Friday, January 25, 2008

Winter Vegetables-Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a winter vegetable and seem to be at their peak now in flavor and quality. Last Monday they looked so good at the market, my guy had to get them. Brussels sprouts is a vegetable that doesn't that much respect. Maybe it's the way they are prepared. Typically they cooked in water for a long time and then they stink and just not very interesting. A few days before last Thanksgiving, Mollie Katzen of Moosewood cookbook fame was interviewed on NPR and she had this recipe for the sprouts.
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Trim the stem.
3. Slice the sprouts in half.
4. Place Brussels sprouts on cookie sheet and add a tablespoon or so olive oil and a dash of salt.
5. Use you hands to spread the oil and salt on all the sprouts.
6. Place the flat side of the sprouts against the cookie sheet.
7. Place in oven for 10 minutes.
8. Toss the sprouts and place in oven for 5 minutes more.

That's it. In the process of trimming and and slicing in half, you will find that there will be some individual sprout leaves. These will melt in your mouth like a potato chip. Oh, they are so good.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Winter Fruit

Today it was cold and rainy at the local produce market. Now is the time to taste the Best of the Winter Fruit. Texas grapefruit, navel oranges, tangeloes, and pomegranates are at their peak of flavor. Pomegranates have that exotic flavor just right for salads or just snacking out of hand. When selecting pomegranates look for a fruit free of soft spots. But how do you prepare and use the fruit? Some people suggest cutting the fruit in half and then pulling the juice nuggets apart under water. Here we will suggest a method without water and nuggets are not lost from knife cutting. First, use a sharp knife and make a shallow cut around the waist of the pomegranate. Cut only about 1/8 inch deep. Next stick your finger nails in the cut and separate the pomegranate into 2 halves. You can also use a knife and use it as a wedge to separate the 2 halves, but don't go deeper than 1/8 inch. The next part is easier. Take one of the halves and break into 2 quarter sections.

Next take one of the sections and use your thumb to gently remove the nuggets from fruit webbing. The particles come out easy without damaging the nuggets. And finally pick out the few web pieces that may have fallen off.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Fabric of America, by Andro Linklater

The Fabric of America, by Andro Linklater.
He tells the interesting story of how some of the early state borders were formed. Much of the story is about the work of Andrew Ellicott. He was very good with math and knew spherical geometry. With the simple tools he had in the late 1700s, he was able to achieve extraordinary accuracy. Ellicott established the SW corner of Pennsylvania in 1784. For timing he used the positions of the moons of Jupiter. Using GPS today you will find that Ellicott’s and GPS’ position are only 23 feet apart. Have you ever wondered why Minnesota has that point sticking up on it’s northern border with Canada. In a private communication with the author, it all goes back to the “Treaty of Paris”, that declared the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783. In words the treaty states that the border with Canada goes through the “middle of Lake of the Woods” and the 49th parallel. At the time, it was assumed or thought that the 49th parallel went through the middle of Lake of the Woods. Thirty years later it was discovered that the 49th parallel was well south of the “middle of the lake.” Rather than renegotiating the treaty they just accepted the original treaty and it’s words.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mexican Coke

Mexican Coke is made from cane sugar and not corn syrup as Coke made in the US. The Mexican Coke has a better flavor, it seems ‘sharper.’ Whatever that means. We can purchase this locally from Costco in a 24 bottle case. It is about 3 time the cost USA Coke. Try it if can find it. Let us know how you like it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Wire

The HBO television series The Wire has some critics declaring this is the best TV series of all times. We starting watching Season 1 a few weeks ago. It has excellent script, directing, and acting. Sometimes the good guys screwup and sometimes the bad guys do good things. I seems very realistic. The first season covers the drug trade in Baltimore, second season details the problems on the waterfront when jobs go away. The third covers the politics and the fourth handles education issues. The 5th season that just started last week is the last and covers the newspaper industry. If you are a new comer to The Wire, be sure to start with season 1 on DVD. Listen carefully!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Thursday Night Special (ground turkey sauté)

This recipe is an alternative to 'Sloppy Joes'.
Serves 4 and preparation time is about 1 hour.

1 lb. ground turkey thigh (dark meat)
1 medium onion (chopped)
2-3 stalks celery (chopped)
2 TBS olive oil
4-5 Shiitaki mushrooms (sliced)
1 14-ounce can chicken stock
1/4 cup dry white wine

Start the sauté by browning the ground turkey with the olive oil. Next add the chopped onions, celery, and sliced mushrooms. Add a little chicken stock and wine when the sauté gets dry. The cook is welcome to sample the wine as one works.

Continue cooking until onions and celery are soft and slightly browned. Continue to add chicken stock and wine and add the following ingredients.
1/4 green bell pepper (chopped)
1/4 red bell pepper (chopped)
2 Jalapeno peppers, remove webbing and seeds and chop finely. Protect hands with rubber surgical gloves.
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp capers
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp cumin, you may want to add a little more
1 tsp tarragon
2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
2 tsp cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Add more wine and chicken stock as required and now add the following.
4-6 sun-dried tomatoes (finely chopped)
2 heaping TBS Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp tomato paste
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes at low-medium heat.
At the very end add the following:
1 chopped plum tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Serve on whole-wheat hamburger buns.
Suggested wine: a nice pinot noir or sparkling wine. Feel free to modify the recipe to your liking and how you Feel today.


Are you ready for February 17, 2009? That’s the day that over-the-air analog television stops. You won’t be able to watch TV if you have a regular TV unless you have cable or satellite service. We hear that that most people have cable, but we don’t. In the next year or so we may upgrade to a digital TV. Conversion boxes will be available in late February or March 2008 in order to use your regular TV for over-the-air digital TV. Forty dollar coupons are available from the federal government ( 24 hour hotline 888-388-2009) to help pay for the conversion boxes. EchoStar Holdings will be selling a converter box for $39.99 and qualifies for using the coupon, so your converter box will be free. What are you doing for the digital conversion?