Yup. Just made up a hexadecimal number because I have no idea how many times I’ve written about trips to Decorah and I’m too lazy to figure it out. Besides, who really reads hexdec anyway?
Anyway, Lindz and I made one of our regular trips to our old stomping grounds. We stopped by the StoryPeople studio to pick something up and I ran across what I can only assume is one of the limited edition wood paintings.
For those that are curious, the story printed on here is Living Memory. Speaking of my old workplace, I just found a new sculpture that I got quite a kick out of:
You can find it here on the StoryPeople website.
What would a trip to Decorah be without eating at La Rana?
Really not a lot to say. It’s a fun little bar with a great atmosphere and great food all at a small town price.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
I am writing about the mysterious kale salad that I keep mentioning.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
A friend of ours was up in the Cities from Iowa. So a bunch of us got together at the Longfellow Grill on Lake St.
I had the Szechwan Beef Salad. It had beef strips, greens, carrots, fried wonton strips, sesame seeds, and a sweet peanut sauce. On the side was served a piece of cornbread. Longfellows definitely earned bonus points for having chopsticks with the salad when they brought it out. Yes, I used them to eat it too. The beef was tender and very flavorful. The greens were fresh but the salad was overdressed. I liked the dressing but it got really sweet towards the end. I liked the fried wontons in place of croutons, it fit with the theme of the salad. The cornbread stole the show though. It was moist. I cannot stress that enough, it was borderline dripping. It tasted like one of the main ingredients was creamed corn. Not the canned stuff either. I’m talking the stuff that is made by some hillbilly’s great-grandmother in the backwoods of the South and then smuggled over the Mason-Dixon line and sold to the highest bidder on the black market type of creamed corn. Yeah. It was that good.
Lindz had the biscuits and gravy. This choice surprised no one. Pretty much by default, she always gets biscuits and gravy no matter where we go. I would venture that it is her favorite dish. I didn’t try any of it because I was still trying to finish off my own plate. You can’t tell from the pictures, but the servings were very large. Okay, I’m going to qualify that a bit. The servings didn’t look large when they were sitting in front of you, but you noticed it after eating for ten minutes straight and not being able to see any difference in the quantity of the food still in front of you.
As with most of the places I write about here, if you get the chance you should go and eat there. You will be happier person afterwards. Probably will want to slip into a food coma, but happier nonetheless.
I know I dropped the huge teasers of a Rhode Island trip and a new camera. But I’ve been busy with work and making trips up north to make sure Grandma doesn’t go too stir-crazy in the nursing home. In the near future, I’m going to be posting some short blurbs just to keep up the habit, and to shorten my queue. So you’ll have to deal with crappy photos and short rambles. Meh, such is life.
A while back I made myself and Lindz a salad with poached eggs on it. I really enjoyed the combination. So when I had some leftover stuff for a salad and I wanted a snack after work, it seemed like a good time to recreate it.
All that went into the salad was lettuce, sliced almonds, an Asian Sesame dressing, and a poached egg on top. For as simplistic as the ingredients were, it was a very satisfying salad. If you have a Rainbow Foods (grocery store) near you, I highly recommend getting the Roundy’s dressing (it’s the store brand).
Or what happens when Terry is told to make supper and try to use up some stuff in the fridge.
The BT’s are actually supposed to be BLT’s. But Lindz doesn’t care for lettuce, so we don’t usually have it around. Personally, I like rabbit food, but I often don’t use it up fast enough, so we usually don’t buy it. Nothing fancy with these, just good ol’ bacon, tomato, bit of mayo, and toasted bread. Heart stopping goodness.
The pepper salad is a variation of a tomato salad that I often make. I did a very coarse chop on four peppers, added some very thinly sliced red onion, a light drizzle of olive oil, pinch of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and some balsamic vinegar to give it just a bit of a bite. All of this is to your personal taste, of coarse. In case you haven’t guessed, I just swapped the peppers in for the tomatoes from the original recipe. Dave put this on his bacon sandwich and seemed to enjoy it. Not what was planned, but then I’m pretty easy going.
The conversation between Lindz and Dave as I was starting to come up with a meal plan went as follows:
Lindz: Do you like green bean hotdish?
Dave: What’s in it?
Lindz: Green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and French’s onions on top.
Lindz: What’s wrong with you?!?
So the bowl of steamed green beans was for Dave. Like Lindz said, all that went into the hotdish was two cans of green beans, one can of cream of mushroom soup, and enough of French’s onions on top to cover. Bake at 375 degrees F until it bubbles (about 10 to 15 minutes) and serve.
This was one of the days that we were working up on a roof. So, by the time I got home, I hadn’t eaten in six hours, drank a gallon of water and was still dehydrated, and I had a beer while cooking. Talk about a cheap buzz. This is just the set-up to what seemed like a really good idea. And as it turns out, it was. I sliced up a couple of jalapenos and fried them in the bacon grease. They went great on the BT.