Monday, October 27, 2008

Cooking weather

Sunday's weather was, well, for me, cooking weather. Not much need to go outside due to the Fair Weather Kenny rule: If the weather sucks, don't go out in it! I sometimes will cook 2 dinners on a Sunday. One for that evening and one that gets better with age, like soup or stew, for Monday's fare. I also pretty much destroy the kitchen. Thankfully, my child bride and I have an agreement: I cook and she cleans up the dishes afterward. This has worked for over 25 years, so we'll keep that as it is. The only problem we've had is sometimes I'll have little bowls with a starch mix or liquid base that gets mistaken for dirty dishes and the cleaning lady takes them away on me! Anyway, first thing I decided to make was a dish using scallops, Diane's favorite seafood. I had purchased a pound of bay scallops at Trader Joe's last week. I went through my cook books looking for a pasta dish with scallops, but didn't find exactly what I had in mind. I was looking for something creamy, but not overly rich. One dish I found had 3 cups of heavy cream in it, that would've been good, but a ton of calories. So, I checked out the internet. Two sites I like to visit are the Food Network and Epicurious.

Rachel Ray had one promising recipe on the Food Network. Then I went to Epicurious and found something interesting. Scallops with spinach fettucini and red pepper cream sauce. What made it more interesting was that the red peppers were roasted first. Reading the reviews, several people mentioned that they used 1/2 and 1/2 instead of cream and the results were great. The recipe also included marinating the scallops for several hours which I thought was interesting. That became meal #1.

Putting grocery items into the downstairs freezer on Sunday morning, I came across a ham bone with some meat on it. It was either throw it or use it. Got out the cookbooks. One of my Cooks Illustrated cookbooks had a recipe for Brunswick Stew. That fit the bill for making something that aging 24 hours would improve and be enough to feed us Monday and Tuesday. This became meal #2. I still needed a meat dish for Sunday to go with the scallop pasta dish. Easy. I've got several packages of cut up and seasoned baby back ribs in the freezer. All I have to do is thaw and bake. Meal #3.

These are the baby backs. Seasoned with a rub that I enhanced from Cook's Illustrated. The sauce is Maple Rosemary that is made under the Lund's and Byerly's label. Very tasty! The secret for pork ribs, whether baby backs or country style for tenderness is 3 hours at 300 degrees. Trust me on that.

This is the scallops and pasta dish. I had assorted vegetable pasta radiatore that I used instead of fettucini. The roasted red pepper sauce needed a little zing. I added some red pepper flakes and also some Aleppo peppers that I buy from Penzey's. Another thing I do when I cook with seafood mixed with pasta is to add some sausage for additional flavor. I had one chorizo sausage in the freezer, so I diced it up and added it to the sauce. The recipe also called for pine nuts. I'm not crazy about pine nuts, but I was going to follow the recipe. However, when I went to buy some bulk ones at Byerly's, they were nearly $25 a pound! I decided to use raw pumpkin seeds instead. I toasted them in the oven and added the proper amount to the recipe. When all was said and done, it was great! A very different taste then normal, due to the roasted peppers and the pumpkin seeds. Very enjoyable.

Last on the list was the Brunswick Stew. Ham, chicken, potato, okra, corn, onion, garlic in a chicken stock and tomato base. Tasted good last night, it should even taste better tonight.

All in all, a very satisfying day in the kitchen! I couldn't find the Brunswick stew recipe from Cooks Illustrated online, but the link for the scallop dish is below:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bill ain't the only one with a new shirt...

That doggone Bill. He gets a new jersey from Twin 6 and he's bragging about it all over the internet, wearing it to spin class, etc., etc! Well, I've had this new shirt from Twin 6 for a few weeks now, thank you very much!

Friday, October 24, 2008

TDF 2009

Here's the route for TDF 2009. It's clockwise this year, so Bill would struggle with the entire concept of that. (or was it counterclockwise?). Anyway, the 2nd to last stage finishes on Mont Ventoux, a classic mountaintop finish. The same mountain that Lance "conceded" to Pantani several years ago. The idea is to add excitement with a moutain top race at the end and not a time trial as in years past on the 2nd to last stage. After the stage is completed, the riders will take the high speed "TGV" fast train to the start of the final stage into Paris.

I couldn't get the above photo any larger. On the left is Carlos Sastre, the 2008 winner, and Alberto Contador, the 2007 winner on the right. Nice ties, guys.

Stages for the 2009 Tour de France

Stage 1 July 4 - Monaco - Monaco, 15km (individual time-trial) Stage 2 - July 5 - Monaco - Brignoles, 182kmStage 3 - July 6 - Marseille - La Grande-Motte, 196kmStage 4 - July 7 - Montpellier, 38km (team time-trial)Stage 5 - July 8 - Le Cap d'Agde - Perpignan, 197kmStage 6 - July 9 - Girona (Spain) - Barcelona (Spain), 175kmStage 7 - July 10 - Barcelona - Andorra 224kmStage 8 - July 11 - Andorra-la-Vieille - Saint-Girons, 176kmStage 9 - July 12 - Saint Gaudens - Tarbes, 160km● - July 13 - Rest day at LimogesStage 10 - July 14 - Limoges - Issoudun, 193kmStage 11 - July 15 - Vatan – Saint Fargeau, 192kmStage 12 - July 16 - Tonnerre - Vittel, 200kmStage 13 - July 17 - Vittel - Colmar, 200kmStage 14 - July 18 - Colmar - Besanon, 199kmStage 15 - July 19 - Pontarlier - Verbier (Suisse), 207km● - July 20 - Rest day at VerbierStage 16 - July 21 - Martigny (Switzerland) - Bourg-Saint Maurice, 160kmStage 17 - July 22 - Bourg-Saint Maurice - Le Grand Bornand, 169kmStage 18 - July 23 - Annecy - Annecy, 40km (individual time-trial)Stage 19 - July 24 - Bourgoin-Jallieu - Aubenas, 195kmStage 20 - July 25 - Montélimar - Mont Ventoux, 167kmStage 21 - July 26 - Montereau-Fault-Yonne - Paris Champs Elysées, 160km

● 10 flat stages.● 7 mountain stages● 1 medium mountain stage.● 2 individual time-trial stages.● 1 team time-trial stage.Distinctive aspects of the race● 3 mountain finishes.● 2 rest days.● 55 kilometers of individual time-trials.

● 20 Category 1, Category 2 and hors categorie passes will be climbed.

speaking of crack...

I'm sure glad I'm not Jeff Dubay.

What a SF.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I needed some color. Here is a shot I took this summer. It makes a great wallpaper.

Boy, this is a pretty quiet time of year. Tween-time. Don't get me wrong, I like fall. But late fall gets tough. Daylight is diminished, rides are good, but bundled up rides aren't the same as the hot weather ones. Actually, FWK has been getting in 4-5 rides per week. Only 25-30 miles at a time, but it always feels good to be in the saddle. I have no wind and my legs are fair, but it beats sitting on a spin bike in the club. That will come soon enough. Right now, that's my motivation. Do I want to sit in the spinning room, listening to some gal that doesn't have a fucking clue how to ride a bike outdoors playing Abba, or do I want to ride outside in the cooler weather with snot dribbling out of my nose? I'll take the snot! The last 2 days I've actually felt really good on the bike, but I only averaged 17 mph for the rides.

Where did the time go? It just seems like yesterday I was looking at this guys crack.

The amigos riding the 144 route this spring.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fall and winter scenes from Elm Creek

Beef stew, part two.

Went to the Mpls Farmers Market on Sunday and bought fresh potatoes, carrots, green peppers, and onions. Followed the same recipe as below, just added the different vegetables. Turned out great!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Texas Beef Brisket Chile

This was the featured cover recipe in this month's Bon Appetit magazine. I made it yesterday and it turned out very well. I'm not sure that it is as much a chile recipe as a beef stew recipe, however. The flavor was great. I love baked squash, but never had it in a recipe like this. Diane, who doesn't care for squash liked it in this dish. My experience with brisket is to bake "low and slow," so I baked it at 250 degrees for 3 hours, then added the squash and baked another hour. I also thought it needed more veggies, so I added celery and frozen corn along with the squash. The end result was very tasty and the leftovers tonight should be even better! I didn't have any Mexican beer on hand, so I used one of Bill's Sierra Nevada Pale Ales. (Thanks, Bill- I still have 5 left for you!) One other note-I made a half batch. The brisket I had was a little over 2 lbs, so I just cut everything in half, except I did use the entire bottle of beer and the entire can of fire roasted tomatoes. I also used a serrano chile I had, I chopped it up and threw it in. The batch I made easily would serve 6-8 people. I also trimmed as much fat as I could off the brisket before cooking.

Texas Beef Brisket Chili
A cold-weather favorite, this all-beef, no-bean chili gets added appeal from a seasonal ingredient: butternut squash. For best results, make the chili at least one day ahead so that the flavors have time to meld.
8 to 10 servings
Recipe by Bruce Aidells
Photograph by Hans Gissinger
October 2008

6 large dried ancho chiles* (about 3 ounces), stemmed, seeded, coarsely torn
6 oz bacon, diced
1 1/4 pounds onions, chopped (about 4 cups)
1 5-pound flat-cut (also called first-cut) beef brisket, cut into 2 1/2- to 3-inch cubes
Coarse kosher salt
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 10-ounce cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles (1 3/4 cups)
1 12-ounce bottle Mexican beer
1 7-ounce can diced roasted green chiles
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro stems
4 cups 1 1/2- to 2-inch chunks seeded peeled butternut squash (from 3 1/2-pound squash)

Fresh cilantro leaves
Chopped red onion
Diced avocado
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Warm corn and/or flour tortillas

Place chiles in medium bowl. Pour enough boiling water over to cover. Soak until chiles soften, at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Sauté bacon in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat until beginning to brown. Add onions. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle beef all over with coarse salt and pepper. Add to pot; stir to coat. Set aside.
Drain chiles, reserving soaking liquid. Place chiles in blender. Add 1 cup soaking liquid, garlic, chili powder, cumin seeds, oregano, coriander, and 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt; blend to puree, adding more soaking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if very thick. Pour puree over brisket in pot. Add tomatoes with juices, beer, green chiles, and cilantro stems. Stir to coat evenly.
Bring chili to simmer. Cover and place in oven. Cook 2 hours. Uncover and cook until beef is almost tender, about 1 hour. Add squash; stir to coat. Roast uncovered until beef and squash are tender, adding more soaking liquid if needed to keep meat covered, about 45 minutes longer. Season chili to taste with salt and pepper. Tilt pot and spoon off any fat from surface of sauce. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool 1 hour. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.
Set out garnishes in separate dishes. Rewarm chili over low heat. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.
*Available at many supermarkets and at specialty foods stores and Latin markets