Friday, February 27, 2009

A Good Gift For Your Photography Fiend, And Retro Food.

I have said before, when I am sold on a product, I spread the word! A few years back, I decided to join the Digital Camera Age... Up until then, I had a Canon AE-1 with a fair amount of lenses. I gave that equipment away to my eldest, who learned on it and surpassed me in photography like I was standing still!
I never argue the benefits of one camera brand over the other, it's like debating who makes the best chili- which always leads to fist fights! I will, however, let you know about the best camera case in the world- made by Pelican.
Simply put, it is indestructible. It's waterproof. It floats. It "burps" itself during altitude changes. You could throw it off a 5 story building, and nothing in the case would be injured. It is guaranteed for life- period! The case comes in many sizes, to fit your need. Originally developed for sea faring types, photographers quickly found how perfect this case was for their valuable equipment! My case isn't big, but holds extra batteries, chip, battery recharger, with car adaptor, my wide angle and telescopic add on lenses, with adapter mount- and of course, the camera(Canon Power Shot A-80)! I think I paid about 50-60 bucks for mine, and gave my son one that was much bigger for $120.. Good investment, great gift!
My cooking lately has a retro feel to it.. sloppy joes, yesterday some Bisquick/sausage/cheese ball appetizers, and tuna melts(as shown) I am rediscovering the dishes we ate after WWII, when a little money was finally getting into the middle classes pockets.. Have good week-ends, everybody!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Untidy Joseph's- So Much Tastier Than Sloppy Joes..

Elevating a simple dish into something special isn't hard, it just requires your caring about the difference between edible and elegant! If you use ground round, instead of hamburger, if you use apple vinegar instead of white, if you use fresh onion chopped when you simmer the sauce... If you add premium Ketchup, the best Worcester sauce, celery seed, a high quality brown sugar, and simmer for an hour -instead of 10 minutes.. little, subtle differences(called details!) can take a belly filler sandwich, and change into a delicious hand held delight! Sloppy Joe's indeed! It is now an Untidy Joseph, so much further up the food chain!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Dinner And A treat Not Done Lately...

I like fish. Almost any kind. Around here, fish has been scarce and expensive! I'm not Catholic, but I love Lent! Lent means cheaper, more plentiful fish to eat!
Today, we got some Tilapia, frozen fillets, but good stuff! I made a Parmesan, mayo, fresh lemon, spiced topping goo that was the whoop! Along with fresh asparagus, and fresh rolls- we were OK!
Later, I made home made caramel corn- sin with a crunch! Hope you all had good food sometime this week- we deserve it!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mini-meme Time! Two Simple Questions...

This could be very funny today! We all have had kitchen disasters, and we've all had funny moment in a restaurant... What I ask today is two questions;
1. What was your biggest home cooking disaster?
2. What was your funniest out of the house dining experience?

I get to go first!
1. When we first got married, like all newly wedded young people, we were finding out our roles in our marriage. Division of labor, etc. My wife was a wall papering fool, as was her sister! Having no money to speak of when we got our first house, a lot of do it yourself was involved in fixing it up. Her sister and husband were to help us wall paper a kitchen.. We got out one of our fancy new wedding presents- a Crockpot! My wife made spaghetti in it, following the instructions to a tee- except the part where you boiled the pasta in another pot, adding it on the end. She threw everything into that miracle of technology, and let 'er go for about 6 hrs...
After working all day, we got to feed out helpers and guests a version of Italian Poi... It was a goo that compared nicely to the wallpaper paste we had been using all day! This is about the time I thought; "I gotta learn to cook!"..

2. My wife's 50th birthday, she can go anywhere in town for dinner- my treat. She chooses a Chili's that just opened not too far from our house... I'm like "you're kiddin"... she says nope, that's where I want to go. We arrive, and it's obvious these people weren't ready to serve anybody anything! They put us in a quiet booth, and it was quiet- for about 1 minute... That's when an entire Little League team descended on our non- smoking section! During the ensuing chaos, the restaurant's smoke alarm went off.. Apparently the rookie cooks were using it as a timer for the food.. The food was late and horrible, the atmosphere was as described- and my wife was informed she would go where I take her next year, as choosing privileges were revoked!
I have many stories about similar incidences, I hope you share some of yours today!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Where The Magic Starts.. Ingredients!

Today, I took a leisurely cruise North, to Birds... Nothing to do with fowl, it's an out of the way meat market/store, some 40 miles up from where I live! It is an old IGA store so far off the beaten path, directions to the place are like finding Treasure Island! They have an old time meat counter.. take a number and God help you if you don't know what you want when they ask! Today, I came away with 6 thin cut pork steaks($1.19lb.!) Two English cut roasts(1.89lb.!) Round roast($2.99 and perfect!), 6lbs. of ground lean round(1.99lb.), a Williams Pinnconning Cheese X-sharp for $8.00 a lb.! Bologna, pepperoni, and a couple of other items made it a trip well worth while!
I get my hands dirty once in a while.. buying food like this puts me in closer touch with the people who bring goods to the markets we attend. It is primal, when marketing types aren't needed- just good plain food, waiting a caring person's attention to turn it into an elegant meal.. Good ingredients aren't exspensive- having some one else do the work is!
Going to a restaurant is not about eating, it's about someone else doing all that work

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentines Day 2009

I went out Friday for some quick shopping.. a small family owned specialty store where I could get a card, candy, fresh meat, and bread (Ciabatta). This store also carries a wide selection of cheeses, with one on sale nearly every week(Baby Swiss!)
Originally the meal was going to be simple ground sirloin on the buns, with onions and Swiss cheese, but neither of us had much appetite, so I held off cooking until Valentines Day.
Remember the Christmas present my wife got from my son in Kansas City? The Aero Garden? Well, the fresh basil she grew was ready for harvest- which changed our menu completely! I made a red Italian sauce from fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and ground sirloin, with a red pasta sauce base. Spices and herbs were dried basil, dried oregano, celery seed, salt, pepper, crushed garlic- with a little red pepper and sugar thrown in.. Simmered for quite a while, we topped fettucini with the meat sauce, fresh grated Parmsean cheese, and of course, the fresh cut Basil. With a pieces of the Ciabatta bread made into toast, it was a little prettier than the last food post I did- Even though the photo of it was crappier! I made a banana bread in there somewhere for later...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Slob Cook...Sometimes!

The meals this week have been simple and frankly, I've made prettier.. An omelette, sausage, white Australian cheddar, mushroom, and ham.. looked like a car crash, ate like Heaven... Frank-Cheesies- a hot dog, fried bacon, same cheddar, with condiments- a mess with flavor! Chicken thighs, seasoned, roasted with Yukon gold potatoes- nothing special, just pretty good eating again!
I admit.. cooking can become a chore sometimes, instead of the labor of love I'd like it to be... When the weather really improves, so does my cooking!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Little Food Update, And A Little Life Thrown In!

Sunday, we weren't that hungry, and I wasn't in Cooking Mode, like I get sometimes..
I made a Chicken, mushroom, Fettucini Alfredo- the sauce was garlicky, extra Parmesan, and quite tame(and good!) by my standards.. We ate it and enjoyed..
Monday, I made my wife's favorite- pan fried seasoned pork steak, with those crappy out-of-the-tube-dinner rolls, that everyone one eats and no one admits to.. Creative juices do not flow every day.. Sometimes simple "go to" foods fill the need better than haute cuisine! "Gourmet" doesn't mean fancy and bad, but neither does "Simple" mean plain and bad... If you eat without speaking, if you go "mmmmm", if you smile and keep chewing... any of those signs would let a knowing good cook they have succeeded! Appreciate good food, at all levels- and avoid being a snob about any food... it shows you know more than you should be simply feeling..
Son's girlfriend is having car troubles in the form of a battery that doensn't work... Son calls to let me know he needs some of my car equipment STAT! Fine, but you can do it yourself, unless you need advice! My days of crawling under a car are over!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Remembrances From My Kids In Scouting...

Like a lot of parents, we made sure our children(both boys) were exposed to many activities, to make sure they were well rounded and accepted by society... My wife was a stay at home mom for a number of years when the kids were small, as we thought that would be a good idea. She got involved with other mommies in the neighborhood, helping at school, church, etc... One of the activities that we became involved with was Cub/Boy Scouts. Her and a girlfriend with boys my sons ages were Den Mothers one year- and naturally I got sucked in to help whenever needed... I'm going to do this as a numbered list to give you the full entertainment value for the least amount of reading!
1. Pinewood Derby- Where the Dads build the toy car that the kid is supposed to do.
With my background as an engineer, we always made it to Regionals. I would let the kid pick out the color of the car, though..
2. Nature hike, put on by a person that would have died horribly in the wilderness after 3 hours.. I taught the kids how to make a whistle out of an acorn top- hit of the day, except for the lady in charge..
3. Stayed overnight on the Silversides, a submarine anchored in Muskegon Michigan.. Spent most of the night on deck, as the interior of the boat smelled like little kids feet, and stale pizza we had delivered for dinner..
4. Camped overnight on a gun clubs property. I had brought a pellet rifle to teach the kids a little gun safety. Teenagers were harassing us, so I volunteered to guard the camp with a pellet gun- just so all the dads would quit runnning around in the woods! These guys were nerds...
5. The biggie- We had a Rendezvous, an every other year gathering of scouts at St. Ignace State Park.(view of Mackinaw Bridge!) Tents. It snowed. The big news was it was the same day the only car in the history of the Mackinaw bridge blew off the bridge! Next morning ice on the picinic tables, Natl. Guard serving powdered eggs and spam for breakfast... I left with kid, went into town and ate at McDonalds. Felt sorry for all the dummies stuck at the park, and cleaned off the donut shelf at a local store. I went through the line they were still in, handing out donuts like I was the Red Cross at a disaster site..
Many other tales to tell about their scouting experiences- but not today!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Christmas In February- Cool!

Last night, during supper- a green chicken enchilada topping, on corn chips(sprinkled with Colby shredded cheese!) the door bell rang... It was UPS, delivering my Christmas present from my son in Kansas City- finally! A new food dehydrator, with the latest technology! My old American Harvest is still working fine, but nothing lasts forever, and for a while- I'll have doubled capacity for dehydrated goodies! American Harvest was apparently absorbed by Nesco- a fine company as far as electric roasters go- as I have one.. The price was in line for the quality of the product, and look forward to trying it out soon. If you do not have one of these versatile products, I recommend you get one and start saving big bucks on jerky, dried herbs and spices, dried fruit, and veggies! The fan unit dehydrators make time less of a factor- and the preservation factor is undeniable. I know I sound like an infomercial, but I get behind a good idea when I see one!
DoggieBloggie struck a cord on his post with me on a one ingredient making a difference.. we had thinly cut pork tenderloin, in BB-Q sauce, with onion sliced finely on buns Monday night. Sliced hamburger dill chips on those sandwiches made an extraordinary difference.. small things are not to be ignored!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Good Soups In Contest And Sunday Dinner..

Saturday, I participated in a small soup cook-off. Literally, all the soups were good, and different from each other! My Mac-N-Cheeseburger soup finished middle of the pack- even though it was the only one that was eaten down to the bottom of the pot! A couple of bar regulars won 1st and 2nd.. go figure! Still, a decent turn-out, with all enjoying hot soup on a cold day..
Today, I marinated a couple of pork tenderloins in an Oriental flavor, and served with what has become our favorite rice- organic brown! Marinate was rice vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, garlic, onion, and sesame oil. Also in the marinate was my "go to" out of the bottle sauce- Tiger sauce! This stuff is good as a shrimp dipping sauce, chicken BB-Q sauce, or great with pork also.. try some, you'll like it! Plain old chocolate brownies for dessert.. I wish Super Bowl would start earlier...