Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chop, chop!

When the family is together we cook. And, what better time to capture the movement and action of hurried hands working away in the kitchen.

Here's to a bit of togetherness, good food and good cheer!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bank of (Un)America

In a recent stand against activities that are "inconsistent with internal policies for processing payments" Bank of America is refusing to handle payments for WikiLeaks.

Well, I'm glad to see that such a highly regarded corporate entity can proudly stand above the crowd and propose it's high standards of integrity. And if you'd like to know anymore about any the great Bank of America moral code, all you have to do is do a web search.

And what do we see?!

This was first to come up:
"Bank of America was the first and only entity to come forward and report its wrongdoing to the Department of Justice before the department opened its investigation into anticompetitive conduct in the municipal bond derivatives industry. The department’s ongoing investigation has resulted in charges against seven executives and one corporate entity and guilty pleas by eight executives for antitrust and related federal crimes. The investigation remains active and ongoing."

Other instances of Bank of America's high standards can be found over at Bad Attitudes, where they cite the bank's participation in such activities as accepting illicit funds from drug traffickers; doing business with a global arms dealer; and ongoing investigations into home mortgage chicanery.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Here's to double standards

It's funny that our US Imperial power-mongers can destroy countries in the name of democracy on a whim, but when the shoe is on the other foot, or when the foot gets placed in the mouth, messages we send get a little crossed.

In following the WikiLeaks saga and the tracking bits of information streaming out on independent news sources I came upon this on the Voice of America web site: US Diplomat: China Displays 'No Morals' in Africa

Basically, the takeaway is "A diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks quotes a senior U.S. official as saying China is acting aggressively and "without morals" in Africa."

"In the cable, Carson describes China as a "very aggressive and pernicious economic competitor." He adds that Beijing has "no morals" and "is not in Africa for altruistic reasons."

So, I guess it is OK for the US to wield destructive power in the name of economic superiority or chance of setting up its corporations with opportunities to make cheaper widgets and prolonging our cultural affluenza, but when someone else does it they are "without morals"? Because we are all convinced that the attack and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is for "altruistic reasons", right..?

Monday, November 29, 2010

A little late for Halloween...

It's a month late for spookiness, but I felt an eerie chill when I read this earlier:

Obama Meets With Wal-Mart's Duke to Discuss Economy

I can only imagine the conversation....

"Hey, why don't we outsource the role of government to China - yeah, that would save us some money?!"

Or, what about this one: "Thank you Mr. Obama for letting us corporations continue to have our way. You ought to get an Oscar for all that 'Hope' act you put on back in 2008 - you're a keeper! You ever thought of becoming an Exec down in Bentonville when we throw you out in 2012? You know what, we'll even give you the corner office, where you can proudly display your token Nobel Prize jingamajiggy!"

Man, I'm so glad that we're calling on the top capitalistic brass for ideas on fixing the disastrous mess they've created. With any luck, despite lots of us not having jobs, we'll bail out this sinking ship and keep this whole economy afloat by buying cheap, unnecessary, toxic trinkets and imported food from god knows where. Now there's a plan for economic recovery!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Here's to surprises!

I'm seldom surprised anymore. So, today when I racked over a batch of IPA into a secondary fermenter and discovered the moderate aroma and flavor of spice I was a bit surprised. I am obsessive about cleanliness and sanitation in my brewing and cider making, but today I was reminded sanitation doesn't take care of residual aromatics and flavor compounds left over from previous batches. What was to be a hoppy India Pale Ale may now be my first inadvertent attempt at a Christmas Ale, due to carry-over spice flavor in my plastic fermenter from my last cider. It will be a few more weeks before I know for sure how nicely the infused phantom spice either complements or dominates my IPA, and I am somewhat hopeful the Amarillo and Chinook dry-hop addition will bring my end product back to this side of spicy. But, if it doesn't, the spice just might serve as a nice winter warmer that will be ready to drink just about the time Christmas rolls around!

Cheers to the holidays!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Riding my bike in to work this morning, I encountered a train crossing where I usually travel. No problem, I thought, as there are many more crossings to connect me to my route as I paralleled the tracks. As I rode, it became apparent that this was a long, slow train, and I would not be crossing and continuing on my usual route as thought. So, I traveled on until I could cross over the tracks after the train had passed. My detour took me down some streets I don't usually travel, either by foot, bicycle or automobile. It's not that there was amazing scenery, or that where I was traveling was really noteworthy at all. But, what it did offer was a change in mood and thought for a few minutes and some distraction to the fact that I was pedaling against cold wind and rain. In this distraction I found the most simplistic pleasure - my voluntary detour had allowed me a chance to do something different, to look and think about things alternatively, and be sucked out of the the mundane and alerted to the fact that there is more going on than would normally be noticed if you take the opportunity to capture it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010 a flaming arrow through a wet goat

OK, OK....yes, I'm one of those people that get primed before going to see a show by listening to all the songs that the performer is going to hopefully play - would you like to join?

I have been waiting for Bobby Bare, Jr to come through town, ever since I heard a live full set of him broadcast on KEXP from his September show during Portland's MFNW.

A reliable source says that his show last week with Jay Farrar in St Paul was great. So, here's to the priming and anticipation!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Morning After

I propose we all declare that, from now on, the morning after election day in America be an excusable 'sick' day. Because that's how I feel as I think about the days, years to come...

But alas, I haven't the corporate funding to get my special 'day of sickness' to a societal vote, nor get a real passionate, human, non-puppet candidate to campaign on my idea.

Perhaps tomorrow I'll spread my sickness and disdain to people on the street, and we'll all be sick and pissed off enough to make a difference and offset the centers of gravity..! Or, maybe another shiny new thing will catch our attention, and we'll go on about our day and wait for the great change to come and tap us on the shoulder and let us know that a big revolution has started, where it is, and what popular kids are hosting it (be sure to check Facebook for details on the big party, via sponsored links from Pepsi, Halliburton, and Chevron to be sure you're getting the right info!).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Dreamer

This song caught me in a way yesterday afternoon and won't let go. This is the first I have of Swedish artist Kristian Matsson (aka Tallest Man on Earth), but I will definitely be exploring more of his music soon!

Link to song: The Dreamer

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Frozen in Time

And this is why I haven't eaten fast food in years...

Monday, September 27, 2010

A clown by any other name...

I'm glad to see that the current U.S. style of politics is rivaled in other countries!

Literacy test dims clown's bid for Brazil congress (AP source)

I'm imagining that headline would fit right on the cover of USA Today. The only difference is that there is no hiding the fact that Tiririca (Francisco Silva) is a real clown. The distinction here is that in the U.S. we like to dress them up a bit and teach them to talk pretty....oh, and then we vote them in.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Late Summer Bounty

In my denial of the recent arrival of Fall and the coming gloomy, rainy days here in the Pacific Northwest, I am kept distracted with the enjoyment of some of the late summer local offerings that are still trickling into the markets. Fresh, ripe figs are a highly anticipated fruit that I look forward to every year. I was happy to see these at the market yesterday, and even more happy to snack on them today!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tiny Taco

This might be the world's tiniest taco... Nacional 27 - Chicago

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Awesome Seattle Day..(well at least the morning)!

Not too much to complain about today; a semi-late weekend-morning sleep, good coffee and an early afternoon bike ride in West Seattle and Alki. Living here just over three years now, I've learned to jump on these chance opportunities of sun and warmth when you can get them in this late autumn shoulder season we have. If you can excuse the phone quality pics, I thought they were lovely glimpses into our fading Seattle summer.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rust and rails

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Garden Gnomes

Thought I'd post a few more pictures from a recent garden gnome series I took while on vacation. While I find these little subjects quite cute, I can also see why people might find them creepy in a Twilight Zone "Talky Tina" kind of way.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Upon a recent trip to visit family in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, I had the pleasure of visiting two of the town’s wonderful deli establishments. As mentioned in an earlier post, I have a slight affinity for the fine food items crafted by the few remaining artisans who continue the culinary traditions of their culture via their independent delis and meat markets scattered around North America. On this visit, my food excursion included a stop at the Budapest Delicatessen and Baltyk Meat Products & Deli situated on the north end of town.

Arriving at Budapest Deli, I didn’t know what to expect. The street out front was quite on a Saturday morning, and the storefront was small, but there was no shortage of people coming and going quietly with goods in-hand. Upon walking in, my senses were struck by the most amazing aroma of sweet, savory smoke, the sausages and bacon lining the racks on the back wall, and the counter cases filled with a fine assortment of smoked meat cuts, sausages, headcheese, pate, and other styles of seasoned, cooked meat loaves. But, if I had to name one specific item that stood out, it would have to be the fried ribbed bacon, or töpörtyű. Unlike the slices of white fat we’re used to seeing in sterile packs in the refrigerated luncheon meat of the grocery store, these golden-brown crusted slabs actually had a distinct delineation of translucent fat sandwiched in between juicy lean meat layers. They looked delicious, sitting next to the bits of fried bacon bits, what I grew knowing as “cracklins” or chicharrόn.

As we had to choose amongst all the many delicious things in the store, we left with lots of goodies including bacon buns, kifli , poppy seed strudel, Czabai kolbász, paprika headcheese, cracklin's, and of course some fried ribbed bacon. Then it was time to set off for Baltyk Meats!

Baltyk Meats, and the Baltyk Bakery next door proved to be very nice discoveries as well. In the bakery, we found a nice loaf of dense whole-grain rye bread and European Vienna-style cheesecake, though we wanted to leave with one of everything. If one thing had to stand out, it would've been their fruit-filled Polish Donuts (Pączki). They looked amazing, but maybe a bit much on top of the fried bacon and kifli lunch eaten immediately once outside the door at Budapest!

Blatyk Meats offered more European meat fare, though with a much more all-inclusive Eastern European feel. Had to have items included Buckwheat Sausage and Chicken Liver Pate. In addition to many other packaged import goods, they also had a nice selection of smoked fish, birds, and aspics.

Every time I get up to Edmonton for a visit, I am always surprised at the diversity of the relatively new immigrant culture, and those cultures' adherence to the foods of their homelands. In an ever-more sterile and commoditized food landscape, it is refreshing to visit these outlets and see that, at least for now, there still exists a few outliers offering a true taste of real food.

Now to plan for the next visit - I'm hungry already!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Jumping the Shark

Proof positive that long time restaurant rating racket, Zagat is scraping the bottom of the barrel… If this institution had any credibility left prior to their recent publishing of the Zagat Fast Food Survey, then I would say they have surely lost it now.

That anyone would go to this length of trying to categorize an assortment of outlets that represents the antithesis of food choice and quality is farcical at best. In my mind, if there must be a fast food restaurant, it should feature all the fast food brands and representative food items on one gigantic menu board. Imagine one single stop offering so choices of so many things that all taste the same, are produced at a handful of the same suppliers, and are made from the same ingredients with slightly different formulas!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I'm back!

Well, it's been a while... I have been out enjoying the summer and taking some time off for vacation, so I haven't allotted too much time to keeping up on postings...

I have been out snapping pics though, as I have the time, and have had some luck with some floral subjects and my macro lens. Here's a few random items - hope you enjoy them! Many more to come.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


When I think of simple, substantial meals, there is one thing that always comes to mind: a whole roasted chicken. While there are a number of ways to prepare and roast a chicken (whole, in-pieces, butterflied), I chose most recently to go the route of cooking the whole bird.

The great thing about whole chicken is the fact that it has its skin intact, which offers many functional advantages. One advantage, outside of keeping the meat moist while cooking, is the placement of a number of seasonings, herbs and spices underneath the skin to flavor the inner meat. I love using a mixture of fresh green herbs, garlic, and citrus. For a recent meal, I chose to season the chicken with a paste of herbs and seasoning ingredients using what I had on hand:

Italian Parsley
Dried, Ground Coriander
Zest of 1 Lemon and 1/2 Orange
Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Olive Oil
  • To begin, I removed the inner parts from the chicken, rinsed the entire body in cold water, and patted it dry with paper towels.
  • Next, I roughly chopped two fresh garlic cloves, and about a 1/4 cup worth of the Italian parsley.
  • Then I made a paste by placing the garlic, parsley and about 1 tsp kosher salt into a mortar and pestle, and grinding into a coarse paste. To this paste I added the lemon and orange zest, 1/2 tsp of ground coriander, 1/4 - 1/2 tsp black pepper, and about 1 Tbspn olive oil. I gave that mixture a few more rounds of light mashing to incorporate the mix.

  • I sprinkled a bit of kosher salt and black pepper inside the cavity of the chicken, and began the process of seasoning the rest of the chicken. Starting from the back, leg end, I separated the skin from the meat in one small area on each each breast, and then worked my fingers in between the skin and meat from the bottom of the breast on both sides of the chicken; making sure not to separate the skin and meat along the midline of the breast or tear the skin. The idea here was to create two pockets under the skin to pack the herb paste into. While I was creating the pockets in the breast, I also carefully worked a small opening and pocket in each side going into the thighs and legs.

  • I worked my paste into the pockets under the skin, placing a small amount of paste under the skin and then massaging the outside of the skin to distribute the paste all around the breast and over into the leg pockets, using all of my paste.

  • Lastly, I finished the prep by placing a small handful of Italian parsley and a few lemon wedges into the main cavity of the chicken, then closing the cavity by crossing the legs and securing by placing the ends through small holes I had cut in the flaps of skin that hang from each side of the bottom/tail area of the body. I rubbed 1/2 - 1 Tbspn of olive oil all over the outside of the chicken and sprinkled it with salt.

I placed the chicken into a 10" skillet, breast-side up, securing the wings in place by twist them forward and down, locking them around the upper end of the wing. I placed a temperature probe into the deepest part of the breast, not touching any bone, and then placed the pan in the oven on a middle rack. The temperature probe is essential here, as it allows you to monitor the internal temp without guessing, opening the oven to check, or having to cut into the meat and check the color of the juices.

The skillet went into my preheated oven at 450 degrees F. After 20 minutes, I poured 1/2 cup of water into the pan, and continued cooking at 450 for about another 40 - 50 minutes, until my temperature probe registered 165 degrees F. (I find 165 is sufficient, as the meat will continue to rise in temperate to 170 - 175 once removed from the oven, while resting 10 - 15 minutes in the hot pan. This time also allows the juices to redistribute within the meat.)

And basically, that was it..! The addition of green, herby notes and the brightness of the citrus and coriander, really gave this dish a lot of flavor. I served it with simple mashed sweet potatoes flavored with a bit of fresh ginger, brown sugar and salt & pepper.

While the initial prep on this dish seems difficult, it is pretty quick and easy once you've done it a few times, and can be adjusted for different flavors and tastes by mixing up different version of pastes using a wide range of herbs and seasonings to suit the season or side dish pairing.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Taco Box in Bucerias

So, back from vacation and finally getting around to going through some pictures and assigning them to the corresponding memory. Where do I begin..? I figured the above picture was as good a place as any to start.
  • The pic: Taco Box in Bucerias, Nayarit, MX; located on Calle Morelos, west of Lazaro Cardenas.
  • The memory: Our first night arriving to Bucerias, looking for a place to eat.

We had perused the menus at all the usual suspects who, by the looks of it, appeared to be catering mostly to folks north of the border, offering the continental-style surf & turf that we can easily find any day of the week back home. While they were all decent, repectable joints probably offering a good food within its class, this is not why we went to Mexico . No, we went for something different, a true experience. And, well, we got it on our first day!

What can I say about Taco Box..? For us it was a beacon in the night, literally. We had been strolling up and down Lazaro Cardenas, noticing lots of shops and restaurants were closed on the south side of town. We had decided to go into downtown, north of the residential area where we were staying when we noticed a food stand illuminated by a bright light. We figured, OK, our first night in Mexico, but hey, no better time to test the ol' gut (which I must say never really got tested in Mexico!). So we walked down the block to check out the offerings, and began taking in the sweet, smoky smell of pork searing on an upright rotisserie.

As we approached, Dany, the proprietor of Taco Box greeted us and asked us "how many?". We pulled up a chairs to a small plastic table positioned on the side of the street, made our order of 4 tacos each and a soda, and we were set. The tacos, besides being affordable by any standard, were amazing. Simple, perfectly flavored Al Pastor Pork on piping hot corn tortillas topped with a bit of, onion, chopped cilantro, and grilled pineapple. As we ate, we chatted with Dany about his Mexico City style meat seasonings, and watched as he prepared a rather large to-go order which his brother bagged up and set off afoot to deliver around the corner, confirming that it was not only us enjoying these tasty treats that night!

So, if you're in Bucerias and craving tacos one night on the south side of town, make sure to check out Taco Box.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

No comment...

There just aren't many words that come to mind here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Warmer Temps, Sunshine... I Smell Charcoal!

Now that the sun and warmer temperatures have returned, intermittently albeit, it's time to get outside and enjoy one of the most wonderful cooking techniques. Known as the grilling, or barbecuing in some northern parts of the country, this simple method of intense radiant heat transfer is my favorite way to impart some of the most desired flavor attributes into all kinds of food.

While there are so many obvious foods to throw on the grill including meats, a variety of vegetables, and even fruit, there was one thing I had never tasted cooked on the grill, onigiri. Onigiri is a Japanese rice ball, made from sushi rice that is cooked and formed into bite sized ovals, or slightly larger triangle shapes. These rice balls are common and very popular in Japanese cuisine, and although I had tasted them with before traditional meals, I had never had them grilled. On a recent occasion I had a chance to sample these morsels and have to say they were quite tasty. Placed directly on the grill and basted with soy sauce, they readily absorbed the salt and savory flavors of the soy sauce as well as the essence of charcoal, and were a great accompaniment to the many other delicious offerings served up by our gracious hosts. While this was my first taste of onigiri on the grill, rest assured it won't be my last!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tapioca Time!

From my earliest days growing up I hold memories of a simple dessert treat that my Grandma used to make for me. The treat was tapioca pudding, and she would almost always have some made up for me when I visited. Even as time went on and I grew up, spending less time at Grandma's, she would still always remember my favorite dessert over the many years when I returned for a visit.

As I set out on my own and started taking note my favorite foods and investigating a bit, I found that my Grandma’s wonderful tapioca recipe turned out to be the recipe and ingredients from the Kraft Minute tapioca. And here I thought it was some age-old secret handed down from my ancestors... She got such a laugh out of the fact that I thought that instant stuff was so amazing. But you know what? I still remember that tapioca pudding like yesterday, and the Cool Whip she put on it too! I cannot replicate that experience now, especially without my doting Grandma around. So, I'm left with the memories of that dessert and all the other amazing things she cooked, and the afternoons spent with her cooking in the kitchen and me playing on the floor with my matchbox cars. And you know, what that's OK!

Today, my tastes have evolved a bit and I usually choose to go the more traditional homemade route when crafting my meals and dishes (especially since I will never match the experience of Grandma's Tapioca if I followed the box recipe to the fraction of a gram...). So, as it is obvious this whole post is going somewhere towards my favorite simple pudding dish, here's my tapioca pudding recipe. I'm not exactly sure where it originated, but it looks very similar to a recipe I once saw on a Reese’s Medium Pearl Tapioca box. Enjoy!

½ cup pearl tapioca (I use Medium pearls)
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs – separated
2½ cups milk
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Soak tapioca overnight in 2 cups of room temperature water.

In double boiler, heat milk just until no longer cold.
Add salt and tapioca.

Continue to heat until small bubbles appear at sides of the pan.
Cover, turn heat very low and cook for one hour. Make sure that the mixture does not simmer or boil!

Mix egg yolks and sugar until fluffy and creamy. Add small amount of the hot mixture to the mixture, and quickly blend thoroughly.

Add the egg yolk mixture to the hot milk mixture, stirring constantly.

Place the double boiler over medium heat and cook until the tapioca mixture is very thick (about 15 minutes).

Beat egg whites until stiff (may use ¼ teaspoon of Cream of Tartar).
Slowly fold the hot tapioca mixture into the egg whites and stir in vanilla.

Serve warm or chilled.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Granola Bars

In a continuing effort to enrich food enjoyment experiences, I have started to make more of the foods I eat. This past weekend I made homemade granola and granola bars. My idea to start making my own cereal and snack bars came to me along with the idea to make homemade yogurt. The thought of eating another bland, boring individually wrapped, stay fresh until sometime next year product was something that I could no longer endure.

So, I set out to make a change, and I am so glad I did! Aside from being much more economical, making your own food products such as yogurt and granola allows you to be in control of what goes on your plate. You can decide the sweetness level, flavor, texture, size, color, ingredients (or lack thereof), etc. And the fact that it is your creation, born out of your own efforts, makes is so much more enjoyable!

There are many recipes out there for granola and granola bars, and many ways to customize once you find a base recipe you like. I used this recipe for my first run and it turned out great. I thoroughly enjoyed my mid-afternoon snack today!

Monday, February 22, 2010


Looks like spring, smells like spring, must be spring...but it's February? Nonetheless, it was another beautiful warm and sunny day here in Seattle, so I'm not complaining.

This Crocus in the afternoon sunlight was beckoning for attention. Enjoy!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Short Ribs and Gnocchi

Valentine's Dinner...what to cook?!

Valentine's Day for me and my Sweetie this year is a bit special, as it marks a date just short of a month before our 10-year Anniversary. So, what kind of dinner can I make to celebrate the occasion? It had to be something substantial, as this is a special occasion, and it had to be something new, that I had never cooked before.

I chose Beef Short Ribs, because they just sounded good, and I had never attempted the whole braising method on this particular cut before. For a starch, I decided to go with Gnocchi in Browned Butter and Sage. While somewhat time consuming, the beef ribs were well worth it, and actually not that much actual work. As for the gnocchi, I cheated a bit and went with a prepared, refrigerated option that I found at my local market; they were OK, but not as good as I've had in some of my favorite Italian restaurants. I think next time I will have to make them from scratch.

Beef Short Ribs and Gnocchi for Two: (I used this recipe as a starting point)

Ingredients for beef
    2 lbs Beef Short Ribs (this turned out to be 4 pieces, rather large, meaty cuts - they may vary Olive oil
    1/2 cup diced onion
    1/2 cup diced carrot
    2 medium garlic cloves, minced
    1 tsp ground coriander
    1 tsp ground cumin
    1 tsp chili powder
    1/4 cup beer
    1/2 cup red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon, since that's what we would be drinking later with the dinner).
    1/2 cup crushed canned tomatoes
    1/4 cup chicken stock (recipe called for Beef Stock, though I had homemade chicken stock on-hand)
    Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Ingredients for gnocchi
    10 oz package of refrigerated fresh potato gnocchi
    Fresh sage
    Chicken Stock
For the meat:
    • Preheat oven to 325° F
    • Season the meat on all sides with salt and pepper.
    • Heat a a few tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-sized heavy oven-proof skillet, brazier, or enameled cast iron cookware (one with a fitted lid) on the stove.
    • Brown all sides of meat in the skillet and then remove to a plate. Drain off most of the remaining fat from the pan and return to heat.
    • Add carrots & onion and about a 1/4 tsp Salt to the hot pan and cook to to brown the onions. (add a bit more oil if vegetables stick to pan)
    • When vegetables are browned and aromatic, add the beer and allow to reduce, scraping the bottom bits from the pan.
    • When reduced, down, add the garlic, coriander, cumin, chili powder and stir to incorporate.
    • Follow by adding the wine, crushed tomatoes, stock, and 1/2 - 3/4 cup water to the pan.
    • Return the meat to the pan and bring to a simmer, then cover with lid and place in the oven on the center rack.
    • Cook for 3 hours, turning the meat over a few times in the sauce.
    • When finished cooking, remove ribs and place in baking dish fitted with a lid, and transfer sauce to a suitable sized measuring cup, or jar and refrigerate.
    • After 30 - 40 minutes, remove sauce from fridge and skim of fat. Then puree the sauce with an immersion blender or in a free standing blender.
    • Pour sauce over ribs and return the baking dish to an oven set at 325° F, and reheat meat and sauce for about 45 minutes, or until heated through.

    For the Gnocchi:

    • Boil 10 oz. prepared Gnocchi according to the package instructions (3 mins, or so).
    • Place about 4 tablespoons butter in a skillet on medium heat, and allow to brown (not burn), until the butter is clear and amber colored.
    • Add about 10 - 15 fresh sage leaves to the butter and the drained gnocchi.
    • Fry the gnocchi in the butter until the are slightly browned and the sage leaves are wilted, then add a few tabelspooons of the chicken stock and swirl the pan a bit and allow stock to evaporate.
    • Season with a bit of salt and pepper to taste.

    Spoon a bit of meat sauce out onto two plates and place the meat to one side or the plate. Serve gnocchi along side the meat.

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    For German Butchers, a Wurst Case Scenario

    I wanted to share this article from the Smithsonian: For German Butchers, a Wurst Case Scenario. The article chronicles the recent demise in German butcher craft.

    As a food lover, and descendent of German immigrants, I found the article very interesting. It is sad to see the "progress" of modern societies in Germany moving to mega-mart style commodity foodstuffs; following in the footsteps of the U.S. consumerism plight.

    From my early days as a child, I can remember my grandfather's small farm, and the occasional slaughter and processing of a hog. It was amazing to see all the different uses of every piece of the animal in many different cuts of meat, sausages, etc. My favorite was always a version of smoked, dried sausage that was processed, hung and cured in a small smokehouse out on the property. These sausages were flavored with a good amount of pepper and garlic, and being cured and requiring no refrigeration, they were a great addition to take along for a picnic, hike, etc.

    The German butcher and delicatessen model seems to be disappearing as operators either go out of business, or slide in quality due to the younger generation’s lax demands for real quality and authenticity. Even where I grew up in South Texas, where many Germans settled in the late 1800's and early 1900's, it is becoming harder to find a really good version of what I ate as a child, and what my grandfather produced at slaughter time. For better or for worse, I guess this is what we have.

    Despite my disappointment sprouting from an ever-decreasing real food marketplace, I am still hopeful that a small population of younger people will revive some of the older food traditions and recipes. While there are far less options than before for craft style food, I am very happy to support the remaining purveyors in my area.

    One place in particular is Hans’ German Sausage and Deli, just south of Seattle, WA in Burien. At Hans’, you can find a variety of sausages and meats made in-house. In addition to meats, they also have the expected other German and European food imports, as well as German style breads brought in from near-by artisan bakeries. This place is a must visit if you are in the area and interested in German food and supporting local business.

    In addition to Hans’, I thought of a few other great places I have come across in the past where you can find some German meat delights! I would love to hear your comments on any great local food outlets carrying on traditions in your area.

    Bavarian Meats (Seattle, WA)

    Uli’s Famous Sausage (Seattle, WA)

    K & K Foodliner Ltd (Edmonton, AB, Canada)

    Granzin’s Meat Market (New Braunfels, TX)

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010


    While out on a run the other day, I noticed my local fish market had Fresh King Salmon noted on their placard out near the sidewalk. Immediately, my mind wondered to thoughts of how, what, when can I incorporate salmon into my next few days of meals..? This challenge is doubly complicated by the fact that my wife has, after having lots of Pacific Northwest salmon in the few years we've lived in the area, become a bit picky and aversive to "another salmon dish...".

    So, my challenge - to do something different with salmon; different than grilled, cedar-planked, baked, broiled, poached, etc.

    My idea - Gravlax, the traditional Scandinavian preparation of fish (usually salmon), which utilizes the process of osmosis to cure the fish meat via packing it into a blend of salt, sugar and blend of spices.

    My recipe is fairly basic:

    ¾ lb salmon fillet, tail end (all bones removed)
    ¼ cup kosher salt
    2 Tbsp sugar
    2 tsp fennel seed
    2 tsp black peppercorn
    Handful of fresh dill sprigs (~20 stems)
    • Coarsely grind the fennel seed and black pepper together in a spice grinder, blade-style coffee mill, mortar and pestle, or other.
    • Mix spices, salt, and sugar together.
    • Lay out a large piece of plastic kitchen wrap on a work surface, and distribute a bout 1/3 of the salt/spice mixture onto an area in the middle of the plastic, about the size of the fish fillet.
    • Place the salmon fillet, skin side down onto the distributed mixture, and then pack the remaining salt/spice mixture on top and on the sides of the salmon.
    • Tear the smaller sprigs of dill off the larger stems and roughly chop or tear those pieces into smaller pieces. Distribute on top of the salt/spice mixture.
    • Douse the top of the dill with a bit (about 1 oz) of the Aquavit.
    • Pull the side of the plastic wrap together, overlapping tightly to contain the piece of fish.
    • Double wrap the fish again with more plastic wrap.
    • Place the fish in a shallow dish, and refrigerate for 2 – 3 days, turning at least once a day to redistribute the brine juices.
    • When fish has firmed up slightly, unwrap and rinse.
    • Slice across the muscle, on a bias.
    • Serve with capers and sliced onion or shallot, or on a bagel with cream cheese, etc. and enjoy!

    Saturday, February 6, 2010


    As my latest blog postings have revealed, I've been spending some time in the kitchen lately. I have enjoyed this time immensely; playing around and trying new recipes and techniques, and doing a bit of food photography along the way! Today's post is no exception...

    Here's a glamour shot of my latest kitchen adventure, kimchi. I had never made this before, and after doing so for the first time, I wondered why. More importantly, I wondered why I ever paid so much for a jar of the stuff at my local Asian market?! It is easy to make, and yields a good amount of Kimchi for your eating pleasure. This kimchi turned out great, and is on par with what many restaurants in the area serve - very authentic!

    Rather than posting the recipe that I used, I recommend you check out Maangchi's Easy Kimchi. This is the recipe I followed and, as a bonus, there is handy video to show you exactly what to do. While you're there, you can peruse through her many other great recipes and cooking demonstrations. The site is filled with a lot of informative how-to's to get you started with the basics of cooking Korean food!

    Friday, February 5, 2010

    Cinnamon and Cayenne Spiced Chocolate Cookies

    Yesterday morning I came across this recipe for spicy "Hot Mama" chocolate cookies posted by Amber Turpin over at Civil Eats, and I had to make them. These cookies are easy to make with just a few ingredients. The subtle heat from the mix of cinnamon and cayenne pepper compliments the intense cocoa flavor nicely. While these cookies are good for all-around snacking (what cookies aren't?), they also pair well as a contrasting dimension of flavor with cold dairy desserts such as vanilla ice cream, or just a plain old glass of milk!