Monday, November 30, 2009


WOW... posted everyday in November, yet my outdoor, live fire, grilling specialty blog has a total of 5 posts where I actually cooked outdoors. I made candy, baked bread and wrapped pickles in cream cheese. I am not a fair weather griller. I have, and will grill or smoke ankle deep in the snow. But, between holidays and travel, leftovers and invitations out; it just seems like I have not spent enough time on my grill.

So, last night, I got on the grill again for something simple...

Importantly, know how things cook... Shrimp on the Barbie cooks very fast. Only a couple minutes a side and they are done (direct grilling, over hot coals (or high setting on a gas grill)).

I finally found a good use for my George Foreman paper weight (grill). It cooks bacon very well. when you are grilling bacon wrapped shrimp, you want to pre-cook the bacon just a tad. Otherwise, your shrimp will be over cooked when the bacon is done. So I did that. Just a small amount, do not cook til it gets hard and crispy. I also cut the bacon in half, just the right size to individually wrap the shrimp.

And skewer away... I was going to use some new bottles of BBQ sauce. Couldn't decide which one, so I decided to do a taste test and do some with one and some with the other...

BRANDY MANDARIN - ORANGE Sauce from R.P.Hill Exotic Sauce CO. "Gourmet Sauce ~ With a Little Kick". Advertised as All Natural, NO FAT sauce, 2007 Flavor of Georgia Winner! The ingredient list is a joy to read... Almost no salt (a small amount in the Tomato Paste, but no additional salt added). And, very low sugar. I was very excited to give this a shot.

DATIL PEPPER SEVILLE ORANGE BBQ Sauce from Old St. Augustine. Also, all natural, no fat and very low salt. The company is based in Florida, and advertises itself as a local product user. Local grown oranges and a specialty local pepper are combined to make this unique tasting sauce. The bottle suggests to use with fish... so I did (shrimp are seafood... seafood are shrimp... shrimp are fish???)

OK, back to the grill. I prefer to not put the sauce on til after I have grilled for a couple minutes. This way, you get heated sauce, and not burnt sauce. Let the meat cook for just a bit. So, 2 minutes on the first side, flip and then brush on the sauce on the cooked side... 2 minutes, flip, brush on the other side... let it cook for a minute, flip, add another batch of sauce (I used about 2 tablespoons of each sauce, carefully not mixing the two (it's a taste test after all).

Bacon wrapped shrimp with a little tang... They're no turkey with all the trimmings, but they are... GOOD EATS!

I plated these with some leftover FRIED mushroom Risotto that I will blog about one day (GREAT eats, but also I have a fun story to tell about Risotto... Yes, I will abandon my grill for a good story, that's what happened all month).

And the verdict on the taste test. While both were good, and I suspect that I can find a better use for the St. Augustine sauce, both Jackie and I LOVED the Brandy ~ Mandarin sauce! It was thicker, stayed with the meat better (instead of leaking into the fire causing minor flare-ups like the St. Augustine sauce did). But most important, the taste was FABULOUS! Just the right amount of sweet from the citrus flavors and a great kick from the brandy and spices. It is certainly NOT a hot as heck fire sauce. But it IS a sauce full of flavor mixes, that balances perfect. Now that I have an idea of what they each taste like, I am very excited about trying something else with both of these sauces... But just a bit more excited to use the Brandy ~ Mandarin Orange sauce... shhh, don't want to hurt the St. Augustine's feelings, I just need to find a better use for him.

In fact, I like this sauce so much, I have arranged a FREE bottle of this sauce to go to one of my lucky commenters... Just comment on this post, and you are entered (comment before December 6th)

And now...
A Cyber Monday (busiest on-line shopping day of the year)
gift giving idea for the griller in all of us...

And how, you might ask, does someone living in Kansas get a hold of these odd little specialty sauces - you might ask, mighten you??? This is the BEST idea I can share for a gift for the BBQ junkie on your list.

What would be better than a bottle of top quality, specialty regional BBQ sauce???

What would be better than TWO bottles of top quality, specialty regional BBQ sauces???

What would be better than TWO bottles of top quality, specialty regional BBQ sauces delivered every month???

I am sure you have heard of those "of the month" clubs for things like fruit, cigars, panties and specialty beers. One of the major problems with the idea is you will pay for the months that are less exciting...
Suppose you love apples, but hate pears... In Fruit of the month, you still get a months worth of pears.
Suppose you love a pale ale, but you hate a stout... you still get that stout included in your package.
Suppose you love granny panties, but hate a thong... well, in that case, the panties aren't for you anyway... suck it up and wear em. Butt, you get the idea...

The excellent people at have fixed this problem. They offer a "Create Your Own" Sauce of the Month Club!

Here's the deal...

"Receive 2 Gourmet items each month that will excite your taste buds! You decide what is included. Select any 2 items from Pepper Jelly, Hot Sauce, BBQ Sauce, Salsa and BBQ Dry Rub. You even decide if you want "mild" or "spicy".

Just like all of the products in their on-line Gourmet store, these items are tried and tested by a Taste Team before being selected for inclusion in the Monthly Club.

The "You Pick" Month Club is backed by our same 100% Satisfaction Guarantee as all of our other products. You can cancel at any time if you are not totally satisfied and receive a refund for the balance.

Your membership includes a personalized gift message. Just include your message in the Special Instructions section during checkout. The first delivery is shipped within 1 week after you place your order and subsequent shipments are delivered the last week of each month.

Our "You Pick" Gourmet Sauce of the Month Club memberships are perfect gifts for:
* Anniversaries
* Father's Day
* Mother's Day
* Birthdays
* Christmas
* Or just about any gift giving occasion."

I was lucky enough to get a gift of three months worth of of this deal. When I read the details, I set up a give away deal for you guys... Once a month, my gift keeps coming, but also, I will arrange a giveaway with these good folks for you. Just drop a comment and you could win a bottle of my monthly favorite! Butt also, consider giving the sauce of the month deal as a gift.

It's a close call whether I would rather have Jackie in fancy panties or me getting...

new hot sauces
or jellies
or BBQ sauces
or salsas
or dry rubs
or... It's like Christmas morning every month!

Click HERE to see what Armadillo Pepper is all about...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

ANNA DAMN HER or Anadama Rolls - the Return of the Master Baker

Continuing my TURDUCKEN adventures, as well as my "I CAN COOK THAT" series of stealing recipes from some of my favorite bloggers, today marks the return of the MASTER BAKER (I need a tongue in cheek irony font when I write that)! This recipe was stolen from MARY at ONE PERFECT BITE. Long time readers remember Mary from a tribute post I did with a terrible result (mulled wine). She is one of my favorite bloggers, and I was very excited to see this recipe for Anadama Rolls. My Turducken party took place only 4 days prior to Thanksgiving. When planning my menu, I wanted traditional items done with just enough of a twist that my guests would not experience redundant menus. these rolls were perfect...

Oh... wait...

For a change, Mary missed an opportunity to do a food history lesson... In preparing this post, I did a quick Internet search for the origins of this food.

ANADAMA is a traditional bread of New England made with white flour, cornmeal, molasses and sometimes (not this time) rye. But, there is a legend surrounding the rolls...

From - This is truly a "bit" of Rockport, MA, for Anadama Bread originated in this town many years ago. This is the true story of a local fisherman whose lazy wife always gave him steamed corn meal mush and molasses for dinner. One day when he came in from fishing, he found the same corn meal mush and molasses for dinner and being very tired of it, he decided to mix it with bread flour and yeast and baked it saying,

"Anna Damn Her."
The bread was so delicious that his neighbors baked it calling it Anadama Bread.

So, Not willing to ever leave well enough alone, I am going to reprint Mary's recipe for Anadama Rolls, followed by what I did to change them forever to my ANNA DAMN HER Rolls...

Here's what she did...

Anadama Rolls...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

1 cup whole milk

1 cup water
2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1/3 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup warm water

1 envelope (2-1/4 teaspoons)dry yeast

4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 egg, beaten to blend

2 teaspoons sesame or poppy seeds

Directions: 1) Bring milk, 1 cup water and salt to boil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Slowly whisk in cornmeal. Cook until mixture thickens and boils, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in molasses and 2 tablespoons butter. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Cool until thermometer inserted into center of mixture registers 115°F, whisking often, about 15 minutes.
2) Pour 1/2 cup warm water into small bowl; sprinkle yeast over. Let stand until yeast dissolves and top looks spongy, about 10 minutes. Stir yeast mixture into cornmeal mixture. Gradually mix in 4 cups flour, about 1 cup at a time, to form soft dough that pulls away from sides of bowl. Sprinkle 1/4 cup flour onto work surface. Turn dough out onto floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, sprinkling with more flour by tablespoonfuls if needed, about 10 minutes (dough will remain slightly sticky). Form dough into ball. Coat a large bowl with butter or shortening. Add dough to bowl and turn to coat dough with butter or shortening. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour 15 minutes.
3) Punch down dough. Cover with plastic wrap; let stand 10 minutes. Coat each of two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with butter or shortening. Roll dough into 18-inch-long log. Cut into 18 equal pieces. Using floured hands, form each dough piece into ball. Place 9 dough balls in each pan, spacing apart. Cover each pan loosely with towel. Let rolls stand in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, about 30 minutes. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Brush rolls with egg glaze. Sprinkle with seeds. Place rolls in oven and immediately reduce temperature to 350°F. Bake rolls until golden brown, about 30 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool completely. Store airtight at room temperature. Wrap rolls in foil and rewarm in 350°F oven 10 minutes.) Serve warm. Yield: 18 rolls.

And here's what I did...

As always, assemble your ingredients... I did use molasses, but did not include it in the photograph. The first thing I altered was to use buttermilk instead of whole milk. I also used dark molasses instead of light. I used buttermilk because I like buttermilk. I used Dark Molasses because I use that in my baked bean recipe, and I had it on hand... OK, I used it because I am cheap.

And look at the fun of using yeast again... But then, with one whole recipe for bread, and a recipe for hot pockets that uses yeast, I have no fear! Well, really, my hands were shaking when I poured the milk... But soldiering on...

But, other than those small changes, I followed her directions to the letter...

And then, I really started screwing around with the recipe. I happen to love the taste of toasted garlic on bread. So, instead of seeds, I added some coarsely chopped GARLIC!!! I also sprinkled some kosher salt on the top (again, I just like the taste of salt on the top of bread). I always gently mash the garlic into the tops just a bit so they are more likely to stick to the dough (even with an egg wash).

And, with the garlic, salt and Molasses flavors really shining through, this was a great roll. Certainly not likely to be served on many Thanksgiving tables, but they ought to be. They were a huge hit. I got requests for the recipe, so possibly this will be added to a few of my friends tables. Really, Really, Really good!

So.. (THA TA TATA), I present my newly created award to Mary at ONE PERFECT BITE

To this wonderful blogger, and remind her of the simple rules...
1) Take inspiration from or outright steal a recipe from a fellow blogger
2) Actually make the item, or make a close copy of the item
3) Blog about your efforts, giving proper credit and links to the inspiree
4)If you receive the award, be honored, as there is no greater feeling than having your efforts not just recognized, but duplicated! That is the only real rule, is to feel honored. BUT, feel free to post this in your side bar and to pass it on to one of your favorite bloggers which you have made one of their recipes.

But wait, there's a bit more to this story...

The clean up from my 13 guest, 9 course TURDUCKEN dinner took almost as long as it did to cook it. Bloated and stuffed, my lovely (well, not in this picture, but she cleans up nice) and talented wife worked for a couple hours getting our kitchen back to normal before going to bed. Take a close look at that photo... She loves me, but at that moment, I was not her favorite person...

BUT, next morning, a couple left over ANNA DAMN HER Rolls, a little toasting, a little butter and some honey... A little quick breakfast in bed snack before she went off to that inconvenient job thing of hers...

And her mood changed... Isn't she glowing in the morning... I wake up to this every day!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Singapore Deviled Eggs --- LOOK WHAT I DID!!!

Something interesting happened a few months ago... Not to sure who found who first, but I started looking in on an unusual blog. Not unusual in the two headed goat sense, but unusual in the sense that I am a fire cooker, backyard entertainer and lover of meat. I remember thinking that it was unusual for someone like me to enjoy the blog of JU at THE LITTLE TEOCHEW. But I certainly do enjoy it. Not for the meat dishes that I can steal her recipes for (her husband is a vegetarian, so the meat tricks are few and far between). Not for the suburban backyard entertaining layouts (she lives in Singapore, and I doubt she has much of a back yard). And I have never seen her blog about cooking on a grill/smoker or with fire.

But, for just a few moments whenever she posts something fresh, I am transported to another world (to me) of wonderful fresh cuisine, and a bit of a glimpse into a new way of thinking. She writes very well, and her recipes are amazing. Occasionally she lists ingredients I have never heard of, nor have access to. But more often than not, I spend a bit of time pondering about how I can cook her dishes, and when. I have told you before about my growing file of "things I want to cook" from reading all your blogs. I noticed the other day that of all the items I have saved, I have saved more recipes from JU at The Little Teochew than I have from anyone else. It is time I stopped being a bug on her virtual wall, and started working on her dishes...

Last week, I blogged about my TURDUCKEN adventure. Dinner for 13, and served just 4 days before Thanksgiving. When I was planning the menu, I wanted to avoid the traditional side dishes that many of the guests would be eating in just 4 days. So, I was looking for something interesting, similar, yet different...

In place of my wife's wonderful deviled eggs (that she ended up not making me for Thanksgiving), I took a crack at The Little Teochew's SON-IN-LAW EGGS... Here is what she had to say about the dish... "These eggs are so named because they make an easy dish for a son-in-law to cook and impress his new mother-in-law with. Obviously, its origin is hazy but I thought it was a cute name for a cute dish.". In Kansas, these are now called Singapore Deviled Eggs. That name caught on more than the Son-In-Law Eggs name when I told the story about where I found the recipe...

Here's what she says...

Recipe (adapted from Simple Chinese) -
3 hard boiled eggs (cooked through all the way, cooled, and shelled)
2 shallots, sliced thinly
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced thinly

For the sauce - 1 tbsp water -
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp tamarind pulp (if you don't have this, use double the amount of lemon or lime juice)
1 tbsp chicken stock (I used
kecap manis for a vegetarian version)

Boil and simmer briefly so that it thickens. Leave aside to cool.

1. Use a toothpick and prick the surface of the hard boiled eggs all over. Just
at the surface, not all the way through!

2. In a skillet, heat some oil. Fry the eggs over a low flame until uniformly golden and crispy. Keep moving them around to prevent any one part from burning.

3. Drain off excess oil and allow eggs to cool, then halve them lengthwise. Arrange on a serving plate.

4. Fry the shallots and chilli in oil till fragrant.

5. Spoon the shallots and chilli over the eggs.

6. Drizzle with sauce before eating.

Here's what I did...

Pretty much. I followed her recipe for the preparation. I do think I hard cooked the eggs too much. I cooked them for 12 minutes, and by the time they were fried, I thought the yolks were too well done. Next time (and there will be a next time), I will only boil for 8 minutes and let the frying process finish cooking the insides and see what happens.

After the first egg, I came up with a system for pricking the outside of the eggs... I took a toothpick, and held it between my thumb and forefinger and had just a small fraction of an inch sticking out. this way, I was able to prick just at the surface much faster. I was doing 9 eggs after all, and did not have time to do this carefully (9 side dishes, remember).

I had some O OLIVE OIL, Jalapeno Lime simultaneously pressed olive oil that I used to fry the eggs in. YES, it did add a tang to the finished product that really was interesting and fun to taste.

In place of shallots, I used some grilled red onions. Otherwise, I followed the directions to the letter.

I am sorry I do not have more detailed photo instructions, but I was busy (9 side dishes, remember). But here is my finished product...

Here is the tale of the tape (how it measures up)... I made 18 of these, ate a couple to test the taste, and served 16. I had 13 guests, served as an appetizer finger food (if they wanted them, they took one, if not, no one would notice). There was 4 different finger food appetizers served. Only these had no leftovers. People enjoyed hearing the story of the origins of these Singapore Deviled Eggs. They were a big hit!

And yes, easy enough for a Son-In-Law (inexperienced Chinese food cook) to make and serve to his Mother-In-Law (family and friends)!

So, thank you to The Little Teochew, you made me look like a genius, and you inspired a terrific start to the now legendary night of the Turducken!

And one more BTW, My good friends at FISCHER and WIESER are having a very short sale, offering 10% discount and free shipping on Internet orders, but only til November 29th. They make that incredible Roasted raspberry Chipotle sauce that I blogged about several times... I used it as a glaze for ribs, I grilled some fabulous Salmon, and I always have some on a little cream cheese handy as a dip. Makes a wonderful little hostess gift for anyone heading to holiday parties, and now with the discount and free shipping, certainly worth considering... but hurry!

And back to the Little Teochew for a second... Take a look at my favorite post I have seen on her site.... Ju got to dine onboard the Singapore Flyer, kind of a restaurant flouting above Singapore on a giant Ferris Wheel, incredible views and haute cuisine, and she lets us be that virtual bug on the wall with plenty of photos and a well written story... The Son-In-Law Eggs recipe and posts like THIS ... are the reason I come back whenever she posts!

So.. (THA TA TATA), I present my newly created award to JU at The Little Teochew ...

To this wonderful blogger, and remind her of the simple rules...
1) Take inspiration from or outright steal a recipe from a fellow blogger
2) Actually make the item, or make a close copy of the item
3) Blog about your efforts, giving proper credit and links to the inspiree
4)If you receive the award, be honored, as there is no greater feeling than having your efforts not just recognized, but duplicated! That is the only real rule, is to feel honored. BUT, feel free to post this in your side bar and to pass it on to one of your favorite bloggers which you have made one of their recipes.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The PERFECT FRIED TURKEY with Honey Brined/Cajun Honey Injected Marinade

LOVE my neighborhood... But more about that in a bit...

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Believe it or not, it was very very quiet around here, cooking wise. We hosted a small neighborhood group. 3 couples with no children close, no parents close; 6 of us that decided a "pot luck" Thanksgiving would be more fun than a Swanson's Hungry Man and football (especially those two football games). My only contribution to the day... The turkey!

My friends... I present The black turkey...

Do not judge this book by it's cover... Here's why...

A honey brine. the night before the cook, I assembled my brining liquid...

3 gallons of water 1 1/2 cups kosher salt 5 cups vegetable broth
And the villain of the black turkey, 1 1/2 cups honey
or, another way to think of this,
the HERO of the black turkey, 1 1/2 cups honey
5 cups ice

Heat 1 gallon water and the salt. Stir til all the salt is dissolved. Add the honey, again, stir til dissolved. Dump into a clean cooler, mix together everything else and add the bird. This also works well in one of those BIG freezer bags. Don't add the ice, but put the bagged bird into a cooler and than add ice and some water to surround the bagged bird and keep it from getting to room temps.

Let sit for 12 to 24 hours.

I was sharing space with my neighbors bird, who was also frying his bird.

Making a brine is simple, and is a wonderful way to add moisture to your finished product. My sainted mother would use that hideous pop-up built in thermometer as her way of telling when the turkey is done. IN FACT, those thermometers are set to go off at about 180 degrees, guaranteeing your bird will be dry and tough prior to serving. Ideal internal temperature is only 165 degrees. Every degree above that only dries out your bird. But I digress...

Brining adds moisture to your bird, and allows the bird to cook more evenly. Smarter people than I have done the science research. Click HERE to go to The Kitchen Project's page on brining. He goes through the science of what a brine does, recipes, history and techniques.

Adding honey to the brine will coat the bird, and when dunked in the oil, will burn (that's why the turkey is black). But that's OK, it's just the skin. And once fried, is very easy to remove.

But wait, there's more...

Injecting a bird is yet another way to add moisture and flavors to your bird. Think of all the advantages to marinating meat. Now imagine what would happen if you could have that marinade throughout the meat, and not just on the outer 1/2 inch (at most). That is what injectable marinade does. I prefer to make my own...

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup butter

1 can chicken broth (or stock if you have it)
1/4 cup Cajun Spice (I make my own Cajun rub, but a commercial brand works well also).

Heat everything up, until well nixed, and it is a liquid...

Here is a reprint of a bit I did about how to inject...

And next, I started on the marinade. Injector needles are available at any quality foodie cooking supply store, or cheaper on AMAZON.COM. I always saved my old ones that I used from Cajun Injector... BTW, if you don't want to make your own, Cajun Injector makes and sells a jar of injector marinade along with a free injector. Especially this time of year you should be able to find these at a well stocked store. I know Wal-Mart carried these last year. The technique reminds me of when I was a heroin addict and would load a syringe with a spoonful of cooked dope... Wait, that's not right, it reminds me of watching TV of heroin addicts loading a syringe. Load it up and inject away... Put a third of a syringe full in one spot, pull out a bit, put another third in, pull out a bit more and the final third... Just keep injecting in as many spots as you can till all the goop is inside the bird. Adds moisture and flavoring (remember all that Cajun spice) INSIDE the bird. MUCH better than basting.

I used those handy dandy cooking bands I have talked about before to truss the bird a bit. Keep the legs inside, so they don't touch the sides of the kettle. No harm if they do, but less of a chance to get them caught on anything as you are lowering or raising the bird...

And here is where we get just a bit dangerous... Heat the oil to 350 degrees. I am lucky to live in this neighborhood... My good neighbor Andy has all the tools. The base, the propane tank, the tiles, and a big back yard that backs into a creek. I swapped my brining and injecting his bird for him frying my bird. A VERY fair trade for me!

I am not going to discuss safety or technique here. If you are doing this for the first time, ask someone experienced to help. OR, lacking that, study over all the safety recommendations...

Here's why...

3 minutes per pound, plus add 5 minutes, and it is done!

and black... but that's OK, it was beautiful this way... Just remove the charred skin...

And this is what was one of the breasts underneath. Everything you have heard is true... The most moist and the most flavorful turkey I have ever eaten. The honey in the indictable marinade really made this shine... The Cajun spices gave just a small amount of kick, and the contrast of the seemingly burnt bird, transformed into the amazing final product really made for a spectacular presentation!

I contributed turkey, we also enjoyed smoked ribs, gravy, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and PUMPKIN PIE! I am truly thankful for my friends and neighbors that made this day special...

Hope you had a wonderful day too!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving & the tale of Pickle Eyeballs and the Church Basement Ladies

Happy Thanksgiving all!

And now, as promised, the tale of the pickled eyeball and the church basement ladies...

I promise there is food content coming, but first, I want to say a thank you to the ladies that started me on my foodie journey, the church basement ladies of Liberty Baptist Church in Pekin, Illinois. I have a long and sad story that I will not be telling today. But the short version of that story (the part you need to know to appreciate the happier parts) is that when I was a freshman in high school, my father got very sick. He spent several months at a hospital 150 miles from me. My mother stayed by his side most of that time. My older brother and I were asked to take care of ourselves while doctors do what they do.

A sad enough time, but in a way, very exciting. I was asked to grow before my time. But, 2 high school age kids could not have managed without a support system in place. We had friends and some family that looked in on us often. Not the least of which was my church family. Activities kept me busy, and church pot-luck dinners kept me fed beyond blue box max and cheese.

Church pot-luck dinners were amazing things. The ladies of the church would try to out do each other. Very competitive. Simple casseroles were followed by plates of imaginative meat dishes, followed by incredible desserts. Some of the best eating of my life happened in that basement. I still recall that miracle Sunday when the very first green bean casserole with French's fired onions appeared on the table (I am old).

Like I said, the ladies were very competitive. On pot-luck day, there were a handful of "church basement ladies" who warmed all the dishes during service so that when the singing, praying and eating the heads of live roosters was finished, the congregation was fed hot items. It was a difficult task, and there were a small select few members of the youth group that helped set up and do the beck and call of the ladies. I was one of those youth. I also got to be a part of the clean up. Which gave me a chance to be a bug on the wall, as these ladies would critic the finished meal. I listened to the ladies discuss the best (and more often, they discussed the worst) of the meal. They knew which church members were taking home empty plates (a huge honor), and which dishes were barely touched.

 Not all comments were... Christian. Like I said, very competitive.

Which brings me to the ladies that started me on my journey...

One Sunday afternoon, the ladies challenged me to bring a covered dish for the next potluck. During the Witty banter that followed, I not only vowed to bring a covered dish, but by the end of the day, I would be taking that dish home empty. Remember, due to the volume of foods served, for one dish to be emptied, it would need to be an exceptional item.

This recipe came from a friend's mother who assured me that no one could resist these.

Three ingredients,

Cream Cheese
Buddig meat

3 steps...
wrap a pickle with a bit of cream cheese
wrap that with a few slices of buddig meat
cut into slices

And sure enough, when these were made, when they were presented at the pot-luck, the plate was empty at the end of the day. Whatever small measure of success I may have had since then as a cook or host, I will never be as thrilled as when i was announced by the church basement ladies to have an empty dish to take home! These ladies gave me the first and best encouragement I ever received regarding foodie matters.

So, to those unsung heroines of the basement, those ladies that kept the social wheels of the church greased... To those wonderful ladies that went out of their way to befriend a sad child, dealing with issues beyond his years, the ladies who also worried about his family...

And to the ladies that encouraged me after my first, albeit simple, culinary success...

Today I am thankful...

Thanksgiving has a complicated origin in the United States. Only occasionally were there presidential proclamations of a national day of thanks prior to the American Civil War. In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving day. Since that day, Thanksgiving has been observed annually. Likewise, only a month before the attack on Pearl Harbor, in 1941, Thanksgiving became a federal holiday. It is not a coincidence that this most "family" centric of all our holidays has it's origins when we were asking our best and bravest to sacrifice to the fullest measure of devotion. Enjoy your day with your family, make all your friends welcome in your home, and consider for a moment (dare I be politically incorect and ask you to pray for) the people in harm's way who earn our thanks every day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Props for this tasty little appetizer goes to a wonderful blogger, COOKING FOR MY PEACE OF MIND. She advertisers her cooking style as "stress cooking" to deal with distractions outside her "everything is fine" kitchen! I love her site, and it is always worth a look...

Click the photo of her web header to see her blog...

Back on November 3rd, Danielle made the following post... Grandma Sally's Marinated Mushrooms. As long tome readers know, I love to entertain, and I filed this one away for my next big get together. In my opinion, it is a perfect appetizer...

Here's her recipe...

1 1/2 lbs. mushrooms (I used crimini)
3/4 cup oil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp basil
6 - 10 pepper corns
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove

Gently wash your mushrooms and cut the dry ends off the...stub? stem? trunk? Whatever it is...cut it off!

In a good sized deep skillet or large sauce pan, combine everything except for the mushrooms. Simmer for about 10 mins

Add your mushrooms and stir until nicely coated. You'll know when they're all coated cuz they get all shiny and pretty

Cover and cook. Now...depending on the size of your mushrooms, you'll want to cook them for about 5 - 10 minutes. The original recipe said 3 - 5 minutes but my mushrooms were pretty good sized and I ended up cooking them for 10 minutes. You don't want them soggy...wilted or soft. You want them....mmm...I dunno....kinda al dente.

Once they've cooked and cooled off, put them in a storage container and keep in the fridge until you're ready to eat.

WELL, this sounds easy enough... Pretty quick, and can be made ahead of time (Very important when you have a houseful of people coming over)... I made a few small changes,


First, I substituted Oils and Vinegars for some flavored oils and vinegars. I had some O OLIVE OIL brand Jalapeno/Lime Oil, and some Zinfandel Vinegar. Next, I altered her spices. Earlier in the year, I made a batch of Steven Reichlen's recipe for MEDITERRANEAN RUB. The rub is equal parts tarragon, oregano, dill, thyme, rosemary and salt. I like to keep my rubs for no more than 3 months. After that time, the spices start to lose their potency. So, it's now or never to use this rub. Honestly, I have used this on pork, beef and fish. On ALL of these meats, it ... well, for lack of a more polite word, it sucked as a rub for meat. But, as a flavoring in oil, all these spices should blend well... Let's see...

Oh, and I love garlic... 1 garlic clove??? I don't think so... add a bunch!

And from there, I just followed the recipe...

AND THEY WERE INCREDIBLE! Not a little bit, but a LOT. I even ate the sauteed garlic cloves...INCREDIBLE! They are a wonderful little finger food (I served with long wooden skewers). They were very popular.

Hey, would this little girl lie to you... Very Popular!

And one final addition that was popular, I served these with a few Blue Cheese stuffed Olives and people started using the olives as a stuffing for the mushrooms... made them even more popular!

And, BTW, if you check Danielle's original post (Click HERE), you will read a wonderful story of how this recipe was passed to her from her mother-in-law that she never met. I love a recipe with a story!

So.. (THA TA TATA), I present my newly created award to DANIELLE, at COOKING FOR MY PEACE OF MIND...

To this wonderful blogger, and remind her of the simple rules...
1) Take inspiration from or outright steal a recipe from a fellow blogger
2) Actually make the item, or make a close copy of the item
3) Blog about your efforts, giving proper credit and links to the inspiree
4)If you receive the award, be honored, as there is no greater feeling than having your efforts not just recognized, but duplicated! That is the only real rule, is to feel honored. BUT, feel free to post this in your side bar and to pass it on to one of your favorite bloggers which you have made one of their recipes.