Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Coleslaw Reinvented Or Packing the Kitchen is #*99%%$$

Still naked coleslaw

 I'm awfully stuck-up about this, but I have always liked my coleslaw better than any other.  Better than any deli in NYC and better than any of my friends' or family's.   I have made a lot of coleslaw in my day.  It was a go-to as a side for brisket, burgers, you-name-it for my kids.  I made it in the food processor (after I got one) and it contained grated cabbage, a bit of red onion, most of whatever apple was in the frig, mayo, white vinegar, ground cayenne pepper, table salt and freshly-ground pepper.  I love it and it's mine.

But last week, before I started packing the kitchen for the move,  I just started making it differently and that just went on.  I hope I can document it because it was capital W Wonderful and I want it again.  Dave said it was the best coleslaw he'd ever eaten in his life (ah, gee), but the thing was, the stuff KEPT WELL.  It was crispy and piquant and sweet and hot a day later and then two days later.  It didn't know it should have wilted.  And that's worth alot.  I'm thinking it was the brining. To  have a veg salad, dressed, ready to go for three days.  I still liked it better the first day, but that's me.  I'm picky.


Brined Coleslaw with Apples   serve 3-4

4 c shredded green cabbage
1 apple such as Gala or Honeycrisp, cored and sliced thinly (don't peel)
1/4 c thinly sliced red onion
2T kosher salt (for brining)
2T white sugar  "       "
1t freshly-ground black pepper "     "
1T olive oil
3 t apple cider vinegar
3T olive oil mayo (or your favorite)
1/2 t sugar or more/less to taste
1/4 c raisins
1/2 t kosher salt and 1/4t freshly-ground pepper, or to taste
Pinch of Cayenne pepper

In a very large bowl, place cabbage, apple and onion.  Cover with water and a cup or so of ice cubes.  Add 2T kosher salt, 2T white sugar and 1t freshly-ground black pepper.  Set aside for 15-20 minutes at room temperature. 

Brining the cabbage, apples and onions
Drain cabbage mixture well and remove ice from the colander.  Shake colander repeatedly to remove as much water as possible.  Pat cabbage mixture with paper towels to further dry.  Return to large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and white vinegar.  Mix well.  Add mayonnaise and raisins and mix again.  Season with sugar, salt, pepper and cayenne.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  You may need a bit more vinegar or sugar, etc to suit your taste.

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the 'Hood

I'm working on a lemon tart from Dorie Greenspan's PARIS SWEETS. This is the first try.  It uses a whole lemon-all of it.

  Out to breakfast; out to lunch...

Very watchful as the kitchen gets packed...

 And then again ...................

View of "new" kitchen

Meantime, if you're keeping up with or reading more about what's happening to the Presbyterian Church, USA, you might be interested in Wilson Gunn's (The Presbyterian Outlook) response to "The Deathly Letter."  John Huss (Clerk of Session, Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta) has also responded in The Presbyterian Outlook on behalf of that church. There are, in fact, a few back and forths by now; you might want to read them.  Adam Walker Cleaveland in Pomomusings includes a clip of Jim Singleton (Senior Pastor at First Pres in Co Springs) explaining the new vision...and responds here. I have prayed this church might find its way peacefully and intact through the current (and former) quagmire; other denominations have done it.  Witness the UCC church where Dave and I currently happily worship.  During the last year, another local UCC congregation became open and affirming.  The church we attend went through that process maybe 15 years ago.  Perhaps it isn't necessary to be all together on everything all the time; some things require years of patient hope, education and loving prayer.  I've always found it one of the beauties of being Presbyterian that we do have the latitude for varying ideas, interpretations and beliefs.  I am grateful we aren't cookie cutter Christians, but it seems to me the unhappy churches ought to acknowledge their unhappiness and......just leave. There is a process within the PCUSA for just that.   Thanks, God for giving so many of us the ability to agree and disagree; I know we all have this in common--You are God of our lives and the love that we so badly need in our world.

Sing a new song,

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Basil Chicken Fried Rice or I Wokked Out

   Once I read something about lo mein being standard college fare.  Nope; not for us.  Standard college fare was pizza with the occasional delivered salad... and the salad was also full of cheese.  I know this for a very real fact.  Because I worked in the restaurant (actually there were two) that made this stuff.

 But when I read about someone's college goto being lo mein, I was jealous.  I should have gone to college THEN.  I adore lo mein and can even make a pretty darned good imitation.  Well, since then, I've moved over to adoring Thai and because I'm so late-trendy, I like Basil Chicken.  I seem to always miss it when things are "in."

And I like it when Bhan Thai makes it, not me.  Mine is ok.  Still,  knowing how much Emily also likes Thai, I started looking for easy Thai recipes with videos and I came up with Thai Food Tonight...a series of lessons and videos, etc. by Dim Geefay.   Dim brings along her American-born daughter Cathy to help translate and, between the two of them, we figure it out.  The videos were, I think, originally on tv, but are now free online.

Dave has always been our wokman, though I occasionally use it, too.  For the Basil Chicken Fried Rice, I did the planning, research, shopping,  part of the prep, table set and so on.  Dave cut the chicken (he's much better at that) and then just continued on cooking.  I stood and kibitzed while drinking a lovely halb-trocken German Riesling, which suited the Thai dish to a T.

Did I say this was YUMMY TO THE MAX?  And, unlike a lot of Asian food, it was nearly as good the next day. Yes!

Set the table before you begin to cook.

I made the rice in the afternoon and spread it out to dry on a baking sheet.


Hates cooking alone.

Very quick, this man is.

Not sure we had the heat up high enough.

Turn off as soon as you add the basil.

Garnish with cilantro and lime.

Add pieces of cucumber for crunch and coolness.
 Basil Chicken Fried Rice  by Dim Geefay    Watch her video about how to make this dish.
4 servings

  • 4 cups already cooked rice
  • 6 big cloves of garlic, crushed (together w/ peppers w/ mortar and pestle or lrg knife)
  • 2-4 Thai (bird) red and green chili peppers or 1-2 Serrano peppers, crushed  (I used 1/2 jalapeno*)
  • 1/4 c cooking oil  ( I used canola; you could also use peanut.)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 lbs chicken meat (I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs.)
  • 3T Oyster sauce
  • 2T Fish Sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 medium-sized red bell pepper, julienned
  • 2 c fresh sweet basil leaves, whole
  • 1 cucumber, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 c cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime, cut into quarters
  1. Heat oil in deep pan or wok over high heat.
  2. Wait until oil starts to smoke.
  3. Add crushed garlic and peppers.
  4. Stir quickly; don't let them burn
  5. Immediately add chicken, stiring.
  6. Add oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar.
  7. Stir until chicken is cooked through. (no pink)
  8. Add already cooked rice.
  9. Stir quickly until sauces are blended with rice. (a couple of minutes)
*1/2 jalapeno made the dish tasty, but quite mild.  Use a whole if you like some spice.

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the 'Hood

-I'm busy packing.  I hate it.  Who likes it?  Enough said.  
-Had a perfect Valentine's Day..God was good; my husband was home and he made reservations at Pizzeria Rustica in Old Colorado City, one of my favorite places.  They had a food and wine pairing deal--lovely.
-Dogs got groomed and are hot to trot.  It was almost 70 F.

If only we could just get dropped off somewhere where they threw us in first a cage, then a tub, trimmed us all up, blew us dry, tied bandanas around our necks, gave us treats, and threw us back in a cage again. (Somehow it's just not the same when I go to the hair dresser's, though it's slightly reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz.  I guess I'd skip the cage.)

If you're keeping up with some of the responses to the "Deathly Letter" from within a segment of the Presbyterian Church, USA, here is another one I found intriguing:


Very well done indeed.  If you are a Presbyterian in this country and wonder how we came to be likely to split, check this out--it's the chart of which Presbyterians came when and did what:


Perhaps today isn't so unusual after all.  Pray for this church.  Pray for our seminarians.  I have to admit I'm a bit abashed about worshiping at the UCC (along with quite a few other Colorado Springs Presbyterians)...  But it's been a life-changing experience.  Not enough words available.

Sing a new song,

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Valentine-Strawberry Hazelnut Shortbread Tart or He Let His People Go, but "my" Church is in Trouble

In the background, the blare of MSNBC

"Egypt IS free."

Gives new meaning to, actually puts on the other foot... "Let my people go," doesn't it?

The long term fallout and where the sparks thrown by the revolution will land are questions to which we have no answer.  But the far-reaching waves are now on the way.

Think of other revolutions and their impact and the trail they left.   Think China.  Think France.  Think The United States.  I can't fathom the legacy of this...

At the same time, my denomination, PCUSA (Presbyterian Church, USA), is on the verge of a long-coming crisis as a  letter, signed by 45 pastors (all male but one), pretty much proposes a number of our churches splitting off from the denomination.  There's to be a meeting in August in Minneapolis and we're invited to talk things over.  But, it also says our church is dying and other hard, cold part-truths. (I have to ask how much this pales compared to what's happening in Egypt...)

While I'm familiar with the problems of my church (a treacherous phrase), one of which is a disagreement over ordination standards ( mostly homosexual ordination), there are some other points of difficulty, one of which is a disagreement over the denomination owning buildings and properties.   This makes me wonder what is the critical point here.

You can read a well-thought out and well-written response...

Here is Rev. Margaret Aymer's response...http://mayog.posterous.com/about-your-invitation-an-exegetical-rsvp-to-t.

As Christians, we are already so split up all over the world.   I think there are more than 30,000 denominations.   If we keep splintering off, we'll just be left with splinters.

Church of the Beloved's "Hope for a Tree Cut Down," contains a song ("Peace")  with the lyrics:

We need each other more than we need to agree.

I also freely admit I've worshiped with the UCC for the past two years, with the exception of several months in an ecumenical church where I worked as a choir director.

 Did you come for food?!!! 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Shrimp Stir Fry or God, I'm Listening to your Coyotes Tonight

Nothing cooking today, though I cooked egg tacos for my breakfast.

I guess if you write a blog, you like to write.  I read somewhere today that we write because we see things and must share them; that's our job.  I don't know.  I only know that since I could hold a pencil, I've been writing.  For years, it was letters.  Before that, it was poetry and all kinds of intense scribbling that kids seem to need to do.  Now it's a cooking blog and I'm grateful for it and I'm grateful for you, since you're reading.  Grateful to the cooking that brings it all together.

Speaking of cooking blogs, I began a new blog this week in response to Emily's request for a kitchen and pantry list, as well as some recipes suited for cooking for one.  I had been thinking of (and had even staked out a name) another cooking blog for a while, but couldn't settle on which focus to pursue.  When Emi talked to me about solo cooking, I knew I had my topic.  There aren't many posts and the first ones deal with kitchen/pantry, of course.   There will be lots of recipes, links to video tutorials, shopping lists and tips, and thoughts on sharing your food.  Less stories and more food.  It'll grow.  Take a peek, though.  It's called Dinner Place:  A Blog for Solo Cooks. I'd love emails or comments with recipes/ideas that are great for one person; I'll blog them if I can.

It's a nasty-cold night in Colorado, land of temperate winters and beautiful, warming sun any day of the year.  We had a long, warm fall and have had a mostly gentle winter with a few arctic exceptions.   But last night, the banshee moaned and the house creaked hard  while the wind chimes sang and banged on the front deck.  Sometimes, when it gets like that, I make my way out in the dark and put the chimes out of their misery until morning.  We get wind here like nowhere else except Alaska and we get it worse up here on the mesa, where it's not unusual to get hurricane-force gales that blow the panels out of the ceiling in the bathroom, scaring the shit out of me.  We don't take showers when the wind is up.  One time, the panels crashed  down into the bathtub while I was at rehearsal, impaling a huge lizard that had, for reasons known only to her, made her way into the bathtub.  I came home and, after taking the dogs out and chilling out myself, decided to strip and jump in the shower.  Ever since then, I've had a clear shower curtain.  Make your own movie here, though it must involve a certain amount of Alyce running back and forth, making a lot of noise.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sooper Bowl Chili-Chop and Stir-Into the Crockpot for Half-time 

 NOTE:  originally posted February, 2010.....

I don't know where the idea of chili for Super Bowl came from, but it's a hit most places if you're not having pizza.  If you're not having pulled pork.  (I noticed that top Yahoo! searches were including "pork recipes" this last week.)  So maybe pulled pork, but maybe ribs.  The pork case at the market looked like July 3, it had so many racks of ribs in it.  Prices weren't bad either.  Still, I was on the path to chili...could I be led away?

I was drawn to a recipe in the NYT (Mark Bittman)  for Chicken Sausage Jambalaya.  Actually, I think it first came from a site called sundaysauce.com; it's in the left side bar under blogs I follow.  Chicken, sausage:  it all sounded so good.  Rice.  Hmm.  But, chili beckoned.  I haven't made chili since Halloween and I usually make it pretty often.  Somethings just yelled.

At the store...

Italian sausage (Sara's-made right up near Palmer Lake) hit the cart.
VEEEEry lean beef fell in on top of it.  I know; it should have been turkey.  But, hey, it's the Super Bowl.

Did I have enough canned tomatoes?  Italian ones?  Beans?  Unsalted, organic?  I knew I had dried beans, but had a thought about a Super quick chili using canned beans.  Up the canned aisle; it's not my favorite place. (Produce is my favorite.)  No big cans, so I grabbed 2 pinto and 1 black.  I can never bear to make chili with only one sort of bean.  What else?  Nothing.  OH, I had to have (and this is critical)


Fritos are good, too, especially with cheddar cheese on chili.  But tortilla chips... hmm.  Just right. I actually like to eat this chili with tortilla chips, not a spoon.  I rarely eat chips of any kind, still... Oh well.

Grab some Dos Equis or make a pitcher of margaritas?  I might be the only one who likes zinfandel with chili and I thought I had a sweet bottle of Seghesio. Still, the better half probably needed his Dos Equis; the winter ales in the garage frig were going to pale compared to a Mexican brew. (not bad, eh?)  Note to self:  hit the liquor place next door before going home. Oh, and go back through produce (yeah) and get limes.

By then, the cart was a dead giveaway; anyone going by (and aren't there a lot of cartsnoopers?) knew I was making chili.  Like, regular old Irish kinda chili.  Not fine Texas fare with big hunks of beef slowly simmered in a thick, spicy sauce; not NM green, mild, hot or in between.  Just the kind of big pot my learned-to-cook-during-the-depression mom made, using her own home-canned tomatoes, some jars of which were  full of other small goodies like celery, green pepper, etc.  We had a ferocious garden out back.  Summers were literally  full of "what a row to hoe."  Of course, over the years, the recipe morphed.  (There never was a written recipe, just we kids' memory for the pot, the shelves full of quart jars-"Run bring me a jar of tomatoes."- and its smells.) Nowadays, I like lots of different vegetables. I like different kinds of meat. I like wine in it.  Lemon.  Dijon mustard. Cinnamon, just a tish.  Yeah, it's a bit different than mom's.  It smells as good.  Even the milk man smelled it outside. 

"Smells so good in there."   "I'm going to your blog tomorrow for that recipe." (ok!)

Ah, yep.  I'm cookin' chili. Get outta the way, dogs.  Makes me incredibly happy for some reason.  Makes me feel rich to have a great big pot of the stuff cooking away.  Odd what makes us feel rich.  You?

This particular pot of chili can be pulled together in 20-25 min and then thrown in the crockpot, well, not literally.  I do pour it pretty quickly into the crockpot insert in the sink!  Or, make it the day before.  Whichever way, it's an easy meal.  Buy or make some corn bread.  Get some tortilla chips and salsa.  Of course, the Dos Equis.  A pan of your favorite brownies?   A veggie tray and you're on your way.  Why be troubled? 

                                                      We like Manchego with chili.

Can you smell it?                                                                             

Sooper Bowl Chili
serves 8-10;makes a little more than 6 quarts

2T olive oil
1/4 t each: cinnamon, dried red pepper flakes, cumin, black pepper, chili powder
2 onions, chopped (food processor if you have one)
4 cloves of garlic, ditto                                                            
4 large celery stalks, ditto
1/2 ea red and yellow peppers, ditto
2-3 small zucchini or yellow squash, ditto
1 lb each:  sweet Italian sausage and lean ground beef
3  15 oz cans no salt, organic beans (pinto, kidney or black)
6 T chili powder (or to taste)
1 t fresh ground black pepper
1/2 t dried red pepper flakes
2t kosher salt (+/- to taste)
2T each, dried oregano and basil                                                        
2 32 oz cans Italian tomatoes
2T honey
2T Dijon mustard
1/4 c lemon juice
2 c ea: red wine and water

opt: grated Manchego (or cheddar), chopped onions, tortilla chips, hot sauce                                                              

Saute  first five (1/4 t each) spices in the 2 T olive oil over low heat  in a 10 or 12 qt. stockpot while you chop the vegetables (2-3 batches) in the food processor (or by hand.)  Spoon veg out into pot and cover, turning heat up to medium-high.  Meanwhile, brown both meats in another skillet over medium-high heat.  Stir both pot and skillet frequently.  When vegetables are tender, add rest of ingredients to pot. Drain meat well; add to the tomato mixture.  Stir well and taste; season as needed. 

Bring to a boil and turn off the burner. *Place crockpot stoneware insert  in sink and pour chili into it.  Replace insert into crockpot.  Set heat to low and let cook 4-6 hours.  If too thin, take lid off and let cook 15-20 minutes on high to thicken.

Serve with tortilla chips and chopped onions and cheese if you like.
Pass a bottle of your favorite hot sauce for those who want to burn their taste buds.

*Option:  Cook on stove.   Lower heat to medium low and simmer at least an hour.  More, if you'd like.  Some people like to wait and add the beans during the last 15 minutes.

Enjoy the day.  Have a little more if you like.  There's plenty.  You're rich.

no spoon needed

If you still don't know anything about football (I don't want to know; it's a good time to read the NY Times), you can click below and get a very quick lesson on how the game is played....


Sing a new song  (Go Colts?  Go Saints?), as I pray for two dear friends, s and c and for Emi, taking the Biblical Content Exam today at Princeton...........

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year 2011-A Repeat Post

Friday Night Chinese in One More Snowstorm 

Green Onion Pancakes .. or you could call them Spring Onion Pancakes.

Last summer, before I went away to school for two months, I picked up a little book called QUICK & EASY CHINESE by Nancie McDermott; photography by Maren Caruso (San Francisco:  Chronicle Books, 182p., 2008, $19.95).  I had every good intention of using the summer, where I'm cooking away from my own kitchen (and need easy recipes),  to drum up some great Asian dishes.  I thought I'd increase my Asian cooking skills, which are nil, and also make great use of the St. Paul, Minnesota Farmer's Market.  A little extra in the way of vegetables wouldn't hurt us.

Well, the book came along for the ride, packed with my music books and one Ina Garten cookbook.  What I didn't know was that the courses I had chosen would take over my whole life and I would be lucky to eat at all. Ha.  Of course, Dave and Emily pitched in when they saw me working night and day, but we didn't get to the Chinese. More's the pity.  Back home came the book in August.  Boohoo.  Dave loves Asian food and I am so stuck in French and Italian (or other Mediterranean) meals.

Occasionally, I'd grab the book off the shelf and start to whip something up only to find I had no Black Bean Sauce or fresh ginger.  You must make a commitment to Asian food in your pantry as well as in your cookware.  Though, truthfully, the cookware can be fudged. Ginger can't.  A few months went by before recipes began to be chosen, the appropriate condiments purchased and  stored, and we finally began to cook from the sweet little book.  I should say that I shopped and Dave cooked.  He is, after all, great at chopping and using a wok.  Among many other things.

Meantime, this week we have taken a few days off for "spring" break.  Even went out to The Summit at the Broadmoor (another blog--how wonderful).  Snow just kept arriving every other day or so, despite plans for a trip to Denver, to the movies, etc.  So, we just stayed home and warm...cozy up on the mesa.  What a spring.  Obviously time to try another great Chinese meal.  All the time in the world as the snow flew and the wind and the dogs howled.

So here is the menu (this is the second or third one he's tried) and then some pics from Dave's  Friday night foray into QUICK AND EASY CHINESE... I'll put in one recipe at the end, with appropriate credit to Nancie McDermott.  Thanks a lot....  Check out her book.

  I love Chinese in the snow.

Egg Flower Soup, page 38
Green Onion Pancakes, p 39-40
Broccoli with Ginger and Garlic, p 127
Almond Chicken, p 49 (Cook's note:  We added a bunch more vegetables here because we had them.)

wine:  dry riesling (German)
dessert:  none

                                                                      (Two-Dog Ktichen Above!)

Green Onion Pancakes (Taiwan street-food flatbreads)

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c water
About 1 T vegetable oil, plus 3T for frying
1T salt
1/2 c thinly sliced green onion

*Med bowl:  combine flour and water. stir well to mix and turn into soft dough.
*Lightly flour work area and your hands, and then scrape the dough onto the floured work surface.  *Knead the dough for 5 minutes, turning and pressing to form it into a soft, smooth dough.  Cover the dough with the bowl and let rest 5 min.
*Divide the dough into 3 portions, cutting it apart with a butter knife or pastry scraper.  Leaving the other two portions covered while you work, place one portion on the floured work surface, and roll it out into a big, round pancake, 6-8 inches in diameter.
*Use about 1t of the oil to lightly and evely coat the surface of the pancake.  Sprinkle it with 1t of the salt, and then scatter about 1/3 of the green onion over the pancake.
*Starting with the far edge and pulling it toward you, carefully roll up the pancake into a plump log.  *The soft dough will need a little coaxing, and it won't be perfectly even, but that is just fine.
*Shape the log into a fat spiral, turning the righ end toward you to make the center and curving the remaining log around it.  Tuck the loose end under and gently but firmly press to flatten it into a big, thick cake.  Using your rolling pin, roll it gently into a 7-in pancake.  The green onion will tear the dough and poke out here and there, but that's not a problem.
*To cook, heat a heavy, medium skillet over medium-high heat until hot.  Add about 2 t of the oil and turn to coat the bottom of the pan evenly.  When a pinch of the dough and a bit of green onion sizzle at once, place the pancake in the hot pan and cook until handsomely browned and fairly evenly cooked on one side, 2-3 minutes.
*Turn and cook the other side for about 1 min., until it is nicely browned and the bread is cooked through.  Use the remaining dough to roll out, season, shape, and cook two more pancakes.  Use additional oil as needed.  Cut into quarters, and serve hot or warm. (QUICK AND EASY CHINESE, by Nancie McDermott.)

Cook's note:  This is a bit salty in a good way...If you are watching your sodium intake, you should cut the salt accordingly.  Dave cooked these 1/3-1/2" thick and they were done and chewy like fat flatbread.  If you'd like a tender, more quickly cooked pancake, roll them out thinner and cook quickly.  I thought they might have been good with a soy-ginger sauce for dipping...a la Asian dumplings.  These are a little time-consuming, but not much.  Might be fun to take somewhere as an appetizer...They are fine at room temp and could be transported all-ready-to-go cut in a cloth-lined basket.

Also, some people call green onions "scallions," and some call them "spring onions." 

Sing a new song; eat green onion pancakes,
note:  orginially posted in March of 2010....