Saturday, April 25, 2020

Special "Sammy" Update

Okay, I’ll buy this.  An alert and faithful reader sent me the following link from "Spruce Eats" (a nice site by the way), with a recipe for both a Reuben and if turkey, a “Rachel” sandwich.  She claimed that Rachel, if done well, is “divine” (no “y” word for her, bless her heart).  I can believe that it's probably a good sandwich.   In this case, I don’t object to a name that is specific to the item, not a “Turkey Reuben" but "Rachel" instead. Still there are other things that don’t have a special name.  Like “Turkey” Bacon, Sausage, Chili (that’s kind of borderline), Burgers, and so on. While descriptive for the customer, it's not accurate.  Bacon is smoked ham.  It’s NOT turkey.  I’m not sure what you would call it, “Smoked Turkey strips”?

On another note, I have purchased a “Meater” meat thermometer.  It’s basically a probe that is inserted into and remains in the item while being cooked.  It "bluetooths" the internal temperature of the dish as well as the ambient (oven, grill, Ninja) temp.  You set a target temperature like for medium rare steak at 135, and it will tell you when to pull it and monitors carryover internal temp while “resting” till it meats (ha ha) your target temp.  Have not used it yet.. will report.

DF(ah, the hell with it for now)
Be safe..

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Food Musings...

Geriatric Calendar for those of us where days just seem to run together.. 

You can tell what day it is just by looking for the one with meds in it (in this case – Thursday)

You know me, I’m kind of a classic guy when it comes to food.  I prefer classic dishes prepared in a classic manner when I can get them.  There is nothing like sitting at a white tablecloth table with silver, crystal and a trained wait staff. But there is another world of.., “eating healthy and fast”.   More and more in our fast paced world we're leaning in that direction.  There are multiple publications like “Cooking Light”, “Clean Eating”, and the like as well as a plethora of web sites, all touting the preparation of (for want of a better term) “healthy eating”.

A quick caveat here, you are perfectly able to decide what you want to put in your body and the reasons for your choices.  I would not presume to chide you for any food that you wish to consume for whatever reasons.

Those same sites and magazines are filled with recipes that specify ingredients like: use low fat cheese; substitute yogurt for sour crème, add low sodium chicken broth; season with fresh herbs (or salt substitute) instead of salt; egg white omelets; use half and half instead of heavy cream; on and on.  When there were such things as restaurants, more and more of the dishes on the menu had a string of parenthetical codes behind them specifying various features, vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and so on.  And somewhere on the menu will be a statement about only using sustainable, non-GMO, maybe free range, grass fed, etc. 

Okay, okay, feeder what’s your point?  For want of better terms, in my (probably biased) mind we are developing categories of food: “real” and “almost”.  The former DOES use heavy cream, homemade stocks, whole eggs, they leave fat on meats. Thomas Keller takes 3 days to produce a roasted chicken for his restaurants.  The “almost” category would include such things as a “Turkey Reuben” sandwich which I assume is a pretty good sandwich, but a Reuben sandwich is corned beef (or sometimes pastrami); Russian dressing; Sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, on Rye (please not marbled).  Well, you say, the turkey version is “almost” as good as the “real’ thing.  Call it something else – Turkey melt?

Another example is the making of say, Sauce Bernaise.  The as far as I’m concerned Bible of sauces is the (James Beard awarded book)

Their recipe (and directions) runs for two pages. 
It’s a bear to make. 

The recipe: all 15 steps. 

And this is the paragraph where I always fail.  "Break" is the watchword I always stumble.

Far easier and quicker would be the “almost” version made in your local blender.


¼ cup white wine vinegar                                    
¼ cup dry white wine or vermouth                               
1 Tbsp minced shallots or scallions (white part only) 
1/2 Tsp Dried tarragon
¼ tsp. salt 
1/8 tsp pepper 
3 egg yolks  
1 Stick of butter (thoroughly melted and still boiling                                         
Boil the vinegar, wine, herbs, and seasonings in a small saucepan until liquid has reduced to about 2 Tbsp.  Let cool.  Place egg yolks and cooled vinegar mixture in jar of blender.  Cover and blend at high speed for 30 seconds.  Uncover, (my blender has a little center cover that I take off) and still blending at high speed, start pouring in the hot butter by DROPLETS.  When about 2/3 of the butter has gone in, you can pour a little more quickly.

There are really two classes with all sorts of references for each:
“real” from the classic:

Both of these should have a place in your cooking library.  Invaluable references.

And the "other" type: 

The “real” stuff is what you would get and expect in a fine dining restaurant with kitchen brigade whose job it is to turn out classic dishes as they were intended. 

Confession: over the years I have softened on the “almost” items.  People have lives, families, soccer practice, meetings, and so on.  A lot of that leads to “eating from bags”, but there are caring home cooks who would like to feed their family tasty, and yes, healthy meals, in a timely manner and these books supply a way to do that. 

Sure, there would be difference between the rigorous Sauce Bearnaise and the blender version, but it is better than NO sauce.  Find an “easy and fast” recipe, but once in a while make the time and effort to move over to the “real” side.  It’s fun and a treat.

Speaking of recipes, here’s one I WON’T be trying
one of my favorite meaningless phrases: "next level"  which level are YOU on?

And for the time being, the heck with

Life is too short to stuff a mushroom
Shirley Conran

postscript..  in rereading this before hitting "publish" it seems I kind of changed my tune from beginning to end. There is a place for quick cooking 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Dum de Dum... tick tock

So far today (1600) – highest gust recorded by the trusty weather station; think we got lucky so far…

(56 mph at 9:36 am)

Back to Life (as we know it)
You know the feeling you (I) have when going to the doctor you sit in the reception area for maybe 20 minutes past your appointment time?  Just kind of marking time sitting and waiting for someone to call you?  Then finally sesame opens and a nurse bellows out “WILLIAM MOODY” and you’re ushered to the exam room and after the stock questions are answered, she leaves with a cheery “He’ll be right in”.  then ensues another 15 minutes (on a good day) before doc appears.  Meanwhile you sit in a state of suspended animation, alone with your thoughts and apprehensions (you are, after all, in a medical facility).

Well, I see parallels between that and the “virus” lifestyle.  You sit, sort of waiting for “something” to happen (or not). But it’s hard to get on with life or interest in any endeavor, like reading for instance.  So you sit waiting for time to pass for…..  anyway, that’s me.  Hopefully you are not similarly afflicted. 

Side dishes
The closing of restaurants appears to be causing devastating consequences for those whose only/largest source of income came from serving, washing, on up through cooking.  So called “relief checks” while helpful, will not make
them whole.  And if this condition drags on much longer, there may not be place to return to.  Take out proceeds will not replace a sit down dinner.

Restaurateur (note: no “n”) Gerard Craft* puts it thus on the cover of “Sauce" a magazine that follows the food trail in St. Louis

*Gerard Craft last year became the first St. Louis-based chef to win the James Beard award for Best Chef: Midwest. His cadre of St Louis venues is large: niche, brasserie, taste, pastaria, porano pasta; all of which receive many accolades for their food.
Another more local instance is the pretty well confirmed rumors that “Smokey Joe’s on the Town” in Leonardtown will go permanently dark, pushed over the brink by the recent COVID-19 shut downs.  The owner (Denise Canter) has been a leader in serving up BBQ around here forever. Used to be in that little place on 235 across from the Immaculate Heart church.  Now a car staging area.  Tough way to make a living, thank goodness there are those that choose to..

We got the meats!
Since housebound, have been messing around with cooking beef (in the Ninja Foodii)  Turns out there is a learning process involved which I have not yet mastered.  I figure if you’re stuck in the house, eating well is the best revenge (as FOJTE is fond of saying – and he does).

Experiments so far have included a strip steak, from a local source of local beef (along with all the essentials of a good cook)

And pre-grilled a bit for me by the source.  Turned out pretty well.  Am having trouble getting a nice sear on the outside and still rare/medium rare on the inside.  As usual, got involved with consumption and forgot to document results.

Another attempt was with a filet obtained from Double R ranch, a partner of Snake River Farms.  Decided to try a technique from Thomas Keller’s Master Class.  He used a rib eye, but figured the filet would be worth a try.. SO, the day before we figured to eat it, I unpackaged it, salted both sides, ties a string around to hold shape, and stuck it in the refrigerator for overnight “dry aging”

When I took it out the next day, it had darkened considerably (it started out rosy pink)

I made some compound butter for it
and got it ready for the "device"

Results much better, I think the aging tightened it up a bit, and only took it out of the refrigerator an hour before cooking, so maybe that helped keeping it rare.  Once again it was plated and consumed without pictures..

So latest (aren’t you glad?) was last night with a locally raised and butchered cow resulting in a nice “(boneless) prime rib”

Well while browsing around the web I found a recipe called “Chef John’s Perfect Prime Rib” (“This is a specific formula for achieving a perfectly pink prime rib cooked somewhere a shade under medium rare”)
What I found intriguing was that it called for being coated with another compound butter recipe (Herbes de Provence – which I had to substitute for) and then put into the oven at 500 ͦ for a specified time, turn off oven, keep the door closed and leave it for 2(!) hours. That meant that cocktail hour was unsullied!
So, I cobbled together the butter mixture

Slathered it on the meat
And stuck in into the 500-degree oven for 11 minutes (weight times five) and at the end of the 11 minutes, it looked like this

Turned the oven off, closed the door and proceeded to cocktails

After two hours, I sliced into it and by golly! Much to my surprise (and relief) was a nice rosy pink

It was plated and served with MFO’s twice baked potatoes, and a glass of Hanna Cab. Happy Easter!

And, it appears that we are (hopefully) out of the woods on the weather..

Be safe, be isolated, protected, observe social distancing, and I guess

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Time on my hands...

Well, what’s a food blogger to do to while away the endless hours while quarantined?  

According to The Thane of Cawdor:
"There would have been a time for such a word.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time…"

(Did I ever mention that I played him in our Senior Play in High school? I loved that…)

Maybe the Feeder will resort to more frequent and shorter tales.
Like this: Julia

A loyal reader sent me a note a day or so ago alerting me that on Friday (the third) our PBS (Channel Three) was going to carry “The French Chef” her original cooking show wherein she throws around flounders, chickens, etc.  They were fantastic… So, we managed to stay awake until after ten last night (more on that in a moment) to watch.  Well, guess what? PBS had to polish the diamond.  Basically, it was turned into a talk show featuring Jose Andres and Éric Ripert, two Michelin starred chefs.  Well, they were in a little TV panel inset up in the right hand corner of the screen, showing them at a table; while Julia was relegated to a similar panel in the lower left.  She would bone a flounder, and both gents had to comment on that with gratuitous quips and clever remarks etc., Interesting, but certainly not what I expected.  I would have thought at least Jose would have more respect, and Julia frequented Eric's famous restaurant. the program was certainly not what I expected.  Probably won’t be watching any more episodes!
Technical note:  The Feeder thought “the hell with this, I’ll just watch the real thing!” and cycled over to NETFLIX (and ultimately Amazon Prime).  After a long and frustrating search I finally found “The French Chef” all right and could watch it for a mere $2.99.  I did notice yesterday that PBS also carries “In Julia’s Kitchen” sporadically, with no fee.

Unexpected Gem
But the real reward of the night was the second edition of the program we stumbled on while waiting for the First Julia circus. It is called “Somewhere South” and hosted by Vivian Howard an award winning author of “Deep Run Roots - Stories and Recipes from my Corner of the South” which won among other awards: Cookbook of the Year, Julia Child First Book Award, Outstanding Restaurant Cookbook, and Outstanding Cookbook in the General Category.  PBS (accurately) describes it as “Each episode of “Somewhere South” explores the connectivity of a single dish, and the ways people of different backgrounds interpret that dish while expressing the complex values, identities, and histories that make up the American South.” When we began with episode one (Hand Pies) last week we thought, “oh yeah another cutesy TV chef” WRONG!  Vivian makes it not all about her, but successfully brings out the real character of Southern Cooks (maybe as opposed to “chefs”) mostly African Americans who have inconspicuously cooked in small establishments for years.  Although taking place in eastern South Carolina, Charleston and its glitterati are generally brushed over.  Friday night’s episode (number two) was dubbed “Porridge for the Soul” mostly about grits and the varied way they are used and prepared.  She also explores the differences between Southern and soul food, and features the Geeche Gullah culture, centered locally in the Georgia Sea Islands.  Fascinating stuff.  The Feeder HIGHLY recommends watching this instead of the sleazy exploitation of Julia. 

To Market, to market

With the coming of Spring, ‘tis time for the local Farm Markets to open for people to obtain locally grown, organic, sustainable food products.  And since spring apparently is paying no attention to the Calendar, many things are already becoming available.  However, comma, COVID-19 is interfering with (and highly disrupting) our normal enjoyment and celebration of the annual renewal of life.  Ever resourceful, they have joined the “take away” scheme and have opened on that basis, apparently long awaited and well received.

Local Farms

offering lovely food stuff, both “fresh”

As well as preserved (for the long haul – hopefully not to the last syllable of recorded time)
Photos courtesy of SMC department of Economic Development

And for the time being, we’ll modify our normal closing to:


When so attired during her trip to Giant the other day, MFO reported NOBODY else did.  No wonder the death rate is rising exponentially.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Special Edition: Foodie PSA regarding COVID-19

Just thought I would pass this along for the local population.  Due to the Virus the county farmer markets are trying to remain responsible to COVID socially conscious guidelines:

St. Mary’s County Farmer's Market Updates
In light of social distancing, limits on numbers of persons who can gather at one time, and other restrictions imposed to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the St. Mary's County Department of Economic Development has begun working with vendors from the three County sponsored Farmers markets to develop an operations plan that will allow the County Farmers Markets to open as planned this spring. We will provide information on the market schedules and safety procedures as they become available. 
St. Mary's County Farmers Markets Transition to Drive-thru Service Only
At this time, agriculture businesses such as Farmers Markets ARE considered essential. To reduce exposure while keeping the markets open, the Department of Economic Development, in consultation with the local Health Department and County Administration, have transitioned all County farmers markets to drive thru only markets. 

We understand the importance of the markets to both the vendors and the residents. When you visit any of the farmers markets in the County, we ask that you are patient with the additional measures to keep vendors and customers safe.  Please remain in your vehicle and follow attendant guidance for new traffic flow.

No reusable market bags or egg cartons will be permitted.  
Pop your trunk for purchases to be placed directly into your vehicle. 

California Farmers Market
Reopens April 25th!

Saturdays, 9:00AM to 1:00PM
(BAE Parking Lot)

North County/Charlotte Hall Farmers Market
Reopens April 4th!

April 2020: Wednesday and Saturday, daylight hours
May: Everyday, 8:00AM to 5:00PM
(Charlotte Hall Library Parking Lot)

Home Grown Farm Market
Reopens April 4th!

Saturdays, 9:00AM to 1:00PM
(Red Barn)

Help support local businesses and farmers, plus you get local healthy food!

and in these trying times, no need to worry about
DFD (did i say that???)