Saturday, May 17, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Boom(ers)!

Yeah, amigos, we are all getting older, even that beefy burrito of manhood, Indiana Jones. Hope he has plenty of Salonpas for all those sore muscles from saving the world. Must be getting harder for him to open up that can of whoop-ass, and crack that whip. A few years back, I was upset when Harrison left the wife and took up with a younger chick. (I hear the divorce settlement was $$$$$.) Lots of boomer guys take that route. So do the "Cougars" the older women who go after younger men. That works for them and I sure hope they are happy. Didn't work for me. It was hard for me to date out of my species. "See honey, this is the Beatles," I held up the CD and explained to my much younger companion about John, Paul, George and Ringo. He was sweet, always a gentleman, but the age difference made things impossible, since I was constantly having to stop in the middle of the conversation, to ask if he understood what I was saying---ay!

So what kind of mischief does our Indy get into this time? Well, I'd like to think he's up late, sitting at the dining table, room dimly lit, smoke rings wafting about. He puts down the cigar into a dirty ashtray, and he takes a swig of whiskey. Then the camera moves in and he's going through his Medicare supplemental health insurance plan. Suddenly he stands up, picks up the papers and flings the stack into the fireplace, ashes and sparks fly everywhere.

Or he's standing in line at the DMV and suddenly they make him take his behind the wheel test over again. Or he's at the table again, only this time he's putting all his meds into the little plastic SMTWTFS container, all the time swearing because he can't get the child-proof lids open. Or better still, he gets pulled over on the bus going down to Mexico for the El Cheapo Rx's, fighting with the Federales, "Chuy, I have a real Americano prescription for these pills!" I'd like to think of him as being just like the rest of us boomers. Getting kinda creaky around the edges, but still full of fire and passion. Raiders of the assisted living center, that's us!

Come sit over here, Indy, and let me fix you a "mock-tail" granita that won't interfere with your meds. It's from another little hunk of beef-cake, the "Take-Home Chef" Curtis on TLC Channel. Yeah, I'd consider being a cougar over him in a heartbeat! His version is with passion fruit, of course! This one is watermelon, so cool and refreshing. Just what Dr. Jones ordered. Salud, viejo!

WATERMELON GRANITA - adapted from Chef Curtis Stone, The Take-Home Chef
4 cups diced watermelon, or other tropical summer fruit
1 cup simple syrup, made from 2 cups water & 1 cup granulated sugar
brought just to a boil in a small saucepan, then cooled to room temp
1 oz. jigger rum or tequila, optional or omit on Doctor's orders
Blend the watermelon and cooled simple syrup till liquefied. Pour into an 8x8 glass pyrex or corning ware pan. Place in freezer. After an hour, remove and scrape the top, making fruit snow. Return to freezer, and repeat again. Serve in a cocktail or martini glass, garnish with a lime slice or mint leaf. Paper umbrella and jigger of rum or tequila optional. Note: Equal or Splenda may be used instead of simple syrup.

Play a word game, win free rice!

Check out this link I found over at the fine folks who blog at Peanut Butter Etouffee, their link is:

At Free Rice, you take a guess at the word definitions and collect grains of rice for distribution to those in need. Enjoy your day and keep thinking good thoughts. Our world sure needs them.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Remember the Taco Truck!

Hola! Join Pulitzer Prize winning food author Jonathan Gold, Barry Glassner, the author of "The Culture of Fear and The Gospel of Food," Chris Rutherford, co-founder of the groundroots movement site, and fellow foodie's C. Thi Nguyen as they present "Remember the Taco Truck" on May 22nd at the Los Angeles Center Theatre. The link above has all the info. "Carne Asada is Not A Crime!" We present our evidence.

Above right we have for your pleasure carne asada, marinated in secret herbs and spices that would make the Colonel lick his chops. Prepared on a flat top, and grilled with onions, peppers, pickled zanahoria (those hot and spicy sliced carrots!), and served with potato salad, spicy beans, and freshly warmed corn tortillas. Hombre, it doesn't get any better.

To the left, for your non-beefy enjoyment, try either the fresh fish or fresh shrimp tacos, no Mrs. Paul's or Gorton's fisherman for our amigos. So fresh, you could swear they were still flapping! Served al estilo de Mazatlan, with thinly sliced cabbage, crema, spicy fresh salsa with onions, and lime wedges. Warmed fresh corn tortillas, a hefty portion of beans (no rice this time) and to wash it down, a frosty cold bottle of Coca-Cola from Mexico, sweetened with cane sugar, no high fructose corn syrup. Try it with a lime in the bottle, Corona-style. Que sabor!

Por favor, can you show me, amigos, where is the crime here? Just plenty of good food, freshly prepared, and priced to feed the whole familia. Sounds like, in the words of an aging Parrothead from Georgia whom I once knew, some "serious changes in attitudes are desperately needed 'round here." C'mon, man, it's just food, it's La Vida Dulce.

Can you hear the jailhouse conversations?
"What you in for?"
"Tacos, man."
"You robbed a taco stand?"
"No, man, I make carne asada tacos and sell them from a truck."

No, it makes no sense at all. And don't even get me started on the bacon dogs controversy over at Drew Carey's!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

National Chocolate Chip Day

Check this link for chocolate chip recipes from Nestle---enjoy!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Stud Muffins for Mothers Day

Happy Moms day to all. Here's a little gift from La Vida Dulce to moms everywhere, a big batch of freshly made Stud Muffins! Our local news team featured this new cookbook and you can click the title of this post for the link. Why didn't I think of that? Pretty as a bunch of posies, almost tastier than a box of Sees chocolates, and a close second to breakfast in bed. Enjoy!

Monday, May 05, 2008

One Bowl Espresso Nut Brownies

I've been working on a quick-to-fix brownie for quite some time, trying to come up with just the right taste, not too sweet or too heavy. The good folks over at "Coffee Bucks" make a drink concoction with lots of sugary caramel and mocha. What I wanted to do was capture that that same caramel mocha flavor, but without the diabetic coma or the increased waistline. The flavor comes from the addition of instant espresso and vanilla paste. Also, the brown sugar has a deeper sweet taste even though you use less. One brownie recipe called for TWO CUPS in only an 8x8 pan. YIKES.

While this little gem has less sugar than the usual brownie recipes, and it has a soft, cakey texture, not the heft of a dense and chewy brownie. Not that there's anything wrong with those brownies, they certainly have their place on the dessert tray. However, sometimes you just want the flavor, and this one fits just fine. More along the lines of a snack cake, 3 out of 4 college students give these a big thumbs up!

The other challenge was to find the right size pan and I think this little hand-me-down from Granny's glass bakeware collection might be the right fit. The standard 9x13-inch pan resulted in a brownie that was too flat, and the 8x8-inch pan made the batter overflow into a big chocolate mess. This little 12x8 green Pyrex pan saw plenty of pot luck action in its day, and it was just right. I know how Goldilocks must have felt on her third try!

These brownies are dark, rich, and full of flavor. Serve them with or without the cajeta or caramel sauce, and maybe a glass of milk. Measurements are given in volume and weights.

depending on how you cut them

3.35 oz. or 1 cup cocoa
4 oz. or 1 stick unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
5.10 oz or 1 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla paste or extract
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 pinch salt
1 bar Hershey's milk chocolate with almonds, broken
1 oz. or 1/4 cup chopped pecans, optional
Cajeta or Caramel sauce, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line pan with foil so that it extends about 2-inches over the side. Spray with pan coating or brush with melted butter. Melt the butter in a large enough microwaveable bowl and nuke for about 1 minute at 10 second intervals, taking care so butter does not burn. Remove from nuker and add cocoa & brown sugar, whisking until completely dissolved. Add eggs one at a time, beating in until batter becomes glossy. Add vanilla, espresso powder, salt, soda. Add flour and nuts, mix well. Pour into prepared pan, then add pieces of chocolate bar, if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until springy to the touch. Let cool in pan, then remove using the foil to lift from pan. Cut into squares, garnish with caramel sauce, ice cream, or a simple dusting with powdered sugar.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Chronicles

Let's get it started here! If you send a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) to:

Carl Griffith's
1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough
PO Box 321
Jefferson MD 21755 USA

(and enclose a buck or two to help the cause), the good folks at the 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Preservation Society will send you a portion of dried sourdough starter. Directions on how to grow the starter are on the website, click the link above for more information.

The site includes the history of the 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough, directions to reactivate the dried start, recipes for breads plus pancakes and more. Over the next few days we will watch how this new start grows and post recipes from Carl's original brochure.

In a small clean container, mix in one tablespoon of lukewarm water, bottled water is best to use if you have hard water. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of Carl's dried start and let stand for a few minutes to soften. Mix in one tablespoon of AP flour, adding a drop or two of water to make the consistency of thin pancake batter. Let sit until the mixture gets bubbly. Then add 1/4 cup water, stir then pour into a larger clean container and then add 1/4 cup flour. When it gets bubbly, add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup flour. When this gets bubbly you should have about a cup of active start.

Now we are ready to get baking!