Sunday, January 31, 2010

Don't Mess with Kansas Pt. 2: Feelin' Kansas

People like to bemoan the monotony and flatness of Kansas. They talk like traversing I-70 through Western Kansas is some Biblical ordeal. These drama queens travel with a DVD players, ignore the scenery, and focus on the destination rather than the journey. Western Kansas is my litmus test to weed out boring people in my life. If someone tells me that driving Western Kansas is boring, I know I have a boring person on my hands. I have little patience for those individuals. They're boring people who are incapable of creating their own entertainment and who are unable to find something interesting in their surroundings.

The songwriter Tom T. Hall stated the following: "There are two types of people in this world: Those who have traveled the world and seen nothing, and those who have only traveled around the block and seen everything." When you get down to it, how you look matters more than where you look.

For the record, Kansas isn't flat. Anyone who has traveled to the Flint Hills, the Arikaree Breaks, the Gypsum Hills, or the University of Kansas campus know this. Last week I found a globe with those topographical bumps I love so much, and I felt up Kansas. She's not flat. There are certainly flatter states out there:


I think, Florida might be the flattest.

However, there's nothing wrong with a flat state. If you view the landscape from the right perspective, you WILL find something interesting, and in the process you'll find yourself transformed into a more interesting person.

are we there yet?
Mr. Crankypants

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Don't Mess with Kansas Pt. 1

Some people refer to Kansas as flyover country. I'm fine with this label because that means those folks aren't visiting Kansas, and this means Kansas has fewer assholes than most places. I'm all for fewer assholes.

Now there are assholes in Kansas, but most of them live in the eastern portion of the state, so if you want to decrease your chances of running into an asshole, just head west. By the time you get to Hays, you should be in the clear. I find comfort in this.

Don't mess with Kansas,
Mr. Crankypants

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rattling Mr. Cranypants' Cage

Last week I informed Mr. Crankypants that he needed to start contributing more to this blog. I made the mistake of doing this while he was reading. He hates it when someone interrupts his reading, so with a scowl, he looked up from Volume II of Shelby Foote's The Civil War: A Narrative, and said, " This blog was your idea. I don't have time for self-indulgent shit. In fact, I don't even read your blog. Besides I have the Siege of Vicksburg to tend to this week."

Then he left the room whistling "Dixie" and I didn't see him the rest of the evening.

At that point, I saw that there was no reasoning with the man, so under the cover of night while he slept, I commandeered all three volumes of Mr. Foote's masterpiece and buried them under our oak tree in the backyard. Then I left the following note on his nightstand:

January 25th is Kansas Day. You will write series of posts commemorating our statehood. When this is done, I will return your books.

Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind,

We'll see how this act of agression plays out here at The Greasy Skillet.

preserve the union,

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Salty Dog

When I drink
I say things I don't want to say
I do things I don't wanna do
I talk mean to you

But if I think I just might get something out of this
My parents taught me to learn when I miss
Just do your best
Just do your best

But when I drink
I spend the next morning in a haze
But we only get so many days
Now I have one less Just Do Your Best

In my late 20's, I drank a lot. This was the result of being a single guy in a college town. I guess, that's the excuse I'll use. Now I'm more likely to spend a Saturday night reading a cookbook, playing Princess-Opoly with my daughter, or folding laundry than hitting the bars. It took me a little time to realize what the Avett Brothers point out in the last verse of "When I Drink."

Last night I was in bed by 10:30, so I missed the Avett Brothers performing on Austin City Limits, but I did have one drink early in the evening.

I squeezed some grapefruit and fixed myself a Salty Dog.

I didn't plan on making a Salty Dog; the grapefruits in my fruit bowl made that decision for me.

It worked out well because I love the song "Salty Dog" by Flatt and Scruggs. Earl Scruggs, like the Avett Brothers, are from North Carolina, so I guess things have a way of coming full circle.

Salty Dog

  • 5 ounces grapefruit juice
  • 1 1/2 ounce gin
  • 1 lime wedge
  • salt to rim the glass.
  1. Rim glass with salt.
  2. Mix gin and juice.
  3. Garnish with lime
  4. Enjoy

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Manifold Destiny

Last Friday before I left for work, I diced some potatoes, wrapped them in a foil, and carefully tucked foil pouch onto my car manifold. After my 30-minute drive to school, I was able to enjoy a breakfast of roasted potatoes.

I was extremely satisfied with the end product. A few of the potatoes achieved a nice bronze sheen, something I appreciate in a potato. I felt green, resourceful, bold, and bit like R. P. McMurphy.
Next week, I'm going to bake some bread on my manifold, but that's all the farther I care to take this madness. I'll continue to cook my meat on a conventional surface.

every mouth can form a smile,

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ricotta Bread

The holiday grind is officially over, so I've dusted off some of my baking cookbooks. I'm now chomping at the bit to bake bread.

Because many of the breads I like to make demand multiple rises, a full day is often needed to bake bread, which means I rarely bake duirng the week. However, this week a set out to find some breads to add to my weekday arsenal. I found one in Local Breads by Daniel Leader. It's a Ricotta Bread, and this bread might has a great texture. The fat in the rioctta yields a soft, velvetty crumb. Someday I hope to sit underneath a velvet painting of Elvis while eating a buttered slice of this bread, and at that moment things would come full circle for me.

Elvis has been on my mind lately.

Back to the bread.

Italian Ricotta Bread


  • 3/4 cup water, 70 to 78° F
  • 1/2 cup milk, 70 to 78° F
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 3-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 cup ice cubes


1. MIX THE DOUGH: Pour the milk and water into the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the yeast, flour, butter, ricotta, and salt. Stir just until the dough comes together.

2. KNEAD: Using the dough hook attachment, mix the dough on medium speed (4 on the KitchenAid) until it’s very supple, smooth, and elastic, about 10 to 12 minutes.

3. FERMENT: Transfer the kneaded dough to the prepared 2 quart container. Use a piece of masking tape to mark the point at which the dough will have doubled in volume. Put the lid on top and leave to rise at room temperature (70 to 75° F) until the dough doubles and inflates into a dome, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. It should deflate slightly when pressed.

4. SHAPE: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Use the bench scraper to cut the dough into two equal pieces. Roll each piece around the counter, shaping into a ball. Cup your hands around the ball and move in tight circles, until the dough surface becomes taught and smooth. Place the shaped loaves smooth side up on a sheet of parchment paper, about 4 inches apart. Cover with plastic wrap.

5. PROOF: Allow the loaves to rise at room temperature (70 to 75° F) until the look puffy and have nearly doubled in size, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. The dough should spring back slowly when you press a finger into it.

6. Preheat the oven: About 1 hour before baking, put the baking stone in the middle of the oven and the cast iron skillet on the bottom rack. Heat the oven to 400° F.

7. Bake: Put a fresh piece of parchment on the bakers peel/rimless baking sheet and dust with flour. Gently flip the rounds onto the parchment so that the bottom side is up. Slide the parchment with the loaves onto the baking stone. Pour the ice cubes into the hot skillet and close the oven. Bake until the rounds are golden, about 20 to 30 minutes.

8. COOL AND STORE: Slide the peel/rimless baking sheet until the parchment and remove the loaves from the oven. Slide onto a wire rack and allow to cool for a few minutes, then remove the parchment and allow the loaves to cool completely, about 1 hour. Store in a resealable plastic bag at room temperature. Will keep for 2 to 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.

bless my soul, and let the good times roll,


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sugar-Tinted Glasses and The Southern Living Kids' Cookbook

For Christmas my daughter received the Southern Living Kids' Cookbook. Last week I gave my daughter some Post-It Notes and had her mark recipes she'd like to try. I did this to foster her love of cooking and to combat her finickiness at the table.

After 30 minutes she had about a dozen recipes marked. They all had one thing in common. Can you guess that one thing from viewing pictures of four of those recipes?

The girl knows what she likes.

Next time I'll make sure she gets a cookbook without any desserts.

keep on the sweet side,


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fabulous Yellow Roman Candles and Guerilla Cooking

The Avett Brothers don't need a microphone and speakers to amplify their passion. They just need time and space. The world needs more passion like this.

I have a feeling that they bring the same energy playing to an empty room that they exhibit on stage performing to an auditorium brimming with fans. The Avett Brothers will play anytime, anywhere.

I admire this.

They 'll play in an office.

They play on a gondola lift in Jackson, Wyoming.

They'll play in a hallway.

They'll raucously perform on a bus.

They'll perform in the backseat of a car while someone feeds them lyrics to a LanghorneSlim song.

This year I resolve to take my cooking to new venues.

I'll start by cooking under the hood of my car. Let me repeat that and give my wife time to groan and roll her eyes.

I'll start by cooking under the hood of my car. Sometime next week, after this arctic blast passes, I'll cook some breakfast potatoes under the hood of my car.

I'll keep you posted.

trampin' the perpetual journey,


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Individual Baked Omelets

When it comes to breakfast, I dine in the rut. It's either peanut butter and jelly sandwiched between whole wheat bread or granola and yogurt. Sometimes on Thursdays, which is biscuit and gravy day at school, I'll shuck routine and indulge

Lack of time and the fact that my brain cells don't charge until noon, keep me from deviating from my breakfast routine. Though last year I tried a recipe that allowed me to shake up my breakfast routine. The recipe is for individual baked omelets from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather. I found that I could prepare these omelets during the weekend and that they heated up nicely in the microwave. When these omelets are between a sliced English muffin, they make the perfect breakfast sandwich.

In independent studies conducted by me, eating a breakfast sandwich raises one's mojo and morning tasks are completed with 75 percent more gusto than those who eat yogurt and granola.

Don't rely solely on my scientific evidence, give this recipe a shot and tell me what you think. Be sure to adapt the recipe to fit the ingredients you have on hand and put your personal twist on the recipe.

Individual Baked Omelets
(From Rebecca Rather's book The Pastry Queen)

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium potato peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes.
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 fresh tomato, seeded and finely chopped
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • dash of Tabasco

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 6 Texas-size (3 1/2 inches diameter and 2 inches deep) muffin cups. I found my Texas-size muffin cup pan at Wal-Mart, so you should be able to track one down. If you don't have a Texas muffin tin, simply use a ramekins.
  2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add potato, onion, and half of the salt. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper and cook for 15 minutes longer. Remove the vegetable mixture form the heat and stir in bacon and tomato.
  3. Whisk the eggs, cream, remaining salt, pepper, and hot sauce together in large bowl. Stir in the vegetable mixture. Pour the egg mixture evenly into the muffin cups.
  4. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until firm.

A similar recipe can also be found Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman Cooks, a book I'm currently enjoying. I encourage you to check it out.

make mine with spinach and feta,

Friday, January 1, 2010

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Last week I asked the following question: What Alfred Hitchcock movie has a character who is from Salina, KS. The correct answer is Vertigo. In the movie Kim Novak plays Judy Barton, who claims to be from Salina, KS.

Marianne who writes the blog WilleWorks and Jenni who writes Prairie Air submitted correct answers. To determine the recipient of the giveaway item, I pulled a coin from my pocket, assigned Marianne tails and Jenni heads, and flipped.

The coin landed tails side up, so Marianne is the winner of . . .

the book Kansas Curiousities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff by Pam Grout.


happy new year,