Tag Archives: Food

Warren and Betty

It just doesn’t have a ring, does it?  We watched Julie and Julia the other night and it just has a ring that makes it perfect.  But forget the ring.  I really really liked the movie.  Now don’t tell my guy friends but I might even buy a copy of the video for my collection.  I am not sure what made me like it so much but I have been walking around the house talking like Julia Child.

Goofy Eyes

Warren & Betty Crocker

There were all sorts of neat things that Julie and Julia made in the movie but one thing in particular stood out to me.  I guess I needed to shoot for my something in my ability range but I really liked the scene when Julie was trying to make poached eggs.  Unlike Julie, I have eaten a lot of eggs in my life but never have I had a poached egg.  Julie struggled cooking poached eggs so I thought the challenge would be fun for me.  So, I consulted Betty Crocker and followed her recommendations.

Making Poached Eggs

Betty and I are like peas in a pod I guess.  We even had the exact same custard dishes that she used in the pictures in the cookbook.  Perhaps I channeled Betty but the steps seemed pretty simple.  I boiled 2 inches of water, cracked my eggs into custard cups and poured the eggs (quickly..that’s the secret) into the water.  They foamed a little bit but I let them boil for 4 minutes and scooped them out with a slotted spoon.

Making Poached Eggs

Making Poached Eggs

Making Poached Eggs

I didn’t have any trouble like Julie did and I am so glad.  Poached eggs are a lot like hard boiled eggs without the shell except they aren’t quite hard boiled and they do seem to taste a little different to me.  I am not sure why but it was a good taste and I will definitely make them again!

Eating Poached Eggs

Eating Poached Eggs

So, after eating my poached eggs, it occurred to me that there are probably other things that are kinda well known but that I have never cooked or eaten.  I started making a list but I would really like it if you, my friends, could suggest some stuff that I should cook and eat that are sort of famous…I am going to make Eggs Benedict next.

Eating Poached Eggs

Yosemite Sam always used to say, “Sufferin’ succotash” and it occurred to me that I have never had succotash.  And then I got to thinking about fancy stuff that people are supposed to know about…like bananas foster and cherries jubilee.  I have never made ratatouille either…it’s a cool movie for sure but I have no idea what it tastes like…not like the rats/mice in the movie I hope but I am willing to try.

Eating Poached Eggs

Anyhow, I promise I won’t go down some cooking-blog-road (not that there is anything wrong with that) but can anyone help me with some more things I need to make?  I am not trying to find myself or escape from my job like Julie was, but I could probably use a new excuse to sample a little wine and eat too much. Help!

The only reason I go there

There are many places I go to that really only have one draw.  If not for one or two things, I would never go there.  I am sure we all have those sorts of places.  In recent experience, two places in particular come to mind.

Walmart used to be a fun place to go and look at the latest and greatest stuff I would break and throw out in the next  few months.  I enjoyed looking at people and buying donuts or a bargain movie.  Lately when I go, however, I feel like I am in a Mad Max movie, only with long lines and even worse personal hygiene.  Walking through the parking lot really is dangerous now too.  In frustration, I guess, folks whip around illegally parked cars and older folks in electric scooters and put everyone at risk.  Cutting across lanes and general craziness make me hesitant to get near the place.

Sometimes, though, I have to go to Walmart.  We need this or that and the only place that has it is Walmart.  I have found a new stress-less way to get through.  I stroll past the lines that stretch for miles, find my item and then head for the ammo counter.  I own guns and like to shoot so buying ammo to plink at targets is fun anyhow.  I don’t like when folks check out at specialty counters if they are not buying items from that area so I always feel obligated.  Doggone it, I hate to buy ammo for my plinking habit, but in the interest of preserving check-out etiquette, I always buy a box of some ammo.

Emily needed a Valentine’s day gift last year, she got a frying pan and a box of ammo.  Kids need notebook paper, they get a bonus box of ammo.  I need a box of ammo, I get a bonus one to go with it!  See, it’s perfect!

Ok, so the other place like the ammo counter is the ball park.  Ever since my time as a little leaguer, I have hated baseball.  Really, I didn’t hate baseball until the one year when a preacher in town was the coach.  By association, I learned to hate baseball.  So, last night, my company went to the local minor league park and we all watched a baseball game.  The WV Power played some other team.  “We” lost so I don’t’ even care who it was.  Come to think of it, I don’t care even if “we” would have won.  Anyhow, back to the story.  Abigail and I went to the game and we both had the same mindset.  We went to the game for the junk food…nothing else.  She had a hotdog and Dippin’ Dots and I had nachos and vinegar fries…and a half-gallon of Mt Dew.  When the food ran out, our patience did too.  We hung around awhile but 5 innings was all we could take!  The only reason I go to a baseball game is for fries with vinegar or a box of nachos.  If they had an ammo counter there….

I guess everyone has places that the go to that are less than awesome.  I just like to find things to make my time there bearable, if not pleasant. And with ammo or nachos as a reward, I have found much patience…

Thank you berry much

We have been busy as cats in a sandbox and it seems that we haven’t had time to do anything, much less anything interesting.  Every now and then, though, we get a chance to take a few minutes to do something simple.  Since it’s July (holy cow!  It’s July?!), something simple means berry picking for us.


We have an excellent raspberry patch at the house so I can stumble out in my pjs and grab a handful of berries.  Our patch makes many more than a handful though so we pick and freeze berries every day.  Our raspberry patch is pretty interesting.  Of course there are berries, but the new feral kittens hide out in there too (anyone want a kitten?  Energetic.  Free to a good home).   I have seen all manner of bugs and spiders also.  Honestly, our raspberry patch is a biology lesson (in a good way) waiting to happen!  I love picking berries just to see what will pop out next!

Black raspberries...not the same as blackberries

By the way, did you know you can spread berries out in a single layer on a plate, freeze them, and then put them in freezer bags.  The individual berries remain intact so you don’t end up with a berry blob.


Anyhow, raspberries are easy for us.  It’s the blackberries that are painful.  I think they have to be that way for folks to appreciate their awesomeness and I am willing to let Emily make the sacrifice.  We all pick them actually.  By “we”, I mean Emily and I pick them.  The kids always seem to wander off into the woods at our secret blackberry location to “look for more berries”.  Uh huh.

Sweet reward! Blackberry pie!

So, blackberries are especially good right now and I love blackberry pies more than any other pie (except maybe Emily’s strawberry pies).  I have an excellent wife who not only helps pick the berries, but also makes me pies!  Thanks you berry much!  You are my favorite wife, Emily!

It’s gouda stuff!

I was wandering through the grocery store the other day (which is really the only way I ever experience the grocery store) when I passed by the cheese area.  A certain joy overtook me as I saw that delectable red wax wheel covering, what I remembered to be, the cheese of the gods.  When I was a kid, my parents used to get a wheel of gouda cheese every now and then.  My brother and I waited patiently as mom and dad unwrapped the cellophane and sliced through the wax to cut out our wedges.  It was a bit of a delicacy when I was growing up so we got a fairly small piece each time so we could make it last several days.  I remember enjoying that whole experience so much.

That was supper one night

So, I bought a small wheel of gouda cheese the other day and did the routine, opening the wrapper, cutting the wax, doing all the stuff like when I was a kid.  You know what?  It was almost as good as I remember.  My tastes are probably a little more exotic now than they were when I was a kid but I think my “taste memory”  kicked in and made it taste far better than it really was.

Now I am no longer bound by rules of sharing or making it last or even letting anyone know I even bought the stuff.  It’s weird maybe, but I wanted to sort of keep it to myself a little.  Isn’t that weird?  Anyhow, I plowed through that wheel all by myself.  It was the first I had in a long time and was just sort of cool.  I think I will buy another wheel of gouda cheese though, and this time, I may just share small slivers with the kids.  We may try to make it last and talk about how special gouda cheese is.  I think my kids need to develop a “taste memory”.  I don’t know if they will ever have the love affair with gouda that I do, but I can try!  After all, not too many other foods can describe themselves…it’sa gouda!

Anyone else have a “taste memory” for something from when you were a kid?

Make whoopee pies, not war!

I got a wild hair on Sunday and decided to bake.  It’s not often when I feel a deep need to bake, but it happened this weekend.  I searched through stacks and stacks of newspaper clippings and cookbooks and websites…well, not really.  I pretty much had a hankering for whoopee pies, an old favorite my Mom used to make.  I am pretty sure Emily was taking a nap and the kids were doing…whatever it is that my kids do when their Dad is baking.

I cracked my Mom’s homemade cookbook and started adding ingredients.  About half way through adding stuff into the mixing bowl, I discovered that I was actually making a peanut butter ball-whoopee pie hybrid.  Being a food pacifist, I decided to press on man, you know, live and let live man…it’s all groovy man.

I just added a bunch more stuff to the bowl and pressed on through.  Did you know that flour and cocoa and a Kitchen-Aid mixer can rocket clear to the ceiling?  Anyhow, I got stuff all mixed up and baked and then Isaac and I shared the remains of the icing on the mixer and the bowl and the ceiling.

I was pretty so-so on them when they were warm but the next morning, yesterday morning, I ate more than one for breakfast.  Now that, my friends is when they are good…and good for you too!

In case you feel a need to journey with me on my quest for health-less-ness, here’s the recipe:


1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup sour milk plus 2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups flour

Mix together then add 1 cup of hot water.  Daub big goopy spoonfuls onto a slightly greased baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes in a 400 deg oven.


2 egg whites – whipped (and beaten…and taunted)
2 Tbsp vanilla
4 Tbsp flour
4 Tbsp milk
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix and add 1 more cup powdered sugar and 3/4 cup shortening.  Once the pies are cool, spread the icing between like sized pies and hide from your children!  Oh yeah, cats seem to like them too…

Irish cream + ice cream = goodness!

Ok, I know I said last week that I am eating a lower fat, lower cholesterol vegetarian diet…yeah, yeah, yeah. I still gotta live a little! It’s all about portions and frequency. You see, I discovered Ben & Jerry’s Dublin Mudslide ice cream. It’s really unhealthy and all but dang it tastes good.

I am determined to eat healthy but this treat is a nice diversion now and then. I eat a spoonful here and there and I have found that it’s enough to curb my sweet-tooth…plus Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is sooo expensive that I can only afford to eat this sweet goodness now and then anyhow!  It sort of keeps me in check because, above all, I am a cheap-skate!

I found some great news about my new diet too.  I have been on blood pressure medicine for years.  I have tried a few things here and there to try to get my blood pressure to change but nothing ever seemed to have an impact.  Lately though, I started feeling light-headed and dizzy a little too often.  In consultation with my doctor, we decided to go off of the medicine and see what happened to my blood pressure.  After two weeks off of the meds, I went back and found that my blood pressure was great (I had been monitoring it at home too and consistently found the same thing)!  I am off of blood-pressure medicine!  I can only attribute it to my dietary change as nothing else is different!

As much as I might like to go and gorge on Ben & Jerry’s after finding the news, I think I will go get a tofu burger instead!

The HOT light is on!

Isn’t it strange how sometimes your brain follows some stream of consciousness and you end up someplace completely different from where you started?  Yeah, well, welcome to my life…actually, welcome to my lovely wife’s life putting up with me.  Anyhow, Monday morning we started off planning to make some sort of healthy vittles where we end up hungry again a half hour after eating.  Well, a bunch of twists and turns went through my head and we ended up making homemade donuts in one of the world’s most ingenious creations – The Magic Chef Donut Bakery machine!  I am not sure how I got there but I suppose the idea of eating some sort of fru-fru breakfast sparked some sort of ancient survival mechanism deep within my hindbrain…something screaming, “give me donuts, not some fruity-I-am-still-hungry food”.

It’s really hard to beat hot donuts.  Isaac was born at Baptist Hospital in Nashville.  His birth was complicated so we spent a good bit of time in and around the hospital.  Our room overlooked the Krispee Kreme donut factory so whenever the “Hot Now” light came on, I hustled down and bought a dozen.  I don’t know how many meals of donuts we ate but Krispee Kreme stock hit its high point when we were active consumers.

My parents had a version of the Magic Chef Donut Bakery machine though theirs made only three donuts at a time (but they were larger).  Anyhow, somewhere between 8-10 years ago, I was at my brother’s place in Indiana.  We were bored so we went junkin’.  We trapsed around town and looked over other peoples’ junk.  I didn’t expect much but under a pile of 8-track tapes, I saw it…the Magic Chef Donut Bakery machine…and it was marked $1…and it worked!

So, like I said, the stream of consciousness this weekend somehow reminded me that I had that glorious donut maker tucked away behind the pile of 8-track tapes I bought in Indiana.  We broke out the recipe and made a gigantic batch of cinnamon donuts.   Sometimes my streams of consciousness make for some pretty fun times and this time, I found that the “Hot Now” light is on!

It’s purple…and huge!

So…ahem…the blackberries are in full glory right now and we found a newish place to pick and this year’s berries are as big as I have ever seen (including those pretend ones you can get at the grocery store).  We have picked several “messes” of berries and I have enjoyed 2 blackberry pies that my delightful wife has prepared.  She made some good ones 2 years ago, but this year, the berries are purple and huge and AWESOME!

Of course, we live in West-by-God-Virginia where mountain goat commandos go to train.  Our new location is significantly more hilly than previous years so picking in our new secret spot has been interesting and a little prickly.  I have to wear soccer cleats so I don’t slide down the hill through the briers.  I really wish I was more successful at that.  Anyhow, because of the danger (yes, the hills are steep enough that it is dangerous), the kids are not picking this year.  They mostly run around and look for new spots for me to scale.  I think they have grown up a good bunch though.  They still fight like mountain goat commandos and mountain lions, but not while we are working on berries…and that’s worth a big hee-haw from me!

so much for focus...

Aside from the hills being interesting, our new spot is farther into the woods and we have been assaulted by a few ticks this year.  Ticks suck.  I think I hate ticks and roaches more than about anything…not sure why because bugs in general don’t offend me, but I am personally offended when I see either of my nemeses.  Alas, I shall push on in pursuit of the berry.  The blackberry pie calls to me…I must heed its call!

Time to go picking...

(not) Strawberry wine…(not) 17

Last Sunday we picked a powerful lot of strawberries and canned most of it as jam.  We were all jammed up (at 53 or so jars which should last us a year) and still had plenty of berries left.  My beautiful and loving wife finally heard my subtle hints that a strawberry pie was in order.  Though subtle, my wife understood my need for pie.  She just knows what I need…because I was subtle after all!

We looked around at various recipes, some from family and some from cookbooks, but we (meaning she) decided upon one from the Interwebs.

Anyhow, Deana Carter sings about strawberry wine and being 17 and all that stuff.  I am not too old but I guess I am not 17 either…I’ll take strawberry pie and 38 any day!

Still, this is a cool song:

Anyhow, so here is the recipe:

  • Eight cups of strawberries
  • One and a half cup sugar
  • One and a half cup water
  • Six tablespoons of Cornstarch
  • Half teaspoon salt
  • A baked Crust

Take a bowl and put two cups of strawberry in it. Crush the strawberries completely and add one and a half cups of water to them. Pour this mixture in a pan and bring to boil. Let the mixture simmer for about five minutes. Next, strain out the juice from the mixture and add about one cup of water to it. Add one and a half cup sugar, six tablespoons of cornstarch and half a teaspoon of salt to the pan. Pour the strawberry juice strained earlier in the pan too. Bring the mixture to boil, let it simmer till it becomes thick. Remove the mixture from the stove and let it cool. Take a baked crust and put some whole strawberries in it. Pour the mixture prepared earlier on it. Refrigerate for a few hours and serve the strawberries chilled.

(from here)

Lots of strawberries…some on the floor

We went to a you-pick strawberry place in Cottageville, WV on Sunday.  It’s about 35 minutes away (though for the kids, it was a 2 year long trip) and was a nice Sunday drive.  We got to Hartley Farms and found a huge field of the biggest and best strawberries I have ever seen (though I didn’t know that part right away).  The proprietor took us over to a row and told us to, “have at it”.  I fully expected to have to search and dig and really work to find a few scrawny strawberries.  We picked 2 years ago at a place closer to home and it was pitiful.  Hartley Farms was $0.55 per pound cheaper and there were hundreds of big fat berries everywhere!

We filled 7 ice cream buckets to overflowing and weighed in.  All told, we had about 32 pounds of berries!  The best part is that the kids even helped pick!  We jumped in the car hoping to get home before Isaac ate every last strawberry.  Though he made a run at eating 32#, we did make it home with a few berries.  All four of us started making jam though the kids were tired after a batch each.  They wanted to take a jar to their teachers that they had made.

Emily and I continued on into the night making jar after jar of jam.  Isaac in particular like strawberry jam so the 43 half-pints we made may last us the year (and may not).  We still have somewhere around 8 pounds of berries to go…not sure if that will be jam or something else yet.  We have a fair bit of cleanup yet to do.  Of course, it is impossible to make jam without making stuff sticky and our floor is sticky indeed.  I have mopped it several times but my socks still leave little fuzzy footprints when I walk in the kitchen.

And by the way, when you make strawberry jam, make sure you use a huge pot to boil your mixture.  We forgot since last time and we boiled a pot of sticky strawberry syrup over the edge of the sauce pan we had and onto the hot burner on our (wretched) glass-topped stove.  You guessed it…it caramelized and tried to burst into flame.  We never saw fire, but our house was full of smoke before I could get the mess cleaned up…so, word to the wise, use a huge pot to boil the mix!  Luckily we had a better pot so subsequent batches were fine!

It was fun to clean up too!