Saturday, January 20, 2007

Fireman Sandwiches - Lemon Marshmallows

It's been a cold and rainy day. My daughter and one of her roomies are up from UofA for a long weekend and were totally bummed to be stuck inside.

This is another recipe with a family history. These sandwiches were made on a regular basis for a long time. They became "Fireman Sandwiches" the night my great aunt Nettie Peaches made them for some volunteer firefighters who were battling a blaze at a neighbor's house. They're simple, they're delicious, they're perfect for a rainy day. The lemon marshmallows is because a neighbor with trees in anticipation of tonight's wet freeze has been picking like a demon to try and save as much of his crop as he can. He brought me almost a double bushel of Meyer lemons. Be expecting lots more lemon food posts this week.


6 French rolls (sourdough rocks too)
1 medium can Las Palmas Red Chile Sauce
1 medium brown onion diced medium
1 can of olives chopped
1 lb grated extra sharp cheddar
1 lb grated monterey jack

Heat your oven to 350°. Slice the rolls in half horizontally and pick out the center from both the top and the bottom halves. Mix all the other ingredients evenly and fill the rolls with the mixture. Put on a baking sheet that has been lined with foil (these can leak while they are baking and you'll never get the melted cheese off by scrubbing). Bake for twenty minutes or until the filling is completely melted and hot all through.



Cooking Spray
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes unflavored gelatin (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup cool water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

Lightly spray a small baking sheet with the oil and set aside. Sprinkle with a light coating of confectioners' sugar using a fine mesh sieve.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the gelatin with the lemon juice and set aside. Place a 2-quart (non-reactive) saucepan over medium-heat, and add the sugar, corn syrup, water, salt, and lemon zest to the pan. Stir the contents of the pan occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high and continue to cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer inserted into the syrup reads 250°.

Start the mixer on its lowest speed. Remove the syrup from the stove and slowly drizzle into the bowl of the electric mixer to combine with the gelatin. Be sure to add the syrup in a slow and steady stream until it is all incorporated. Once the syrup is combined with the gelatin, begin to increase the speed of the mixer until it is on maximum. Beat the candy until the mixture becomes white in color and nearly triples in volume, about 15 minutes, a little longer won't hurt anything. It will only help to cool and stiffen the fluff.

Transfer the marshmallow to the prepared pan, and using a rubber spatula, coated with oil, spread the mixture into the pan trying to keep it even in thickness. Wet your hands and press the marshmallow into the corners of the pan, and try not to curse too much. Sprinkle with the remainder of the confectioners' sugar and allow the marshmallow to rest, uncovered, overnight.

Release the marshmallow from the pan and place on a cutting board. Cut the marshmallow into 1-inch squares and toss each piece in confectioners' sugar before serving. Marshmallows will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container at room temperature.

You simply have to try these to appreciate how wonderfull they are.


On a More Serious Note

This is a plea for Breast Cancer Awareness and support for research. Along with an appeal for both emotional and financial support for Jane Hamsher of Firedog Lake.

I am providing a link to jurrasicpork's fine blog Welcome To Pottersville mainly because he writes so much better than I do that there really isn't much I can add.

One of my aunts has done the dance with breast cancer. She has had the surgery, the chemo, the radiation, the whole thing. She has been a survivor for the last eight years. And yet, there's always the knowledge that it can return, with devastating consequences.

Please follow the links. Offer your support to Jane, and to women everywhere.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Big Dog Blogging, My Favorite Blonde Edition

My old Golden Retriever Jackie died in September. I was very sad. I had been promising myself to take a break from dogs, with the three remaining dogs all well into senior status. I really didn't think I could handle the whole thing. Then the phone rang. It was a neighbor of my sister's who is a breeder of Goldens. She told me that she had a litter that she wanted me to see.

There were twelve puppies, and this one
ran right up to me. My heart was taken over. All my apprehensions disappeared. That picture was taken at the beginning of December when Katie (I let my niece name her, the full name is Katie Jack) was five months old.
Ever since I brought her home I have known what was missing while I was moping around after Jackie died. What was missing was the sunny and sweet disposition of the Goldens. We have been working every day and I am completely impressed with Katie's willingness to learn, her eagerness to please. That's a very Golden trait. I remember working through the training process with Abbie, the German Shepherd and it's a whole different world with a Golden. Katie isn't firmly convinced like the shepherd that people are either stupid or evil and need good dogs to point out which ones are which. The picture's pretty blurry because at five months the "sit still" muscles are not developed in puppies yet.

This is not meant to be considered as an expression of anything other than my continuing affection and admiration for the fine ladies (and couple of guys) over at Blondesense. Far from it, Liz, Jersey Cynic, and the irrepressible Ms. Mule of East Jesus Missouri are still among my very favorites when it comes to blondes. But, alas, there can be only one true favorite and my friends. . .Katie's it.
This is her this morning as she was attempting Doggie Hypnotism on me. She's right there by the kitchen table putting out the brain waves that are saying "Apple Crumb Cake is Good For Dogs"

Her theme song is, of course,

K-K-K-Katy, beautiful Katy
You're the only g-g-g-girl that I adore,
When the m-moon shines over the cowshed,
I will meet you at the k-k-k-kitchen door.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Arts Meme

I was tagged by konagod and its pre-dawn here. I've done one of those things where I wake up a little after four, try unsuccessfully to go back to sleep and realize that the critters will be stirring soon and they really don't care whether or not I've gotten a good night's sleep. They're hungry. So, I figure I might as well pass the time with this.

Name a book that you want to share so much that you keep giving away copies:

I give books away all the time. Every new edition of Harry Potter gets pre-ordered and given to my kids, my nieces and nephews. I ran a contest here on the blog to give away a copy of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, and I ended up giving away two of them. There are books that will strike my fancy and I will give one away to somebody that I think would like the book, but most importantly will talk or correspond with me about it. Probably the book that I've given away the most is Treasure Island. Every body I know that has a kid gets that one with instructions to read it aloud. I gave away about six copies of 1776 by McCullough.

Name a piece of music that changed the way you listen to music:

Every now and then I will hear something that's so new and different it just blows me away. The first time was back in the late sixties when I heard the very beginnings of reggae. Toots and the Maytals were taking stuff off of the American Top 40 and doing stuff with them that was incredible. Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Decker, Bob Marley and their approach to rythym and phrasing just blew me away. After that, Paul Simon's Graceland floored me. The melding of African and American pop was brilliant. His bass player floored me. When he added the guys from South America for Rythym of the Saints I thought to myself "That's fucking great, now every band I want to work with is going to need five drummers." Oh, yeah, I can't forget the Pogues either.

Name a film you can watch again and again without fatigue:

Lawrence of Arabia, Princess Bride, Casablanca, just about anything with the Marx Brothers, Shane, Dr. Strangelove, The Seven Samurai, Henry V (Branagh's version), Romeo and Juliet, Serenity (or any of the box set of Firefly)

Name a performer for whom you suspend all disbelief:

Helen Mirren

Name a work of art you'd like to live with:

Picasso's The Old Guitarist I like to live with it, but not enough to move to Chicago.

Name a work of fiction which has penetrated your real life:

The Bible.

Name a punch line that always makes you laugh:

From Monkey Business which takes place on a cruise ship. Groucho and Chico are leaning on the ship's rail looking out over the water. Groucho sees something in the water and says "Hey! Is that a U-Boat?" Chico says "It'sa no belong a me!"

go ahead and tag yourself if you'd like to join in on this one.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The 30th Carnival of Liberals Is Up

at Shakespeare's Sister

Very good stuff. Bravo Shakes!

Monday, January 15, 2007

This Was What I Saw This Morning

This fountain was a decorative and artistic way to deal with a practical problem. There's a spring on my property that refuses to be capped. For moving water to freeze like this it had to be damn cold. Glad I wasn't camping! I took this picture this morning but had to wait until a teen ager showed up to teach me how to get it from the camera to the computer. Thanks nephew!


Random Flickr Blogging 4616

the boys i mean are not refined
they go with girls who buck and bite
they do not give a fuck for luck
they hump them thirteen times a night

one hangs a hat upon her tit
one carves a cross on her behind
they do not give a shit for wit
the boys i mean are not refined

they come with girls who bite and buck
who cannot read and cannot write
who laugh like they would fall apart
and masturbate with dynamite

the boys i mean are not refined
they cannot chat of that and this
they do not give a fart for art
they kill like you would take a piss

they speak whatever's on their mind
they do whatever's in their pants
the boys i mean are not refined
they shake the mountains when they dance

e.e. cummings

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Two Hundred Dollar Chili

Yeah, second year in a row the Charger's season came down to the leg of their kicker and the second year in a row they went home. Of course, the defense totally folded in the fourth quarter. They started throwing the ball and quit handing off to LT, a whole bunch of reasons that all had the result of me losing $200. On top of that I had to make dinner AND just got finished doing the dishes. It was, all in all, a great day. Good games, good friends, good food, friendly wagers, what the hell? I had a great time.

As requested by friend blackdog, here's the chili recipe. I won't bother with the cornbread because I use the recipe on the side of the box. Except when I use my bread machine, then I use the recipe that came with the machine.

The biggest difference maker you can do with chili con carne, is to make your own damn chili powder. The stuff that's been sitting on a shelf in your pantry for gawd knows how long is crap. Throw it out now. Never buy the stuff in a can again. Just do it. You'll thank me as soon as you've used this stuff once.


3 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and sliced
3 cascabel chiles, stemmed, seeded and sliced
3 dried arbol chiles, stemmed, seeded and sliced
2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (the best stuff comes from Spain)

p.s. you can substitute any dried whole chilis you want for this. Chipotles are smoked and dried whole jalapenos and they will ad both extra heat and a nice smokey tinge.

Put the chilis and cumin into a cast iron (or non-stick) pan over a medium-high flame. Cook, while agitating or moving around with a wooden spoon until you smell the cumin toasting. That should be four or five minutes. Which is enough time for New England to score almost 11 unanswered points. Bastards. Remove from the heat and the pan and allow to cool completely.

Once the chilis have cooled off to the point of San Diego's secondary in the fourth quarter (that's really below room temperature, so let it go at room temp). Put all the ingredients into a blender and run it on annihilate until a fine, dusty powder forms. Be sure to let the powder settle for at least a minute before you open the lid and put into an airtight container. (I use an old jar) This will stay volatile and good for around six months. You cannot increase the shelf life by refrigerating it. If it's chilled it will condense and get more moisture than you want and it will get all lumpy and nasty. Like San Diego's blocking schemes.

Now that you have the chili powder ready, you're all set to go.

Now comes the chili part. This is a very basic, very good, honest chili con carne. There's a whole big debate about whether or not to have beans in it and still call it chili. I leave that whole issues to people who actually give a rat's ass. I don't. If I'm in a bean mood, I put in beans. If I'm not, I leave them out. It's your chili, do what you want.


3 pounds stew meat (any red meat, or combination of meats will do just fine)
2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 (12-ounce) bottle of beer, preferably a medium ale (this helps control bitterness)
1 (16-ounce) container salsa (whatever's on sale)
tortilla chips, crumbled (bottom of the bag stuff works great for this)
2 chipotle peppers canned in adobo sauce, chopped
1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from the chipotle peppers in adobo)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Put the meat in a large mixing bowl and toss it with the oil and the salt. Set aside for a little while (about as long as it takes you to hunt down your wallet to pay off the foolish bet you made on the damn football game).

Using a 6 quart pressure cooker over a high flame, brown the meat in batches until brown evenly all around. About two to three minutes. When the meat is browned put it into a bowl that is lined with paper towels to drain.

When the meat is all browned use the beer in the cooker to deglaze the pot. Scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the meat back to the pressure cooker along with the salsa, tortilla chips, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, tomato paste, chili powder, and ground cumin and stir to combine. Lock the lid in place. When the steam begins to hiss out of the cooker, reduce the heat to low, just enough to maintain a very weak whistle. Cook for 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully release the steam. Serve immediately. If you talked any shit about your team, this is a far, far, finer dish than crow.

Wait'll next year. (which means I'll probably lose more money)


A Couple of Rough, Tough, Men of the West

It's about a half an hour before dawn this morning. I'm in my kitchen looking out at the solid frosting from there to the barn. I'm thinking about the trip into the hills I have planned with The God of all Ropers. It sounded like such a good idea. Something interesting to break out of an emotional sinkhole. I cowboy up and go out to the barn. The breath of the horses is coming in thick clouds. The thermometer on the side of the barn says 28°. Now I know that some of you back in the midwest and the northeast have been under the grip of the icestorms and other harsh weather. I know that 28° and clear probably sounds pretty damned good to you right now. But, in my defense, these plans were made when the highs were hitting the top of the 60's and the lows weren't dipping past 45. The God of all Ropers pulls his rig into the yard. He's bundled up like Nanook of the fucking North. I ask "How're your critters holding up in this cold snap?" He says "Fine." I'm figuring crap. Got us a he man here to deal with. "Want some coffee?" "Had some back at the house, but if you're offering."

We go into the nice, cozy, warm house where there's a fire going, blazing and snapping merrily away.

Me: "We really weren't expecting it to be this cold. Think it might be raining by tonight?"

Him: "Weathergirl said no."

Me: "She's a lying bitch most of the time."

Me: "Here's your coffee. Just describe again the lay of the land around this mine."

He does just that. Giving a pretty good account of the landmarks and the elevation. The fact that there's a natural water tank and a spring right near the mouth of the mine.

Me: "Can you be a little more specific about the opening? Were there any timbers framing it? Were there any metal tools lying about?"

Him: "Why do you ask that?"

Me: "Because it doesn't sound like a white man's mine, that's all. If it's an Indian site we can't go in. We have to map it out and notify the BLM, the Tohono O'odam elders, and ASU so they can all check it out. We don't want to be kicking up dust and disturbing history ya know."

Him: "Hadn't thought about that."

Me: "It's just damned cold. I know you're the God of all Ropers and stuff. I don't think there's anyone going to be talking shit about us if we pass on this little trip. Did you see that movie Brokeback Mountain? Those boys went camping out in the cold and it flat ruined both of their lives."

Him: "Goddamn it, I just blew coffee out of my nose."

Me: "Tell you what. There's football on all day. Call your wife and daughter. Tell them when they're up and about to come on over. We'll make a day of it. Your girl can play the big old grand piano to her heart's content. We can ride around the ring if we have to ride at all. We can keep a fire going and I'll make up a big batch of chili and cornbread."

Him: "I know one of the guys plays line for the Patriots. He's a big cutting horse guy. I'd kinda like to watch that game."

Me: "I'll take the Chargers straight across for $200."

Him: "Done."

Him: "Shit. Now comes the hard part."

Me: "Do what?"

Him: "Before I left my wife said it was too damned cold to be riding out in the hills. She said we were being stubborn and stupid, and more interested in not wimping out in front of the other guy than in our own comfort and safety."

Me: "I just wimped out. Blame me."

Him: "I still have to tell her she was right about the too cold part though."

Me: "You're tough, you can take it. Tell her about the chili and the cornbread. She'll understand that."

Him: "Where's the phone?"