Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tacos And Burritos

Happy Halloween

As I mentioned in my Oct 27 post about beef bones, while making the broth, I ended up with a fair amount of well boiled beef, which I thought we’d likely give to the dogs. However, the chef in the family saw it as Tex-Mex waiting to happen, especially since so many other flavors are present. She first doctored the meat with taco seasoning, chili powder and Rotel, which made it pretty decent. For dinner, she turned it into tacos using the usual ingredients.

After dinner, she commented she could feel a special breakfast coming on, which usually means a burrito. She called when it was ready, in case I wanted a photo, and when I went to get it, I was surprised at the addition of a fried egg.

While I’ve eaten huervos rancheros on many occasions, this fried egg on a burrito is my first ever, and it wasn’t even my idea. I thought it was outstanding, although with so many flavors, I’m not sure I could tell the egg was there. Unfortunately, the meat is all gone or I’d request another one tomorrow.

It was predicted to be near freezing here night before last so we moved Bev's plants into the greenhouse for the winter - I'll use the other side for raising next years veggie plants.

After 17 years of never getting around to putting in stained glass, I finally installed insulated glass in our two entranceway side lights.  At $3/gal for propane, it shouldn't take too long to get my money back.  I still have a little mess to clean up.

Finally, it was a bad weekend as a football fan, as my pathetic WVU Mountaineers lost to lowly UConn and while playing pretty good the Vols went down to South Carolina.  Oh well maybe next year - at least for the Vols, WVU needs a coach.  I may become a Bama or Auburn fan.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Venison Sausage Scramble & Fall Color Is Arriving At Almost Heaven South

I continue to work on arranging and cleaning out the freezer and came upon a chub of smoked venison/beef sausage, so I put it in the fridge to thaw. Over the past ten days, I’ve had venison 4 times – the breakfast sandwich I’d posted about on Oct. 27, and two breakfast meals made from the hot deer sausage, home fries, shiitakes, other things, and eggs. I didn’t post them as they were picture-less, but they were all delicious.

Back to today’s meal. I diced up some of the sausage, onion, green pepper, and jalapeno and sautéed them in a little olive oil.

I then added beaten eggs and made my usual scramble. Served it up with some Naan bread cheese toast.

Both the scramble and the bread were outstanding.

Due to the roads being packed throughout the eastern mountains this time of year, it’s obvious many of us appreciate nature’s colorful show. Unfortunately the woods around us are heavily laden with oaks, hickory’s and poplars, with only a few maples dotted in, so we don’t get the vibrant reds like some places. We do have a few colorful plants around that have been planted and some of their leaves are finally turning.

The burning bushes and nandinas are starting to show out.

This is from our drive toward the maples across the road and as can be seen, my Japanese maples, on the left, haven’t turned yet and the crab apple on the right has already lost it’s leaves.

While they may be viewed in a negative light to rose purists, we are grateful to William Radler, a Wisconsin botanist, who developed the Knockout rose. Bev has tried for years, but has been unsuccessful, at growing nice roses. Once the Knockouts begin blooming, they continue all summer and obviously into the fall, and we don’t have to fight Black Spot Fungus all summer. Here is one of several with some dogwoods showing a nice red in the background.

In general, more trees seem to be loosing their leaves early and not providing a lot of color – I believe the dry conditions are continuing to affect them.  Here's a shot across the lake just up the road from here - note it's basically browns and yellows.

The frost is on the pumpkin for the first time this morning at Almost Heaven South.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Braised Short Ribs And Root Vegetables

Every couple of years we have this dish in the fall when we find some good short ribs and after a couple of years, I have some. You may recall from a couple of days ago, the shot of the raw ones I had – I washed and used my hacksaw to cut the two long ones in half.

The recipe we used comes from Emeril and as you can see has lots of ingredients - I think this is the third time we've made it. I had 7 ½ pounds of short ribs so I made a full recipe in pot one and a half recipe in pot two. We have a large and a medium Le Creuset enameled cast iron pot and they worked great for this dish.


Makes 4 servings

2 racks beef short ribs (4 to 5 pounds), cut into individual ribs
2 tbsp Emeril’s Essence (I used a higher heat version I had made up)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 stalk celery, trimmed and chopped
1 ea carrot, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I omitted due to the higher heat Essence)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 ea bay leaves
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup ruby port
2 cups dry red wine (I used merlot)
4 cups veal or beef stock
1 pound butternut or acorn squash, peeled, fibers removed, and cubed
2 ea parsnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 ea carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
12 ounces egg noodles, cooked al dente, accompaniment
1/4 cup chopped green onions, garnish
1/4 cup chopped parsley, garnish

· Season the ribs with the Essence on all sides.
· In a Dutch oven or large, heavy covered pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
· Add the ribs in batches to prevent crowding and sear on all sides. Remove with tongs to a plate.
· Add the onions, celery and carrots to the fat remaining in the pan, and cook, stirring, until soft and starting to caramelize, about 7 minutes.
· Add the garlic, salt, red pepper, and black pepper, and cook for 30 seconds.
· Add the tomato paste, bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme, and cook for 2 minutes.
· Add the Port and red wine, bring to a boil, stirring to deglaze the pan and cook until reduced by 1/2.
· Add the ribs and stock and return to a boil.
· Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and simmer until the meat is tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (During cooking, make sure that there is at least 1-inch of liquid in the pot; add more stock or water as necessary to cover.)
· Add the root vegetables and cook until they are tender and the meat easily falls from the bones, another 40 minutes to 1 hour.
· Remove from the heat. Transfer the ribs and meat to a large bowl and cover to keep warm.
· Skim any fat from the surface.
· Bring the sauce to a boil and cook until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaves.
· To serve, arrange the egg noodles in the middle of a large platter.
· Place the ribs on top and spoon the sauce over the meat. Garnish with green onions and parsley and serve immediately.

From start to on the table, it took us about 5 hours for the meal and this is a dish you want to have everything but the root veggies ready to add before you start cooking. I first browned the meat and since I’m still learning to use Bev’s camera, the shot of it came out blurry. After the meat was browned, I cooked the Mirepoix.

Here it is reducing after the wine addition.

Here are the root veggies ready to go in – left pile is full recipe and right pile is half recipe.

This is just after adding the veggies to the pot – the meat had been cooking for 2 hours at this point and it may require more based on the size of your rib pieces.

And here it is headed for the table.

Five hours sounds like a lot of cooking time, but there's nothing to do while the meat and then the veggies are cooking until time to cook the noodles. The meat and veggies were outstanding and we consider this a definite company quality meal – we actually served it to company this time. One heads up is the port wine and veggies make it a little sweet. The one negative was our first time use of frozen egg noodles, as they would not progress beyond very doughy – won’t make that mistake again. Fortunately they played a small role in this dish and could just be ignored. This is an ideal dish for this time of year and I encourage you to try it if you can find some nice meaty beef short ribs.

We had plenty of leftovers and just dumped the noodles in with the meat and veggies to store.  When we reheated them the next night, the noodles had come a long way but I still prefer the dry ones. Finally, the ruby port is pretty good after-dinner sipping wine.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pit Beef Sandwich

I did this post before Bev got home with a camera.

While freezer arranging the other day, I found a nice piece of pit beef – in this case eye of round – that had been smoked to an internal temp of 125, making it a nice medium rare. My thought was I could have a couple of sandwiches from it while Bev was gone, but Daughter, Wende, came by for dinner and I decided to have it. I had some buns, the beef, a big pot of beef broth from my broth making event and I had just seen a Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives show where they made a roast beef Po Boy and claimed it was the best on the planet. So I decided to make gravy from some of the broth, slice the beef thin, and bake them in a 275* oven for a couple of hours or so, which is how the DDD place did it. After the gravy was made it occurred to me that I should have used cajun spices to make it rather than my usual.  Fortunately, Wende had her cell phone to make a shot.

It's hard to beat good smoked beef, cooked in gravy, and a little mayo for a fine sandwich.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Beef Bones Into Dinner, Broth, And Suet and A Big Oops

I had several packages of beef belly and short ribs and a roast in the freezer that I needed to do something with. I decided to trim up and use the meaty ones as short ribs and cook the others into beef broth for the freezer and fat for making into suet for our bird friends. This is the starting pile on a full sized jelly roll pan.

And these are the ones I’ll use in a dish later.

I simmered them for about 24 hours in my 16 & 8 quart pots, which were both nearly full. After removing the big solids, I let it cool so I could just spoon off the fat, then strain the broth and freeze in quart bags made 6 quarts. I think we should have enough beef and poultry broth for the coming soup season.  I also got a fair amount of boiled beef for us if it has any taste left or for the pups if it doesn't.

On Oct. 24, I’d mentioned making the shrimp remoulade while Bev was gone and I made another meal she’s not crazy about - venison. While freezer arranging the other day, I found a package of deer sausage and decided to use part of it for a breakfast sandwich. I fried it in a little olive oil and topped with sharp cheddar after flipping and meanwhile toasted the bun on the inside and hard-fried an egg. I know many folks would beat up the egg in a bowl then fry for a sandwich, but I do it like Mom and just broke the yolk with the eggshell when I put it in the pan. The sausage had just a little heat and it made for a delicious sandwich.

Next you're probably expecting a shot of the finished sandwich. BUT. Our kitchen cabinets are equipped with knobs on the upper drawers and more than once the strap has caught on one as I picked up the camera. As a result, the camera is jerked from my hand and lands on the floor and the last time it happened, I told myself I've got to be more careful. It occurred again this morning as I was about to shoot the sandwich, except this time I may have killed it – don’t know if it’s easily fixable or if I’m about to go camera shopping. Fortunately I had a few posts in the que and I’ll see what I can do with Bev’s camera now that she's home from Florida - I feel a little lost without mine. As for this sandwich, try to picture in your mind how good it looked as I described it above and as for the camera, oops is not exactly what I said.

We sure had interesting weather here yesterday.  If I looked out the window it seemed like a fall day -breezey and lots of leaves in the air, but when I walked out, the 84* temps felt like summer, so my senses were very confused.  This was all a forerunner to the spring like thunderstorms and tornado watches that came along in the evening and the all night hard rain - got over 4 inches.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bev's Marco Shots

My darlin got home save and sound from Florida and it sure was nice to cuddle with a none fur bearer the next morning.  I uploaded her photos to the computer and while most of what she took were about the same as mine, I thought some needed to be posted - last Marco shots I promise.

Here are a few shots of the condo inside - it's only one unit deep so with the entrance door and balcony doors open, it gets a nice breeze almost continuously.

This is the main bedroom which also has balcony access.

And this is the balcony where I spent a lot of time.

And finally some sky shots on four different evenings.

At last, a clear night sunset.

And not it's back to the real world for both of us.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Home Grown Shiitake Mushrooms - 2nd Harvest

It seems as though these fellers only come on when we’re out of town and, therefore, get pretty big. When I checked my inoculated logs  the day after returning from Marco, this is what I found - a few shiitakes.

And here they are on a paper plate.

So what do I do them you asked - remember the Skillet Scramble I had at Hoot's in Marco.  I diced and boiled up some potatoes the night before - did extras for other meals.  For this meal, I sauteed the boiled potatoes and shiitakes along with some onion, sweet pepper and jalapeno pepper from the garden, and some garlic and smoked bologna - I'm cleaning out the fridge. 

I warmed the dish in the toaster oven set on warm then kept the veggies warmed while I cooked the eggs.

I didn't make hollandaise but opted to use my egg yolks and some Tabasco Jalapeno as the sauce and topped with some finely diced Asiago cheese - all of the usual cheeses were still in Marco with Bev and I hadn't been to the store yet.
After breakfast, I went ahead and lightly sauteed all of the mushrooms in olive oil to ready them for other dishes and prevent their drying out. 

One thing I learned is much more oil is required and they don't give up near the water as do button mushrooms.

I had a first yesterday morning when I went to get the paper - it ran late today and was full daylight when I headed for the mailbox.  When I walked out onto the front porch, I heard this ususal animal noise and looked up to see two deer scampering from the yard toward the woods.  While we see them frequently and Bev had just reported seeing three along our little lane the previous evening, this is the first time I'd seen them in the yard and it was right beside the garden.  I hope this is not going to lead to a deer problem for next years garden or for our many shrubs - although I wouldn't mind them pruning the azaleas just a little, if they knew where to quit.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Shrimp Remoulade Salad

With Bev still in Florida, it is my opportunity to try out some dishes I know she’s not particularly fond of. While on our trip to NOLA in early September, we stopped at the Blowfly Inn, in Gulfport, Miss. for lunch and I had Cajun remoulade salad dressing and loved it. Later I got a Cajun remoulade recipe from Lea Ann at Mangos, Chili and Z  and made up a batch. It was so flavorful, Bev didn’t care for it, but I’ve been enjoying it, especially as a salad dressing. Lea Ann also sent me a recipe for Shrimp Remoulade and recently, Mary at Deep South Dish posted a similar recipe. Since I had the sauce from Lea Ann, the reminder post from Mary, the shrimp in the freezer, and the absence of the anti-Cajun remoulade person, it sounded like the perfect meal – especially since I could make a single serving meal.

I decided to cut my sauce with a little mayo and made it as I would any other salad topped with meat – add meat atop greens, top with dressing, and mix.  I only had the core of some lettuce and have always liked it sliced off in thin pieces.  Here it is before and after mixing.

Not great pictures but it was delicious and I’m glad I have more of everything.

For those of you who are nearer my age, you likely remember getting the Sears Christmas Wishbook in the mail and spending hours leafing through it and doing some serious wishing. Well my copy of Cabela’s Gifts Catelog just came and I had a remotely familiar feeling as I looked through the cooking hardware and camping sections, even though I no longer camp – what fun to look and wish.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Last Day In Marco

Daughter Wende had been house and dog sitting for us while we laid around in Marco, but she had to make a business trip Monday night. Since there was a low cost direct flight from Ft. Myers to Knoxville, I decided to just fly home to relieve her - I was beached-out by then anyway. Bev had been wanting to try stone crabs, whose season just opened on Oct 15, and we wanted to eat at one of our regular stops – The Old Marco Lodge, so that was the dinner choice for my final evening. I’d been getting some sunsets, so here’s a couple of late afternoon shots as we headed out to dinner.

The restaurant is right on the water down in Goodland (among the 10,000 Islands) and has some nice scenery – here’s a couple of pre-dinner shots - Bev left, her sister Pat right.

They’ve added a band area since last year and provide live music on Fri, Sat, and Sun afternoon and they were still playing while we ate - that's Pat's back on the far right.

Bev had the stone crabs, which I forgot a shot of, and since it was my last meal there, I opted for the broiled seafood platter – haven’t had one in years as they are usually fried.

Mine was all pretty good, but we both decided the stone crabs were over hyped and with a very mild flavor – king crab remains our favorite.

If you’ve been reading about the whole trip, you’ll not be surprised that I decided to stop by Hoot’s for lunch on our way to the airport. I forgot my camera, but had a tilapia sandwich, which came on a large round bun with a much larger piece of fish protruding all around it. It was a delicious end to my Marco meals for this trip.

I’m a worrier when it comes to flying – had to many bad experiences I guess – so I try to allow plenty of time to get to the airport and did so for the flight home. When I booked the flight, it said it was from Ft. Myers to Knoxville, but I showed up at the Ft. Myers airport to discover that Allegiant actually flew out of the Charlotte County Airport about 30 miles north – crap says I. Fortunately I was already checked in, had my boarding pass, and was going to be at the original airport 1 ½ hours early and therefore had time to drive up the road to the right place – which I didn’t even know existed. Just another high anxiety flying experience to increase my reluctance to do it.

But I got home safe and sound to the ecstatic welcome of the puppies.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Pastrami Sandwich At The Beach

Bev had gone freezer diving before we headed for Marco and came up with a nice piece of pastrami. For some reason, we like pastrami sandwiches when on vacation and often had them grilled for breakfast before hitting the slopes back in our skiing days. I make pastrami fairly often using either store bought or my homemade corned beef and I don’t know which this was. (Pastrami = corned beef, rubbed with the correct spices and smoked). We usually just warm the meat in the microwave or a skillet after slicing, but for this meal I wanted to do it real New York deli style - which means steaming the whole piece then slicing.

Our condo is only equipped with the basic equipment and a steamer pan didn’t qualify, but we did have a big enough pot and a shallow cereal bowl. I inverted the bowl in the pan, added water half way up the bowl, topped with the meat, put on the lid and commenced to slowly steaming – the air trapped under the bowl made an interesting noise the entire time.

I steamed it for about an hour, sliced, and put it between two pieces of Pepperidge Farm rye bread with some Swiss cheese and spicy brown mustard - I wish I could have had some of the homemade rye bread from Hoot’s where we had breakfast. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the right knife to slice it thin, but trust me, it was still delicious.

Bev and Pat grilled theirs and I ate mine on room temperature bread and I believe steaming is the way to go although I think another hour would have made it perfect.  Mine could have actually used less meat and another piece or two of cheese, but I was trying to emulate those from a New York deli with mile high meat.

If you readers from Oregon are football fans, you sure have plenty to cheer about this year.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.