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...