National Dog Day

Today is National Dog Day, so I think I will begin operation Get Another Dog in earnest now. Up to this point, I have been casually dropping hints that the MotH* has consistently ignored, but I think I will put the spurs to it, as it were, and actively start looking for a dog that I want.

That raises the question – what kind of dog do I really want? My first knee-jerk reaction would immediately be a German Shepherd Dog, but I am wondering if that makes sense going forward. I would always compare any GSD to Duke and I just do not think it could possibly measure up. IMG_0041

And then there is Bering. The  Boy wanted two types of dogs, a GSD and a Siberian Husky. When our friends rescued a Husky right after Hurricane Katrina, I was not enthusiastic. It seemed that he was noisy. Guess I did not know anything about a Husky. The Boy picked the name, it was the Bering Sea. And lord help me, the Husky was beyond words beautiful. I miss my little puppy friend. It is a damn shame that cancer took him at six years despite all the efforts we made.

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Then we got the idiot. He was bred to be a service dog. The group thought that mixing a Border Collie and a Lab would make a good service dog. Funny, but I do not think this group will try to make that mix again, since 3 of the 4 of that litter totally washed out. But he is my little idiot and no one else can say that about my dumb little boy. He is my Hood. This the picture when I knew he was mine.

Hoodie Boy

*Man of the House

Amazing Roasted Mushrooms

I follow several food bloggers and one that I really admire is Kevin’s Closet Cooking. I really have an affinity for Kevin. His recipes are pretty simple, not lots of ingredients, not too many steps, but these are the kind of recipe that I like. I like that he is kind of all over the place. From one day to the next, you never know what you are going to get and for me, that is really great. A challenge, trying something different, something outside of what you normally make – yeah, I really like that.

D&D_1542It does not take lots of ingredients or lots of directions to make something that tastes really good, at least to me. None of this means I do not adjust Kevin’s ideas to my own. It is cooking and experimenting, after all.

I am a huge fan of mushrooms. That said, I do not like raw mushrooms at all. Ugh. So gross. I love to saute them. Funny how that changes the entire equation. There are so many dishes I love cooked mushrooms in. Pasta with asparagus and mushrooms with a sauce of mascarpone cheese, lemon, and lots of real (read: imported and expensive) Parmigiano-Reggiano. I make a great vegetarian pate with mushrooms – so good on toast with fresh lime juice. I could just go on and on, and I expect that I will. That is just me. You do not spend a decade as a vegetarian and not have recipes that still make you stupidly happy. Many of my recipes are on the vegetarian side. That makes me happy, but I do love a good steak every now and again. And bacon, and um, sausage … here we go again. Pretty much any version of pork.

8 ozs crimini mushrooms, washed and stem removed*
2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp dried thyme or not as you prefer
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggino

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray just to avoid sticking. Place cleaned mushrooms in the baking dish and spoon the butter, garlic, and thyme mixture over the mushrooms. Season with kosher salt and freshly grated black pepper.

Bake for 10 minutes.**   Remove from the oven. Add the breadcrumb Parm mixture*** and press down and bake until lightly golden – 8-10ish minutes. Garnish with chives, parsley, or scallions. And a splash of lemon juice would not go amiss.

*I cannot help it, I just remove stems from crimini and button mushrooms. Maybe not necessary, but I have always done it. You could also use button mushrooms for this recipe. I just went with what was on sale this week.

**This is one of those dishes you need to serve right out of the oven … with a little bit of cooling time so you do not burn yourself. That said, I think you could put it all together in a baking dish a day ahead and then fire up the oven for the first 10 minute part, so that makes it dinner party friendly. I did it over two days and really was wonderful.  Cover the slightly baked mushroom with foil and let them get close to room temperature before putting them in the fridge and then finishing the dish when you want the next day. I do love recipes that give me flexibility.

*** You might have extra, but I wanted to be sure I had enough and now this gives me an excellent thought – what to do with the rest. It is in the fridge for now, but the possibilities are pretty much everywhere. Maybe some kind of crostini. So Kevin, what do you think?

 

Asparagus, Red Onion, Fettuccini with orange juice, white wine, butter sauce 

Once again I fall back on one of my vegetarian recipes. I think it is summer thing, I just want much lighter food in the summer. I really do not have an actual recipe for this, I just remember making it for something like the decade that I was a vegetarian. That said, I still prefer mostly meat-less dishes with the exception of a very good rib-eye – my favorite cut – or some bbq – or well, I will likely go on a bit to long and then disprove my “mostly meat-less” idea. Either way – summer needs to be light.

D&D_1533Now that I think about it though, I do not like soup with meat in it, kind of like ever, and nor do I like pasta with meat in it very often. Maybe that is odd, but it is just the way I am.

Be that as it may, this is one of my favorite pasta recipes ever and I find it interesting that the flavors are similar to my favorite cous cous salad recipe – orange juice, red onions … that seems to be a thing, for me anyway.

So here it is  – yet another non-recipe recipe. Hope you enjoy it and I think you will.

1 softball* sized red onion, peeled, and sliced
1 bunch of pencil thin-ish asparagus, woody stems broken off, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 package Buitoni fettuccini
fresh orange juice
Splash of vegetable stock – 2 Tbs or thereabouts
187 ml decent white wine – Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio – one of the little 4 pack bottles
More butter to finish – salted, and perhaps European, yep
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggino – the good stuff, just do not play around with this, seriously.

In at least a 12 inch sauce pan, melt the butter and then dump in the red onions.  At the same time set another pot with water to boil to blanch the asparagus. You will use the same water to boil the fettuccini – easy and healthy – or something. Saute the onions until they are soft  while blanching the asparagus, but make sure to remove the asparagus when it is bright green, it will cook a bit more in the white wine orange juice sauce.

When the onions are soft, deglaze the pan with the white wine and a couple of TBS of vegetable stock, and let it cook down a bit. Then add the orange juice about a cup and a half. It will look like way too much, but do not panic. Dump the fettuccini in the asparagus water and cook it to al dente. Move the asparagus into the white wine orange sauce – you are just going to have to wing it at this point. Tasting, judging, you might need to add a little more orange juice. The big thing is to not over cook the pasta.

Add the pasta to the orange juice butter asparagus red onion sauce and let it soak up the sauce. The just to gild the lily, add a couple of TBS of really good European butter – swirl.

When serving you need the salty bite of some Parm – yes, you do.

You are welcome.

*I think recipes really need to tell you the size of an onion – um, medium means pretty much nothing if you do not know what “medium” means. So, I think we all have an idea of a softball, so that is what I am going with.

Hello Tourists

Tourists –  We thank you for visiting our fair state. It makes it possible for us not pay state income taxes. But here is the problem – do you act like such jerkish dillweeds at home?  I am just wondering, because I am really hoping you do not. I would like to think I would not be a total dillweed in your hometown. Honestly, I am pretty sure I would not be.

Pensacola Beach SignYou drive like the speed limits do not apply to you, especially on our bridges which are our lifelines between Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, and Pensacola Beach. Honestly, we have enough of our own dillweeds for this idiocy – just saying.

We do not mind not being able to get to our own beach in the summer.  We understand first, the snowbirds, then the spring breakers, and then the tourists – we get it. Just please do not try to run us down on our own streets. It is just not right.

It will not be long until we get our beach local back, and while we appreciate you supporting our places for a few months each year, we support them when you are all gone – through the fall and winter. This is our hometown and it would be lovely if you were not so cavalier in our home.

 

Magnum Pepper Mill

This is my Thing of the Month (which month, honestly, I have lost track. I may just have to stop naming these posts that way) – the Magnum Pepper Mill from Unicorn Mills.
This is another product that was recommended by Cook’s Country and it does not disappoint. It is simple and easy to work with, and at only $45 it is a great value for something you use multiple times every day. And I do use it multiple times a day.
The grinder is fast, and though a large size – the grinder is 9 inches tall – it is not too big for my rather small hands.D&D_1525

The large storage capacity for my Tellicherry Peppercorns is easy to refill – way easier than the one I was using, that is for certain.
Another thing I love about this pepper grinder is that it is made in the USA – on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts and the company has been in business since 1986.
Looking at the site makes me really want a travel-sized grinder to carry with me. Yep, I am that dork. But it really does not bother me. Much.

I am thinking of getting a salt mill but that opens an entirely different train of thought – salt – and my slight obsession with salt. Lord, if I went on with all the salts I have – once again, a dork.

 

Our Summer: Blue Angels

We live in Pensacola and the Blue Angels are our home team, as it were. The first weekend after the 4th of July is always Blue Angels’ weekend on the beach, an even bigger weekend for us here than the 4th of July. Tourists come in from all over for the Blues. No, really, all over.

Since we moved to Pensacola the MotH and I have made it a tradition to go to the Thursday beach practice. It is the one most people, excepting locals, do not know about which makes it the most fun. We go to our beach local, Shaggy’s, because it is on the center line of the show it is a great show and a great place to watch from. I think this show is a little better than the homecoming show because where we watch they are pretty much direct above us, while we drink a few beers.  At the homecoming show, in November, you are behind a line that mostly the planes do not cross. Except for the sneak attack – best part of the show, in my opinion.

I am just such a fan of Bert  – do love that amazing plane. The best start ever. You do just have to experience it.

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My Bert – best bit of the Blue Angels – yep, totally.

So a few weeks ago on a Thursday we were out on the back deck of Shaggy’s and watching my personal favorite plane – Bert – better known as Fat Albert doing things a plane that large just should not be able to do – at least to my mind. This plane is just beyond amazing. I know everyone is thrilled by the jets, but a US Marine Corp Lockheed C-130t Hercules just rocks my world. Also cool – it is flown by a woman. Yep.

I am too busy enjoying myself to take pictures or video – there is a long dissertation about living in the moment that I will not get into at this point, but it will happen at some point. That said, we were watching Bert being the bad ass that she is and there were people on the deck at Shaggy’s that did not seem to notice. Wait, what?

When the jets went overhead it pretty much got everyone’s attention – they are low and loud (and awesome!!). So there was a family – wife, husband, two kids and grandma. They had NO CLUE what was going on – they were just having lunch. So they asked and I explained and then the phones came out for pictures and video to take take to their home state Missouri. The kids loved it – and so did grandma. It was fun to watch.

This is such a huge part of our life that is funny to realize some unsuspecting tourist gets a cool show they have no idea is coming. We are privileged to live here and this is one of the reasons why. There are days when you are puttering around town and see the Blues flying or you can to to practice during the week – it is our home team.

 

Steven’s Market Deli – Pace, Florida

I am a bit of a potato salad person. I will pretty much try everyone’s potato salad – it is just a thing for me. It is a measure of how well a restaurant can do something that is relatively simple. I love to make my own, but I also love to try any other version. Steven’s Market Deli caught my attention because they sold German Potato Salad – yes, I just did lots of capital letters there. But I had a real idea of where they procured that German potato salad (yes, I have now relaxed a bit, not so many capital letters), but it was so obvious it was from The Creamery – an excellent Gulf Breeze restaurant that sadly closed not too long after we moved here. I had the fading hope that after The Creamery closed that Steven’s might pick up the idea and make their own German potato salad. They did not, but that was a boon for me because it made me try their traditional potato salad. Damn skippy – that is some really good potato salad. D&D_1494

I used to work at a place very similar to Steven’s Market Deli. It was in Jacksonville and it was a cafe that also had ice cream. Hence, why I am so over ice cream. Serve it enough and you just do not care anymore. This place had a stupid name and though it thought itself a tearoom, it really was a small cute cafe that served croissant sandwiches, quiche, soup, and oddly enough a knockwurst plate with… wait for it … German potato salad. I will say this was my introduction to Twinings tea with my favorite being Earl Grey and that was a very good thing.

Well, once again, I have wondered far afield from where I started. Back to Steven’s Market Deli. Beyond getting potato salad to go, I have had their pork barbecue sandwich with cheddar and it is just amazing! – yes, it deserves the exclamation point. Chicken salad is also really good. And the stuffed grape leaves, sigh. I need to get them more often. I have not been to brunch there, but the menu looks pretty amazing – I just don’t quite get up early enough on the weekend for that. Yep – that is just me.

It seems when I go on the weekend to get potato salad (and next time stuffed grape leaves), there are always high school-aged kids. I think that is cool. And one thing that always impresses me is when I get my potato salad, these high school kids sprinkle the top of the potato salad with paprika and chives. It is just a little attention to detail that endears them to me. They do not have to do that, but they do – and to me that means a great deal. This is the kind of local establishment that I want to, and continue to, frequent. Love local restaurants.