Sunday, August 21, 2011

When geeks attack!




Not satisfied to simply help my daughter build a sand castle with a little beach bucket, I had to add a mott and bailey system of walls, LOL....





Thursday, August 18, 2011

FOOD GEEK!

Been a while since I blogged about food or cooking, so I thought I’d do so.

Summer is a great time for fresh foods and grilling, and I’ve been enjoying both. I grew a small garden of herbs and tomatoes this year, and am overjoyed to report the tomatoes are delicious. It’s almost an accident as I usually have a “black thumb” but this garden did well. Only recently, we’ve learned that rodents like tomatoes. I can’t tell if it’s the chipmunks or maybe rabbits, but I’ve lost three good red tomatoes this week. It seemed to happen all at once and I am not a happy camper. Believing it to be the chipmunks, I moved the tomato plant (it’s in a pot, not the ground) to be further from the stoop so the little effers have nothing to leap off of to reach the tomatoes. If it’s rabbits, it will be harder to stop them. I guess I could but the pot on a lawn chair high above the ground. Whatever.

Been brewing sun tea, which is a real treat when it’s hot out. It’s as simple as it sounds:

Sun Tea
4-8 tea bags, or 4-8 teaspoons of loose tea
2-3 quarts of water
Sweetener
ice

Put the tea in the water in a clean glass jar or somesuch. Cover it, and leave it outside in direct sunlight for about 4 hours. It is that simple.

I like to use a wide flat casserole so more water surface area is heated by the sun, and to amp up the heat by placing the dark lid of the casserole under it all, covering the thing with plastic wrap. I think experts recommend you only try this if it’s 90 degree F or hotter. Because no boiling water is used, bacterial contamination is a concern, so sun tea should be enjoyed within 48 hours after brewing (some say as soon as 24 hours) but don’t worry, it’s so tasty it won’t last that long. If you find stringy goopy stuff, that’s bacteria poop, and you should throw out the tea and run the container through your dishwasher.

So why bother? It really is much tastier. The slow, low temp brewing teases out more subtle flavors from the tea, and if you use good tea leaves, it really is great. Add some sugar and pour it over ice and boom! Done.

What else?
Oh, I made some Spiced Pork Nuggets that I liked a lot, but my wife found to be “too Mediterranean” for her taste. These end up tasting like a meat falafel, and can be served the same way. They also make a convenient snack.

Spiced Pork Nuggets
1 lb Ground Pork
½ of a finely chopped onion (a sweet one like a Vidalia or red onion works well)
1-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T ground cumin
1 T ground coriander
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground black pepper
½ t. ground nutmeg
Ground Cayenne pepper or chili powder to taste, about ½ t to 2 t
1 egg, beaten
½ to 1 t salt (no you can’t leave it out!)

Mix it all together and make meatballs. You can mix the spices into the egg first to ensure everything is evenly distributed, but I didn’t bother and it was fine. To be extra precise, you can divide the pile of raw meat into equal pieces before you begin. Flatten into football shapes or nuggets and grill over medium heat, turning once. Grill about 3-5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness. Test one with a meat thermometer to make sure they’re at 165 degrees F inside. Any hotter and they may be dry.

Consider adding ¼ lb ground bacon or finely chopped, lightly cooked bacon to the mix for added porky goodness. This is tweaked from a recipe my wife found in Better Homes and Gardens.

But back to the tomatoes, here's a Before and After show-off of my homemade gravy... the only things that didn't come from my garden were the olive oil and half an onion.



So that's three tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, a handfull of chopped onion, basil, thyme and oregano, all sauteed in a nice generous dash of good extra virgin olive oil. Toss in cooked, sliced sausage and pasta and ba-da-bing... a nice summery plate of de-frickin-licious if I do say so myself.