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

Enchilada Caserole and Sweet Tea Recipe

Enchilada caserole with sweet tea for brunch/lunch as the girls get ready to go to Mt. Pilchuck and I mow lawn and listen to Seahawks pregame. Go Seahawks! Go Go Mariners!

My cooking is never repeated. I don't write anything down; just make things free form. That makes eating something I've created special since I know I'll never make the exact same thing twice.

Here's my recollection of the enchilada caserole concoction:

In caserole dish, microwave hamburger with cumin, garlic powder, salt, pepper and chipotle chile pepper powder (I bought that to make something for last years super bowl party). Drain grease.

I'm not going to go into details on this part but basically you layer corn tortilla chips, cheese, hamburger, sour cream, salsa in the caserole dish. Near the top add refried beans, small can of green chiles, more sour cream more cheese and top with can of sliced olives.

Bake for awhile at 350. Pour water on top of the whole thing (a cup or so...I used an empty beer bottle about 1/2 full). The water ends up making the tortilla chips into a fluffly light corn meal texture. Go outside and continue to mow your lawn for about 30 minutes. Turn oven up to 375. Take it out when the cheese is melted and starting to brown.

Serve with sweet tea

Make simple sugar by bringing a cup (at least of sugar to a slow boil...or close) until the water is clear and sugar disolved. Add a pinch of baking soda (I forget if it's powder or soda). I got the basic idea from a newspaper article about some people from Mississippi who were working up here in the Northwest and the gal said to add some baking soda or powder.

Make a tea kettle full of hot water (see this is easy)

Heat a glass pitcher up by running hot water in it.

Pour the hot water into pitcher, add simple sugar and figure out a way to hang 6 or so Lipton tea bags in it. After awhile put a couple of trays of ice in and stick it in the fridge.

I love the Destin, Pensacola, Miracle Mile, Redneck Riverra area of Florida. I like the way waitresses ask you if you want tea sweet or not sweet.

Anyway that's how I make sweet tea.

Happy cooking.