The Eskimo viburnum is very near it’s snowy peak and the redbud tree behind it is in full bloom.  My potted herb garden is filling out.  The thyme is weak, it is last year’s planting and I repotted it.  It was very much rootbound so I hacked off a chunk that was showing new green and discarded the remainder.This is the same picture that has been run through the Snapseed editing app on my android phone – the HDR is cranked to the max.Now this is some comfort food!  The pork steaks were browned and then baked in the same pan as the beans.  I cooked the sliced potatoes separately because I was wanting some crunch on them.  Cook them in a little oil and resist turning them to get that nice brown.  You want to use a low flame so the time between crispy brown and burnt black is maximized.I mentioned making up some sauerkraut the other day because I wasn’t a fan of the stuff Kroger sells in jars.  Just add salt to the shredded cabbage.  It helps to weigh the cabbage to get the optimum amount of salt to add.  Two percent is the target so for every 100 grams of cabbage you want 2 grams of salt.  A digital kitchen scale is very handy for this sort of calculation.  I started with 2 large heads of cabbage, each head was enough to fill one of these half gallon  mason jars, and I used roughly 2 tablespoons of kosher salt per jar.
I used a food processor to slice the cabbages and I weighed after shredding. Add the salt and toss in the bowl to get the juices flowing, the salt will draw out some water and this is the brine that you submerge the cabbage under in the jars. Give the salt some time to work, then toss again.  I use airlock types of lids and vents to keep the air out as it ferments.  A glass hockey puck looking thing weighs down the cabbage and keeps it submerged.  Not absolutely needed with the air locks but it keeps the jars looking neat. We used the last of those farmer’s market tomatoes along with sliced fresh mozzarella to make this salad up.  I added a bunch of dill and garlic to some yogurt and added a dollop to the bowl.More comfort food.  I’ve made these before and they are delicious.  Bake some sweet potatoes and load them up with stuff.  Oil and salt the skins and bake at 400° for about an hour.  The skins should easily peel right back.  Mash the insides with a fork and make a well in the center.We added cheese, smoked pork, sour cream mixed with a sweet bbq sauce, bacon, minced jalapenos, and green onions to this one.  Mrs J wanted muenster cheese, all we had was slices from the deli so we used an egg slicer to cut it into the thin strips that are visible hanging out on the left.  The heat from the potato is enough to make it melt into a gooey mess that is appropriate for the dish – the dish  is named  “Hot Mess”, after all. 😜


Ropa Vieja

This isn’t as colorful as it would be if all the peppers and onions had not been pressure cooked with the meat from the beginning.  It’s an InstaPot dish adapted from this bon appetit recipe.  I used the rest of a big flat iron steak that I used for the beef and broccoli stir fry a few days ago.
Not that I have any experience with traditional Cuban cooking, but the black beans and the rice are considered to be a requirement for this dish.
I transferred it to the stovetop so I could reduce it, it was a bit thin because I had used a full quart of my canned stewed tomatoes because they were put up with quite a few peppers and onions.  The recipe calls for pimento stuffed olives but I didn’t have any on hand.  Should have sliced them in half, though.
I gave the ropa a full 60 minutes in the InstaPot, and then another 30 because my flat iron steak wasn’t yet ready to shred.

Gyro Rehab

I processed those inedible lamb nuggets and added some ground beef along with pureed onions, garlic, and Greek spices.  Shaped into thin patties they browned nicely in olive oil.
The tomatoes were Cherokee Purples, bought at the farmer’s market Saturday. I have no idea where or how they were grown, they were the only tomatoes of any kind on offer and we were glad to see them.
The round loaves aren’t pitas although what the difference may be is not clear to me. They are onion naan. We like them for gyros and other uses, they make a decent grilled cheese sammich.

Stir Fry

I’ve already cooked the beef that will go back in with the broccoli and peppers.There are all kinds of recipes for basic brown sauces.  I tend to add dollops of this and splashes of that.  Soy sauce and rice vinegar will get you pretty far.  Add sesame oil, oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce, ginger, black bean sauce, on on and on…
We’re using basmati rice these days, the rice cooker works just fine for it. Add some green cardamom pods to the rice as it cooks. Smells great!


They tell me that in locales where there are plenty of food trucks or carts gyros are an everyday thing, and every market sold lamb. I had myself set on making them for Saturday dinner, we were heading out to the farmer’s market to find some tomatoes and dill for it, with a stop at the bigger supermarket there by it for gyro meat.  Hey, there some lamb!  Alas, no ground lamb so I bought stewing cubes thinking they would grind just fine in a food processor,  And they probably would have it if hadn’t decided to just dice them a bit more, marinate, and saute.  They were.. chewy.
Luckily, the cucumber yogurt sauce is good on warm bread with just onions and tomatoes.  I made some fried mushrooms, they had an older box of sliced buttons at the store for half price so I grabbed it.  Dip in batter then roll in panko.  We thought of doing them when we heard that the local strip was reopening a gyro joint.  They always had great onion rings and mushrooms.
I may have to buy more lamb and go the sous vide route.


This is an egg burrito, sorta.  Beat an egg well and then pour it into a skillet and swirl to coat the bottom and let it cook.  I used one like a tortilla to wrap some diced potatoes, cheese, and ham.I added chopped chives to the egg as it set for a little color. That’s a commercial tomato salsa on it.Sammich pr0n.  This is smoked pork warmed up with bbq sauce, all on a Kroger onion roll.  I like dill pickles for it.  Giardiniera would be great on it as well.I really do need to make some more sauerkraut, I’m not happy with the stuff I can get at the store.Ollie and Ginger Boy take an interest whenever Mrs J is making supper for the pups.  Ollie really likes the braunschweiger.  The dogs get a custom blend:  dry kibble with chicken rice, the liver sausage is to hide medicine.  Allergy pills, mostly.It’s bean salad time again!  I always feel so healthy eating it but I overcome that with the baked beans and potato salad.  We get a lot of miles out of a whole roasted chicken.  I bone the remaining carcass and separate the fat from the juices in the roasting pan.  Use the fat to make a roux, add the cooking juices and more broth to make a gravy, boil some rice or egg noodles and there’s another meal. I like to roast chicken thighs with potatoes layered in the bottom of the pan to cook in the fat and juices.  I season the thighs with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.Sloppy joes are good any time.  I may have kept the beans on the heat a tad too long but they are still good.  A might crusty in places.I have the makings for a nice slaw salted down in this big bowl.  I’ll let the cabbage and pepper rings sweat down for an hour before rinsing them off and adding my vinaigrette dressing.

Skillet Pie

Your no frills chicken pot pie.  Go ahead and call the cast iron pan a frill.  Ha!A basic pan biscuit, adjust the recipe for an inch thick crust (10″ pan will use 1/2 recipe) and bake at 450° until it’s just showing color.  Take from oven and remove from pan when cooled.  You can get it out in one piece if you’re careful.  I have a flexible, wedge shaped, nylon pie server that slips under and frees the bottom.  All that butter helps!


Sammich Pr0n – Reuben

Easy bread machine rye:

1 cup rye flour
2 3/4 cups bread flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons caraway seed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Fill the machine as per recommend practice (usually add liquids first and flour last except sprinkle the yeast atop everything) and hit start.

I generally make a pile of corned beef in a skillet, top it with cheese, and add the sauerkraut last.  Splash in some water or ‘kraut juice, cover, and heat on medium until the cheese has melted.  We like ours on lightly toasted rye but I’m not sure the reuben referees will necessarily deduct points for un-toasted bread.