Thursday, August 31, 2006

BlogDay 2006

Today is BlogDay, which is all about bloggers finding new blogs and sharing them with their readers (presumably, other bloggers). The site's been crashing, so if you'd like to participate, here's a Google cache of the instructions.

Without further ado:

1) Language Log

Language Log -- well-known but new to me -- is all about linguistics. The site is maintained by University of Pennsylvania phonetician Mark Liberman and features a number of contributors.

Here's an excerpt from a recent post on a topic near and dear to my heart: comma usage. (Aptly, I'm fretting over how to correctly format this passage. Maybe I'm right; probably not.)

In a recent Wired interview, Bart Kosko explains why he's given up commas:
"Q: I noticed there aren’t any commas in your book. Is this your way of cutting back on punctuation noise?

A: Commas are a kind of channel noise. You’re not getting to the verb fast enough. Why make us wait? The comma is on its way out. Use small words. The perfect illustration is a swear phrase: Go to hell! Screw you!"

Hell, why not leave out the spaces, too, andgettothoseverbsevenfaster? Kosko is plugging his new book Noise, and I guess he's newly converted to commalessness, since his previous book, Fuzzy Thinking, was full of them, nineteen on the first page alone.

Take that, you comma-hating hypocrite.

2) Beans, Beans, The Magical Fruit

Beans, a.k.a. Jules of The Bruni Digest, has a very funny blog where she examines anything that tickles her fancy. Her latest post made me laugh out loud:

Paula Deen has Grandson/Snack

"Inn't he just so cute? I'm 'onna just put a little buttah right on up on 'is forehead here and dip his diaper in som heavy cream and take a little bite o' that baby. Mmmmm idd'n that just a sinful li'l buttery ole baby up in theah? Mmmm thasss juss delicious!"

3) Not Martha

Megan tackles Martha specialties -- household hints, decorating, crafts -- in a decidedly not-Martha fashion. I especially love her How To Make Stuff archives.

4) Eclectic Librarian

I love bookstores but I frequently leave frustrated: "How can there be this much published crap?!?" I'm especially annoyed by what's been dubbed"Chick Lit" ( if published today, the cover of Pride and Prejudice would have Elizabeth Bennet wearing sensible flat shoes, horn-rimmed glasses and a plaid skirt, while Jane trotted around in Prada and Jimmy Choos).

Therefore, Anna won me over with this post:

Fans of the chick lit genre have had a fairly easy time of finding new books to read. Regardless of the publisher, one can almost pick out a book from the genre by the cover. For the most part, books that specifically target women readers are a guaranteed success, and nearly all major publishing houses have jumped on the chick lit bandwagon with their own targeted imprints. Therefore, it is no surprise that now a handful of publishing houses are creating imprints that focus on women readers but are decidedly not chick lit books.
One such imprint is Voice, created by Hyperion's publisher Ellen Archer and Viking's Pamela G. Dorman. Voice is aimed at women aged thirty and older, and it will not include anything resembling chick lit. The imprint will focus on issues that concern women who have chosen to balance their careers and family, and which are not covered elsewhere in the mainstream media. Archer says, "I felt that I, as a 44-year-old woman, working, married and a mother, did not see my life reflected in any of the media stories."
The first five books will be released next month, including a book by Vanity Fair contributing editor Leslie Bennetts that argues that women who choose to be stay-at-home moms lose out on the financial, intellectual, emotional, and medical benefits of a career outside the home (The Feminine Mistake). Another book included in the first round of releases is an anthology of essays edited by Karen Stabiner about life after the children leave home (The Empty Nest).
Archer and Dorman plan to use a panel of ten professional women to assist them in adjusting the focus of the imprint. The panel will meet twice per year, and will also serve as a way of getting out the word about new titles. Friends and colleagues of the members of the panel will be sent copies of the books.
Studies have shown that more women buy books than men. Generation X women and older with careers and families tend to have more available money that could potentially be spent on buying books. It remains to be seen if these women are as interested in non-fiction books that focus on issues specific to their demographic or if they prefer to escape into the surreal world of chick lit.

5) The Gilded Moose

While chick lit annoys the hell out of me, I do love a nasty bit of celebrity gossip. I'd cite an example from the but "words and other things belong to The Gilded Moose and may not be used without permission." So just trot over there and see things for yourself.

Tags: Blogday

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Nectarine Coffee Cake

I have a problem with this recipe. It's a shame too, because there are so many great things going for it.

The flavor is great. There's a lovely tang from the lemon juice and zest, providing a nice contrast to the cinnamon sugar-dusted, in-season nectarines. It's dead easy to whip up and the recipe seems adaptable -- I'd like to try substituting the lemon flavors for almond, and topping the cake with some berries.

But here's the sticking point: the cake is too dry. Take-a-bite-and-then-reach-for-a-cup-of-coffee-out-of-sheer-necessity kind of dry. It's moist around the areas where the nectarines are nestled but beneanth that -- dry. Maybe this could be solved, in part, by really pushing the nectarines into the batter. But there would still be dry pockets.

Any ideas?

Nectarine Coffee Cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
5 medium nectarines (about 1 3/4 pounds), halved, each half cut into 4 slices (Note: I was only able to fit about 2.5 nectarines, which jibes with the comments here --LR)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Generously butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Using electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add 3/4 cup sugar and beat until blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then lemon juice and lemon peel. Beat in flour until smooth. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Arrange enough nectarine slices atop batter in concentric circles to cover completely; press lightly to adhere. Mix cinnamon and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar in small bowl. Sprinkle over cake.

Bake until cake is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cut around cake to loosen; remove pan sides. Serve cake slightly warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 servings.

Grade: B until the dry problem is solved.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Summer Corn Chowder With Bacon

It’s the end of August, and corn is cheap (well, not according to Michael Pollan). I picked up 10 ears for $2; enough to use and alter for this recipe.

Shane and the kids -– especially the kids –- really enjoyed it. Sweet and creamy with a subtle cayenne kick, it really is the summer version of corn chowder. It’s not overly rich or heavy, and would work as a main dish well into the fall.

I’d never removed the corn kernels from the cob before and, while not hard, it’s a bit labor intensive. If you don’t have fresh corn on hand, or just don’t want to go to the trouble, I think thawed frozen corn could work well.

Summer Corn Chowder With Bacon
6 slices bacon, chopped
6 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from 6 to 8 ears)
1 leek, chopped
3 peeled russet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Sauté bacon in large pot over medium-high heat until crisp and brown. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.

Add corn, leek, and potatoes to drippings in pot; sauté 5 minutes. Add 3 cups broth and simmer uncovered over medium heat until vegetables are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer 3 cups soup to blender. Holding blender top firmly, puree until smooth.

Return puree to soup in pot. Stir in cream and cayenne. Bring chowder to simmer, thinning with more broth if too thick.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle chowder into bowls and sprinkle with bacon and chives.

Makes 6 servings.

Grade: A

Tags: , ,

Friday, August 25, 2006

Orange Beef Stir-Fry

[Note: if you're just interested in the recipe, skip down a several paragraphs. This one's got quite the preamble.]

Here's a dirty little secret: I'm obsessed with P.F. Chang's Orange Peel Shrimp. Love, love, looove it. I love it so much that I can almost forget that:

The only P.F. Chang's around is attached to a mall (a hallmark of fine dining, to be sure),

That all the mixed drinks have cutsey names (even though I also really like "“The Poolside"),

That the cuisine is only vaguely Asian (I suspect two guys named Peter and Frank randomly pointed a finger at a name in a Chinatown phonebook), and

That the waitstaff have, on occasion, made me very uncomfortable.

Which happened the other day. I was shopping for linens at the Eastview mall, now a mere 15 minutes from my home. It was around 1 pm and I was hungry, so I knew where to go. Seated, I settled in with my copies of People and Us magazine (dining in a mall requires such reading fare) waiterhe waite came over.

"David" was very attentive. Attractive, but not overly so. And especially charming yet smarmy, in that I'm-a-20-year-old-guy-and-I-think-I've-got-the-world-by-the-balls-but-I'm-just-one-broken-date-with-a-Hooters-waitress-away-from-severe-depression sort of way.

Before I continue, I should note two things: 1) I was the only person in the restaurant eating alone (which I like to do on occasion), and 2) I happened to be wearing a low-cut shirt (although not as revealing as others I've seen).

David did not leave me alone. He kept coming back, making little jokes, bringing me more iced tea than necessary, making sure the fortune cookies were up to snuff; the whole nine yards. When he asked how I'd like the complementary side sauce -- mild, medium, or hot -- and I said "hot," he waggled his eyebrows. "Ahhh," he said, "haaahhhhhht."

Now here's the thing: I couldn't figure out if he was acting this way because he thought a) he'd get a better tip, b) I was looking to be ogled, or c) it was sad I was eating alone. If I knew the specific reason, I could have chosen a particular response. But as it stood, I just smiled vaguely, laughed politely at a few jokes, and tried to put my magazine in front of my face.

It was enough to put me off my meal - the damned shrimp didn't taste as good.

So I got home and thought, "How hard can it be to make this?"

Well, kind of hard. The recipe itself isn't difficult, but nailing the flavor is. I substituted organic beef (I missed you, cow) for a little variety and combined a couple of Martha recipes to form the one below. It's not a bad recipe, it's just not a replica of P.F. Chang's orange peel sauce.

It has a nice, fresh quality. You know, unlike the P.F. Chang version.

Orange Beef Stir-fry
1 cup brown rice
3 oranges
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 pounds trimmed boneless sirloin or rib eye, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound broccoli florets, broken into small pieces
1 cup water
Palmful chopped scallions, green parts only
Red pepper flakes

Cook rice according to package instructions; set aside. Into a small bowl, finely grate zest and squeeze juice from 1 orange. Add garlic. vinegar and soy sauce; set aside. In a medium bowl, toss beef with cornstarch; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet, combine broccoli with water; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high; cook, partially covered, until broccoli is bright green and crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Discard any water in skillet; wipe with paper towel.

In same skillet, heat oil over high. When pan is very hot, add half the beef; cook until browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to a separate plate. Repeat with remaining oil and remaining beef, but leave beef in skillet.

Return reserved beef to skillet, add orange-juice mixture and continue cooking over high heat until sauce thickens, 2 to 4 minutes.

Place rice on a serving platter and top with broccoli. Spoon beef and orange mixture on top, sprinkling with scallions and red pepper flakes. Serves 4.

Grade: B+

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Political and The Culinary

I wrote a post for Fruits of our Labour inspired by Stewart Lee Allen's book, In the Devil's Garden: Sinful History of Forbidden Food. The post references Allen's examination of cuisine to control a populace, but his book isn't just limited to politics; it examines the role of food in culture throughout history. It's a great read, both interesting and entertaining. Pick it up when you have the chance.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Semi-Homemade Tribute

Yes, the presentation is lacking. But at that point in the move, so was my ability to care.

I am not a fan of Sandra Lee (aka Snadra, Puddin' Cups, or my personal favorite, Semi-Ho). I like her 70/30 concept, where 70-percent is store-bought and 30-percent is fresh ingredients, but her execution -- eccch. (Read case-by-case examples here.)

One of her favorite tricks is playing with angel food cake. She chops off the top, scoops out the middle, fills it with something, puts the top back on, and plunks it on a plate with fwap of whipped topping. "Delicious!" she cries.

Then she fills up a martini glass with vodka, Bailey's, and chocolate syrup, banging it down like a frat boy on a keg stand.

But a couple of weeks ago just before our move, I took a page out of her book. (No, not the alcohol. Well, not just the alcohol.) My friend Nancy was stranded in town after her car had broken down, and we invited her to spend the night. As everything in my kitchen was packed up, I had to Semi-Ho a dinner together. I bought a rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, a bag-o-salad, and for dessert, I dressed up a store-bought angel food cake.

I'm still surprised at how good everything was -- especially the cake.

Maybe I've been too hard on ol' Snadra. Then again, I didn't need a jigger of rum to swallow it down. (*Rimshot!* Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week.)

Peach Melba topped Angel Food Cake

A fresh, store bought angle food cake
2 very ripe peaches, sliced
The best-you-can-find raspberry preserves (such as Bonne Maman)
Whipped cream
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Place some raspberry preserves (1/4 cup to start, perhaps) in a small sauce pan over a low flame with a tablespoon or two of water. Stir constantly until the preserves have thinned to the consistency of a dessert sauce; set aside.

Slice cake and place on dessert plates. Top with peach slices and raspberry sauce; garnish with whipped cream. If desired, serve with ice cream.

Serves 5.

Grade: A+

Monday, August 21, 2006

La Festa al Fresco Submission: Shrimp with Tomato and Basil over Polenta

About a week ago, I got a note from the lovely Lis from La Mia Cucina inviting me to participate in La Festa al Fresco. Lis and the equally lovely Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice have created this foodie event featuring fresh summer food.

Lis writes on her blog:

Ivonne and I would like to celebrate the final days of another glorious summer with an outdoor feast [...] here's what we need: we need you to show up for the feast with a dish to contribute to the table. You can make anything you like as long as it features one fresh ingredient. Consider it a way to celebrate summer's bounty! The party is scheduled for September 5th so e-mail me or Ivonne with the link to your post featuring the dish you are sending over.
How could I resist?

The resulting dish is a bit like late summer's parting kiss: the season's garden flavors of tomato, basil, and garlic; the sea-salty-yet-sweet firmness of fresh shrimp, and the hint of cooler weather to come in the rich and creamy polenta.

Not only is it delicious but it's easy to pull together. Dinner can be on the table in 35 minutes or so. There's one stipulation, however: this meal must be eaten outside with a good glass of wine or a lightly flavored beer. It's only fitting to soak up waning moments of summer while you can.

Shrimp with Tomato and Basil over Polenta

1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails removed)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 teaspoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes in juice
palmful of fresh basil
1 lb prepared polenta (suggested: Melissa's Organic Italian Herb; follow package directions)

Season shrimp with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 4 teaspoons oil over high. Add shrimp; cook until opaque throughout, turning occasionally, 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.

Make sauce: In the same skillet, reduce heat to medium, add remaining 2 teaspoons oil and garlic; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add canned tomatoes and their juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have softened and are saucy, about 15 minutes. (If the sauce becomes too thick, thin with a bit of water, chicken stock or white wine.)

Meanwhile, in a small pot, heat polenta over a low to medium flame with water to create a mush. Chop basil roughly.

When sauce is ready, add shrimp and basil, seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary, and toss. Serve immediately over polenta, garnishing with basil leaves, if desired.

Serves 4.

Grade: A+

Monday, August 14, 2006


Galley kitchen, I'm leaving you for another. Another with wide, open spaces and custom built cabinetry. It's not me; it's you.

We're closing on the sale of our house tomorrow (yay!) and the purchase of our new house ... uh... this week (I hope). It could even be as early as tomorrow. I should know more in a few hours.

As such, the blog will be on hiatus this week while get our acts together. Today, we're picking up the moving truck and loading it up with the help of some neighbors, doing last minute packing, and waiting for the utility companies to arrive for final meter reads. (You're jealous, I know.)

We'll probably be into the new house by Friday -- perfect timing, as Time Warner will hooking up our Road Runner connection that very day. (I'm not sure how I'll live without internet until then. Though there is a coffee shop right around the corner with WiFi. Caffeine AND wireless: does it get any better?)

If we can't close on both houses on the same day, we'll be staying at The Hotel Jenny. (A giant thank you to Jenny for her hospitality!)

Anyway, keep your fingers crossed and thanks for the many well wishes many have sent!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Insalata Caprese

It doesn’t get much easier than this, nor more delicious. The colors are gorgeous and flavors are perfect.

As there isn’t much to this recipe, use the best ingredients available, especially when it comes to the fresh mozzarella. It should be very white, usually shaped like a ball, and packed in water. If there isn’t an Italian store near you (I don’t have one, either), check the gourmet cheese section of the grocery store. If you can’t find it, leave it out. It’s better to not use any mozzarella at all than to use something like Polly-O. (Trust me; at this time of year, basil and tomatoes alone are superb.)

Insalata Caprese

3 tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 to 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh basil leaves (about a handful), chopped

Arrange tomato and cheese alternately on a plates, overlapping edges. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and basil. Serve immediately.
Yields 4 to 6 Servings.

Grade: A

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Italian Fried Peppers

These are something I remember vividly from my grandmother’s kitchen. We’d place them in a sandwich of fresh deli turkey and semolina bread with a touch of mayo, salt, and pepper – delicious. (Though the lack of good semolina bread around here makes me want to cry.)

Italian Fried Peppers

1 pound Italian peppers, cut into strips (the peppers are long, thin and light green)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the peppers and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until it softens, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. Refrigerate to store, covered with olive oil.

Grade: A


Just a quick thank you to Margie at Mix-Pix and the anonymous (to me, anyway) reader who nominated me for a Foodie-Blog Award! (My very first blog award; it's awfully nice.)

Click Here to Enter Mix-Pix Blogger Awards Contest at

Please visit Mix-Pix Awards and check out more award-winning sites (including the wonderful Acme Instant Food)!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Roasted Garlic

Since there's about an hour and a half left to Tuesday in the Eastern Standard Time zone, let's get this show on the road:

Roasting garlic is one of the easiest things that can be done in the kitchen. Slice the tip off a head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil, pop in the oven, and an hour later, you have a lovely little culinary package.

After an hour in the oven, the garlic relinquishes its spicy bite, a rich mellowness taking its place. Squeeze each clove to release the goodness inside and spread on a good piece of Italian with a sprinkle of salt.

Roasted Garlic

1 whole garlic head (bulbs)
1 - 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel the outer skin of the garlic only; leave garlic bulb whole. Slice 1/2-inch of the pointed end of the garlic bulbs. Put the garlic head in a small ovenproof dish, garlic roaster, or pan. Pour olive oil over the top of each bulb and let it sink in between the cloves.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake 1 hour or until cloves are browned at the exposed end and soft throughout. Remove from oven.

Allow garlic to cool and remove cloves from head as needed. Garlic may be stored in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for several days. To puree, crush garlic cloves with the flat of a knife.

Grade: A

Monday, August 07, 2006

Raspberry Blackberry Crumb Jumbles

Welcome to Simply Summer Week! All week long, I'll be featuring very simple recipes taking advantage of summer's bounty. ( God, is that marketing schmaltz, or what? Sorry.)

And since it's summer, I'll be taking Friday off. On to the first recipe!

A few years ago (actually, now that I think about it, five or six years ago - yikes) I enrolled in a cake baking course at the Institute of Culinary Education (at that time, Peter Kump's cooking school).

It was so up my alley: two, six hour days devoted to making sweets. Everyone was paired up and worked on two or three recipes out of the course packet. At the end of the day, you split your baked goods with your partner.

This was all well and good, unless another group was assigned something that you wanted to taste. Because, guess what? You were shit out of luck.

The recipe tasting that haunts me to this day -- the one I never got to sample, and never got around to making -- was the blueberry crumbcake bars. I lusted after them, saliva wetting my tongue but in that class, they were out of reach.

I had planned on finally making them this weekend. But my recipe binder, filled with all the wonderful lessons and notes from the ICE, is packed away for the move. Once again, the blueberry crumbcake bars proved elusive.

So I went online and I looked for, and found, a blueberry crumb bar recipe.

Then I went to Wegmans and discovered they're charging $3 for 6oz. of blueberries. So, $12 for blueberry crumb bars? No.

Once again, the blueberry bars proved elusive.

Instead, I bought blackberries and raspberries (cheaper for some reason) and used them instead.

The final result is a summery, baked good. The crumb is delicate, similar in flavor a shortbread. The berries were wonderful, bursting with flavor.

Raspberry Blackberry Crumb Jumbles

1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
3 cups flour
1 cup shortening
1 egg
¼ tsp. salt (optional)
½ tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 cups fresh blackberries
1/2 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch pan. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and cinnamon, if desired. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the shortening and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Grade: A

Friday, August 04, 2006

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Food Posting For the Following Announcement...

For those interested, here's a brief run-down of what's been going on:

We were supposed to close on the house we're selling and the house we're buying yesterday.

On Monday, three days before this was scheduled to occur, we were told that wasn't going to happen.

Everyone -- the lawyers, the realtors, the mortgage company-- is blaming everyone else for the delay. We were not happy.

Then, a ray of hope: we began working toward taking early possession of the new house (sort of renting the new house until we close on it).

That fell through yesterday morning. We are being told that we won't be able to close -- and therefore move -- for 10 days to two weeks.

As I result, I lost my shit. The prospect of staying another two weeks in our row house -- a house bordered by over-privileged and frequently drunk-and-obnoxious college students, convicted child molesters, and people who settle their domestic disputes with physical violence and weaponry -- really had become too much bear. (And no, I'm not making any of this up.)

So I took off and went for a drive, listened to some music, did some shopping, ate an over-priced lunch, did some more shopping. Eventually, I came home, Shane and I ate dinner (and bitched about the move), watched a ridiculous movie, then went to bed.

I'm still not happy about all of it but, today, I feel a lot better. This weekend is Sadie's birthday and we're going to celebrate. I'm also going to unpack some of my kitchen stuff and get going on this cooking-great-stuff-for-a-blog thing that a lot of us do.

But today, I'm going on a tour of the wine country.

Have a great weekend, and I'll see you next week.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Dr. Kevorkian

"In My Bar" is a feature on The Webtender. You select the ingredients on hand in your bar and Webtender spits out all the drinks you can make.

One of the drinks it suggested was the Dr. Kevorkian -- probably because you could be dead before you realize you're drunk.

According to the description, the Dr. Kevorkian was invented by a college student. Very, very apt.

Dr. Kevorkian

Icy cold Dr Pepper
1 to 2 shots of icy cold Absolut Vodka

Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in vodka, then Dr Pepper, and stir with a hula girl swizzle stick. Serve where the imbiber may pass out comfortably.

Grade: B+ to A-

Tags: , ,

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Turkey Corn Chili

Shane and I packed up most of our stuff this past weekend with the assumption that we would close -– and therefore move -– on Thursday. Eating take-out on paper plates for a handful of days, we reasoned, would leave us no worse for the wear. Goodbye Mikasa plates, Wustof knives, OXO spatula; I'll catch you on the flip side.

On Monday, during the final walk-through at the new house, we ran into a snag. Our realtor had spoken to our lawyer’s office: closing on August 3 would be “impossible.” I had to be careful because if I’d hit the roof, I’d be damaging the house we were about to purchase.

The moment I realized that a diet of take-out might last longer than a few days was the same moment I got sick of take-out. The hunt of easy-to-make dishes was on. (As was the hunt for mixed drinks. Check out the Dr. Kevorkian .)

This recipe, a slightly adapted one by Rachael Ray, uses one pot. It’s simple to make and comes together fairly quickly. As with many dishes using ground turkey, the final product is a bit dry (you can, however, substitute diced turkey). Conversely, the chili itself is more soupy than traditional chili, so you might want to scale back on the chicken stock and/or tomatoes.

The classic flavors of chili are all here. Top with cheddar cheese, scallions and don’t forget the sour cream. I’m not sure what it is, but that final touch enhanced the overall flavor of this dish.

Despite the use of an entire jalepeno pepper plus Tabasco sauce, the final result isn’t particularly spicy. Neither Kian, 11, nor Sadie, almost 8, made any mention of heat). If you like more of a kick, try adding more of the hot stuff towards the end of the cooking time.

Turkey Corn Chili

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, red or green, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
2 pounds cooked turkey meat, either ground or diced
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp. (a palm full) chili powder
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp (a palm full) ground cumin
1 to 2 tsps (several drops) cayenne pepper (Tabasco) sauce
Coarse salt
2 cups frozen corn kernels or leftover prepared corn
1 (32-ounce) can chunky style crushed tomatoes
2 cups prepared chicken stock or broth
2 scallions, white and greens, chopped

Heat a deep pot over medium high heat. Work close to the stove for your chopping. Add oil to your pot, 1 turn of the pan, and add vegetables as you chop them.
Add bay leaf and cook vegetables 5 minutes, stirring frequently, reducing heat if veggies start to stick. Stir in diced turkey meat and season with chili powder, cumin, and cayenne sauce. Season with a little salt, to taste. Fish out bay leaf, then add corn, tomatoes, and broth. Combine your chili well, adjust seasonings (I added a bit more cumin and salt) reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes. Garnish chili with chopped scallions, cheese and sour cream.

Yield: 8 servings

Grade: A-

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Crunchy Granola

What better way to celebrate a new blog design than with a granola? Huh? Huh? How?

OK. I know I'm reaching. Granola isn't that exciting. But my house is packed up for the move and I was in the mood for granola. Not having much on hand, I looked for a very paired down recipe. I found it with Kathleen Daelemans's recipe for crunchy granola.

It is VERY crunchy -- crunchier than you'd expect -- but it's also a tasty and healthy snack. Shane and I ate it up pretty quickly as is, but I'm sure it would be great with milk for breakfast, or sprinkled in some yogurt. I'm not sure I'd make it again simply because I'd like more "stuff" in the granola, but I did enjoy this.

Crunchy Granola

1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups rolled oats
2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, or slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and reserve.

Combine brown sugar and water in a 4-cup microwave proof glass measuring cup or bowl. Place in microwave on high for 5 minutes and cook until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from microwave, add vanilla extract and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, nuts, and brown sugar syrup mixture. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Spread the granola onto cookie sheets and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour or until golden and crunchy.

When the mixture comes out of the oven, it is still very pliable. You may choose to add in dried fruit as a finishing touch at this time. When granola has cooled completely, store in an airtight container.

Grade: B