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on the downward side of the age mountain.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Awkward Family Story: The Thanksgiving Letter

I found this trolling around on AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com and thought it perfect for Tday!

From: Marney

As you all know a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner does not make itself. I need to ask each of you to help by bringing something to complete the meal. I truly appreciate your offers to assist with the meal preparation.

Now, while I do have quite a sense of humor and joke around all the time, I COULD NOT BE MORE SERIOUS when I am providing you with your Thanksgiving instructions and orders. I am very particular, so please perform your task EXACTLY as I have requested and read your portion very carefully. If I ask you to bring your offering in a container that has a lid, bring your offering in a container WITH A LID, NOT ALUMINUM FOIL! If I ask you to bring a serving spoon for your dish, BRING A SERVING SPOON, NOT A SOUP SPOON! And please do not forget anything.

All food that is to be cooked should already be prepared, bring it hot and ready to serve, warm or room temp. These are your ONLY THREE options. Anything meant to be served cold should, of course, already be cold.

HJB—Dinner wine

The Mike Byron Family
1. Turnips in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. Please do not fill the casserole all the way up to the top, it gets too messy. I know this may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but most of us hate turnips so don’t feel like you a have to feed an army.
2. Two half gallons of ice cream, one must be VANILLA, I don’t care what the other one is. No store brands please. I did see an ad this morning for Hagan Daz Peppermint Bark Ice Cream, yum!! (no pressure here, though).
3. Toppings for the ice cream.
4. A case of bottled water, NOT gallons, any brand is ok.

The Bob Byron Family
1. Green beans or asparagus (not both) in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. If you are making the green beans, please prepare FOUR pounds, if you are making asparagus please prepare FIVE pounds. It is up to you how you wish to prepare them, no soupy sauces, no cheese (you know how Mike is), a light sprinkling of toasted nuts, or pancetta, or some EVOO would be a nice way to jazz them up.
2. A case of beer of your choice (I have Coors Light and Corona) or a bottle of clos du bois chardonnay (you will have to let me know which you will bring prior to 11/22).

The Lisa Byron Chesterford Family
1. Lisa as a married woman you are now required to contribute at the adult level. You can bring an hors d’ouvres. A few helpful hints/suggestions. Keep it very light, and non-filling, NO COCKTAIL SAUCE, no beans of any kind. I think your best bet would be a platter of fresh veggies and dip. Not a huge platter mind you (i.e., not the plastic platter from the supermarket).

The Michelle Bobble Family
1. Stuffing in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please make the stuffing sans meat.
2. 2.5-3 qts. of mashed squash in a casserole with a lid and serving spoon
3. Proscuitto pin wheel – please stick to the recipe, no need to bring a plate.
4. A pie knife

The June Davis Family
1. 15 LBS of mashed potatoes in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please do not use the over-size blue serving dish you used last year. Because you are making such a large batch you can do one of two things: put half the mash in a regulation size casserole with lid and put the other half in a plastic container and we can just replenish with that or use two regulation size casserole dishes with lids. Only one serving spoon is needed.
2. A bottle of clos du bois chardonnay

The Amy Misto Family (why do I even bother she will never read this)
1. A pumpkin pie in a pie dish (please use my silver palate recipe) no knife needed.
2. An apple pie in a pie dish, you can use your own recipe, no knife needed.

Looking forward to the 28th!!

Submitted by Kara at http://californiakara.blogspot.com)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sweet Potato Biscuits!

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In the December 2009 Food and Wine Magazine there is a two part recipe. The first part is for Vegetable Potpies the second part is Sweet Potato Biscuits. The picture of the roasted vegetables poking out of a petite Le Creuset coccote was too much! I have made a note to my self to purchase some soon!

Instead I made the Sweet Potato Biscuits. They turned out delicate,light, and very delicious! I think it would be fun to play around with different sweet or savory additions.

The Recipe~
Preheat oven 400°
3/4 C Cooked Sweet Potato (1/2# raw potato)
1 3/4C All-Purpose Flour
1T Light Brown Sugar
2 1/2t Baking Powder
1/2t Baking Soda
1t Kosher Salt
7T Unsalted Butter (I used 1/2 butter 1/2 non-hydrogenated vegetable
1/3C Skim Milk (F&W called for buttermilk-not a staple for us)

Bake off the sweet potato until a knife enters easily. Remove and let cool to the touch.

Combine the dry ingredients in a food processor and give it a spin.

Add cut up butter and pulse until the butter is evenly distributed and in a fine sand like consistency. Add milk and 3/4C cooked sweet potato. Pulse just until the dough comes together.

Turn the dough out on a heavily flour dusted work surface and knead 2-3 times.

Roll out to your desired thickness 1/4-1/2" and cut out desired shape.

Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet until golden brown.

Serve Hot!

Friday, November 20, 2009

TANJOOBERRYMUTTS.....or The Mysteries of the English Language


The following is a telephonic exchange between a hotel guest and room-service in a hotel..

Room Service : "Morrin. Roon sirbees."

Guest : "Sorry, I thought I dialed room-service."

Room Service: " Rye . Roon sirbees...morrin! Joowish to oddor sunteen???"

Guest: "Uh..... Yes, I'd like to order bacon and eggs."

Room Service: "Ow ulai den?"

Guest: ".....What??"

Room Service: "Ow ulai den?!?... Pryed, boyud, pochd?"

Guest: "Oh, the eggs! How do I like them? Sorry.. Scrambled, please."

Room Service: "Ow ulai dee bayken ? Creepse?"

Guest: "Crisp will be fine."

Room Service: "Hokay. An sahn toes?"

Guest: "What?"

Room Service: "An toes. ulai sahn toes?"

Guest: "I.... Don't think so.."

RoomService: "No? Udo wan sahn toes???"

Guest: "I feel really bad about this, but I don't know what 'udo wan sahn toes' means."

RoomService: "Toes! Toes!...Why Uoo don wan toes? Ow bow Anglish moppin we botter?"

Guest: "Oh, English muffin! !! I've got it! You were saying 'toast'... Fine...Yes, an English muffin will be fine."

RoomService: "We botter?"

Guest: "No, just put the botter on the side."

RoomService: "Wad?!?"

Guest: "I mean butter... Just put the butter on the side."

RoomService: "Copy?"

Guest: "Excuse me?"

RoomService: "Copy...tea.. meel?"

Guest: "Yes. Coffee, please... And that's everything."

RoomService: "One Minnie. Scramah egg, creepse bayken , Anglish moppin, we botter on sigh and copy ... Rye ??"

Guest: "Whatever you say."

RoomService: "Tanjooberrymutts."

Guest: "You're welcome"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Roughed Up Potatoes

I made a couple of dishes this past weekend I thought my imaginary readers would like to see.

The first, so simple and perfect from November-December Cook’s Illustrated it solved my age old problem of perfectly baked potato crisps.

In a nutshell-
Pre-heat oven 400°-450°. Place a rimmed baking pan (I use ½ sheet pan) in the oven to heat up.

Slice potatoes- they suggest Yukon Gold- I settled for Russets-into ½” slices and par-boil in salted water for 5 minutes. You don’t want them to be soft on the inside just a bit soft on the outside.

Drain, pat dry and toss w/ 2T olive oil &1/2t salt toss well with a spatula, repeat with 1T olive oil and 1/4t salt. The recipe calls for 2T 2t twice I use Kosher salt and found them a bit too salty for me.

Put 1-2T olive oil on hot baking pan and pour the potatoes onto the pan in one layer. Cook 15-20 minutes turning and rotating in the pan to a toasty brown.

The end result is a crisp outside and creamy inside potato.

Read! Eat! Enjoy!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pictures and More

Go to www.idahopotato.com/fspro for a picture of the potato ravioli and more recipes.

Thank you Idaho Potato Commission & Jimmy Schmidt!


Potato Ravioli with Chile Beef Short Rib
Chef Jimmy Schmidt, Rattlesnake Club, Palm Springs, California
Yield: 4 servings

Spice Blend

* 3 T New Mexican Chiles, ground
* 1 tsp Chipotle Chile, dried
* 1 T Black Tellicherry Pepper, freshly ground


* 1 Boneless Beef Short Rib, about 12 ounces, trimmed
* 1/4 C Olive Oil
* 3 Large Idaho Russet Potatoes
* 6 T Butter, unsalted

To Taste:

* Smoked Salt
* Vegetable Stock or water
* Oil to fry in

Chile Chimichurri Salsa

* 1T Chile Oil
* 1C Baby Bell Sweet Peppers, multi-colored, sliced into rounds
* 2T Red Wine Vinegar
* 1T Honey
* 1/2C Fresh Chives, snipped


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Short Ribs

1. In a small bowl combine the seasoning blend. Use half of the seasoning to thoroughly coat the short rib. Reserve under refrigeration.
2. In a small skillet heat the 1/4 cup of oil and the remaining seasoning blend, for about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. In a deep small skillet heat a few drops of oil. Place the seasoned short rib into the pan, cooking until well seared on all sides, about 5 minutes. Cover with the vegetable stock, season with salt to taste. Bring to a simmer. Cover the surface with foil and seal with a lid. Transfer to the oven, cooking until tender, about 1 3/4 hours.
3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Remove the short rib from the liquid. Cut the short rib into 16 square nuggets about 1-inch by 1-inch by 1/4-inch thick. Cover with the braising liquid to keep warm.

4. Potato Slices-
Filling and Garnish. With a mandoline or mechanical slicer cut the potato paper thin, width-wise, into large round slices. Select 32 of the best slices. In a skillet of salted boiling water blanch the potato slices until al dente, firm to the bite, but not falling apart. Transfer individually to a buttered parchment lined sheet pan. Reserve.

5. Take half of the remaining potato slices and cut into fine julienne strips, frying until crisp. Transfer to bowl lined with paper towel to hold. Season with a little of the spice blend and sea salt. Take the remaining potato slices and cook in boiling salted water until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove to a colander and drain. Transfer to a ricer and press into a mixer.

6. Whip the potatoes with 4 tablespoons of butter, seasoning with the smoked salt to taste. Reserve warm.

Potato Ravioli
Spoon a little potato puree in the center of 16 prepared potato slices. Position a portion of shredded short rib atop the potato purée. Cover with another prepared potato slice to make 16 ravioli, 4 per serving. Brush the top potato slice with melted butter and season with smoked salt. Reserve until ready to serve.

Chile Chimichurri Salsa
Heat chile oil over medium heat in a non stick pan. Add the sweet peppers cooking until al dente. Remove from the heat. Season with the vinegar, honey, smoked salt and half of the chives. Reserve at room temperature.

To Serve
Place the potato ravioli in the middle rack of the oven cooking until heated through, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Using a small spatula to transfer, artistically arrange 4 ravioli per large serving coupe. Drizzle a little of the remaining chile oil around the ravioli. Spoon a little Chile Chimichurri Salsa atop each ravioli. Position the crispy julienne potatoes and sliced baby bell peppers atop the ravioli. Sprinkle with remaining chives and serve.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Decadent finale? or Ugh?

This time of year there is a bonus for all of you coupon clippers! Companies are also publishing recipes using their products in oh, so wonderful ways! Long ago when candy bars were 5 cents classic recipes were born. Chex Mix to go with martinis and the classic green bean casserole with frozen green beans,Cambell's mushroom soup and French's fried onions.

Today the intrepid cook can find recipes for Johnsonville Apple Breakfast Bundt using sausage links, apple pie filling, and thawed frozen cinnamon rolls. In this recipe you spend more time dinking with the pre-made ingredients than if you rolled up your sleeves and made it yourself. Either way I think it would be nicer to serve everything separately with a side of scrambled eggs!

Autumn Apple Salad weighs in with Crisco canola oil, Hungry Jack Syrup, mayonnaise ( guess you can go wild on what kind)vinegar, sugar,bag lettuce, red delicious apples (nothing with character or texture) dried cranberries and walnuts. This sounds like a ramped up Waldorf, hold the celery and gourmetize with dried cranberries.

My favorite for the Ugh! Hall of Culinary Fame?
Decadent Peanut Butter Pie
from the J.M. Smucker's Company
1 C Jif Creamy Peanut Butter (2T divided-o.k. this is hard- 1T & 1T)
1 8oz package cream cheese softened
1/2C sugar
1 12 oz container frozen whipped topping thawed and divided (it's a secret- we don't know how it's divided)
1 prepared chocolate pie crust (graham cracker crust won't do- wrong color)
1 jar Smucker's Hot Fudge Spoonable Ice Cream Topping divided (yet again?)

Then we get to the technique part-I will paraphrase.

Beat peanut butter, cream cheese, sugar and 3 cups whipped topping into submission.

Spoon and smear peanut glop over pie shell.

Grab a zip lock and place 2T fudge topping in the corner of the bag and set aside.Do the same with the 2T peanut butter.

Nuke the rest of the fudge topping, smear on top of peanut glop and chill until firm and bouncy.

Smear the top with the rest of the thawed whipped topping "being careful not to mix the two layers".

Now we get to decorate!
Snip a little hole in the zippies and pretend they are pastry bags with pretty tips and squeeze the fudge and peanut butter in opposite directions to form a cross hatch.

Don't forget to wash a slice down with another J.M. Smucker's product- Folger's coffee and more of that fabulous whipped topping!

Now if you like this one-"For more great tasting recipes, visit Smuckers.com and Jif.com" Definitely go-to websites for holiday cooking.

What are your suggestions for the Ugh! Hall of Fame?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Golden Touch was Fool's Gold

The Golden Touch Restaurant has all of the trappings of being a Greek diner except- it’s not on the East coast but on the Edge.

I still try it but each time my hopes are dashed and I leave with a sad memory instead of warm fuzzies. Today I was delusional and fell into the trap. There were cars parked in the lot! For any kind of eating establishment that is a good sign! Food moving out not rotting in the walk-in but there was deception.

This wannabe diner was huge, built in the two sided style with “fine dining” across the back and counter/banquets across the front. The color scheme was in the ‘60’s style with yellow tinted glass “chandeliers”, brown Naugahyde seats held together with clear tape and an empty rotating pie stand.

A glaring “Wait to be seated” sign was the friendly greeting. There was no one around to guide me to a seat. I looked around and saw the parking lot had lied the place was empty other than a few solitary people. The counter, a hub in any successful diner stretched 40’ decorated with coffee cups, napkins, and silverware waiting for the non-existent rush. A waitress materialized and flung her hands toward the multitude of empty seats. Nodding I picked a banquet for 6 and slid in. The waitress trudged over and flipped a menu at me as she poured water.
“Anything else to drink?”

I pondered briefly and answered,” Yes, a large tomato juice with lemon.”

Looking up I was greeted by a gal- dressed in a black shirt, black pants, glittery reading glasses, a generous artistically drawn make-up job, and short white grey hair that had been tipped in black. I was sure she had stuck her French tipped nails in an electrical socket to create the effect. She whisked away the coffee mug.

I had made up my mind before I arrived: a Greek salad minus the black olives, substituting tuna for the sliced eggs. Comfort food comes in many guises.

Order pad in hand, the waitress walked over. “Are you ready to order?”
I closed the menu, smiled sweetly and recited my order.

Her pen hovered over the pad as she mentally processed my order. “If I take off the black olives there’s nothing left!”

This wasn’t going as planned. I wanted cheerful- sounds great! Would you like crackers as well? Instead I felt like I was in the movie 5 Easy Pieces with Jack Nicholson and his famous egg sandwich. I surveyed the tuna salad on a bed of greens and wondered if I could order that and add the other Greek garnishes.

“Is the lettuce the same with the tuna salad as with the Greek salad?"

She spun on her heels and walked up to the cook. “Do we have any Romaine?” she sneered just loud enough for me to hear her batting 100 for her customer.

“Nahh” was the also audible reply.

“I’ll give you more time.” She went off bussing tables.

I was abandoned with a huge menu, a gazillion offerings, and my hopes dashed for my Greek salad no black olives, no eggs, and tuna substitute. I was crushed. Looking at the table I saw my über tron had left the tomato juice now I really couldn't slip out. There was no escape I had to find something to eat. I mentally crossed off items all the while lingering on the Greek salad lettering, still trying to figure a way to phrase my request.

A comfort meal was quickly turning into a heartless fuel fest.

Decision #2 was made and eye contact sealed the deal. This time the gal tried to meet me half way. “I’ll have the feta tomato omelet with egg beaters, no toast, no potatoes and a small salad with Italian dressing.” This time there was nary a rebuke. Her pen flew over the pad and the order was complete. We both said thank you and she put the dupe in.

A final olive branch was offered in the guise of the newspaper. “Do you want something to read? No? Well o.k.” We had worked out our differences. I was left to my own thoughts.

The omelet arrived and my heart lurched in dismay. There was a cold nugget of feta on top and 2 chunks of pale hard tomato. The omelet was so thin I doubted there were any more tomatoes or feta within. No orange slice, no parsley just a flaccid omelet. There was no joy on the plate.

The salad, served in its separate bowl was iceberg with a couple of strands of red cabbage, croutons the size of children’s teeth, and frozen defrosted peas. A heavy pouring of Kraft’s Italian best soaked into the salad.The peas were the only cheerful bright green in the salad but flavor wise they didn’t make the profile. I wasn’t surprised by the salad, it delivered crunch.

I took the pepper shaker and decorated my omelet with black flecks. Tucking in I found that there were more tomatoes and feta chunklets inside the omelet.

I looked over at the kitchen and saw the problem. It was the cook. A tall, pasty, light brown haired man wearing a 10” paper chef’s toque (a chef's toque in a diner?). Instead of a long chef’s coat he had a short sleeved white shirt of a pantry guy. There were no piercings or tattoos, a sign of good food out here on the edge. I looked into his face and saw no food love I looked down at my plate and saw the results of a listless cook.

I choked down the food, gave my usual 20%, and high tailed it out. I will never seek comfort again from the Golden Touch…