Thursday, September 18, 2014

Second Course

The day after parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme..

As you know, MFO is the archivist for the St. Mary’s County Historical Society, and as such she is quite familiar with the history of St. Mary’s County (brilliant, eh?).  Anyway, during the late 18th and early 19th century, a lot of the citizens of the county migrated to Eastern Kentucky and eventually to the area around Cape Girardeau, Missouri.   With a little research she determined that in Cape there was a regional office of the State Historical Society of Missouri, concentrating on the local area.  She decided she would like to see what sort of documents and archives they had in relation to St. Mary's County.

So with the “kids” going off to their day jobs, we set out to locate the office.  It housed in Pacific Hall on (the SEMO) campus, and shared spaces with the English department. We went in, and couldn’t immediately find the office and most of the students we asked gave us blank stares.  Eventually we found what appeared to be a professor and she kindly took us personally to the office.  The receptionist (an obvious volunteer) kind of looked askance at us, and said she would ask the director if he had a moment to speak to MFO, as he currently was on the phone (office assistant speak for…. Good luck).

Anyway after a few minutes he came out and started what was about an hour of fascinating talk between he and MFO (I smiled and nodded) about the local history, who settled there, and the various enclaves of nationalities.  Besides the transplanted Marylanders there was a sizable contingent of French, who held on to their customs (and cuisine he specifically pointed out), the various (Catholic) religious orders moving around, and so forth.  The Jesuits who were so prominent here, kind of pushed on into Texas and points west, and the Vincentians moved in.  County names were discussed, and various families role in the area.  Of course the Limbaugh’s are prominent in the area, and we kind of got some inside dope on the outlier of the family, Rush.  The rest of the family is very community oriented, and that one is not.  He gave us a little vignette that Rush was asked to speak at a local High School graduation and his message to the graduates was that college was not all that important.  Nice.

Anyway, Dr. Nickell was thrilled to have a like minded and knowledgeable person to spend time with.  After that, it was about lunch time, and on the recommendation of FOJTY we headed downtown to find Cup and Cork, and after little thrashing around we found it, and also found it was dark.  Web site (thank you smart phone) was still active, and so I dialed the phone number expecting the same message we got in Lexington for Jonathon's (no longer a working number), but instead we got a very nice lady who said they had recently moved to the corner of Spanish and Independence, just about a block from the old location where we were.  So we hiked up a block to the designated intersection, to find a closed business, an antique shop, and a couple of other non-restaurant places.  No restaurant.  So out comes the cell phone, another call was placed, and within a few seconds a lady emerged from a building down the street a little and waved her arms.  Whew.

As she ushered us into what was an obvious old historic river town building, she explained that they had just moved the previous week and were just getting settled.  There was a bar and next to it was the dining space, at this point kind of Spartan (and maybe it will stay that way)

And along the opposite side was a “wall o’wine”

Which did have some interesting labels.  Well than, okay! life is getting better.  A young man approached the table and said “I’ll bet you’d like something to drink!” (I think he knew our struggles to find the place)   Yes sir, may we see the wine list?   Well, um, we haven’t yet received our liquor license, but we hope to any day now.  Great.  Many nice bottles within an arms length, but all out of reach.  Our choices consisted of lemonade, iced tea, and water.  Our choices of the latter two were brought in those kind of opaque plastic cups.  Not quite the refreshing glass of wine i had envisioned.

In looking into the place on foodie sites, the cheese plate was recommended by some people, and we were told the soup of the day was a creamy white bean and chorizo.  So after lingering over our drinks – not… we ordered the cheese plate (the one with four cheeses and three salumi’s) and a bowl each of the soup.  Once again we were informed that currently the only cheese plate available was the one without the meats.  Fine.  Fortunately he reappeared from the kitchen with the news that indeed it WAS available and that would be what we got.  It turned out to be a fairly nice board

I suspected that the cheese at six and nine were the same, but hey, when you just open in a new space, what the hell.  They all were tasty, as was the soup

Which was just on the acceptable side of the “heat line” for the Feeder

It was a great day, from the history to the kind of fun saga of the food.  The next time we’re there I think we would be glad to return to Cup and Cork- after verifying the liquor license is in place!

For our last dinner in Cape with the Y’s, he cooked a pork roast

In his Big Green Egg…

Lovely dinner, and mercifully the liquor license was in place!.  Thus ended our first leg of the trip, and next day we journeyed north to the big city of St. Louis and neighboring St. Charles, home of the “E” branch of the FOJ’s.  and yes, Mr. M, I will get to our ultimate dining experience there! Where we were very much


PS.. you know how you go into some places and they have special sales of wine and liquor they're trying to ditch?  Well, we stopped at a local Schnuck’s  (Grocery store) in Cape where they are allowed to sell liquor (hear that Marylanders??) and here was their cut outs..

Recognize those labels?  Not your Annie Green Springs…

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Are you going to....

The question is whether to try to serve you a complete meal, or do it by courses.  I guess in the interest of time we’ll adopt a course approach, giving you many small plates hopefully in good serving time. 

First course:

The next day, after the great meal of brisket, MFO and I decided to go take a look at the County Fair which was just opening in town.  Besides TY’s wife was fond of salt water taffy which was available there.  Both “kids” were working so we were on our own and figured we’d take a look.  The nice thing about a smaller town is that you can be almost anywhere in minutes.  It was kind of early in the day, so parking was no issue and we gave the nice ladies at the gate five bucks each, and got direction to the taffy stand.  One of them said that she had to get a box because her sister in California was also addicted to the little sweet and would have to get a box for her.

The first thing we found out was that it was NOT the “county Fair”, but the

(SEMO stands for South East Missouri..)

I’m sure there is a whole culture surrounding these “little” fairs and most likely the same folks go to them all.  Of course there are the requisite foods

I think it is a Federal (or at least State) law you have to have traditional cheese fries, funnel cakes, corn dogs, and curly fries, but not sure how those tenderloins got in there.  However, things do move with the times and now you can also get deep fried Twinkies (and Oreos)

Along with other (new?)things like


And speaking of “on a stick” this caught my eye

It sure is a colorful place

And we were able to get some taffy 

(actually there was another stand, so we got some there for a taste off…the other one won)

You will notice that there are no patrons in the pictures.  That’s because there were, well, no patrons.  I suppose it’s jumping at night.

By this time it was getting a bit warm so we decided to get some shade (and rest) by ducking into one of the livestock pavilions, where “cow judging” (as opposed to tipping) was in progress. The ones we saw were all Holsteins (the typical “dairy cows”).

One (at least us) could not help but compare it with the Westminster Dog show, except there were no sequined garbed ladies leading various breeds of canines around the a ring.  Leading around the ring was the same, but the beasts on the end of the rope were hundreds of pounds and the “handlers” were dressed in boots, Levis, ball caps, and generally very faded flannel shirts.  And unlike the dog shows they didn’t have treats in their mouths to buy off the critters.  Actually i'm not sure what a "treat" would be for a cow.  The animals seemed quite unfazed by the proceedings. As near as we could tell, they were kind of broken into age groups as some were remarkably larger than others.  The “judge” was exactly what you would hope for, looking like he had spent many a year on a farm.  The cows were taken to “mooing” to each other, and I suppose if you spoke cow you would understand.  They all looked good to us, but the phrase most used to distinguish the winner was “better angularity” as viewed from behind the animal.  On some the gentleman commented on the fullness of the “upper udder”.  As I said, a brand new world.

On our way out we gave the gate lady a piece of Taffy for which she was quite grateful.

That evening FOJTY and I spread ourselves out on the couch to see the inaugural MNF game.   Didn’t last long, but we did enjoy the last of the Brisket.  The ladies gathered Stanley and went up the road toward St. Louis to attend the first in a series of “classes” to teach you how to train your pet for one of those shows.  How to walk, pose, etc.  There are about six sessions I think.\

Hope you enjoyed your first course, another will be served tomorrow.. tonight you can prepare by being


Thursday, September 11, 2014

On the Road Again...

Well, hard to believe we’ve spent over a week without talking, but getting ready for, LMI’s, errands and so forth for travel eat up the time.  And in reality, we’ve documented the trip from the digs to FOJTY’s abode in Cape Girardeau (Missouri) more than once so we can kind of dispense with the “road shots” and just hit a few highlights.

We got our usual start last Saturday (6th) at about nine, it doesn't seem to matter how much we pre-pack, stage, gather and consolidate, we can never get underway before nine.  I know some of the readership start trips at o’dark thirty, but we aren't wired that way.  

So we loaded up the MOMSTER III, and headed out. Our usual goal is to go from home and push to Lexington, KY so that we can have a nice meal at what has become one of our favorite restaurants, Jonathon’s at Gratz Park.  The journey was pretty much uneventful with only some rather robust rain showers providing relief from white line fever, and after the usual ten hours the new Nav system guided us (somewhat strangely) to our usual stay in the Courtyard North (yes, we are creatures of habit, it happens as we age).  Checked in, and I called the restaurant to see what time they stopped serving (it was about 7:30 by now) and was taken aback when I was told it was “no longer a working number”.  

Hmmm.. try again.....  Same result.  Not good.  So I googled the place on my intelligent phone and found the first article that informed me that Jonathon’s shuttered earlier this summer.  We all know nothing is forever, and the restaurant business is particularly prone, but it was sad to see it go.  It definitely was on the “just right” list, in the white tablecloth section. Crestfallen, we resorted to food from the place in the Courtyard, carried to the room.  The evening further crashed when we watched my Spartans go down in second half flames to the weirdly outfitted Ducks, most likely eliminating MSU from the newly minted “playoff” system for the NCAA championship this year.  And then were treated to seeing our second team U of Michigan get shut out by the Domers.  Sigh.

Next morning we set out for the final leg, buoyed by the prospect of a shorter day and bright sunshine.  We had intended to stop at a couple of distilleries along the “Bourbon Trail”, but turns out that the blue laws in Kentucky (blue, get it?) prevented access to alcohol prior to noon, so that was out.   Maybe for the best.. anyway, we decided to spent the newly found time in Paducah, in particular at the “arts district” and renovated historical area.  After a bit of a thrash we found it, and decided to have some lunch.  With a small assist from Yelp we settled on a place called Shandies.  It resides in what used to be an old market building

And inside it is nicely done, putting it back in probably what would have been seen in earlier time, with a big heavy bar

And appropriately decorated seating areas

The menu was pretty much what you would expect (at least for our late lunch); salads, sandwiches and so forth.  Since it was between shifts (about two thirty by this time) attendance was sparse and attention to diners the same.  Not terrible, just a bit more ignoring than even the picky Feeder likes.  They did feature drinks of the same name as the restaurant, and I had a rather nice one concocted with Shock Top and nice lemony flavor.  Nice for the warming day.  MFO had a Ginger Citrus Salmon Salad, and I threw healthy to the winds and had a Bacon Cheeseburger.

Neither dish was remarkable, but serviceable.  I guess just what you would expect from a Bacon Cheeseburger (nice bacon and sharp cheese)

It was a nice respite and not knowing other Paducah options, I guess I would go back.

After that we attended the rather famous

It contained not historical quilts but mainly contemporary pieces made over the past decade or so.  It is amazing what people can do, the detail, and precision of the quilts were indeed impressive.  Unfortunately, any sort of photography was strictly forbidden, and monitored closely.  We didn’t stay too long as quilts, like banjo music can kind of tire one quickly (apologies to our quilter friends) and so we got back on the road.  We passed through Cairo again, and it appears still the same, a sad tribute to the past (again, we’ve looked at those before)

So without much further diversions we arrived at FOJTY’s in time for dinner (preceded by cocktails of course) and were benefited by his treatment of a brisket in his new(ish) smoker.

which, when expertly sliced

Produced a very nice plate for our dinner

Mostly it was nice to see our family again, including Stanley.

So, that was a start to our trip, and we’ll catch up on activities at “The Cape” tomorrow.  Oh yeah we were kind of bending


Monday, September 1, 2014

Salmon a la Kansas

Apologies to those of you with better memories than mine; you might remember this from the July of the '09 series of Feeders.  It is a story about a salmon recipe which I have dubbed “Salmon a la Kansas”.  You might wonder why salmon and Kansas would be related in a recipe.  Salmon isn’t “local” to The Sunflower State… In this case, Kansas is a real person who (still) lives on a cattle ranch near Lillooet, British Columbia.  I somehow got to corresponding with her through our blogs, she published (and still does occasionally I find out!) one called “Canadian Crafter” and provides interesting recipes and glimpses of life on a real ranch.  We eventually traded a few emails, and found we shared a mutual dislike of “The Pioneer Woman” whom we pretty much figured was a fraud.

Recently she posted on her facebook page a story about catching salmon, which reminded me of the recipe.  I am not sure the recipe is original with her, but was intrigued by the combination of Mayonnaise and Miracle whip, and quite frankly associating it with salmon.  Anyway I thought I would revisit the dish five years later.  We had a piece of salmon in the freezer so the first step was to thaw it.   Here’s a little tip (no, I didn’t get it from Cook’s Illustrated) on speeding up the thawing process: the reason we use cookware is because it’s a great conductor of heat, and this property works both ways, so inverting a pan and putting the item on it helps it thaw much faster

Here’s the original Salmon recipe:

Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil and spray a touch of cooking spray (Pam) on it.
Combine salad dressing (Miracle Whip) with mayonnaise (Hellman's). Or one of them if you don't have both.
Spread mixture with a spatula over fillets.
Sprinkle lots of soy sauce over.
Shake dried dill weed over both fillets.
Cook for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

I modified it by using Dukes which I prefer, and didn't spray with Pam

Anyway got the ingredients together (with remnants of MFO’s Gimlet prep)

And I got a little surprise when I opened the Miracle Whip squeeze bottle, finding engineers had been thinking (always dangerous), but probably not a bad idea for the more viscous “salad dressing”.

So I got roughly equal parts Dukes’ and Dressing

Whisked them together

The clever Miracle Whip bottle seemed to make a comment

Anyway, placed the salmon on the sheet pan (we decided to do one with and one without)

Slathered the stuff on one, and just a little oil on the other and committed to the heat

And when the finger press test indicated done, pulled it out of the oven to firm a little

The finished dish pretty much matched my (fading) memory, it was moist and the Dukes/MW/Soy did add a little sauce feel to it.  Not exactly haute cuisine, but maybe a little something different for you once in a while.. Thanks Kansas, and yes we were


Bonus Bites:

I always enjoy Tom Sietsema’s reviews in the Sunday Post Magazine.  This week he did a little piece on questions he gets asked frequently, the most popular of which is “what’s your favorite Restaurant?” which he ignores.  Couple of interesting ones:

How often do you eat out?:  10 to 12 times a week

What do you look for in a restaurant:  food, service, and ambiance that make me want to come back for more

My favorite (included in the answer to) Is there anything you won’t eat?:  To my mind, zucchini is about exciting as reading the phone book

MFO and I will be leaving for MOMSTER III’s maiden cross country to Missouri this coming weekend.  If things go according to plan, there will be a major culinary event.

stay tuned and

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kind of Ranting...

Okay, since you’ve probably digested my trip to Abell’s, and I’ve been pretty good about sticking to food, maybe I deserve a little rant time.  By the way, thanks for the continued suggestions for the diner “just right” list.  Keep them coming.  I think I have the next visit lined up but I’ll keep you guessing.  And I have been told a couple of times that I need to go back to Abell’s for the “logger” breakfast.  Given my frail constitution especially in the morning, that may be a struggle, but we’ll see..  Okay, rant or at least crabby time

First one:
Lately I have noticed a trend in car commercials, especially with the so-called “luxury” lines of Mercedes, Acura, Lexus, etc. to highlight their electronic gee-whiz "safety" features. Maybe you’ve seen them. One shows an obviously new driver practicing driving with Dad in the right seat, and driving junior turns to stare at a comely young lady on the sidewalk. The “car” abruptly stops him from rear ending the auto in front of him.  Dad smiles, the kid looks sheepish and they move on.

In another, Mom at the wheel turns completely around to fiddle with junior in the back seat and is only brought back to reality when her windshield fills up with a Kenilworth grill.  A look of mild surprise, and then a self satisfied little grin takes over.  Or, how about that one where the guy is obviously driving  “too fast for conditions” which are almost zero visiblity and comes roaring into a construction zone until the car again saves him (or maybe the workers). 

Then there’s the one where the demure little lady is somehow in a demolition derby with cars twirling overhead, blind spot indicator letting her know a battered Chevy is about to hit her, or swerving away from the wall in the nick of time while a unequipped competitor smashes into it.  It finishes with smoking heaps of metal and the unscathed Mercedes SUV with the little smiling lady at the wheel and the announcer intoning “you almost couldn't crash this car if you wanted to”, or something close to that.

Well, this is just fine. I am so glad to hear this.  I think I may go buy one of these vehicles so that the next time I have one too many, instead of relying on a taxi or a designated, I can drive myself home with complete confidence that my car will prevent any untoward events.  Swerving? No matter the lane device will pull me back in.  Following too close?  Nope, no worries.  Texting while driving?  No problem.  Complete confidence.  I just wonder if this technology which is somewhere between none and complete control of the vehicle is good or bad.  Don’t think I like the implications. Are we spawning and encouraging a population of uncaring, idiot drivers?

Another one:
Speaking of idiot drivers, I have yakked about this before, but people just don’t seem to get it around here.  It’s a small word, only five letters: m – e – r – g – e.  Maybe the auto manufacturers will come up with combined software and GPS technology that you just select “merge” from the menu on the screen and it will regulate your vehicle’s speed and direction such that you will seamlessly flow into traffic in a safe manner.  Until then I am doomed to be behind said idiots who think that half mile of vacant asphalt on the right is only for turning at the (hardly visible) next intersection, and will wait however long it takes to have a completely vacant highway (caused by demon lights someplace) so they can pull directly across that merge lane into the right traffic lane and continue on.  Or if threatened by the evil man behind them (who sometimes honks), pull timidly into said lane, and go so slow that there is never a chance to get between (ample) spaces of cars in motion.  Argghhh..

Last one:
Does this happen to you?  That innocent little box of “saran wrap” or similar product is a menace to (at least my) sanity.  I am talking about the common grocery store “smaller” box type here, not the food service type which is maybe a couple of feet long.   When you need to wrap up say, a chop or steak for freezing, or after you have applied a rub, you need a piece maybe 18 by 18.  Many things happen: You can’t pull out the required length and the roll comes out of the box (at this point you might as well go get waxed paper), or the damn serrated edge won’t cut and it bunches along the box into a ball, or if it does actually come out of the box, and cut into your desired length you’re stuck with a flapping piece of saran held in one hand which immediately clings to itself in several places.  Okay, so you lay it on your counter and attempt to “straighten it out” which never happens, it only gets worse.  And don’t even talk to me about "cling plus”.

And actually, as odd as it sounds, those big commercial boxes are much easier to deal with.  Yes, you have to get it from the pantry and place it on the counter, but the lack of above problems pays big dividends.  The heft of the box and roll within keeps it in place allowing both hands to be of use.  You can pretty easily strip out the desired length with a hand on each end.  Then, depending on the brand, there is either a long serration or a slider with a knife on the edge of the box.   A good trick is to tuck the free edge of the sheet under your chin and then either slice it, or grab both sides near the serration and sort of bring your hands down and together cutting the sheet from both sides. You still have hold of both edges so you can straighten it out into a nice sheet Works pretty well..  See what a vast resource on kitchen technique your Bottom Feeder is?

Okay, the mental air is much clearer, and I can return to food matters.  Am re-trying a salmon recipe tonight, “Baked Salmon a la Kansas”.  Will have to be