The Butter Thief

January 17, 2015

The beneficial health effects of butter are debatable on a few different levels. Is it the good kind of fat? Is there too much fat? Is it all natural? Regardless, almost everyone likes real butter and especially a rather food focused German Shepherd I live with.

A few moments of inattention. A slight lapse in concentration. A distracted task and whoa, a stick of butter is stolen off the counter. Once should be enough to learn that lesson. But, no, it happened again within a two week time span.

So, 2 sticks of butter stolen within a couple of weeks. On the upside, that’s really good for a dog’s coat, the extra oils make it so soft. On the down side, so much fat for a dog could lead to pancreatitis. [If you worry, consult your veterinarian.] This has not happened to this particular German Shepherd.

Empty Butter Dish

Gone

It’s only after the fact that I learn the dog in question actually has some restraint. So, if 2 sticks are too much to eat in such a short span of time, what’s a dog to do?

Well, save it for later, obviously, by burying it in the yard. And with temperatures at or around 0 degrees Fahrenheit, it is preserved perfectly.

How does this come into play and why would I know that saving the butter for later was actually the strategy? Finding evidence of butter and dirt on my sofa and chair cushions was quite a surprise. Just like a bone, she tried to bury it between the cushions. I am probably lucky she didn’t try to bury it in the bed.

Thank goodness for microfiber fabric.

Moral of the story:

  1. Put the butter away as soon as you are done using it.
  2. Never walk away from the kitchen with food sitting out.
  3. Always clean up food and dishes right away.
  4. Accept and enjoy the foibles of your dog, but be mindful of the dangers of eating people food.

Fettuccine ricche alla emiliana

December 29, 2013

Fettuccine with Cream and Tomato Sauce

My Dad makes this delicious pasta dish some time between Christmas and New Year every year. Over the years my Dad has modified it quite a bit as a concession to the heart, because he wants it to make your heart happy, your stomach happy and in turn that makes for a happy Dad. Also, who uses 5 eggs in pasta anymore or 3 sticks of butter or whole cream? It’s a wonderful holiday tradition and it wouldn’t be a holiday visit without this scrumptious meal.

Fettuccine dish

Finished Fettuccine dish

This is the original recipe with the modifications [noted].

Dough

1 pound sifted flour

5 eggs [2-3 eggs]

1 teaspoon oil

pinch of salt

Or substitute a similar dry egg pasta.

Sauce

1 1/2 cups butter [1/2 cup or 1 stick]

6 ounce peeled tomatoes, drained [if whole, broken up or canned diced tomatoes]

Salt and pepper

2 ounces green peas, boiled [1/2 cup]

2 ounces sweet pepper, roasted, peeled, cut in strips [from a jar work just as well]

1/4 pound prosciutto (fat and lean), chopped

1/2 cup cream [half and half rather than whole cream]

1 cup of grated Parmesan [or combination of asiago, romano, parmesan]

Preparation:

Dough:

Heap 1 pound of sifted flour on a suitable work surface. Whip 2-3 eggs with a few drops of oil and a teaspoon of salt. Pour the mixture into a well, scooped out of the mound of sifted flour. Kneading manually, bring the flour to the center and continue until the dough reaches a fairly consistent texture. [Add small amounts of warm water as the dough gets dry during the kneading process, this makes up for the extra 2 eggs that we left out.] Dampen a white kitchen towel with warm water , wrap the dough in it and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Roll and cut the dough into 1/2 inch wide strips. [This can be done ahead of time. We use a pasta maker which makes this a fairly efficient process.]

pasta maker

The pasta maker at work

Pasta drying

Pasta drying

Sauce:

Melt half the butter in a pan, add the tomatoes seasoned with a little salt and pepper, and simmer for 8 minutes. Add the peas, the sweet pepper strips, and the ham, and cook together for two minutes; remove from heat and keep warm.

Putting it all together

Cook the pasta in lightly salted boiling water, drain when al dente and transfer to a warmed serving dish. Then, in layers, pour over the cream, half the Parmesan, the remaining butter in softened lumps, and, finally, the tomato sauce. Allow to stand a few moments, mix, and serve on warmed plates; pass the remaining Parmesan at the table.

Layer cheese, butter, sauce on fettuccine

Layer cheese, butter, sauce on fettuccine

Serves 6-8

Copyright © 1972, Luigi Carnacina Presents: Italian Home Cooking

Georgia waiting and watching underfoot

Georgia waiting and watching underfoot


The Overloaded Burger

May 19, 2013

In the last few weeks I’ve read a multitude of blogs and articles and posts and heard comments about being busy or overloaded or allowing things to distract us from our every day life. Where people complain about overload or offer tips to combat it or say it’s all about how you choose to set up your life. On the other hand there often is a reason for that busyness or overload and you might not have a lot of control.  Sometimes you read that stuff and you’re like, “yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever, same old story, I know”.  But then some every day thing happens to you and suddenly, BINGO, it brings that point home for you personally. Because unless you can really see it in yourself, it doesn’t make much sense to you.

That happened to me the other day.

I went to Five Guys Burgers and Fries for lunch. If you order a burger with everything you get like 10 things on it and it is really good. But all that stuff doesn’t really fit inside the bun, so it falls out and it’s messy and if that’s what you want it’s great. Here is where I saw all those things I read come home to me. I could have an everything burger where things fall out and get really messy or I could choose just a few toppings and still have a really great burger, but it wouldn’t be so messy and I’d be able to handle it. I know there are times when I will have to eat that everything burger, but there will be other times when I can choose to not put so much on so that I can handle it better. I’ll be able to know that if I do have everything on my burger, I’ll be able to pick up the pieces individually at the end.

Now I’m hungry.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Flickr Photo by Kingstonist.com


Chili con Carne

September 19, 2012

This slow cooker Chili con Carne* recipe has been popular, so time to post it. I’ve made a number of modifications and it’s a little different every time I make it. I usually cut things in half because I have a smaller slow cooker. [I’ll add my own comments along the way.]

Chili con Carne

Chili con Carne

Works in slow cookers from 3 1/2 to 6 quarts

Ingredients

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

2 lbs trimmed stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes [Or 1 lb for a smaller recipe]

2 onions, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp dried oregano leaves, crumbled [Substitute basil if you don’t like oregano]

1  cinnamon stick [First time I made this I didn’t have cinnamon sticks so I used nutmeg]

1 tsp cracked black peppercorns

2 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted [I don’t usually have cumin seeds, so I add powdered cumin]

1 cup beef stock

1 cup lager or pilsner beer [Just use the whole bottle]

2 cans red kidney beans, rinsed, drained [1 can works for my smaller recipe]

1 tbsp ancho chili powder or 1/2 tsp cayenne dissolved in 2 tbsp lime juice [I use juice of a whole lime]

1 jalapeno pepper or chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced [I’m not a fan of really spicy, so I may just leave these out]

2 poblano or Anaheim chiles or green bell peppers, diced [I like Hungarian or Red peppers, not Green]

Garnishes [I rarely have these around]

Finely chopped cilantro

Sour Cream

Chopped red onion

Roasted red pepper strips

Preparation

1. In a resealable plastic bag, combine flour and salt. Add beef and toss until evenly coated, discarding excess flour mixture. In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add beef, in batches, and cook, stirring, adding more oil as necessary, until browned, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Add onions to pan and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and toasted cumin and cook stirring, for 1 minute. Add stock and bring to a boil. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Add beer and beans and stir well.

3. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on  High for 4 to 5 hours, until beef is tender. Add chili powder solution, jalapeno pepper and poblano peppers and stir well. Cover and cook on High for 20-30 minutes, until fresh peppers are tender. Discard cinnamon stick. Serve with garnishes of your choice.

* From “The Healthy Slow Cooker” by Judith Finlayson © 2006 Judith Finlayson


Just Be – Christmas ’11

December 26, 2011

When you change-up a routine, you can experience something completely different and also exactly the same. That’s what happened to me this holiday season.

My family holiday traditions are fairly constant. I’ve written about them before, like in the Christmas Tree Saga of ’08 or ’10. This year because of work commitments I went home to Michigan for Thanksgiving and my folks and sister came to my house for Christmas. This was different, would it work, would there be enough space in my house?

My Mom’s cousin, Father Joe, drove a couple of hours over for lunch one day. They talked about family, reminiscing about people and stories from a long time ago. Then, he’d stop and just look around in wonder that he was actually seeing us. My sister and I mused about what we would talk about at future family gatherings. This was different.

Mom and Father Joe

My Dad made his famous homemade fettuccine dish. Noodles from scratch and the simple cream sauce is just heaven. This was the same.

Homemade fettuccine

Homemade fettuccine

We used Skype for the first time to connect with the other two family units. Seeing them and talking to them made it a more personal holiday call than just via phone alone. Seeing the kids playing with their presents and talking about them, you see the light and excitement in their eyes. Maybe we can keep up these video calls, to keep this more personal form of communication going. This was different.

And then, when it’s time for a break, we can all sit around the living room and read a book or a newspaper or an iPad and just be; be content, be quiet, be together. With family, you can be yourself, you can be happy, you can be moody, you can be incredulous, you can be laughing at them and you can be laughing with them. It’s also a sure bet that you’ll be teased by them. This was the same.

The best thing about my holiday was that amidst all the new logistics, fun visits, great food, I could also just be!

Happy Holidays!

Christmas Tree '11


Making do when your kitchen is inaccessible

March 29, 2011

When your kitchen looks like this:

Gutted Kitchen

Kitchen completely gutted

 

You make do as you can.

Eating Room

Eating in the office

Coffee room

Gotta have coffee


Zeppole

December 29, 2010

Another  holiday food treat, Zeppole, a fried Italian Donut. It may take a bit of fiddling to get the oil temperature right, but eating these piping hot is a gastronomical delight. Enjoy!

Zeppole (Italian Donuts)

Ingredients:
2 eggs
1 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1½ tsp sugar
½ lb ricotta (1 cup)
¼ tsp vanilla
dash of salt
1 qt oil for frying
confectioners sugar
honey

Preparation:
Beat eggs until foamy. Add other ingredients (but not oil). Batter is sticky. Heat oil to 375°F. Divide batter into 4 portions.  Use spoon to pick up small portion. Push into hot oil with another spoon. Fry until golden brown. Remove and drain on brown paper.  Sprinkle with sifted confectioners sugar and honey.
Note: zeppole will turn in hot oil.

–Origin unknown, could be based on Grandma’s old recipe

Zeppole

Zeppole sprinkled with Confectioners Sugar and drizzled with Honey

 


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