Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lamb Stew, Saturday up North, and Musings...

Earlier in the week I made lamb stew from some left over leg of lamb... This has to be our favorite stew, as the broth takes on such a wonderful, unique flavor. I took the meat off the bone, simmered the bone for stock. Then cut up some carrots, celery, red skinned potatoes, and onion. All put in a stove top pot, with some cream of mushroom soup, and poured stock over and simmered the lot until meat was tender.. Easy and good!
Saturday we went to an up north casino, and gave some of my Keno winnings back, but a beautiful day for a road trip! Michigan is so many stages of green this time of year, it amazes me.. On the way home, we stopped at one of our favorite roadhouses by Baldwin, MI- The Government Lake Inn. Great food, real friendly folks.. Saw a few deer, and a few wild turkeys, but not as many as expected..
Today, I'm baking some white bread, and probably make some kind of Alfredo pasta, with mushrooms..Tuesday is our Wedding Anniversary, but our celebration was Saturday! Hope you are all enjoying the better weather...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Shepherd's Pie- My Version Of A Very Flexible Dish

As I acknowledged earlier, this dish has many interpretations.. I don't think anyone would have The One And Only recipe for this, but probably think the original had mutton or lamb, and potatoes as two of the ingredients.
My recipe was loosely based on a meal served at a rest home I worked at while in high school and college. Violet Meinke was head cook and was old enough to be a resident of the place... She was one of those widows who never remarried, and worked hard all her life for a living. Heart of gold, with a good dose of wisdom too. I was a picky eater, but as a teen-ager I would eat about anything if I got hungry enough! A free dinner was included in my job (worked 5-9PM) every night. One night, I lifted the cover to the meal to find what looked like glop on a plate.. I pushed it around a little with a fork, trying to determine what it was! There was hamburger in a gravy, a layer of corn, covered in mashed potatoes.. I found nothing offensive, so I ate it, and asked when it would be on the menu again!
I used leftover meatloaf sliced thin for my meat base, covered it in sauteed onions and mushrooms, poured on a bit of brown gravy, layered in corn, and covered with mashed potatoes.. Cooked for an hour at 325F 1/2 hour covered, 1/2 hr. uncovered to brown the potato topping. It made for a substantial meal!
Played Lotto(Keno) yesterday and matched 5 out of 5 for $410! Our wedding anniversary is June 2nd, so this week-end we are going to the casino!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sunday- Meatloaf, Monday- Roast Leg Of Lamb, And Cheescake!

We actually like meatloaf. I make one flavored heavily with herbs, spices, ground beef and ground, seasoned pork sausage. Thought I had a photo, but we all know what a good meatloaf looks like! I mention it, only because my next post will the leftover meatloaf turned into a much interpreted dish called Shepherd's Pie..
Our holiday meal consisted of a whole leg of lamb, roasted, Yukon Gold potatoes, asparagus(eat it while it's the local, fresh stuff!) soft rolls, and a traditional cheesecake.
The lamb was stripped of the fell, or membrane, and coated with a wet rub made of olive oil, garlic, rosemary, balsamic vinegar, salt, black pepper, and celery seed. A dash of water was used to make it a paste. Roasted for 2 hrs+, it was a little past medium rare, but still fairly moist. These left overs would be used in a traditional Shepherd's Pie, but I'll be making lamb stew with this!
The cheesecake was a plain, NYC style cheesecake, topped with cherries- really another keeper( no cracks!). Plenty left over, as it was a big one!
Hope your day off was a good one- next stop Independence Day!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bacon Cheese Melt On The Big Bun, Next Night Pork Chop And Beans BB-Q'ed In An Oven

Much curiosity about those big buns I baked.. Take your favorite basic white bread recipe and separate into individual portions on a cookie sheet. Let rise, bake at 400F for 12-15 min. and you got it! The larder was low, so I made an open face bacon and cheese broiled sandwich...
I don't much care for beans, but found a recipe that appealed to me..Four pork chops, seasoned and laid in the bottom of a pan lightly oiled. Cover with Great Northern white beans, pour molasses and your favorite BB-Q sauce over beans to cover. Cover tightly and bake at 330F for an hour, then take cover off and let beans reach your favorite consistency( I like mine almost dry, but not quite!) The chops were flavorful and fairly tender, and the beans- I actually enjoyed them!
Have good week-ends everyone!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tortilla Soup, And Home Made Hamburger Buns..

Monday, I took the left-over roast chicken, and the broth I had made from the carcass created by Sunday's meal- and went hunting for something new to do with these treats... Tortilla Soup won the contest! Many versions of this dish, but this is what I did... Home-made chix broth, tomato paste, corn, chopped onion, jalapeno chiles, chopped, red salsa, chunky style, chili powder, garlic, cumin, Mex oregano... Put in a Crock pot on low for 6 hrs... Tortilla chips and shredded cheese as a garnish- I will make this again!
I made home made hamburger buns- came out the size of a plate! Tasty, but huge.. no picture of it, but imagine a small Italian bread loaf...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Week In Food At Our House...

We started the week light, as Sunday dinner was pretty big- an omelet with cheese and mushrooms sounded good.
Next day, feeling a little more ambitious, I baked some western style pork ribs covered in an Asian/Korean sauce- rice vinegar, brown sugar, 5 spice, soy sauce, garlic, onion, and sesame oil... I love that flavor, even though I don't care for that cut of pork! I also made some pasta salad, which with spinach salad dressing, came out really well!
Next night, I had chopped the leftover pork and made BB-Q sandwiches- with extra sauce, it was quite tasty..
We were't terribly hungry the next day, so it was the old favorite tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich...
The following night, I made a from scratch pizza, that we shared with my son...
Today's meal was a roast whole chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, and banana muffins- the Midwest Sunday dinner if there ever was one! The muffins browned a little darker than planned, but I think I used too much butter and sugar in the batter!
Hope you all have a good week- the weather here is improving daily

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Our First House, A Tale, And A Mini-Meme..

We had saved and scrimped for 2 years, with the dream of owning our own home. A "North-Ender" until I die, we waited for the right starter home in a neighborhood I was familiar with. In Grand Rapids MI you are a "West Sider" a "South Ender", or a "North Ender"..everyone else was a transient in a suburb, or didn't count!
We found a small house in an old Catholic neighborhood that was an estate sale.. widow had died, family put up for sale. Needed a bunch of work, and the woman had died in the house(I didn't tell my wife this, until later!) No updates, built in the Depression, it was no prize.. It had a an "octopus furnace" meaning an old coal burner converted to gas- all heat ducts were inside walls, cold air registers were on outside walls.. But with $4000 down, the $16,000 house was ours! Foreclosures today resulted because people bought $200,000 houses with no money down! I ripped out bushes, cut down overgrown trees, planted ivy, burned-yes burned old paint off house, and restained it, then painted it.. Ripped out bathroom and kitchen, learned ceramic tiling, took 5 layers of wall paper off everything, painted everything that wasn't moving, all after working a full day. The neighbors loved us, and our porch became a "have a beer and talk" place when dusk was upon us.. I have a picture somewhere of my wife coming home from the hospital with our first born, going into our house for the first time... It was a dinky, older home, but it was that key word- a home....
So this is where you tell me about your first "I bought it" home! What was funny, and what was not so funny...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

Today is Mother's Day- a time to appreciate your mom, whether she is still here or gone... Mine is gone, so we spoil the wife and mom who lives here. My sons and I call her by her nickname-The Goob, or Goobie.. Her Mother's Day consists of cards, presents, and a meal of her choosing- prepared by you know who! I had some boneless rib-eye beef steaks, and had bought some really excellent, large wild caught prawns.. Fresh Michigan asparagus, bakery rolls and butter, with a home-made carrot-apple spice cake with cream cheese frosting, well it t'weren't too bad! Also, as I had the deep fryer running, I cooked up some prawn puffs/chips given to me by Doggy Bloggy! Very crisp, cooked in 40 seconds, they looked like pastel colored pork rinds, but tasted very mild! We had more fun watching them cook than eating them! It was like a magic trick... They could be dipped in anything you prefer, as they are fairly sturdy...
The son in K.C. MO called, which always cheers us up! He sent his mom some more plants to grow in her Air Garden he got her for Christmas...
I only took a few pictures as our timetable was rushed, but if everything around here went smoothly, I'd think I was in the wrong house...
P.S.- My sister and her husband got a new dog from rescue, and brought it over Saturday.. Beautiful animal about a year old, and the people claimed it was a Boxer/Great Dane mix. I took one look at the dog and told them it had to be a Rhodesian Ridge-back- size, color, shape- perfect match! Nice animal!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Tuesday, Wednesday Happenings And Eats...

Tuesday, I had signed up for a focus group on a new way to make and save money by giving it to a charity instead of the government(short version!). I thought it was going to be a high pressure sales pitch, but was pleasantly surprised to find a room with an audience of 15 people of above average intelligence, a knowledgeable speaker, and a time table they actually stuck to! I listened for an hour, filled out a 7 question opinion based observation sheet, and was paid $65 bucks- which will cover the Mother's Day dinner I have planned!
We couldn't wait for Cinco de Mayo, so we had a "wet" pork burrito Tuesday night. Later that night, I was headed down to our family room, slipped on the last carpeted step- and sprained my big toe! Really slows you down for a couple of days...
Wednesday, we were going to have chicken salad in a half a muskmelon, but decided to try something a little different... We've all had a tuna melt, why not a chicken salad melt? Broiled shortly until heated through, then topped with cheese and melted- it wasn't bad! Hope your week is going your way!

Monday, May 04, 2009

If You Stay With It, You Learn Something New Every Day..

Saturday, my wife and I decided it would be a beautiful day to head North... Michigan, this time of year, can be fantastic or nasty...Forecast looked good, so we took a road trip. Casino in Manistee was busy, but not lucrative for us! Wild life sighted was one turkey, one deer, a hawk feasting on a rodent, and sundry animals being made into part of the road bed(road kill!).
When we got home, a hardy bean dip with tortilla chips was a good snack...I use refried beans, red salsa, browned,ground burger, cheese, and extra ground cumin-filling, warming and easy!
The next day, I'm scrounging for a Sunday meal, as shopping will happen later that day. I had some huge bone-in chicken breasts(3=3lbs.!)and my wife wanted chicken salad for sandwiches during the week... I decided to simmer the chicken in chicken broth,water, poultry seasoning, and Balsamic vinegar.. Deboned and chopped 2 of the breasts into pieces to be used in a red sauce over pasta.. For years we have eaten chicken spaghetti-but this time, I did something different! I kept the broth and did the pasta in that flavored liquid... The result was stunning! The sauce was great, but the pasta had taken on a flavor that was a stand alone treat! The chicken/Marinara topped with grated Parmesan was good, mind you- but I could have eaten the pasta alone and been pleased...It was kind of like "dirty" rice, only it was pasta!
Later that day, I made the chicken salad with the remaining breast, which with hard cooked eggs, celery and onions chopped, mayo,mustard,lemon pepper, and dill- came out zippy and good.. Balsamic vinegar is to be used sparingly, but done right- is a fantastic ingredient! I also made some sour cream fudge brownies that came out cake-like and perfect with vanilla ice cream...
Have a good week, everyone!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Kind Of A Funky Friday Nite Supper

We've been eating a lot of pork lately, but haven't had pork chops in quite a while. I looked for a baked recipe, and came up with this...
1. 4 pork chops, bone in, browned in olive oil. Place in dish, large enough to hold them.
2. Top with sliced apples, and onion slices.
3. Pour a mixture of strong mustard, brown sugar, and a touch of water to make a sauce.
4. Pour over chops, apples and onions.
5. Bake at 350F for 50 minutes, occasionally basting with rendered juices/sauce.
It wasn't bad, but next time I'd leave it right in the fry pan and cover tightly!