Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Happy Husky

My happy, healthy and well fed husky, Major.

Hello!  I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas and great time eating!  Later this week I plan to do a post on New Years traditions and food, but today I'm going to revisit the topic of cooking for your dog.
     Since my last posts on dog food I've heard from some folks that have tried it and have seen great results.  One question that has come up a few times is; "what about making dry food?"
     I did some investigation and found that there are several recipes for "kibble".  I decided on one that isn't really "dry" although it is close.  This recipe will keep for about a week in the fridge.  I am not feeding Major this by itself,  I mix it with some husky loaf, a sardine and some olive oil.  Although he does like it by itself, I've even tossed him a few pieces as a treat.  This is just one option, a little looking around and you can find others that may more closely resemble the traditional kibble.  I did change a few things, the original recipe called for beef broth, I substituted turkey broth. (by the way, if you cook a chicken or a turkey make sure you use the carcass to make stock).  The recipe also called for bone meal.  You can find it at some health food stores or on Amazon.  Since it only calls for 2 teaspoons I left it out just to try the recipe.  Also good in this would be some ground up turkey or chicken meat, just a little though.

Here we go,  you need;

3 cups of rolled oats
3 cups whole wheat or rye flour
3 cups cooked rice
2 cups dry milk powder
3 cups of stock (I used turkey)
4 eggs
1 cup of lard

dry ingredients
preheat your oven to 225 F.  In a large mixing bowl combine oats, flour, rice, and bone meal if you are using it.
  In a separate bowl beat the eggs. Melt the lard and mix into the eggs ( don't do it the other way or you will make greasy scrambled eggs)
melting lard
Now stir the egg mixture into the flour mix, add the stock and stir until well combined.
Sort of the consistency of oatmeal.
like soupy oatmeal
Grease a large baking pan, pizza pan or cookie pan and pour the mixture on to it.  You will need more than one, as this needs to be spread thin.    Flatten out the mixture with a spatula or spoon, and bake.  Try to keep the batch thin, a thicker batch will take longer to cook and may burn on the edge before it's done.
spread it thin!
why yes, that is a Kindle fire in the background.  You should click the Amazon link and buy one!!
Ok  this stuff needs to bake for quite a long time, at least 2 hours, keep checking on it.  It should be lightly browned, don't expect it to be really dry, it will not be.
lightly brown,  fresh out of the oven!
Allow the kibble to completely cool.  I used a pizza cutter to make pieces and scooped with a spatula. (judge the size based on your dog)

the finished product, ready for the fridge and chow!
If your not going to use it up in 4 or 5 days split the batch and freeze half.  That's about it.  Go cook for your dog!!

Stay Hungry

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Animals

#7 in a series

Sheep, cattle and a donkey.  Standard farm animals of the day.  The sheep in all honesty are dirty, filthy and down right stupid animals.  If the manger scene is not just to show us what happened, but also to show what will happen, it is good that the sheep are here.  Unless we understand just how filthy and stupid sheep are we will not really understand why Jesus is referred to as the Good Shepherd, and we are the sheep. So yes, we need to have a sheep.
     Cattle in the Bible can refer to several animals, even goats, but it generally refers to a beef cow or an ox.  It was necessary to have them, even in a poor home, since they were beasts of burden and did work in the fields.  They were rarely eaten, they were just to valuable as workers.  The cattle would have been very familiar with the yoke. So it is good that they are here. "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. "  Matthew 11:29
     The donkey, ok, it was probably an ass, the ancestor of what we call a donkey.  A rather dumb and stubborn animal that was mostly used by those that could afford little else.  He is an animal of low, low esteem.  So why is he here?  It is because this common, lowly animal would carry Jesus into town on Palm Sunday.  How confused the people must have been, expecting a great and powerful warrior and instead see a Prophet riding on a donkey.  The shock is close to that of the manger scene.  We still do not understand that the King of the Universe expects us to seek peace by riding the donkey instead of power and might.
     So, lets feed this group of animals.  How about some straw and hay? No not actual straw and hay, it's a pasta dish called Paglia e Fieno.

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1/2 pound spinach linguine
1/2 pound regular linguine
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
a little extra cheese for topping

heat a small frying pan and add the butter, oil and garlic.  Saute the garlic briefly, but be sure not to burn it.  Set aside.  Bring a large pot of water with a pinch of salt to a boil and cook both pastas in it.  Drain.  return the pasta to the pot and toss with the reserved butter and garlic mixeture, the cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.  Top with the extra cheese and serve.
Super easy and good.

HEY!  What about the Camels?  Well, I guess they were hanging around after bringing the Three Wise Men.  Creatures used for travel, hauling heavy loads for long distance.  They were also used for wool, remember John the Baptist came in from the desert wearing a cloak of camel wool.  And yes some folks in the middle east still eat camel, can't say that I've ever tried it.  What does the camel foretell?  I think maybe the preaching ministry of Jesus.  "It is easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
     What should we feed the ship of the desert?  It's my understanding that any camel boy than knows what he is doing, always has some dates to give his camels.  So let's just go with a nice bowl of dates.

Stay Hungry

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


#6 in a series

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God saying, 'Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace among men"

     The word "angel" comes from the ancient Greek word "angelos" which is a word for messenger, other etymology brings the word from evangelium, from which we get our word for evangelist,  either one works for me.
     Medieval artists usually portrayed angels as being strictly feminine, I'm not sure why, there is nothing in the Bible to support this, and I guess it really doesn't matter.  Although I guess they are better looking.  Any way, what to feed the angels----regardless of gender.  Well obviously, Angel Hair Pasta with Cream and Porcini mushrooms.  For dessert, Honey Cake with Rose water...nice!

Here we go!
1/2 ounce of dried porcini mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots
3/4 pound fresh mushrooms chopped, (button or baby bellas are fine)
1/2 pint whipping cream
3/4 pound angel hair pasta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    Place the porcini in a small bowl and add 1/2 cup warm water.  Allow to soak 45 minutes.  Drain, reserving the liquid.  Heat a large frying pan.  Add the oil and shallots, and saute a minute.  Add the fresh mushrooms and saute until tender.  Chop the porcini coarsely and add to the pan, along with the reserved liquid.  Simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated.
     Bring a large pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt.  In a separate bowl whip the cream until it holds soft peaks.  Refrigerate the cream until the pasta is done.  Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente  and drain well.  Return the drained pasta to the pot and add the mushroom mixture cheese, cream, and salt and pepper.
     Using a large spatula, fold all of the ingredients together.  Do this quickly, yet carefully, so that the cream doesn't collapse entirely.  Save a little cream to dollop on top when you are done.  serve immediately.

Honey Cake with Rose water
3 cups all purpose flower
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
grated peel of an orange
2 teaspoons rose water
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts

Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and baking soda.  Set aside, Dissolve the instant coffee in the water in a mixing bowl.  Blend in the oil, honey, orange peel and rose water and set aside.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy.  Gradually ad the sugar and beat for a minute.  Add the honey misture to the eggs and sugar.  Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture alternantely with the dissolved coffee , starting and ending with dry ingredients.  Stir in the walnuts.  Pour the batter into an oiled and waxed paper lined 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan.  Bake in a preheated 325 oven for about 50 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick, stick in the middle and if it comes out dry it's done.  Invert the cake onto a wire rack.  Cool.  Peel off the waxed paper, cut into squares and serve.

Wait a minute!!!  Rose Water?  Yup, you can find it at some grocery stores or check out the link below and get it from amazon.  You'll get more than you need but my wife says it is a natural facial toner!  So there you go!  Cake and nice skin!  That is the one and only beauty tip you will ever see here.

Stay Hungry!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


#5 in a series
Now, the shepherds.  It's hard to imagine the fear and awe of the shepherds when the angel came and announced the birth of the Prince of Peace.  There they were, minding their own business, just watching sheep  and looking out for dogs and thieves.  Then BAM!  An angel appears and tells them that everything would be different since a child had been born, the Son of the Most High.  "And you will find Him dressed in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."  Surely they were confused, but, they went and found the Child and, like you and I, did not fully comprehend.  Then they fell down and worshiped Him.
     For the shepherds?  Roast lamb would be nice, but remember red meat was only served on High Holy Days. (and the shepherd didn't usually own the sheep he tended).  He would have lived on a diet more customary for the time.   Let's start with bread dipped in wine.  No mystery here, just get some good crusty French bread and dip it in your favorite red wine.  This would have been very common in the ancient world, and its a great way to have bread without butter.
     Then I think green olive soup.  This is what you need
2 cups pitted green olives
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4 cups of chicken stock
1 cup whipping cream
3 more tablespoons of olive oil
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
freshly ground pepper  (NO SALT-the olives are plenty salty)
4 shots of Tabasco
1/2 cup dry sherry

sliced pimeinto stuffed green olives
garlic bread croutons

Soak the green olives in cold water for 1 hour.  Drain and coarsely chop.  Heat a frying pan and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the onion, and garlic, along with about two thirds of the olives.  Saute until the onion is transparent.  Puree the mixture in a food processor with 1 cup of the chicken broth.
    In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the puree mixture with the remaining stock. Simmer for 20 minutes and add the cream.  In a small frying pan, cook the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the flour together to form a roux.  Whisk the roux into the sop and simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Add black pepper to taste, the remaining chopped olives, the Tabasco, and sherry.  Heat and serve with the sliced olive and croûton garnish.
Stay Hungry

Monday, December 19, 2011


fourth in a series

     Now we come to Joseph.  He is a fairly interesting character in that the poor guy was sort of along for the ride at this point.  An angel had explained to him that his fiancée was to bear a child and the child was to be the Son of the Most High.  Being a humble carpenter he surely must have wondered why he was chosen to raise the Prince of Peace.  In the Bible narrative we see that there was some questioning and consternation, but not for long.  This good and humble man watched over the birth of the Saviour and over the raising of the boy to manhood. 
     So what to prepare for Joseph?  Something simple and practical such as unleavened bread cakes.  According to Ben Sirach, who wrote a great deal about these times, a typical meal probably consisted of flat bread, olives, salt, milk and honey.  And if it had been a good week, some fish.  Red meat was pretty much unheard of in the standard diet.  Only on High Holy Days did you get a chance to eat meat.
     So, for Joseph in the manger the meal is unleavened brown bread, a common provision for travelers at the time.

Here is what you need:
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
additional flour for kneading
sesame oil for brushing

Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the water and mix to form a dough.  Place the dough on the counter and knead with additional flower until smooth and not sticky.  Cover the dough with a large mixing bowl directly on the counter.  Allow to rest for 2 hours.  Cut the dough into 8 pieces and form into balls.  Roll the dough balls into circles on a lightly floured surface.  Keep the dough covered with the bowl or plastic wrap when you are not working with it.  Brush the flat loaves with a little sesame oil.  The best method of cooking these is to bake them directly on baking tiles in a preheated 500 deg oven.  Bake a few minutes until the edges curl up.  You can also bake them on baking sheets.

Stay hungry


Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Baby in the manger

Third in a series.

     A Baby in a manger.  What we were expecting was the Messiah, one who would bring the fulfillment of the Kingdom, one who would free us from the bondage of Rome, one who would restore the Temple to its rightful significance and bring the final event of the age.  And what we got was a baby!  God declares Himself as a baby.  All our images of power and might and takeovers are brought down by the Most High confessing Himself as a baby.  Why?  The answers are numerous and theologians and all kinds of religious types have put forward explanations, many of which are probably very well thought out and correct in their own way.  I think that God chose to show us that love is stronger than anything we have thought up in terms of power.
     One feeling that most of share when we see a baby is : "He is so dependent upon me."  Why would God show Himself in this way?  Because we are so dependent upon Him, and it's not a matter of force and is a matter of love that is beyond our ability to believe or understand.  We are as dependent upon the Holy One as a tiny newborn child is dependent upon us.  The fact that the Prince of Peace should declare Himself in this way is shocking, and just perfect, when you come to think about it.
     So what can we offer this Child?  I think it would be appropriate to offer Him some milk and honey, remembering the promise given to our forefathers that they would find fulfillment in the land of "milk and honey".  It's hard for us to see just how amazing that promise sounded to the people who had wandered and hungered in the desert for so many years.  A land where milk and honey FLOWS!!  That is a wonderful image of fulfillment, and the Child is our fulfillment.

This is very simple and surprisingly very good.
Place a pint of milk in a blender and add 2 - 3 tablespoons of honey.(warm the honey in the microwave for few seconds, it will blend easier.)(If you have one of those handy little frothers for your fancy coffee or chai that will work also just make sure the honey is warm) Whip the mixture in the blender(or frother) for just a moment, it should be well blended and frothy.  pour it into some glasses and serve.  Your kids will love this

Stay Hungry

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Flower of Heaven

If  you haven't yet, give the previous post a read.  This one will make more sense if you do.

Let's start with Mary.  I think that we in the Evangelical world, in the rush to distance ourselves from any thing Roman Catholic, miss the significance of Mary.  No, I don't mean putting her on the same level as God as some are want to do, but I do believe that she should be respected like any of the other "heroes" of the faith.  Her lesson to us on obedience and purity are often just a foot note in the Christmas story.  After being told an incredible and, for her, certainly frightening thing.  And despite her initial misgivings and confusion, her answer was; "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."  Luke 1:38
     In my mind, that line alone puts her among the greatest of all the saints.  After all, an angel said that she had found favor with God, and I'm guessing it doesn't get much better than that.
     So what should we prepare for her in the manger?  I read once that she has been referred to as "The Flower of Heaven" , I'm not sure where, probably a cook book.
With that in mind I think a salad of fresh greens and edible flowers would be appropriate.

This is not rocket science.  A bed of tender greens of any type, most grocery stores even sell bags of a salad greens mix.  I don't think it really needs to be said, but I will anyway.  Use caution when picking flowers for your salad, for instance DON'T use the poinsettias that you see everywhere!!  Arugula flowers are great as are the flowers from pretty much any herb.  Roses are edible as long as they haven't been sprayed with anything.  There are a lot to choose from so just do a little research first.  Many grocery stores even sell bags of edible flowers.  OK so just put this all together so you think it looks nice.  Serve it with a very light and very simple vinaigrette or even just some really good olive oil, and salt and pepper.

I'll admit that I'm not the biggest fan of eating flowers, but in a salad like this they are pretty nice.  Enjoy!!
Stay hungry

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas is coming!!

  Well, here we are again.  Another Christmas is just ahead. I've been thinking a fair amount about Christmas this year.  There a lot of ups and down associated with Christmas.  Statistics tell us that this time of year crime increases as do suicides and domestic violence.  I'm not trying to be a bummer or a scrooge or anything, but sometimes it makes me wonder why we bother.   What was intended as a celebration of Christ's birth and the physical manifestation of God's love for the world has in many cases, I would say maybe most, been turned into a commercialized mockery which leads to many of the problems cited above.  So what is my great solution?  I don't have one.  Maybe that's what bothers me, the problem is way to big for me to get my head around.  What I can do is try do look past the blow up Santas, the ugly blue lights and all of the ridiculous advertising, and fight through my own apathy and indifference that all of this breeds in me. 
     So how am I going to do that?  Two things have struck me while pondering this season.  One, I still love to cook, and cooking gives me many things.  The ability to share my love with others, the time to focus, it relaxes me and gives me satisfaction.  Two, in my house we have a Nativity up all year,  it's a simple one that sits on a bookshelf at the bottom the stairs coming from the second floor.  Most of the time I walk past it with out notice.  This past week I started to wonder how I could combine these two things that are always present in our home.  The answer that came to me was, cook for the characters in the nativity scene.  Well, not literally for the little clay pieces, but cook as a remembrance for each one present at that manger in Bethlehem.
     So, over the next couple of weeks between now and Christmas I will post some recipes and thoughts on the characters in that scene.  I like to think of it as going foodie all over your Christmas theology.  Before going forward yes, I know that Jesus really wasn't born on December 25th and that our modern symbolism  is full of ancient pagan stuff and blah blah blah.  So whatever, I don't care about that, it doesn't really matter to me.
     First, how about a little history lesson?  The Celebration of Christmas as we know it, with presents, trees, lights and the manger scene, is fairly recent.   Francis of Assisi is generally credited with the development of what we call nativity scene or "crèche".
     Francis lived in 1200's in Italy, and is well known for his love of birds, animals and all of God's creation.  He seems to have been the first one to come up with the Idea of honoring the child with a manger scene filled with his beloved animals.
     His words were, "For I would make a memorial of that Child who was born in Bethlehem, and in some sort behold with bodily eyes His infant hardships; how He lay in a manger on hay, with the ox and ass standing by"  
     So he called the towns people together and they constructed a manger based on the account in Luke's Gospel.  Being such a quiet and gentle man, I can't begin to imagine what he would think of the frantic pace we set during this season.  He thought it should be a time of  solemn reflection on God's gift to us.

    OK, so who are the characters I'm going to cook for? (I'll expand on each as we go)
 Some are obvious, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the Three Wise-men and the Angels.  Also present would be shepherds, sheep, cattle, a donkey, and camels. Not often represented but we can assume would at least be in the general area would be; the Innkeeper, a Tax Collector, a Beggar and some Roman Troops.  I'm not sure if I will get to that last group before Christmas, but I'll give it a shot.

     I hope you will enjoy the recipes, and maybe take the opportunity to look a little differently at that scene we see once a year and then put away.

Stay Hungry,

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Beer Soup

Ah, winter in Wisconsin.  Well, almost.  It's not here in it's full force, but it is getting cold(it was 9deg when I woke up today).  Even though it is cold, all things are right with the world because our beloved Packers are 13-0 and marching to the playoffs.

What do you think of when you think Wisconsin?  How about beer, cheese and brats.  It doesn't get much better than that when you sit down to watch the greatest team in the NFL destroy yet another opponent.  Okay, it's actually pretty darn good even when you are watching some other team, or even when you just want something warm on a cold day.

So, lets make some Beer Soup.  Here is what you need.

3 Cups of chicken broth
1 six pack 12oz bottles of beer.(you only need one bottle but since your buying it anyway....)  Don't go buying some nasty skunk beer (bud).  Get something that you would actually like to drink while you are watching the game.  Like Leinenkugel or something similar.
1 cup of cubed potatoes
1 cup diced onions
2 cans of condensed cream of chicken soup
1 lb of Velveeta  cubed (yes, I know it's questionable if it's actually cheese, but it's what works the best)
popped popcorn
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (I like a lot)

Now that  you're back from the store, this is what you do with it.

Pour the stock into a large pot and bring to a boil.  Add the beer, and onion, return to a boil and cook for 20 minutes.  Add the potatoes and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.  Reduce the heat and add the chicken soup, and cheese cubes.  Heat until the cheese melts (stir continuously) and soup is hot.  DO NOT LET IT BOIL! If you let it boil it could curdle and that would be nasty.   This holds true for all cream soups.
Add pepper to taste.
Serve with popcorn sprinkled over the top of each bowl. And a beer :)

To really make this a great meal, add your favorite brats cooked on the grill.  Everyone has a favorite brat right?  And yes, real men grill in the winter!

No this is not diet food, but why not!  It's football in the winter!

Stay hungry friends,

Friday, December 9, 2011

The tools of the trade.

One question that occasionally comes up is "What kind of kitchen gadgets should I have?".   My answer is  none.  Yes, I have had some gadgets over the years. You know, those infomercial wonders that will make your life easy and turn you into a world class chef.  My experience is that they are garbage, and that is where they will end up.  What you should concentrate your money on are some quality kitchen tools.

But what tools should every kitchen have?  While answers probably vary widely depending on who you ask, I give you my top 10 tools.

A quick word on brands.  I have my favorites and I will link to them if you would like to buy them.  But more importantly, get what you like and fits your budget.  If you can afford to buy Messermeister knives then by all means do so.

But again you don't have to spend a ton of money to get some quality stuff.  One of my favorite brands is Oxo, awesome stuff at a reasonable price.

So here we go.

#10.  Whisks -  assorted sizes they are a very versitile tool, from beating egg whites, and blending salad dressings to dissolving solids in liquid.  They are essential for making any kind of creamy sauce.

#9. A stainlles steel box grater - A box style grater gives the choice of hole sizes for grating Parmesan cheese and chocolate to shredding cheddar or carrots.

 #8. A pepper mill - DO NOT under any circumstances buy pre-ground pepper it's not even close to grinding your own!  This is one case where I use something that is bit on the pricey side for no other reason than it looks cool.  I use a modified turkish coffee grinder,  it is one of my favorite pieces in the kitchen.  However I also use those McCormick grinders that are disposable, so use what you want, as long as it's not pre-ground!

 #7.A peeler - Use a peeler to remove skin from vege's and fruits.  Get one that fits your hand well and washes easily.

 #6.Measuring spoons - Let's face it, as much as you think you have a great eye for how much a teaspoon is, you don't.  Measuring spoons ensure that you are close to the recipe.  If you want to experiment after that, have at it!  Have a couple of sets, few things are more aggravating than needing the Tablespoon for dry and liquid ingredients  in the same recipe.

#5. Measuring cups - see above.  I love the measuring cups that have the gradient at an angle inside the cup, makes it super easy.  I have plastic and stainless ones.

#4. Kitchen Shears - Keep these handy, mince herbs, trim fat from meat, make slits in dough and they cut stuff to!  Get the kind that comes apart to be sure they are well cleaned after use on poultry etc.

#3. Mixing bowls - get a variety of sizes, and materials.  The are endlessly usefull.


#2.  A chef's knife - I know that there are tons of different types of knives for all sorts of different jobs. But, if you need to chose one knife to have, it is the chef's knife.  They come in different sizes but the most common is the 8", get one that fits comfortably in your hand and is well balanced.  This thing is the work horse of the kitchen, a good chef's knife can do just about any of your slicing, dicing and cutting jobs.  I'm going to include a couple of good cutting boards at the same time.  Wood ones are great for anything except meat and poultry so have a good have  plastic one to use.  A word of warning on plastic boards, they all say that they are dishwasher safe and yes, you can  put them in the dishwasher to sanitize them.  Just make sure that you take them out before the dishwasher's dry cycle as the heat generated during drying can warp your board.  And speaking from experience a warped cutting board is no fun at all.

And finally my #1 kitchen tool.  The Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.  Yes it is expensive, but it is well worth it. This thing can do just about anything, with the right attachments it can mix, knead, whip, make pasta, and grind meat for sausage. It can be a grinder, a strainer, a slicer, a chopper, a shredder and much more.  Yes, I like my mixer. And you will to.
This is the one I have.

Well there you have it, my top 10 kitchen tools.  Honarable mention would go to a good mandolin.  I use mine often, but if it comes down to a choice, a chef's knife and some practice can do pretty much the same thing.  The mandolin is just much faster.

If it seems like this post was on big add to buy stuff on Amazon, that's because it is!  Click on something and buy it!!  Your favorite chef will thank you!

Stay hungry friends

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Our new Kitchen

Well hello foodie friends,
It's been awhile again.  These past few months have been pretty hectic and pretty great.  My real job has been way busy, the remodel of the kitchen is done except for some trim work, one son back and forth from college a couple times, another son home on leave and then deployed to Afghanistan, etc, etc, etc.  And thats not to mention the greatest foodie holiday of them all, Thanksgiving!!

Today I'll mention my DIY kitchen remodel.  Let me just say that if you have a chance to make your kitchen the way you want, do it!  I know that budgeting these days can be tough, but do what ever you can on your own.  Most estimates for the remodel we did would have been at least $15,000, but by doing almost all of the work ourselves it cost around $7,000.  Now before you start to say that you can't do DIY let me tell you that I am the least handy person you will probably ever meet.  Fortunately, I do have a very talented wife.   To give you an idea of what we did ourselves:

1) Installed the new floor  Don't let vinyl throw you, no it's not actual hard wood flooring, but if you do it carefully it will look awesome.  This flooring is not you fathers vinyl, this stuff is tuff and will last a long time.
We used Allure by Traffic Maste, the stuff in the add will give you the general idea.

 2) We re-purposed the cabinets.  Granted the structure of the cabinets was in good shape, we made new cabinet doors and panted the rest of the cabinet.  Total cost was about $400 for lumber, paint and hardware.  And a lot of help from my dad (it's nice to have a dad that is a wood worker)

3)Plumbing.  Nothing major, just ran a new drain line for the dishwasher, and adjusted the drain and water supply for the new sink.  We did hire a plumber to run the new gas line, I figured if the house blew up I didn't want it to be my fault!  Cost for the plumber was about $100.  Cost for the other plumbing supplies about $50.   We also installed the new sink ourselves.

You don't need to spend a ton of money on a sink there are some very good stainless sinks that are reasonably priced.  Installing is a bit of an adventure but it's worth it!

As you can see the back splash tiles aren't up yet.

4) All of the miscellaneous that a contractor will charge a ton of money for.  Clean up, disposal, painting running water lines for the fridge etc...

Other than labor the biggest cost in a kitchen remodel is buying new appliances.  Here as well, with a little research, and by taking advantage of sales (we hit the big appliance sale at Home Depot, and got a discount for buying 3 new appliances) you can find some real quality at good prices.  When it comes to appliances, buy to the max of your budget, having quality appliances not only makes cooking a lot more fun it also gives you some peace of mind having stuff that is made well.   Do your research and read lots of reviews from other people. (Amazon is a great source for checking reviews)

Here is look at what we went with.

So there you have it our new Kitchen and I love it!!!!

Don't believe you can have a great kitchen and not spend a rediculous amount of money? Check out this book!

Stay Hungry!!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

My stand by pot luck dish

Ah the pot luck.  The American tradition that everyone goes to and nobody really likes.  It's on those occasions, be it church, social club, work, or kids sport team, that usually brings out the same old dishes.  Baked beans mixed with something, overcooked ham slices, taco salad, that mystery meat thing with tator tots on top, etc. etc. etc.  I'm sure you could come up with more.  Now I don't want to be critical of folks that bring these dishes, as they are well meaning and generous.  However, I cringe when I see that table full of the same old dishes.  So what's my same old dish?  Well, it's changed over the years but by far the most popular and requested recipe is cucumber salad.  Why?   I think that it's just different than the rest of the stuff on the table.  This recipe doesn't require any particular culinary skills, and it is not complicated at all.  So it has become my standby, that dish that I go to when I can't figure out what to bring or just don't feel like spending a lot of time on it.(although it is best made the night before)

This recipe is actually a Jewish American dish, which is appropriate as cucumbers are mentioned early Bible as a favorite food of the Hebrews. (Numbers 11:5)  Credit for the dish goes to a man named Irving Lefferts.  Who is Irving Lefferts?  I have no idea, but if he's the guy that came up with this then my hat is off to him!  So I give you Irving's Cucumber Salad

Here is what you need:
2 Cucumbers  thinly sliced (use a mandolin if you have one)
1 yellow onion peeled and sliced thin
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup of water
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

And here is what you do with it:
In a bowl, put the cucumbers and onions.

In a small saucepan combine the salt, water, vinegar, and sugar heating slightly to dissolve the sugar.  Add the celery seeds and mustard seeds.

Pour over the onion and cucumber.  Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

That's it! Super easy!  If you like it don't toss out the leftover liquid, just cut up some more cucumbers and onions and mix it up again!

Hey!  Don't have a mandolin?  You should! I consider a mandolin an absolute requirement in any kitchen.  Check out the link below.  Excellent product at a great price!! 

Stay Hungry!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More cooking for your dog!!

O.K.  I'm not going to make this into a blog for dog recipes, but I've had some folks request more recipes for the four legged friends.  So here we go.

We call these Husky pops, Major loves them and its fun to watch him eat them.  You may want to put a Popsicle stick in some of them, it's pretty funny to hold it as they eat.

1  32oz carton of vanilla yogurt
2  Tbl.  of peanut butter
2  Tbl. of honey
1 banana

Toss it all in a blender.
pour it into small dixie cups and freeze.
Makes about 16 pops

Next is Husky noodle soup!  this is a good one if you run out of husky loaf and need to feed before you can make some.  This one is super easy.

Cook 1 full package of egg noodles in chicken stock.  Use a little less liquid than you normally would to cook the noodles.  Cook them until almost all of the liquid is absorbed into the noodles, they will be overcooked.  Let the noodles cool!!  We use about half the noodles for 1 meal.  Add a sardine on top and a generous amount of olive oil.
So there you go, a couple more things to feed your dog.  There are a lot of really good resources out there to come up with more things or food that is breed specific.  The link below will take you to Amazon, that book used for $2.90 is a steal.!!

Stay Hungry 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Cooking for my dog?

This is my dog Major.  He is a 7 year old Siberian Husky, he is not that bright but he is lovable and affectionate.  If you know huskies, you know that they love to run and talk (they howl like a wolf, it's pretty awesome) and they shed a little all the time but they blow their  coat once or twice a year and then it's like it's snowing all day. As one person put it "if you don't like dog hair in your butter, don't get a husky!"
So, you may be asking what does my dog have to do with a cooking blog?  Especially since I haven't posted in many weeks (mostly do to my dyi kitchen remodel, more on that soon).  Well first a little back story.  For several months Major just didn't seem himself.  He didn't have the same energy, he was constantly licking, had sores around his mouth,was shedding constantly, he stunk (even more than usual husky stink) and was an all around whiney pain.  So,  while reading some sites dedicated to huskies, I came across an article about breed specific feeding.  It talked about dogs developing allergies to commercial dog food.  It turns out that huskies, as well as other dogs, have problems with stuff in commercial dog food primarily any corn or soy products. And much to my surprise many huskies don't deal with beef products well, they can do most types of game, elk, deer etc. but not domesticated beef.  What are the symptoms of a food allergy in dogs?  Yup, you guessed it, sores, bad smell, lack of energy excessive shedding and licking.  So, I figured, "what the heck I've got nothing to lose"  so I found some husky specific recipes to feed Major.   It has been amazing! I was a bit skeptical going in, but literally withing days all of the symptoms were either completely gone or dramatically reduced.
So now I am a believer!  Cook for your dog!  It really doesn't take that long, and it is actually costing about the same or less than the store stuff( I was using what we thought was a good brand, not the cheap stuff)   The following recipe was listed for huskies but it is just an example of cooking for the four legged member of the family

Husky Loaf
4 cups cooked brown rice( make sure it is fully cooked, over cooked is better than under)
2 lb of ground turkey or chicken
2 grated carrots
2 apples cored and chopped fine
2 eggs

mix all of this together,  scoop into a couple of loaf pans, and cook in a 375 deg oven for about 45 minutes.  I cut it up into portions put it into plastic containers and keep it in the fridge.  When you serve it to your dog put a sardine or two on top.  Pour a little olive oil on it to if you want.
Major goes nuts for this, and he's happier and more fun to be around than he has been for a while.  ( and Dexter the cat goes crazy for it too, I always have to give him a little on the side. He gets so crazy I'm afraid he's going to stick his head in Major's bowl and that will be the end!)

Some other recipes include  Husky pops, Husky noodle soup, and Husky muffins.  Maybe I'll put those up some time.  And I'm sure that other breeds are similar.

So Cook For Your Pet's.

Stay Hungry (your dog will)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Baking vs Cooking

I like to think of myself as a pretty good cook.  However, my greatest kitchen frustration is baking, specifically baking bread.  It's been said that if cooking is an art then baking is a science.  I think I am understanding that more and more.  When I cook I view a recipe as a guide, I substitute ingredients freely and experiment with my own recipes.  I can't do that with baking.  If you don't follow the recipe exactly,  the results are less then optimal.  My result is usually a loaf that is extremely dense, doesn't taste bad but one piece will sit in your stomach like a brick.

So, all of you bakers out there, I admire your ability to be exact, and to pay attention to detail (ask my wife she'll tell you neither of those traits are among my strengths.  I will stick to cooking and the following baking for dummies method.

This is the only bread recipe that I have ever had success with.....I hope you like it, it is especially for us cooks that can't bake.

So here’s how to make the bread. You’ll need:

3 cups of lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Grab a very large mixing bowl, or a large container that you can cover. In it, mix the water, yeast, and salt. You don’t even have to heat up the water to a precise optimal temperature for the yeast. I’ve even used just regular tap water, and it’s worked well for me. Just let that sit together for a while (you don’t have to wait for the yeast to dissolve completely), then dump the flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon. You don’t need to knead this, and you’re not looking to make it come together into a dough ball. You just want everything mixed well, with no streaks of flour left, and you’re done.

Leave it in your container, covered (but not airtight, or it’ll pop), for a few hours. When it has risen and then deflated a bit, your dough is done. It’s ready to be used or stored in the refrigerator.

To bake the bread, just grab a chunk of dough (they recommend a chunk about the size of a grapefruit, but I’ve done larger chunks with no problem). Dust your hands with flour to help prevent sticking, and gently pull the sides of the dough toward the bottom, rotating the dough, until you get a roundish shape with a smooth surface. It should only take you about a minute or less to do this. The dough won’t be entirely in the bottom, where it may look bunched up, but don’t worry about it.

Put it on a pizza peel that’s been dusted with cornmeal to prevent sticking, and let it rest for at least 40 minutes. No need to cover it. If the dough has been refrigerated, it helps to let it rest a little more, until it’s no longer chilled.

Twenty minutes before you are ready to bake, put a pizza stone in the middle rack of your oven, and put a broiler pan in the bottom rack. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Dust some flour on the top of your loaf, and make your pretty slashes, about 1/4-inch deep. You can do a simple ‘x’ across it, a tic-tac-toe grid, or the stripes, er, scallop pattern.

After twenty minutes of preheating, it’s time to bake. (You can put the bread in after 20 minutes, even if your oven hasn’t reached 450 degrees yet.) Slide the loaf onto the baking stone, and then quickly (and CAREFULLY, lest you burn yourself like some hapless people I know) pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler pan. Then quickly shut the oven door to keep the steam inside.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until you get a nice brown crust. The crust will crackle and pop and make all sorts of happy noises as it sits on a wire rack to cool. It tastes best when you let it cool completely. Don’t worry if your beautiful crust seems to soften a bit. It will harden again, I promise.

And that’s all there is to it. It honestly took me more time to type this out than to make a loaf of bread. And although it still does involve some resting and rising time, the amount of time that you actually handle the dough is really only about five minutes.
The crust is nice and crisp and chewy, and the longer the dough sits, the more it develops a sourdough flavor. When you’re almost out of dough, you don’t even have to wash your container out. You can just go ahead and mix your next batch of dough in it, and the leftover remnants of bread help start it on its merry sourdough way.

so there you go!
Stay hungry my friends

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New England

Where to start when it comes to American Regional cooking?  I would answer New England. For my purposes that would be Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.  Why start here?  It can reasonably argued that New England is the cradle, so to speak, of American cooking.
     When the colonists first stepped onto Cape Cod in November of 1620, they were arriving in a land that was quite litterly a land of plenty.  But these exhausted Pilgrims didn't see it that way.  William Bradford, who would later become governor, described the new land as "a hideous and desolate wilderness full of wild beasts and wild men."  This opinion however was short lived as about a year later they celebrated the New World's bounty with a feast of Thanksgiving.
     Like most folks these early settlers were not to excited about changing their eating habits.  Had they been able to continue eating a steady diet of roast beef and plum pudding, I'm sure they would have been happy to.
But having no cows or wheat this was not in to be, they quickly learned to cultivate and prepare unfamiliar foods- Indian corn, beans, pumpkins, cranberries, and maple syrup to name a few.
     O.K. history lesson over.  What do we think of when we think of the dishes that typify New England?  Boiled lobster, clambakes, steamed clams, clam chowder, cheese soup, New England boiled dinner, baked beans, corn chowder, wow I'm getting hungry.  Obviously the list could go on and on.
     So what did I choose as my dish from New England?  Portuguese Sausage Soup.  What?  First let's remember that almost all cooking in the U.S. has elements of our immigrant ancestors.  As far as this dish goes,  Portuguese fishermen and sailors settled in New England towns like New Bedford, Mass., just before the Civil War.  They brought with them their spicy Iberian cuisine.  Sausage soup is now one of the best known and popular dishes in the region.

4 oz of hot Italian sausage sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 oz of sweet Italian sausage sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 14 1/2 oz cans chicken broth
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach
1/2 cup of beer (use a pilsener or a pale lager)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan cook both sausages and union till sausage is browned and the onion is tender.  Drain fat.  Add the potatoes, chicken broth, spinach, beer, and some pepper.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or till potatoes are tender.

Serve it up with some dark bread, salad and  a beer.
Almost to easy for such a great meal!!

Stay hungry,

This is nuts! .50 for one of the best cooks books on ethnic cooking for the American table?  Get this. You'll love it! 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

TV cooks

This is post relating to not much, but since I've been so lazy lately, why not?  I get asked on occasion which of the TV cooks do I watch.  So here are my top 10

10.  Alton Brown-  You don't see him cook much any more, but I liked the "science" he explains on Good Eats
9.  Rachl Ray-Yes I know, she's a bit annoying, and I'm not crazy about "perky" but  30 minute meals and her newer show on Cooking channel Week in a day have good tips and recipes
 8. Paula Deen- If you like cooking with butter, you'll love Paula Deen.  her best show?  Home cooking

 7. Jaime Oliver - Jaime at Home is a great show, using alot of ingredients that he gets out of his garden       If  you're into growing and preparing your own food check him out.

6. Roger Mooking - The best chef you haven't heard of.  His show, Everyday exotic, is fantastic if you want  to kick up the routine recipes and make them have big flavor.

5.  Nadia G. - I love this show!  Bitchin Kitchen shows that you can have a ton of fun in the kitchen. Great recipes, a cool set, fun characters, how can you go wrong?  If you want to not take yourself to seriously in the kitchen and still cook great stuff  check her our.

4. Emeril Lagasse - In my view he made TV cooking shows popular again, and I still watch his old shows    to pick up on tips and techniques.  He doesn't cook much on his new show, The Originals  is very entertaining.

3. David Rocco-  I actually suprised my self putting him this high on my list, but his show Dolce Vita, does      a great job of not only showing Tuscan cooking, but the culture of Florence, Tuscany and the whole of Italy.  I love his catch phrase  "I'm not a chef, I'm Italian"

2. Giada De Laurentis - I love her show Every Day Italian, she does a great job of breaking down recipes     and making them easy to follow.  And lets be honest, she easy on the eyes!!

1. and now the much anticipated #1.....Anthony Bourdain!!  Yeah I know, his show No Reservations isn't  a cooking show, but when comes to looking at the culture of food, no one is better.  His straight forward, funny, and usually irreverant look at the cuisines of the world is magnificent. I definitely recommend checking him out....unless you are easily offended.

Honorable mention, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the chefs and shows that originally got me interested in cooking,  Jeff Smith,  the Frugal Gourmet, with out a doubt my favorite cook books, very good at telling the story of foods.
Julia Child,  I never really liked her show that much but was always fascinated with the command she had in the kitchen. And she was the original TV chef. 

There are many others and a few that I'm looking forward to that are coming out this year.  The Pioneer Woman. Ree Drummond is a show that I am looking forward to.  I love her blog and it's fun to see someone go from blogging to TV she is very talented and did a great job on Bobby Flay's show Throw Down for their Thanksgiving Special.

So who do like?  Or for that matter who don't you like?

Stay hungry

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wine to gladden your hearts

Let's deal with an old argument.  The one that says that the wine mentioned in the Bible is little more than grape juice.  The short answer to this is, Nonsense!  But let's take a closer look at this grape juice myth.

First the grape.  It is the most clever of creations,  natural yeast on the outside and sugar on the inside.  As R.F. Capon wrote, "All one need do is crush a grape and the juice goes on it's God given course to become wine.  Indeed something underhanded must be done to the grape to prevent it from going to fulfillment as God intended."

Next, we know that grape fermentation was very common in biblical times, and I will admit that some of it was pretty green.  However, almost all scholars that have studied the ancient wine making process agree that the wine of the time ranged between 5 and 20% alcohol.  Modern wine is controlled between 9 - 11%. So, most ancient wine was plenty powerful enough to intoxicate.   That being said, many verses in the Bible would make absolutely no sense if they referred to grape juice. Why would the good Samaritin pour grape juice on a mans wounds? (Luke 10:34)  How would drinking a little grape juice help with stomach problems? (1 Tim 5:23) Why would deacons be warned not to drink to much grape juice? ( 1 Tim 3:8)  Or one of my favorites,  The meaning of Song of Songs 1:2 just isn't the same if the Shulamite women is singing about grape juice!  The list goes on, but I'm sure you catch my drift.  Now to be sure the Bible warns about consumption of wine,   to much wine. But even that goes against the argument that the wine was little more than grape juice.  I don't think grape juice was ever a hindrance to someone's faith.

Oh, and while we are here, the "Bible refers to two different kinds of wine, with alcohol and without" argument is more nonsense.  Just another attempt by those arguing a defeated myth to distract from the facts.  Nothing in the text would lead anyone to think of two different types of drink.  This argument is so off in woo-woo land that I'm not going to waste more time on it.

Back to something underhanded.  The popular anti-wine Christian sentiment reached it's fevered pitch in America during the early days of prohibition.   When a Methodist Bishop made consumption of a wine spiritual no no and a firm doctrine of the church.  His name?  Welch, yup, one in the same, his family's company developed an efficient way to pasteurize grape juice to prevent it from fermenting and marketed it to churches to celebrate communion during prohibition.   Sounds kind of hinky to me.

To wrap this up, please do not misrepresent what my point is.  I'm not saying go out and drink yourself silly on wine.  What I am saying is that wine is given to us as a gift.  As Benjamin Franklin said, "Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."   Wine is to gladden our hearts, I suppose we could get along without it, but why would you want to?  The Creator is loving beyond all sense of reason.  So wine becomes a symbol of His creativity and love, And in the end it is our oldest and best medicine!

Stay Hungry, and Thirsty.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Just Grill it!!

This is one of my favorite grilling recipes.  It's easy and you can use a super cheap cut of meat.  And really, are there many more things more satisfying than putting a big hunk of meat on the grill?
First, the meat.  You can use anything for this, the cheaper the better, get a roast with lots of marbling.
Now it's time to marinade.  Here is what you'll need.
1 can of cola(the stuff in the red can works best),  about a 1/4 cup of canola oil, 1/2 cup of soy sauce, 3 or 4 cloves of garlic and some ground pepper.   mix it all together.

Now, take your meat and stick it in a big zip lock bag along with the marinade.  Put it in the fridge and forget it for at least 3 hours preferably over night.
When it's almost time to cook, prep your grill, medium heat use lump charcoal if you can, it's not that much more than briquets and gives a better flavor. (besides it just looks cooler).  Make sure that the coals are only on one side of your grill as you'll need to do some indirect grilling later.

Remove your meat from the bag and put directly over the coals just long enough to get a good char on it. About 3-4 minutes per side.
Now move it over to the other side of the grill (with no coals under it)  close the lid and let it cook for about an hour.  Keep your heat from low to medium adding coals if you need to.  Check it to see if it is to your desired level. 
If it's how you like it, take it off the grill and let it rest for a good 15 minutes.  Slice it thin and enjoy, with a big salad and some good bread. Enjoy!!

stay hungry!!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

wow time flies

Yikes!  Two weeks since I've posted!  Visiting relatives, kid home then back to college, yadda yadda yadda.  Any way, as would be expected food played a large part in the past two weeks.  Grilling, sauteing, boiling chopping, cutting, etc.  I discovered once again that some of my best moments are cooking for friends and relatives and then sharing the meal.  Spending time planning and preparing a meal is a way that I show love.  Back in the day food was literally  a daily struggle for life.  In biblical times food could really be considered your life, so in sharing your food you were sharing your life.  For better or worse we don't really have that problem in the western world today.  Even the poorest among us have some kind of access to food, when compared to 3rd world countries, we are ridiculously over fed. 

So, I'm back!  Please contain your excitement.  My goal is to post at least twice a week............we'll see how it goes.  

In the mean time.......stay hungry!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Our food heritage

  I'm am often asked, "what's your favorite type of food?"   The standard answer depends on my mood and what I'm interested in at the time.  What is expected is, Italian, Chinese, Indian, Mexican etc..  But I have been thinking that no one I've heard says American food.  This of course leads to the question, just what is American food? 
     With this question in mind I looked to my cookbook collection (yes I collect cookbooks) and noticed that I indeed had several cookbooks with "American" in the title.  So I have spent the last few weeks browsing through my "American" cookbooks. What I have discovered is that you can't really put your finger directly on a specific type of food to call American.  Some may say hamburgers, or hot dogs, perhaps bbq, but even these things draw there origins from someplace else.  It seems as though what Americans have done with their food is the same thing we have done with almost everything else, take the best from around the world and make it "ours".
     We are a nation of "fads" and the latest big thing, and food is no exception.  I can remember times when Asian food was all the rage, Greek, French, Indian, and then it was in fashion to cook Spanish food. Now it seems that it is "in" to cook regional Italian foods. Which is fine with me, I happen to think Roman's were as good at hijacking cuisine and making their own as we Americans are, making for, in my opinion, some the richest food heritage on the planet.  But what about the fad of American food?  As with most places American food really depends on where you are, but what is different is that you can't make a general statement of what American food is.  When you say, "let's get Italian tonight" you have a general idea of what you are going to get, you're mind goes directly to some very specific flavors, textures and styles of cooking.  The same can be said for German, French, Indian and just about any other type of cuisine you can name.  Yes, there are some dramatic regional differences in all cuisines, but you know in general terms what "type" of food you are talking about.
     So, there is the difference, the reason we find it difficult to generalize "American" Cuisine.  Each region of the U.S. has a distinct history and so a distinct cuisine.  If instead of saying let's eat American tonight, I say let's eat Southern food, your mind goes to a type and style of food.
     Well with this in mind, I'm going to investigate the regional culture of cuisine here in the States.  I figure if you're going to try to find a legacy, a history, and a heritage in food, you may as well start at home.  I'm looking forward to finding what this "melting pot" is cooking.  And maybe I can find and answer to the question, "what is American food?"

Stay Hungry