Wednesday, November 12, 2014


We get a lot of squash from our CSA.  I bet we get 4 to 5 every week once they come into season.  That's not a problem, though.  We like squash, and they are very simple to cook, and fast if you use your microwave.

Here's the recipe that I use almost all the time:

  1. Cut squash in half and remove the seeds.
  2. Place squash in roasting dish, cut side down.
  3. Place in microwave and nuke it for about ten minutes.
  4. Poke it with a knife to see if it's done, giving it a couple more minutes if necessary.
  5. Fluff the flesh with a fork and add butter, salt, and pepper to taste.
That's it.  Very simple and quick.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pickled Eggs

I like pickled eggs.  I'm not crazy about them, but I do like them

I made a batch yesterday, 7/20/2014.  They are very easy to make and "recipe" is probably too strong a word.

Steep pickling spices in white vinegar for about 10 minutes on a slow simmer.  Peel hard boiled eggs.  Cool both and cover eggs with vinegar and let sit for at least a week.

We add cooked beets and habanero peppers as well.  You need more peppers than you would think because the acetic acid breaks down the oil molecules.   The beets give them a great color and a bit of sweetness.

I am sure everyone is familiar with Penzy's Spices.  It's a Milwaukee company and the Penzy's parents started a spice store in Wauwatosa, The Spice House, in 1957.  It's still open and we were there this past weekend to get salt and lamb seasoning.  They have other kids who also have a sice store on Third Street downtown.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


For about a year I have been making bacon a different way than I used to.  In a cast iron pan I'll put a little water, enough to just cover the bacon (that's not a lot), then simmer the meat until wth water boils off, about ten minutes.  They fry it like normal.

The bacon nds up plump and chewy as opposed to crispy.

I think I like it better, but I'm not sure.

Try it and give me some feedback.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


We don't make polenta all that often, maybe once a month, maybe less.  It's easy to make, but it's time consuming and you have to stir it every couple of minutes.

I can't recall if I've ever made grits, but I don't think it is quite so needy.  Maybe it is.

A good thing about polenta is that 1 cup of cornmeal makes a lot, enough for several meals for the two of us.  It re-heats very nicely in the microwave or you can make it into little patties as fry it up in some olive oil or (even better!) ghee.

Here's my recipe.  It's probably the same as everyone else's:

  1. Boil 6 cups of water.  I use an evasee pan, but a standard sauce pan would work almost as well.  You can use 5 cups if you want a thicker product and you can always add more water while cooking if it gets too thick.
  2. Slowly stir in 1 cup of corn meal
  3. Simmer 45 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes to get the stuff off the bottom and sides
  4. When done, stir in some cheese (we usually use Romano.  Parmesan is good, too - see Rule #6!)) or butter.
  5. Serve

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

First CSA Box of the Season

We had an email from our CSA, Springdale Farm, about a month ago telling us that because of the lousy spring we've had, our first box won't be available until about the third week of June.  That's not all that late, but we always are looking forward to the first box of the year with eager anticipation.

Today I got an email from them saying that they have lots of lettuce & spinach available, and will make the first delivery this Friday!  Apparently the spring wasn't as bad on the farm as they thought it would be.

Saturday also marks the start of the first Farmers' Market of the season in Wauwatosa.

It's a great time of year to cook.

Here is a good article on Wisconsin Spirits in NYC in today's New York Times.  "Little Wisco!"

Friday, May 2, 2014

I was discussing cookware with my niece, specifically, what pots and pans are the most useful?.  Like everyone else, I have my favorites.  But I wanted to see if the ones I think I use the most are the ones that I actually do.

I began keeping track of each pot, pan, skillet, or baking dish that I used, March 8th through May 1st, 2014 (104 data points)  I did not record utensils like knives, whisks, strainers, colanders, etc.  Nor did I log work bowls or serving platter, only things that I cooked something in, with the exception of our food processor.

The results matched my expectations fairly well:


12" cast iron fry pan
Great pan all around, but heavy
2.5 qt sauce pan
Our go-to sauce pan
Jelly roll pan
Mostly for roasting vegetables
13" non stick fry pan
Cook's Illustrated's top non-stick
10" non stick fry pan
Mainly for frying eggs
5 qt enamal Dutch oven
Le Crueset
The workhorse Dutchie
4 qt sauce pan
Great for steaming vegetables, too
Baking dish
Le Crueset
Finishing steaks in oven, baking potatoes, etc
7.5qt enamal Dutch oven
Le Crueset
A must have, but not as much as the 5 qt
10" cast iron fry pan

1 qt sauce pan
Falk copper

10" non stick skillet
Good for pilaf
Broiler pan

6" fry pan

2.5qt Evasée pan

Great for polenta and other things requiring a lot of stirring
Tea kettle

8 qt stock pot

2 cup sauce pan

Food processor

10 * 14 baking dish

8" fry pan
Falk copper


I am surprised that I do not use my small, 1 quart sauce pans more.  And I have two of them, a stainless clad aluminum made by All Clad and a stainless clad copper by Falk (the Belgian company, not the Milwaukee gear people.)

I know, this should be a graph, but my cut and paste is not happening.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Roast Chicken

We like roasted chicken.  I didn't make it all that often, though, because the recipe I used, from Cook's Illustrated, was kind of fussy (a lot of their recipes are).  But then I started using a modified version of this recipe from the New York Times.  It's simple and has worked every time.  Now we have roast chicken about once a month.
  1. Brine chicken for several hours (see Rule #4)
  2. Put large skillet (I use a 13" cast iron pan) in oven and pre-heat to 475ºF
  3. Remove the wing tips and spatchcock the chicken by cutting out the backbone (the NYT recipe doesn't call for spatchcocking it, but I think it's better that way, and you get to say "spatchcock.".  Save the backbone and wing tips for making stock.)
  4. Coat with salt & pepper. Or, rub with garlic, herbs, and butter, putting butter under the skin.  Or use your favorite seasoning blend.  Do whatever you want.  Don't use too much salt, though, since the chicken was brined.
  5. Place chicken in pan, breast side up, splaying out the legs so the thighs contact the pan.
  6. Roast for 40 - 45 minutes.
  7. Let chicken rest for about 5 minutes before cutting it into pieces.

Commercial poultry farms are horrible places.  We try to always get our chickens from farmers' markets or at least get free-range ones at the grocery.  Those really aren't "free range" like you imagine, but at least they're better.  Egg farmers are even worse than chicken farmers, if you can believe that.

Cooking With Ghee

My brother posted something about ghee a while back.  I finally decided to make some and try it out.

Making it is simple:

  1. Melt butter
  2. Heat to a boil
  3. Leave it on the heat after the boiling stops
  4. It will foam again and start to brown in about 8 minutes
  5. Strain it through cheese cloth into a heat resistant jar
Ghee tastes like a very intense, browned butter.

For the last couple of weeks I've been using it as an oil substitute in everything:  chicken, fish, stir fry, rice pilaf, dal, you name it.  I haven't used it for popcorn yet, but I hope to do so this weekend.

It's probably a lot less healthy than olive oil, so I'll probably stop using it so much.  But it is a pretty useful thing to have on hand.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Butcher's Twine

I used up the last of my butcher's twine over the weekend.  I'm pretty sure that I've had that ball of twine since before I was married, but I can't be sure.

Fortunately someone on eBay has already shipped me a new ball of 220 ft of cotton twine - 100% biodegradable, for only $4.35 and free shipping.

Friday, March 21, 2014

State Plates

There is an art foundry in Madison called Felion Studios.  It's run by Alisa Toninato and features cast iron art (get it "felion" = "iron lion?"  Clever, eh?)

One of their signature items is cast iron plates made in the shape of the states.6.1-2010-Wisconsin.Face copy.jpg

They are pretty cool looking, and expensive at $600.  That shape is not all that useful, either.

Unless, of course, you live in Wyoming.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Anniversary Dinner at Sanford's in Milwaukee

For about the past decade on our anniversary (this was number 22) we go to Sanford's Restaurant and get their Surprise Tasting Menu with wine pairings.  We only go there once a year, but Ralph, our waiter, recognizes us and knows why we're there.

The meal is always fantastic, and this year may have been the best of all.

Here's our menu:

Surprise Tasting Menu
March 14, 2014

n n n

Amuse Bouche :: Smoked Trout Custard with Pickled Egg and Toasted Mustard Seed

n n n

Pickled Blueberry Salad with Beauty Heart Radish, Wisconsin Goat Milk Brie Crouton
2011 Pinot Noir - MacMurray Ranch, Central Coast, CA 

n n n

Grilled Red Grouper with Celery Root Puree, Black Truffle Vinaigrette
2012  Chardonnay – William Hill – Central Coast, CA                                    

n n n

Portuguese Shellfish Stew – Seared Scallop, Octopus and Shellfish Chorizo Stuffed Pork Shoulder,
 Potatoes and Kale
2011  Vouvray –Domaine Bourillon – Demi-sec, France 

n n n

Chargrilled Quail with Ravioli of Pheasant and Confit Chestnut, Parmesan and Brown Butter
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon – Raymond – “R” Series, CA         

n n n

Chargrilled Elk with Elk Short Rib Arancini and Pumpkin Caponata
2009  Tempranillo -- Rioja – Conde de Valdemar Crianza, Spain               

 n n n

Mango Passion Fruit Soup, Coconut Lime Sorbet

n n n

Buckwheat Cake with Berry Compote, Pine Needle Ice Cream, Pine Needle Powder

NV  Muscat  – Yalumba-Museum Reserve, SE Australia                                                

Friday, February 28, 2014

February 2014 Month of Meals

February was a cold months, and our food reflects it.  You get to make fun stuff when it's cold, and Rule #2 is never more on display.

The dinnerware was made by and artist that we regularly see at local art fairs, Paul Jeselkis.  We commissioned him to make a complete set for us after we got several of his serving pieces.

Happy cooking!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Cod in Red Sauce

In 1997, Mark Kurlansky published Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed The World.  It is worth reading, even if you’re not a fan of micro-histories (but who isn't?).

We eat a fair amount of cod.  You can get good quality stuff at our groceries for $3.99/lb.

I usually make it in a simple tomato sauce and serve it over pasta or rice.

  • Sauté some vegetables in oil.  Onions, shallots, celery, green pepper all are good
  • Add a few cloves of minced garlic for about a minute
  • Add tomato products – crushed or diced are good
  • Add some herbs – oregano, basil, thyme work
  • Simmer to meld flavors, about 20 – 30 minutes
  • Add cod, cut into two inch chunks
  • Cover and simmer for another 10 – 12 minutes
  • Taste and add salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve over rice or pasta

The Codfish
By: Anonymous

The codfish lays ten thousand eggs,
The homely hen lays one.
The codfish never cackles
To tell you what she’s done.
And so we scorn the codfish,
While the humble hen we prize,
Which only goes to show you
That it pays to advertise.

Friday, January 10, 2014

4 Star Review!

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel food critic is Carol Deptolla.  She took over for the long-time, and very popular critic Dennis Getto (I'm not sure why I mention that - it's been 6 years since Getto passed away).

Until today, the only restaurant that I ever saw her give her top rating of 4 stars to was Sandy D'Amato's restaurant, Sanford's.  We go there once a year for our anniversary and always order their tasting menu with wine pairing.  It's the best meal we have all year.  In 2012 our friend and colleague PB surprised us by calling ahead and picking up the bill at the end of the night!

Today she reviewed a new restaurant in town, Ardent, that she also gave 4 stars to.  Technically, it should have gotten on 3.83 stars since she only gave it 3.5 for ambience, but no need to quibble.

We will have to check it out for a special occasion.  And, get the tasting menu, I am sure.

These are the pictures of our New Year's Eve dinner with our friends Amy & Sara: