Category Archives: Fun with Food

Vodka Sauce

Living as we do in the remote wilderness of Southern Illinois the latest food fad filters down to us a few years behind most everyone else.  Not sure how long this sauce has been a thing but I’ve been seeing it here and there lately and gave it a try tonight.  Most recipes use peeled tomatoes but I had a bunch more of those little cherry toms and there is no way I’m peeling them.  I went looking for an easy recipe.DSC_8936 [1600x1060]I have a bunch of fresh thyme leaves in this, and a good bit of fresh basil.  Not sure why the directions call for cooking down the vodka with just the onions and garlic in the pan, most of the recipes I looked at mention using the alcohol to bring out flavors from the tomatoes that water and oil can’t touch.  I cooked the cherries down a bit and then added the vodka.  As the sauce thickened I added some white wine, too.  This recipe didn’t mention cheese but I mixed in a cup of grated Romano right before the cream.  I wish I could say this stuff was really delicious and I can’t wait to do it again but it was just OK.  I sure won’t be using unpeeled tomatoes in any more of it. DSC_8943 (1600x1060)The salad was nice. This has blue cheese dressing and some crumbled blue cheese.

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Tidbits

DSC_8890 (1600x1060)Don’t try to do this at home!  We browsed around at the local Amish run store the other day and finally picked up a squeeze tube of pie filling after seeing them there every time we went.  They have several different flavors, we took home the cherry:DSC_8933 (1600x1060)There are little chips of fruit in there but nothing the size of a whole or even half cherry.  There are 2 lbs. of it in the tube, not sure what the volume is but I think it’s plenty for at least one 9″ pie.  We didn’t buy it for that, though, because the squeezable nature of it is perfect for fried pies.  Alas, we discovered that those prepared crusts from the store are just not very good for that.  They tasted good but they were so fragile they were impossible to hold without coming apart.  Looks like it’ll be back to Mrs J’s Famous Fried Pies crust recipe to use up the remainder.Screenshot (5) (1600x1060)Yay me!  Alas, the thrill of turning over another million views is tempered somewhat by a new method for counting that Flickr.com is using.  I’m not sure what the new scheme is but it has drawn much comment from the user community.DSC_8864 (1600x1060)Hard to beat a nice ribeye.  Grilled sweet corn is another one of those things that we’ve been doing that is relatively new for us.  Mostly we just boiled it.  I’ve always buttered and salted mine but I’ve been going with other seasonings lately.  Old Bay is very good on it, tonight I used some of Olde Thomson’s tex-mex blend of seasonings.DSC_4841 (1600x1060)Mrs J spotted this fellow on her Coleus, down in the shade of a crabapple tree.  I scrambled down there with the camera and got a few decent pictures.  Mantises are one of my favorite insects.  They don’t show much fear of the camera but you can make them pay some attention:DSC_4842 (1600x1060)

Kitchen Fun

DSC_8900 (1600x1060)While we were at the store yesterday looking for cake ingredients we went ahead and bought some ground beef for a couple of quick burgers.  Hard to beat burgers grilled over a flame.  There was a fair amount of beef leftover so we bounced a few ideas around.  Mrs J mentioned sloppy joes and that sounded pretty good.  I went to the patio to grab some sweet peppers to go into the dish and brought in a few.  As I was breaking them down I thought it a waste to let those cute little peppers go unstuffed.DSC_8914 (1600x1060)Before long I had them filled with a mix of taco seasoned beef and nacho cheese sauce and topped with shredded cheddar and Monterey jack.  They went into a 350 oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.DSC_8916 (1600x1060)We had settled on a Nacho centered meal by this time what with the ground beef seasonings and cheeses already to hand.  We needed another dish to round out the menu, Mrs J suggested making more of the black bean and corn salsa:DSC_8925 (1600x1060)We have cherry tomatoes ripe again so they went in, as did 3 ears of sweet corn with the kernels shaved off the cob.  There are several varieties of peppers chopped up in there, a few green onions, a can of rinsed black beans, salt, black pepper, and a dash of lime juice in with a rice vinegar dressing.  It’s pretty good.DSC_8921 (1600x1060)Everything came together nicely on a platter.  I piled the chips on a toaster oven tray and sprinkled them with a good handful of the shredded cheeses and then popped it into the toaster oven under the broiler to melt the cheeses.  The whole pile slid right onto the platter and then I really piled on the extras:  the taco seasoned beef, some of that corn salsa, sliced jalapenos, nacho cheese sauce, sour cream, guacamole, New Mexico green chili salsa, more green onions, and a good grind of dried chili seasonings.

Enjoy!DSC_8923 (1600x1060)

Dessert Pr0n – Chocolate Cake

DSC_8913 (1600x1060)We had fun doing this one.  We started out thinking Black Forest Cake when the pastry cream in one of the images Google served up caught our fancy.  Youtube has plenty of how to videos for nearly anything you need to learn about – this one is pretty good.  One of the comments on a BFC recipe mentioned raspberry filling instead of cherry and before long we were winging it.  We used a box mix for the cake, substituting strong coffee for the cup of water in the instructions on the back of the box.  A quick trip to the store for the raspberries and we were good to go.

Enjoy!DSC_8906 (1600x1060)

Fun With Food

DSC_8879 (1600x1060)Because I’m really only nine years old.

Freezing Bell Peppers

DSC_8866 (1600x1060)We had a couple of pepper bushes survive our neglect and produce some fruit so I took a few hours this morning to deal with them.  After removing the stems and seeds the food processor with a slicer blade made short work of them:DSC_8867 (1600x1060)We’ve always used zipper bags to freeze our produce but decided to try the vacuum seal gadget this time.  I think it’s a pretty good choice of methods but the truth of it will be when we pull a bag from the freezer to use in a recipe.DSC_8869 (1600x1060)I kept a few out for lunch:DSC_8872 (1600x1060)

Pizza Pr0n – Margherita

This year, the margherita pizza celebrates its 125th birthday. One of the world’s favourite foods was reputedly invented at a pizzeria nowadays known as Brandi (00 39 081 416 928;brandi.it) at Salita Sant Anna Di Palazzo 1-2 in the city’s Chiaia neighbourhood. In 1889, its pizzaiolo, Raffaele Esposito, and his wife, Maria Giovanna Brandi, were summoned to the nearby Capodimonte palace and asked to invent a pizza for the then-queen, Margherita.

(Via)DSC_8853 (1600x1060)I’m sure this crust is much too thick for a purist.  I started the dough yesterday with 2 cups of bread flour and then added water to equal 65% of the weight of those 2 cups.  I used a handy electronic kitchen scale to weigh the flour but I don’t remember now what that came to.  Anyway, multiplied that by .65 to get the weight of the water I wanted.  Add a scant 1/4 tsp of yeast and a teaspoon of sugar to the liquid, plus a tablespoon of olive oil and stir into the flour.   The dough was very wet so I only kneaded it a little and then plopped it into an oiled bowl and covered with plastic and a damp towel.  It was left overnight to rise.DSC_8854 (1600x1060)I punched the dough down this morning and returned it to the bowl to continue proofing.  Why the fuss with weighing the water and flour?

Hydration affects the process of bread building and the nature of the final result. Generally speaking, the more water in the dough, the more open the final bread’s crumb. Bread can also be classified according to three categories based on hydration: stiff, standard or rustic.

(Via)

DSC_8857 (1600x1060)I rolled the dough out on a floured board and transferred it to my rimmed pan for baking, brushed the top with garlic oil, and distributed the toppings.  This one got the traditional Margherita treatment with mozzarella and Roma tomatoes and went into a 500 oven until the crust and toppings got a nice color.  Add the basil after the pie comes out of the oven or it will burn to a crisp.DSC_8859 (1600x1060)I like ground red pepper on my slices, along with fresh grated black pepper and salt.  Drizzle more of the garlic oil over it and enjoy!

Tidbits

DSC_4791Rain was threatening the other day and the hummers were really stoking up.  I played around with placing strobes on the ground around the feeders to try to stop the motion of the bird’s wings.  I took a few shots but it started to rain so I gathered the strobes up and quit before I could thoroughly try different settings.  I posted this at high resolution, click on it and it’ll get really big.  I counted about 30 hummers in this shot.DSC_8841 (1600x1060)Made a pot of chili just for this picture.  Turned out to be pretty good chili, I simmered some dried chilis to make a mole and added that to a chorizo/ground beef mixture with a chopped onion and a ton of garlic.  I held off putting beans in, adding them later.DSC_8846 (1600x1060)I think there are beans in the chili on this hotdog we had later in the day.  It has minced jalapeno and red serrano peppers with onions and shredded cheeses.DSC_4801 (1600x1060)Ginger had lots of fun with his new toy.  I think every cat in the house took a turn with it, and Katie spent a few minutes chewing it.DSC_8836 (1600x1060)Mrs J put together a salad, I added the olives and the pickled garlic.  It has a vinaigrette dressing of rice vinegar and olive oil with the usual herbs and a bit of Dijon.DSC_8828 (1600x1060)The habanero bush on the patio was starting to look like the peppers were thick enough on it to break the branches down so I went ahead and gathered all the ripe ones.  I have most of these drying to be ground for pizzas and the like.  I learned last year not to breath the dust from the processing.DSC_4804 (1600x1060)We opened the front door and found this stick insect clinging to the glass of the storm door.  No idea why he was there, the location pretty much defeats the blending in strategy in avoiding predators.  We see these now and again but almost always when they are away from their normal habitat.  Makes me wish for a decent macro lens for my camera.

Five Pepper Jelly

My jalapeno jelly was good enough last year to warrant another go at it so I looked around for recipes and found this one.  I have several pepper varieties so I adapted the recipe for the ones I wanted to use.DSC_8794 (1600x1060)The recipe called for a total of three cups of chopped peppers so I stuck with that.  My recipe used one green bell, three red Anaheims, five or six ripe jalapenos, six or seven red serranos, and two habs.  The habs I didn’t run through the blender, I just boiled them with the rest and then pulled them out before jarring.  Yeah, I chickened out.  I had more peppers chopped than the recipe wanted and I ended with seven half pints to process.DSC_8808 (1600x1060)Every jar sealed, I did find one jar with a chip in the rim when I ran the damp paper towel around it just prior to putting the lids on so I hurried to swap jars out, I usually sterilize more jars than I think I’ll need just to be on the safe side.  I had a small taste of the hot jelly left over and there is a nice tang to it.  I think I could have used those two habaneros without it turning out too hot.DSC_8805 (1600x1060)I left a few chunks of pepper for the texture rather than smoothing it all out in the blender.  I think it’s jelling pretty well.  This is the first time I’ve used liquid pectin.  I’ll open a jar soon to try it.  I’m optimistic!

Tidbits

DSC_8787 (1600x1060)Found another quart of tomato soup we made last year.  I think there may be one more jar up there on the top shelf.  The next batch of tomatoes Mrs J brings in may be turned into soup.  This stuff is pretty good.  We been buying sourdough bread at the store and the slices from mid-loaf are big, those are two halves of one ham and provolone grilled sammich.DSC00407 (1600x1200)Here’s your kitteh.  This one is a Siamese mix, male, and is called Sherwood by the staffers at the shelter.  He’s 10 weeks old and Mrs J says his eyes will stay blue.DSC_8773 (1600x1060)We ate some more stuffed peppers.  The Anaheims are filled with corn, black beans, brown rice, cheese, and cooked chicken.  They are topped with Monterey jack.  The little peppers are stuffed with cream cheese and chives.  The peppers are blanched, then cooled in ice water and filled before baking in a 350 oven for about 20 minutes.DSC_8782 (1600x1060)This is pure sammich pr0n.  It’s a BLT with ham, a fried egg, and a slice of cheese.  I call it a BLETCH but it could be a BELTCH if you eat it too fast.DSC00357 (1600x1060)And a puppeh!  We are having a good time now!  Mrs J says the pooch has been placed already.DSC_8784 (1600x1060)This is a ham and Swiss piled high with fresh veggies and dressed with a red wine vinaigrette.  It was delicious.  There were fresh tomatoes, thin sliced onions, shredded lettuce, and pickled pepper rings on there.  The vinaigrette was the wine vinegar, olive oil, a bit of Dijon, minced garlic, dried basil and oregano  and salt and pepper.DSC_8769 (1600x1060)I’ll close this out with another garlic pork sammy, piled high with slaw on a mini baguette.

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