Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

I cooked dinner tonight.  Bacon-wrapped venison backstraps, bacon-wrapped scallops, stuffed shrimp, chipotle remoulade, sliced sweet peppers, home-made hummus, and lightly toasted Afghan bread.  (Yeah, I know that much bacon was cheating, but as a very cute former classmate said, If you're not cheating, you're not trying, and if you're not trying, you're only cheating yourself!)  This was accompanied by Fetzer Chardonnay, that was good enough that I had a glass (I don't usually like Chardonnay).  Then I put my Bluetooth headset on and listened to my new 12 Gardens: Live Billy Joel CD while I tidied up in the kitchen.  And the night is young.  :-)   If you're in the area, the Springfield Butcher is a terrific place to pick up fresh meat, including venison.

Springfield Butcher, Springfield, VA

I hope your day, if not as glorious, has at least been very pleasant.  
Happy Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Grill Me Some Dinner

I have a confession to make.  I don't see my family nearly enough.

Yes, it's true.  They are- as a close friend would say- far, and I hate Mobile's summer weather, and, and...but I found a really good price on an airline ticket a week after the SHOT Show, and since I wasn't sure what my schedule would be like after my transfer to Civil Affairs went through, I thought I'd better go.

Maryland in January was wintry, but last Monday evening in Mobile, Alabama was an amazing and beautiful 68 degrees.  Little brother and I took advantage of the incredible weather to indulge a favorite pastime of mine: grilling.  While at Lowe's that afternoon, I was looking for charcoal lighter fluid when I found something very interesting.

Char-Broil Electric Charcoal Starter

Now, there are places where grilling might happen that do not in fact have electricity, but since grilling frequently happens on folk's patios, a reusable lighter that imparts no petroleum flavor, will not explode, and that- best part- only cost as much as two cans of charcoal lighter fluid was too good to be true, right?  I decided to take the chance.  After an unexpectedly complicated grill assembly, the charcoal briquettes were poured, and the starter was inserted, and covered with a layer of briquettes.

The starter (which I couldn't help calling the Loop of Doom) became hot almost instantly.  I had set my phone timer for seven minutes after reading the starter's instruction to unplug the starter after eight minutes, or life as we know it would end.  (Well, okay, actually, the starter is "only" going to reach over 1,000 degrees and melt, but that seems bad.)

After just 2 minutes
Some of the charcoal was smoldering within just a couple of minutes, and there were flames by seven minutes.

After seven minutes
I unplugged the starter at seven minutes, and pulled it out a few seconds later.  The plastic was cool enough to handle with bare skin.  After that was the simple matter of waiting for the charcoal to all achieve the right consistency.

Almost ready

The coals seemed to be ready sooner than most times when I've used lighter fluid.  The process was easy, there was no explosive danger, and no gas taste.  If the starter holds up to repeated use, it's quite a bargain.

Ready for grilling

The grilled bratwurst and potatoes were delicious. :-)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Post-Thanksgiving Thoughts

The first Thanksgiving I've had in years in my own place was pleasant, and surprisingly healthy.  Turkey breast, chipotle cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, and sweet potato casserole were enjoyed, with pumpkin rice pudding following later in the evening.  It was a good day.

Today the little guy and I planned a trip to the gun range.  We went to the WalMart in Landover Hills, MD, only to discover they had no targets, ammunition, scope bases, or even ear plugs!  We braved the Black Friday crowds for nothing.  When I tried to leave, I found the idiots at this (6210 Annapolis Road) WalMart had also closed off the end of the one-way lane, which led to shoppers laboriously threading their way through oncoming  traffic as they tried to leave the parking lot.

Fortunately, wee man and I stopped at the international foods market next door and picked up 5 kinds of hot sauce and Thai and habanero peppers.  After we made it home, we made hot sauce.  The first batch (lime juice, vinegar, Thai peppers, habanero, ginger garlic paste, and brown sugar) I let the little guy guinea pig.  I dipped a multigrain Tostito in the sauce and handed it to him.  He bit, nodded definite approval, and then darted for his water, followed immediately by more water and milk.  He's a bit of a drama queen, so I dipped my own chip in, got a hefty coating, and ate.

Wow, this is good- holy ****, that's hot!  Despite the worst WalMart ever, it was still a good day.  Maybe we can find targets and such tomorrow.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Goodbye, Carrickmacross

The best part of being in Ireland won't have been the food.

But it certainly didn't hurt.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Best Thing EVER

This just in: back at Wal-Mart- one of the two best hot sauces.

Back at WalMart! Score! on Twitpic

(Okay, so it's obviously NOT the best thing ever, but it is pretty damn good.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Joy Comes

The latter half of Psalm 30:5 says "crying may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning."

Last night was bittersweet. I am an incredibly lucky man. Claire cooked New York Strip steak, scalloped potatoes with prosciutto, green beans almondine, scallops, and freshly whipped cream and berries for dessert. At the risk of leaving myself open for all kinds of jokes, I felt very special.

This morning, I was treated to excellent French toast.

I'll be leaving VA in about half an hour. Leaving won't be easy, but I have seen the promised land. I can go until I come back.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday Times

Lunch yesterday was pleasant, Korean bulgogi and mandoo with icy, lemony iced tea on the Mall opposite the Smithsonian Air and Space museum.

After Claire returned to work, I toured the Smithsonian for a couple of hours. I have perhaps been spoiled, due to growing up within reasonable driving range of the Pensacola Naval Air Station's museum. Still, I enjoyed myself as I walked through, looking at the warplanes.

And a spacecraft or two.

Today, Claire made incredible crepes, and Old NFO visited. Good times. Have you ever had banana, Nutella, and toasted hazelnut crepes? HIGHLY recommended.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Marinade, Tasty morsels on parade
Marinade. Soon no-one will ever find you

Byron is visiting again, and I asked him to grill a couple of chicken breasts for us. He was almost done when he asked me if I remembered how I made the marinade.

"Could you make it again?" it okay?

"Oh, my god."

So, anyway, the chicken turned out really well. The marinade ingredients were (in descending order of proportion):

dark cane vinegar
(sukang iloko)
soy sauce
chili garlic sauce
fish sauce
garlic powder

nước mắm is a useful ingredient, especially for cooking Asian or Asian-influenced dishes. It is a powerful flavoring that is essential for Thai or Vietnamese cooking. Every fish sauce I've tried has worked fine, and it is incredibly inexpensive. I think I paid $1.69 for a 24-oz bottle that will take me months to go through, if I use it weekly. Be aware that fish sauce usually has a good bit of sodium, so don't add any extra salt if you're using fish sauce in a dish.

I have used several brands of fish sauce, including Tra Chang, Tiparos, and Three Crabs. (These are all Thai sauces.) Of the three, Tiparos is probably the easiest to find. I would be least likely to use Three Crabs, because of the hydrolyzed wheat protein. I've had good luck with fish sauce. Every brand I've tried has worked fine in my recipes (I've used it most often in Thai curries), so if all you can find locally is a brand in Kroger or Publix, don't worry. Also, unless you do something silly like ordering it through the mail or you live in Alaska, fish sauce is inexpensive. Unless you do a lot of Asian cooking, you may be able to find a small bottle of fish sauce for $.99 that will be excellent for your cooking needs, so don't be afraid to not spend much on it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I Roux the Day

Yesterday I spent a seemingly interminable time at a local Super Wal-Mart. When did Wal-Mart stop having the lowest prices on things? It seems that many food items (especially those with generics available) can now be bought for less at Kroger. In any case, I bought some food items in addition to kitty litter and other dry goods.

After I finally reached the house, I cooked three bean soup with black, kidney, and navy beans, bacon, onion, and jalapenos. To the large crock pot, I added:

five cups water
two pounds of chicken
1 pound sausage
ten jalapenos
1 1/2 onion
1 bell pepper
2 cans of tomatoes (1 can cubed, 1 can stewed)
six chicken bullion cubes

after several hours on high heat, I added two cups of rice, and spices. I turned all the way down to warm before getting my three hours of sleep.

I just had some stew for breakfast. Mmm, mmm! Good.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cheesy Goodness

John's Easy Queso Dip


1 lb 2% Velveeta Cheese (other cheese, especially sharp cheddar may be substituted)
14.5 oz can of diced, peeled tomatoes
2 to 5 jalapenos

Optional: garlic, other peppers, white or green onions, cilantro, crumbled meat

Empty the can of tomatoes into a small slow cooker and turn the cooker on high. I add a teaspoon of minced garlic at this point, but you can get by without it. Remove seeds from jalapenos and dice. 2 or 3, depending on size, is the right spice level for most people. Add them to your tomatoes, and cook on high about 45 minutes, then turn heat to low and add your Velveeta (I use the Kroger brand), cut into 1/2" cubes. Simmer about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 or so, and then turn your heat down to warm. Serve immediately or up to 2 hours later.

This is a really good party recipe, because it's easy to adjust your time if you're not certain when your guests will be ready to eat. If the tomatoes begin to cook down, just add a little water and turn them down to low until you're ready to add the cheese. Surprisingly enough, about 30% blue cheese is excellent in this recipe. If your like your food super cheesy, add about 20% more cheese (I think my starting ratio is a good one because the cheese doesn't overpower). Serve with tortilla chips, salsa, and sour cream, or add black beans and tortillas and make it a meal. I've had vegetarians at many past parties, but 1/3 cup of crumbled bacon or chorizo should make a nice addition.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Start of a New Week

I am for now the sole weekend supervisor at Fort Classified. We have a later shift that begins at 11:30 on Sundays. Yesterday, I cooked spinach omelets with lots of garlic and smothered in cheese, home fries, and biscuits for my Sunday shift. I made enough to feed everyone of my floor staff who wanted some, and still have enough left for the ticketing staff and security guard to eat breakfast, as well. I fed 10 people, and the food was very well received.

There's just nothing else quite like sharing food to build a sense of companionship, I think. Sure, there are other "team/relationship building" things you can do, but sharing food just seems to me to instill a sense of family. My mom and dad are gone, but I remember the breakfasts Dad would always cook on Sunday, and some Saturday mornings. He'd usually cook bacon, sausage or baloney, as well as grits, eggs, and biscuits.

I miss you, Dad.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Favorite Things

When I remember to think about it, I am always deeply thankful. All of us in the United States, 2008, have so much. Recessions and economic downturns and stresses that we have, we still have so much more to be greatful for.

I had dinner with a few friends last night at PF Chang's. I had fairly high hopes, but moderate expectations from Chang's, but my Spicy Eggplant was practically perfect, the company was great, and our waitress was lovely and very nice. I was headed back towards the house when I got in touch with Jordy, and asked if she'd like to wander the mall with me for a bit, and get some coffee. I remember how much fun I had as a child walking through the malls in Mobile, Alabama, looking at all the Christmas displays and lights. I seem to have lost something, there, though I think I have gained much more.

It seemed Jordy and April were already at the mall, so I turned around, and we met a little later. We ended up at Barnes and Nobles before going our seperate ways. I found myself still in the bookstore after 9 PM. As I stepped outside, I realized the mall was closed, and I was a decent hike from my car. And it was chilly. I can use the exercise, but as I walked, I thought, cars: they're one of my favorite things. Compared to our ancestors of just over 100 years ago, we can go further, at speeds unthinkable not so long ago. Hopefully we can use that extra time profitably.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday Morning Rough and Ready

I like to make omelettes and scrambles with potatoes in them. Getting the right texture is somewhat of a challenge. I deal with this by partially cooking my potatoes in the microwave. They are then diced, and browned.

This morning, I heated my pan, and added some peanut oil. Rosemary went in next, and then a diced potato. (If you like a bit of spice, 1-2 fresh jalapenos or half a poblano pepper would be a nice addition at this point.) I crumbled a grilled Bubba Burger into the pan (if you are in a bit of a hurry, this is a great time to make coffee), and waited a few minutes before adding four eggs. I reduced the heat after adding the eggs, and then drizzled a bit of sesame oil around the edges before flipping. 2% Velveeta was laid in strips across the top, and after the whole affair was cooked and in a container for transport, I poured a generous serving of chunky salsa on top.
This was delicious and hearty. I had plenty, and it fed two of my coworkers, as well. A great start to a weekend morning.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Red Wine and German Beer

You know you're bombed when you find the smoke curling from your cigar incredibly interesting. And you know you're a geek when you think about the silliness of this.

We had a nice little grill-out with friends last night, with chicken breasts, pork ribs, and bratwurst. I had salmon patties, too, but those were never brought out. I added lemon juice and honey to a Korean barbecue sauce we had, and added hot sauce and Worcestshire sauce to some barbecue sauce. The brats were simmered in German beer before being tossed on the grill, and then accompanied with sauteed onions and bell pepper. Yummy.

If you're considering having more than a single serving of alcohol, always start with a large glass of water, and try to drink a glass of water for every serving of alcohol you consume. Your body will thank you.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


...and the livin's easy.

So they say. But, so far, it hasn't been bad.

Saturday night, we had a birthday shindig for Jordy. It was delayed, since her family was down the prior week for her birthday and graduation ceremony.

While we were waiting for folks to show up, I invited my landlord to join us for a beer. He came over just before Davis and another guy in his PA program, David, showed up. Mr. Jackson actually stayed long enough to drink two PBRs with us, and we enjoyed his company. When I offered Bud Light or Michelob Ultra Amber, he said "After the second swallow, it doesn't matter anyway."

We fired up the grill about the time Mr. Jackson left. I had bought sausage, chicken thighs, Angus burgers, Nathan's hot dogs, and Red Hots. I brought out jalapenos, mushrooms, onions, and the kielbasa, and bamboo skewers that had been soaking in water with a little whiskey and dash of sesame oil, and we made kabobs. Mmm. Those went over quite well.

I took some KC Masterpiece barbecue sauce, and mixed in a little freshly ground black pepper, whiskey, lemon juice, and Dave's Ultimate Insanity Sauce. The chicken was delicious.

Hell, everything was delicious. And the company was good, almost all of it, with perhaps a single exception. Eh.

I made Nuts and Berries, Hunch Punch, and a shooter I called a Fruit Cocktail to cool everyone after all the spice. Good times.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Life, Worth Living

Good cornbread may not, actually, be the only thing that makes it worthwhile to soldier through, but it surely does help. Buddy Matt G shares his recipe, guaranteeing that I will eventually wend my way back towards Texas to share some with him.

For any of you that will admit you add sugar to your cornbread: for shame.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Sunday, two friends came over and helped move Jordy's bedroom suite. She helped for a while, but then had to leave for work. Jordy seems to have a magical ability to produce...stuff, and then, to make it disappear when she needs or wants it. I love that girl.

Anyway, with all three boy scout types here, no one had rope. We loaded everything on an eight-foot trailer, and it appeared to be wedged in fairly well, and headed out for The Nook. We had just pulled out of Little Momma's subdivision when our tow vehicle flashed its lights at us in the lead car.

It seems the mattress and the box mattress started to shake pretty violently almost immediately, so I ended up riding in the trailer, holding onto the mattress with one hand, and the box mattress with the other. I was feeling my inner redneck breaking free, I can tell you.

We made it to The Nook (only two miles away) with only the loss of my Molon Labe hat (later recovered).

That night, we had our first guests, as Doug, Faith, Christina and Scott dropped by to socialize and watch a movie. Everyone had a great time, and I finally, finally crunched into some Fiery Habanero Doritos. I've been trying to get my hands on these since before I left for Afghanistan. Doritos seems to be going nuts with the flavors now- I'm pretty sure they have Chocolate Chip Muenster Cheese now- but the Fiery Habanero Doritos are the best Doritos ever. Really. Spicy but not overwhelming, and flavorful. Great with red wine or a bubbly soda.