Category Archives: What’s For Dinner?

Tapas experiment

tapas shopping

My family and I suspect most Americans don’t spend enough time eating. Oh my we get enough FOOD to eat, but seem to spend very little time enjoying the experience.  We’ve been working at adding more variety to our diet in the form of organ meats, sea food and vegetables, to my dear husbands meat-and-potato-loving horror.  I noticed a while back that in order to get my family to eat a wider variety of food, we needed to do it more like a restaurant would, in courses. First a salad, then maybe a nice cup of soup, and finally the main course (don’t forget dessert!)

So last night I was watching a Tony Bourdain marathon (I know! W00t!) and his Spain and Venice episodes really brought the eating more slowly and with great gusto idea home for me. Even Tony was waxing poteic at sitting at the table with a family eating and conversing, drinking wine and enjoying the company. I want that! No more TV on the news while we eat from TV trays! No more throwing together a plate of food and horching it down so  can get back to whatever busywork task or internet BS I am currently involved in (doom-watching takes a lotta time, ya know?!?) At least we eat together, in the same room. But we can do better.

The clips I am referring to are embedded above.The meat of the matter starts at about the 7 minute mark in the first clip.

[youtube id=WpEmxIrprik] [youtube id=yYyJbcGawjE]

So, the new phase in our expansion of food choices: tapas. From our good friend Wikipedia (bold is mine):

Tapas (IPA: [ˈtaˌpas]) is the name of a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine. They may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese) or warm (such as puntillitas, which are battered, fried baby squid).

In North America and the United Kingdom, as well as in select bars in Spain, tapas have evolved into an entire, and sometimes sophisticated, cuisine. In these countries, patrons of tapas restaurants can order many different tapas and combine them to make a full meal.

The serving of tapas is designed to encourage conversation because people are not so focused upon eating an entire meal that is set before them.[citation needed] Also, in some countries it is customary for diners to stand and move about while eating tapas.

Conversation? During a hillbilly meal? Impossible you say. The hard part will be in getting the Old Man to turn off the news. Fortunately the local news recycles their BS at the top of every hour so if we eat promptly at 5 pm, the preferred time in these here hills, we can catch the news at 6 and not miss a darned thing. I have a nifty table that can be raised and lowered and has leaves, so we can drag it out and set it up quickly to eat then put it away.

The tapas recipes I am going to try are already loaded into the recipe section of the site, and I will get up pictures as I go along.

The highlights:

Bacon wrapped shrimp, stuffed artichoke croquettes, ham or shrimp croquettes, Russian Salad, garlic mushrooms, meatballs in tomato sauce, roasted spicy almonds, skewered chorizo and shrimp, and Mediterranean eggs. These are all items made with familiar items but put together in ways that my family might not have tried previously. As you can see, I did not get terribly adventurous for the first week. As they get used to it, however: whammo! out comes the fried octopus or liver bits. Blam. I modified all these recipes from the originals to make them WAPF friendly.

We might put together a video if I am feeling ambitious. The pic up top? It’s from my grocery shopping today. I’ve noticed a lot of my favorite food bloggers are following the lead of that article that showed a pictorial of what people eat for a week. The items in the pic are all I needed to round out what I already have in the hillbilly larder. I think it looks nice 😉

Making deep fried tacos

Ok, Homesick Texan, I am going to have to start paying you royalties or something. So, a while back the menfolk hereabouts made deep fried tacos whiel I took pics. I posted them on Twitpic but did not blog about it. Here it goes:
I used Homesick Texan’s recipe, only with flour that was soaked and lard rather than veg oil:

Two cups of all-purpose flour (can make them whole wheat by substituting one cup of whole-wheat flour for white flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of lard
3/4 cups of warm milk

I combined the warm milk and the lard to melt the lard into submission and used flour that I had started soaking the previous evening (half white, half white whole wheat that was freshly ground).
I mixed it all together into a sticky mass then wrapped it into a ball of plastic-wrapped stickiness and let it rest in the fridge for around 1/2 hour. I then divided the dough into 8 balls, and let them rest for a while while I wandered around, chasing dogs and flies. I get distracted easily, what can I say?

deep fried tacos


I rolled the suckers out got ready to fry!

deep fried tacos

We stuffed the tortillas with canned meat from last year that had been shredded and cooked a bit in our canned salsa, onion, cumin, chili powder and garlic, then folded them over, deep fried them and stuffed them when they came out of the fryer with lettuce, cheese, sour cream, and more salsa. Very satisfying!

Here is where the men came in.

Max actually frying tacos:

deep fried tacos and Max

Here he is again working hard, looking serious. He is a perfesshunal, you know. An actual chef.

Max making deep fried tacos

Here is Steven “helping”.

steven and tacos


Here is Daniel “helping”.

daniel and the guys

Now I’ve been overrun by men:

overrun by men

Can you see in that pic I was trying to pressure can green beans that day?

The Blahs

I am feeling tired and out of sorts today; did not get enough sleep last night. I should exercise but I am not going to do it.

I made baked oatmeal today, starting with soaking Scottish-cut oatmeal overnight in whey from yogurt. It turned out well. The recipe came from Kelly the Kitchen Kop. I will be eating this for breakfast off and on the next several days, alternating it with eggs I added dried cranberries to it this morning for extra zing.
baked oatmeal

We are making carnitas today from the Homesick Texan recipe. I have made this several times and it is phenomenally good! The pork simmers slowly in it’s own lard, and the rich fat gives it a toothsomeness that can’t be beat. The OJ works well for caramelizing as well, and adds additional depth to the flavor


pork roast
Food list:

B: baked oatmeal

L: pizza again (leftovers)

D: carnitas, beans, mexican rice, copped veg, home made tortillas

Sabbath Comes ‘Round

We are making bread today, and assorted delicious cook-ahead food to have over the weekend to beat the heat and to avoid cooking on Sabbath proper

Exercise: still T-Tapping, up to 6 minutes now. I am going to try to add a solitary walk to this; iId like to take the Big Dog but there neighbor’s badly behaved dogs make this difficult if not impossible!


b: incredible edible eggs!

L : soup and salad; today tortilla soup. I am soaking beans in the crock pot for tomorrow and the soups next week will more than likely have beans in them! I need some good salad dressings, different from ranch.

d: we are going out!

Making Tex-Mex tonight

Oh, how I love thee, Homesick Texan.  You have made my Tex-Mex world complete.  Sigh. And my behind big and round.
So, we are having cheese enchiladas with chili gravy, Mexican rice, and beans.  These will be lovingly garnished with creme fraiche, avocados, and greens; accompanied by tortilla chips and fresh tomato salsa from tomatoes and peppers from our garden, and washed down with bottles of Negro Modelo beer with lime.  Pure bliss!

The recipes for the chili gravy and Mexican rice are in the recipes section; the chili gravy came from Homesick Texan.
I will try to load the recipes for whatever food I am blissing out on each time, to get that sucker loaded up. I will try to get pics up later as well.

Bought a big bone

That childe of mine and I went to the store last night and bought a Big Bone. A cow’s femur, to be exact.  Bones, yay!  The Old Man promptly sawed it in half per my request so it would both fit in the freezer as well as fit in the stock pot. It will be a big steaming pot of stock this weekend, and then into a big, nourishing pot of soup for the week.  It is SO HARD to find bones in meat here in California, or organ meats that aren’t nasty chicken livers in a plastic tub.  I think it is the growing hispanic population that is bringing the bones back.  A lack of decent bone is probably the reason for the limp spinelessness of the general population in our area, IMHO.

When looking at the Big Bone (ginormous! Huuuge! Holy Cow!) I was instantly reminded of the Near Nude Bourdain pic I posted on a different date.  I think I shall repost Bourdain’s Big Bone in honor of my big Bone.

NSFW Bourdain after the jump

Continue reading Bought a big bone

First Cuppa is the Best, Neh?

I tell ya I loooove coffee.  I am not a complete insufferable coffee snob, like some bloggers out there who feel the compulsion to buy $2000 machines and order green beans on the net and roast them in their oven (or $1000 roasting machine) until first or second crack, but I do like fairly fresh coffee in the bean, usually from Mother Lode Coffee, and grinding it each morning for each cup and running the whole shebang through a french press.  My pref is for light to medium roast coffee, to avoid the “second crack” bitter and burn flavor most prominently featured by large chain coffee vendors.  I loooove Kona coffee, the all time greatest  IMHO, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find, even in the cheapo “less than 10%” field.Oh well, fresh coffee is still good coffee. Bliss.  I allow myself two of these heavenly beverages in the morning, while i troll the net like a fiend first thing in the AM.

Last night the Old Man and I ate out instead of my cooking pork chops. We were supposed to be celebrating the fact that my funders have finally come through with a contract, but other multiple irritating things happened over the course of the day to both of us and it spoiled the air of quiet triumph I was trying to achieve.  We ate at the Peppery Gar and Brill (yes, that is what they call it, snort.)  It is a fairly good trendy local place.  The meals tend to be about the same quality each time, which is a good but not great quality. I had the Tri-tip Red Chile Wrap and fries (ya, I know, the oils! The carbs!) and the Old Man had the baby back ribs.  We also had an order of onion strings as an appetizer (again with the oils! The carbs!)  Notes on food: Cook your strings longer!  No one likes doughy faux onion rings, darn it!  And what was with the nibs that passed for fries? Not a one longer than an inch, and some of them were darned flakes.  It is not cool to serve up the bottom of the bag like that.  I tried the Old Man’s ribs, and found them passable, but the chipotle sauce reminded me of jazzed up Ketchup.  Notes about the restaurant: abysmally slow.  Very unusual in this Trendoid the Berberian place. The boozed up football crowd was there at the bar, but not a whole lot of them.  Only 4 tables full, and the service was sloooow.  And hey, owner, tell your waitresses to tone down the hostile when given the “I am irritated that I have been waiting for my drink order to be taken for the last 10 minutes look.” When the waitress sauntered by after a 10 minute absence, I gave her the patented withering look.  She got pissed and pissy with me.  Bye bye tip, lady! (the Old Man left her something.  He is not mean like I am.)

At least the beer that I FINALLY got 15 minutes by my watch after we were seated in an incredibly slow restaurant was good.  A “Black and Tan” from draft Guinness and Bass Ale.  Yum!

I have to go walk one of the devil dogs now.

What’s for dinner this week?

In no particular order:

Lots of pickled veg, fresh from the garden: onion, cukes, peppers, carrots and cabbage (bought those two); sliced marinated tomatoes from the garden, salads with different lettuces and pickled veg (as in lacto fermented).

rib eye steaks with heavy cream and pepper sauce, grilled, with fresh squash and cornmeal fritters (that’s up tonight, I just decided;

a pot of beans that have been sprouted and have a lovely ham hock in ’em, along with hot southern cornbread and cultured butter;

baked chicken drizzled in butter and rosemary from the garden, with the cavity stuffed with onion and sprinkled in sea salt and nice new potatoes and veg again!

pork  chops smothered in a heavy cream/coconut milk based sauce, with mushrooms and onions; mashed potatoes with garlic and cream, more garden veg or salad and “no knead” bread that has soured longer than 24 hours (makes AWESOMe lunch bread with spreads);

“sneaky bastard” meatloaf with hidden organ meats (heart and a touch o’liver) and garlicky mashed potatoes with cream and butter, more veg from the garden;

Sausages galore, grilled with sourdough bread (along with liverwurst and braunschweiger and sauerkraut, yum!);

deep fried squash from the garden with herbs and cornmeal in the batter;

ham and cheese omelets with potato latkes and toast from no-knead bread;

watermelon and cantaloupe by the bowl;

blackberry cobbler, with blackberries straight from the back yard;

a pot roast and veg cooked in the crock pot from the “Full Moon Feast” cookbook recipe, which is one of the best I have ever had;

and finally, copious amounts of beer, which I will review as I go along.

It is going to be a delish week!

9 Crazy Women in a Beach-front Condo

Well, folks, I will be gone for the next couple of days to a beach-front condo at Lake Tahoe, celebrating the birthdays of my friend, my daughter and my niece.  It will be a weekend of drunken debauchery and will be blessed by copious amounts of good food and beer.  I am the primary cook for the trip (shock shock) and will try and get a couple of canned posts lined up through Saturday to talk about the menus, etc.  We are having Tex-Mex one night (oh, sweet sweet juicy carnitas, my love, my light…I will be cramming it in with both fists, I tell ya.) with carnitas, bean, rice, these nifty uncooked tortillas we picked up this week at Costco, cortido, and good beer; one night will be Italiano of sorts with a Fettuccini Alfredo that uses TWO ENTIRE STICKS OF BUTTER and A PINT OF HEAVY CREAM, lol, along with chicken and veg, and one night is old fashioned BBQ of hamburgers, sausages, and fresh salads of one variety or another, all washed down with 6 different kinds of Sam Adams beer 😉  Man, o Man, this is gonna be good!

Sabbath Traditions

Friday night is our holy night around here and we keep it as such.  Although we have no formal religious tradition here my husband grew up in a household that respected a “special” day of the week and found that it helps to transition into the weekend by leaving work and the secular world behind and opening way to sacred home time. So, I clean up, light the candles and incense, we have a nice meal, and have Sabbath pie 😉

Ahh, Friday.  I just can’t get enough.

This week’s Sabbath pie: I am thinking chocolate crème. Dinner: beef shanks. Note: I get my beef shanks along with other really amazing cuts of meat at Barendregt’s in Jamestown.  The shanks are lovely and thick, very meaty.  My other favorite place to get meat is Angels Food Market for Creekstone Beef.  I have been meaning to purchase some Table Mountain local beef from Hurst Ranch, also in Jamestown.  I heard something about the Hursts taking over Rawhide meats; I will do some investigational work this weekend and report back!

Recipe here from the Weston A Price website.

Braised Beef Shanks

4 pieces center-cut beef shank, about 2 inches thick
1/2 cup beef tallow or lard
2 cups peeled and cut carrots
2 cups peeled and cut onions
1 tablespoon mixed dry peppercorns
2 large bay leaves
2 quarts filtered water
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup balsamic vinegar
several sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
sea salt to taste

Remove shanks from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Place the stockpot over high heat, add the tallow or lard and when a drop of water sizzles vigorously in the hot fat, begin searing the meat on both sides until nicely browned. Add the peppercorns while searing, since the heat will bring out a desirable nutty flavor. Place the vegetables in the pan with the meat to coat them with fat, and then pull the meat away from the bottom of the pan so that the vegetables can soften and brown. To the stockpot add the balsamic vinegar and a mixture of the water and the tomato paste. Bring to a gentle boil then immediately reduce to a slow simmer. Using a ladle or spoon, skim any foam from the top of the stock and discard. Add the thyme and bay leaves.

Allow to simmer very slowly, covered, 3-4 hours until the meat is tender and almost ready to fall apart. Remove the meat to a platter or baking dish; then strain the stock through a sieve and return the stock to the pot with the garlic. Let the stock reduce for about 1/2 hour by boiling gently, uncovered. Meanwhile, gently remove unwanted tissue from between the nuggets of meat (but don’t scrape off the beautiful, shiny coating of gelatin that will tend to remain on each piece).

Return the meat and bones to the baking dish, cover and keep warm. Continue to skim any foam from the top of the stock. Once the stock thickens and becomes a sauce, carefully season to taste with sea salt.

Arrange a shank bone on each plate with the nuggets of meat placed around it. The marrow will be present in the center of the bone for those who appreciate this delicacy. Pour the sauce over the meat. Serve with buttery mashed potatoes and oven-roasted carrots and leeks. (You may also wish to serve toasted sourdough bread on the side, to spread the marrow on.) Garnish with a sprig of fresh parsley