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 😉

Wherein I make a mess outta the kitchen


I like to make soup a couple of times in the week for lunch and to add to dinner. Today I was working on tortilla soup but was distracted by chasing a pooping Pit Bull puppy: she ate an entire tube of raw chorizo that my (adult) son left sitting on the couch and it caused a regrettable mess. Phew. The puppy is feeling better now that she has it all out of her system but it took a long time to clean up. In that time my soup runneth over. It does not help that 1. the pot was too small; 2. the heat was on too high, and 3. it was left unattended.

The mess was even larger than what shows in the pic. It also ran down onto the floor in a giant puddle. Sigh. I was able to salvage the soup after I cleaned up the mess. Hurray!

Tortilla soup in three ways: I can make this will all fresh ingredients, or all canned prep ingredients, or a mixture.

4 cups chicken stock (or two aseptic packs, or three cans)

1-2 cups diced cooked chicken (or a couple of cans of chicken, or scraps from cooking stock, your pref)

1 chopped onion

a clove or two of garlic

1 tbs chili powder

1 tbs paprika (I love paprika, go by what you like)

1/2- 1 tps cumin (to taste: this stuff can overpower a dish)

1/4 cup of grits, polenta or cornmeal

1-2 cups cooked beans (leftovers or canned, however much you like)

1 can of tomatoes with chilis (can be without chilis but I like ’em)

optional: 1/2 cup of uncooked or cooked rice

a mix of whatever you like out of the following:

canned corn, green beans, canned carrots, fresh carrots, celery, bell peppers (i never use bells for this) hot peppers, chili peppers; just use what your family likes

Cook until everything is soft (esp if you use uncooked rice)

Serve topped with shredded cheese, crumbled bits of tortilla chips, sour cream, green onions, olives: again whatever your pref.

Making Your Own Chicken Feed

Really, it is more mixing your own mixed chicken feed from a both commercial and home grown sources.


Weston Price friendly, anti-soy (yay); I grow a lot of what is needed in our yard. I am working on Bio-intensive gardening schemes; planting about 60% of the arable land in nitrogen fixers and/or compost crop that can be tilled under (grains, cowpeas, vetch, you name it. Some I can eat, some the chickens can eat.) or cut off and composted and 30-40% of the balance either in vegetables or fallow. I sowed a lot of oats and wheat this year, with the vetch , clover, and alfalfa. I am thinking about adding field peas. I need to find some good information on companion planting and rotation for plants that will keep me from planting stuff that won’t grow due to what grew there the year before. So much to learn, so little time! I want to be free of as many outside “inputs” as possible so I can grow without having to rely on commercial products.

I have really kicked up the idea of a fall garden and the planting of certain items that keep in cool storage (root cellar) so I won’t have to can much. I won’t be able to do much this year but I have some long term plans for year ’round gardening that will hopefully bear fruit!

Some blog changes

I am going to move stuff around on the blog now that I have it stable again. I am going to re-add all my recipes and pictures from the past and now that I’ve found all my old blog posts I am going to start moving them on here one at a time. So sign up for the rss feed to get notified as things publish. I also plan on doing a large photo project out and about in our county and interviewing local foodies. Should be interesting!

Buffalo Chicken dip

buffalo chicken dip

I found a new keeper appetizer recipe today! It’s called Buffalo Chicken dip and wow, is it good! One of my favorite dishes in the world is Buffalo Chicken wings, home made with loads of bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks: don’t forget the chips, salsa and beer! This recipe is a take on that great dish, but made into an appetizer-dip instead.

I saw the original recipe on “Mennonite Girls Can Cook” and knew I HAD to try it but being an inveterate tinker I made some adjustments.
Here is the original recipe:

And here is what I did.

I made fried chicken last night in the fry daddy; we cooked the chicken in lard utilizing Alton’s method for coating chicken: dry/wet/dry with flour, egg and milk wash, then flour again. Good stuff, it is. Here is the pic I posted on Facebook last night after the frying:

chicken dinner

I had a few pieces of uncooked chicken that I stored in the fridge overnight intending to cook today, so that’s where I started. I fired up the fry-daddy and dipped then cooked the chicken until crispy. While the chicken was cooking, I grabbed a box of cream cheese, a cup of sour cream, some bleu cheese crumbles, Monterrey Jack cheese, and the Frank’s Hot Sauce and mixed them together. The cream cheese mixes best if it has time to sit out and warm up. When the chicken finished cooking (a fat thigh, BTW. I like thighs rather than breast meat) I shredded it and added it to the cheese mixture. I scraped it into my favorite dip pan and baked it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. My goodness! I left out the celery as I like to eat dip straight off the stick. I tried it with tortilla chips *gasp at the goodness* and crackers as well. All three were great. I am going to add this to my stable of dips for when we are feasting.
Now how am I going to stay out of it all day. Wait, I know. I will bake gingerbread cake today in preparation for the Sabbath! Oh, and Challah as well. Additionally I am starting a pot of chili for chili-stuffed baked potatoes with cheese, sour cream and onions for dinner tonight, plus the usual Sabbath prep cleaning and some work-work I have to finish today to make my deadline. Busy day! That will keep me busy. And hungry. Guess it’s a good thing I made dip for breakfast!

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?

Dreaming of hot springs again

I really really really want to get away and go soak for a while. Here are some pics:

Me in the Travertine Hot Springs at Bridgeport

travertine3 me

Ari and Shelly at another part of the Travertine:

Shelly and Arielle in the Travertine


This is Hot Creek, with Shelly and Ari in good hot water:

shelly-ari hot creek

This is outside Keough Hot Springs in Bishop

wild keough
wild keough

Here are a couple of pics inside Keough Hot Springs itself: