Creole Chinese Baby Back Ribs

Baby Jesus knows where I got these ribs ūüėÄ ¬†They were in the freezer and I try to avoid looking at the label which could affect my morale and enthusiasm.

I rubbed the ribs with either Emeril’s essence or my neighbor Caroline’s home made Creole Seasoning, confusing jars. ¬†Whatever. ¬†Thanks Caroline.

I make macaroni salad the same way I make potato salad except¬†with the macaroni I like to add a little tuna. ¬†However, if Bob Lynch was eating here, I would tell him it was chicken. ¬†Hater ūüėÄ

If you don’t add the pasta, mix in some mayonnaise and mustard, spread it on toast with a tomato slice and lettuce, you could stop right there and say, “I have cooked.” ¬†I thought about that. ¬†Then again.

This pasta salad is so good and rich!  I laugh in the face of weight gain.  Ha, ha, ha.

For the ribs:  Rub with Creole seasoning, roast in a 350 F oven for 1 hour.  Turn the oven up to 425 F, then, turning frequently for about 15-20 minutes, brush with Lee Kum Kee Char Sui sauce.

Macaroni Salad with Tuna

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

6-8  gherkins, chopped

1-2 tbsp pimentos, chopped

2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

1 can albacore solid tuna in water, drained

Mayonnaise to taste, maybe about 1/3- 1/2 cup

2 tbsp yellow mustard

1 cup of dried ditalini pasta, boiled

Mix everything together.

 

 

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Roasted Rack of Lamb with Squash

Like the ubiquitous Angus beef, Australian lamb seems to be the new heart throb in our neck of the woods. ¬†It’s everywhere, real expensive and doesn’t compare to the flavor of New Zealand lamb. ¬†However, at least our meat suppliers are starting to¬†think globally, if not locally ūüôā ¬†This recipe is inspired by Jamie Oliver’s rack of lamb with potatoes. ¬†Tired of roasting potatoes, I substituted some straight neck yellow squash and then just went rogue. ¬†Jamie won’t mind.

I had some local sun dried tomatoes in the freezer, for God knows how long, and¬†lots of fresh herbs from my garden that I thought could fit in somewhere. ¬†Bummer about the rosemary that survived the whole winter then was laid low by our¬†unseasonable¬†blizzard. Oh well, I’ll plant some more before I leave. ¬†The tomatoes need to be soaked in warm water for about 30 minutes before you add them to your recipe. ¬†Otherwise, you can buy a good quality jar of sun dried tomatoes in oil that don’t¬†require soaking.¬† Whichever. ¬†I had more than I needed, so I put the excess in a small Mason jar with olive oil and refrigerated.

I put everything I thought would be good into a big bowl with the yellow squash, pulled out my neglected tajine and turned on Standards/Vocal Jazz radio on Pandora.

I seasoned the rack with salt and pepper, then browned it in some olive oil.  This rack had about 9 chop bones in it and weighed about 1 1/2 lbs.  I think I would have liked fewer bones and more weight.

Still, not really complaining. ¬†Whining is not the same as complaining ūüėÄ

Vegetarians, just eat it like this.

I did.  My favorite ingredient was the husk roasted, melting garlic clove.

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Squash

1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes

Warm water

5 yellow straight neck squash, cut into generous chunks

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 onion, quartered

Mixed herb sprigs (oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary if you have it)

6 unpeeled garlic cloves

10-12 kalamata pitted olives

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

3 tbsp olive oil

Glug of olive oil

1 1/2 lb rack of lamb, seasoned with salt and pepper

Soak the sun dried tomatoes in the warm water for about 30 minutes,  drain, dice then put them in a large bowl with the squash, bell pepper, onion, herbs, olives, garlic, salt, pepper and the 3 tbsp of olive oil, mixing well.  Place the mixture in the bottom of an oven proof tajine or roasting pan.  Preheat the oven to 425 F, then roast inside for about 10-15 minutes.  Stir.

Pour the glug of olive oil into a skillet, about 2 tbsp, brown the rack on both sides, place on top of the pre-roasted vegetables and continue to roast for 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gardening

One of the reasons I’m still not in France is because I needed to wait until winter finished to do my Spring gardening. ¬†I’ve been listening for years to those of you who are both proficient and interested in gardening, which has made me also interested and a little envious. ¬†So this year I decided to join you¬†“green thumbers” in a way. ¬†My way ūüėÄ

I wasn’t playing around! ¬†I wanted to ream out my dry and practically barren front garden and needed professional help with serious equipment. ¬†Bob Shupp understood what I wanted. ¬†The work is a bit dear but after I saw his tractor, I was sold ūüôā ¬†He can do everything, including cook!

Bob also raises his own pigs and cows. ¬†I’ve never been a big fan of beef brisket, it always seemed too dry, tasteless and with the character of a lump of anonymous barbecued animal. ¬†But Bob made the best brisket I have ever tasted. ¬†Ever! ¬†He says all he did was marinate the brisket in Italian dressing, smoke it for 14 hours in his Camp Chef pellet smoker, sliced it, and poured more dressing on top. ¬†I’m still thinking about the taste. ¬†Of course the meat came from his farm raised cow. ¬†Makes a difference.

When I come back from France, I’m buying a Camp Chef pellet smoker and some of Bob’s meat ūüėÄ

 

 

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Leave the Head On

I’m starting to understand the French fuss about buying poultry with head, feet and a patch of feathers. ¬†It’s similar to why they seem to prefer¬†to buy their rabbit with head. ¬†I imagine it’s so they can¬†rest assured that they are getting what’s advertised and what they want. ¬†No one wants to buy a guinea fowl that’s actually a fat chicken, or a rabbit that’s a squirrel. ¬†¬†Feet, head, feathers and bones identify the meat and alleviates any chance of the old ¬†“okie¬†doke” ¬†ūüôā

So what’s this new practice in both of the larger supermarkets in Honesdale of selling only boneless cuts of beef that are labeled as steaks that I used to know? ¬†Most of these cuts¬†in the past were sold with the bone and could be readily identified; T-bone, porterhouse, rib steak. ¬†What’s up? ¬†And why are most of the beef products now labeled Angus? ¬†Has¬†a vicious virus decimated the rest of the beef cattle? ¬†What percentage of DNA does a beef cow have to have in order to be labeled “Angus” by the USDA? ¬†Betcha it’s not 100% and would be surprised if it was¬†even 50%. ¬†I think they just have to be black ūüėÄ

Anyway. ¬†After a huddled and whispered conversation with another customer at Weiss Supermarket, I decided I didn’t like mysteries about my¬†meat, turned in my empty shopping cart and went to the Alpine butcher who still sells meat with bones and has his own source¬†of regular beef cows, purchased locally as carcasses, headless but recognizable. I bought a couple of porterhouse steaks, 2 packages of smoked pork chops and 2 gorgeous light rose colored veal chops. ¬†They all had bones.

To be open minded, it could be that the new generation of consumers have lost or never learned the art of using a knife with a fork to cut around the bones and therefore prefer the boneless cuts.  Okay, times change.

Still, I’m not taking any chances ūüėÄ ¬†There’s something wrong with my grill. ¬†The flame is not coming out very strong. ¬†I think we need to replace a part when my husband comes back from walkabout in Mali.

 

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Easter 2017

Finally getting around to this. ¬†I’ve been a little busy preparing to close down the house here in Honesdale, while dealing with the day to day. ¬†Anyway.

In the Sahel¬†of West Africa (Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal), the women prepare a drink from ginger root called gingembre (ginger in French); delicious, stimulating and maybe, depending on the strength, eye popping ūüôā ¬†Our family loves it so I decided to make a batch for Easter. ¬†We’re not in France and¬†I didn’t want to disappoint ourselves and the food with a sweetened, fruity, “wine” from some of our States who have convinced themselves that wine can be made¬†anywhere, including Pennsylvania, because of those handy dandy grape concentrate pouches. ¬†Cringe.

I sliced up about 6 “hands” of ginger, skin on, then chopped them in the food processor. Actually, next time I will grate them. ¬†I think that’s more authentic but I was lazy ūüėČ

I boiled about 8 cups of water and poured it over the ginger, letting it steep for for about 2 hours before straining into an enormous plastic pitcher and adding 3 cloves, a cinnamon stick, juice from 3 lemons and sugar to taste. ¬†At this point the gingembre will be scorching spicy. ¬†Don’t worry, add about 4 more cups of hot water and set aside for another hour. Stir in 2 cups of 100% pineapple juice, taste, adjust sugar if necessary and refrigerate. ¬†Serve with slices of navel oranges. ¬†Refreshing drink for summer that’s why the West Africans always make it because it’s always summer in the Sahel ūüôā

Since the whole family hadn’t been together for a while, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when we could have the time to catch up with each other. ¬†Oven roasted, herbed carrots and parsnips.

They complained that I didn’t make enough carrots and parsnips. ¬†So I felt it was my duty to shame them¬†about how this¬†meal of ham, roasted vegetables and potatoes could sustain a large multi-wife, ¬†Sahelian family¬†for a week.

I mean, they had gumbo for an appetizer!

Of course they just laughed at me¬†with food in there mouths ūüėÄ

Of course I felt guilty, especially because¬†they were clamoring for more vegetables, however they seemed to make do with the ham and potatoes. ¬†For God’s sake! ¬†There were only 5 of us!

And what about that white chocolate panna cotta with blueberry compote that drove the paucity of vegetables right out of their minds?  Huh?

Kids and husbands today ūüėÄ

 

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Third Culture Kids

Our son Brian was born in California, raised in West Africa, schooled in Switzerland, England and France. ¬†He is what is called a third culture kid. ¬†Books have been written about these children if you’re interested.

For instance, our son would come from his Swiss boarding school to our home in Mali for vacation, order a West African¬†market sandwich (scrabbled eggs, onions, garlic and peppers on a baguette smeared with homemade, ridiculously hot, chilli pepper sauce) from our cook Abdoulaye who had insisted that he stop eating food from the open market because it damaged his (the cook’s) dignity and standing if Brian was recognized¬†by other house cooks. ¬† Earlier on they¬†had a screaming argument about Brian purchasing field corn on the cob, blackened in a coffee can filled with red hot charcoal and sold by perambulating vendors whom he stopped outside of our gate. ¬†As an adult and practically his uncle, (having known Brian since he was 3 years old) Abdoulaye won, but because he loved Brian, he got his own coffee can, charcoal and field corn so that Brian¬†could eat it where no one would see him ūüėÄ

While waiting for his sandwich, stretched out on the bed in his air conditioned room, ¬†he would put on his well worn, favorite video, Van Morrison in Ireland, 1979, call up his international and Malian running buddies to set a time to play soccer at one of the local school fields. ¬†He speaks French like a Frenchman and English like an American from California ūüôā ¬†I can’t really imagine being someone like him who fits in wherever he is without seemingly thinking about it. ¬†Bravo is all I can say.

Our daughter Jade, of course, insists that she is French, passports be damned(American, Ethiopian, Irish) and has bullied the school officials and her friends into calling her Jade with a short “a”. ¬†Preferring to choose than be chosen, ¬†she speaks French¬†as a first language and English as a French accented second. ¬†One day she hopes to rule the world ūüėÄ

Anyway. ¬†One day, practically at gunpoint, my husband insisted that I go to Walmart with him. Brandishing his beloved World War II 45 (PA is an open carry State), he argued¬†that going to Walmart wouldn’t kill me and that maybe I might find something I liked. Resentfully, I dragged myself up and down the trashy aisles and did find some cute little jars to store my homemade rubs! ¬†Definitely a one off.

The kids are coming home this weekend for Easter and I wanted to make chicken, shrimp and sausage¬†gumbo. ¬†I mixed a new batch of Emeril’s essence to rub on the chicken before browning and to season the roux.

While shopping at Weiss supermarket, I saw a table full of small appliances that were on sale at 50% off. ¬†So that’s why I have this small, Cuisinart chopper. ¬†Handy ūüôā

I love stockpot pictures!

We will eat on Saturday so that everyone can get home before dark on Sunday. ¬†I’ll make my dessert and West African ginger drink tomorrow. ¬†You can find numerous recipes for gumbo on this blog.

 

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Smoked Neckbone Potato Soup

It snowed this morning and as my husband keeps pointing out, this is March. ¬†I don’t mind that winter seems to be “tapering” off. ¬†The snow was pretty,¬†not a lot and it wasn’t too cold outside. ¬†My husband just likes it when the weather is¬†jungle hot and there’s a huge sweat spot on the back of his shirt. ¬†This love affair with heat began when he lived in Chad as a Peace Corps volunteer in a mud hut with an outdoor shower (bucket) and a hole in the ground that served as a toilet. ¬†He would have made a great African explorer back in the day and I would have been one of the early casualties of weather shock and¬†a thoughtless marriage ūüėÄ

Anyway.  I had some smoked neck bones and because Mr. Human Torch is leaving tomorrow for a week TDY in Senegal (89-91F), I thought it would be a good time for him to enjoy some hot, homemade, comforting soup before his environment dictated a diet of ice cold water, beer, red wine with ice cubes and maybe a little salad soaked in iodine water.

There’s no real recipe here. ¬†I boiled a pound of smoked neckbones,with a sliced¬†onion, two carrots and a bay leaf for about 1 1/2 hours until the meat began to fall from the bones. ¬†I removed the neckbones from the stockpot, ¬†discarded the bones, chopped the meat and set it aside. ¬†I then cubed 2 large¬†baking potatoes and added them to the stock to simmer. ¬†I sliced two large leeks, sauteed them in butter until soft and added them to the pot along with the chopped meat to simmer for about 15 minutes. ¬†Finally I added about a cup of¬†finely chopped broccoli and cauliflower and simmered for an additional 5 minutes.

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