~ Totally Undeserving of the James Beard Award

~ Completely Undeserving of the James Beard Award ~

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Aunt Bethany: Is this the airport, Clark?

Clark: ...Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f#%$&@# Kaye. 

Yep…all in this together…and speaking of together…I have assembled together…some of my favorite sauces...

Up first is the worlds most difficult culinary word to pronounce…Worcestershire (wuus-te-shire). As Chef Greg Atkinson put it, this classic sauce is: “… tangy, sweet, fruity, spicy saltiness, Worcestershire sauce is unique among condiments. It also stands alone in its almost universal appeal - it has been popular around the world for well over a century. Some 25 million bottles a year roll off the assembly line in Worcester, England…”. I am sure everyone out there in blogland has a bottle of it in their pantry. Our bottle happens to be the low-salt version.

According to Wikipedia, it’s made from various ingredients such as malt vinegar (from barley), spirit vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind extract, onions, garlic, cloves, soy sauce, lemons, pickles and peppers. When Messrs John Wheeley Lea and William Perris (both are what we would label pharmacists today) first concocted the stuff, which was so strong, it was deemed inedible so they moved the keg to a storeroom to be forgotten for a few years. After fermenting they discovered it mellowed with age (like a lot if us). They began commercial production in 1837, apparently from a recipe they received from someone who obtained it in India.

Clark: Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?

Well, if Clark was getting Eddie something to eat, I bet he would use Pickapeppa sauce! Their web page states: Pickapeppa Sauce is created using a unique blend of tomatoes, onions, sugar, cane vinegar, mangoes, raisins, tamarinds, peppers and spices. Quite similar to Worcestershire sauce in my mind but a bit more intense, spicier and thicker…see?…just the same!

Ellen: Clark, Audrey's frozen from the waist down.
Clark: That's all part of the experience, honey.

Talk about an experience! When you are famished from stringing all those Christmas lights, a good old BBQ would sure taste good. Next is our favorite non-home made BBQ sauce we've experienced from Pendleton, which includes whiskey of the same name. One main reason I like it (other than it tastes good) as it is made from common, easily pronounced ingredients. In fact, if you were to make a home made BBQ sauce, you would probably use these same ingredients.

Eddie: You surprised to see us, Clark?
Clark: Oh, Eddie... If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now.

…And I am sure you are not surprised like Clark was when you see this next sauce…Frank's Hot Sauce. That ubiquitous hot sauce obviously for hot wings but equally good to spice up fries, eggs, what have you.

Bethany: Is your house on fire, Clark?
Clark: No, Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights.

And your mouth will not be on fire with this taco sauce. I just has that perfect old-school taco flavor. A favorite of Mr. Blogger Man's son.

Aunt Bethany: Grace? She passed away thirty years ago.

This is a graceful addition to anyone's pantry. Think of it as Chinese BBQ sauce…thick and a little sweet. Note!…watch it if you are going to also use soy sauce with it as it can quickly become too salty.

Bethany: Don't throw me down, Clark.
Clark: I'll try not to, Aunt Bethany...

This will easily with a throw-down contest for an authentic Jamaican jerk sauce. A very spicy blend including scallions, scotch bonnet peppers allspice and nutmeg. 
Use carefully…it really is hot but oh so tasty. 

Clark: The most enduring traditions of the season are best enjoyed in the warm embrace of kith and kin. Thith tree is a thymbol of the thspirit of the Griswold family Chrithmath.

I bet your kith and kin have traditionally use good old Sriracha sauce with the famous green top and rooster on the label. Not an import from Asia, but a fully American made sauce from So Cal but does has it's influences from Thailand. 
A recent article on NPR reminds us of the recent upheaval and scare of the factory being shut down because the factory's neighbors complained about the smell…geez! And now a documentary is out about it. According to the article, the company's revenue grows 20 percent…each year…with zero  advertising.

Russ: Dad.
Clark: Yeah.
Russ: This box is meowing.
Clark: She wrapped up her damn cat.

So, to wrap up…I end with a sauce I blogged about earlier. It's from a recipe I got from a co-worker who replicated it from memory of his grandfather's Carolina tangy-vinegary-spicy BBQ sauce. It's got white vinegar, ketchup, pepper flakes, Tabasco, onion and garlic powder. Great on pulled pork, fries, burgers...your shoe.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Monday, November 11, 2013

In honor of Veteran's Day...

 ...I am re-posting the following which was originally posted last year.

And Thank You to all who has served in our military and those supporting from home.

This post is a two-fer...Food (what else?) and a salute to Veteran's Day.  The food portion is a Thanksgiving Dinner. And the Veteran's Day part is that the turkey dinner is aboard the US Navy ship USS Sanborn...A "Haskell Class Attack Transport"...the Navy ship my father served on during WWII.

My father writes in his memoirs: "December 7, 1941 came while the whole family were having a picnic in Griffith Park (Los Angeles area) when we heard the news. Everyone in the park started talking about it and were absolutely stunned." He, of course, is referring to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Just 16 at the time, my father went to work at the Lockheed Corporation "bucking rivets in the wings of the B-17".

He continues.."The War Years...These years were not the most pleasant to remember, but they are the hardest to forget".

Needing his parent's signature of approval to join, he joined the Navy in 1944. He chose the Navy so he would not be drafted into the Army. After joining, he was stationed in San Diego for training which included using the LCVP (Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel) boats. These are flat bottomed boats with a flat front ramp. They were brought up onto the beach, the ramp lowered and the Marines would run off onto the beach. 

In addition to his duties in the navigation department onboard ship, my father would also run off with the Marines, grabbing a line from the LCVP to secure it from drifting sideways. They would get back on the boat and go back to the ship for another load of Marines.

In November he boarded a train in San Diego destined for Astoria, Oregon where he hopped onboard the USS Sanborn and eventually sailed back down to the San Diego area for additional training.

Here is the Sanborn

The photo below shows him posing onboard with his other crew members of the ship's navigation department:


Back row, left to right—Kormann, Erwin Lowell, RDM3c, USNR; Meier, Byron Frederick, S1c, USNR; Emerson, Robert, Y2c, USNR; Lee, Donald Lawrence, S1c, USN: Front row, left to right — Enge, Leiand Duane, QM2c, USN; Dawson, Thomas Joseph, QMIc, USN; Klein, Andrew Mattley, Lt. (j.g), USNR; Reed, Dale Paul, QM3c, USNR; Gustafson, Harold Sylvester, Q2c, USNR

A young 17 year old fighting for the freedom of America...part of the "Greatest Generation".




This is the actual dinner menu onboard ship...served somewhere in the Pacific between California and the yet-to-be state of Hawaii. Many of the photos I posted, including the menu above were a part of the ship's "cruise log". Interesting to see besides apple pie and ice cream at the end of the meal, you may also order cigars and cigarettes!

Here we find the ship's galley

A few months after that turkey dinner, they were attacking Iwo Jima on February 19th, 1945. This photo was taken from the deck of the Sanborn.

A LCVP being hoisted on or off the Sanborn

Marines and Navy onboard a LCVP headed for the shores of Iwo Jima. Mt Surabachi is in view.

The USS Sanborn's area to attack was "Blue Beach" which is to the upper right hand side of the photo.
Somewhere down there is my father.

I am glad we can all sleep, eat, vote, think, argue, question, travel and pursue happiness because of them.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chili Today...with a Chance of Cornbread...

So, I might get a ticket or thrown into the hoosegow or a nasty email from the International Chili Society or even the International Dutch Oven Society for this post...but I'm a rebel.


So, anyway...back at the ranch we find little Johnny stuck in a well...

I am making chili...my way. You say whatever you make is "your way". True, but most of what I like to cook is an attempt at doing the recipes as close to a classic way than not. I figure if I can "get" the classic way, then that opens me up to twisting it around.

My first faux pas of the day is cooking chili in my dutch oven...ON THE STOVE TOP! I have used the dutch oven cooking other meals and recipes over the campfire and chili the traditional way of using briquets on this post...so I figured I had the license to use another method (plus it was raining outside). 

So, here it is on my stove top (hmmm...no knock on the door yet)

What I need to do first is create the base...the main chili oomph.

So I have here some roma toms, half of an onion, garlic and a couple of dried ancho chiles. Ancho chile ("wide chile") is a dried poblano chile, not too spicy but good chile flavor.

Why am I using "chiles" in "chili"...why isn't it chili in chili or chile in chile? Maybe that was one of those unknown-unknowns Rumsfeld was speaking of...

...but I digress...

I got the pot going on medium high heat to dry roast and char the garlic, tomatoes and onion. This will provide a deeper, richer flavor than plain veggies. I got them nicely charred but not burnt...you'll have to trust me as I forgot to take a picture of the end result.

Take those out and set aside.

I steeped the dried chiles in some very hot water for a few minutes to rehydrate them.

By using the same pan I roasted the veggies in, I can retain some of their bits of goodness left behind and incorporate it into the chili (not the chile). I plopped in a tablespoon of bacon grease.

Why?...because this is MY CHILI!...plus it will help the beef git-ta-goin'...

As you may remember in previous posts I get my beef from my father in law who raises a few head of cattle each year. I can have the butcher specialize my portion as I want it...lucky me. 

Here I have a pound of "chili grind"...coarse ground beef...of course. 

get that going...

chop up some green and red bell pepper and onion (not the roasted one)...about 1/2 to 3/4 cup each.

Once the beef is browned off, toss in the veggies

I got out some ground cumin and mexican oregano...much different the your standard Mediterranean type. I bit stronger in taste.

Toss a teaspoon or so of the cumin and oregano...don't you love my exact measurement explanations? Putting them in a dry pot "blooms" the spices and wakes them up.

I deglazed the pan by sacrificing some white wine.

Faux pas #2...beans. You will get run out on a rail if you show up in a chili cook-off competition with beans in a your saddlebag...but I like beans in my chili. 

The Int' Chili Society defines it:

Traditional Red Chili is defined by the International Chili Society as any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden.

Forbidden I tell ya!

Two kinds here and low sodium versions. the can on the right has extra stuff in it so I figured it can't hurt.

For the sauce (you thought I forgot that, didn't you?) I have some tomato sauce with chiles...

...ketchup and V-8, lost of flavor there

I blended the roasted garlic-onion-tomato combination with the now pliable ancho chile (less the stems and seeds), the tomato sauce, ketchup and V-8...and a splash or two of the water the chile soaked in.

Now here's a revelation...buy spices in the Hispanic area of the grocery store. This 11 gram packet of bay leaves was 90¢...

This?...was $9.00 and only half the weight.

Now, maybe you can tell the difference between "Turkish" bay leaves and whatever kind the other is...I can't...and I can't justify buying something that is 10 times higher.

Add the blended sauce and bay leaf...and let 'er go.

And what's chili without cornbread? I'll kick it up a bit with some "tamed" pickled jalapeƱos and fresh corn kernels.

A great way to cook cornbread is in a cast iron skillet, it gets the side nice and crusty. Grease it up with some bacon grease for flavor.

I rinsed off the pickle brine from the peppers and gave them a rough chop and carved off the corn.

Mixed up the cornbread...use a box variety or the recipe off the back of corn meal and fold in the jalapeƱos and corn and pour into the prepared skillet.

Bake...blah, blah, blah

To top the chili, I diced up some onion and gave it a quick rinse which removes the acid.

You see folks...chopping an onion causes damage to cells which allows enzymes called alliinases to break down amino acid sulfoxides and generate sulfenic acids. A specific sulfenic acid, 1-propenesulfenic acid, is rapidly acted on by a second enzyme, the lachrymatory factor synthase (LFS), giving syn-propanethial-S-oxide, a volatile gas known as the onion lachrymatory factor or LF. This gas diffuses through the air and soon reaches the eye, where it activates sensory neurons, creating a stinging sensation. Tear glands produce tears in order to dilute and flush out the irritant.

A rich, deep sauce, black and brown beans, red and green bell peppers...looks good enough to eat!