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Archive for September, 2012

RI: Heading Home

This post is really just to put a bookend on the whole Rhode Island adventure.  The trip home was mostly uneventful and I covered all the non-Minnesotan things in the Eastbound post.

The two things that happened of note is that Lindz’s Corolla tried to take me out with a hubcap when I was following her.  It was my turn to drive the guys’ car, Matt was playing around on his phone in the passenger seat, and Dave was in back dozing off.  They both came quickly to attention when I yelled out “Oh, Crap!” (this may have been edited to keep it around a PG level) and the hubcap bounced in front of us and then rolled on by.  There was a bit of confusion when we used the walkie-talkie to ask the girls if they ran over a hubcap.  And then more confusion when we said that Lindz lost one.  Apparently we didn’t make it clear that we didn’t want to turn around and find it, we just wanted to make sure they weren’t going to blow a tire.

Did you know that Toyota wants $80 for a replacement hubcap? They must be really proud of those plastic disks.

The other thing is that we passed through a beautiful storm front in western Wisconsin.

This picture really doesn’t do the front any justice. The thin sliver of white stretched from horizon to horizon and was as sharp as a razor.

And finally after another two days and 1400 miles worth of travel, we all were safe and sound back in St. Paul.  The end.

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Categories: misc, travel Tags: , , ,

RI: Shady Harbor

While staying at the beach house, we pretty much took it easy and really didn’t wander around too much.  But we did get around the neighborhood a little bit.  The very first day we were there, three of us went out for a spin around the salt pond.  Dave took the kayak, and Matt and I took the canoe.

Growing up in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes, you would think that I would be a decent swimmer. Nope. I swim about as well as a rock. Hence, the life vest.

Except for the salt water, this could be any number of lakes that I’ve fished as a kid. Beautiful view.

One morning during the week, Matt made us breakfast sandwiches.  They were way better than any I’ve had at a restaurant.  Boy’s got some skills.

Yes, I scarfed down half the sandwich before it occurred to me to take the picture. Yes, I’m aware that I’m having a Coke with breakfast, and yes, I know that it’s bad for me.

On our final full day there, it was my last chance to take a walk around the neighborhood.  Dave had taken off early that morning to get his car emissions tested for NY and to spend a little time with his family.  So Matt, Janessa, Lindz, and I took a walk around.  Other than the lilies, I have no idea what most of these flowers are, I just know that they are pretty and I wanted a picture of them.

This one I’m calling the “pretty little purple one.”

Like I said, I know the lilies.

This is “the little blue rimmed ones.”

Another lily. There were a lot of them around.  As a side note, I was playing around with the depth of field on this picture.  I think it turned out great.

A nice bunch of red roses.  Mom would be envious.

“The pretty purple ones all in a row.” Again, playing around with the camera on this picture.

This one I’ve dubbed “the big lavender ones.” I love the blue sky in the background here. It really makes the flower stand out.
I’ve just been informed by Dave that these are Ragusas, a.k.a. Beach Roses

This one is “by far my favorite.” I don’t know how they bred this color in a lily, but I love it.

Oh, I really should show you a picture standing on the beach right by the house.

One of the features on my new toy lets me take panoramic shots. Have I mentioned how much I love it? Especially how much I love Lindz for figuring out how to pay for it?

Czeck-Mass

So this past Sunday was the annual gathering of the Czecks for the Mass said in remembrance of our deceased relatives.  I’ll have more on that later.  But since my Aunt Janey was giving me crap about being so far behind in my posts, I thought I would put up a picture from Saturday.

Aw, cute.

My nephew, Cole, wanted to help me cook something for when people came over the next day.  Lindz and I were mean and made him finish his homework before he could help.  Once he was done, he and I started making a kale salad (again, more on that later).  Somewhere in the process, Lindz took a picture of us working.  Cole was a bit ambivalent about the final product, but I think it’s a great salad.  Although, he did enjoy the toasted nuts that went into it.  I had to tell him repeatedly to either eat the whole salad or stop picking the nuts out.  Eventually he listened.

I’m thinking we try something more complicated next time.

Categories: family, misc, party, supper Tags: , ,

RI: Saltimbocca

The one non-seafood meal (other than lunch / snacks) that I planned for the trip was one that had caught my eye about a week before we took off East.  I had a hard time believing that I could be led astray with chicken, sage, and prosciutto.  Not surprisingly, I found the recipe in my copy of the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook.  Yup.  Love that cookbook.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C unbleached AP Flour
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • 8 thin-cut, boneless, skinless chicken cutlets (about 2 lbs), trimmed of ragged edges
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh Sage leaves, plus 8 large leaves
  • 8 thin slices of Prosciutto, cut into 5″ to 6″ long pieces to match chicken (about 3 oz)
  • 4 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 1/4 C White Wine
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 4 Tbs Unsalted Butter, cut into 4 pieces and chilled
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh Parsley Leaves
  • Salt

Salty-hamy goodness.

The this-n-that which fills out the ingredient list.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 200 degrees.  Combine flour and 1 teaspoon pepper in a shallow dish.

There really is no purpose to this picture. It’s just flour and pepper, but I bothered to snap a picture, so I’m bothering you by putting it here.

Pat the cutlets dry with paper towels.

Another pointless photo. This time it’s chicken breasts cut in half. Ooh!

Dredge the chicken in the flour and shake off any excess.  Lay the cutlets flat and sprinkle evenly with the minced sage.  Place one slice of prosciutto on top of each cutlet, pressing lightly to adhere and set aside.

This picture, which actually serves a purpose, I almost forgot to take it! Hence, the one corner of prosciutto that is folded up.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer.  Add the sage leaves to the skillet and cook until the leaves begin to change color and are fragrant, about 15 to 20 seconds.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the sage to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.  Add half of the cutlets to the pan, prosciutto-side down, and cook until light golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.  Flip and cook on the other side until golden brown, about 2 minutes more.  Transfer the chicken to a wire rack (set on a rimmed baking sheet) and keep it warm in the oven.  Repeat with the two remaining tablespoons of oil and cutlets.  Transfer these to the oven as well to keep warm while preparing the sauce.

One big tray of happiness right out of the oven.

Pour off the excess fat from the skillet and stir in the white wine, scraping up the fond.  Simmer until it reduces to about 1/3 cup, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice and turn the heat to low and whisk in the butter, one tablespoon at a time.  Off heat, stir in the parsley and season with the salt and pepper.  Remove the chicken from the oven and place on a platter.  Spoon the sauce over the cutlets before serving.

This is a great buttery pan sauce.  And surprisingly, fairly light.

The one glaring mistake that I made was using too much sage.  While in the process of making it, I knew I was using far more than the recipe called for, but I went ahead with it because I bought a package of fresh sage specifically for it.  The other option was to throw it away.  I should have went with my first instinct and follow the recipe.  Other than that, I think it turned out really well.  With the cost of ingredients, I’m not going to be making this all the time, but I would like to make it again in the near future.  Using the proper amount of sage, of course.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled post . . .

. . . to bring you this breaking news story.

I just signed up to be a recipe tester for Cook’s Illustrated.  They are going to e-mail me a recipe every so often, I’ll make it and then fill out a short survey afterwards.  I’m excited about this because I’ve always thought it would be a blast to work for the America’s Test Kitchen company.  At this point in my culinary adventures, I’m more than happy to be connected on a voluntary basis.  Will keep you updated as things progress.

RI: Clambake

My primary goal for the trip was to eat myself stupid with seafood, and up to this point in the trip, I think I was doing pretty well.  My secondary goal was to do a proper New England clambake.  Not surprisingly, everyone was on board with this decision.

I originally wanted to do the whole dig a pit, throw in some coals, seaweed, seafood and stuff, cover it with a tarp, wait a bit, and enjoy.  But that idea died quickly when we checked the rules for the beach and no form of flame was allowed.  So, off to the stove-top!  Well, eventually.  Gotta get the stuff first.

We stopped by a small place to purchase our seafood.  They had a modest, but good quality, selection of bivalves.  The lobsters were divided into different clothes baskets according to their weight.  We bought two one-pound-and-a-halfers, but they did have one monster of bug.  Our best guess is that it weighed in around five pounds and covered half of the bottom of a clothes basket.

You’re looking at around a $50 lobster.

We were laughing at Janessa because she wanted to get a picture holding the lobster, but she made Matt take it out of the bag for her. Note the not-so-suppressed look of terror.

Gotta have at least one pic of our hapless victims (while they are still kicking).

Apparently this is a very regional style of sausage. Which is sad because it is a very good tasting one. If you see some, buy it. You won’t be disappointed.

Two pounds each of littleneck clams and mussels.

The recipe for a clambake is really easy.  It sums up as: gather the ingredients, layer them in a huge pot, and cook.  The specifics are as follows:

One pound of sausage, sliced for the bottom layer.

Then the two pounds each of littlenecks and mussels. Cleaned, obviously.

Next, one pound of baby red potatoes. Cut them fairly small because these take the longest to cook. (1″ cubes or smaller)

5 or 6 ears of corn make up the next layer.

Gotta have the obligatory pic of holding one of the lobsters.

Finally on top goes the bugs. The tasty, tasty bugs.

While I was putzing around the kitchen working on the clambake. Dave whipped up a couple of loaves of beer bread. He’s handy that way.

I pulled out the lobsters a little early because the taters were not done and I didn’t want my delicious bugs ending up overcooked.

SQUIRREL!

. Bucket of goodness.

Once everything is layered in the pot, cover, turn the burner to high, and cook for 17 to 20 minutes.  Basically, until your potatoes are tender and the lobsters are bright red.  Everything else will be done by the time these two are ready.

It was decided that the easiest way to divy up the lobster was first to remove all the meat from the shell.  Easier said than done for a couple of novices.

Let the cracking commence . . .

Pulling the meat took a bit of time. In fact, Lindz had time to play around with the new camera and take a few pics.

Yup. Still plugging away at it.

All the meat from the two lobsters. Including some roe.

Terry’s plate before . . .

. . . and Terry’s plate after.

The clambake was a little on the expensive side, but split between five people it was really reasonable.  I don’t know about everyone else, but I had a blast cooking it.  And guessing by how quickly it was devoured, I think that they enjoyed eating it as much as I did.  The lobster did end up slightly overdone, but it still tasted great.  The mussels and clams were the hit of the party though.  Basically it’s hard to screw up really fresh seafood (as long as you don’t overcook it).  The only thing not eaten was some of the sausages and potatoes.

Yup, it was good.

And here is the only picture from the entire trip (about 500 photos) that include all five of us.

RI: Connecticut Tigers Game

All of us are baseball fans to varying degrees (I’m probably the most fair weather fan of the group), so it was a unanimous decision to catch a minor league game while we were out East.  The fact that we got really awesome seats for $10 helped to make the decision even easier.  Since we had a bit of time before the game, we stopped by a small eatery to catch supper.  The Sea Swirl reminded me of a Mom & Pop version of a Dairy Queen that also served a nice variety of seafood.

Famous for clams. They definitely can talk the talk and back it up with walking the walk.

There was a lot of clam strip dinners ordered and all of it consumed.  BTW, there are fries in there somewhere.

The clam strips were quite good.  In fact, I used the tarter sauce for the fries because the clams didn’t need any kind of adornment.

I saw this on a building next to the Sea Swirl. I couldn’t help but wonder what is Mystic Soup? Do witches make it? Inquiring minds want to know!

I tend to get this look a lot. Usually it comes after I say a really bad pun or my dorkiness is running amok.

After we ate (and were incredibly stuffed), we made the short journey to the Senator Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium where the Connecticut Tigers call home.

$10 seats and the only thing between you and home plate is a net!!! Seriously, how awesome is that?

The happy couple.

I did take some pictures during the game, but I won’t bore you with them.  Although, I did get some really cool shots with the continuous shooting mode.  I took a series of photos of each pitcher throwing the ball.  It comes out as a nice slow-motion montage.

The Tigers beat out the Brooklyn Cyclones with a home-field advantage.

Since it was a Friday game, they had fireworks afterwards.  Again, I’m totally in love with my new toy.

Oooooh!

Aaaaaw!

Yeah, the new camera is fun.