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Bear. Not-Bear.

I recently came into possession of some burger meat from a bear.  My uncle Art went bear hunting this year and he managed to get one.  For a man who usually doesn’t say a lot, he was sure talkative when the subject came up.  In fact, he’s the one who brought it up.  Also, it was his idea for me to take home a couple of packages of bear meat.  He kept telling me that he was planning on turning all of it into summer sausage, but once he fried some up, he decided that it was too good to turn into sausage.  Along with the meat came the warning that it was a very lean meat, so I should be careful when cooking it so it doesn’t burn.  And that I needed to cook it all the way through because there is a risk of trichinosis.  Between Art and Mom, I got this information about a dozen times.  Of course I remembered all of this from the last time that I had bear, approximately 20 years ago (the last time Art shot one).  Crap.  I’m getting old.

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Bear is a very red meat.

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These beef, i.e. “not-bear,” patties look very pale in comparison.

I didn’t do anything fancy with the bear meat.  I just formed patties and fried them up.  The reasoning was that I wanted to try it again with no alterations.  Also, we had a bunch of people over that wanted to try it for the first time, so I decided they should try it unadorned.  The beef I did a la Karen Burger style.

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I think there should be a picture of the bear patties frying. Therefore, there is a picture of bear patties frying.

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Frying the other side.

Once both the bear and not-bear were fried up, they looked a lot alike:

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I was trying to do an “artistic” shot here with the not-bear.

Once I had everything ready for supper, I stepped into the living room to let everyone know that the food was ready.  In an apparently futile attempt to streamline the process, I had the meat separated into two different (and distinct) bowls.  I held one up and said “Bear,” and then held the other bowl up and said “Not-bear.”  I then had to explain it again thirty seconds later when they stepped into the dining room.

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The crew chowing down on bear burgers and watching Big Bang Theory.
(L to R) Lindz, Matt, Sheryl, Dave, John, and Janessa’s foot.

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Since Janessa didn’t fit in the previous shot, she gets her own picture. Well, that and she always has the greatest facial expressions.

Since you’ve read this far, I should actually tell you about the flavor of bear.  The steak that I had twenty years ago was very sweet.  I know that sounds odd, but that was the dominant flavor.  It was by far the richest piece of meat that I had ever eaten, before or since.  It was only about a 8 oz steak and I was a teenage farm boy, nevertheless I could barely finish the thing because of how intense the flavor was.  The best way that I can describe the sweetness is to liken the taste to beef with a berry sauce.  Not 100% accurate, but it should at least point you in the right direction.  This is what I was expecting when I was frying up the burgers.  I have to admit I was a bit disappointed when I tried the burgers.  It had a lovely game flavor (you definitely knew you weren’t eating beef), but it was lacking in the rich, intensity that I was searching for.  Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it immensely and I’m plotting to swipe another package over Christmas.

Gotta Love a Girl in Uniform

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Sexy Lady!

 

Lindz has been putting in a few hours at the Seminary kitchen for some extra cash.  Gotta say, she looks good doing it.

Categories: family, misc, Uncategorized Tags:

Condolence Chili

Our friend Dave made this recipe for us when Lindz found out that she didn’t get into any of the Ph.D. programs she applied to.  Which in hindsight was a good thing, but that is another story.

A handful of months go by and Lindz wants to make some soup because our friends Paul and Jill are coming over for the evening.  Lindz decided to make chili and got the recipe from Dave.  By some freak coincidence, this happened to be the day that Alice had passed away.  Earlier in the day, Lindz got all the ingredients necessary, so I decided that we might as well make the chili since we still wanted Paul and Jill to come over.

Our track record with the chili is 2 crappy times out of 2 times eaten.  I dubbed this recipe Condolence Chili because of this record and the fact that it’s good enough to distract you (even for a little bit) from your sorrows.  It’s best eaten with some really good friends.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lbs of Ground Meat (we used Chorizo with the cases cut off)
  • a 28 oz can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 3 15 oz cans Beans (we used Black Beans, but feel free to mix them up a bit, i.e. black, pinto, navy, etc.)
  • 2 Chipolte Chilis in Ancho Sauce
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbs Oil
  • large Onion, medium dice
  • Cumin
  • Chili Powder
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced

Put the tomatoes, beans (drained and rinsed), chipotle chilis, sugar, and 1/2 tsp of salt in a large stockpot and bring to a simmer.  Continue to simmer until needed at the end.  Heat 2 Tbs of oil in a large skillet over med high heat and add the onion, chili powder, cumin (both to taste, about a Tbs each), and the remaining 1/4 tsp salt.  Mix well and cook until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.  Increase the heat to med high and add the ground meat.  Break it up as it cooks and cook it until it is no longer pink.

I know it sounds weird, but I find browning meat relaxing. Maybe it has something to do with the smell.

Transfer the meat/onion mixture to the stockpot and bring back to a simmer.  Let this cook for a minimum of 15 minutes.  Taste, adjust the seasonings, and serve.  Like any soup or stew, the longer you let it simmer, the better the flavors will blend.

As usual, I serve chili with grated cheese, diced onions, and sour cream on the side so people can add what they like.  I personally add them all.

This is a welcome sight no matter what else is going on in your life.

With cornbread as the obvious number one choice, what is the next best thing to go with chili?  That’s right, garlic bread!  Lindz talked me into making it the way I did when we lived back in Decorah.  Not that it took any convincing to get me to do it.

Ingredients:

  • loaf of French Bread
  • 2 sticks of Butter (yup, that’s a half of a pound), softened
  • 2 4-4.5 oz jars of Minced Garlic

Slice the bread horizontally down the center (or into 1″ rounds).  Spread a stick of butter on each half and then a jar of garlic on each half.  Hey, I never said this was a healthy recipe.

You maybe having a knee-jerk reaction to the amount of butter and garlic. But don’t knock it until you try it. I’ve gotten very good reviews.

Place the bread on a baking sheet and put into a preheated oven (at 375 degrees) for about 20 minutes.  I’m not actually sure about the time, I just check it every five or so minutes.  Pull it out of the oven when the bread is golden brown and toasted.

This is a very effective anti-vampire recipe. I haven’t seen one since I’ve been eating this.

Jill is a master of lettuce salads.  This time she brought over one that contained apples, raisins, feta cheese, and a mustard vinaigrette.  It had a nice blend of flavors with the crisp apples, sharp feta, the sweetness of the raisins, and a nice tang of mustard and vinegar.

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Even if you don’t like rabbit food, you should try this flavor combo.

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This is Jill. This is a glass of wine. This is Jill with a glass of wine.

Brunch with Friends

It’s like the game Words with Friends except that they have nothing in common.

This past summer, Lindz and I, met up with some friends (Jess, Jay, and little Penny) in Rochester.  We decided to go get the Sunday brunch at Chester’s and catch up on life.  I’ve never eaten there before and based on Jess and Jay’s recommendations, I went with the Prime Rib Hash.

Now this is what I call a proper brunch dish.

Like any proper hash, it consists of potatoes, veggies, eggs, and meat.  What Chester’s does is step everything up a notch.  They use fresh veggies, a nice cut of meat (prime rib), they poach the eggs, and top everything with a hollandaise sauce.  Plus two pieces of multi-grain toast.  Yes, it was as tasty as it looks.

I didn’t get pictures of the other items ordered (I know, shame on me).  But I’ll give you a brief description of each.  Jess ordered the prime rib hash like I did, so nothing more on that.  Jay ordered huevos rancheros with poached eggs.  It contained refried beans, chorizo, salsa, queso fresca, and of course, some toast.  He said it was pretty decent, but I got the impression that in the back of his mind, he was figuring out how to make it better.  The curse of being a chef.  I thought Lindz got biscuits and gravy, but I’m not finding it on the menu.  So, I guess I’ll just leave what she ate as a mystery.  I do remember her saying that it was good.

Putting everyone’s responses together, the review of Chester’s is that it is a good place to eat.  The food is definitely above average, but there is room for improvement.  Granted that is nit-picking the recipes tied in with the fact that we didn’t have to take out a second mortgage to pay for it either.  Making a short review even longer, I recommend going there.  It had a nice relaxed atmosphere with good, quality food.

Finally, as promised . . .

I am writing about the mysterious kale salad that I keep mentioning.

A green on green salad. Worth the wait, huh?

I got the recipe from one of my favorite food-blogs.  Right now, the blog is going through a little identity crisis, but the writing is still top-notch.  You can find the original recipe here (in the comment section) at The Pete Is On.  I have no idea who Pete is, but I find him very entertaining, and our culinary curiosity is freakishly in step.  If you like reading my posts, you’ll love reading his.  Seriously, go check him out.  I’ll wait.

You did just go look at Pete’s blog, right?  OK.  I’ll believe you, but only this once.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bundle Kale
  • 1/3 cup Tamari Soy Sauce
  • 1/3 cup Lemon Juice
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Red Onion
  • 1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds (shelled)
  • 1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds (shelled)
  • Alfalfa Sprouts to taste
  • diced Avocado

Mix the soy sauce and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk in oil slowly.  Slice onions thinly into half moons and put them into the dressing while you make the salad.  Toast the nuts in a dry skillet.  Do the nuts separately because they cook at different speeds.  Remove the stems from the kale and then chiffonade the leaves and slice the stems into a bite size pieces.  Add the dressing (except the onions) to the kale and massage with your hands until softened (about a minute).  Add the onion, nuts, and sprouts and toss briefly to cover with dressing.  Finally, add the avocado and serve.

When I’ve made it, I substitute almond slices and pine nuts in for the pumpkin and sunflower seeds.  Also, I don’t put in any alfalfa sprouts.  The first time I made it, I did put in avocado, but I’ve done it without, and it still tastes great.  It’s a very solid recipe and can handle any messing around with the ingredients with ease.

If you’ve tried kale before and have been turned off by it’s bitter taste, you should still try this recipe.  The dressing (I’m assuming the olive oil / lemon juice) tempers that bitterness quite well.

In the interest in full disclosure, I did get some “eh” reviews on it from my family.  But they didn’t spit it out immediately, so that’s good.  Even with the occasional lackluster enthusiasm, I’m going to making this salad a lot.

Grandma Alice

Been avoiding this for a while now.

Lindz’s Grandma Alice passed away on the 4th.  It was extremely unexpected.  From what the paramedics and Kirk (Lindz’s dad) could tell, she did her usual morning routine, poured herself a cup of coffee, and sat down in front of the TV to watch Cash Cab.  When Kirk stopped by later in the afternoon and found her, she was still sitting in her chair, no longer with us.

Alice and Burt’s Wedding in 1950.

I’ve known her for only the last 6 years, but she became an important part of my life.  Her place was a regular stop whenever we would go to Rochester and visit Lindz’s folks.  No matter when we would stop by (even out of the blue) she was always happy to see her favorite granddaughter and grandson-in-law.  Yup, we were the only granddaughter and grandson-in-law.  She liked her ha-ha moments.

During the cold months, Alice would work on her jigsaw puzzles in the sun porch.  It would take her a while to put them together because she didn’t always get the pieces right.  So myself or Kyle (Lindz’s brother) would go through and pull apart whatever didn’t work.  She didn’t mind, but she could still crank through several each winter.

When she wasn’t doing her puzzles, she was usually reading her books.  She was a very frequent visitor to the library.  She would occasionally complain (at least to us)  if they didn’t have what she wanted in the large print.  Though they usually did have a copy, or would find her one.  It was really touching that the library sent a condolence card.

Of course, this is all secondary to when her “little hooligans” were over.  Kirk and Denise have two English Setters, Ty and Rose, and the dogs would go over to Alice’s for doggy-daycare.  This used to be more frequent, back when Kirk was still teaching.  Alice spoiled those dogs like nothing else.  It got to the point where the dogs wouldn’t eat regular jelly.  They had to have orange marmalade on their breakfast toast when they went over to Grandma’s.  I know the puppies ate more of her supper than she did.  Alice and the dogs didn’t mind, but it needled Kirk because the dogs kept gaining weight and his mom wasn’t.

The whole Colwell clan: Denise, Kirk, Alice, Kyle, Me, and Lindz. The two hooligans, Rose and Ty, are in front.

Alice’s “grandkids:” (L to R) Jadea, Raeya, Jessie, Lindz, yours truly, Kyle, and Jessica.  Granted half of the group are grandnieces, but Alice always thought of them as her own.

Of the many tasty things that Alice cooked, this was probably my favorite. Good ol’ chipped beef. Nothing fancy, just plain good.  And no lumps.  🙂

Alice was fond of telling people how she got her name.  She was the youngest of 13 and after she was born, her dad, John, decided that it was enough kids and said “das ist alles.”  Which translates from German as “that is all.”  So it was decided that she should be called Alice.  Both Alice and I loved a good play on words, so, for you Alice, I’m signing off with “und das ist alles.”

Czeck-Mass (not to be confused with Czeck-mas)

My family is Catholic (with the stray Lutheran or two), so when my Grandfather Mike passed away back in ’76, a mass was said for him.  That has turned into a yearly tradition which has been going strong ever since.  As other relatives have passed away over the years, they have been added to the remembrance.

The mass is held at my parent’s church (which also used to be my grandparents) and afterwards, everyone heads over to the farm to BS and eat lunch.  So I thought it would be fitting to use this as a post on the one year (-ish) anniversary of starting this blog.  The reasoning is pretty simple.  Family gatherings like these have been a major influence on my life, both culinarily and communally.  I look forward to this event each and every year because it’s one of the few times that I get to see a large portion of my family.  That and the food.  The Czecks love to eat.  And they love to eat good food.

As usual, Mom set out some munchies for when people showed up. In this case, mixed nuts, candy corn, butter mints, and coffee.

I just want to point out that the food has been scaled back significantly as the years have gone by.  The food this year completely covered the kitchen table and the desserts took up a decent portion of a counter.

Okay, this is going to take awhile. Starting upper left and working counter clockwise around the perimeter of the table: bread / dinner rolls, pasta salad, veggie pizza, a creamy pasta salad, cottage cheese, wild rice salad, and roast pheasant. The inside loop consists of cheese, bread and butter pickles, watermelon, and kale salad.

As noted in a previous post, my nephew Cole helped me make a kale salad (I really promise this post is coming soon).  My aunt Rosie (and hubby Gary) went to the State Fair this year and she sat through a twenty minute demonstration in order to get this wild rice salad recipe (at least I think this is the recipe).  I’m glad she was patient because it was very good.  It had avocado, steak, wild rice, and all sorts of other goodies in it.  One of my other aunties, Mary Ann, had a freezer full of pheasant, so she used this opportunity to get rid of some of it.  Much to everyone’s delight I might add.  She fried off the pieces, made a pan gravy, and finished it off in the crockpot.  She had some of the younger kids come up to her and tell her how good it was.  It was really cute.  Some of those kids have never had pheasant before.  It warmed my heart that they were willing to try something completely new and even more that they liked it.

Now this is looking the opposite way down the table. Here I’m just going to list the things not previously listed. A veggie tray, sausages, another pasta salad, and ham

Mom was the one who made the sausages.  She picked up five pounds of the polish at Thielen’s (as usual) and it all disappeared by the time everyone was through eating.  It really is that good.  I can’t talk up that meat locker enough.

The good stuff! Michelle kept everyone happy and made an apple coffee cake. I’m not sure what kind of pie, but I would hazard a guess of apple.

I think there may have been a riot if my sis, Chell, didn’t make coffee cake.  (I’ve posted the recipe before.)  I don’t even care that she didn’t make the poppy seed version because she sent a whole apple one home with Lindz and me.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m very easily bribed with food.  It’s even easier when it’s really good homemade food.

Popcorn balls drizzled with chocolate and chocolate chip bars.

I was joking with my cousin Jon about the popcorn balls that he brought.  I asked him if he was trying to class up the Czeck gatherings by drizzling chocolate over them.  He just smiled sheepishly and chuckled.  Good enough of an answer because they were a chocolate-caramel delight.

They may be adults, but Sara, Jill, and Jon still ended up at the kid’s table. That’s one problem with being the “babies” of the family. Of course, they may have been entertaining Mason (his mom, Kathy is watching from the back).

Lindz catching up with Dad’s two younger sisters, Rosie and Annette.

Dave, Dad, Bea, Kyle, and Janey talking and eating. As it should be.

Mary Ann eating and keeping Mom company while she fusses around in the kitchen.

I’ve tried for years to get Mom to sit down, relax for a minute, and grab a bite to eat.  But she is having none of it.  At this point, I ask the token question of if she needs help and then let her do her thing.  For the record, I do gladly help when she asks for it.

As a final note, I am endlessly amused watching people on the farm.  It started out many years ago with my cousins.  They would run around like wild animals crawling over the hay bales, running through the woods, sitting on the tractors, chasing the cats, mooing at the cows, and spooking the chickens.  Or what I would call a normal day.  Now that my cousins are older and have kids of their own, I get to watch the next generation do the same thing.  And you know what?  It still hasn’t gotten old.

The two that started all of this: Grandpa Mike and Grandma Rose (circa 1971)

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: , ,

Finally made it to Kieran’s

Our friend, Narren, was up here in the Cities for a conference last week.  Being the good friend he is, he called us wondering if we wanted to get together for supper one night.  Our answer was “Well, duh.”  After winding our way through the maze of one-ways in downtown Minneapolis, we found Narren waiting outside of his hotel for us.  Once he hopped in the car, his first question was “Where are we going?”  Yeah, this wasn’t helpful.  Lindz and I rarely go to downtown, so it’s practically a foreign country to us.  So we found a parking ramp a little farther down the road and figured that was a good starting point.  After walking around for just a bit, we discovered that we were right by the hotel where Lindz and I had our “stay-cation” (a post that is coming soon, i.e. as soon as I remember to get some pics from Lindz’ computer).  At this point Lindz suggested going to Kieran’s Pub, neither Narren or I could come up with any reason not to, so that is where we ended up.

I’ve never been to Kieran’s, but I’ve heard about it constantly from friends who work downtown, as well as ones who like to frequent pubs.  I haven’t heard a bad review, and after visiting, I can see why.  Since we went on a Tuesday, it wasn’t very busy at all, which is exactly the way I like it.  We were seated immediately and promptly placed our drink order.  Both Narren and I decided to go with the June beer special: Brooklyn Lager.

Yes, we were sitting right by this sign. So I took it as a sign that I should have some.

I was amused by the “Pre-Prohibition Style” tagline.

As far as food, I couldn’t resist going with the fish and chips.  After all, we were in an Irish pub.  Also, it is one of those dishes that I use to determine the quality of a place.  I use dishes that are deceptively simple to prepare, but if it’s done right, it’s wonderful.  If it’s not done right, well, you can tell immediately.  In other words, there really isn’t a middle ground for taste.  The result?  Kieran’s passed with flying colors.  Easily one of the top 3 places where I’ve had fish and chips here in the Cities.  I took the walleye option over the cod.  No particular reason, just the way my whim was pointing at that moment.  As a added bonus, I didn’t even need to ask for malt vinegar.  They just assumed that I wanted it because everyone should eat it this way.  I love it!

Happiness on a plate.

Sometimes you have really work for your food.

Ringer loves my Mom’s homemade sauerkraut.  She’s bugged me so often about swiping her a jar, Mom will just send one with me for her.  The catch is that when you reuse the rings (the part that holds down the canning lids), they can get a bit rusty.  When that happens, it can be a bit tricky to get it open.  We tried everything to get it opened.  Running it under hot water, tapping it, brute strength, and passing it back and forth to try something else.  I’m convinced it was sheer willpower that opened it.  Of course, Ringer maintains that she loosened it for me.

Not surprisingly, Lindz was laughing at us the whole time it took us to get it open.

Categories: family Tags: ,