Archive | June, 2011

No Cookin’ At Kaukab’s

26 Jun

Hubby took a call from Kaukab yesterday. (The boys and I were at a homeschool graduation ceremony for a dear friend–yep, we actually graduate ’em.) Three pieces of information were divulged:

1. Kaukab’s weather highlights

2. Kaukab’s quick summarization of family dynamics, summed up with a good bit of denial, but neatly wrapped, “Yep, they all good.”

3. Kaukab’s no-cook day, but soon to–given that Hubby indicated (incorrectly) we’d be visiting her on a specific weekend, which had been taken up with previous plans, unknown to him.

Which will turn out not-so-positively for Kaukab’s daughter, since previous plans mentioned only to said daughter will not adequately appease her forthcoming disappointment.

Oh, well…It wouldn’t be the first time.


From Nashville to New York–A Food Odyssey

23 Jun

Last week entailed food routes leading to two very different places: cosmopolitan and country.

See if you can match the foods to their locations:







#4--A Freebie


#5 Ignore the two coffee and red velvet cake purchasers, please.




#7 Not so fuzzy in person, provided you've avoided the liquid spirits


ANSWER KEY: #1 Pasta in NYC–Little Italy
                               #2 Gigi’s Cupcakes in Nashville’s Music Row
                               #3 Gigi’s Cupcaskes–couldn’t get enough of these!  
                               #4 Big Bubba’s BBQ in Munsfordville, KY, just short of the TN line
                               #5 Bongo Java, across the street from campus
                               #6 NYC in Chinatown
                               #7 Bongo Java–outdoor dining/coffee/tea drinking, and the best Chai tea (w/steamed milk), ever.
Congratulations to those who’ve answered all correctly. Door prizes not included.
This concludes our tour of the 2011 Food Odyssey.
Thank you for playing, and please come again. 

First of Three

17 Jun

The first of our three has just returned from his NYC missions trip. More interested in unpacking to re-pack for tomorrow’s Nashville pick-up #2, driver boy resisted any debriefing attempts.

I figured I’d lay low and wait for tomorrow’s long van ride. An option far less invasive than Guantanamo’s.


14 Jun

My mind can’t help it. Before I know it, Independence Day will be upon me.

This will be our 2nd Annual party, and I want to serve a different main course from last years, which consisted of marinated grilled chicken and smoked sausages.

I’m leaning toward barbeque ribs. I think I would feel better about this possibility if I had one of those portable electric smokers. It looks so easy to use, and the infomercials make the food look so tender and flavorful. I actually know someone who has one, and they cook just about everything in it. (She’s a native West Virginian, so by “everything,” I do mean “everything.”)

I figure ribs can feed a lot of people; everyone likes them (they’d better!); they’re All-American; and I can cook them ahead of time and then finish them off on the grill. Seems like a win-win.

I might have to break my rule and give Kaukab a call. She may not be All-American, but she can sure cook up some tasty ribs.

BTW: New entry in the homeschooling section. It’ll be the bottom entry.

Table Minus Two and Counting…

13 Jun

The weekend was a time of drop-offs. Driver boy left for a missions trip to NYC (a milestone in that it’s his first going without any of his siblings), and violin girl in Nashville for a strings camp. That left us with drummer boy. For a day-and-a-half, before he heads to Ichthus–a Christian Rock Festival in Kentucky.

While in Nashville, we had a short time to eat before registering violin girl. I had talked for weeks about eating barbeque. Every thought was about barbeque. I even got the other travelers in our party to expect a barbeque bonaroo event. Luckily, a quick walk found us three eateries. None…were barbeque. One was mexicala; one, a cool java joint, and the third–the one we ate at–was a sleek, but hip Asian establishment. And while drummer boy likes rice, and sometimes egg rolls, he doesn’t really do Asian cuisine. Unless, you count red-chicken-on-a-stick?

The smells wafting from nearby patrons’ sleek, white dishware were intoxicating. Fresh, clean, and just the right proportions describe our meal. Violin girl had ordered a small cucumber and seaweed salad and I had ordered  a small plate of chicken and vegetable fried dumplings (an oxymoron, of sorts).

I didn’t think I liked seaweed. But, this was not your usual crunchy seaweed. This was a delicate mound of finely shaved, blanched perfection with the color of dark and light green beach glass. The cucumber was peeled and cut into the size and shape of finger digits. The flavor was subtle, with a hint of ginger. 

The dumplings were crispy-light and the filling was nothing like store-bought. It was moist and flavorful, with sauteed onion chunks–sweet and just the right caramelization. And, the beef and broccoli that violin girl and her sweetie shared looked nothing like the mall-inspired heaping messes of corn-starched, brown-gooped veggies and meat that Americans like to call Chinese food. No, theirs was a simple bowl of brown beef strips and light-crunchy broccoli with no brown of any kind. Served with a bowl of brown rice, this dish was the epitome of healthly eating. The flavors were simple, the ingredients devoid of any masking pretense. In a word: Perfection.

We had time enough to make our way to the Mocha Java, next door. Great coffe–all free trade, a plus. I had a coffee with steamed milk (I like my coffee with as much coffee as possible) and the others had an assortment of flavored iced and hot coffees. Drummer boy was happy, again.

So, here we are. T-minus 30 hours before our table empties its third chair and hubby and I free until Thursday night, before the first of three chairs begins to fill up once more.

I think hubby and I shall go out and find us some barbeque.

Too Hot For Pot Roast?

7 Jun

It was 91 degrees today in the capitol city (WV). Too hot to cook, really. But, I figured that maybe, just maybe, some of you live several lattitudes north of me and might like  my pot roast recipe.

Kaukab cooked a few pot roasts over the years, but it wasn’t a natural output of hers, the way many American moms featured them on their dining tables. Hers were more like stews.

I first learned to make traditional pot roasts from a friend of mine, whose mother made the most delicious and tender of pot roasts. Her secret weapon ingredient was ketchup. And, brown sugar. Not the kind of mediterranean ingredients Kaukab liked to use.

Over the years, I’ve tweaked the ingredients to my liking. A cross between two vastly different food cultures.  And, this is what my pot roast looks like:



Not Your Mama's Pot Roast



 This is a one pot/pan dish. Easy and good.
3lb. to 4lb. chuck roast or english roast
worstchestshire (about 1/2C.)
2 T. tomato paste (I use the paste in the tube, so use a few squirts, as is very concentrated)
ketchup ( A few heavy squirts, or about 2T to 3T)
canola oil  (enough to effectively coat the pan, plus slightly more)
dijon mustard (a few squirts or about 2 tsps.)
garlic salt (just shake to lightly dust over entire meat and veggies)
cracked black pepper (same unit of measure as with the garlic salt ;/)
dried herbs, e.g. oregano, thyme, or rosemary, perhaps a combination. You decide.
veggies of your choice, or of your fridge’s choice.  (I had used up all the potatoes, so I used carrots, onions, and mushrooms.) I use enough to fill the pan. Most of us in the household love our veggies.) I cut the onions in large chunks and the mushrooms stay whole, or if really large, I’ll cut them in half. The carrots are cut in rough thirds. If they’re really fat, then I’ll also slice them lengthwise, after they’re first cut into thirds.
Once you’ve cut your veggies and are ready to assemble, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Now, take your big hunk of meat and dry it off  (using paper towels) very well. Then pour your oil in the pan, enough so that you can tilt your pan and have some oil move side to side. Place your dried-off meat in the pan. Begin to take all your ingredients (except the veggies) and smear them all over the meat. Place your onions on top of the meat, mixing them with the smeared ingredients.
Place pan into oven, uncovered. Leave in oven until meat is browned–about 30 minutes.  Once browned, place carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, celery/parsnips (whatever your vegetables of choice) in pan all around the meat, some mushrooms atop the meat, and move some of the onions to the outer edges surrounding the meat. Be sure to mix the veggies so that they become coated.
At this point, you may want to add some water to the pan, about 1C to start. Then cover pan tightly and return to oven, turning down to 350 or even to 325 degrees. Let roast in oven for another 90 minutes to 2hrs. Check after the first hour or so, to see if you need to add more water. Roasting may take up to a total of 3hrs. (including browning time).  You should be able to pull apart the meat with a fork.
It might not be your typical Yankee pot roast, but I think you’ll be satisfied, nonetheless. Enjoy.
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