Thursday, September 27, 2007

WFDW, Leftovers Version

One of the other major attractions to going to the track, aside from the riding of course, is the eats. Without fail, there is always lots and lots of good stuff for Saturday dinner which is thanks in no small part to our pals from Kansas with their trailer mounted smoker, nicknamed Hoppy.
I've told you about these friends before by way of their introducing and then gifting me the awesomely muti-purpose Kansas Cooker, otherwise known as the farm implement-turned-frying-pan, and these friends in their unfailingly generous style, have logged enough miles towing Hoppy to various tracks to circumnavigate the globe at least once or twice by now. And all in the name of a good after-party. So, when I learned Hoppy would be joining us last weekend, I immediately made plans to bring one of my favorite smoker appropriate items, Jerk Pork and trust me when I tell you that it all disappeared in the blink of an eye. So fast that I only got to have one little slice which left me all hot and bothered and wanting.

Anyway, the Jerk Pork recipe I'm about to tell you about doesn't call for the meat to be smoked but doing so adds a whole nuther dimension that is completely, addictively delicious so if you're lucky enough to have the means to do this, go for it. But never fear if you are without a smoker, because grilling or even oven baking will still get you a result that is delicious and succulent and flavorful and completely worth the effort.

Now, the Jerk sauce/marinade can be a bit labor intensive to put together as it has quite a few ingredients, so because of that and because I'm typically doing at least a six or seven pound pork loin to feed a crowd, I always double or triple the recipe to have plenty left over for use as a condiment on the finished dish. (I haven't tried freezing it but I'm sure this would work great.) Last weekends' batch was no exception...I tripled the recipe which gave me a generous amount for marinade with a couple of cups left for serving on the side and still a bit more to use on a small tenderloin for last nights dinner that helped get me over that hot and bothered and wanting I mentioned:

With some smashed potatos and some sauteed spinach and brocollini, our tummies could not have been happier.
As far as the actual Jerk recipe is concerned, I've tweaked it a bit of course. Most importantly, IT NEEDS SALT. I add about a teaspoon per batch and then still season the meat fairly heavily before dousing it with marinade where everything will dwell happily together for AT LEAST 24 hours, 48 if possible. I also add black pepper and a tablespoon or so of honey to give it a little better balance. And never fear the peppery heat, because it's nicely tempered by the acid and really makes the recipe what it is...if you've ever been to Jamaica you know that authentic Jamacian Jerk is so spicy yet so delicious that eating it is a little sadistic. This recipe is no where near that spicy as written, but if you're worried about the heat or your moral corruption, use jalapeno instead of habanero. The flavor won't be quite the same but it will be more midwesternly spiced and still tasty. Leave as much of the marinade stuck to the meat as you can when you put it to the heat and then spoon the leftovers atop after you carve because it's super, super yummy stuff. And another very important point: please, please DON'T OVER COOK THE PORK. This recipe is blatantly unforgiving when it comes to this. Get it close (say within 5 or 10 degrees) to 140 but never, EVER a degree more, and then let it rest for ten minutes before carving and it will be juicy and delicious just like it ought to be and your tummy will thank you.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Griddle Me This

For the first time in ages we were finally able to get to the track over the past weekend to enjoy some riding and socializing with friends we've dearly missed. It was our first official outing with PupCake as pit crew, as well as our first foray into camping-with-canine, so I had tons of things I was trying to keep track of and remember to bring in addition to our regular truckload of crap and the one thing that got left behind was my camera. So no pictures of any of those festivities...BOO.
And just as we were recovering from all of that fun, yesterday was Boy's birthday. As is our typical M.O. around here, we kept it pretty low key, with a dinner in, a dog walk and a DVD in front of BigTV.
Can you guess what I made him for dinner? I could probably show you the same photo from the last three or four years here, because it's pretty much always the same:

A Monte Cristo, complete with a dusting of powdered sugar, raspberry jam for dipping, and curly fries to go along just in case the sandwich wasn't naughty enough.
Because I was still recovering from our 4am arrival home on Monday and just didn't have the battered-and-deep-fried thing in me, I went the French toast style route and egg dipped and griddled them instead which ended up being almost as good. Most importantly, Boy was happy. Somehow, toasty, buttery ham and cheese deliciousness makes being another year older seem not too bad a deal I guess :)

Now, head on over to Modern in MN to see why I have a whole new project on deck...


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Family Portrait

I had to run over to REI the other day to pick up a pair of Croc flip flops that I had gotten on clearance online. They were an irresistable $12 bargain that ended up turning into a $65 dollar bargain on account of the fact that I had to use the restroom while I was in th store and that meant I had to go through the shoe department to get there. I'm certain the store must have been designed so that the only path to the womens restroom is through shoes. Crafty marketing geniuses...
So, two seconds, twenty linear feet and one potty break later and a pair of Keen Venice H2's in the Process Blue color were safely in my arms, rescued from the clearance rack. It's a color I've been lusting after for two seasons so I couldn't resist, plus the clearance price plus my member discount coupon made them like $50 which is a killer deal. So this brings my own personal pair count to nine. I wasn't planning on buying anything, really. Just a quick in and out to pick up my order.


That is the guilty party there in the front:

Isn't that color just the bomb? Although based on the fact that ALL they had on the clearance rack was that color, I guess I'm probably not in the majority in thinking it's fab. Whatever...more for me.
And yes, you are seeing two pairs of the new Waimea in purple that I showed you a while back. I got nervous and itchy when when I couldn't find any of the old style Keen Antigua flip-flops to replace my nearly worn out pair and decided I must have a back up pair of their current offering just in case the flip-flop is going to go away or something...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Gadget Worthy

I have been meaning to tell you about this next little thing FOREVER.

As you may know, I'm particular about the gadgets and stuff that come into my kitchen, perhaps as a result of working in a half-postage stamp sized space for so long. And despite having more room in my current kitchen, I still eschew useless wasting of real estate in favor of only keeping and storing those things that work well enough to earn their culinary room and board. If something functions poorly, is redundant, ill designed, or just plain doesn't get used, it's a pretty short trip from utensil drawer to donation pile.
So all of this means that the inflow of gadgety things into my house is pretty slow, since the great, functional basics last forever and the kitchen gadget invention bubble seems to have burst following the invention of the Microplane. But every once in awhile, something really great comes along and surprises even me, the gadget cynic.

Behold, the plastic cheese knife, aka Brie's best friend:

I must confess I purchased this thing on a day of rare weakness and because I had a coupon for the kitchen specialty store that I felt compelled to use. And I was a little disgusted at myself for paying $19 for an ugly plastic thing of questionable function, but I had been told by a couple of people that it worked great and I just had to see for myself, even if it was to prove them wrong.

So I bought it and tried it, never in a million years thinking I'd have to tell you about such an unappealing looking little piece of plastic, but what this sucker lacks in kitchen chic it more than makes up for in it's perfectness for certain highly annoying, sticky tasks. It goes through Brie, that gooey, unsliceable brat that makes a mess of every cheese plate it's ever visited, with nary a stick or a glop, making it possible (finally), to cut perfect, one handed slices or wedges even when it's meltingly hot. It works wonders on Blue or Feta, offering the opportunity for tidy, even slices instead of crumbly clumps. Perfectly halved hard boiled eggs? No problem.
Introduce it to anything sticky or clingy and it comes out the champ, even when everything else fails, because it's plastic and it's got this great, step-shaped blade that pushes things off of it as it cuts through:

Or maybe it contains some mysterious and top-secret cheese knife nanotechnology, I dunno, but my point is it does what it's supposed to and eliminates one of the great agonies of knife-dom. And it's not sharp so it's a great tool for kids, too.
So while I wish it was more fashionable, say with a modest black handle like a proper knife, or even cute orange or red, I can forgive this blatant design oversight because the thing works the bomb.
They are available direct HERE.
Your Brie will thank you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What's For Dinner Wednesday...IT'S BAAAACCK

Courtesy of the weather which has finally decided to chill out a bit and entice me to want to cook again, I bring you the first fall '07 installment of What's For Dinner Wednesday:

Dominican Chimichuri Burgers and Roasted Cauliflower with Indian Barbecue Sauce

The burgers are make-again good, and also solidly in the chin-drippingly messy category, but I can forgive that on account of them being super delicious. Despite the fact that I tend towards being a burger purist, this recipe is a great mix of tastes and textures and the kind of thing that's different but yet doesn't make you sorry you went for it over a more traditional selection of toppings like weird burgers sometimes can.
The roasted cauliflower is fantastic as well, and is a perfect (vegetarian) side dish alternative to baked beans. I was never on the whole mashed/roasted/pretend-its-something-else cauliflower bus back in the Atkins Diet days, (because I was never on the Atkins Diet, go figure) and have really never done anything other than crudite or curry with it before now. I'm diggin the roasting thing, however, and I can see it working bare or with any number of other condiments.
Anyway, the recipe has you tossing the cauliflower with the sauce once it's roasted and unfortunately I think I overdid it with the sauce a bit. Even without that misstep, I decided I would forgo the tossing together next time and serve the sauce on the side for dipping instead to allow the surprisingly yummy flavor of the cauliflower shine through a little more.
Incidentally, I only made half the recipe of sauce and that was more than enough for one whole head of cauliflower, and one head of cauliflower roasted down to enough for about three side dish sized portions.

Happy Fall, everyone, and welcome back to WFDW. As always, please feel free to play along!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Cuz I'm a Bloggah, Not a H8tah

First and foremost, I feel I owe y'all a huge and long overdue thanks for your kind and generous comments both pre and post NYT article thing. I think it was as much fun hearing from peeps both here and over at Modern in MN as it was anticipating and then seeing myself in print. I just cannot say enough how much joy your comments and cheers bring me. Heck, even your "shut up about the sewing stuff already and give us some cooking talk" is great if only because it makes me feel like I know you that much better :)
Really tho, it's one of the bestest things ever about the internet, that complete strangers are lurking, willing to throw out support and good cheer and honest opinion on a whim and add to that collective joy and consciousness that I believe we were intended to live our lives with but that can so easily become obscured. (On the other hand, maybe you're kind and supportive because we are complete strangers?)

Nevermind that it appears that my pal Carrie has been flaked on in yet another sockapalooza swap, I still believe that by virtue of the fact that WE BLOG or participate in the blogosphere, we are at least attempting to raise our collective awareness....consciousness...for the good. The good of what I'm not sure other than to think that if we're all getting to know each other and our diverse and diverging perspectives just a little better, absorbing understanding of each other as people and humans, the world might be better because of it.

So anyway, pardon my cosmic ramblings and thanks for helping to pump up my faith in humanity. You're all the best family a blogger could have and a much appreciated departure from my own family who lately seem to offer only hate and judgement.
And sorry about the no pictures thing. If I had any of my family I could show you what a bunch of sad, angry, emotionally underdeveloped aging adults look like but I don't think you'd need to come here to see that.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Doggie Day Number Two

PupCake is SO excited for the Northern Lights Greyhound Adoption annual picnic tomorrow. But what that also means that he is getting a bath tonight which is VERY un-exciting. In fact, baths just may be one of the worst things that could ever happen to a hound dog.
What I don't get is how he can be so thrilled to frolic around and lay down in the ~50 degree water of Lake Superior but yet the warm shower, massage and towel dry of bath night is absolutely awful? Evidently he didn't get the memo that the doggie spa is something to appreciate. Maybe if it included a pedicure...

Here's some swag that I whipped up as donations for the auction and raffle:

I'm sure there will be tons of other great dog-centric stuff, and rumor has it that Ms. Knit-Whit is unable to attend this time, whereby raising the odds of winning for the rest of us.

Hope to see you there!

P.S., I'll be the person with the greyhound :)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dog Day

Heello humanz. Mast here. Um, I meen in cayse yoos forgetted, beecuz she habs not posted about mees in a bery long time, yous know me as mast da greeyhound but sumtime my mudder cawls me PupCake, reemember?
Today was hers birstday sos my dadie gotted us all up reel erly and tooked us to da place dey call Dooo-looth. Theys sayd it is "up nort" an it was a bery long ride in da car but deys did stop a long da way an let mees sniff an pee on sum stuf.
After wees finealy gots to da up nort, wees went hikeng and to da beach and to a place wit big boats and wees ayte a hole bunch of tings enclooding a birsday cake my dadders brot all da way from home for my mommie, wit candles and ebrything. He is a bery good dadders.
But I habs a seecret. shhhhhhhhhh
Reely, da day was mostlee about mee. Dats becuz of mee bein da cutest dogie in da whole wyde world an all.

P.S. my mudder sez mees is writin on a count of my hers bein sos excyted abouts da neeuyorktymes artycle comin out to morow dat shes is unabel to contain hers self. Whadever dat means.

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