Saturday, May 31, 2008

Five Foods I'll Never Buy

In the Greasy Skillet I strive to be positive and gracious. However, today's edition of The Greasy Five borders on food snobbery and contains a little bit of negativity. If you enjoy any of the foods I'm about to list, I apologize. These are just foods that I personally would not buy or consume, and I'm not judging anyone who enjoys the occasional hot pocket.

The Greasy Five
Foods I'll Never Buy
  1. Hot Pockets - For the record, I could listen to Jim Gaffigan talk about Hot Pockets 24/7. Check it out:
  2. Dwight Yoakam's Chicken Lickin's: I'm a huge fan of the neo-traditional, nasally, country twang of Dwight Yoakam. In fact, if I made a list of the top-five artists I like to listen to as I cook, Dwight would make my list. I, however, am not a fan of Dwight Yoakam, purveyor of processed poultry products.

3. Peanut Butter Flavored Banana Pops!: I refuse to buy anything that is advertised as a "Peanut Butter Flavored Coating Kit" or with a chimp/monkey on the package. I'm no Martha Stewart, but couldn't a fella just buy a jar of peanut butter to get this job done.

4. Tyson Fun Nuggets: Breaded Shaped Chicken Bites: No comment needed.

5. Kronik Entrourage: If I smoke some Chronic and chase it with some Kronik, what will happen? What if I do this while listening to some Crunk?

Friday, May 30, 2008

John Adams' Stomach

I start and end each day thinking about food, and much of the time in between is spent pondering all things culinary. Fortunately, this obsession can be indulged while maintaining a veil of normalcy. However, if people pulled the curtain back and crawled inside my head for a bit, they might question my sanity.

I do though try to live a balanced life, and there are many things other than food that I value and appreciate. For one, I love to read. In addition to the many cookbooks I browse, I'm usually reading a couple of books at any given time. I love to read about as much as I love to cook.

I'm currently reading David McCullough's biography of John Adams. This might be the best book I've read this year. I love it because it can be read on so many different levels. It's a book about many different topics: politics, marriage, leadership, a particular time in history, how to get the most out of life, human nature, and intriguing personalities. Of course, I'm also interested in the food of the time period. Adams was a prolific writer, who spent a lot of time recording his observations in journals and letters. When he was traveling the court circuit of New England he sometimes wrote his wife as many as three times a day. As I read this book, I always perk up when Adams shares reflections on meals shared with dear friends. For example, he writes about developing a fondness for the beer produced by Philadelphia's finest brewers when he attended the first Continental Congress. In the following journal excerpt he lists some of the foods he ate during a feast with fellow congress members in Philadelphia.

Turtle and every other thing. Flummery, jellies, sweet meats of twenty sorts. Trifles, whipped syllabubs, floating islands . . . and then a dessert of fruits, raisins, almonds, pears, peaches - wines most excellent and admirable. I drank Madeira at a great rate and found no inconvenience in it.
As I read this I realize that John Adams was much more than a politician; he was a foodie. If he took time from planning the American Revolution to list the foods he ate, I can assume that he appreciated good food. I wondered where he would rate if someone ranked the top-foodie Presidents. This question deserved consideration, so I researched and found a great little article at that explores my curiosity.

Anyway, the above passage also piqued my curiosity because I had no idea what flummery, whipped syllabubs, and floating islands were. It sounds like Mr. Adams drank too much Madeira and was just making up stuff. Here's the lowdown from wikipedia on the following:
  1. Flummery is a sweet, thick pudding made with stewed fruit. According to several sources this dessert is very bland.
  2. Syllabub is a traditional British dessert made with cream, sugar, and wine.
  3. A floating island is a British dessert of soft custard with mounds of beaten egg whites or whipped cream floating on its surface.
Those Brits loved their puddings and custards. Maybe on some subconscious level the American Revolution was a revolt against bland pudding. Does the Declaration of Independence contain any grievances against the British cuisine?

I've rambled enough. As I savor this book, I'll be sure to give you the lowdown on John Adams' stomach.

Never eat anything bigger than your head,

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Canyon Granola

I go ga ga for good granola. Since my frugal nature hated paying big bucks for good granola, I set out to find the perfect granola recipe. After two years I found the Holy Grail of Granola Recipes in the book Cowgirl Cuisine by Paula Disbrowe. This recipe possessed everything I looked for in a good granola: great flavor, a good crunch, quality ingredients, chunky bits of goodness, and a nutritional mix of grains.

The milk powder, whole wheat flour, and flaxseed meal help the granola clump together, and they help boost the nutritional value of this granola by providing valuable protein and fiber. The original recipe called for adding dried fruit after the granola cooled, but I found that the dried fruit eventually hardened after a few days. I simply add my dried or fresh fruit right before I'm ready to eat my granola. Also I didn't have any pepitas the first time I tried the recipe, so feel free to substitute any combination of nuts. Finally, I tried substituting honey for molasses once and the granola was more apt to burn in the oven, so I now stick with molasses.

I hope you seek out Ms. Disbrowe's book because it contains other top-notch recipes and some great essays about transitioning from being a New Yorker to a Texan. Currently the book is listed at a bargain price at

Canyon Granola


  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup pecan or walnut halves
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (roasted, hulled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/3 cup ground flaxseed meal

  1. Place the oven racks on the upper and lower third of the over and preheat to 300 degrees.
  2. Combine the maple syrup, brown sugar, oil, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally and cook until the brown sugar is dissolved. Stir in the vanilla.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the oats, pecans, pepitas, sunflower seeds, flour, milk powder, and flaxseed meal. Pour the syrup mixture over the dry ingredients. Combine and mix well.
  4. Divide the mixture between two baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, and then stir granola with spatula. Rotate the sheets to ensure even baking.
  6. Bake another 20 minutes. Stir and rotate pans again.
  7. Bake until the mixture has a fragrant, toasty aroma - about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool the granola in the pans.
  8. When the mixture is cool, store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Blue Cheese Dressing

I'm trying to get back into the routine of blogging, so I thought I'd start by taking a baby step.

Last night I picked up a loaf of ciabatta at Wheatfields, pulled a sirloin steak from the freezer, and prepared myself a grilled steak sandwich. I simply seasoned the steak with salt and coarse ground pepper, and grilled it medium rare. However, the bread along with a blue cheese spread made this sandwich special. The following is the recipe I used for the blue cheese dressing:

Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • Tabasco sauce
  • 3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  1. Whisk together everything but the Tabasco and blue cheese.
  2. Spice it to your liking with some Tabasco.
  3. Gentle stir in the cheese.
  4. Cover and refrigerate. It will keep for two weeks.
Note: If you want to use it as a salad dressing, thin it with some milk.

This sandwich was inspired by the Peppercorn Steak Sandwich at Ingredient, one of my favorite Lawrence restaurants. Next time I might take this sandwich a step further with caramelized onions and some smoked bacon with the blue cheese dressing.

Take care,

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Coffee-Marinated Pork

I 'll continue the pork theme with a recipe from Bon Appetit. I modified it slightly. The original recipe called for a pureed marinade that contained macadamia nuts. After trying the recipe a couple of times, I couldn't really detect what this added to the recipe, so I omitted the macadamia nuts.

I like this recipe a lot. I feel like the sweetness of the marinade goes well with the pork. I also like how the marinade and grilling gives the tenderloin a great caramelized color.

Also, the more I think about this recipe, the more I feel the molasses and maple syrup might be redundant. I'll give this some more thought. I'd also like to use a hotter pepper like a Serrano or Habanero. I think more heat would better complement the sweetness of the marinade.

Coffee-Marinated Pork Tenderloin


  • 1/4 cup freshly ground coffee beans
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/8 cup molasses
  • 1/8 cup maple syrup
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 jalapeno chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pork tenderloin (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  1. Prepare pork tenderloin by trimming the silver skin. This step is crucial. You will end up with a much more tender, flavorful, and appealing final product if this is done. I wish someone would have shared this little secret with me when I first started cooking.
  2. Transfer marinade and pork to Ziploc bag. Turn to coat the tenderloin, and let it chill in refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours.
  3. Prepare grill and cook pork tenderloin over medium heat for 25 minutes or until the center registers 145 to 150 degrees. Be sure to turn the pork a couple of times during the cooking process.
  4. Transfer to cutting board; let stand 10 minutes, and then thinly slice the tenderloin.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


"There are two things in the world you never want to let people see how you make 'em: laws and sausages." --- Leo McGarry from The West Wing.
My wife has prohibited me from making my own sausage. I won't go into the reasons for her edict, but a lot of it probably has to do with Mr. McGarry's above observation. Someday I will make my own sausage, and when I start learn the art of sausage making, I'll consult Bruce Aidells, the sausage king. I'll pick up his book on sausage making.

Since I'm barred from making sausage, I've spent time trying recipes from two other books written by Mr. Aidells: The Complete Meat Cookbook, and The Complete Book of Pork. He's a guy who knows how to cook a piece of meat, and both of these cookbooks are indispensable compendiums of recipes, various cooking methods, and information about various cuts of meats.

The carnita recipe is from The Complete Book of Pork. I love this recipe because it's flavorful, it's economical, it feeds a crowd, it freezes well, and it makes great leftovers. Also after the initial preparation, it requires very little effort, so while the pot simmers, I use my time to fix some great side dishes, like guacamole, pico de gallo, and salsa.


Spice Rub
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 3 pounds boneless Boston butt, cut into 1 2/2 inch pieces and trimmed of visible fat
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 large onion, diced

1. Make dry rub by combining all spices in a medium bowl.

2. In a bowl toss pork and coat with dry rub. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.

3. In a dutch over or deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. In small batches, brown the pork. When meat is browned, transfer to a plate, and continue cooking the remaining pieces.

4. In a small bowl, stir the vinegar with the honey until the honey dissolves. Stir in chicken broth and add mixture to the pot, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom.

5. Add the onion and bring the liquid to a boil.

6. Lower the heat until the pot simmers.

7. Return pork to the pot, cover, and cooking until pork is fork-tender, 1 1/4 - 2 hours.

8. Remove the cover and increase the heat slightly to maintain a lively simmer. Continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated - about 30 minutes.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Horses Waiting to Be Glue Need a Little Sugar Too

I haven't been home the last few evenings to cook, so I haven't posted any recipes. I apologize.

Also we’ve been busy prepping for a family first – hosting a garage sale. While I’ve been known to buy other people's crap, I’ve never been on the purveying end of a garage sale.

To be honest I’ve always enjoyed going to garage sales. There’s something thrilling and intoxicating about driving around and shopping at garage sales. This thrill is tied to the possibility that I might stumble upon some amazing treasure. It’s probably similar to the rush some feel when they visit a casino or purchase a lottery ticket. Only I’m risking very little and my odds are better.

Going through other people's junk is in my blood. When I was a child my grandparents would take me to junkyards and dumps. I know it sounds strange, but I have fond memories of those expeditions. I loved scouring the piles of junk and ultimately finding some treasure. Once in first grade during show and tell, I proudly shared a pair of leather Jesus sandals I salvaged from the dump. My mother still cringes when she thinks about my teacher's shocked expression.

Today I restrain my urge to horde junk, but occasionally I fail. I've been known to sneak out in the cover of night, so I can seize my neighbors' junk that has been placed curbside for trash collection. My wife frowns upon this practice. Occasionally I commandeer something with the intention of creating a work of art like a mosaic or garden sculpture. I do this despite having little artistic ability. I'm a man who believes nothing is disposable and whose vision exceeds his talent.

Keep it real,

PS. . . I've decided to not sell the Cuisinart Ice Cream/Sorbet/Yogurt Maker