Refrigerator Voyeur

Several years ago we were at an outdoor party, I think celebrating someone’s retirement. We were all gathered round in the backyard eating snacks and drinking adult beverages when one of the female guests went into the house to use the necessary room. We saw her turn on the light and she obviously used the toilet because for a minute or two she was out of view. Then some of us pretended not to watched as she went over to the sink and proceeded to open the medicine cabinet. She removed a couple items for closer evaluation and then put them back where she found them. She closed the medicine cabinet and bent down. We assume to look through the vanity drawers. The light went out and in a moment she was back outdoors with the rest of us. No one spoke a word to the medicine cabinet voyeur about what several of us had witnessed and chuckled quietly about.

When I go to visit my dad I am a refrigerator voyeur. Someone needs to be. Checking for expiration dates or foods that are penicillin material. Perhaps I’m not an adequate refrigerator peeping Tom because on one visit my nieces found some very very old milk in the back of the refrigerator. They asked me what they should do with it and I said pour it down the toilet. “Aunt Featherheadlady,” they said, “it won’t come out of the carton.”  Well that says it all.

I’m always curious about what people in front of or behind me have in their shopping carts. Do they make meals from scratch?  Bake a lot?  Buy organic?  Eat gluten free?  Vegetarian or vegan?  Junk food junkies?  Do they have lots of children?  Eat alone?  Maybe I’ll start taking pictures of the content of people’s shopping carts and try to  draw conclusions about their lives. I guess I’m just as nosy as the lady who combed through that medicine cabinet.

I thought I’d share a few of my refrigerator shelves with you.  Most of these things I consider necessities for cooking savory dishes. I have specific places for specific things. When my husband is rummaging through the fridge I ask him what he’s looking for. Because I know where almost everything is in there. Almost everything.

Shelf #1

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Sweet relish for making tartar sauce. Some people use it as a stand alone condiment but I do not.

Dijon mustard for making salad dressing, potato salad, deviled eggs, barbecue sauce, and for smearing on sandwiches or burgers.

Chipotle hot sauce???  Where did that come from?

Anchovy filets and paste for making pasta sauces and Caesar salad dressing.

Hoisin sauce for stir-fry or dipping sauces.

Horseradish for making cocktail sauce, bloody Mary’s, dipping sauce for beef brisket, or kicking up the deviled eggs a bit.

Shelf #2

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Fish sauce for stir-fry, marinades, Asian vinaigrette.

Sriracha chili sauce for dipping sauces, glaze.

Franks red hot for so many things…macaroni and cheese, potato salad, bloody Mary’s, tacos, barbecue sauce…

A1 sauce for foods I cook that my husband thinks are dry or  insufficiently seasoned.

Worcestershire sauce…Lea and Perrins…for so many things. (I think it’s wrong to take the paper off the bottle.)  It has vinegar, molasses, sugar, onion, garlic, cloves, chili pepper extract and anchovies.   Genius.

Shelf #3

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Chili pepper for kicking up chili, dips, salsa, guacamole. A little goes a long way.

Toasted sesame oil for marinades, stir-fried dishes, rice noodles. A little goes a long way.

Soy sauce for stir-fry, marinades, sushi. Like Worcestershire and Franks, soy sauce is a necessity.

Lemon oil which is great for fish dishes and salad dressings.

Saigon sizzle stir-fry sauce when you want a good, not much extra effort, dinner in the wok.

That’s the left side of my refrigerator door. My cooking necessities. The other side has things like buttermilk, brooks tangy catsup,  dark chocolate syrup, jalapeño peppers, lots of butter, mayonnaise, maple syrup, and a big container of Pepto Bismol.

Another time I’ll invite you into my cheese drawer.

 

Meatballs Italian Style

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Spaghetti and Meatballs… The all-American Italian favorite. Almost everyone I know loves spaghetti and meatballs. And most everyone has their own recipe and technique when it comes to meatballs. Truthfully mine might never be the same twice. It depends on what I have in the refrigerator and pantry. Tonight’s meatballs were pretty good and I documented my steps so maybe, if I follow my own instructions, they will actually taste the same twice.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground chuck

1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

1 large egg

1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese

1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped

1 T Worcestershire

1/2 medium onion finely chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

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Preheat oven to 350. I bake my meatballs but you can fry them if you prefer.

Chop the onion, garlic and parsley.

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Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and, using your hands, mix the ingredients just until they are combined. Don’t over mix.

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It looks like there is more “stuff” than meat but when it’s mixed it’s perfect.

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This recipe made 9 medium sized meatballs. I lined a baking dish with non-stick foil…one of the best inventions ever…and baked them for 20 minutes. I like to finish the cooking in my tomato sauce.

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I let them simmer for about an hour in my tomato sauce and served them over bucatini, a pasta that resembles a thick spaghetti noodle but has a hollow center. It’s a great pasta to serve with a rich thick tomato sauce.

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Served with a cold crisp salad and a crusty baguette it’s a meal you’d be proud to serve you guests. My dad is a Finn who loves his spaghetti and he enjoyed dinner tonight.

 

 

 

Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato and Egg Sandwich (BLTE)

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This is by no means original. Nor does it really require a recipe.  But it sure is an awesome sandwich!  The New York Times food section recently had a peanut butter banana sandwich as one of their feature dishes and I personally think a BLTE trumps a PBB. But that’s just my opinion.  A quaint little brewery we stopped at in Indiana last December had the option of adding an over easy egg to any sandwich on their menu. I had their BLT with an over easy egg.  It was great!

We spent today on the home end of a road trip and this was an easy thing to make for dinner.

Ingredients:

Bacon

Beef steak tomato

Romaine lettuce

Eggs

Italian sour dough bread

Mayonnaise

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These ingredients are my personal favorites. Obviously you can substitute your personal favorites…turkey bacon, miracle whip, wheat or white bread, Roma tomatoes, ice berg lettuce. There are no rules. It’s a sandwich.

Cook your bacon until it’s nice and crispy. Again, that’s my taste. My mother used to like her bacon just barely warm. Floppy. I set my oven on a low temp and keep the bacon warm while I work the rest of the ingredients.

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If you’re making multiple sandwiches go ahead and toast your bread and keep that warm in the oven as well. Slice your tomato. I like thin stackable slices. Wash your lettuce and trim the cores back a bit.

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Fry your eggs and just flip them briefly. Over easy does it.

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Now that everything is cooked and sliced some assembly is required. Give your toasted bread a nice coat of mayonnaise.

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Next add the lettuce. This line up keeps the tomato from making your bread all soggy.

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Now you can add the tomato. I sprinkle it with a little coarse sea salt.

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Bacon comes next. As many slices as you’d like.

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The grand finale. That over easy egg.

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Isn’t that just a thing of beauty?  If you like a good BLT the E is the icing on the cake. Serve with a couple napkins.

I have to be honest. Maybe this isn’t for everyone. I put this sandwich in front of my 87 year old father tonight.  He looked at it for a minute like perhaps I had made a mistake with the placement of that egg.  Then he proceeded to deconstructed it. He slid the egg off the top of the sandwich and said, “I’ll just eat mine on the side.”  He enjoyed his dinner. And really, that’s all that matters.

Mango and Red Bean Salsa

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This is a quick and easy salsa to make and one that we enjoy with fish.  My father loved to fish. To him it was one of life’s greatest pleasures. He can tell you a lot of fish stories. We ate a lot of fresh water fish, never ocean fish, and we enjoyed our fish pan fried or occasionally made into fish soup. Friday nights were fish fry nights. But we would have never considered eating salsa with fish.  Especially not one made with mango.  I never tasted a mango until I was an adult. My dad would look at this salsa and say, “what is that?  I don’t think I’d care for that.”  But that’s okay. I think if you try it, you’ll like it.

Ingredients:

2 ripe mangos

1 can small red beans or black beans

1/2 cup diced red onion

bunch of cilantro rough chopped

Juice of one lime (1/4 cup)

3 T olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

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Peel and dice the mangos. Dice red onion.  Drain and rinse the beans.

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Rough chop the cilantro.

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Put the beans, onion, mango and cilantro into a bowl and toss. Squeeze the lime, add the olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.   Toss again.

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Ready to serve.

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We had the salsa tonight with grilled walleye and asparagus. It was a perfect dinner.

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If you like things a little kicked up add a diced jalapeño pepper.  You can also serve this with corn chips.  Or with fish tacos.

Enjoy.

 

Cabbage and Potato Gratin

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Interestingly, I know several people who don’t like potatoes. It’s hard for me to imagine that.  I love potatoes.  I grew up in a meat and potatoes family. I like potatoes prepared every which way. Au gratin, scalloped, mashed, French fries, baked, chips, boiled, pancakes, American fries, hash browns…is there a more versatile carb??  I learned something new about potatoes while perusing Facebook…I had no idea there was a whole site featuring “funeral potatoes.”  Dishes traditionally made for funeral dinners (of course) and for pot lucks. Apparently these funeral potato dishes originated with the Mormons. I’ll have to do a little more research to find out about the Mormon connection. During the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City one of the souvenir food pins featured a depiction of funeral potatoes. I bet very few readers knew that!

But we’ve all eaten funeral potatoes. Most of us have made them. They consist of frozen hash browns or tater tots, cream soups, maybe some onion, sour cream, butter, cheese, and corn flakes or crushed potato chips for crunch. Ringing any bells??  They are delicious!!  Most of us know them as Cheesy Potatoes.

Tonight I decided to make a cabbage and potato bake. Apparently another name for this potato cabbage combo is Rumbledethumps. It’s a Scottish dish. What I made tonight is a variation of traditional Rumbledethumps.

Ingredients:

1 medium head of green cabbage

2 pounds of potatoes

1/2 cup of buttermilk

4 T butter

chives

1 cup gruyere cheese

salt and pepper to taste

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Preheat the oven to 450. Core the cabbage and slice it into thin strips. Add the cabbage to a pot of boiling salted water and cook for about 5 minutes.

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Drain the cabbage and set aside.

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I used redskin potatoes and did not peel them. Boil the potatoes until they are tender enough to mash.

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Once they’re done, mash the potatoes using the buttermilk and butter. If you need more buttermilk to make a nice creamy potato add a little more.

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Mix the cabbage, potatoes and chives together. Stir in the shredded cheese.

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Put the mixture into a casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes or until the top is browned.

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I served this tonight with chicken Marsala and green beans but this would make a great side dish for a beef roast or pork loin. This could also be served as a main dish with a side salad. If there is another cheese you prefer like cheddar or Swiss that would be good as well.

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Another new potato dish!  Tasted great.

Chocolate Brownies

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Almost everyone loves brownies. We attended a 4th of July party yesterday and almost every year I’m asked to bring chocolate chip cookies and brownies.

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This brownie recipe is very rich and fudgy.  If you usually make brownies from a mix this recipe will hopefully change your mind. I’ve been making these brownies for years and they are always a hit.

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

4 oz bar of semi-sweet chocolate (I use Ghirardelli)

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

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Preheat your oven to 350.

In a heavy saucepan over low heat melt the butter and chocolate. Watch carefully to ensure that you do not to over heat the chocolate.

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As soon as the butter and chocolate are melted remove from the heat. In the same pan stir in all of sugar.

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Add the eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition.

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Stir in the flour and add the vanilla.

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Pour the batter into a greased 9×13 pan. Or one lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes.

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Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares. To make this batch of brownies even more chocolatey I sprinkled them with 1 cup of milk chocolate chips once they were baked and returned the pan to the oven for a couple more minutes. Once the chips were melted I used a knife to spread them out and put a half pecan on top to dress them up. They are also good with seedless raspberry jam spread over the top while they are still warm and then drizzled with melted white chocolate.  Whatever you do to the brownies they are great served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with hot fudge sauce. Cube them up, freeze them and use them in your chocolate fondue or with a chocolate fountain.

Enjoy!

Another Yarn Stash Project

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For lack of a better description I am calling this simply, “Another Yarn Stash Project. ”

While in the Upper Peninsula this winter my daughter and her boyfriend found this adorable vase in the Touch of Finland Shop in Marquette. In the store the vase was filled with metal skewers topped with felted yarn balls. We tried to buy them but they weren’t for sale. So I said, “I can make those!”  I got into my wool yarn stash, tried to find colorful bits, and rolled them into tight little balls of varying sizes. Once they were felted and while they were still damp I worked wooden skewers into them and let them dry.  Voila!  Decorative yarn balls on sticks.

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The bonus with the wooden skewers is you can cut them into various lengths.  Sometimes NFS turns out to be a good and even an economical thing.

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Apparently the extras I made were fun cat toys, minus the skewers of course.

Felted Baby Shoes

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Like almost every knitter I have an abundance of yarn left from larger projects and can’t bear to throw it out. So I roll it into balls and stash the yarn balls away. These felted baby shoes are the perfect use for left over wool yarn. These knit up fairly quickly…they make a great traveling knitting project. The yarn has to be 100% wool for it to felt properly.  This is what these little shoes look like before felting.

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I’ve been told by several people that these little shoes stay on baby’s feet better than most. And they are SO adorable.

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