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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Past experience with the volcano stove, and trying to decide if I want one again

Years ago, I got a Volcano stove, after reading all of the hype about how great it was.

I used it several times, and experimented with it.  Some of my experiences were good, and some did not meet my expectations.

About two years ago, on finding that it was permanently stuck in a half-open position (would not collapse, would not completely open), I donated it.  

That was actually one of my main issues with it, that I never posted about.  The collapsible Volcano gets stuck entirely too easily.  In fact, I kept it in the open position, because it was too difficult to open once it was collapsed.  And then, when I brought it to an outdoor gathering, someone there decided to collapse it, for whatever god forsaken reason.  I was not happy, because it sure was a pain to get open again!

But it had its uses too.  A small charcoal grill / stove, a small propane grill / stove (but it's a hassle to install and remove the propane burner, so pick the one you like most).  Useful for wok cooking using coals or propane.  Useful for cooking in a camp oven WITH COALS, NOT PROPANE.  

So anyway, as it did have its uses, I've been considering getting one again.  But there are two problems:  1.  They're all out of stock at the moment, and 2.  They're expensive!

Not to mention, the helluva time I had opening it, once it was collapsed.  Oh, it wasn't exactly easy to collapse, either.

So... is it worth getting again?  or can I fulfill the same purpose with something else that I have?

Enter the 18 inch Old Smokey, a really nice charcoal grill that you can certainly bring on a camping trip.  The current price is $43.95.

Does it collapse?  No, but you already know how I feel about collapsing.  It's definitely lighter to carry than the volcano.  

Does it use propane?  No, unless you want to get a propane burner with regulator, and install it yourself.  Keeping in mind that this would be permanent, because it would require drilling a big hole in the side of the bottom.  Also keeping in mind that you definitely can NOT cook in a camp oven using propane.

Can you cook in a wok using this?  Yes, If you buy the small size Vortex, using the direct heat function.  It currently costs $35.95.

Can you cook in a dutch oven using this?  No reason you can't; just use the bottom part.  I know what they say about how much more efficient the volcano stove was, but in my experience, six of one, half dozen of the other.

Or you can get a Camp Chef cast iron dutch oven stand

Can you use wood?  The people at Old Smokey say yes.

So, for about $80 (Old Smokey 18 inch and small Vortex), you have the same capability as the "non propane" Volcano.  

Propane burners with regulator can range from $30 to $100, I found.  If you want propane.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Turkey in a can

This is an Orion Cooker.  It's a convection cooker, and it uses coals on the outside, while the food cooks on the inside.

I tried to make a cheap, makeshift "do it yourself" orion cooker, using the bottom of my charcoal grill and a steel metal bucket, turned upside down.  

Did it work?  Absolutely.  Would it have been much easier to use the Orion cooker?  Absolutely.

I used my makeshift "do it yourself" orion cooker to make what is known as "trash can turkey", or as I prefer to call it, "turkey in a can".

Thankfully, I only had a 10 pound turkey, because that 5 gallon steel bucket proved to be very small.  Not sure a bigger one would have fit.

You MUST use a turkey stand.  I used a ceramic "beer can turkey" stand, to make the turkey stand vertically.  Actually it's called a Sittin' Turkey Steamer.

I prepared the 10 pound turkey by injecting it with Tony Chachere's Creole Butter injectable marinade.  This is imperative.  You don't have to use that particular injectable marinade, but you do have to use some type of injectable marinade, or the turkey will be too dry.

After injecting generously, I brushed the outside of the turkey with what was left in the bottle, and poured the rest into the "beer can turkey" stand.

Placed some heavy duty aluminum foil on the bottom of my Old Smokey charcoal grill, and placed the "beer can turkey" stand on the foil.  Placed the prepared turkey vertically on top.

Put the stainless steel 5 gallon bucket upside down over the turkey.  Note that the bucket was NOT galvanized; you should not use galvanized metal for cooking food.

Put coals all around the bucket, and some coals on top.  Lit the coals and let them burn.

It only took about an hour and 20 minutes to roast the turkey.  I couldn't see the turkey to see if it was done; I smelled the very good roasted turkey coming from the bucket, and figured maybe it was time.

In retrospect, I should have used a remote thermometer.

I had to use welding gloves to take the hot bucket off the turkey, and rotisserie gloves to remove the hot turkey and put it in the pan for carving.

It was a beautiful golden brown turkey.

You can do this with a small turkey.  If you want a bigger turkey, you either need to find a bigger non galvanized metal bucket, which I could not, or maybe an empty beer keg... or just buy an Orion cooker.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Stuffed pepper stuffing without the peppers

Someone requested that I make the following recipe for stuffed pepper stuffing, without actually stuffing the peppers:

Brown 2 pounds of ground chuck in a cast iron skillet.

Now, the recipe says to saute chopped onions, celery, and green pepper in butter, until they are soft.  I don't like green peppers, so I was going to omit the green pepper.  However, I found a prepackaged mix in the produce section, called "Louisiana's Choice Creole Seasoning Mix", which contained finely chopped onions, celery, green pepper, shallots, parsley, and garlic, already mixed together.  I wanted to save some time, so I used that.

So, in a separate skillet, I sauteed the chopped veggie mix in butter, until they were soft.

In a bowl, I shredded some hamburger buns; The recipe called for hamburger buns, but personally, if I were to do this again, I would shred saltine crackers instead.

Then poured in just enough milk to make the bread moist, but not wet.  

Added parmesan cheese to everything.

Then mixed it all together in a casserole dish.  Crushed some saltine crackers and sprinkled the crumbs on top.  Added more parmesan cheese, and put some dots of butter on top.

Into the oven at 325 degrees, until done.

It tasted good, but I definitely would like it better if it were all cracker crumbs, instead of the soft bread.  

Something about ground beef on soft bread doesn't sit well with me.  That's why I never eat the bottom bun of a hamburger.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Nineteenth recipe created by me: Double D sausage beanie weenies!

Someone suggested to me that I try a sausage local to the area, called "Double D sausage."  It's made and sold by the Double D sausage company in Bogalusa, Louisiana.

I was assured that it was the best sausage in the world.  Well, I don't know about in the world, but it is VERY good sausage!

I fried up the smoked sausage in a cast iron skillet, and it was amazing.  I decided to cut the sausage into slices, brown the slices in the skillet, and put them in beans to make beanie weenies out of them.

I put the browned sausage slices in with a can of Maple Bacon flavored Bush's Best canned beans.

There are lots of things you can put in beanie weenies, such as worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, yellow mustard, and such.  But if you use a variety of Bush's Best beans, you don't need to add anything, because those beans are already flavored.

Although you can, if you want to.

The sausage is divine, and cooked in with beans were also very divine!!!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

My first beanie weenies

I never realized how much I like Beanie Weenies, because I have seldom ever eaten them.

Apparently, I like them very much.

There are many different ways to make them, and I intend to try a lot of different ways.

Here is how I made them:

I cut up some Oscar Meyer Select Turkey franks (that's my favorite kind of hot dogs; You can use whatever kind you want).  Fried them in a cast iron skillet.

Put a can of baked beans in the crock pot.  Put the browned cut up weenies in.  Added some BBQ sauce.

Turned on the crock pot, heated it up, and enjoyed.

I think next time I will toast the hot dogs in the toaster oven, because I love toasted hot dogs.

And I will use a really good flavor of baked beans.  I just used what I had on hand this time.  My favorite is Bush's Best varieties.

Other recipes call for ketchup, worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar, instead of BBQ sauce.

I was once told that Orleans Parish Prison serves the best beanie weenies ever.  I will just believe that; I don't want to go there to find out.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Eighteenth recipe created by me: Lazy Spaghetti Sauce.

Spaghetti sauce is very easy to make.  But this particular sauce is easier than easy, so I called it Lazy Spaghetti Sauce.

I wanted spaghetti sauce, but I was too lazy to brown and drain any ground beef, or chop anything.

So I put a jar of spaghetti sauce in a crock pot.  Added a drained can of carrots, a drained can of mushrooms, onion flakes, dried minced garlic, onion powder, and garlic powder.

No browning required, no chopping required.  Lazy!

I always love meat sauce, so I didn't know if this meatless sauce would be very good.   Yeah, it was pretty good.

I wanted to add some protein to it, so I cut some hard boiled eggs into quarters and added.  Ew, eggs in spaghetti sauce?  Yep!  Italians do it, why not?  It was great!

If eggs are not for you, some drained kidney beans would also add some protein.

Monday, June 26, 2017

London Broil with Mushrooms

I decided to make London Broil again.

I don't know what exact cut of meat I used; The label said "London Broil".  But that refers to the way it's cooked, not the cut of meat itself.  Probably flank steak.

I marinated the meat for about 24 hours in Worcestershire sauce, and a grill seasoning called "molasses bacon".

Put it on the cast iron grill pan, put some raw mushrooms in the pan, and put it under the broiler.

It was under the broiler until the smoke alarm went off.  The top was a little too done for my liking, but it was still pink on the inside, making it "medium well".  

I prefer medium rare.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

I made fried green tomatoes

One of my all time favorite movies is Fried Green Tomatoes.

Today I made them for the first time.

Someone gave me a green tomato.  So I sliced it up, dipped each slice in egg and cornmeal mix, and pan fried in corn oil.

That's it!

They were good!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Guard Shack Cooking

One of my fine friends suggested that I write a cookbook or start a blog about "Guard Shack Cooking."  
Now, there's really not a whole lot of cooking you can do in a guard shack, so all the information I have at this point can be written in one article.  Maybe one article can lead to many others, but for now, this is what I have to offer.

A guard shack is a tiny building where security guards spend up to 16 hours.  They never have a kitchen.  If you're lucky, the one you are working in happens to have a microwave.  Usually because some other guard got tired of not having one, and scored a used one from goodwill.  Don't count on there being one.

So if you have no microwave, then you have to figure out how you are going to feed yourself for 16 hours, because you can't leave.  Most guard shacks are in an area where pizza will deliver, but not always!

Some people don't mind eating nothing but room temperature sandwiches, but I can't stand them.  So, I had to learn how to "cook" in a guard shack, with no means to cook.

How on earth do you "cook", if you have no means to cook?  You have to bring your own means to cook!  Of course, you won't want to lug a microwave to and from work every day.  You need something small.

I used to bring a 1.5 quart crock pot, and a 1 quart hot pot.

The crock pot was used to heat up whatever I want to heat up, whether it's leftovers or a can of soup.  It takes about 20 minutes on the high setting.  If you are busy, you can switch it to low, and eat whenever you need to.

There are slow cookers smaller than 1.5 quart, but I would not recommend them.  The 1.5 quart is the smallest size that has a removable stoneware pot as well as different heat settings.  Smaller sizes do not have those features.

At first, I would wash the crock pot after each use.  Eventually, I discovered that a pint sized ziploc twist n' loc container fits perfectly in a 1.5 quart crock pot, so I can heat up my food without having to wash the pot.

The hot pot was used to heat up water, for hot cereal, noodles, or hot chocolate.  Usually, the guard shack will have running water.  If not, you will need to bring some bottled water.   The hot pot can heat water to boiling in about a minute.  

If a microwave is available, you can bring a pyrex measuring cup to heat hot water in the microwave.  Use a pyrex measuring cup instead of a coffee cup, because it has a spout and won't spill all over you.

If there happens to be a coffee pot (usually not, unless another guard brings one), you can heat hot water in a coffee pot.  Just don't put anything in the filter, and it will make hot water.

One guard shack where I worked had a toaster oven, which was brought by another employee.   In the toaster oven, you can heat up various items on aluminum foil.  One time I brought hot dogs and buns, and toasted both in the toaster oven.

At another guard shack, I brought a grilled cheese sandwich press, and a loaf of bread, and made hot sandwiches to eat.

Now, all of this is assuming your guard shack actually has electricity.  Occasionally they don't, and so you can't do anything.  Why do businesses have such blatant disrespect for the guards they are paying such a pittance?

So, there you have it.  Guard shack cooking!  If I ever come up with any more ideas, then I will start a blog or maybe even write a cookbook.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Coca Cola Baby Back Ribs, finally done right

A few months ago, I tried my hand at coca cola baby back ribs, and I did it wrong.

So I tried making them again, the right way.

I used a rack of baby back ribs, cut in half.

Seasoned the baby back ribs with salt and pepper.  Put them in a crock pot.

Mixed a can of coca cola and a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce in a bowl.  

Poured half of the sauce mixture in the crock pot with the ribs, and set aside the other half.

Cooked on high for 4 hours.  Poured the rest of the sauce mixture over the ribs, and turned off the crock pot.

Good recipe!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

I made poor man's prime rib

I love prime rib, but as you know, it can be very expensive.

I found a recipe online for "poor man's prime rib".  It's not exactly the same as prime rib, but if you put au jus and horseradish sauce on it, you can't tell the difference.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Take an "eye of round" roast.  Rub it on all sides with sea salt, cracked black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and thyme.  

Put it in a cast iron skillet with the fat side up.

I also coated it with corn oil, but the recipe I found did not say to do that.

Once the oven is preheated, put the meat in the oven and reduce the temperature to 475.

Cook 7 minutes a pound.

After the time is up, turn the oven off, but do not open the doors.  Leave the roast in the oven for another 2 1/2 hours.

Slice and serve.  Awesome!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

My first fresh black eyed peas

Black eyed peas are easy.  This was my first time making fresh black eyed peas.

You need 6 cups chicken broth, 1 pound of dried black eyed peas, 1 vidalia onion, some cubed ham, a few strips of bacon, 3 teaspoons minced garlic, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder.

Cut up the onion and the strips of bacon.  Put all of the ingredients in a crock pot.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Yes, it was that easy.  Fresh black eyed peas are much better than canned.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Finally tried white corn meal mix, after all these years

Years ago, I made cornbread with yellow corn meal mix.

I said that eventually, I will try white corn meal mix... and I finally did.

Because the recipe on the back of the white corn meal mix bag was completely different, and contained NO flour or sugar, I just used the recipe that I had used for the yellow corn meal mix, and substituted white for yellow.

Corn meal is corn meal, whether it's white or yellow.  They are just different colors.

It was a fine tasting cornbread, although I did not increase the amount of sugar, so it was not very sweet.

I used the cornbread in my recipe for wonderful cornbread dressing.  Of course I think the dressing is better with sweeter cornbread, but still a tasty dressing.

Friday, December 30, 2016

My first turkey in the Char Broil Big Easy

Today I made my first turkey using the Char Broil Big Easy. 

It's marketed as an "oil less turkey fryer", but it's actually an outdoor roasting oven.  There's no such thing as an "oil less fryer".  That's a marketing gimmick.

It was also the first turkey I cooked, using an injectable marinade.  I used Tony Chachere's Creole Butter flavor.

And let me say, that I will NEVER make another turkey, without using an injectable marinade.  That turkey was incredible.  JUICY turkey-- even the breast, and I don't even like turkey breast.  

Because I used the injectable marinade, I didn't think I needed to rub butter on the surface of the turkey.  Actually, I should have, but it was still a great turkey.

You could also brush the turkey with olive oil or corn oil, if you'd rather not use butter.

I also seasoned the turkey, inside the cavity and out, with my usual turkey seasoning blend -- poultry seasoning, black pepper, seasoned salt, and chicken granules. 

Because this was going in the outdoor roaster, which roasts the turkey vertically, I did not put a stick of butter in the cavity, like I usually do.

As far as how the turkey cooks in the roaster, I was impressed with how the skin got really crispy, while the inside (credited to the injectable marinade) stayed juicy.  

The major downside to using the Big Easy is, I don't have a covered patio, so it entirely depends on the weather.  And it rains a lot where I live!  

Also, cleaning up the Big Easy afterwards is a chore.

Although the Big Easy does NOT produce a "fried" turkey, I will give it points for producing a great crispy skin all over.

Most definitely use an injectable marinade when you cook a turkey in the Big Easy.  And even if you don't!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Shrimp mirliton casserole, for the second time in my entire life

Years ago, I made a shrimp mirliton casserole that was very close to my grandmother's secret recipe.

Mirlitons are also known as "chayote squash".

She always made shrimp mirliton casserole for thanksgiving and christmas-- it wasn't the holidays without those mirlitons!

So I decided to make some for christmas.  I had to do it differently, since someone who will be eating it is allergic to butter; I had to use cooking oil and Parkay margarine, instead of butter.

Also, this time instead of boiling the mirlitons, I smothered them in a covered pot on the stove, with onions and a small amount of cooking oil.

I thought that cooking the mirlitons this way would make them taste better.  I haven't decided if it made them taste better or not-- I really like fresh green beans cooked this way, but it made some of the mirlitons overcook.  Also, it was more work, because I had to pick out the pieces that overcooked, and cut off the burnt part.

So here is what I did differently:

Heated up a small amount of cooking oil in a pot on the stove.  Added chopped onions and cut up mirlitons.  Covered the pot and let the vegetables cook down in the oil.  Drained and set aside.

Heated up a small amount of cooking oil (instead of butter) in a skillet.  Added chopped onions, minced garlic, and raw shrimp; Sauteed in the skillet.  Added black pepper, oregano, thyme, onion powder, and garlic powder.

When that was cooked, I added the mirlitons, then added parmesan cheese and italian bread crumbs.  

I mixed the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese all through, then added more of both on top.  

Sliced up a stick of Parkay margarine (instead of butter), and put the slices on top.  Into the oven at 350 degrees.

This recipe was good, but not as much like my grandmother used to make, as the previous recipe.

So I'll just boil the mirlitons next time... 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

My first prime rib roast, on the rotisserie

I have a rotisserie, and wanted to use it for something.  Since I am not the biggest fan of chicken and pork, I used it for something I rave about:  Prime Rib Roast.

It was really quite easy.

My roast aged in the refrigerator for a couple of days.  

I coated the rib roast with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.  Let it sit for a couple of hours.  

Put it on the rotisserie for an hour and 15 minutes.  It was a six pound roast, so that's about 12 minutes a pound, and it turned out medium rare.

Sliced it, and had it with horseradish sauce.  It was divine.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

After 7 years, I finally tried toasting real pumpkin seeds.

I've had every intention of toasting my own pumpkin seeds, for the past 7 years.

This year, I finally did it... and I did it wrong.

Unfortunately, none of the grocery stores had any more pumpkins.  So I guess I will have to wait till next year to try again.

What you are supposed to do, is get the seeds out of the pumpkin-- and don't bother with those flimsy pumpkin cutting kits that bend and break on the first use.  Use a serrated knife.

Don't worry about rinsing the bits of pumpkin off-- that adds flavor.

Let the seeds dry on a flat pan.

Coat the seeds in Olive oil.

Add salt, or seasoned salt if you want.

Into the oven at 300 degrees.

That's how you're supposed to do it.  Never mind how I actually did it, since I did it all wrong... 

I'll try to remember next year.  I'm not waiting another 7 years.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Mock "prime rib" and Au Jus

I love prime rib.  It's my favorite "steak", but it's not actually "steak".  It's a rib roast that has been sliced, and is usually served with horseradish sauce and "Au Jus".

Au Jus is a dipping juice made from beef broth.  

There are several ways to make Au Jus; I made some by heating up some beef broth with Worcestershire sauce on the stove to a boil, then reducing the heat to a simmer, and allowing the broth to "reduce".

So when I went to the store to get a "prime rib" roast, the butcher suggested to me that bone-in ribeye was the same cut of meat, only sliced into steaks, and was two dollars a pound cheaper.

I don't know if that was correct or not, but, that was what he told me.  And, it was two dollars a pound cheaper.

So I got the bone in ribeye steaks.  Now, steaks definitely cook differently than roast, so I did not expect it to be exactly the same as the prime rib I love to order from a restaurant.

But I cooked it similarly.  I stacked the two steaks on top of each other in an open roasting pan, and roasted them in the oven at 250 degrees until they were pink.

When I first tasted it, I decided it needed more flavor, so I put Worcestershire sauce directly on it.

I read later that it would have been more flavorful had I seasoned the meat with garlic cloves and black peppercorns before putting it in the oven.

Other than that, it wasn't exactly the same as in a restaurant (and it wouldn't be, since steaks indeed cook differently from roast), but it was just about.  

Especially with the horseradish sauce!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Chili with no beans

One of the oldest arguments in the world is, should chili have beans in it or not?

Some people insist that real chili does not have beans in it.  Some people insist that chili is made with beans.  Who is right?

Well, in my honest opinion, neither is "right."  It's just a personal preference.

I have always made my chili with beans, whether it's red kidney beans, or pinto beans.  I actually prefer the pinto beans.

But for grins, I decided to try making my own chili recipe, without the beans.

1 pound of ground chuck, browned in a skillet with chopped onions and minced garlic.  Drain.

Add 1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce, 1 can of diced tomatoes (undrained), and a packet of chili seasoning.

Because I didn't add beans, I also added a bit of beef broth.

Simmer for a couple of hours.

It was good chili.  I'm used to beans since I always make it with beans, but even without the beans, it was good chili.

I will say that adding beans makes the chili have more servings, since the beans stretch it out.  Without the beans, there are fewer servings in the pot, but the chili is "meatier".

So.  Beans or no beans?  Do whatever you want.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Seventeenth recipe created by me: Coca Cola Ranch Ribs

As with most recipes "created by me", this was pretty much on accident.

I found a recipe on the internet for coca cola baby back ribs.  I love baby back ribs, and I love coca cola!  So I decided to try it!

Alas, the store did not have baby back ribs; They had St Louis ribs.  Not quite the same thing; They are both pork ribs, but baby back is a different part of the pig.  Personally I prefer baby backs, but, I got the St Louis ones.

The recipe called for salt, pepper, coca cola, and BBQ sauce.  You season the ribs with salt and pepper, put them in a crock pot with some coca cola, slow cook on low for 8 hours, transfer to an oven pan, slather with BBQ sauce, put under the broiler until the sauce is caramelized.

Well, it's a great recipe, except I kinda did it wrong.  I seasoned the ribs with salt and pepper, but instead of pouring just a can of coke in the crock pot over the ribs, I used about a liter of coke.  Also, the bottle had been opened 2 months ago, so there was little carbonation, which may or may not have made a difference.

So, I slow cooked the ribs in all of that coca cola.  Refrigerated overnight, removed the fat cap, slow cooked some more.

Because of the excess liquid and longer cooking time, these ribs weren't just fall off the bone... they already fell off the bone!  The ribs were now the consistency of pulled pork, and I didn't even have to "pull" anything.  

Now, it's still rib meat, right?  I scooped it all out of the pot with a slotted spoon into a bowl.  

I suppose I could have gone onto the next step and slathered with BBQ sauce and put under the broiler.

But instead, I wondered how it would taste with ranch dressing.  So I put some ranch on a plate and dipped the rib meat into the ranch.  Mmm, pretty tasty!

Now, if you want the actual experience of eating ribs off the bone, you want to do the above recipe correctly.  

I named this recipe "ribs" because it really was rib meat, as opposed to pulled pork, which is made from the shoulder or butt.  If you like ribs, try them with ranch dressing sometime!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sixteenth recipe created by me: Fully Loaded Sloppy Joes

I decided to deck out a plain sloppy joe sandwich (which tastes great plain already) with some of my favorite condiments.

Make your favorite recipe sloppy joe mix.  Today I used a seasoning packet and followed the recipe.

Then put the meaty mix on a bun.

Add a little bit of ranch dressing, bacon bits, and parmesan cheese.  Yes, you read that right:  ranch dressing, bacon bits, and parmesan cheese.

If that seems too weird for you, you can substitute sour cream for the ranch dressing, and your choice of shredded cheese for the cheese.

Either way, it will be delicious!!!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Fifteenth recipe created by me: Crunchy Toast

I have always liked toast and butter.  

I liked it so much, that when I was a teenager, I made up a song about it:  "Toast and butter is very very good.  Toast and butter is my most favoritist thing in the world.  TOAST AND BUTTER!!!"  OK, that's not much of a song, just a silly kid singing random phrases, but anyway.

Today I officially created my fifteenth recipe:  Crunchy Toast.

I decided to add a little twist to my beloved toast and butter.  I added some grated parmesan cheese, and some bacony Bac-O's.

Actually they were generic Bac-O's, but you know, crunchy bacon bits.

Those are two of my favorite condiments.  I like to add them to a lot of things.  Macaroni and Cheese is an example.

It was awesome, of course.

So there you go... Crunchy Toast.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

rotisserie chicken in a crock pot

How is it possible to cook rotisserie chicken in a crock pot?

You see, normally when you cook chicken it a crock pot, it becomes "stewed" and it falls off the bone.  Which would be good if you want stewed chicken that falls off the bone.

Rotisserie chicken is normally cooked in a rotisserie, and has crispy skin.

So to cook "rotisserie" chicken in a crock pot, you have to do something a little different.

I prefer drumsticks, so I cooked 5 drumsticks.  But you can use this method with a whole chicken.

First you line the bottom of the crock pot with balls of aluminum foil, to keep the chicken elevated.  Or you can use onion quarters.

Then you season your chicken.  I used lemon pepper, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder.

Then you coat the chicken with olive oil.

Keep the lid of the crock pot cracked open with a fork or spoon.  An oval shaped crock pot works best for this.

The recipe says to cook it on low for 8 hours, but I wanted it to cook faster, so I turned it up to high.

The skin was moderately crispy.  If you want the skin to be super crispy, you can finish it off in the oven.  

It smelled and tasted SO good!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Fourteenth recipe created by me: Sloppy Joe Tacos

All right, I didn't want to have only thirteen recipes created by me-- that would be bad luck.

So I came up with a fourteenth recipe, after deciding that I really prefer sloppy joe seasoning, to taco seasoning on ground meat.

So the next time I make tacos, I'm going to make sloppy joe mix, and put it on taco shells.

And there you have the 14th recipe created by me-- Sloppy Joe Tacos!!!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Thirteenth recipe created by me: Smoked Gouda Tacos

This recipe was created for the very simple reason that the only cheese I had on hand to put on my tacos, was smoked gouda.

I wanted tacos, so I browned one pound of ground chuck.  Drained.  Added a packet of taco seasoning and 2/3 cup of beef broth.  

The recipe called for 2/3 cup of water, but I prefer to use beef broth.

I mixed in the seasoning and beef broth, and spooned the mixture on a taco shell.

Added some grated smoked gouda, and sour cream to make a taco.

It was messy, but good!

Smoked gouda is a little unusual to put on tacos, but hey, I like smoked gouda.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

I finally taught myself how to use a stovetop percolator

More than 10 years ago, I bought a stovetop coffee percolator, just in case I might need it.  I never used it.

I figured it was simple to use-- just put water in the bottom, coffee in the top, and boil on the stove, right?

Well, yes, but there's a method to using it-- otherwise, the coffee will be no good. 

So today, I finally taught myself the right way to use a stovetop percolator.

How much water and coffee depends on how many cups you want; I made four.

Four cups of water, five tablespoons of coffee.  Note that the standard is ONE tablespoon of coffee to ONE cup of water, but I like my coffee a bit stronger, so I add an extra tablespoon.

You don't need to add a coffee filter if you use coarse ground coffee, which you're really supposed to use for percolators anyway.  To get coarse ground coffee, you have to buy whole bean coffee and then grind it with a coffee grinder on the coarse setting.

Once you've added your water in the bottom and coffee in the top, put it on the stove.  If you have a gas stove, use medium heat; if you have an electric stove, use medium high heat.  Bring the water to a boil.

Watch the top of the coffee pot.  It will have a see-thru knob.  When you see water coming up through the knob, reduce the heat a notch or two and start the timer.

You want it to "percolate" for 8 minutes.

When 8 minutes are up, turn off the heat and remove the coffee maker.  Let it cool for a couple of minutes.

Notice I wrote this shortly after I wrote my previous article about popcorn.  Yep, I had popcorn and coffee.  What a combination, for a lonely Sunday evening.

Using the Hamilton Beach popcorn popper

Yes, I know.  I just made popcorn the other day.  And now I've made popcorn again; This time with the Hamilton Beach electric popcorn popper.

First, you must take the black lid cover off the clear plastic lid.  This allows the steam to escape.  Don't forget to take it off!

Then add 3/4 cup of popcorn and 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil.  I use Orville Redenbacher popcorn oil, but you can use cooking oil.

Put the lid on, making sure you have taken the black cover off the lid.  If you want butter, you can put up to four thin pats of butter on the steam holes, so it can melt into the popcorn while it's popping.

Plug in the popcorn maker, and it will begin to work.

Once popping has slowed to 1 second between pops (and the machine will be pretty full by this time), unplug the machine.

Now put the black lid cover on the lid, especially if you had butter on top.  

Turn the machine upside down, because the lid will be used as the popcorn bowl.  Take the machine off the lid.

Now you have freshly popped popcorn.

I made my first banana bread

Today I made my first banana bread.

It was done out of necessity.  I had three over ripe bananas and had to do something with them.

So I peeled the bananas, and mashed them in a bowl until they became smooth.

Melted half a stick of butter in the microwave, and mixed it in with the bananas.

Added 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 tsp of vanilla, 1 beaten egg, and mixed it all together.

Then added 1 1/2 cups of SELF RISING flour.  Self rising flour is important.  If you don't use self rising flour, then you will also need 1 pinch of salt and 1 tsp baking soda.

Mixed in the flour until it became a batter.

Poured the batter into a loaf pan.

Into the oven at 350 degrees.  Mine was done in about 30 minutes.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

the presto microwave popcorn popper

What?  This isn't "ramblings on microwaves!"  Whatever happened to cooking popcorn in cast iron?

Well, yes, I have done that before, but this is not your usual microwave popcorn.  It's an actual popcorn popper, that you use to cook real popcorn in the microwave.

It's very easy to use.

You need a Presto Powercup concentrator, to put at the bottom of the popper, or it won't work.  You can buy the concentrators wherever the poppers are sold, or online.

So, put a concentrator at the bottom of the bowl.  Then add 1/3 cup of loose popcorn kernels, and 2 tbsp of oil.  I use Orville Redenbacher popcorn oil.

Put it in the microwave for about 3 minutes, or until it stops popping, whichever comes first.

Add salt and whatever seasonings you like.  Don't add too much salt, like I just did.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Raw Potato and Baking Soda to clean rust off cast iron

So why did I abruptly stop posting three months ago?

Because my new found freedom was abruptly stopped, that's why; The place I had just moved into, burned down.

Luckily, most of my stuff was spared; Not all of it.  

My cast iron cookware was all spared.  However, between being randomly sprayed by fire hoses, and then  thrown into storage immediately before the place was bulldozed, some of my cast iron now has rust that needs to be cleaned off.

I was told that rust can be cleaned off cast iron, using baking soda and a raw potato.

So I tried that with the 9 quart pot.  I sprinkled baking soda in it, a little bit of hot water, and scrubbed with a raw potato cut in half.

It didn't take much scrubbing, and the rust spots came right off.  It works!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A couple of experiments: Sea Salt on Steak, and a makeshift propane grill

Years ago, I tried a method of tenderizing an inexpensive steak using salt.   Unfortunately, I did it wrong.

So tonight, I decided to try again, and do it right.

I took a 7 bone steak, and seasoned both sides with sea salt.  Previously, I had used table salt; Do NOT use table salt!

Since it was only a half inch thick, I left the salt on for a half hour.  The salt stays on for one hour per inch of thickness.  Don't leave it on too long.

After the time is up, rinse the salt off completely.  Then grill the steak.  

This time, the steak did not taste salty, although it did flavor the steak.  I was happy with the results.

I grilled my steak on a makeshift propane grill.

You see, I don't have a propane grill, and I really have no place to put one.  But, I do have a Bayou Classic propane burner.

I figured that I could turn that burner into a propane grill, by putting a cast iron grill pan on top.  I used this one, which fit perfectly on top.

Did it work?  Well, yes, with a bit of a learning curve.

First, be sure you are wearing an oven glove, because at one point the grill pan started to slide, and I had to move it back with my hand.  Which, of course, you cannot do with your bare hand!

Second, the meat stuck to the pan, and I had trouble flipping it.  Which is to be expected with new cast iron, even if it's pre-seasoned.  All cast iron will stick the first few times you use it.

But you can help alleviate the sticking, by applying a thin layer of corn oil, or peanut oil, on the pan before you put it on the grill.  Corn oil and peanut oil have high smoking points; I would definitely not use olive oil.

You could use a Lodge double play pan on top of a propane burner, as well.