Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Summer's Over, but I Do Want to Wrap Up

Life got busy in August. Busier than I expected. As a result, I didn't get to post as much as I wanted to. But I was still cooking and grilling and taking pictures. I'll pop some of them up on the website as soon as I can. Yes, I know that I'm the only one reading this (although I got a couple hundred pings on the last post because of a link elsewehere), but I'd like to have a record for myself for next year. Maybe I'll see something that I'll want to try again. Or try to improve a bit.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sierra Mist and Orange Juice -- Who Knew?

I was having a nice Sunday breakfast (nothing new, nothing big) and I wanted something cool to drink instead of hot tea or coffee. Orange juice is nice, but too acidic for me to have more than one glass.

Okay, so try something new. The worse that could happen is I waste 16-20 ounces of beverages and have a glass of cold water.

I took one of those hard-plastic souvenir cups from a national chain, which was covered with advertisements, which makes it a keepsake. I put about half a tray of ice in it and added a can of Sierra Mist.

Topped it off with orange juice. Well, "topped" is not right. It's a big cup. I poured in about 6 to 8 ounces, so I'm guessing the ratio of soda to juice is about 2:1.

Lemon-lime soda with orange juice? Not bad. I like it.

Why not ginger ale? We were out of it.

Substitutions: Next time, particularly if it isn't breakfast time, I'll substitute the OJ with Hawaiian Punch. That's is always plentiful around here.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Comfort Food: the Double-Decker Fried Egg Sandwich with Cheese

It doesn't take a genius to make comfort food. The genius comes in knowing when you need to make it. And knowing how to improve upon it.

One of the first things I learned how to cook was a scrambled egg (although it often came out somewhere between scrambled and a mini-omelet). Unfortunately, I didn't always have the patience (or, frankly, the ability) to properly scramble an egg. So I had a lot of fried eggs.

Fried eggs are just plopped into the flying pan after the butter has melted.
You don't have to flip a fried egg, and it isn't uncommon for certain eight-year-olds to break the yolk making attempts to flip fried eggs and then whining and crying about it.

My mother used to tilt the pan and spoon some of the grease onto the top of the egg to cook it. That was difficult for me because the pan was hot, even with the pot holder, so I just covered it with a pot lid, and it would cook just fine.

The moment of brilliance comes when you realize that if you're making toast, and you decide to make a sandwich out of it, it doesn't matter if the yolk breaks. In fact, you want it to break. That actually gave me the courage to practice flipping my eggs.

So how do you improve on the simplicity of one egg, one frying pan and two pieces of toast, which bring back childhood memories?

Well, yeah, a bagel or a roll or something. Sure.

But how about two eggs?

One egg isn't very filling, but two eggs is too much for most rolls or bagels. Not that I mind having stuff hanging over the sides, but I don't like burning my fingers while I'm eating breakfast.

And then the brilliance struck.
This was recent. I would never have had the patience for this as a kid.

A double-decker fried egg sandwich.
Make two eggs, but make them one at a time. The first egg won't have time to get cold, and you'll be putting a second hot egg right on top of it.

Can you improve that?
How about a slice of cheese in between. (I use the slices from the bricks at Costco.)

There wasn't any ham in the fridge this morning, but I did have a little package of mini Canadian bacon. I heated it up for a few minutes in the pan to top it off.

And a slice of tomato that was almost as wide as the bagel.

Sorry, no pictures. It was a little sloppy when put together.
And by the time I thought to take a picture, there was a big ol' bite taking out of it.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On Top of Ol' Frankie! (All Covered with *Stuff*!)

There was a time, when I was a kid, when I had two choices when it came to topping a hot dog: ketchup or mustard. And you had to be careful where you were because some people were adamant (okay, I didn't know that word back then, but they "insisted -- a lot!") that mustard goes on franks and ketchup (or catsup back then) goes on burgers.

Now let's not get into which kind of mustard: yellow stuff, which looked icky the first time I saw it; Gulden's, the brown stuff in the jar; or Kozi-- Kazi-- Czoski-- the other spicy brown mustard that my father bought sometimes for his pastrami sandwiches. (You could wash the jar out when you were done and it was a drinking glass, with a handle.)

No, let's not get into that. There are only two things that are important now:
First, I know more people who prefer ketchup and wouldn't even consider mustard.
Second, I'm bored of just plain ketchup.

That means finding other toppings.

Disclaimer: I don't eat beans, so chili is right out. Don't even suggest it.

I like sauerkraut, when we have it. And if it's hot. Be careful not to stain your pots. (DO NOT cover it! I am NOT kidding.) And I'll skip the ketchup. Maybe try mustard.

Onions are good, if someone else made them.

So what else is there?

That's the beauty of eating three hot dogs in one sitting. You can try things out.

Frank #1 got a folded slice of American cheese in the bun, under the dog, and a quarter wedge of crunchy kosher dill on top. And ketchup.
My wife had a problem with the combo, as has her sister on a past occasion.
"Pickle on a hot dog?"

What do you think relish is?
"Big difference between relish and kosher dill pickles."

True. Relish is generally too sweet. My mother used to buy India Relish (IIRC) instead of Pickle Relish. And I avoid the overly bright green kind.

Can someone tell me if it was an old Popeye cartoon or maybe an Abbott and Costello bit, which included the phrase "with a pickle for a nickel and the mustard on top" when someone was buying a hot dog? Really, I am not the weird one here. (At least, not with regards to this.)

Frank #2 grossed my daughter out because I tried some salsa, which is good on everything else. She had a point. I won't be doing that again.

Frank #3 had one of the more filling options for toppings you can have: veggies. Now, I'm not talking strange stuff like Californians with their Pineapple-topped pizzas. There was some leftover broccoli-rabe, which my wife heated up. Okay, it was her idea, but it was a good one, so I copied it.

Other Vegetables to try:
Swiss chard

I like them. They're leafy. Problem is, they aren't likely to be in the house any time soon unless I go get them with one specific purpose in mind. (Mwu-ha-ha!)

Any other suggestions? (Do you like how I'm assuming that someone is not only reading this blog, but reading this far, and still planning on responding?)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

No Ice? Use Ice Cream.

I bought a 20-oz soda when I went out for lunch but didn't get a chance to drink it right away. Figured I'd drink it at home. But there weren't any ice cube trays in the freezer. (They're probably in the other freezer because we needed space.) I could check the other freezer ....

Or I could use a scoop or two of ice cream.

The nice thing: it's kind of hot and sticky out right now.
The nicer thing: it's vanilla bean ice cream and it was already a vanilla coke. Double the vanilla. Whoop whoop!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Baking Breakfast on the Grill

Sunday morning I decided to cook my breakfast outdoors. It was a last-minute idea, so I had to raid the fridge for ingredients.

Years ago, I had a recipe that I used with the kids on Mothers Day morning, which was basically a couple slices of bread, the top slice with a hole cut out, and an egg was dropped in. Then it was put into the oven to bake for a while. Unfortunately, I have to find that recipe because I don't remember the temperature or the amount of time and I'm not experimenting.

Anyway, it was too hot to use the oven, and I was too lazy to empty it of all the trays and pans (and restock them later). So I went to the grill and used my trusty cast-iron pan.

Ingredients: one oversized bagel with almost no hole to speak of,
one egg,
shredded cheddar cheese,
jalapenos (one of my go to items, keep a jar in the fridge for the summer)

What I didn't add, but should have:
bacon -- none in the house, and I would've had to clean up
salsa -- didn't think of it, and I couldn't use very much anyway.
ham -- there was a slice in the fridge, but I didn't notice it
salt -- this I just forget. When the ham or bacon, it isn't necessary. I added it later, but it wasn't the same.

Preheat the grill. When it's hot turn off the middle burner.
Put the pan on the middle burner. Add a little butter.
Carefully, cut a cone-shaped hole in the middle of the top of the bagel into the center. After that you can make it a cup-shaped hole.
If you can see out the bottom of the bagel, stuff some bread into the hole and press it down.
(If the bagel had any appreciable hole whatsoever, you can't do this. Get a nice-sized roll, or use two slices of bread.)

Put the bagel in the pan. Drop some butter into the top of the bagel.
Slice up a couple pieces of jalapenos and drop it in.
Crack an egg and plop it in. It's up to you whether you want to scramble it first, or just drop it in, or to crack the yolk afterward.
Cover with shredded cheese.

I let it bake on the center burner with the other two on high for 10-15 minutes.
Just to be sure, at the end, I put the center burner on low for about 3 minutes, to make sure the egg was cooked.

I enjoyed this, but it could've used salt.
Also, I should have gotten out a little earlier so I wouldn't have had the sun right on my back as I was cooking. If I do this again, get an earlier start.

Live and learn. But that's the point of this blog.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer is Coming

To steal a phrase from A Game of Thrones, Summer is Coming.

Time for me to get back to work. Not that I stopped, I just didn't have the time for experimenting like I did last year. I still cooked when I wanted to and when the opportunities presented themselves. I just didn't write about it. Kind of like the six or seven posts I meant to write last August.

I've already made one creation, which was as much a mess as anything else. I'll talk about it next time.

Right now is a reminder to get those simple tools you need or buy those few ingredients that you like to use.

I generally use a small cast-iron frying pan because it's the only one I own. The rest belong to my wife, and I don't like to use them if I think I'm going to mess them up. Well, now I know that I either have to use them or buy a bigger pan for myself. I'll make less of a mess that way.

I've also noticed that cooking for one isn't cheap if you don't want a lot of leftovers. But it can be fun.