Monday, February 13, 2012


I've been eating vegan for over a week now, and have actually been feeling more energetic than I have in a long time. There could really be something to this... The hardest part about eating vegan so far has been preparation. I can't just grab or buy something easily on this diet, and surprisingly, this has been more difficult an obstacle than meat cravings or anything else.
To help make my breakfasts easier, I found these awesome fat free vegan muffins, and put my own spin on them. This could be a week of veganism talking, but I can't even tell they're crazy healthy!

1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
Dash of salt
1 cup pumpkin or sweet potato purée
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Mix these together, plop into sprayed muffin tins, and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or so.

The stuff above is really just a good base for a heartier muffin, though.

To the batter above, I added 4 or 5 shredded baby carrots, 1/4 cup oats, 1/4 cup chopped dates, 1/4 cup dried, unsweetened coconut, 1/8 cup flax meal, and topped the muffins with extra oats. They came out AWESOME!

I might go a little lighter on the spice next time, and I'd like to try adding bran, and maybe find a few more hearty add-ins for a super breakfast boost.

All in all, these Muffins make a great breakfast, and can be customized a million ways. These will definitely be in the regular rotation...

Sunday, February 5, 2012


It appears that the unthinkable has happened... After watching a documentary (forks over knives), my wife and I decided to give Veganism a one month test run. We started eating partially vegan a few days ago, and after a big rib dinner, finally went full plant power today.

So far, I've got to say, I feel better than I have in weeks. We started the day with some uncle Sam cereal with blueberries and rice milk, had some veggie wraps with homemade hummus for lunch, and topped the day off with our own cornbread concoction, which was really good, even by our vegan beginner standards. Here's how we made it:

Step 1:
Corn Bread

1 cup Corn Meal
1 cup White Whole Wheat flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1 cup Rice Milk
1/4 cup Apple Sauce
1 tbs Flax Meal
1/2 cup Frozen Corn
1 Anaheim Chile, chopped

Mix the first 4 ingredients in one bowl, then the wet ingredients in another. Add the flax meal to the wet ingredients and let sit for a couple minutes. Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture along with the chiles and corn. Pour into a 9X9 pan and bake at 400F for 30 minutes.

Step 2:
Roasted Chiles
Wash and seed Anaheim Chiles, leaving them whole (only remove the tops) dry the chiles, place them on a foiled sheet pan, and roast under a high broiler for 10 minutes, until black. Turn the peppers over, roast another 5-10 minutes, then remove from the oven, wrap tightly in foil, and let rest until cool. Remove the skins.

Step 3:

3 Tomatoes
1/3 an Onion, chopped
1 Fresno Chile, chopped
1/4 cup chopped Cilantro
Lime Juice

Mix the veggies, (go easy on the chile, if you're a fraidy cat) add some lime juice and salt, stir a little, then hit the mixture with a few pulses of an immersion blender (don't overdo it! You want a mix of chunks and purée) season with salt and lime juice to taste.

Step 4:
Re"fried" beans

1 25 oz can Black Beans, well rinsed
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 tsp California Chile Powder
1/2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Nutritional Yeast
1/2 cup Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
1/2 cup Water
Salt to taste

Mix the beans, spices, and nutritional yeast (this stuff gives a nice cheesy essence!) in a pan over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, until the beans start to beak down a little. Add the vegetable broth, simmer for 10 minutes or so, then mash some of the beans and add the water (depending on how thin you want them, you can add more or less) Salt to taste, then cook a bit longer to incorporate the water and get the texture you want.

Step 5:
Mix some salad with a few spoons of salsa and some rice or quinoa. Top the salad with a piece of cornbread. Drape a chile or two over the cornbread, top with beans, salsa, and avocado.

Step 6:
Go back for seconds.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I made some awesome chile Colorado yesterday, and wanted to get it written down before I forgot what I did... You should definitely try this one out!

Get a piece of pork shoulder and cut it up into 2" or so chunks. Toss in a bowl with a heavy amount of chile powder (like California, paprika, and chile de Arbil (spicy)), a little salt, and maybe a little garlic powder and tomato paste.

Fry the chunks in a pan with some olive oil, then remove them to a separate bowl. Work in small batches, and get the pieces nice and brown all over.

Add some onions and chile peppers (like pasillas or fresnos if you have them) to the oil left in your pan, then squeeze out the tomatoes from a small can of whole tomatoes, and add them to the onions.

Cook until the tomatoes are dry and starting to brown a little, then add a few spoons of enchilada sauce to the pan along with the meat. Cook everything down again until the enchilada sauce is dry, then pour in the rest of the tomato juice along with about 2/3 of the enchilada sauce and a can of water.

Bring the liquid to a boil and put the whole pan into the oven at 275, with a lid on.

Cook for around 4-5 hours until the pork is very tender, then take the lid off and turn the oven up to 350 for another 30-60 minutes, so the top can brown.

We took the meat out and poured the sauce into a jar so we could spoon off the extra pork heaven, then poured the sauce back over the meat.

This is awesome in tacos or over rice along with limes and sour cream.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Making pizza is one of my favorite pastimes, and for a long, long time, I've been trying to perfect my dough. I haven't gotten it exactly perfect yet, but I really like the version I've been making and fine tuning. Here's my latest recipe:

2 cups warm water
2.25 tsp dry yeast
4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups Semolina flour
1 1/3 cups Unbleached all purpose flour
Olive Oil

I like to use the dough hook on my mixer, but you can make it by hand also...
Whisk the yeast into the warm water.

Add 1 cup of the semolina, mix, then add 1 cup of the regular flour.

Mix in the salt (note: adding the salt directly to the water/yeast combo kills off some of the yeast, so it is best to wait to add the salt so there is less yeast-salt contact.

Alternate with small scoops of semolina, then white flour until the dough is still sticky, but holds together, and can be handled with oiled hands. The amounts of the flours are just rough guidelines, go by the texture of the dough...

Run the mixer for a minute or two on medium high to knead the dough. (if it is still a little sticky, don't worry - during proofing, the flour will absorb a little more water, making the dough easier to handle)

Form the dough into a ball, lightly coat with Olive Oil, and put in an oiled bowl, covered loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour. *note - for best results, boil a mug of water in your microwave for a couple minutes, then quickly put the dough in the warm microwave to rise. The moist, warm environment is perfect for rising dough.

At this point, you can either refrigerate the dough for later, or divide it into 4-6 balls (depending on size and thickness of the pizza you want). Preheat your oven to 450F and let the dough rise another 45 minutes. (if you refrigerated the dough, give it 2 hours or so to rise since it will be cold)

Oil a perforated pizza pan and stretch the dough onto it. Rub the top with olive oil, and sprinkle a little salt and minced garlic over it. Bake for 5-10 minutes until it starts to brown.

Remove the crust from the oven, add toppings, and return to the oven. This time, slide the pizza off the pan directly onto a pizza stone or rack in the bottom portion of the oven. Cook briefly, just enough to melt the cheese and crisp the bottom.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Octopus. It's a real culinary challenge for me to figure out the perfect way to cook one. It usually either comes out slimy or rubbery, or both. This Christmas, I tried a few ideas out, and think I might finally be on the right track. I'm going to part with our traditional marinated salad, but to me, just having octopus on the table is in keeping with tradition. Here is my plan for my next attempt...

Step 1: Beat the living daylights out of a thawed octopus with a tenderizer mallet.

Step 2: Gently simmer the octopus in salted water for over 2 hours until it is tender enough to stick a fork in.
*note - I tried cooking it in its own juices and was not happy with the "ocean floor" taste that resulted

Step 3: Drop the cooked octopus into an ice bath. My goal is to keep the suckers on the final octopus, and boiling for over 2 hours can turn them into mush. My theory is that the ice bath will re-solidify the suckers so they remain intact.

Step 4: Slice off each of the legs by cutting parallel to the leg all the way back to the beak, taking a piece of the head with each leg. This gives longer, meatier pieces than cutting perpendicular to the legs.

Step 5: Fry the pieces in olive oil with a couple cloves of garlic and some salt. My theory is that this will further set the suckers, while giving a higher heat than the gentle boiling to further tenderize the meatier pieces.

Step 6: I'm not 100% sure on this, but I think a simple warm salad is the way to go on this one. I feel like marinating (like i did this year) turns everything slimy, and I think a nice crisp warm texture will be tastier. I think just tossing the hot octopus with fresh parsley, and a little lemon and garlic will be perfect.

Step 7: I hope this is the right plan, but there could be several variations after step 4, including barbecuing, cooking in sauce, or marinating.

Friday, November 4, 2011


In the past week, I finally finished my boat cover! It is now keeping the Bonnanz safe and dry, and looking quite spiffy if I don't say so myself. I'll need to post some pictures soon...

The next loose end on my list is the smoker handle and cover. Instead of jumping right into that like I should, I decided that I needed a little break from the sewing and started working on my garage a little bit. If I'm going to finish my list, I'm going to need some order in the old workshop, so I decided to build a few storage racks.

I am a hang your tools on the wall kind of guy, but I am sick and tired of creating a new board with nails every time I move, so i decided to start making some custom tool racks. My plan is to basically make some modular tool storage that I can move around as my preferences change, so one by one, I am making custom little racks for each of my tools. It's actually a really fun and relaxing thing for me to do when I have a little time on my hands. I've already made screwdriver, clamp, chisel, and hammer racks.

It takes an hour or two to make a rack, so I'm going to sprinkle these in with the other projects I'm trying to finish. The more organized I get, the easier the list will be to destroy. This weekend, the smoker cover begins....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


So, I've made something like 50 pounds of sausage over the past year, and I've always thought it was a tasty and fun activity, but I never thought the end product was a huge leap beyond what I could buy in a store.  That all changed this past weekend, when I made Kielbasa with my Dad. Kielbasa is an emulsified sausage that is smoked, then chilled after it is cased. I've never had anything like the homemade version. The emulsification was like a beautiful pink cake frosting. It was light and airy, and once it was cased and smoked, it kept an amazing light texture like I've never had in a store bought sausage. The final product was insanely juicy, tender, and delicious, and this will definitely be in my regular sausage rotation. I followed the recipe from Charcuterie almost exactly, except that I accidentally mixed all the seasoning together, and added it all at once, instead of at different stages, as the recipe called for. They were just a tad too salty, and I would cut the salt in the next batch to two TBS instead of three.

We also made some smoked garlic chicken sausages that are very good, but nothing real special in my opinion....

Here's a picture of the bliss: