Monday, March 29, 2010

More from the Freezer Holy War

Like any good holy war, a single battle won't do. No you have to go on for generations until no one can remember why they're fighting.

This week is was a mass purge of the doctrinally inconsistent meat and tomato products (as stated in the Ecumenical Council of 1432)

Our Inquisition discovered (from left to right)

Elk hamburger and Italian sausage (in the bowl), a ham bone, beef pot roast and some uncooked Elk round steaks

Tomato sauce, roasted tomatoes and tomato confit

The steak meat was seasoned (salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder) and browned

Tomatoes were pureed

Hamburger and sausage went to make meatballs (with egg, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder)

All the meat and the tomato went into the pot, brought to a simmer with a little red wine, salt and pepper then put in a 275 degree oven for five hours!

The flavor of the meat was totally infused into the tomatoes and the meat itself was fork tender
Served it with linguine

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Holy War on the Freezer

I love to make use of everything...not let things go to waste. So during growing seasons, we freeze produce. When we make a large amount of anything, we freeze the surplus. The problem is that our freezers (we have two refrigerators) are not really organized in any fashion where you can find things. So stuff tends to be pushed to the back. Also defrosting requires pre-planning which rarely takes place. The result is a slow accumulation of products.

With a desire to be frugal, I have declared holy war on the contents of my freezer and will show no mercy to those food items that have thought they could hide for ever in the recesses of the freezer - veritable sleeper cells. No! They shall be rooted out and exposed for all to see...and consume.

Our sweep has uncovered two kinds of tomatoes (puree and confit) plus some corn.

I make a mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onion) which I saute with some chopped up kalamata olives

I've sauteed until crisp some batons of cured Italian sausage first to flavor the oil.

Garlic and rosemary (from the garden - it stays green through the winter)

Dry vermouth is always in the refrigerator to provide the necessary alcohol flavor solvent

Flavorings and vermouth in the mirepoix
Now in go the tomatoes, corn (cut off the cob), and some washed and drained black beans.

I served it with fluffy mashed potatoes (thank you potato ricer) with the crisp salami batons on the top

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another Landmark

I realized yesterday that this month represents the 17th year that I've been in New Mexico. That is a year longer than the 16 years we lived in Maryland. Our kids were most raised in Maryland and for the longest time, I've told people that I spent the bulk of my adult life in Maryland before moving to New Mexico

No longer.

It's hard to remember that when I came here, we were coming off a business collapse, that I came out alone with no job, just my car, clothes and computer seeking to start over again. Now we have the tower and a great life and I'm looking at the snow covered mountains from the window of my office. Who'd thunk.

BTW on the karmic balancing account - we got check today from a vendor for over $1,300 because we paid an invoice twice last year. Woo Hoo!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Winds of Change

I finally got my Dodge Durango back after almost $3K of repairs over the last month. But fear not. Fate is starting to weigh in on my side to bring things back in balance. My trusty Yak-Trax busted a spring this weekend. I bought them from REI which has a no questions asked return policy. I went to exchange them. This month there is 20% off on one purchase for members. So not only did I get the new pair, I got $6.38 cash back! Only $2,993.62 of good karma to go!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Red New Mexico Chile

Chile (spelled with and 'e') is a New Mexico variant of a sauce made with either fresh green or dried red chile peppers.

Normally, I use Wife's chiles when they're green but this year we let a number of them go red and dried them.

Start with your dried chile pods. Take the stems off and remove the seeds

Roast some garlic in its skins...about 10-15 minutes over medium eat in a dry skillet. Then take the garlic out of the skins.

Next toast the chiles for about 3-5 minutes in the same skillet. Add water or broth to cover. Add the garlic. Cook for about 15 minutes until the chiles are good and soft.

Put into a blender and blend until smooth. Then put through a sieve. I was on the phone and forgot to take pictures here :(

You end up with a sauce you can use in a variety of ways. I mixed some roast pork I had in the freezer.

To offset the heat I caramelized some onions

And I steamed some Mexican squash (kind of a cross between yellow and zucchini)

Red Chile Pork on Rice with Mexican Squash

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Want More Detail on AinA and FH Trip to New Mexico?

For those who don't follow daughter AinA's blog and want more detail on the week we spent with here and her future husband her in New Mexico, this and this will give you the details.

The Slow Descent into the Oblivion of Forgetfulness

I have never been a person for whom the past is that meaningful. I have friends that can go on and on in incredible detail about this event in their youth and that event 20 years ago, etc, etc. I don't remember any of that stuff...and never have. My life is much more in the now.

But with the advent of age, my lack of recall of the past is getting even worse. When I was at Lady Di and Lord Esteban's a couple of weeks ago, I totally forgot that they had visited us 5 years ago during the balloon fiesta.

Yesterday, I was reminding Wife that she has a birthday coming up in April. I said "And you're going to be 60, right?"

"No dear", she gently said, "I'm going to be 61. Don't you remember the party and the trip last year?"

"Oh yeah, that was the big surprise party I organized with all the kids coming in from out-of-town and the New Zealand trip. I remember,"

So when ever I see or talk to you next, don't assume I remember anything that we've done or talked about. Just assume each time you contact me that you have to remind me who you are, what our relationship is, and any open items we have.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Drowning in a Sea of Car Repairs

Ye olde Durango (12 years - 140k miles) is going through a phase of multiple problems. It's now in for the third time in three weeks. First the brakes, then a ball joint. Now it's the rear differential. We're up to the mid 4 figures at a time I really didn't need this expense. Sigh. And this doesn't count the little incident with Wife's car which we can't speak about in public.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wife Stuff

It has been many a year since Wife and I have been able to hike together. She hurt her foot almost 7 years ago and since then hiking has been off the activity list...until recently.

She started doing work on the foothills about five months ago and then, as I posted earlier, she announced that she wanted to go with me when AinA and FH went hiking last Wednesday.

We went again today. I'm really excited that this activity that we loved doing together will be back in our lives.

While we were out we were befriended by three very playful dogs
Unfortunately this was on a fairly steep slope so it was a bit nerve racking
Orchids - Wife has been trying for years to get orchids to grow with no success. Last fall she resorted to buying some cheap, on sale, looking like they were dead orchids from Lowes.

Lowe and behold (yuk, yuk). They bloomed!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Foreign Visitor Report

We've been graced with a visit from our wonderful daughter 3 of 3 (also know as AinA) and her future husband (FH) who are here from Amsterdam. We see them not nearly often enough. And they're in the midst of planning their wedding which will be in France in September.

They were really looking forward to New Mexico's nicer weather compared to the Dutch winter but unfortunately we've been getting a lot of storms ourselves. They've shopping like crazy taking advantage of the euro to dollar premium. And we've cooked and eaten a lot (I know that comes as a shocker!).

We did get a number of hikes in. We even got the beloved Yak-trax for everyone so we could hike when we knew a snowfall was coming.

Here is AinA, Wife and FH on the La Luz Trail

You can see we were the first up the trail. Ahead of us are no foot prints!

The La Luz is the most popular trail in the Sandias and is always crowded.
But I took this picture when we came back.
When we arrived there were no cars there. That has never happened to me before.

Then we decide to do a quick afternoon and overnight trip to Taos up north.

Here's the crew in Town looking at the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

The next morning we went to the Rio Grande River Gorge

View from the Gorge Bridge looking North

Looking South

A panorama of the Sangre de Cristo's

Wife taking pictures from the bridge
AinA and FH are going home tomorrow and we're going to miss them a lot.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

On the Hunt

I was on the hunt in California this week for that endangered species - the elusive client. We had a moderately successful week (by New Economy standards) with three almost yes results. Normally business is pretty much business. Unless I'm traveling with Partner Frank (who has starred in such posts as Scenes from Iowa). Frank for some bizarre reason is willing to go along with almost any culinary escapade I suggest. (He tried sushi for the first time back in 2005 when we were in Columbia, S.C.).

So we had to drive together from So Cal to the Monterey/Salinas area, a five hour drive. We stopped in Paso Robles for lunch where I directed him to a hole in the wall Mexican place. I was not disappointed. They had a variety of classics and a ton of salsas. I ended up with a taco with ropas viejas (roasted poblano chiles) and a gordita with lengua (look it up)

A sample of the salsas - I couldn't begin to know what they all were but they were good.

My gordita

Partner Frank with burrito
Frank really likes motor sports. We were early arriving in the area and on our way to the hotel we passed Laguna Seca, a famous auto racing rack. We decided to see if we could get in. There was no one stopping us and it turned out there was some practice racing going on. Very cool. We were able to go to the famous Corkscrew Turns (see map).

Bad Pictures of Corkscrew Turn and Raceway

For dinner I had spied a Korean BBQ place in Marina last time we were there and I was hot to try it. It did not disappoint.

Partner Frank with Shoju (for more on Shoju read Motherrocker post)

As always, lots of kimchi and other salted, brined goodies

Our meat and chicken cooking away

Some of the meat in a lettuce leaf with some miso paste

After our business Friday morning, Frank dropped me off at good friends Mister Steve and Lady Di. Steve took the afternoon off and we went to a park along the Pacific and walked for a couple of hours. It is always great being with them.

Lady Di kicked butt for dinner as always. This night she made roasted shellfish (lobster, crab, prawns) with a mushroom risotto and a salad.

Ahhhh - Satisfaction
Steve wanted to get a shot of me with these classy white slippers.