# Monday, October 10, 2005

Having grown up on hippy vegetarian food, I just can’t resist the allure of trashy food.  Many of the American classics that I never got to eat as a kid, I can’t pass up as an adult.  Meat loaf, biscuits and gravy, CFS (Chicken Fried Steak to the uninitiated), etc.  I even have a soft spot (as I discovered eating in the college cafeteria) for chipped beef. 

This weekend I indulged in that most sublime of all sausage-based dishes, the chili cheese dog.  There’s nothing about those that isn’t good.  It’s important to use really cheap ingredients.  I went with Tillamook Cheddar instead of the classic American, since I just can’t bear to buy that stuff, but cheap trashy hot dogs and canned chili are a must.  I’ve tried using home-made chili and good sausages, and it just didn’t do it for me. 

I remember as a kid we’d go visit my Aunt in Anaheim, where they had Der Wienerschnitzel franchises.  Best chili cheese dogs EVER.  Guaranteed to be all over the inside of the bleached white paper bag by the time you’d gotten 10 feet from the drive-in. 

In the summer when I was a kid we’d stay with our grandparents in Sacramento, and one of my Grandpa’s favorite hangouts what a place called Vick’s.  Classic diner.  Homemade shakes, all things grilled, everything came with Lay’s potato chips.  We invariably ordered these hotdog sandwiches that consisted of Oscar Meyer weiners on Wonder bread with American cheese(food) and French's mustard.  With iceberg lettuce for good measure.  The whole thing went into the grilled-cheese sandwich machine.  Ahhhhhh.  Nothin’ like it in the world. 

Quite a change from the bean spread and green onion sandwiches at home. 

Monday, October 10, 2005 6:50:11 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]

There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned trashy Chinese take-out place.  Unfortunately, we can’t seem to keep one in Hillsboro. 

When Vikki and I first moved out here almost 12 years ago, just about the only restaurants at all in Hillsboro were two take-out Chinese places, just down the street from our house.  They are long gone, unfortunately.  There’s a pretty good Chinese buffet place down the way, but it’s just not quite the same.  Since they focus on the buffet, the takeout choices are pretty limited. 

After a long drought, we got a new place up by the airport, but discovered last night that it, too, has gone. 

Of course, we’re kind of ruined for good by frequently visiting my Mom in Seattle, who lives quite near one of the best Chinese restaurants EVER, Snappy Dragon.  If you are ever up that way, check it out.  You’ll never look at a neighborhood Chinese restaurant the same way.

Monday, October 10, 2005 6:34:14 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The week before last my wife and I were at a private camping event with a bunch of our SCA friends.  Every year, one of our friends rents a forest service cabin up on the NE side of Mt. Ranier, out of Natches, WA for a week, and many people come to hang out.  This year Vikki (my wife) and I got to stay the whole week, which was very relaxing. 

One of the things we do every year is try out new and different cooking techniques, preferable things that would have been done “in period”, or as would have been done in the past, for you non-SCA wonks.  A couple of years ago we rendered lard for the first time over a fire, and this year I made beef tallow.  Vikki often makes cheese over the open fire, etc.

Many years ago one of our friends got the idea for what we’ve come to call the “Law Breakfast”.  In old Irish (brehon) law, there were laws about what different people were entitled to at meal time according to their status.  Since the woman who rents the cabin in nominally the clan chieftan, we make breakfast according to what would be entitled to a chief.  This includes things like milk, beer, butter, and “condiments”.

Our interpretation has become:

  • Cold roast chicken (easy to prepare ahead and freese, and really good for breakfast)
  • Smoked fish (also easy to prepare ahead, although this year we didn’t so there wasn’t any)
  • barley cakes (barley flour, eggs and milk, cooked like crepes) with butter and honey.  We usually try for a whole honey comb, but this year just honey.
  • Milk
  • Beer (it’s what’s for breakfast)
  • Sometimes oatmeal

It makes a great breakfast.  The barley cakes are particularly popular.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 12:02:23 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I went out to the Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island last weekend, and when faced with the wealth of fabulous produce decided I must make borscht.  The had some lovely beets, and it just sounded really good.  A perfect fall soup.

Anyway, I started out with some stew beef and some ham, browning each a bit, then added an onion or two and some garlic and browned some more.  Then I tossed in a can (big one) of crushed tomatoes, since I like borscht on the tomatoey side.  I also added about two extra cans of water at that point.  Then came a carrot, and some celery.

That simmered for around an hour, until the beef was starting to get pretty tender. Then came beets, which I had previously baked until they were tender (about 1 1/4 hours at 350°) and chopped, one diced apple, and a bunch of fresh shell beans (maybe 1 1/2 cups worth).  Simmered another hour, then added salt, pepper and dill weed.

I served it with a big bowl of potato and cheese pirogi, and some sour cream.  Not only was it pretty darn tasty, but there was plenty left over for another time.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 11:48:44 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Wednesday, September 07, 2005
OK, call it a niche market, but if you really want it, you can get Hufu, a soy based product that “tastes like human flesh”.  Their website claims that, contrary to common wisdom, human flesh doesn’t taste like chicken.  Apparently it tastes like Hufu. :-)  I’ll take their word for it, I think. [via Strange New Products]
Wednesday, September 07, 2005 5:56:57 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Monday, August 29, 2005

Last night I tried making liver and onions for the first time (never eaten it either).  Why, you might ask?  Well, we bought a half of a cow a couple years back, and lurking in the deep freeze was a package of pre-sliced liver.  So I thought I’d give it a go.  The recipe I found suggested soaking the liver in lemon juice for a few hours before cooking, then dredging in flour, salt and pepper before sauteeing.  So that’s what I did. 

The end result?  I don’t much care for liver and onions, I now know.  You never know ‘til you try. :-).  My wife, who has had it before, said it was a good batch.  I’ll stick to chicken livers.

Monday, August 29, 2005 7:29:33 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [1]
# Thursday, August 04, 2005
This stuff is really good!  I’ve been using it on sandwiches and hot dogs.  Nice, cholesterol free alternative with a very good flavor.  I’m a big miso fan anyway, but I think this has a wider appeal.  I found it at New Seasons.
Thursday, August 04, 2005 12:25:19 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]

These worked out well as a taco filling…

I took some “country style” boneless pork ribs, slapped them in a 9 X 13 baking dish, and sloshed them with a mixture of

  • lime juice
  • olive oil
  • tequila
  • garlic paste
  • Mexican oregano
  • a dash of cumin
  • salt
  • a fistful of cilantro
  • a tablespoon or so of soy lecithin (keeps it from separating, I use Bob’s Redmill brand)

I hit the sauce briefly with the hand blender so it was a smooth consistency.

Baked in the oven at 375° for about an hour, sliced them up across the grain and used for tacos. 

Thursday, August 04, 2005 12:22:52 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Tuesday, July 26, 2005

My wife has been goat-sitting for some friends-of-friends the last couple of weeks, which means we’ve been getting a bunch of goat milk.  Over the weekend, she decided to make most of the supply into farmer’s cheese, which left a big pot of whey left over.  We didn’t want to just throw it out, since not only is it tasty but quite nutritious, so we decided to make soup. 

I threw in some barley, and let it cook until the barley was soft, then added a can of diced tomatoes, a bunch of dried basil, and some pepper, plus a bunch of pre-made frozen meatballs (yay, Costco) and a couple of handfulls of pre-washed baby carrots.  My total involvement was about 5 minutes, with maybe an hour total cooking time (mostly for the barley).

The result was quite tasty, with a distinctly sweet taste from the way, and a very rich, velvety texture.  The slight sweetness mixed with the tomatoes made me think of Spaghetti-O’s, only good. :-)

The only thing I like better than easy food is easy food made from ingredients I already had.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 7:22:43 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]
# Thursday, July 14, 2005

Last night I finished up making the snacks for the party this weekend.  I've read several times that there are numerous examples of the Vikings using pea flour in their bread, and I had to try it. 

I used my hand-cranked grain mill to grind split peas into fairly fine flour, then mixed it with barley and oat flours and proceeded as I described for the other breads.  The result is quite tasty, and the pea flavor is not really evident, which is interesting. 

The last thing I made was some root vegetables in sour cream.  Beets with sour cream is a common modern Scandinavian dish, but I didn't have any evidence for beets in a Viking context, so I used diced carrots and parsnips.  I sauteed them until semi-soft, then added sour cream, salt, cumin, and mustard seed (whole).  Pretty good on the crackers.

I'll post some info on sources soon, I don't have them on my just now.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 3:54:51 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]