy, sauteed mushrooms, and home-made apple crisp!
Tomorrow is the last out-patient procedure I've got to do(hopefully!). Then maybe a little R & R...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Another Casserole From The Great Midwest- ChiliMac!

Or at least, one of many versions! I had a little leftover ground beef... (does anyone pickup on how many dishes I prepare that start with the word "leftover"?)! With the weather being cooler, a combo of macaroni, seasoned ground beef, chopped celery, chopped onion, a can of diced tomatoes, V-8 juice, chili powder, salt, pepper,and cheese- I could create a flavorful supper for an overcast Fall day! Browned the beef, with onions and celery- all seasoned, then added diced tomatoes undrained, and the dry macaroni pasta. Simmered for about 12 minutes, added Nerd cheese(American processed-melts like mad!- and don't pretend you don't use this stuff either..) some salsa right out of the jar, and poured into casserole dish. I topped it with cheddar cheese, Romano, and Parmesan, then baked in oven for 20 minutes until cheese toppings were bubbling.. Hope you like it, because it tasted great! Oh yeah, that brownie looking thing is a little from scratch creation of mine, featuring brown sugar, dried cranberries, creamery butter, sliced almonds, semi sweet chocolate chips- tied together with flour,eggs, baking soda, salt, water.. you know, brownie stuff! Next post will be my 300th! Probably a Mini-meme...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Misshapen Deliciousness... Beef Jerky!

Saturday and Sunday were putz around food days... I had an Eye of Round beef roast, and the only reason I would buy this cut of clear, tough, kind-of-flavorless meat, would be to turn it into a tougher, far more flavorful product known as- Beef Jerky! This time of year in Michigan, thoughts turn to the great outdoors... Much like our ancestors, we pack a little traveling food to eat on the trail(or a bar!). Over the years, I've come up with a pretty good working knowledge of making jerky and sausage for the times we wear flannel, and pretend we're hunters!
I marinate the trimmed, cut-into-strips beef, in a water, brown sugar, non-iodized salt, onion, garlic, Worcester sauce, red pepper flakes, liquid smoke, celery seed brine (try saying that in one breath!). 24 hours later, I dry it and place on racks in my dehydrator.. about 4-5 hours later, we got product! 4lbs. of fresh meat will yield 2lbs. of jerky. Around here, beef jerky sells for $15 a lb.... I make superior jerky for about $5 a lb.! People ask what is the shelf life of this stuff. I tell them I don't know, it never lasted longer than a week before it was all gone!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Creative Spaghetti.. It's In The Ingredients!

I had a taste for something Italian, and checked the freezer for what could be done about it... I had some boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and some sweet Italian sausages. With a good basil mushroom red sauce, properly seasoned with garlic, onion, more basil, more mushrooms, oregano, etc., over spaghetti- this should be excellent! Broiled seasoned chix, simmered sausage, simmered sauce, all at once. put the meat into the sauce, after cutting into smaller, bite-sized pieces, and set on low. Grated Parmesan, and Romano for sprinkling on top, boiled spaghetti, heated bread, and boom! We were eating in no time (1-1/2 hrs., truth be told!). A fudgy brownie for dessert, and time for football(nap)! Odd, but most of the time you see chicken and sausage paired in a dish, it's either gumbo, or jambalaya...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A New Day Is Dawning.... While A Sun Sets...

Well, I did it. Monday, I turned in my resignation. I have been pondering this move for a while- retirement from the Metals business.... It is truly a bittersweet moment... I have watched the Midwest of America become better know as "The Rust Belt"- products manufactured from metals dwindling to half of what it used to be. Friends, neighbors, and relatives losing their jobs as the plants close, cut back, and automate. I have been in this business for 35 years, filled with ups and downs- always ending down from where it was. This business has been good to me- and I hope I was good for the industry in return. When I was younger, I said; "If you ever get up in the morning and feel you're hanging on to your job, instead of doing it to the best of your ability- it's time to go". As you get older, you question that kind of bravado, but what I said still holds true for me. Friday is my last day. Breaking the news to customers and friends has been difficult. With the stock market tanking, and the country in economic trouble, my decision seems to fly in the face of reason... but I believe the world around you and it's events are simply a backdrop to what is going on inside of you. I plan to get my head straight, my health back, and then make decisions about my next adventures! Call it ego, but even when nobody else believes in you- as long as you believe in yourself, it will be OK..

Friday, October 03, 2008

Goulash.. The Midwest Version, Not Hungarian!

Growing up in Michigan, we always had regional adaptations to national dishes- changes that suited the palates and pocketbooks of the locals. One that we had last night is Goulash (or what we call it!) Real Gulyas is Hungarian, has chunks of cubed beef, diced potatoes, onions, garlic, paprika and caraway- in a tomato based liquid. More of a stew, it could be eaten as is, or over noodles. I have made this, and like it, but the one people around here grew up eating was more like this: Ground beef, diced celery, diced onions, sliced mushrooms, salt and black pepper- all sauteed until meat is browned. Diced, crushed, or stewed tomatoes, mixed with tomato sauce seasoned with paprika, caraway, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and a touch of chili powder. When saute' is done, dump tomato mix into meat mixture pan, and simmer on low 10 minutes. Meanwhile, you boiled water to cook Macaroni 8 minutes til done. Drain, and add to casserole dish with rest of ingredients. Bake at about 330F covered for 25 minutes, uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes. Add grated Parmesan to top of casserole last five minutes..
Versions of this abound across the Midwest... It ain't Gulyas, but it ain't bad, either!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

My Birthday Supper...

Tuesday was my birthday. I got the usual funny cards reminding me I'm older than most living things on the Planet, a dinner, and a cake. Couple of small presents which was fine by me! I really didn't feel like cooking or going out, so we got take-out Chinese! We know the family that owns the restaurant- my youngest son was school buddies with their youngest boy...
The meals were Orange Chicken, Chicken with Vegetables, Hunan Beef, and some kind of beef stir fry(my son had!)I didn't get the name of... The cake was a little gay for my tastes, but I still ate alot of it! Another one for the books...