Wednesday, December 31, 2003


I got this today from a mailing list I'm on called Upper Room Reflections.

I think it's a good thought to end the year on.



IF WE ARE TO BE truly peacemakers, I think we must move beyond the
notion of peace as the absence of conflict . ... Peace has to do with
the fullness of things, with lion and lamb lying down together, not a
world without lions. If we are to have hearts capable of the peace of
Christ, which does indeed pass all understanding, we must have hearts
capable of embracing the joy and the sorrow, the sacredness and the
sin of the world. ...

The infant in the manger at Bethlehem comes with a message of peace,
an announcement that all sad divisions, all the irreconcilable pieces
of our public and private lives will be brought together in the
celebration of "shalom" -- God's blessing, God's peace. This will
not, I think, occur when conflict has ceased. For creative conflict
is a necessary component of growth. Rather, peace will reign when our
forgiveness of self and others is wide and deep enough to create new
possibilities and, without the use of violence, to transform our
seeming impasses into new freedoms and joys.

-- Wendy M. Wright

Navy Stories

Good afternoon to you. Hope the holidays are treating you well.

Just about wrapped up 03.

Have you ever been on a ship that was refueling at sea, while underway in the dark?

I got a chance one time when I was on the USS Belleau Wood LHA 3 in the Navy. It was cool. The oil tender came up beside us. The bosun shot a line across to the tender. They pulled a cable across and set up a pulley system to pull the fuel line across. After we got connected we steamed side by side for hours getting our tank filled up.

Two parts stick with me about that experience. It was really pretty and there was some good music. Sounds like your high school prom you say?

For my money that refueling was pretty and had some good music. There were lights on the lines between the ships that danced and glowed as the ships steamed on in the night and the bosun mates got to play the Beatles "It's a Hard Day's Night" on the PA. It was cool.

One time some Marines gave me a ride in their amphibious tank vehicle on a nice sunny day off the coast of California. I'm not sure what those vehicles are called but they have a water jet type motor like you see on ski boats that shoots a big rooster tail of water into the air. The Marines were buzzing around and trying to spray each other with their rooster tails. It was a fun ride.

The ship was pretty quiet unless we had the Marines on board. We had a crew of maybe 800 sailors but the ship could hold maybe 2000 Marines or so. When the Marines came on board things got more exciting. As sailors we were used to the conditions on the ship and knew each other as crew members. The Marines came from land based activities and were used to more open space. It worked out fine..but tensions would get a little higher when the Marines were on board. You'd see a few fights between was just a lot more crowded.

One of my various jobs as a sailor was movie projectionist. We showed movies in a big room up near the top of the ship. It was open and had folding chairs for people to sit on. Picture this.....

I'm in charge of the movie and the room is full of sailors, and Marines who aren't all that happy to be on board to begin with.

It was a projector with the big reels and it had a latch for holding those big reels in place.

Do you see where this is going?

I start the projector and a couple of minutes into the movie the reel comes off and rolls down the aisle with the film coming off in huge spirals. Whooooaaaaa baaaabbby I had some mad people on my hands. Sometimes I have sort of a natural clown tendency. I think people sort of relaxed watching me screw around and sweat trying to rewind all the film on that reel.

Besides my Jerry Lewis run's a projector act on the ship...I won the Stoker Award for something good. I know it wasn't stoking coal since the ship burned diesel.

One time I tightened a fuse holder on the bridge during night air ops. The loose holder was causing intermittent electrical power on the bridge with aircraft in the air waiting to land/takeoff. Not good. I had to work on the box hot. Luckily my natural clown stayed away.

Another time the back door of the ship was stuck down and we needed to load on amphibous ships and vehicles. That door weighed about 2000 tons and was always causing us trouble. The back end of the ship was designed to be filled with ballast and sink down so we could float small craft in and out. The problem was the seawater would mess up the switches on that door. I figured out a way to bypass the switches and get the door up. I heard later that our sister ship the USS Tarawa had done something similar and dropped the door causing some major damage.

I was a peacetime sailor...I just hope that all the real soldiers, sailors, airmen, airwomen, and marines know how much we appreciate what they do.

God Bless You All.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

New Atlas Bar - Smoked Salmon - Fishing

Heh how ya doing?

You look marvelous darling.

Can I get you a short stack?

College hoops coming up this Saturday morning. Missouri v. Memphis, UCLA v. Michigan..and the NFL's Seahawks are down to the wire. Need to beat the San Francisco 49'rs to have chance at post season play.

Picture 011

The picture above is of me working at the New Atlas Bar circa 1976 or so. A photographer stopped by and asked if he could take a few pictures. That was quite a bar at the time. It had a library, tables where old men would play pinnochle or gin, a few tables for poker, lots of stuffed animals and or their heads. Pictures of airplanes. It was an interesting place. I worked for the owner T.P. Mulvihill. T.P. had been an ace fighter pilot in WWII. He would show up at 6 am every morning to do the books and then open at 8. The regular bar tender would come in at 10 to 6 and then I'd work the 6 to 2 am shift.

Through the wonders of the internet I was able to find this token from the New Atlas bar.

Note: I lost that picture of the saloon token. I have one around somewhere maybe I'll take a picture of it if I ever find it.

These tokens were used by the gin rummy players and could be redeemed at the bar. They were worth a bit. Which is 12.5 cents. You've heard the term, "two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar?" Or maybe "shave and a haircut 6 bits?"

Here's some background I googled up regarding Origination of the Term Bits for Units of Money

"Spanish pieces-of-eight were made of soft silver. Because coins were so scarce in the young country, large dollars were often cut into pieces, called “bits”. That practice is recalled today in the chant, “Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar”, or in the song-tag, “Shave and a haircut, six bits.”

Can I get you some more coffee?

I finished smoking that salmon last night. I think it was pink salmon with maybe a blackmouth thrown in. Someone gave it to my wife awhile back and she asked me to smoke it. Did you know there are 5 varieties of Pacific salmon? Chinook, Pink, Silver, Coho and Chum. There may be a sixth variety called the Cherry that lives on the other side of the Pacific nearer to Japan. There are five varieties of Pacific Salmon we can catch in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, B.C., Vancouver Island, Alaska).

I love fishing. I think fisherman are eternal optimists. Generally whenever a friend and I were going to go fishing we would think in terms of catching our limits, how we were going to transport the big fish we caught home etc. The fact that more often than not we didn't have to worry about limits or transporting huge fish never really got to us. It's the excitement of the unknown that makes it so fun. Who know's what you might hook into. I used to do a lot of fly fishing, but I'm not adverse to using a worm, spinner, eggs, dynamite (just kidding).

One of my first jobs was selling worms for bait in front of the Kiwana's annual pancake breakfast. The Kiwana's would set up a huge tent in the city park bordering main street on the weekend that river fishing opened up. When I was six I set up a little stand in front of the tent to sell worms I had dug, for bait.

I used to tie flies. I spent a fair amount of time and money at Dan Bailey's in Livingston gathering fly tying supplies. My first try at fly fishing was shortly after I got a cheap fly rod at the local Gambles hardware store. I was just a kid and didn't have money for flies so I took a few feathers off a hat of my Mom's and tied them to some bait hooks. They looked sort of like crickets to me anyway. I was on cloud nine or ten when I actually caught some trout with my homemade flies. I was hooked.

Fishing a wet fly takes no particular skill...using a dry fly on the other hand is tricky. I grew up in some of the best trout fishing areas of Montana and loved to fish from the time I was a little boy using buttons on the end of my line because my Gram didn't want me hooking myself when I was about four.

Missouri is coming back in the basketball game so I'm going to cheer them on.

See you soon.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Cooking Breakfast Over a Fire - Yellowstone River Stories

Good morning. How are you? Can I get you a warm out of the oven cinnamon roll?

Maybe a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice?

Just a coffee?

So how was Christmas for you? I hope it was peace filled.

My wife and daughters are braving the crowds to do some shopping today. I get to stay home. Yes!

Have you ever cooked a breakfast over a camp fire? or any fire? I highly recommend you try it some time. Probably sort of tough for us city dwellers I know. You could use a bbq but an actual wood fire would be the best. When I was a boy my Gram would take my sister and me to campgrounds by the Yellowstone river or sometimes the Stillwater river, and cook us breakfast over a campfire before we all went to school. Gram was a teacher. She had a theory about how food tasted better over a fire. I'm not so sure now that I'm older what it was that made those times so special, I kind of think it was because we were outside having fun before school eating eggs and toast beside a beautiful Montana river.

I'm going to smoke some salmon today. I'll use my Johnny's Seasoning Salt and Brown Sugar brine, air dry then smoke using alder chips in a Little Chief Smoker...method. It'll be good and maybe remind me a little bit of being down by the Yellowstone with Gram smelling something good.

The Yellowstone is a big river, beautiful and unforgiving. One of Gram's brothers drowned in that river while taking some cattle across. He fell off his horse and couldn't survive the current. Gram gave me a pair of homemade spurs from one of her brothers...I don't know if it was that one or not. It's interesting to think of her family being cowboys of the type who actually rode horses and watched over cattle. One of her brothers named Con, was a fence rider which meant he spent most days on a horse riding along a rancher's fence to make sure it was intact.

A guy I used to go skiing with drown on that river too. He was a good swimmer and athlete but he got caught in some deadfall (trees stuck in the river) during a raft trip and couldn't get out.

I was on a raft trip where we came close to disaster on the Yellowstone due to not respecting the river. The river can be deceiving when you raft it in late summer. Slow and boring with some very treacherous spots for the unaware. We had about 10 adults and 6 kids, three rafts and inner tubes on that float. I'd been down the river many times. The mistake we made (I think now) is that no one was really in charge. There was a large sweeping turn in the river where the current had undercut the bank to expose tree roots. The water picked up speed and pushed towards that bank as it rounded the corner. The way to avoid the trouble was to paddle hard to the left which took you into a straight channel of the river and avoided the under cut.

We didn't make the decision in time and ended up letting the current push us into the bank, roots and near disaster. By the grace of God we all made it out of there. After the excitement of people getting out of overturned rafts and away from the crushing water the river flattened out, narrowed, and became shallow and fairly fast again. We had beer and pop in a small raft with a long rope tied to it. Somehow that rope got wrapped around my leg and I had a raft pulling me downstream faster than I could walk or run, and making it almost impossible to swim because it was pulling me feet first with the current. I thought I was going to drown before I was able to get the rope untangled from my leg.

I grew up on that river and had a great deal of respect for it.

Beer and pop floating down a river reminds me of something I saw fishing for trout in Montana. One day I was driving home on a road on the upper Gallatin River. I was driving over a bridge and saw a red and white cooler floating down the river. I knew that there was another bridge not to far down the road where I could get out and maybe intercept that cooler. I did intercept it. The cooler was filled with beer and pop. I can only imagine some unlucky rafters had overturned and lost it somewhere upstream.

Another time I was fishing on the Yellowstone north of Livingston (up near the Paradise Valley). I'm all by myself just enjoying the day when I hear some noise/laughing from a raft coming around the bend. I'm standing there and a raft full of topless woman floats in front of me. I felt kind of embarassed standing there with my pole in my hand. I didn't want to stare or act like it wasn't an everyday thing for me so I just kept fishing.

Just two more fishing boating stories for this morning.

A friend of mine used to fish for huge salmon over on the Hoh river in Northwest Washington. That's a big river and you need to know what you are doing. They were in a driftboat and had been following guides who knew the river. The problem with that river is if you take the wrong turn you will end up in a dead end where the river forces you into a deadfall (there are huge trees that fall into the river). Anyway they took a dead end and got stuck on a deadfall. The drift boat overturned they lost everything, fishing poles, cameras. My friend said he probably would have drown if hadn't had neoprene waders on that give you additional buoyancy.

Finally a funny story I guess....

Same friend was over on the Hoh fishing out of another guy's drift boat. They were in a quiet big part of the river and getting sort of bored because no fish were biting. No one was around and one of them had some M-80's (don't ask me why) I'm just telling what he told me. M-80's are big firecrackers that have a fuse that will burn in water. One of them throws an M-80 into the water just for the heck of it I guess. About this time another boat comes into sight. You have to sort of imagine this picture, a nice quiet beautiful river...with these yahoo's in a driftboat knowing in a few seconds a big bang is going to one is around except them and the other boat now. They think they are going to look like the idiots they are...

Not so quick.

Their driftboat begins to close on the M-80. Just as the fuse finishes it's job the boat and the M-80 contact each other. They ended up blowing a six inch hole in the side of their own boat. No lie. I bet those guys in the other boat were mystified.

I'm going to go in the back and peel some potatoes give a holler if there's anything I can get you.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Keeping Watch


to view whatever really happened there
in the quietest hour of night,
but I was close to it ...

I knew, in the silence itself --
breathing in, breathing out, keeping watch,
keeping vigil for the Coming.

-- Wendy M. Wright

Getting Quieter Now

Good evening.

Never seen you in here before.

Getting close to closing time here at Jack's.

It's been a good year.

I'll be quiet now.

It's getting quieter.

Need to quiet down and enjoy thinking about that silent night.

The beauty of that event was that we all can be forgiven. No matter what you did or didn't do you can ask God for forgiveness and thereby gain the ability to more easily forgive yourself.

That's my story and I'm stickin to it.

Good night


God Bless You

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Gambler's Dream

Howdy! How's your night going? Can I get you a Diet Pepsi? How's the family?

I'm on the wagering/probability wagon again tonight.

Did you know a "dollar" is a 100 dollars, a "dime" is 1000 dollars and "Action Jackson" is a gambler who wagers every day - day and night in Gambling Lingo?

It's instructive to see what to expect in the world of sports wagering by looking at 10 bets that you have a .5 probability of winning. Assume you bet 110 to make 100. For those 10 bets you risk 1100. If you have just a slight edge (you can pick the results of the event with greater accuracy than using a coin toss) and like I did today, win 5 lose 4 and push on 1 you end up making 60 units.

I've been studying this for about a year now and I can say that the chances of you making money wagering are almost nil. It's the almost that keeps us going.

A 5-4-1 record would be not too bad over time. You are winning 5/9 or 55% of the time. Say you started the day with a bank roll of 1100 dollars. At the end of the day you would have made 60 bucks (500 won - 440 lost). Is this worth it for tying up 1100 dollars and your time for a day? Depends on how much your time is worth I guess. For most of us probably no.

The fun part is to start thinking about winning more money by starting with more or by winning and reinvesting your winnings.

If you started with 11,000 dollars instead of 1100 and repeated your 5-4-1 record betting 11,000 each day for 300 days of the year (with a 65 day vacation) you would be making about 180,000.

Another way to think about this is if you could invest your money at a daily compound rate of 5.5% (instead of making 5.5% a year on your principle like in your savings account you make 5.5% a day). Now we go exponential baby.

Suppose you go to Vegas with your 1100 bankroll play 100 days of the year, keep reinvesting your winnings and going 5-4-1 every day. How much do you think you would have at the end of your 100 days? Another way to think about it is suppose you put 1100 in your 5.5% passbook savings account when you were born and got it back when you were 100 years old.

The answer my friends is for those 100 days of work and your 1100 initial investment you will have $232,615. Even better is if you decided not to sluff off for 265 days but worked 200 days and took a 165 day vacation to the tropical paradise of your choice. After 200 days of work you have $49,190,882.

This is theoretically possible (it's also theoretically possible that given enough attempts you could walk through a wall due to the random nature of your own and the door's atomic structure). Aside from no proof that anyone has ever been successful in Vegas but the Casino owners, one of the obvious faults in the gambling dream is that you would have to find someone willing to take quite large bets as your career progressed. Near the end of your 200 day career you would be making 5 million dollar bets with your 10 bet a day rule and 50 mil bankroll. It's fun to think about anyway...

The Kelly Formula is interesting to read and think about a little.

Reading a little bit about the Martingale theory of wagering is fun too; theoretically you should never lose at roulette with Old Marty's System

Probability, statistics, gambling, wagering, failure analysis, insurance underwriting, actuarial tables, investing or whatever we call it permeates our lives and culture.

Soul has James Brown Godfather of Soul. Probability has Blaise Pascal Godfather of Probability. Blaise mentions betting with Pistoles in this story. I think that was a baseball team in Italy, one of his buddies or a unit of money.

He also figured out some pretty elaborate bets on if God exists or does not exist Pascal's Wager.

The point I think is that wagering, risk taking and games are as old as humankind. There is something deeply ingrained in us that makes us enjoy the thrill.

Maybe taking a risk by going up to someone who could use a hand and offering our own...would be a good risk to take today.

Anti-Ascorbic Acid - Finger Wave - Bad Job's - Soup Story

Good Tuesday morning to you. Can I get you some coffee? Maybe an omelet and some nice crunchy hash browns? Maybe biscuits and gravy and a couple of eggs over easy?

You don't look so good. How about an anti-ascorbic acid? That's a shot of whiskey and an orange juice chaser. I remember a good lookin gal named Sally was drinking those one day when I was tending bar. Her sister was Joy and lost a leg to cancer and eventually her life. Another story. Joy was a nice nice person who died much too young.

Have you ever had anyone give you a one or two finger wave? Not the road rage type of finger waving but a friendly wave? Back in Montana while driving on dirt roads in the back country a passing driver would often give you a a one or two finger wave. It was a casual wave, done without removing your hands from the steering wheel, and consists of a finger or two lifted in salute to your fellow traveler. It's kind of a cool feeling to have some stranger give you a friendly wave. Next time you are out on a back road see if you can share the friendly one finger wave.

Not much happening in the rambling Jack Cafe today. I just finished swamping the place out and emptied the spitoons. Next time you think your job sucks think about me emptying those spittoons with the juicy stringy loogified loogies in them. That's almost as bad as that job I had awhile back collecting dog urine. I was sort of a human fire hydrant. True story. I volunteered at the vets to collect some urine from my good old dog Baily. He was a short Bichon Friese so it was hard to see his pp. I had to follow him around and hold a little sample cup under his was not a pretty sight.

I think I'll eat a piece of that warm pecan pie with you. I'll just make us some fresh coffee.

Did I tell you a guy was in a while back and complained that his soup was too hot? He likes to complain but to give him the benefit of the doubt I decided he lived in a parallel universe where things maintain a constant temperature and just leaving the soup on the counter for awhile, blowing on it or adding some ice cubes would have no effect. Maybe in his world entropy is not a problem. Houses don't crumble, paint don't peel, cars don't rust...everything isn't getting cold and disorderly. They had a referendum and repealed the second law of Thermodynamics in his world. Yeah that's it...

You know what's really cool? Taking a nice deep breath. In through your nose and blow it out through your mouth. That feels good doesn't it. We should remember to breathe more I say. I hate it when I turn blue and pass out because I forgot to.

Breath. Relax. Let it all go.....

Hope we all have a peace filled day.


Friday, December 19, 2003

Christmas Season - Kinky Friedman - Beat the Wintertime Blues - Oysters On The BBQ - Hangtown Fry

Good Friday morning to you.

How's your Christmas season going? Got your Christmas shopping done?

I tend to be on both sides of the Christmas fence in that I like the consumer/commercial side and I am also very interested/moved by the religious aspects.

When I was a kid I loved to go to midnight mass and smell the incense, hear the priest singing in Latin. I liked the ceremony, the ritual. I was a good Catholic altar boy for a few years (well maybe not always so good like the time my cousin and I took beer from the Knights of Columbus beer stash in the church basement to have with our lunch during the annual 2 week summer catechism class the nuns put on....ahhhh but that's another story).

I remember one of my old old friends Jimma would be at midnight mass with a good whiskey buzz on...a religious, alcoholic, Irish-Catholic. Jimma was missing a piece of his ear from a fight. He was a good guy as far as I was concerned; my cousin and I would go visit him in his apartment and have few drinks when we were about....11 years old or so.

When I was around ten, eleven and twelve I would go to mass every morning on my bike and perform my routine with Father Kelly and later Father Tobin. Usually it was just us and a few older ladies during the week. Today it's sort of hard for me to recall what drove me to get up early and get out on the cold Montana mornings. One time Father Tobin gave me a pen that had red, green and blue ink...maybe that was it. I have always had a thing for pens and pencils.

I hope we can all enjoy the holidays no matter what they are. Hanukkah, Ramadan, Christmas, Tirupavai.....

That's the cool thing about living in the US of A we have a diverse and strong population that can live together and appreciate our differences.

I like to listen to Don Imus on the radio and a couple of funny thoughtful quotes I've heard him say recently about the holidays are -

From Jewish Cowboy Singer Comedian Kinky Friedman "The Jews say Santa Claus killed Jesus."

  • Kinky Friedman's Official Website

  • As someone said, "I celebrate whatever holiday gets me off work."

    How about a nice barbeque to offset some of those holiday shopping, running, cooking, working, etc. etc. etc. stressors. There's something about playing with a fire and smelling smoke that appeals to our primitive selves (or maybe that's our pyromaniacal selves for some of us). In any event....

    Beat The Wintertime Blues BBQ

    Get yourself a Weber barbeque. That's one that's kettle shaped and has a lid with vents so you can control the heat.

    What to cook....let's start with some oysters. One of the things I really appreciate about the great Pacific Northwest is the seafood. We have some great salman, shrimp, crab, clams, oysters...umm ummm ummm.

    Get a few dozen, or as many as you need, fresh in the shell oysters
    Light your barbeque (use a chimney, not presoaked briquets or lighter fluid unless you like that taste)
    Eat a few of the oysters raw (they have to be small and cold for this to be enjoyable)
    Put the rest of them on the grill a dozen or so at a time.
    Prepare a small pan of garlic butter
    Keep an eye on them oersters until they start to open a little or liquid bubbles out
    When they are ready pop them open with your oyster knife (or something similar) and using a fork scrape the oyster into your pan of warm garlic butter
    After you finish a batch call your friends and family outside and eat the oysters out of the pan with crusty french bread while drinking beer or sparkling soda or nothing.

    Ever wonder if sometimes we eat things like escargot or maybe oysters because it gives us an excuse to eat garlic butter?

    If you want you could make yourself a hangtown fry with some oysters. I was big on that for awhile after I read the story about that dish in a cookbook. You can pretend you are a gold miner or maybe an outlaw...

    I googled to this site and clipped the little blurb below about the hangtown fry.


  • "Supposedly created in 1849 during the California goldrush, possibly at the Cary House in Hangtown (now Placerville). Food was expensive in the mining camps and towns, and oysters and eggs were the most expensive. Either a miner with a bag full of nuggets wanted the most expensive meal he could order, or it was the last request of an outlaw about to be hanged. The Hangtown Fry is eggs, oysters and bacon cooked together as a scramble or an omelette."

    After we let those oysters settle let's cook a nice salmon on our BBQ.

    See you all soon. Remember to breathe. Nice and deep...let it all go. Buy some flowers. Be good to yourself.

    Peace to you and yours.

    Tuesday, December 09, 2003

    Personal v. Private Life - Hot Milk and Heidi's Melted Cheese on Toast For When You Can't Sleep

    Good morning to you. Couldn't sleep either eh? Can I get you a cup of warm milk? Maybe some toast with melted cheese ala Heidi in the Swiss Alps?

  • Heidi Toasted Cheese

  • I've been thinking this morning while I was wiping down the counter. One thing that I can't quite put down is famous people who have married their first cousins. Have you ever thought about that?

    Have you ever known anyone who married a cousin? First or otherwise? I can't think of anyone. Sometimes my family introduces me as Cousin Jack twice removed or something but never had any of them express an interest in marrying me or vice versa.

    What brings this up you ask? Yesterday Business Week ran an article about the recently deposed CEO of the Boeing Company. In the article it says that he had been married four times....once to his first cousin. I was trying to think who else I was aware of who had married a cousin and the only other person who came to mind was Jerry Lee Lewis who married his thirteen year old cousin.

    The Business Week article is a hatchet job but has some fairly bizarre quotes about this powerful man. Makes me think he ticked some people off and now that he's on a downhill slide they are piling on. One quote has someone saying, "we have another Bill Clinton on our hands." Which brings up another point for me.

    What about the idea that whatever your personal life foibles may be they have no bearing on your work? Whether you are president or CEO or whatever your job should be separate from your secretarial love affairs, intern cigar episodes, multiple divorces etc etc etc?

    I think not.

    You cannot separate what you do in one area of life from another. Think about it. It's not bad on it's own that you were married and divorced four times. If you were honorable and didn't cheat and decided to go your separate ways with four women you were married to....heh more power to you both. The truth is more likely something else and you are what we refer to in the vernacular as "a jerk" or sometimes "a jackass". That doesn't mean you couldn't be one heck of a successful person I guess...funny how we think of success.

    So I'll get off my little soap box and fix you that

    Cup of Hot Milk and Heidi's Melted Cheese on Toast Can't Sleep Snack

    It's funny how pieces of stories you read stick in your mind. When I was little I had a book where Heidi was visiting her grandfather (Heidi is a little Swiss girl). It's cold outside and the grandfather fixes little Heidi some melted cheese on toast that he cooks over a fire. I'll make that for you now.

    Microwave a cup of milk (or heat in sauce pan)
    Add salt and pepper
    Make some toast (over a fire if you have one)
    Put some good cheese on it (I just used some pepperjack...but some good soft cheese would be nice)

    Enjoy....think about being in the Swiss Alps with your nice old grandpa...with the wind howling outside and you are in your cozy warm little chalet sitting in front of the fire.

    Good night now.


    Saturday, December 06, 2003

    The Best Way to Know God is to Love Many Things - Insanity Why Not?

    Hello and a good Saturday to you.

    I'm coming off a bad case of the Fujian. Man that was some tough flu. Funny how things sort of come in bunches sometimes. Just in the last few months my dog died, found out my liver is dying, my mom died. I guess it isn't really that funny. Ahhh life is a vale of tears...the good thing is we have lots of crunchy snack foods to make us happy

  • Crispy Snacks

  • I added a couple of links to my blog. I really like that Buddhist/Zen/Meditation Interlude site that Tom Barrett runs. Great thoughts of the day, meditations and things. In my humble opinion a fine use of bandwidth (as opposed to this garbola).

    Today's thought over there is -

    "The best way to know God is to love many things." - Vincent Van Gogh

    I like that.

    That quote from Vinnie makes me think about something else I wanted to touch on...Have you ever thought about being insane?

    How much fun it might be? How scary? Painful? Exciting? Maybe really being alive for a change?

    I was insane once but now I'm certified sane. Isn't that an old joke? I've delved on the edges and fallen in now and's really not all that bad. On the other hand my insanity isn't your insanity. For you it might be hell. I'm sorry.

    It's very hard to describe this to someone who hasn't been there. Let me say this - some of the funniest, most alive, people I've ever met would be considered insane I suppose, (they were institutionalized). I don't know where this is going...I guess just don't worry so much if you are a little's okay. Everyone is or should be. Just be nice to other people...try to laugh.

    Back in the 70's an old friend of mine once went off the deep end and thought he was running for public office. One of his first campaign moves was a one-man march on Washington DC. This was back in Montana. The cops picked him up walking nude on the interstate about 1/4 mile out of town. He was really a nice guy and funny. Never hurt anybody. He had some chemical imbalance or something and every once in awhile he'd do something really weird and they'd put him in the loony bin and then he'd be okay again. The thing I always thought when I talked to him was that he had sort of a twinkle in his eye like "I know what I did was just friggin crazy..but I don't's sort of like really bizarre funny performance art." Cool. To me much better than being so careful.

    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance about Robert Pirsig's journey into madness. It's a little more painful than my own or my old friends journey. Worth a read maybe though. I remember hearing this guy on NPR who had some mental illness. At one time he thought he was a champion horse jumper in England or something like that. The part of the interview that stuck in my mind was that he said how "alive" he felt when he was crazy...he missed it.

    So what to do today? Maybe go a little crazy. or maybe just cook a nice pot of

    Get Over the Flu Chicken Soup

    Make your mirepoix (saute some onions, carrots and celery in a soup kettle)
    Brown some chicken in that kettle too.
    I made some soup with chicken drumsticks the other day and it worked pretty good because the bones and skin and stuff add flavor (if you made a soup with a chicken breast you might want to add some boullion to flavor)
    I like to add garlic, salt and pepper.
    You might add noodles or rice.

    What else could you throw in there? Barley? Probably not peas. Corn, green beans, peppers. Sorry if this isn't detailed enough for you. If you really like eating the same thing all the time buy yourself a can of Campbell's soup. One thing about my recipes is that you never get the same thing twice. I like the Zen nature of that perfect slightly cracked teapot (soup) whatever that only lives in that moment.

    Add some stock if you are a real cook cook like in a cafe (stock is made from vegetable cuttings, chicken parts etc and left to simmer in a stock pot)....most home cooks don't have time for that.

    Add some chicken boullion and water for flavor. Eat your soup and stay warm now.

    Just one last thing...I have to tell you about something I heard on the radio yesterday (It's about soup).

    Somewhere near where I live is a soup factory of some sort. It's like Larry's Natural Soups or some odd name like that. Anyway the neighbors around where this soup factory is have been complaining to the city about the smell. I can't quite imagine what kind of soup Larry is cooking that it causes odors that are considered pollutants by his neighbors. Here's the kicker...the city bought Larry's land. They are putting in what they are calling the BrightWater sewage treatment plant. I can see some city planner saying, "You want to whine about smell? I'll give ya something to whine about..."

    Did you hear about the lady in Houston who ran over a McDonald's manager because they wouldn't put mayo on her cheeseburger? I guess she thought she was at BK. I loved the old Belushi skits about no Coke Pepsi cheeseburger cheeseburger. If that lady ever comes into Jacks after she gets out of the pen I'll give her all the mayo she wants. I can't run as fast as I used to.

    Peace to you and your's.


    Sunday, November 16, 2003

    Biker Club Story - Good Sam Story - Exploding Root Beer Story and Recipe

    We had a heck of a busy day at the cafe today. A group of several hundred bikers were on their way through town to a convention. I was on my own and the place was packed. It was really cool to see all those Harley's parked up and down the street. They had all parked diagonally and backed their bikes in a V formation. One of my regulars; Clyde came down the street riding his three wheel bicycle and parked it right beside the Harley's. He's in his 80's. He came in and had a ginger ale. I don't think he noticed anything different...probably just thought things were a little bit more busy than usual. I was a little worried because they were smoking pot in the back, but I wasn't in a position to try and instill some rules. I was glad they were peaceful and didn't fight or steal things. They probably all work at Microsoft or the likes anyway. That happened just not today.

    Have you ever seen those signs on the back of RV's that say Good Sam's Club? You'll have to take my word for this but one time there was a convention of Good Sammer's near where I was living in Bozeman. One of the Good Sam's was running his generator late into the night and it was bothering another Good Sam in a neighboring RV. One thing led to another, an argument ensued and the one Good Sam shot the other one. I always wondered if that guy got kicked out of the Good Sam club.

    I've had a great weekend. I hope you all have too. I'll leave you with a recipe of sorts. It's a fun thing to make next summer since it can be kind of messy. Jack's Exploding Root Beer

    The first time I made root beer was when I was about 12 or 13. The instructions on the root beer flavor bottle said to put the root beer in a glass bottle and seal tightly. I had some gallon jugs from the local root beer stand which I thought would be perfect. I filled them up and left them on the top of the fridge. Sometime later in the middle of the night a large explosion wakened the house. The bottle(s) had exploded. It actually caused enough force to take paint off the refrigerator. The kitchen was covered with sticky root beer. My mom had to take the fridge to a body shop to have it repainted. Don't try to make root beer in gallon jugs. 12 oz beer bottles work just fine. Some may blow up but that's fine as long as they are in a box in a place that it's okay to spill some stuff you okay.

    How to make Root Beer

    Wait for a nice sunny day when you can work outside
    Get some of your own or some neighbor kids to help you
    Mix the root beer flavor, sugar, water and yeast according to the directions on the root beer flavor bottle
    Siphon the root beer mix into sterilized recappable beer bottles
    Cap the bottles
    Put them in cardboard boxes in your basement or a cool place for a few weeks and you'll have some good root beer to drink when it's cold and rainy...and you'll know that it has some sun and kids laughter in it.

    Savor it baby.


    My wagering so far today is making me think I better stay back here behind the counter slinging hash.

    I'm 1-6 against the point spread so far this morning in my gambling endeavor. I'm hoping the Seahawks, Vikes and Cowboys can get me back to even money. I took the Cowboys +4.5 over the Pats for 7 units on the late came today.

    I'm going to rescind my recommendation that you start wagering. It's not for the feint of heart, or undisciplined or idiotic...which pretty much describes all of us at some time. If you decide to jump in I have a few recommendations.

    Never bet more than you can afford to lose and be happy. That's the whole point right? To do things that we find satisfying. It's pretty easy to lose sight of the good part of sports if you get wrapped around the point spread.

    Bet about 1% of your bankroll (that's a unit in my world). If you want to make 100 dollar bets you need a 10K bankroll. 10 dollar bets a 1K bankroll, 1 dollar bets a 100 dollar bankroll and 1 cent bets require a dollar bankroll. The bankroll should be money you don't care about ie. not for food, clothes, beer, education or anything else you find important in your life.

    Make a lot of bets. That way you don't care if you lose a few. It's also mathmatically sensible if you read into this a bit. Just do it for fun and if you don't like it stop.

    There are some definite down sides for people who tend to be obsessive or have a tendency to addictive behaviour. Plus if your bankroll doesn't grow it's a pretty safe bet your butt will from all the sitting around.

    One last thing that made sense to me is that you need to have a desire to win. This sounds kind of silly but if you read or listen to a fair number of people they get off on losing....maybe they like blaming others or just have some sort of masochistic streak where they can find a lot of comiserate souls in the gambling community.

    I'm sure I'll change my point of view on this as I age. I hope so anyway. If we never change how can we grow?

    Wagering Is Not Gaming

    Good morning and welcome to rambling gamblin Jack's Cafe.

    Can I get you a cup of coffee?

    I'm going to recommend something degenerate to you today.

    No not that you weirdo...I'm going to promote the virtues of wagering. I think Bill Bennett wrote a book about this already but heh there's still room for us little guys.

    Wagering is not gaming. What?

    Wagering means you have to use some brainpower to have a chance to beat a system that does not have fixed odds. Gaming means you go to a casino and play any game they have and the chances of you winning are matter how hard you try or how great a system you have or whatever.

    Gaming is fun. Gaming can also be a high tax on stupid people if it's not fun...for example state sponsered lotteries or scratch tickets and casinos. Man I hate to see poor people waste money on those. If you like it and have fun and can afford it...more power to you though. I love to play craps once in awhile or pull a slot machine or play cards.

    I'm going to recommend my young and old friends that you enter the world of sports wagering instead of throwing your money away on the lottery. Okay no one too young should be gambling or doing anything other than learning and having fun and doing stuff young people should do. Actually sports wagering would be a perfect activity (if handled properly) for a retired geeky type who like to read, look at numbers, games.

    You can wager on line at sites in England, Australia, the Netherlands and lots of them down in the South America/Bahama area. These are legit companies. Check out USA Today for names.

    Anyway I have come to find being a sports fan is fun and putting a little bit of money or whatever you can afford on games makes it more fun for me anyway. It's basically a way to keep track of how well you are predicting the future.

    If you want to win or lose real money stick to the stock market.

    Today is NFL day my friends. I have a little dough on a lot of games. I can't go to church because of my "flu" hack cough sniffle...

    I think I'll put a little on Agassi to win down in Houston for the good old US of A. or maybe just for the good of anyone in the world who is considered on the older side. Wow...33 is old in tennis.

    I have the Rockets -2 over the Raptors in the NBA this morning.

    I'm going on these picks for today in the NFL...for some reason the big play is New Orleans over Atlanta. I'd tell you how I came up with these but that would spoil your fun. For you novices the minus number means I'm betting on a favorite to win and cover the point spread. So for the first bet if the Saints win by 10 then I win. If they win by 9 I get my money back, and if they win by 8 or less or lose outright I lose my bet.

    Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints take the New Orleans Saints -9

    Minnesota Vikings v Oakland Raiders take Minnesota Vikings -4.5

    San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos take Denver Broncos -8

    Kansas City Chiefs v Cincinnati Bengals take Kansas City Chiefs -6.5

    Detroit Lions v Seattle Seahawks take Seattle Seahawks -10

    Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans take Tennessee Titans -9.5

    St Louis Rams v Chicago Bears take St Louis Rams -6

    New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles take Philadelphia Eagles -3.5

    Lastly for all my fellow Virgo's out there our horoscope today at is

    Virgo: (Aug. 23—Sept. 22)
    If you, like many Virgos, are a gambler, the stars advise you to bet on the army of horned demons and take the points.

    Lets do it boys and girls!

    Viola's Casserole

    Ahhhhh Sunday Morning. Love it. Go to church or stay home read the football or movies. Go out and play. Whatever you want.

    This morning I wanted to write down a recipe from my adopted grandmother Viola. She was like so many woman in my life, strong and smart. Graduated from University of Montana went on to raise two good sons (one my stepdad) on her own after her husband passed away. She was a teacher. Always polite...always nice. She helped me with my schoolwork when I was in elementary school. Very kind woman.

    The recipe is simple but good and Viola. I haven't made this in a long time I hope I can remember it.

    Viola's Hamburger Casserole

    Brown hamburger
    Add diced onion early enough in browning process so the onion carmalizes but not so early it burns
    Boil and drain egg noodles
    To hamburger/onion mixture add - can of cream of mushroom soup, can of cream of celery soup, cup or two or more of sour cream, small jar of red pimentos, can of corn - drained, salt and pepper to taste
    Combine noodles, hamburger, soup mixture in a casserole dish.
    Put crumbled up potato chips on top
    Back at 350 for an hour or so....until chips are brown and the mixture bubbles a little.

    This is good. I think I'll make it today.

    Wherever you are today I hope this finds you well or at least with the hope that things will be better.


    Friday, November 14, 2003

    Fujian Flu - Cop's - Gang Tackling Rush - Nicotine Alcohol and Fast Food - Chili Recipe

    I haven't been blogging much lately. Had the flu or something and couldn't get up for a while. I'm drinking double tea and feeling better. Being the media junkie I occasionally am I have to comment on a couple of things in the news.

    Paris Hilton tape. Seen some of it. I looked at the video and she looks too scary. It's really dark and she has raccoon eyes.

    I always get worried when I see people with really dark circles around their eyes. Are they sick or addicted or really flexible and dangerous like Pris in Blade Runner. The best part of that movie to me is when Rutger says, "All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain."

    You'd think Paris could have bought a decent video camera, makeup or at least some software to retouch that video. I'm sort of a dope...but I feel sorry for her. We've all done stupid things some of us a lot more than others. I hope she finds whatever she is looking for.

    There were two items that were worthy of front page coverage in our local newspaper today. This headline...

    Monroe Prison is Now States Largest Now there's something to be proud of eh? On that topic I have to say I can't stand watching Cops in (whatever city). Seeing the police gang tackle a transvestite crackhead or arrest some kids for possession of marijuana isn't my top priority as a taxpayer. I guess if we elect the punishment versus treatment philosophy we can fill up our prisons to the brim and create more jobs for the inbred to work as prison guards. Okay there's probably some good prison guards like in the Green Mile...but I always wonder about voluntarily choosing that kind of job. Whatever.

    And this article -

    Youths Are Smoking Less, Except in Middle School. I'm glad to hear preschoolers aren't smoking as much as they did when I was a kid. My grandmother use to tell me her brothers would smoke driftwood...which of course I had to try. I think I was 5 or 6 when we hid some cigars in a cave to smoke as part of a short lived boys club some friends and I created.

    You know when you think about it nicotine and alcohol can kill you a lot more surely than the stuff they are arresting some of the people on Cops for. Maybe the police should gang tackle some Phillip Morris tobacco executive and play that on TV? How come Rush can have enough percocet or whatever it is oxycontin...synthetic heroin to put down a herd of charging rhinos and he gets to go to rehab? Where's the gang tackling? Prison? Can't we all just get along?

    Here's a commercial I love Eating Kentucky Fried Chicken Keeps You Slim. It's sort of like a Jared theme except it's a guy sitting on the tailgate of a pickup eating KFC and his friend notices how slender he has become. Asks him what he's eating? Why KFC, you know it hardly has any carbs?

    I remember an old New Yorker cartoon of two really really fat people who appear to be a married couple and one is saying something to the other like, "Things were pretty good till that Kentucky Fried Chicken moved in next door." Who do you think is telling the true story; the people from YUM who are marketing KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, or New Yorker cartoons or Matt Groening when he (or whoever wrote that episode) has Homer order double-skin Kentucky Fried? I think the humorists have a closer take on reality.

    Lose weight and eat KFC...sure why not.

    I liked the tack Jack in The Box took with the ad campaign that said their cheesy fries promoted good health....and then the guy doing the ad says he used to work for the tobacco industry. I think that's funny and true....and fine. If you want to eat a cheesy fry or smoke a cig have at it...but don't pretend like it's not a death defying stunt.

    What's a good recipe for late Friday night? How about been drinking beer and partying in the trailer all night chili? I was at a party many moons ago in a trailer where an odd sort of fellow (kind of a criminal sort of guy who was the boyfriend of a girl I knew whose dad was in prison) cooked some chili and used beer in it.

    I remember that girls dad once said how prison had taught him a lot about manners. He was very polite. Another thing I learned was that if you saw a woman with a very nicely tooled leather purse...a lot of time she had a husband or boyfriend in the state pen.

    Back to the chili.

    In a pot (it always helps to cook things if you have a pot...chili on a stick is really hard to make)
    Fry some hamburger or mutton if you happen to be Hindu...if your vegan or veg fry some tofu.
    Cut up onions and add to hamburger as you fry it.
    Drink some beer and Listen to some country western music (optional)
    After the burger is browned dump some beer on it (I don't know what this does but I've played around with putting beer on or in food I'm cooking for the last 30 years...same as wine I guess except not)
    Add tomato paste, sauce, stewed tomatoes, fresh, canned whatever kind you have
    Chili powder
    You used to be able to buy something called a chili stick (some kind of fatty meat product with spices...that made a good chili..I don't know where to get them now).
    I always put beans in chili - kidney, although I guess you could use some other kind.

    Serve with crackers, grated cheese, onions and sour cream on the side. Drink more on.

    Truth be told I don't drink at all anymore. If I was young and partying with some people in their trailer I'd be down with it though.

    Peace brothers and sisters.

    Wednesday, October 22, 2003

    Dream You're a Manatee - Poor Man's Potato Soup Recipe

    Good morning.

    Welcome to Cafe Jack.

    Yesterday I heard John Lithgow sing the song from his childrens book I'm a Manatee . I'd like to have the CD, book and someone to read it to and sing with.

    From time to time
    I dream that
    I'm a manatee,
    the sea
    John Lithgow

    I think a good thing to eat on a cool wet day like today is some Poor Man's Potato Soup. The main ingredients are very simple; potato, onion, milk, water, salt, pepper and butter. I like to add chicken boullion for flavor; you could use bacon if you wanted to.

    I saw a cooking show once where a monk was talking about cooking root soup in the fall. I'd like to learn to make some root soup. The monk was talking about how the soup was in tune with nature....or maybe I dreamed that.

    If you are really broke you could make some stone soup. I liked that story when I was little. Be sure to remove the stone before eating and put it back in your pouch for next time.

    Have you ever been to a celebration of heat and light? That's what I call our house sometimes. I'm a grumpy old energy concious guy with two teenage daughters. I'm always turning off lights, hair straightners, computers, closing doors....I'll really miss them when they move's going to be too quiet.

    I knew a lady once who could drink a case of Bud in one sitting. But that wasn't really why I liked her. She would come into the bar I was working at and talk to me for hours about her trips to Alaska. She had a great laugh and used to like to tell me "don't sweat the small things." She was missing a hand. I thought it was a birth defect until one day I was talking to a fellow bartender and he told me she had lost her hand when she put it in front of a gun her husband was going to use to shoot her son. She saved her son and lost her hand.

    On to the soup.

    Poor Man's Potato Soup
    Peel and quarter as many potatos as you would like
    Put them in a pot of slightly salted water and boil until they just start to soften
    Drain the water and set the potatos aside to cool
    In your soup pot sautee some onions in butter
    Cut the potatos into chunks (not too small or you'll have mashed potato soup)
    Add potatos to onion/butter and cover with milk
    Salt/pepper to taste
    I like to use chicken boullion (the powdered dry stuff) to give the soup a richer flavor
    Let the soup cook until the potatos are soft

    I think a nice crusty bagette would be good with this soup. Carb up baby.

    Have a fine day.

    Don't sweat the small things

    and maybe just for the heck of it

    dream you are a manatee.

    Sunday, October 19, 2003

    Jimmy Buffett - Omelet Recipe - Chai Recipe - Green Hat Black Bean Soup Recipe - Gary Snyder

    Hi what's you doing up so late?

    Can I get you a cup of coffee or a cup of warm milk?

    How's it going?

    My football picks ended up Army and WSU a push at +6 and +10, Air Force a loss and Navy a win. I better not quit my day job.

    I love the late shift, nice and quiet.

    Ladies choice everybody dance.

    I'm reading a Pirate Looks at Fifty. Jimmy Buffett writes good words and songs. I saw him in 1977 at the Arbor day celebration in Missoula. He was with Heart and Jerry Jeff Walker. That was a fun party. My good friend Tim was just out of the Coast Guard and we traveled across Montana to get to the concert.

    Do you know how to make an omelet? Everybody should. Some people put water or milk in the eggs...but I don't see a need. The key is to whisk the eggs to the point where they start to get air mixed in and use a hot enough pan. Once you get the omelet down you can move into the crepe or other more advanced forms of egg mixtures cooked in an omelet pan.

    Get your ingredients out.
    Whatever you like in your omelet...eggs, cheese, mushrooms, chili, olives.
    Start heating your small frying pan/omelet pan
    Add some oil (or butter if you are careful...butter burns can mix a little butter and oil if you like)
    Whisk up a few eggs.
    Put them in your omelet pan/small frying pan.
    Shortly thereafter put the cheese, mushrooms, chili on top
    Let it cook until the sides start to pull away from the pan and you can fold it over
    Let it cook a little longer

    Serve with toast and depending on your personal preference hashbrowns, bacon or sausage.

    I think what would be good right now is cup of chai. Not that Oregon chai they sell in espressos stands and stores...some real Indian Chai.

    In India tea is called chai. As far as I could tell chai is made with black tea and some special spices steeped in water buffalo milk. I don't know the recipe for it but I can tell you how to make it.

    Go to India
    Visit some hospitable people
    They will serve you some chai
    They may use water buffalo milk

    Talking about India made me remember I was going to put down a recipe for lentil soup. To me the beauty of lentils is that you don't have to soak them over night like beans. If you want to make a good hearty cheap soup quickly, lentils are a good choice. I think the basic things that go with lentils are onions, carrots, tomato, chicken, garlic.

    In a soup kettle/pan
    Sautee chicken cut into bite sized pieces.
    Or skip the chicken and just go vegetarian.
    Sautee onions, garlic, carrots
    sAdd the lentils, tomato (fresh, sauce, diced or whatever you have) and water to more than cover
    Simmer until lentils are tender

    One other soup I like is the green hat black bean. I made that name up because you cover the black bean soup with a green hat made of cabbage leaves if you use purple cabbage it is pretty too...or you can mix purple and green if you are into that sort of thing. The idea is to make a lid with the cabbage leaves and let them steam/cook on top of the black bean soup mixture.

    Soak some black beans overnight (if you are in a hurry get some cans at the store)
    You can sautee chicken or beef if you like but the beans have plenty of protein already.
    Sautee onions, carrots, garlic in your soup pot
    Salt and pepper to your tastes and depending on how salty the stock you will use is.
    I like to salt and pepper things while I sautee them so you have little flavor pieces of onion, carrot.
    Add your black beans
    Cover with stock (to me that's dried chicken or beef boullion mixed fairly strong...but not too salty)
    Simmer until the beans are soft
    Cut a green or purple cabbage into quarters
    Layer the green or purple (for purple hat soup) on top of the beans
    Simmer until the cabbage is done.

    Peace to all.

    I love this poem from Gary Snyder.

    For the Children

    The rising hills, the slopes,
    of statistics
    lie before us.
    the steep climb
    of everything, going up,
    up, as we all
    go down.

    In the next century
    or the one beyond that,
    they say,
    are valleys, pastures,
    we can meet there in peace
    if we make it.

    To climb these coming crests
    one word to you, to
    you and your children:

    stay together
    learn the flowers
    go light

    Gary Snyder, from Turtle Island

    Friday, October 17, 2003

    How To Make a Mirepoux - Navy Bean Racoon In The Night Soup Recipe

    One thing every chef should know is how to make is a basic soup. A good start is to learn to make a mirepoux, a mixture of vegetables sauteed in butter or other oil in the soup pan to which you add the other basic soup ingredients.

    Mirepoux is made by chopping carrots, onions and celery and sauteing them. Just for the record to sautee something means to fry in a little oil vs. frying something which means frying in a lot of oil.

    I like to use lots of onions, quite a few carrots and try to be careful with the celery since it has a strong flavor that can overwhelm certain things. It all depends on the soup you are cooking. Lot's of soups I make are enhanced by adding garlic to my sautee.

    One of my favorites is Navy Bean Racoon In The Night Soup.

    My brother and I were camping near Woodbine in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana. Beautiful area on the Stillwater River and nice hike to Mystic Lake. You can walk that trail to Yellowstone National Park too. I did that one year...rode my bicycle from my home town about 40 miles away and then hiked up to Cooke City in the park. I saw grizzly tracks on the higher part of the trail (it rises to about 10,000 feet). That was my theory anyway it was either a griz or a black bear with really long toenails.

    The soup though...

    I was in a Navy Bean Soup groove back then. I made a big pot, we stuck it on a fire and let it cook slowly through the day as we hiked and fished. We had some left over and covered the pan and left it on the table. Now that I'm older and wiser I know that wasn't the best idea...since although bears are unlikely down that low it wouldn't be impossible for one to smell some good soup. A black bear would be a nuisance a grizzly could be a disaster. I was always a lot more careful about storing food as I got into the more remote areas where bear encounters would be more likely.

    Middle of the night I hear something banging around. I think bear? Heart starts to beat a little faster...more noise. Get out the flashlight and theres a dang raccoon eating my soup.

    Here's the recipe

    Soak a package of white beans over night
    Make that miripoux (sautee carrots, onions and a bit of celery...garlic if you like in your soup pot)
    Get a ham bone or ham hocks
    Cut as much of the fat/meat off the bone and sautee with the miripoux
    Drain the beans and add them to the onion/carrot/celery/garlic/ham/bone mixture with enough water to more than cover.
    Let them simmer for some hours...I like to stir them once in awhile. Beans will burn if you don't keep the heat under control.
    This soup like a lot of things is better if you cook it a long time, let it cool and then reheat. That gives the starch a chance to thicken up. I don't like watery bean soup.

    Serve with bread and butter and good coffee.

    Yum. When I have a chance I'll put down my recipe for a couple of other good soups; poor man's potato and green hat black bean. Maybe lentil too since that's a quicky.

    Happy Friday

    Thursday, October 16, 2003

    Reading One Newspaper is Enough

    It was Thoreau who said reading one newspaper was enough.

    I used the Google machine and found...

    "And I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter—we never need read of another. One is enough."

    Henry David Thoreau - Walden Chapter 2

    Thoreau continues on that theme in Life Without Principle,

    "We may well be ashamed to tell what things we have read or heard in our day. I did not know why my news should be so trivial- considering what one's dreams and expectations are, why the developments should be so paltry. The news we hear, for the most part, is not news to our genius. It is the stalest repetition. You are often tempted to ask why such stress is laid on a particular experience which you have had- that, after twenty-five years, you should meet Hobbins, Registrar of Deeds, again on the sidewalk. Have you not budged an inch, then? Such is the daily news. Its facts appear to float in the atmosphere, insignificant as the sporules of fungi, and impinge on some neglected thallus, or surface of our minds, which affords a basis for them, and hence a parasitic growth. We should wash ourselves clean of such news. Of what consequence, though our planet explode, if there is no character involved in the explosion? In health we have not the least curiosity about such events. We do not live for idle amusement. I would not run round a corner to see the world blow up."

    Amen brother.

    Stats Sports Predictions - New's Break

    My cafe might be looking at a new name. Instead of Jack's Cafe, I might call it Ramblin Gamblin Jack's Cafe.

    I'm fascinated lately by statistics and predictions for sports. For the last year or so anyway I've been trying to figure out if it's possible to beat the odds. Getting interested in sports is a nice way to avoid listening to some jackass on the Fox network talk about the middle east or liberals or whatever. Once you get really obsessed with sports you don't have to read the paper except for the games. The basic news in the paper is always the same...there's a war, someone got killed, something burned up, cars were wrecked, boats sank. I think Thoreau or Emerson said something about newspapers always being the same.

    I used to win the Time Magazine current events award when I was a school kid. I loved keeping up on current events until a few years ago when I listened to Dr. Andrew Weil and read his book...with the advice to take a news break. I've taken an extended break and it's working fine.

    A few picks for NCAA football. I like the service academies this week. Take Air Force +5 points against CSU tonight. Navy -3.5 over Rice, and maybe Army +6 against East Carolina...two struggling teams but Army has a new coach and might cover.

    If I was going to lay some dough or play dough on one game this weekend it would be WSU -10 over Stanford.

    Go Cougars!

    Rockaway Beach - Homemade Ritilin - Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

    My cafe has been pretty quiet lately. Got back from Rockaway Beach last week. It's just South of San Francisco on Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway. It's pretty and there are lots of surfers. We stayed at the Best Western Lighthouse. Not bad. You could hear the surf.

    I'm thinking about seeing if I can get my Doctor to prescribe that drug they advertise now on TV that makes you throw a football better. The one where the guy is trying to throw a football through a tire and he's doing poorly until he takes the pill. Then he shoots a few passes through the tire and an attractive woman comes by and hugs him. Yeah baby that's the ticket. I'll cook some ritalin today or share a recipe for turkey with psilocybin mushroom stuffing. I lived in a communal type situation in the early 70's and someone did that turkey dressing for Thanksgiving. That happened to be a Thanksgiving I went home. so all I did was ate until I couldn't stay upright (my mom is a great cook). She has a good sense of humor too and an appreciation for the absurd. She was telling me about a story she had read about someone who was on trial for cooking up some crystal meth and his defense was that he was trying to make his own ritalin. I guess he was just a victim of the rising cost of healthcare and poor chemistry skills.

    I'm trying to attract a family crowd or at least some truckers who aren't too hopped up on speed to my cafe so I'll cook something less exotic for the blue plate special today. I'm supposed to quit eating so much fat because I'm getting so fat so I imagine this recipe is not an every week sort of thing for me nowadays but I think this is a good thing for once in a while or to fatten up some of you overly skinny people.

    Good old chicken and dumplings.

    Cut up a chicken (remove feathers, beak, feet, insides..first)
    Ohhhh this is sounding gross
    Buy a cut up chicken at Safeway
    Put some flour, salt and pepper in a bag
    Shake the chicken in the bag o flour
    Heat up a good sized frying pan with some good oil or not so good as you prefer (I'm rambling..what do you expect at 4 am)
    Carefully place the chicken in the hot oil and fry it up baby to a nice brown color
    Place the fried chicken aside
    Add enough flour to your chicken grease in the frying pan and stir the grease/flour to form pea-sized balls
    Mix some chicken boullion with hot water...or just add it to the pan
    The boullion gives the resulting gravy a nice yellow color and more taste. I personally like the artificial taste of boullion more than a chicken stock you make.
    Add milk and water to the roux and stir until it bubbles
    Put the chicken back in your gravy
    Make some dumplings using Bisquick and the recipe on the back of the box
    Drop the dumpling dough into the gravy/chicken mix using a tablespoon and your fingers try to estimate how big each dumpling should be to end up with equal sized dumplings that cover the top
    Put a lid on the mixture for awhile and let it simmer until the dumplings look done, about 30 minutes maybe

    What would be good with chicken and dumplings? Maybe some corn or peas, coleslaw and a nice cold ginger ale. I think some sort of jello salad would be traditionally served with this if you were making a big ta do. It's really so filling and tasty you could just have it for a meal.

    Happy cooking and happy Thursday...

    Friday, September 26, 2003

    Butte Montana - Pork Chop John's Egg and Cheese Sandwich Recipe

    One of my favorite places to eat or think about eating is Butte Montana. I have a Butte Heritage Cookbook that is divided into different ethnic groups. It's one of those where individuals contribute their recipes and tell a little story. Butte was one of the most ethinically diverse places imaginable in the early/mid 1900's when the mines were in full swing.

    This is a simple recipe that comes from Pork Chop John's in Butte. Pork Chops is of course known for pork chop sandwiches. But this simple sandwich was my favorite.

    Pork Chop's Egg and Cheese Sandwich

    Put on your paper cook's hat.
    Grill an egg (okay fry an egg if you don't have a grill in your kitchen)
    How you fry the egg is critical...I can never quite make up my mind on the best method.
    You don't want the yolk to cook. Sunny side up is tricky. With over-easy, a lot of times you start to cook the yolk which I think ruins this sandwich.
    I think the best way is to start the egg and then put a tablespoon or so of water on it and cover with a lid for a minute or so.
    At some point you need to add a slice of american cheese (maybe velveeta) but I like Kraft American. I know they weren't using Velveeta at PC's.
    Traditionally this is served on a white bread bun with a good Mayo.
    If you want a healthier version eat it on whole wheat. If you want to eat something without butter and mayo you my friend are at the wrong cafe :-)

    Happy Friday

    Cream Tuna, Chipped Beef or Salmon on Toast Recipes

    We had something called sfgt on a shingle in the Navy but it wasn't very good. Sort of a bland tomato/hamburger thing on toast. Now that I'm far from the Navy...

    Two of my favorite things (I'm a simple man) are creamed tuna on toast and chipped beef on toast.

    My wife likes creamed eggs on toast which you make the same way except use hard boiled eggs instead of the tuna or dried beef.

    Recipe for creamed tuna or chipped beef or eggs on toast.

    Melt some butter in a sauce pan (maybe a 1/4 to 1/2 stick)
    Add flour to absorb butter and form pea-sized flour/butter balls
    Cook roux just a little...don't let it brown.
    Add a couple of cups of milk (you can add more if the white sauce is too thick)
    Whisk or fork while slowly heating to a slight boil
    Once the sauce boils it will be as thick as it is going to get
    Add tuna, dried/salted beef, peas, salmon or hard boiled eggs.
    Serve on buttered toast (I like harder toast that has been dried a little in the oven).

    A variation on this theme that can be good is to use leftover salmon (or canned), add peas, a little garlic powder or salt, and grated parmesean cheese. This is seriously good.

    Tuesday, September 23, 2003

    Water Recipe - Making Cotton Candy - Our Need to Be SAFE

    Wasn't sure what to make today so I decided this morning's recipes would be for water and cotton candy.

    Water is made by combining hydrogen and oxygen atoms in a 2 to 1 ratio. I don't know what utensils you need to make water but from what I read in the bright and shiny future we will all be using fuel cells. Daimler Chrysler has a fuel cell capable of powering an automobile. Honda and Toyota have delivered some fuel cell cars to universities for research.

    You can think of a fuel cell as a battery if you want to have a picture in your mind. A fuel cell requires hydrogen and oxygen and produces water as a byproduct of a chemical reaction. The tailpipe of your fuel cell powered car will drip water instead of hydrocarbons.

    There are a few hurdles to get over before we all jump into our hydrogen/oxygen powered cars though. We need a hydrogen distribution infrastructure. We need a way to create hydrogen that makes sense from a fuel efficiency standpoint. Right now hydrogen is produced using natural gas.....which begs the question from a non-expert why not just run your car on natural gas? The other nagging question is the safety of hydrogen tanks installed in cars. You thought the rear ended Pinto was impressive? There's an interesting argument that hydrogen really isn't that explosive/flammable as it appeared to be when the Hindenburg went up in flames. What really caused that fiery disaster was the coating on the dirigible's skin. As usual I think you need to consider the source when you read about the benefits/liabilities of hydrogen as a fuel.

    My other recipe is for cotton candy. It's easier to make than water but still has some danger associated with it. When I was about 5 my Gram bought me a cotton candy machine. I started out with simple kool-aid stands and built up to kool-aid, popcorn machine and the cotton candy machine.

    Making cotton candy requires you heat sugar until it melts (this is the dangerous part). Then you put the superheated sugar into a small concave metal disk which sits on a spinning rod in a bowl. Flip the switch and the hot sugar starts to spin off the disk and creates the cotton. Interesting that (1) a five year old could have such a machine and (2) that such a machine would even be sold to the general public.

    It's amazing the changes we have gone through from 1960 until today when it comes to liability and our need to be safe or keep our kids safe.

    Way back then you were liable for what happened to you....unless someone did something blatantly wrong in which case they were responsible and you considered yourself unlucky. Now we are not liable or responsible for anything that happens to us. If my kid is at the park and comes off the slide and breaks his arm I'll sue the city because the padding on the ground wasn't good enough. I spill a hot cup of coffee on myself...hey it's your fault for making it so hot ad infinitim ad nauseum or whatever they say.

    We need to be safe now. The state will force us to wear seatbelts by fining us if we don't. You have to wear a helmet while riding a bike in many places or you will be fined. I think it would be good from a safety standpoint if we all strapped in at all times and wore helmets 24/7. On the other hand I'd like to have the freedom to decide if I want to wear a helmet or a seat belt or whatever risk I want to take as long as I am not infringing on the rights of others. I'd like the government to concentrate on building good roads, better schools and taking care of those unable to take care of themselves.

    I don't think they had bike helmets when I was a kid. At least I never saw any. We didn't have seat belts, or if we did they weren't used. No car seats for kids. I remember riding to school once in a while with a neighbor friend. Their car had a door that would fly open when you went around a corner fast. Whoever was on that side had to hold it closed.

    The school I went to had a big merry go round someone made by hand from iron bars and wooden planks. It was the type you could stand up on and had a bar around the top with the benches suspended from that bar with metal rods. Sort of like a big wagon wheel on top. The idea was you were supposed to sit on the wooden benches or at most stand up and hold onto a rod, but we would hold ourselves either high on the metal rods or the top bar while people pushed the merry go around until our bodies were horizontal and at some point your fingers couldn't hold anymore and you fly into space. At some point they installed a chain link fence near the merry go around and you could time your flight so you would hit the chain links which sort of broke your fall.

    One of the best things from a danger/excitement standpoint was the winter time in Montana. The front of our old school had a 15 to 20 foot wide sidewalk that went down hill to the street where the busses stopped to pick up kids. Near the end of the sidewalk, and just before the busses, were two or three steps that brought you to the main sidewalk...which you crossed to the street and the busses.

    That sidewalk would be coated with glare ice or we'd make it into ice by sliding on the snow. It was a generally accepted form of recreation that we would get a good run, start to slide down the sidewalk which had a good slope to it to help you build up speed, jump off the steps and try to stop before we ended up in the street, in front of or under a bus...

    Now that was FUN. Take some risks today. Help someone out. Go someplace new. Try a new food...

    Happy cooking

    Monday, September 22, 2003

    Margaret R. Williams - Custard or Egg Nog Recipe - Milk Toast - Mac&Cheese Recipe - Salmon Cake Recipe - Potato Cake Recipe - And Some Stories

    Couldn't sleep. Worked on uploading some pictures in anticipation of traveling to San Francisco next month to see my mom, brother and sisters.

    In recognition of home here's some comfort food. This basic recipe could be used to make egg nog before all the chickens got salmonella and eating raw eggs became a no-no. It works fine for making a custard too though.

    My grandmother Margaret R. Williams taught me how to make this. Gram was a school teacher in Montana. Kid's loved her. She loved teaching. She was an independent woman, loved to drive and cuss. I'm just kidding about the cussing part. She grew up on Sarpy Creek near Hysham Montana.

    She had no use for slow drivers, tailgaters (defined as anyone visible in your rear view mirror in the wide open roads of Montana) or "wolf packs" (defined as more than one car in a line ahead of Gram)...making it hard for her to pass. As she got older she became quite fond of saying "I think that person may have had a stroke." whenever someone didn't move away from a green light as quickly as she would have liked.

    Here's the recipe for custard. Very simple very good. Expand it to make as much as you would like. The basic proportions go something like this -

    1 egg (more if you like an eggier custard..relax it will work out fine)
    1 cup of milk
    2 Tbs sugar (to taste)
    1 tsp vanilla
    pinch of nutmeg

    beat the egg, add the milk and vanilla, pour into a baking dish or cups, sprinkle nutmeg on top, place in a pan of water if you want to get fancy about it and bake at 350 degrees (F) until a knife inserted comes out clean.

    Serve with nothing, fresh raspberries, caramel.

    A second comfort food that Gram liked to make. Again very simple. Milk toast

    One should know that milk toast has a bad reputation with macho men. I learned from googling that Casper Milquetoast, created by Harold Webster in 1924, was a timid and retiring man, whose name was, of course, created from the name of a timid food. When you eat your milk toast you could take a lesson from James Thurber's Walter Mitty and pretend it's an elk roast you killed with your bare hands and cooked over a camp fire with your Indian partner Crazy Wolf.

    This milk toast is a good thing to eat when you can't sleep. Just a cup of warm milk with salt and pepper is good to. The milk toast is a nice excuse to eat some butter though.

    Milk Toast
    Make some toast (browner the better...almost black would be good)
    Heat up some milk
    Put a lot of butter on your toast
    Place toast in bowl and splash on warm milk

    No comfort food post would be complete without a recipe for macaroni and cheese. For my money nothing beats a good box of Kraft Mac and Cheese. You could spend the rest of your life unsucessfully trying to duplicate that artificial yellow cheese color and flavor.

    Just for fun you can make your own too.

    There are two ways to go about it.

    Simple Mac and Cheese

    Boil the pasta (stir it and use enough water that it doesn't stick together)
    Drain the water
    Cut up some hunks of Velveeta Cheese
    Put the velveeta on the hot pasta in the pan you cooked it in
    Add a lot of butter (or not so much...or use olive oil)
    A little milk
    Stir it slowly

    More complicated Mac and Cheese

    Make a white sauce (see roux instructions from yesterday)
    Melt some butter in a pan
    Add some flour until the butter is absorbed and about pea sized pieces
    Cook a little (don't let it brown...this is white sauce)
    Let it cool off a little...(this is for you don't really have to do this but it makes it less likely you will get a lumpy white sauce)
    Add milk and whisk quickly (if you don't whisk it quick you will start to make a pancake..sort of)
    A fork works almost as good as a whisk

    Add milk as necessary and bring to a bubble
    Now that's as thick as it will get
    Add cheese(s)
    You could use velveeta but then why bother making the white sauce.
    I'd try a yellow cheese, a white cheese and some parmesean cheese.

    One very last comfort food classic. The always popular Grilled cheese sandwich.

    You need the Velveeta again. Heat up a frying pan, preferable a non-stick one. Slice some Velveeta onto two pieces of bread. Butter the outside of the bread. Fry it up baby. Eat that warm cheese.

    A couple of cakes.

    Actually I don't do much baking. It takes more precise measurements than I generally care to do. I will make bread, puff pastry, cream puffs, cinnamon rolls, or a Swedish tea ring on occasion.

    My recommendation for would be cooks is to take a basic cooking class. To have fun cooking you need to learn the basics. What things go together, how to make a sauce, a stock, soups, baking, sautaeing, boiling.

    I think to be a good cook you need to love food (probably means love to eat) and have a sense of what goes together.

    Oh yes the two cakes.

    The first is a Salmon Cake

    Get some salmon (a cheap can from the grocery store is fine)
    Crunch up some saltine crackers
    Rough cut up an onion (dice an onion but leave the pieces pretty style)
    Beat an egg or two or three depending on how much salmon you have
    Combine salmon, cracker crumbs, diced onion, and egg(s) in a bowl.
    Form salmon mixture into patties
    Saute (cook in a little oil in a frying pan) until brown

    Potato Cake
    Leftover mashed potatos
    Beat an egg or two or three (depends on how many mashed potatoes you have)
    Combine the eggs and potatos
    Salt and pepper
    Form into patties
    Saute until brown

    Sunday, September 21, 2003

    Jazzy Baked Beans Recipe

    Watching the Dolphins Bills game now. Wife home. Dolphins just missed a field goal.

    I just thought of another simple recipe that can get you a lot of compliments...well until a few hours after you eat them anyway.

    Jazzy Baked Beans

    This is a sweet and sour, ying and yang recipe.

    The sweet is ketchup and molasses
    The sour is yellow mustard.

    If your hip to this sort of thing you can tell your friends you made them some Zen Beans

    Start to brown a pound or whatever of bacon in a large frying pan
    At some point (deciding at what point is what cooks do) add a diced onion

    The trick is to add the onion earlier enough that it will cook to a nice golden brown and the naturally sweetness starts to come out....but not so soon that you burn it.

    Maybe put some garlic powder, salt and a little pepper on the onion/bacon mix as it cooks

    In a baking pan/dish combine as many cans of Van Kamps pork and beans as you need to feed your tribe.

    Dump in some ketchup, molasses, and mustard

    Now you have a decision - either drain the fat off the bacon or dump it into the beans...

    I leave the grease (the beans will soak it up). We'll change the name to Heart Attack Beans. But oh so good. I'm pretty sure Elvis would like these. I saw somewhere that he liked Red Eye Gravy (bacon grease and hot water from what I understand). I bet whatever Red Eye Gravy is it tastes good. It's probably more than grease and hot water..

    Dice up the bacon and add to bean, ketchup, mustard, molasses, onion mixture.

    Season to taste (adjust the sweet/sour ingredients to your taste). I like my beans sweet so I add a lot of molasses.

    Bake the beans for a couple of hours at 350. Maybe less depending on how much you made. When they bubble and form a skin they are done. They are best if you bake them then let them cool and heat up again...because the bean starch thickens up and they aren't so soupy.

    Serve with potato salad, barbequed brats and burgers...maybe some beer or fresh lemonade. Make some homemade ice cream if you have time. Some nice sweet corn on the cob would be good. Yummm.

    Happy eating...

    Sweet Potato Recipe

    I need to get off the computer for awhile and talk to me wife.

    I yam what I yam.
    Popeye and St. Paul

    Here's a quick non-recipe then for sweet potatoes.

    You can mess around with the yams and or sweet potatoes in the skin. Just bake them and they are okay...sort of bland for me. What I like to do is get the canned variety. Throw them in a baking dish, put a lot of butter and brown sugar on top, then bake in the oven at about 350 for an hour or so. I went to a lot of trouble to make a mashed sweet potato recipe I saw in the paper, on Thanksgiving a few years ago and it wasn't worth it.

    Serve with turkey, gravy, dressing, cranberry dressing, green bean caserole, cauliflower in cheese sauce, rolls, pop, wine, water, football and friends and family. Take a nap and then wake up later and have a turkey sandwich with mayo and some good chips and a dill pickle. Now that's living..

    Happy cooking

    Fish Recipes for Frying and Smoking

    My wife spent the weekend in a beach cottage on Whidbey Island with some teacher friends and my daughter's are hiking up I'm on my own this afternoon. M's are down by 10 to A's. Watching Seahawks on TV. Seahawks are still in it with Rams 23-17 with 13 minutes to go. Seattle Tongue just intercepted a Rams pass! (Reggie Toungue)

    I have a couple of fish recipes for you.

    You can use the basic breading/frying principle for walleye, trout, bottom fish or other white fish.

    My brother in law used this technique to cook some brown trout. We were living in Bozeman and he came to visit one fall. I'd been fishing all summer...since I had a fair amount of free time as a student at MSU. I knew some hot spots. We went to Three Forks area. It's called that because 3 rivers, the Madison, Gallatin, Jefferson converge to form the Missouri. We had a great day catching nice size brown trout on tiny (1/16 oz or so) Panther Martins. Trout are not the great to eat, but Jay filleted them and breaded them with this recipe and they were good.

    Brown Trout Breading

    Gather up some fish fillets (hopefully fishing in Montana) alternately at Safeway.
    Rinse fillets (some people think this is sacrilege but I do it anyway)
    Pour some milk in a bowl
    Beat up on an egg in another bowl (you can combine the milk and egg, or just use milk for a lighter breading)
    Mix flour, salt/pepper in another bowl
    Mix crunched up Kelloggs Corn Flakes in another bowl (crunch corn flakes by putting them in a plastic bag and roll with rolling pin)
    Heat up some oil in a frying pan to hot (just below smoking or 425-450 if you have a thermometer). I'd put an inch or so of oil in the pan...but that's your call.
    Dip fillets in milk, then flour, then eggs, then corn flakes, then into frying pan.
    Cook fillets until they are brown. Put them on paper towels to remove excess oil.

    This is more fun to do outside because of the mess factor. I use an electric frying pan outside.

    My second fish recipe is brine for smoked salmon. Actually it's not a brine but it makes some good smoked fish. The main ingredients are:

    Johnny's seasoning salt
    Brown sugar

    Mix the salt and sugar at about a 3 to 1 (sugar to salt) ratio. Place salmon fillets in a large plastic bowl layering with the salt/sugar mixture. Let the bowl sit for a few hours. Have a few beers...take a nap, whatever. When you look into the bowl a brine will have magically formed as the salt drew the water out of the fish. Rearrange the fish so it's all covered with brine; throw in some more salt/sugar if you need to. Go away for a few more hours.

    Take the fish out of brine and put on paper towels. You can rinse the fillets a little if you want (I like leaving all the salt/sugar/brine on the fish). Put the fillets on rack and let them air-dry for some hours. This is a crucial step because it allows the salmon to form sort of a shiny surface and it looks a lot better when it's smoked.

    Put some alder chips in a coffee can or whatver is handy and pretty clean. Add water to the chips. You are going to throw them on a BBQ or put them in a smoker and want smoke not fire.

    I like the Little Chief electric smoker. Without the box it can be almost a cold smoker (for lox type smoking), if you leave it in the box it works for a hotter smoke. Alternately you can use a Webber (covered BBQ) and indirect heat from the coals.

    Put the wet alder chips directly on the coals for the Webber or in the chip pan for Little Chief. Smoking takes anywhere from a few hours to 8-12 or more hours. Just keep checking your fish and you will be able to tell by looking/tasting when they are done.

    This makes a nice smoked salmon. I have a recipe for salmon cakes and creamed salmon that I'll put down later.

    Happy cooking (and eating)

    Rocky Mountain Oysters

    Not a good day for Seattle sports so far. Fifth inning bases loaded (with A's). Kaz is coming in.

    Time for some more cookin.

    I imagine some people might be wondering who is this Jack? Does he know Jack about cooking or is this a big joke.


    I know some things about cooking. My background is not the Cordon Bleu but I worked as a cook and went to cooking school years and years ago. My background as a professional cook was Air Bowl Lanes Columbus Montana, The Cattle Company Billings Montana and the Country Kitchen in Bemidji Minnesota.

    I used to be a bartender too. My main specialties were a "ditch" (whiskey and water) or a beer (glass of Rainier). I worked at the New Atlas Bar in Columbus for a good guy named T.P. Mulvihill. He was a WWII flying ace and quite a colorful character.

    I had a chance to lease and then buy my own the 70's. Bertha's Busy Bee. Bertha wanted me to take would have been an okay deal but other things came up.

    I think my next recipe will not be "good eats" but rather weird eats.

    This is how to make rocky mountain oysters kids. Rocky mountain oysters are like rattle snakes, rabbit, alligator and just about any other weird meat in that they taste like chicken. I've often wondered why not just eat some chicken?

    Anyway I was working as a bartender and got to be friends with a butcher Odel Lien. He had saved up many "oysters" (cow testicals) from his butcher shop for a party. He knew I was a cook so he asked me to help him set up a party out at his place on the Stillwater.

    He had gotten two huge black pots from somewhere. They were the kind you could hang over a fire. We cooked rocky mountain oysters in one and chicken in the other. Had a lot of beer and a lot of fun.

    The recipe is this...

    Get yourself some balls
    Roll em in a flour/salt/pepper mixture
    Drop em in some hot grease
    Cook till brown
    Drink 8 or 9 beers

    Tastes just like chicken

    Happy cooking

    Roux - How to Make Gravy, White or Cheese Sauce

    Having a little trouble here at Jack's this afternoon.

    Seahawks are down by 7 and the M's down to A's by a touchdown (6) too.

    I won my bets on the Vikes and Colts today...some consolation. Got the Bills +3 over Miami, Dodgers/Giants > 7 and Angels over Texas on the moneyline.

    I guess I'll have to make up a take my mind off these games.

    Something any cook has to know is how to make a sauce. You use the same technique to make a white sauce, cheese sauce or gravy.

    Start with some fat. Where you get the fat depends on what type of sauce you are making. For gravy...the drippings from a beef roast or wildebeeste flank or whatver you are cooking are a good source. For a white sauce or cheese sauce I'd melt some butter.

    The thing you are making first is called a roux but you don't have to let anyone else know that's what it's called (we'll just keep this between ourselves okay?). Add flour (or cornstarch if you want a clear sauce) to the hot fat. The idea is to add enough flour so the grease is absorbed and you end up with pea sized pieces of flour/fat.

    So far so good. The next step is the tricky part. Some people think you should have the liquid warm/hot. I don't buy into that theory. What you need to do is add the liquid to your roux and stir like a maniac (or like a cool cat) before lumps form.

    I may have to change channels the Seahawks are getting womped on by the Rams :-(

    Anyway for you beginners I'd let the roux cool off a little (you can even keep it in the refrigerator in a covered contained and get some out when you need it...that's what we do here at Cafe Jack's).

    Add your liquid to the roux...usually water, might be milk or cream, maybe some beef or chicken stock (made from boullion if you like)...or make the real thing if you are a cooking animal with lots of time and big stock pots.

    Stir the roux/liquid mixture while slowly heating to a bubble. Once the mixture bubbles it won't get any thicker and it's done. If you try adding flour alone or don't cook it to a bubbly state you will end up with a flour taste in your sauce.

    After it bubbles add cheese, more water, milk, cream, peas, chipped beef or whatever you like.

    First Down Seahawks at the 23 yard line. YES!

    Happy Cooking