Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category
My buddy Steve and I have been friends for about 30 years now. We have been to San Diego,The Kentucky Derby, The King Biscuit Blues Festival (several years) and Ocracoke Island ( 9 years running I think?). So when Steve asked me to help run his boat from Cape Coral to Marathon Florida (Middle Keys), I immediately began making plans. After all, 10 days in the tropics appealed to me! The plan was for his wife to drive the car with the ladies and the kids down across Alligator Alley and on to Marathon.
On July 11th we set off. Joining us on our journey was Tom, Steve’s friend from Ohio. The Journey consisted of markers (GPS) Steve had meticulously put into his GPS. The first leg was easy…Down the Caloosahatchee River to the gulf. From there, follow the GPS to each marker and make the appropriate adjustments. It was a first for Steve, as well as myself, but I trusted my friend!
Six and a half hours later (several on open water with no sight of land) we arrived in Marathon to applause. The ladies and kids got there before we did. We tied up and went into the Marina Restaurant for refreshment.
The day after next we headed out in search of fish- Mahi Mahi (dolphin fish) specifically. With Steve and I were Tom (from Ohio) and Tim (from Florida). I didn’t understand it at first but the bowling pin Tim brought (painted bright green) was a lure.
It seems a bowling greenling pin,painted bright green, looks just like a Mahi! After a 26 mile trip out into the Atlantic it all began to make sense. With the Outriggers rigged and a bright green bowling pin trailing (fake bait) the hunt began!.
After a short ride the Mahi hit! Being a fish that swims in schools, it was easy pickings for the rest of us on the boat to catch one. For me …it was a highlight!
We headed in, satisfied with our catch. The evening meal was served 3 ways: fried, blackened and grilled!
The next morning we headed out again… this time with kids on board. It was a short day. We found a spot and I cast and immediately hit into a nice grouper! On the down side, some of the kids weren’t comfortable so we headed back in. It ended up being a perfect day to explore!
July 18, 2015:
Heading back to Cape Coral, Tom took a pass on the return ride and Steve’s stepdaughter joined us.
Crystal clear waters on the way out but, as we approached the Florida Coast, we ran into a line of squalls. Ten miles later and drenched to the core we emerged.
It was a safe journey both ways!
I have added a recipe for Blackened Mahi with Tropical Salsa The sweet of the Mango plays well against the heat of the Blackening Spice
Grilled Blackened Mahi with Tropical Salsa
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/8 cup diced onion
1/8 cup diced red pepper
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 mango, diced
8 oz fresh pineapple diced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 mahi steaks 6 oz
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup blackening seasoning
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir onion and diced red peppers in hot oil until softened slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir brown sugar with the onion; cook until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Add mango, pineapple, and cider vinegar; simmer until hot, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Return skillet to stove.
- Coat Mahi filets with oil. Season mahi mahi steaks with salt and black pepper. Coat steaks with blackening seasoning. Cook steaks on grill until until the fish flakes easily with a fork, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Plate the steaks and top with the mango salsa to serve.
Although I live in Michigan I did not grow up here. I did, in fact, grow up in the garden state (New Jersey). While the state gets a bad rap due to it’s proximity to New York city and the urban sprawl and development that has left almost the entire state a suburb of NYC most would be surprised that, forty yeas ago, most of the state was considered rural. It was during this time that my Father bought our house in Montvale, New Jersey. In the woods sandwiched between 2 apple orchards we watched as our house was built. The only businesses for several miles were an antiquated gas station, a diner and a Dairy Queen (still there today in it’s original building). When we finally moved in it was the culmination of my fathers dream. For a guy that grew up in the city my father now had a house in the country.
We always had a garden. We grew corn,cucumber,watermelon etc.. in addition to the apples we picked in the neighboring orchards. I don’t recall exactly how but my father also found a rather large Blackberry patch in the woods. Each summer he would put on his berry picking clothes (thick denim jacket and a straw hat) and go off into the woods only to return several hours hours later bringing several quarts of big,fat and perfectly ripe berries. When I got older I would join my Father on theses expeditions. We would eat them with fresh cream and sugar. What we didn’t eat we would set out by the road on a table to share with the neighbors.
The woods and orchards of my youth are all gone now, victims of alleged progress. The land became more valuable for corporate headquarters and urban subdivisions but the memories are still vivid to me.
A couple of years ago I discovered a wild black berry bush growing in my back yard here in Detroit, courtesy of the birds I suspect. It was a welcome addition to the wild herbs that also grow here at the house. This year I found myself with a bumper crop of berries and picked then diligently each day or two until the crop ran out. To my surprise I ended up with about a gallon bag of berries. I decided to use this years crop to make blackberry jelly.
Nothing could be more simple to make than fruit syrup. Jam and Jelly are equally achievable. Some of the important points I can bring to light are to make sure everything is sterile. This just means boiling your jars,utensils etc…. Another is to strain (through cheesecloth) the solids and seeds that are especially prevalent in wild berries. Strain twice if you need to!!
I’m including a basic recipe here but with just the basic ingredients ( berries, sugar, water, a little lemon juice and pectin) I was able to make 7 1/2 pint jars of jelly.
Water to cover
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Wash berries and put in a non reactive pan ( stainless steel/no aluminum), add sugar and enough water to cover
Stirring constantly, bring to a rolling boil and boil 1 minute (a rolling boil can not be stirred down). Remove from heat.
Strain though cheese cloth and a fine sieve.
Wisk in pectin and lemon juice.
Skim off bubbles. Ladle jelly into hot, sterilized containers, one at a time. Fill to within 1/8 inch of top. Wipe rim of jar or glass with a clean damp cloth.
Refrigerate until ready to use. Jelly should keep for a couple of months.
There are a number of circumstances that affect whether or how well your jelly sets:
Never EVER double a jelly or jam recipe. For some reason, this effects the setting.
If your jam does not set, chances are it contains too little pectin.
An imbalance between the pectin and the acid in your jelly. Adding a little lemon juice helps the pectin, and also helps create an environment hostile to bacteria.
High humidity in the kitchen can cause problems with jam and jelly.
Finally, you can defeat the whole purpose of adding pectin if you boil the mixture too long — overcooking causes the pectin to break down and lose its thickening capacity.
This is a refrigerate jelly and not a preserve. It needs to be refrigerated.I am not using canning techniques in this recipe!
It’s been quite some time since I have last posted. Not much has changed in my life. I still work too hard, too long and too much. I am not sure if it is a blessing or a curse but it sustains me.
I have always considered myself a “casual” gardener. To me this means that I plant it, if it grows great, if it doesn’t no biggie.
I decided to take a walk in the yard this morning as a measure of relaxation.Just to see what was growing. I was pleasantly surprised.
Years ago, when I first moved into my house, I planted oregano. Now 20 years later It still grows!! I use it in marinades for steak and chicken. The neighbors must think I am crazy as they watch me pick what some have described as “lawn clippings”. If they only new!!!
I love fresh dill in the spring. It is mandatory for my new potato salad. I was happy to find that it still grows,wild, all around my yard.
Something I can’t take credit for is the mint that grows in the yard it was here when I moved in.
Last, but not least, I got a gift this year (courtesy of the birds I think). A wild raspberry bush popped up this year along the fence line. I am planning on making good use of these.
I found all of this in my tiny (yes tiny ) yard. Take a walk let me know what is growing in your yard!
With as much snow as we have had here in Michigan I felt the need to step up my hearty meal intake. When the temperature take a dive I like to help keep the house pleasant and warm by preparing a lot of stewed or braised foods. One of my favorites is braised lamb shanks. I try to purchase them when they are on sale and save them for the proper occasion.Lamb ( and beef or Pork ) Shanks have a tremendous amount of gelatin. This makes any preparation with them extra special.
Having dug out of the storm earlier this week I was surprised when I came back from the store in clear weather only to find the car covered by 2 inches of snow not 10 minutes later.
After this I came to the conclusion that this would be a perfect day for the lamb shank I had.
Your basic stew relies on the protein and the aromatic vegetables ( Onion,Carrot and Celery). In this version I replace the celery with fennel for a spicy twist. I also add a gremolata towards the end of the cooking process which brings a freshness to the preparation. A gremolata, traditionally, is a combination of fresh herbs, lemon rind,garlic and parley. For this preparation I used the fennel fronds to replace the parsley and orange rind to replace the lemon giving this braise a fresh and exciting taste.
As with all Stew/Braises low an slow is the rule!!
Braised Lamb Shanks in Red Wine with a Fennel and Orange Gremolata
Dredge Lamb Shanks in flour and sear in a hot pan with oil
remove lamb an saute vegetable until translucent
Return lamb to the pan, add red wine, cover and simmer until tender.
2 Lamb Shanks
1 Cup Onion Rough Chopped
1/2 cup Fennel Bulb Chopped
1/2 cup Carrot Chopped
1/2 cup Flour
1 cup red wine
- Zest of one large orange
- 1 lg. or 2 sm. cloves garlic; crushed
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fennel fronds
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Stir in Gremolata and return pan to oven. Continue to cook for 30 minutes.
In my last post I alluded to my new position.I wanted bring you up to date with my current status. I am currently in Grand Rapids Michigan. I am living on-site and ( doing what I do) creating/implementing first rate dining services programs. I do return to my house in Detroit weekly.
For the last 2 weeks I have enjoyed the Downtown Blues Festival in Grand Rapids Little Ed was the first week and Duke Robilard appeared last week. This week it was Janiva Magness.
Last week we had our first Al Fresco Dining event and it went very well. We had literally twice our usual number participants joined us.We will be doing this weekly as long as the weather allows. Our resident love what we are doing!! We have a wonderful Chef Manager who has a great relationship with our residents.
I am taking a day off but wanted to stay in touch
Michigan has great small cities. Lansing, Ann Arbor, Flint and Grand Rapids each host an variety of cultural events.
My favorite meals lately has been steak with grilled romaine lettuce. I top the lettuce with an herb vinaigrette ( herbs from my garden) and Maytag Blue Cheese, as well as marinating the steak in fresh herbs from my garden. I am fortunate to have a butcher shop in my neighborhood and they will cut steaks to my specifications. I prefer to have my steaks cut to about 2 # and grill/roast when cooking.
The Romaine lettuce I drizzle with the vinaigrette after I have topped it with the cheese and slice the steak thin.
The results are spectacular!!!
I would like to like to begin this post by introducing some friends of mine. They go by the screen names Gizmar and Psychgrad. They are the mother and daughter team behind Equal Opportunity Kitchen and my mentors in the Adopt-a Blogger program. Giz and Psychgrad have been blogging together since 2007 and have graciously offered to help me with my blogging. For the last month or so we have been e-mailing each other, checking each others sites out and working on a post together. While checking out their site I came across a couple of posts about Maple syrup. Now Maple syrup is one thing I haven’t tackled ( except if you count pouring it on my pancake with great enthusiasm) but living in Michigan I am aware that there is a fair amount of production of this special product. There are also activities associated with the product. I hope to attend one of these events and eventually tap a tree, boil it down to make syrup and follow up with that pancake thing I mentioned earlier. In any case being right in the middle of Maple syrup season we decided that a post on this subject would be timely. The photos were taken by Psychgrad last season the with recipes from Gizmar and myself.
Long before the first Europeans came to North America the native peoples were making maple syrup. How they happened upon this treasure is the subject of some debate but several native tribes tell that, long ago, pure maple syrup ran from the trees and that one of the gods thought this too easy for the people and that they would take it for granted so he gathered water up into the skies and and poured it onto the trees watering the syrup down into sap. After that the people had to boil the sap in order to make the syrup.
When the Europeans arrived the natives taught them how to take the sap and make syrup from it. The French Canadians began making in the 1600’s with the British colonists in New England following suit. It was an important commodity early on as the cost of sugar (which had to be imported) was prohibitive. As settlements were established in the west the tradition of making maple syrup went too. While Canada produces the most Maple syrup many Northern US states from Maine west to Washington produce maple syrup as well .
The process for making maple syrup is a very time consuming process. First maple trees are “tapped”.
“Tapping” is when a hole is drilled into the maple tree to allow the sap to flow. a spigot is inserted and the sap drips into a container. The sap runs best on days when the nights are cold but the days are mild (February,March and April). Each day the sap is gathered and it’s brought to a central processing point. It is then boiled down to remove the water and concentrate the sugar.
When the sap is collected it contains 97% water and 3% sugar but by the time the process is finished the numbers are reversed and the syrup contains 97% sugar and 3% water.
If you live in the Northern tier of the United States (or in Canada) chances are Maple syrup events are going on in the late winter and early spring. People gather to celebrate the coming of spring and the syrup harvest (Maple syrup is actually the first “crop” of the season). There are an assortment of activities at these festivals. Of course there are sap collecting, syrup making demonstrations and usually a pancake breakfast. These events are great family friendly activities that shouldn’t be missed! Here in Michigan you can find out about Maple syrup events at the Michigan Maple Syrup festival site. For our friends across the river in Ontario you can visit the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers website or Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugarbush. Of course there are several other states that produce Maple syrup and if you live in ( or think you live in) one of those states just Google it on the internet and you will find events in your area!
Even though maple syrup is best known as the topping of choice for pancake it also works great in many other dishes. My friend Giz and I have come up with a couple of recipe that that scream “Maple Syrup! It’s not just for breakfast anymore!”
Grilled Chicken Glazed with Maple Syrup and Whole Grain Mustard
2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts ( 5-6 oz)
1/2 cup Liquid Steak Seasoning
1 tablespoon minced Garlic
1/2 4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup pure Maple syrup
1/4 cup Whole grain Mustard
- Trim the Chicken breast of any fat or skin.
- Mix together the Steak seasoning, Garlic and oil.
- Marinate the Chicken in the Seasoning mix above for 1 hour.
- In a sauce pan reduce the Maple syrup by 1/3 and stir in the Mustard. Your glaze is done.
- Grill until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
- Glaze your chicken breast on both sides and continue grilling until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
- Remove from heat and glaze once more if needed.
- You may have notice that I used a store bought steak seasoning (Kroger brand). This is because it work well for my purpose. It’s a very concentrated (liquid) seasoning so it only take an hour or so to marinate. If there isn’t a Kroger store I’m sure they have an equivalent product. If not, or if you choose otherwise you could use and make your own marinade.
- I reduce the syrup a bit to ensure that it doesn’t run off the chicken when I brush it on. It also intensifies the flavor.
- I don’t start glazing until the Chicken is almost done. This prevents the sugar in the maple syrup from Burning.
From Gizmar at Equal Opportunity Kitchen we also have a Maple Salmon recipe:
Maple Glazed Salmon
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup light soya sauce
1/4 cup dark rum
3-4 Tbsp Maple Syrup (some use 1 1/2 – I like more)
3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
salt and pepper to taste (I eliminate the salt)
1. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil
2. Marinate the fish for 2 hours.
3. Bake at 400 F for 20 min.
Enjoy the taste of Maple syrup this year and support local agriculture!!!!
I try to check and respond to my e-mail in a timely fashion. When I checked the other day I got a nice surprise when I found out that I was honored with The Sunshine Blog Award. Now I have only been blogging for 3 month and am very happy when I even get any comments on my posts so to have a fellow Blogger take this kind of notice meant a lot to me. For those not familiar the Sunshine Blog Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blog world.
As I stated earlier I like to respond to e-mails quickly so I immediately responded to the person who honored me. Her name is Jenn and she is the voice behind Defunkt Gourmet. This is a great site that originate ( I’m going out on a limb here because I saw a news headline on her site) Winnipeg Canada with great pictures, recipes and commentary. This was the easy part. I’ve read a lot of really great blogs and in order to single out twelve required some thought. I hope I will be excused for the tardiness. Please take the time to check out all these great sites. Without further delay I pass this award on to:
Cajun Chef Ryan – Chef Ryan is from New Orleans and brings his experiences working in the food industry, along with a wealth of recipes from the Big Easy, to his readers each week. Keep up the good work.
Deep South Dish – This very comprehensive site follows a Southern theme with recipes and tips that will have you preparing Deep South Classics in no time.
Fight the Fat Foodie – Let’s face it healthy is not always the tastiest. This site is dedicated to healthy food that tastes great. Scott Koeneman takes recipes and shows way to trim the fat without losing the flavor. Great job Scott.
400 Calories or Less – Another great site focusing on healthy and delicious recipes all with less than 400 calories!
Edible Aria – This site is devoted to healthy eating with an emphasis on sustainable products. I find recipes here with an variety of unusual product. I also appreciate the “from scratch approach I find here!
Preserving Traditions – This site is near and dear to me as it originate out of Ann Arbor Michigan. As the Blog name suggest this site is about preserving traditions. The blog contains information on workshops and events on a variety of subject from Home made condiments (Ketchup, mustard etc.),jams and canned vegetables to making tamales with members of the Mexican community.
Powderate – This site is put together by Lee Ann Foster, A Culinary School Graduate who lives in British Columbia. Lots of natural foods recipes , many of which were foraged for in the wild.
Beyond Salmon - Run by Chef/ instructor Helen Rennie this site dives into food with both hands not just focusing on recipes by why they work as well as vital information about the products she uses. She is particularly thorough about fish and seafood.
Equal Opportunity Kitchen – I would be remiss if I did not mention Gizmar and Psychgrad at Equal Opportunity Kitchen. They are my partners/mentors in the Adopt a Blog Program. There help and guidance keep me pointed in the right direction.
Dining in Detroit – This site helps me keep up with the goings on here in Detroit and the piece on the Taco trucks in Mexicantown was inspiring!
Stumptown Savory - Great recipe and proper technique!
In the Kitchen with Nick– For a Non Chef Nick’s got some nice recipes.
Well there you have it. Please note that I decided not to give the award to Bloggers that already had received it. Also there are many other Bloggers out there that I read on a regular basis but limited myself to the suggested number of recipients
If you have received this award please consider passing it along to others. Here what you can do:
- Put the logo on your blog or within your post
- Pass the award on to as many as 12 bloggers.
- Link the nominees within your post
- Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog
- Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award
Please note that these sites are listed in no particular order. To all of you out there reading this. Keep on Blogging. We all have something to say!