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A Pickled Snack

A couple of months ago I had a free weekend, so I decided to head north to visit the fam.  Specifically, to visit Grandma.  She gets lonely sitting in the nursing home even though Mom and everyone else tries to pop in on her as often as they can.  If I’m away too long, Grandma starts to bug Mom about whether I’ve called or not.  So, it just makes everyone’s life easier when Grandma is happy.  I don’t mind though, she keeps me on my toes.

Unfortunately, Lindz wasn’t available for this trip (Grandma wasn’t happy about this, she likes it when Lindz visits).  But just to let Lindz know what she was missing out on (food-wise, that is), I sent her a picture of a snack I cobbled together out of the fridge.

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Food that’ll put hair on your chest: pickled herring and pickled turkey gizzards.

Lindz was amused, she sent back a picture of pizza rolls and juice and told me that I was missing out.  Although, I did get the impression that she didn’t feel like she was missing out on anything with my snack.

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This Entertained Me For Way Longer Than I Would Care To Admit

In the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated (Jan/Feb 2013), they had an article on “Foolproof Soft-Cooked Eggs.”  I’ll save the guts of the article for your own perusal (it’s a good read).  The gist of the article is that the secret is to steam the eggs rather than boil them.

CI did test batches from one to six eggs, and I cooked two and four egg batches.  All of my eggs turned out perfectly.  The only word of caution that they give is to make sure that the eggs have no cracks in them.  I found out the hard way why.  Apparently I didn’t see a hairline crack on one egg and I discovered half of one egg “boiled” out into the pan by the time everything cooked.  The rest of the egg was still edible, but half of it was gone.

You can use this method on one to six eggs, from large through jumbo without altering the timing.

Bring a 1/2″ of water to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Gently place the refrigerator temperature eggs into the pan.  Cover and cook for exactly 6 1/2 minutes.  Remove the cover and run cold water over the eggs for an additional half a minute.  Remove the eggs from the pan and serve.

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Thermodynamics doing its magic to fill my tummy.

It’s surprisingly easy to peel soft-boiled eggs.  Give the broad end a good rap on a hard, flat surface and peel as usual.  I recommend a quick rinse to get any random bits of shell off.

These eggs turned out beautifully and like I said, this entertained me for way longer than I would ever care to admit.

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Can you see why I was enthralled for a whole afternoon?

Spending Some Quality Time Browsing The Gas Station

One of the jobs that we worked on this past summer was just down the block from a gas station.  Sooo, I ended spending more lunch breaks (read money) than usual eating out.  I found a couple of interesting items.

First up is the Mystery Meat:

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It’s usually not a good sign when you can’t even identify the meat particles.  Which probably means it’s the dreaded “pink slime.”

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This was supposed to remind me what flavor I got. Um, yeah.
Pretty sure it was the Cheesy Buffalo Ranch.

The Mystery Meat, a.k.a. Cheesy Buffalo Ranch Roller Bite, wasn’t too bad.  It was a bit heavy on the buffalo sauce flavor.  Come to think of it, that was the only flavor that I remember.  Eh.  I’d eat it again.

The one item that I was very thrilled to find was the Wasabi and Soy Sauce flavored almonds.  They were everything I had hoped for.  Spicy enough that I had to pause every handful or so.  With a nice hint of salty soy sauce in the background.

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If you’re really nosy and can decipher my chicken scratchings, on the right, you can read what we did the previous day.

A Motley Autumnal Conglomerate

I’ve been digging through my backlog of photos and I’ve found a bunch of single random ones that more-or-less fall into the category of “fall harvest.”  So this is going to be a bit of a hodgepodge of a post.  (yeah, somebody’s gotten into the thesaurus again)

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The first snowfall of the year.  The Cities were eerily quiet that day.

Throughout summer and fall, Lindz was making semi-regular stops at the local farmer’s market and on one trip she picked up some gorgeous sweetcorn.

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Still working on “prettyfying” some of my photos.

The most consistent way I’ve found to cook sweetcorn is to get a pot of water boiling, add the corn, and let it come back up to a full boil.  I then let it cook for about a minute and then pull it out.  This way the corn is still nice and juicy but doesn’t taste raw either.

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Juuust about ready to be pulled out, buttered, lightly salted, and devoured.

I think it was the same trip that Lindz also picked up some delightful green beans.  These I steam for about five minutes (checking often) so they come out nice and al dente.  Toss with a pat of butter and a pinch each of salt and pepper.

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I love green beans, even if most people cook them to mush.

I enjoy sausages anytime that I can get my grubby little hands on them, but for whatever reason, I always think of them as cold weather comfort food.  I think they are best with either a spicy mustard or some horseradish (preferably homemade).

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A Hobbit approved snack. Perfect for second breakfast.

My boss, Steve, has really been into canning the last couple of years.  This year he was working on perfecting his pickle recipe.  He found a spicy pickle mix (I think it’s this one) at Mill’s Fleet Farm and gave me a jar to try.  It definitely packed a nice punch of jalapeno with a good and crisp pickle.  It was one of those nice burns that wasn’t too overpowering, but stayed with you for some time.  The more you ate, the more intense it got too.

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They look innocent, but they will grab your tastebuds and mistreat them in a way that will have you coming back for seconds. And thirds.

Mom picked up a half bushel box of peaches this fall and make most of it into jam.  It didn’t last very long once Lindz and I opened it and got a taste.

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Yes, Mom has been reusing jars for canning and pickling long before it was in vogue.

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You can just taste the peachy peachness of the peach jam, can’t you?

Along with the usual jellies and jams that Mom made, she also did some salsa this year.  Generally, I’m not a fan because the flavor usually seems dull and overcooked.  Probably the same thing.  This primarily applies to store-bought salsas.  I prefer a nice pico de gallo (fresh uncooked salsa) any day of the week.  However, the recipe that Mom used has me hesitating on my anti-salsa stance.  It was a bit sweet (from the tomatoes), a bit spicy (just enough to round out the flavor), and a whole lot of tomatoey goodness.

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Mmm, salsa. Cha-cha-cha!

And now for something completely different: Oreos.

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I’m a die-hard fan of the original Double Stuff, but these are surprising good. And a nice change to throw into the mix.

Lake of the Woods

Since the weather has been attempting to freeze my vitals off at work, I’m going to reminisce about a warmer time.

Every summer my family goes up to Lake of the Woods to visit and fish at my uncle’s cabin for a long weekend.  This was an odd year for a couple of reasons.  Work was a mess, so I couldn’t take off on Friday like everyone else, so I ended up driving six hours by myself after putting a full day.  Caffeine and MPR Classical made for relaxing trip.  I didn’t get up to the cabin until 2 a.m., but Lindz was a sweetheart and stayed up to wait for me.  Also, this was the first year that Grandma Bert couldn’t make it up.  She had just gone into the nursing home a couple of months prior.  The whole weekend just felt a bit off because of it.

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The view off the end of the dock. Lake of the Woods is behind the reeds on the horizon (behind the boats).

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Dennis and Patty’s dog, Charlie.

If I remember right, everyone came close to limiting out Saturday.  (I only went out on Sunday).

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The walleye and sauger from Saturday’s outing.

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Cole with the monster 30″ walleye he reeled in.

As has been the custom for the last I don’t know how many years, we do a huge fish fry and meal on Saturday night.

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Saturday’s catch filleted and ready for breading and the frying pan.

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One pan down and many more to go.

My uncle Dennis has a really sweet set-up for frying fish.  He’s got a large propane burner set up on a stand and a 18″ cast iron skillet.  You can fry a lot of fish very quickly.  Like I said, sweet set-up.

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My contribution to supper.

While most of the crew was out on the lake, I made some guacamole for supper (and to snack on while waiting for them to return).  I was a little bit bummed out that most of the people weren’t too crazy about it.  But I got over it pretty quickly by eating some more guac.  I was also a bit confused about the so-so reaction because these are the people that regularly eat head-cheese, kraut, pickled pigs feet, herring . . . .

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The token veggie tray.

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Homemade coleslaw with Grandma Bert’s dressing recipe.

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Fresh sweet corn and boiled new potatoes.

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Pickles and cream.

Pickles and cream is basically sliced cucumbers and onions done up as refrigerator pickles.  Then you add heavy whipping cream and a bit of sugar (to taste) for the cream part.  Now, this is going to sound really weird, but it is unbelievably delicious.  You take the pickles and cream and put them on mashed potatoes and enjoy.  Without a doubt, this is my favorite topping for taters.  I like it even better than chicken gravy and I think chicken gravy is what the Greek gods referred to as ambrosia.  Yes, the potato and pickles and cream combo is really that awesome.

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I’m sure that I love my sis for more than her baking skills, but staring at this picture, I’m having a hard time coming up with any other reasons.  J/K, Chell.

Quasi-fake mint Oreo type cookies and monster cookie bars were the desserts that made it up north this year.  To no one’s surprise, they disappeared by the time we left on Sunday afternoon.

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The snacks of choice while out on the lake.

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Sunday’s catch.

Like I mentioned, I went out fishing on Sunday.  We finally found a hot spot when we ran into a little engine trouble.  Well, more of an electrical fire.  Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration.  There was a short in the wiring by the battery and it melted a bunch of the plastic insulation around some wires. Since the battery is in the same well as the engine, there was a whole lot of concern when smoke was spotted coming out of the hatch.  The only thing affected was the down riggers, so we made it home without further incidence.  But that did cut the fishing short.  Oh, well.

On the plus side, I did pull in a couple of decent sized walleyes.  Unfortunately they were in the size slot where we needed to toss them back (19.5″ to 28″).  The one that got me was the one that measured 27.5″  I was sooo close to my own trophy walleye.

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This is the one that I’ve decided to brag about.

Smoked Herring, pt. 2

I wasn’t planning on doing a two parter, but Lindz took a really cute picture of Ophelia and me.

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“Daddy, can I have some of your stinky fish?”

Categories: family, snacks Tags: , , ,

Smoked Herring!!!

For some people, it’s music.  For others, it’s snow, or even the neighborhood lighting up.  But for me, Christmas is finally here when I get my hands on some smoked fish.

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No matter what form herring takes, it is a great fish.

This urge I can trace squarely back to my grandpa Nick.  When I was little, he would always buy smoked fish around this time of year.  It was usually smoked whitefish.  Which I do try and pick up on a regular basis.  The other one that he would buy (when he could find them) is blind robbins.  Blind robbins are small herring fillets that are so salted and dried that they turn into a jerky version of a salt-lick.  My saliva glands are going into overdrive just thinking about them.

While wandering around Cub Foods today, I ended up at the seafood counter.  This is an area that I tend to avoid because I’m weak willed and usually end up buying something from there.  In this case it was a surprise package for Lindz (post coming as soon as I make it) and a pack of whole smoked herring.  I’ve had one already and it was quite good.  A little heavy handed on the salt, but it had a nice strong smoke flavor.

So, I say to you, Happy Holidays and eat some fish!