Showing posts from 2011

I Ain't Scared of No Ghost

Around Halloween ghost stories come out of the woodwork and get told and retold, news organizations send reporters out to the area’s “most haunted” places and do fluffy, one-sided “news” reports about the ghosts that people have “seen” or “experienced.” I saw one recently that took place at one of my favorite venues in St. Cloud, the Pioneer Place Theatre/Veranda Lounge . Now I hear tell that there is going to be a “documentary” made about the so-called “ghosts” that “haunt” the place. The theatre’s artistic producer and all around great guy, Dan Barth, was interviewed and he stated that the theatre had hired four different psychics to come in and each of them said that, yes, indeed the place was haunted. One of them said there were four ghosts, I don’t know if any of the others came up with a specific number, but four has become the accepted number. Now, I will say nothing bad about Dan, he is one of my favorite people in the world, but I will say something about supposed psyc

Awesome Chili

No two of my chili recipes are the same, they are variations on a theme, but this one I just had to share. You will have to take it as given that the peppers are all fire roasted, skinned, peeled and diced. Ingredients: 1 poblano pepper 1 cherry bomb pepper 1 serrano pepper 1 jalapeño pepper 1 medium onion, diced 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 can chili beans 1 can red kidney beans 1 can diced tomatoes 1 cup whole kernel corn 1/2 cup cashew nuts 1 lb. 80/20 ground beef 1 slice bacon, diced 1/2 tbsp chili powder 1/2 tbsp ground cumin 1/2 tbsp cilantro 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp black pepper 1/4 tsp turmeric 1/8 tsp cinnamon 2 bay leaves 1/2 can (6 oz.) Coca Cola Heat a large, deep pan and add the bacon, fry it until the fat just starts to melt. Add the peppers, onion and garlic, sauté until the onions start to turn translucent. Add the ground beef and bay leaves, brown the beef. Add the dry ingredients (chili powder, etc.) and stir. Add the cashew nuts and stir.

Mystical Woo

I ran into an old friend recently, back "in the day" I wanted badly to be her boyfriend but that never worked out. I hadn't seen her in years and she's still as pretty as she was then. She's also still a big proponent of what I call "mystical woo" and that just doesn't sit right with a skeptic like me. Let's start with the so-called "Law of Attraction," wherein a person thinks of something and that thing happens, or a person thinks of someone and then sees that person for the first time in years. Obviously, that subject came up, especially the second part. The first thing you need to know about the "Law of Attraction" is that is was made up around the turn of the century by William Walker Atkinson, an attorney, merchant and publisher -- you will notice a profound lack of the word "scientist" in his list of occupations. Like many people, he looked for some divine or mystical principal that drives something as s

Okay, Calm Down

Back in 2009 I wrote about a guy in Florida who is a member of the same online forum as I. He was young, arrogant and had a chip on his shoulder the size of Gibraltar. Later he mellowed out, became a thoughtful if not a bit snarky person and became one of my favorite posters. That all changed again recently when the subject of "lane-splitting" on a motorcycle came up. Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist weaves in and out of traffic congestion by driving between lanes and between vehicles. Any space they see is fair game. I see the practice for what it is: stupid and dangerous. Any motorcyclist who engages in this practice is asking to get side-swiped, hurt or killed. Any motorcyclist who engages in this practice and is side-swiped, hurt or killed is getting exactly what they asked for. Dude in Florida believes that he is entitled to lane-split merely because he is driving a motorcycle. "Why should I be stuck just because you're all stuck in your cages?"

Latest Roaster Saga

I had a gig down in Rochester on Monday of last week so I didn't make it in to work. On Tuesday morning I fired up the roaster, waited an appropriate amount of time and went to check on the pre-heating process only to find that the temperature was holding at 350 degrees. I need between 415-450 to roast beans so I had to figure out what was wrong. Looking at the burners I saw that several of them weren't firing at all, so I cleaned them all off with a wire brush and tried again. No dice. I started thinking that maybe the thermometer was wrong, since it was cracked (has been for some time) and a little bent. It hadn't been wrong in the past, but I wanted to make sure so I ordered a new one. It came on Wednesday, I installed it, preheated the roaster and got 350 degrees again. I tired contacting Probat, but no one called me back. Thursday I called them again and they suggested that maybe there were some gas valves that were acting up, which happens sometimes to a roaster

Pork Chop Qapla!

The cast of characters: A big ol' bone-in pork chop Jerk Rub Apple-Raisin-Pepper Salsa Parsnip puree Bourbon-brown sugar reduction The salsa is a mixture of finely diced jalapenos, Serranos, poblano, orange bell pepper, red onion, garlic, Fuji apple, raisins, salt, pepper, sugar, cilantro, cumin, white vinegar and lemon juice. The parsnip puree contains a couple of medium parsnips, a small potato, butter, white pepper and chicken stock. The bourbon-brown sugar reduction contains pork drippings, brown sugar, salt and pepper, white vinegar and flour. I rubbed the chop with my homemade jerk rub a couple of hours before dinner to let it really set up in the meat. The jerk rub is as follows (this makes a LOT more than you need, but then you have some around for other meals): 1/4 cup brown sugar; light is best 1/4 tsp ground cumin 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp ground cloves 1 tsp red pepper flakes 1 tbsp allspice 2 tsp Kosher salt 1 tsp freshly ground pepper First

First Homemade Pie Crust

I found a blog called Cooking for Assholes that has some pretty good recipes in it, but can be way too snarky. If you're not into being insulted as you try new recipes you probably should avoid clicking the link. Seriously, the guy has this "if you can't do this you're too fucking stupid" attitude that gets old pretty quick. Too bad, because the guy knows food and his recipes are, for the most part, pretty awesome. Anyway, reading one of his posts the other day got me thinking about making another quiche, so I looked at his crust recipe, which I am going to reproduce here without all the profanity and only about half the snarkiness. Ingredients: 1-1/4 cup all purpose flour 1/2 tsp salt (If making a sweet crust add 1 tbsp sugar) 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold butter, cut into small cubes 3 tbsp COLD water Use your food processor -- don't have one? Get one. If you don't have one you're on your own for the rest of the recipe. All I know for sure is t

Pasta From Scratch

  My first attempt at pasta from scratch was a huge failure (except for getting engaged, that part rocked). I figure we did several things wrong, using bleached all purpose flour instead of unbleached or semolina flour, using eggs that were too cold and too small, and not having the correct moisture content. We made two attempts that night and they both wound up in the garbage. Last night I tried again, this time with semolina flour and jumbo eggs -- which I left sit out on the counter for a good hour before cracking. It took two eggs because the first one just disappeared into the flour without a trace. I kneaded the dough for a good long time and let it rest for 10 minutes or so. I came back to something that still wasn't right, but I wasn't willing to throw it out because semolina flour is so expensive. I wetted my hands and went back to kneading, wetted them once more and kneaded... finally the dough starting taking on the right consistency. I cut a small amount of t


Kate and I have been dating for four years now. I have never known anyone like her and I love her deeply. I proposed before, but she has never accepted before now and I wanted to record how it happened. We have been volunteers for a 50-hour trivia marathon on the local college radio station, KVSC-FM , for years (the contest itself has taken place annually for over 30 years), I record song parodies with the Shake a Hamster Band , she works the phone bank where the competing teams call in their answers. Across the hall from the phone bank is the food station (we are very well fed throughout the whole contest) and this year they had a big bowl of Necco® Sweethearts , which I love (I know a lot of people who don't). Sometime during the weekend, it had to have been Friday or Saturday, I grabbed a handful and wandered across the hall to the phone bank to say "hi" to Kate and give her a kiss on the top of her head. As I walked I would read a heart and eat it, read and ea

Cooking Error

I got all the ingredients I needed to make spaghetti last night -- almost. I got meat, onion, garlic, mushrooms, a red pepper and a can of diced tomatoes. Notice that I didn't get any sauce, which I realized when I was getting ready to start cooking. I didn't feel like running to the store just to get a can of sauce, so I decided to reduce the recipe size and use the can of diced tomatoes as the sauce. So I got out the blender, poured the can of diced tomatoes into it and hit "liquefy." Everything was going just fine until I noticed that some of the liquid was leaking out of the bottom of the pitcher. "Oh, you're bleeding," I said, and started to remove the pitcher from the blender's base. The bottom came off completely covering the blender and the counter with tomato sauce. I cleaned up the mess and ordered a pizza.