My Goofy Little Snack

Chips of any kind are things that normally are never in our house. Basically things people consider junk food we never have. Yes, you can find popcorn for popping and nuts, but those we don’t consider junk food. I do like chips and if they are sitting out at a party they’re what I snack on. Occasionally I do buy a small bag of chips but the last time was about a year ago. Our son gave me a jar of jalapeno as part of my father’s day gift, think he is trying to find something I won’t eat. Jalapeno jelly I think is a great thing. I have been waiting since then for Scoops to be on sale, today they were.

This is such a simple thing that just tastes great. It is perfect if you’re having a party and want something different. You can change it up by using different cheeses. I have used cheddar, mozzarella, swiss, blue, and even feta. All work to give you a great and interesting snack or party treat.

Scoops

Jalapeno jelly

Old cheddar cheese cubes

Put a 1/2 teaspoon of jalapeno jelly in each scoop, add a cube of old cheddar cheese. Microwave for about 35 seconds and serve immediately.

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It’s Amazing How Our Tastes Change

I found a ham at a really good price yesterday and it is going to be our Sunday supper. Ham and mustard for me is a match made in heaven. Right now I have five different types of mustard in the fridge but I am making my own mustard this afternoon. Making mustard is something I have done for a very long time now and I like it with a lot of things. With ham of course but also in sandwiches and even on cheese.

My taste in mustard has changed drastically from when I was young. The mustard I make is much like the mustard my mother made and that I totally hated. The only mustard I would eat was yellow mustard ( hotdog mustard ). Any other mustard I found to strong and I only wanted mild flavours with everything I had. Even with ham it was yellow mustard and actually a lot of it. Now I know all I was doing was destroying the taste of the ham.

Now I want strong powerful tastes in a the food I eat. Sometimes it gets a little crazy like with hot sauce which I consume a lot of. No salsa on my tacos or quesadillas just straight Frank’s hot sauce. Garlic I use probably triple the amount you would find in similar recipes. Most of the mustards in our fridge are mustards that have strong favours, but there still is yellow mustard which I have on hotdogs. Making mustard is extremely simple and most people have mustard powder in the cupboard.

The mustard I make to have with ham took me a few years to prefect. You don’t want to use much because it still has the bite you get from the mustard powder. I have even used it as a glaze for the ham, but glazes on ham is something I rarely do. I have done different ones for company but the mustard glaze even company likes the best. Because I use a little oil in the mustard it will last covered with plastic wrap for about two weeks in the fridge.

1 tablespoon mustard powder

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon olive oil, any oil will work

2 teaspoons vinegar ( the amount of vinegar can vary depending on the humidity and how dry the mustard powder is. Add a little at a time until you get the consistency of thin peanut butter.

Mix everything together well in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least over night so the favours blend together.

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Making Borscht Again

I got lucky and found really great beets at the farmers market. With fresh beets my mind immediately goes to making borscht. There are hundreds of recipes for borscht but they fall in two main categories, with cabbage or without. The beets I found I was surprised with, they were large with stems about eighteen inches long, and great leaves. If you make borscht never throw the stems out, just chop them up and add them to the pot. Making borscht does take some time but it is worth it, it’s a great soup.

Like with most things I cook I do things just a little different. Without cabbage I usually roast the beets and then peel them. With cabbage I grate most of the beets and dice some. In this case the beets were large so two got grated and one diced. With cabbage I have found grating the beets give the best results. When I make borscht I always use pork but you can use any meat or make it without any meat.

1 pound pork stew meat cut in small pieces.

2 large beets

1 large beet cut in small cubes

stem from beets leaves removed and chopped in small pieces

leaves from beets chopped

1 onion diced

1 carrot chopped

1 rib celery chopped

4 cups shredded cabbage

1 litre beef broth

1 litre chicken broth

4 bay leaves

1/3 teaspoon thyme

1 tablespoon dill

2 teaspoons parsley flakes

2 teaspoons salt ( I use low sodium broth if you use regular just use 1 teaspoon)

1 teaspoon pepper 1 tablespoon vinegar

1 tablespoon butter

sour cream for garnish or just because you like it

Preheat a large pot on medium high heat, add butter. When butter has melted add the pork, salt and pepper, brown pork well. Add the broth, bay leaves, thyme, and beet stems. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a gentle boil, cover and cook for 1 and 1/2 hours. Add everything else except the vinegar, to the pot, bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle boil,, cover and cook for 1 and 1/2 hours stirring occasionally. Turn heat off, stir in vinegar and serve. I like sour cream so I mix it in, my wife does use it at all.

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Hamburger Stew

It has been raining all day, really cool with a cold chill in the air, definitely a Manitoba fall day. Weather like this, your mind immediately goes to things like soups and stews. There really isn’t anything more comforting to eat in this kind of weather. Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches made a great lunch, so stew for supper seemed like a perfect idea.

My wife said she had saved a hamburger stew recipe she saw on-line which would be good. When she pulled it up and read it again it seemed a little strange. Rice in stew didn’t make much sense and 3 teaspoons of salt is way to much. Salt and pepper were the only spices in it, which for use seemed like it would be bland. When she read some of the comments they were to salty and a lot of very bland, with lots of don’t use the rice. So that stew was out of the question.

The idea of using hamburger to make a stew isn’t something new for me. Meatball stew I have been making for year. What I decided to make is really a lazy version of meatball stew. No making meatballs just brown and drain the hamburger. I used chopped tomatoes but you can use a small can of diced tomatoes. Green cabbage I bought at the market garden because I wanted to try something I had read. It seemed like a good idea and the perfect way to keep green cabbage for a long time. Rather than cutting a chunk off the cabbage you peel the leaves off and then chop them. It keeps the cabbage intact and it doesn’t brown and go bad. So far it’s working, I have had it for two weeks and it still looks perfect.

1 pound ground beef browned and drained. Keep the beef in good sized chunks

1 large rib celery chopped

1 large carrot chopped

2 small onions cut in quarters

2 cups chopped green cabbage

1 and 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes

1 large potato cubed 4 cloves garlic minced

3 bay leaves

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon rosemary

2 cups beef broth

1 tablespoon butter

cornstarch slurry

Preheat a large pot on medium heat. Add the butter, when it is melted add celery, carrots, onions, cabbage, salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Cook for 5 minutes stirring often, add tomatoes, and beef broth and mix well. Dump the meat on top, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle boil, cook for 1 and 1/2 hours, stir ever half hour. Thicken with cornstarch slurry and serve.

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Breadcrumbs And Ground Meat

This is one of the simplest dishes I make and probably one of the best. I have been making it for a very long time and I would rather have it than a hamburger any day. Salisbury steak is a simple meal and a great meal. The recipe I use is basically from the Campbell’s soup cook book with a couple of my modifications. Like any recipe from any cookbook it can be modified to your taste rather than the authors taste, but that isn’t what my post is about.

Breadcrumbs are used in many ground meat recipes as a binder and to stretch the meat. I have tried many different ways of incorporating them with many different results. Using them comes with a problem that bugged me for years. If you don’t mix them in completely you end up with a blob of breadcrumbs which isn’t that pleasant. If you mix ground meat to much you end up with a tough product. Even in a very good restaurant I had a meatball that was half breadcrumbs and in another the meatballs were like chewing rubber. I have tried the mix the crumbs with milk or water but the results are still the same. Following the less is more rule I found a better way, it is a little more work but worth it.

Making the Salisbury steak is a very good way to explain it. The nice thing about the Campbell’s soup recipe is the soup you don’t use for the patties you use for the gravy.

1 pound ground beef

1/3 can Campbell’s soup

1/3 cup fine breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For the gravy

2/3 can of soup

1/3 cup of water

1 large onion sliced or 12 mushrooms sliced.

In a small bowl mix together soup and Worcestershire sauce. In another bowl mix breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Place the beef in a large bowl and add the soup and Worcestershire sauce. Mix it in gently and because it is liquid it mixes easily. Flatten the meat in the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the breadcrumbs evenly over the meat. Fold the meat from the sides to the middle and flatten. Repeat this until all the breadcrumbs have been used. Form into 3 equal patties and refrigerate for 2 hours. Cook the patties in a preheated frying pan on medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and add the onions ( mushrooms) to the pan and cook for about 4 minutes. Add the soup and water and whisk in, cook until hot, about 3 minutes. Return the patties to the pan. Cook for 1 minute, turn over and cook for another minute and serve.

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Corn On The Cob

I am probably going to offend some people with this post. Peaches and Cream corn on the cob I think is an inferior product. Yes, it is sweet but, and it is a big but, it sadly lacks true corn flavour. I know it looks very pretty but that is were it ends, it just isn’t as good as true sweet corn. Having corn on the cob is all about the flavour of the corn not about how pretty it looks.

Having corn on the cob is a treat for this time of the year. Corn on the cob and bbqed pork chops is the treat of summer for my wife and I. It’s over Sunday supper tonight. This is the third time we have had it in the last two weeks. Hopefully we will have it a couple of more time before corn season is over. We are extremely lucky in Manitoba to be able to grow great corn. We have the perfect soil, and the perfect amount of sunlight it takes to grow it. For the last two weeks it has been available in all the grocery stores. I get to take a 10 minute drive to get corn that was picked this morning. Great corn on the cob is always better when it hasn’t been traveling for a week before it hits the stores. If you’re lucky enough to get local corn enjoy it. Just don’t over boil it, once the water comes to a boil it only needs 15 minutes. Never put it in boiling water to start it, like potatoes always start it in cold water.

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First Week Of September And Christmas Breakfast Plan Done

Anyone who has followed my blog for awhile know I get a little crazy about Christmas breakfast. Sometimes it has taken me until December to come up with a recipe. This is the very first time I have had it finalized this early. Kind of find it a little strange to have it done this early but still very nice.

I have a warning for anyone who reads this, don’t ever get started doing Christmas breakfast like I have done. Make it easy on yourself and just make normal breakfasts. If you want to make different things at least never put the rules on what you make that I did for Christmas breakfast.

It has been over twenty five years ago that I can up with the bright idea to make something different every Christmas for breakfast. It seemed like such a great idea and I thought it would be supper simple to do. The rules I put on it back then also seemed like something that would be simple. First rule the breakfast had to have red and green in it, Christmas colours. Second rule was it had to be something that no one had eaten before. The last rule was the kicker, never make the same thing again and make each year different from the last year. All sounded so simple and god I was wrong.

It has been a challenge every year but the most fun I have had cooking. Every year our kids have been surprised and every year I hear that’s the best one yet. Last year was steak and eggs Benedict, sort of. This year has to be a complete 160 from that and surprise our kids. Like any year I started thinking about it in February, bouncing different ideas around. This morning after hearing a comment on tv the idea jumped in my head. It is the perfect thing and will make our kids laugh. Besides that it will taste great and make a perfect Christmas breakfast.

As usual I will post it after Christmas breakfast, it is almost completed and is in hold on my blog. Two reasons for that, I can easily post it Christmas morning and the recipe is there so I make it correctly. It’s going to be a fun Christmas breakfast.

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Spinach Stuffing For Pork Loin

We are having a family meal on Sunday, it’s for our daughters birthday. Normally I would of asked her what she wanted me to make but I decided to change that idea which I have done for years. It had gotten to the point that all our kids ask for the same thing every year. New plan is I am going to make them different things every year.

I decided to make stuffed pork loin because I found a great buy on them. If it was just for my wife and I I would of made a mushroom stuffing but that wouldn’t work. Our son-in-law hates mushrooms so it was a hunt for a stuffing recipe. I must of looked at maybe a hundred recipes but they had things others don’t like. There were some great parts to most of them so I just went with what I knew everyone would like.

Spinach and onions have no family haters so that was the start. Garlic is a great thing so it works with the spinach and onions. Vinegar makes spinach taste better so it needed to be included. Once I thought it through I knew it would work and help flavour the pork and keep it moist.

Frozen spinach is something I normally never buy but for this it is the best way to go. Frozen spinach makes me smile, it not the brick style I grew up with. Now you get a bag of frozen golf balls. The vinegar I keep in a spray bottle which may sound a little strange but there is a reason. Vinegar has a number of uses but the best one is for french fries. If you spray the vinegar on your fries you get an even distribution rather than lots of vinegar on some and none on others. It also works great with spinach or swiss chard and worked great for this recipe.

This stuffing can be used with other things, chicken breast, pork chops and even as a filling for ravioli. When I tasted it I wish I had made it long before now.

1 large bag frozen spinach, thawed, and all the water squeezed out

6 slices of bacon chopped

3 cups diced onions

7 cloves garlic minced

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 tablespoon bread crumbs

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat a frying pan on medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until just about crisp. Add the onions and cook until the onions just start to brown and then add the garlic. Cook for about one minute and then add the spinach breaking it apart with your fingers as you add it. Cook for about 2 minutes, remove from heat and spray with the vinegar. Sprinkle the bread crumbs around and then mix well. Make sure it is totally cool before using, I made it today and am using it tomorrow so it’s spending the night in the fridge.

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The Sound Of Crickets

I’ve been sitting outside on our front porch this afternoon because it’s kind of a perfect day. We had a major rain storm come through last night so everything smells clean. It’s 26 degrees with a 7 kph breeze with the sun shining. Sometimes just the simple things of summer makes the day perfect.

After all the years living in the city you tend to forget the sounds of growing up in the country. Crickets, yes those little black insects that you rarely see or hear in the city. Sitting on our front this afternoon in the quiet all I could hear was the crickets and the birds. After a rain crickets always seem to be more active and it seems there are more of them. I find it one of the most relaxing things to just sit and listen to the crickets sing. It seems to actually make a person feel better and at peace with the world.

Crickets for a lot of cultures are good omens, good luck, and healthful things not just insects. When you listen to them in the quiet it’s easy to see why. Somewhere I actually have a cricket cage that was a gift. In some places in Asia people keep cricket in their homes for good luck and prosperity. I appreciated the gift of the cricket cage and understand it’s meaning. So crickets are not just little black insects they are good things to have around.

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Mushroom, Cheese, And Green Onion Omelette

This is just another rolled omelette, so why another post. There are a number of reasons why rolling an omelette is a better way to have an omelette. One specific reason hits a pet peeve of mine. I like eating my food when it is hot not luke warm. Something yes I like having them cold but when I cook something I want it hot. That’s why my pictures aren’t pretty things, I could fuss around making it pretty but it’s my lunch or supper. I want to eat it before it starts to get cold so I just quickly take a picture. The omelette is the perfect example, I could of cleaned the gob of ketchup, but eating it was worth more than the picture.

Since I started rolling my omelettes I have found it actually stays hotter. As much as I like omelettes it has always bugged me that they were basically at room temperature when I took the last bite. Folding it just in half allowed it to cool off quickly. You need a very good non-stick frying pan to be able to roll it then it isn’t hard to do. It is worth doing if you like your food hot.

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