# Monday, December 06, 2004
I’ve picked up several new food history/culinary literature books in the last few weeks that look really good, on topics ranging from the history of coffee and bread to spices and daring eating.  I’ll post more info on them as I start reading.  I found a great one this weekend at the Cannon Beach Bookstore, and I’m almost half way through it already.  “Are You Really Going to Eat That?” by Robb Walsh.  It’s subtitled “Reflections of a culinary thrill seeker”, and that’s a pretty accurate summation.  So far I’ve read about Mr. Walsh’s trip to Jamaica for a cup of coffee, Santiago Chile for conger eel stew, Thailand for the infamous durian, etc.  It’s a great read if you are into eating crazy stuff, of if you wish you were.  Mr. Walsh approaches tracking down these famous food items with a single mindedness that makes me wish I had a lot more time and money to do the same. 
Monday, December 06, 2004 10:40:46 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]

I spent this weekend in Cannon Beach with my extended family, and we had some pretty good eats…

Friday night we ate at the Warren House pub, which is just across from Tolovana Beach (a bit south of central Cannon Beach).  It’s run by the same people as one of our favorite Cannon Beach hangouts, Bill’s Tavern.  The food was very good.  I had some really nice pork ribs, which were well cooked and very tasty.  The biggest hit was the salads that came with our dinners, which were possibly the best side salads I’ve ever had in a restaurant.  An amazing assortment of greens, onions, tomato, kalamata olives, and sunflower seeds.  Yumm.  Their beer is also really good (brewed at Bill’s).  Their holiday beer, “Auld Nutcracker” was really nice this year.  I’m also a big fan of their “Ragsdale Porter” which is a smoked porter after the fashion of the one from Alaskan Brewing

Lunch on Saturday saw us at Bill’s, where my son’s very favorite meal in all the world lives.  He always gets a bowl of their most excellent clam chowder (some of the best I’ve had) followed by a shrimp sandwich, which is a toasted sandwich piled high with bay shrimp and melted Tillamook cheese.  I usually go for the fish and chips there, but this time I decided to try the tuna sandwich.  It was very nice, with a hint (but no too much) of curry powder in the tuna, which worked nicely.  Chased with their Golden Rye beer.  Mmmmmm.

Dinner was at Clark’s, which is a new-ish place at the north end of Cannon Beach.  Pretty log building that features a really nice bar, some pool tables, and a big stone fireplace, which was unfortunately not lit.  We got an order of onion rings, and Vikki declared them to be “possibly the best she ever had” which is high praise as she’s quite the afficianado.  I had an impressively large chicken fried steak (I have a terrible weakness) and it was great.  Mine is better, but not by much.  Perfectly crunchy on the outside, quite tender inside, plenty of nicely salty gravy.  Heaven from the frier.  And it came with some really nice steamed zucchini, which was done perfectly.  Not the least bit squishy. 

For breakfast yesterday morning we hit Pig-n-Pancake, which is pretty much an Oregon staple, right up there with Elmer’s.  Not amazing, but good solid diner food.  The buckwheat pancakes where pretty good. 

All in all, some pretty great food.  And the weather was pretty decent to boot.

Monday, December 06, 2004 10:29:47 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, and best of all I wasn’t responsible for this one.  (Thanks Ted.)  My wife and I hosted T-Day for our extended family for years and years, starting in college.  Starting way back then, I instituted a policy of multi-culturalizing our holiday feasts by picking a different culture every year for Thanksgiving and for Christmas dinner.  This resulted in (I thought) some pretty spectacular feasts.  I did Russian food one year, Scandinavian, a great Mexican Christmas dinner complete with stuffed chiles with walnut sauce…

And somewhere along the line various outlying members of the family started to rebel.  People would show up at my house for Thanksgiving dinners with turkey breasts and “request” that I cook them, since they “had to have” turkey at Thanksgiving.  I complied, but it pissed me off to no end, so at some point I just gave up and went back to traditional “Thanksgiving food”.  Which isn’t to say they haven’t been good.  A year or two back we compromised and I barbecued a couple of ducks instead of the turkey.  There are plenty of interesting things that you can do with “traditional” recipes, but sometimes I miss the variety.  The other advantage to non-traditional options is that it saved us from the traditional argument over whose grandmother’s stuffing we were going to make.  At least we don’t have to go through that anymore. :-)  Naming our children was easier than choosing the stuffing. 

I’m considering doing something wacky for Christmas dinner this year.  We’ll see.  Medieval French?  Hmmmm. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2004 6:35:57 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, November 12, 2004

One of my very favorite soups has got to be caldo gallego, a Spanish soup (from Galicia, hence the name) which consists of sausage, potatoes, kale or other hearty greens, onions and white beans.  A similar soup appears in Portugal, where is is called (I believe) caldo verde.  I made some last night, and since my buddy Greg asked for the recipe at lunch today, I thought I'd go ahead and post it.

start with broth.  I use Pacific Food's "Natural" beef broth.  It has a great flavor, and no added junk.

throw in

  • onions (chopped)
  • kale or other greens: I like "lacinto" or "dinosaur" kale, which has thin very dark leaves.  I've also used oak leaf kale, regular curly kale, or collard greens to good effect.  I've seen some recipes that call for turnip greens, but I find them too bitter.
  • sausage: the best bet is if you can get real Spanish chorizo (the hard kind, not the squishy Mexican kind you often see in markets here).  Since I don't have a regular source for those (although occasionally if I'm in Seattle I stop by the Spanish market at the top of the Pike St. hill climb) I use a hard smoked andouille that my New Seasons carries.  I've also used Polish or Keilbasa, but it's not as good.
  • Potatoes: I actually have started substituting tofu instead, being opposed to simple carbs, but I've used white potatoes or yellow fingerlings (the absolute best if you eat taters). 
  • white beans: navy beans are nice, or great northern.  I think I used great notherns from Westbrae Natural last night.

Bring to a boil and cook until the kale is softened up enough to eat.  Goes excellently with some extra tabasco dashed in at the table (if you like that kind of thing). 

Friday, November 12, 2004 8:58:51 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, November 08, 2004

Last night I tried out a pork roast after a style that my friend Lori showed me.  I used a medium sized, boneless pork shoulder roast, browned it in a cast iron dutch oven, then poured in some beer (Ommegang Belgian Abbey-style from Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY) salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, just a little cinnamon.  Popped it in the oven at 400°. 

After an hour I threw in an onion, and a Mutsu apple.  About an hour and a half after that I threw in a bunch of chantrelle mushrooms, and put it back in for another 45 min - 1 hour.  Total cooking time was about 4 hours.  It came out really well.  Served along with a lentil and rice pilaf, and some green salad.  Worked out very nicely. 

Thanks, Lori!

Monday, November 08, 2004 6:31:08 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Tuesday, October 19, 2004

I'm a big fan of whole grain cereal, particularly raw, sugar free muesli types.  These days I have a new favorite though.  The clever people at Food For Life have come up with a new flourless, sprouted grain cereal that I really like.  It's basically their Ezekiel Bread, ground up and dried until it's crunchy.  It's very reminiscent of Grape Nuts (tm), only it's all organic with no additives, sugar, preservatives, etc.  It's great with a little soy milk and some bananas and raisins.  Very crunchy.  While obviously full of dreaded “carbs” it's all made from low-glycemic sprouted grains, which are high in both protein and fiber.  Godd stuff.  And it takes a bit less chewing than muesli. :-)

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 2:31:05 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, October 18, 2004

I love squash season.  There are so many great things you can do with them, and they are really easy to cook.  The hardest part tends to be cutting them up to clean them.  The worst offender in that arena that I know of is the kabocha, the Japanese pumpkin.  Little green guys.  Hard as a rock.  I've resorted to hatchets. 

Last night I went with the common (and often under appreciated) green acorn squash.  I cut them in half and cleaned them, then baked them until very tender (put them face down in a pan with 1/4 or so of water in the bottom, 350° for about and hour and a quarter) then turned them over and brushed the faces with a mixture of

  • almond butter
  • sage
  • salt
  • pepper
  • honey

Then put them back in the oven (turned off) until the rest of the food was ready (mushroom barley soup and corn on the cob).  It worked really well.  The squash came out very creamy, and played will with the almond butter.  I used just enough honey to make it sweeter than just almonds, but not too sweet.  It got rave reviews from the family, so I guess it's a keeper.  Hazelnut butter also works really nicely.

Monday, October 18, 2004 7:49:15 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [2]
# Monday, October 11, 2004

Our friend Bill was celebrating his birthday this weekend up in Olympia, so we headed up to wish him the best.  He arranged to borrow the outdoor masonry oven at the local bakery for the day, which was totally cool.  He spent the morning firing it up and then sweeping out all the ashes, etc.  Then people brought over all things bakeable for the rest of the afternoon and we just hung out baking and eating and gabbing and baking and eating some more. 

There were spelt pizzas, baked vegetables (asparagus, tomatoes, winter squash, Italian frying peppers), little pies filled with leeks, fresh herbs and kalamata olives, calzone filled with ground turkey, onions, fresh mushrooms and parsley with yogurt (mmmmmmm), a casserole of roasted peppers, pine nuts, cheese and rice, a very tasty strawberry/rhubarb crisp with shortbread on the bottom, the list goes on.  It was all amazing.  We left just as they were getting ready to put 15 loaves of bread into the oven, made with the spent grains from the previous day's beer brewing. 

The oven was amazing.  We left around 5:00 in the afternoon, and the oven was still around 500°.  Bill estimated that they could keep baking until 9-10 in the evening.  Now if only I had space for one in my backyard.  :-)  While there, I was checking out a cool book called the Bread Builders, on making traditional bread and constructing masonry ovens.  Neat. 

I also got a chance to check out the garden at Bill's house.  He and his housemates have a pretty amazing setup, complete with chickens, and a huge garden with just about everything good growing in it.  They still have about 30 pepper plants with lots of peppers on them, as well as kale and other nice Fall/Winter goodies.  I'm jealous.  I don't have any space in my yard for much of anything, let alone something on that scale.

Happy birthday Bill, and thanks! 

BTW, if you are in need of any fabulous jewelry, check out Bill's site.  He's an amazing artist.

Monday, October 11, 2004 7:33:37 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Friday, October 01, 2004

We're lucky enough at my workplace to have quite a nice employee cafeteria (which is actually open to the public as well).  Paul, the food service genius who runs the place, comes up with some really great stuff. 

Today he had a "lo-carb luncheon" that consisted of your choice of ham or chicken, with garlic spaghetti squash and some steamed broccoli. 

It was the spaghetti squash that really caught my eye.  I totally dig it.  My mother never went within 100 yards of one as far as I know, so I am one of the (apparently) few who was never traumatized my childhood exposure to this oft-maligned squash.  I don't cook it very often at home, largely because my wife is one of the traumatized, but I think she's starting to get over it.  It's a great vegetable.  You can do just about anything you would with pasta, only it's not full of bad-for-you over processed white flour and dreaded carbs.  This was very well executed, plenty of garlic, nicely al dente.  Mmmmmmm. 

Do yourself and your palette a favor and check out a spaghetti squash near you.

Friday, October 01, 2004 9:52:58 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, September 20, 2004

I tried something new this weekend that I thought I'd share. I was cooking over an open campfire, so it didn't turn out quite the way I'd been shooting for, but was still pretty good.

My wife had made some cheese earlier in the day, so we had some leftover whey, which makes a great base for soup, so I added to the whey some onions, a couple of nitrate-free ham hocks, some turnips, and about half a dozen Italian prune plums (all chopped).  I let that simmer (or as close as possible on a fire) then added some beef broth and some lentils. 

I think everything boiled a bit more vigorously than I had intended, so by the time it was done it was more casserole than the soup I was going for, but still quite tasty.

Monday, September 20, 2004 9:01:18 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]