Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ode To A Potato Masher

This potato masher is probably the most used piece of kitchen equipment that I own. No joke. I use it most often for the function you see in the picture above; crumbling meat while it cooks. Specifically Italian sausage, the most used ingredient in my kitchen. I also use it to mix, kneed and stir a wide variety of things that I cook.  It is almost always out of the drawer and if I can see it I am using it.

My potato masher is without a doubt the most versatile utensil that resides in my kitchen.

Come to think of it... there are a number of things that I absolutely love in this picture.

My Calphalon pans given to me by my Grandma Trant when I stupidly got married the first time.
Sweet onions. Yum.
Paper plates; the invention that saves my sanity not the rainforest.
A cotton kitchen towel that says "I am not a paper towel" (it cancels out the paper plates).
My Kettle of Fish that was given to me by my Grandma Schantz when I was in college. It is the thing that makes every kitchen in every house I have ever lived in feel like her kitchen did; home.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Husbands Favorite Burger

Cheeseburgers in Paradise is a song, a restaurant, and an actual burger. The Elder Food Taster loves the dockside burger that can be found as the Special at one of Jimmy Buffett's restaurants; Cheeseburgers in Paradise.

Jimmy gave the recipe for his epic burger to Emeril and it is posted on the Foodnetwork website. In the spirit of my sister's sandwich post I decided to follow the recipe and recreate my husband's favorite Buffett burger; The Dockside Burger.

The basic Cheeseburger in Paradise hamburger recipe uses these ingredients: ground beef salt, black pepper, garlic salt, onion salt and celery salt.

I modified (of course) to eliminate the plain salt and the salt in the onion salt; I just used onion powder.

The resulting burger was delicious! Drink it with a Landshark Lager for the full Buffett experience. You definitely could cut down on the salt and next time I may eliminate it entirely. That would mean garlic, onion, black pepper, and celery seed. (We are hard core lovers of a good Chicago Dog and therefor keep the spice cabinet stacked with celery seed.)

The Dockside Burger is one of the daily specials at Cheeseburger in Paradise; Thursday I think.  Unfortunately we could not remember specifically what it was topped with. Fortunately the Myrtle Beach restaurant is open on Sunday nights and we called to ask what was on it. I bet we made their night. "Ummmm Hi. We are grilling burgers and we wanted to make one just like yours..."

Jimmy Buffet's Cheeseburger in Paradise Dockside Burger:
Velveeta Cheese, onions, hamburger dills and sweet relish. 

Mine was the burger of my childhood:
Velveeta (cut from the block), onion, ketchup and mustard
(with maybe one pickle if I felt adventurous)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Don't Know How I Screwed This One Up...

I promised failures! Well here's a good one; unfortunately rather typical for me.

You recognize this right?
Rice Krispies...
I decided to make Rice Krispie Treats because there was a sale on strawberry flavored marshmallows...

I have been waiting for the inspiration to make them but had not found quite the right time and the giant family sized box sat up on the shelf for 2 months at least.

Why I decided that Friday night was the perfect time to make these I do not know. One food taster in the hospital and the other in bed with a stomach bug and a very LARGE number of things on my mind...

 GIANT box plus TWO bags of marshmallows should equal a double batch.

EXCEPT... something distracted me. 6 Tablespoons of butter, 2 bags of strawberry marshmallows, and 6 cups of cereal. Wrong. For whatever reason I forgot the second 6 cups of cereal. It should have been 12 Cups.

The really dumb part was that after I had mixed it all up I actually added more cereal because it looked too marshmallowee. SO what I ended up with is:

Very Very Gooey, Very Strawberryee, Not So Crispy Rice Krispies.  

Friday, March 12, 2010

Kerry's Sandwiches

Kerry Guest Blogs – Sandwich Recipes

Sandwich recipes seem silly. Anyone can make a sandwich, right? It’s essentially bread filled with some form of protein, veggies, and something squishy like mayo or mustard. You certainly don’t need a recipe to make one, but it’s something you might seriously want to try. I get much better results when I use a recipe for a sandwich, which is funny as I often forgo recipes on more complicated fare.

This week, I made this recipe!

Chicken and Roquefort Sandwiches from Cooking Light. After his first bite, my husband exclaimed, “I would pay $7 for this sandwich!” I can’t say that he has ever put a monetary value on my cooking before. Maybe it’s the PhD in economics he’s working on, or maybe it was just that good. I have chosen to believe the latter, and I wholeheartedly agree. It was a sandwich worth ordering at a restaurant. Preferably, with a side of the sweet potato fries posted on this very blog. Sandwiches are cheap and quick to make, and a recipe will reaffirm just how delicious they can be. Don’t fool yourself with a thrown together sandwich of your own design. Go for the real deal - use a recipe.

(Thanks Kerry! You have inspired me; I am going to make Jimmy Buffett's Cheeseburger in paradise this weekend... )

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Still in the Kitchen

Last year I started blogging in March and wrote a post about how I was camp cooking in my new kitchen.We sat on a fireproof safe and boxes and ate around a school desk. We did not have a can opener to my dismay.

This year the kitchen is still a center of our home and... a highly sought place of power.
The kitchen is quite often a place where a struggle for dominance occurs... between my husband and myself, between the cats, between the cats and the dog, between the children and the dog...

I love to cook. I do not like to share the kitchen. I think it started with fighting with my mother over how something was supposed to be done... Now I do it.

My kitchen should not be a place of conflict!! I want my kitchen to be more like my Grandmother's. I want a place where the kids can learn about what I am doing and why. I want it to be a place where people enjoy food and feel a deep connection to it!!

This year, I have a can opener. This year I have a dining room and a dining room table. I love my kitchen still. Enough that I am still blogging about it and even gave it it's very own blog space. This year, mostly what I would like more than anything else... is to be the King of the Kitchen.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Pronunciation: \sə-ˈstā-nə-bəl\
Function: adjective
Date: circa 1727
1 : capable of being sustained
2 a : of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged b : of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods

There are two new widgets on the sidebars of this blog.
Local Harvest and The Eat Well Guide.

Local Harvest is the resource I used to find the CSA (community supported agriculture) membership farm that we got weekly veggie baskets from for 2 years. A CSA is essentially a group of investors that each get a share of the profit on a weekly basis. Our weekly "share" was a basket of whatever was growing on the organic farm at the time from April through the end of October. It is because of that experience that I know how to make a fantastic cream based soup with Italian Sausage and fresh Kale. I also now know how to tell the difference between elephant head garlic and leeks. (I learned the hard way.) Enter your location to find all of your local farmers and businesses with fresh food opportunities for you. Click on the logo and it will take you to their website for even more in depth information. I like it because you can see just how many farms there are all over the country that provide products for public consumption. It's a truly beautiful map.

The other widget is for The Eat Well Guide. The Eat Well Guide is a project of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. The politics of food is a fascinating subject; everything from Free Trade to Corporate Farming Oversight; but The Eat Well Guide is a resource for finding organic food that is grown using sustainable practices.  You can use their widget to search using keywords, zip codes, or cities, but the best function of all is the trip planner.

The Eat Well Guide can be used when you are planning a road trip. Identify your starting point and your destination and the search engine will create a trip planner with all of the local sustainable food options in between. The next time I drive home to Iowa I will definitely be stopping at the Creekside Outpost in New Albany, Indiana! (home made beef jerky and a juice bar, Sweet!) I've got road trips in my blood and I will definitely be using this.

These 2 widgets are here to help you find the best, freshest food possible from your neighbors. By spending your money on them you will be supporting your community, not Walmart Corporate.

You can also take advantage of your farmers markets. In many towns across the United States the farmers markets are open year round with products produced locally.

Statistics show that for every $100 spent locally at locally run businesses $68 of those dollars comes back to your community. You cannot say the same for money spent at the big box stores, and if you purchase products online; your community will never see a dime.

Expand your food experiences and look at your own home town. There are some amazing products out there that you probably don't even know about. So when you find them, tell everyone!