Tuesday, December 13, 2011


What a year it's been!
Christian was deployed to Afghanistan.
Heidi's knee required surgery.
Dad was hospitalised with heart trouble.

Yes, it's been stressful, but it's also been blessful. (sorry)
Heidi's surgery turned out better than we could have hoped.
Dad got a pacemaker, and now he's right as rain.
Christian came home for two weeks leave, and we're having a great time.
Thanksgiving was excellent - the family made it up from Nashville, the turkey and all the other food was excellent.

All in all, a great year of blessings, and there are so many more that I couldn't begin to count them (at least not before I fall asleep after a liverwurst sandwich and a glass of buttermilk).

No complaints here. (A little snow would be nice, though.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Carnage du Jour - 17 October 2011

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

What to do with all those peppers this year? In an odd twist of agriculture, hot peppers of various varieties were nearly the only thing that grew well in our garden this year. Eggplant and yellow squash were fairly productive, but the banana, serrano, and cayenne peppers were the stars of the season.

Well, roasted chile peppers are great, so we have roasted a bunch of them, but then the question becomes what to do with the oil that had been on them while they roasted.
Aha! Make an emulsion with some decent Cabernet, and marinate a top round steak for a while. What a nice combination of heat and semi-sweet.

After a good long soak, the steak gets a quick sear on each side, then back in the bath with a bunch of sweet onion wedges for some time in a moderately slow oven (275F or so).

A batch of rice and some corn slathered in butter and it was a very nice meal.

Oh, and as a bonus, the now-cooked marinade becomes a tasty - and spicy - sauce to perk up the steak and rice.

Very tasty, if I do say so myself (and I just did).

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

to all my Canadian friends.

We here in Detroit are happy to offer you a bonus Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day football game.

No, really, it's all for you.  Enjoy.

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

Thursday, October 06, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs

Well, I've never owned any of them, but I've still benefited from the relentless pursuit of simple and elegant that Steve Jobs brought to his Apple products.

I don't know anything about him as a man, but he did do some good work, and will be missed in the tech industry.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

I Wonder How Many Others

noticed that National Coffee Day was the day after Drink Beer Day.

I have one thing to say to those who set up these days: "Well scheduled, well scheduled indeed."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Projects Update

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

Well, it's been far too long since I posted anything here.

I don't know if anyone is actually interested, but I have almost completed the first draft of my second novel, and I'm pretty happy with it, really. The good part is that it's pretty well finished and the plot and scenes hang together well; the bad part is that I hate rewriting.
I don't mind revising paragraphs and sentences - I'm pretty well able to accept that the first choice of words that came to my mind isn't necessarily the best.
I don't like wholesale re-writing, however. If I wrote a scene, I generally like it, and I will resist removing it from the finished product. I'm better at adding scenes where things simply don't flow properly, or where I've left out something that the reader needs to know.

I haven't gotten back to the two cookbooks that are in my writing / editing pipeline, but I have at least collected most of what needs to go together, so I'm at the point where I can get things going pretty quickly.

The interesting thing is that November is coming soon, and we all know that's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I really don't think they like to count revisions as writing - that's kind of the antithesis of the "write, write like the wind!" fever of getting 50,000 words done in the course of those 30 days. I have my doubts that I can both revise / rewrite one book while pouring out another 50K words as the basis of another.

I also have to go through a thorough revision of my Mass setting. I seem to have a bunch of projects backing up right now.  Better that than no idea of what else to do, I suppose.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Coinage du Jour - 07 September 2011

from grandteuton.blogspot.com


def. The too-convenient solution of a dramatic problem by way of a computer virus.

sample - "The aliens in Independence Day were defeated by Jeff Goldblum's character's handy virus ex machina."

Monday, September 05, 2011

More Shameless Self-Promotion

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

Well, almost as soon as I posted that coupon code for my books on www.lulu.com/grandteuton I got another one - this time for 20% and up to $100 in savings.

Now the code is SEPTEMBER305, and it runs through September 9, 2011.


Shameless Self-Promotion

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

If you have any interest in buying one of my books, here's a 15% coupon code that's good for the month of September at my lulu.com store (max value $25).
Just go to www.lulu.com/grandteuton and make your selections. Printed and digital versions are both included. At the checkout, enter the code AWESOME305 and you'll get 15% off the total (before shipping, I believe).


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Surgery Can Be Amazing

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

You know, modern medicine is pretty spectacular. Today, through a four-inch incision, a knee can be repaired.

When I was a kid, the best we could do for knees was Mercurochrome; and we liked it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Fun Musical Pairing

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

I had a great time playing a hymn in church with my friend Dave last Sunday.

I played guitar and sang, while he played harmonica. (We did Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.)

It was very fun, well received, and actually sounded quite good, I think. Maybe it wasn't quite as good as when Buddy Greene did it, but we don't practice as much as he does.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Burlap to Cashmere

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

I had forgotten how good these guys were / are.  I'm not sure why, but I pulled out the old Burlap to Cashmere CD, Anybody Out There the other day and it's been in the car player a lot now.

The rhythms are complex, the playing is clean and crisp and amazing, and the vocals are distinctive. Oh - and the lyrics are great as well.

We were wondering what ever happened to them, and it turns out that they're back together again with a new CD being released. I may have to grab it and give them another spin. You should check them out, whether the old one or the new one!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Bothersome Speech Patterns

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

Please don't take this personally, even if it applies to you - I'm not even thinking of any particular person as I write this, even though I've tried to pick out an example to make it easier to write.

Maybe it's just me, but I find myself (probably unreasonably) bothered by a new-ish (new-ish to me, at any rate) speech pattern. I've found it mainly in young women, but I doubt it's really exclusive to them.

I can only describe it as "swallowing 'T' sounds" rather than actually pronouncing them. It's most noticeable with intervocalic Ts, but it definitely occurs at the end of words as well. It's not quite a glottal stop, but that's almost it.

I assume I have some mumblage in my speech, so I won't say I don't annoy someone out there with the way I pronounce something, but if I do, I'm sure it's because they're far too easily annoyed.

I don't know, it just bothers me, and I wanted to get it off my chest (and out of my ears).
Thanks for listening (OK, reading).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Glacage du Jour - 24 July 2011

Heidi: "I bought five ears of corn the other day."
Me: "I bought five ears of corn the other day too."

What to do with ten ears of corn and only two mouths currently resident? Clearly the answer lay in the ice cream machine.  Here's how it went.

Cut the kernels off the cobs, and break the cobs into thirds.
Place in a pot with a pint of milk, a pint of heavy cream, and 1/2 C of sugar.
Bring that mixture to a simmer and let it go a few minutes, then grab the immersion blender and blend all the kernels into the mixture (not the cobs, please!), and let it infuse an hour or so.
Bring that back to a simmer and then turn off the heat - warning: this stuff will smell delicious already, but you're not done!
Now, whisk 1/4 C sugar into nine egg yolks. You're going to mix this into the hot liquid (you already removed the cobs, right?), but you have to temper it so you don't get scrambled eggs.
Whisk in a small amount of the hot cream mixture at a time, until you've added about a cup to the eggs.
Now you can whisk that egg mixture into the balance of the cream to make your corn custard.
Next, cook that custard - stirring! - over medium-low heat until it thickens enough to coat a spoon.

Strain the custard through a sieve, squishing as much through as you can, but dump the solids that don't pass through, and chill the custard for a few hours, or even overnight.

Once that's all chilled, it's just a matter of dumping the stuff in your ice cream maker (following the normal procedure for your machine, thank you very much), and letting it freeze and then harden.

Apart from one very vehement negative review (which frankly, I still find bewildering) this dessert was a definite hit. Oh, and I'm sure it counts as both dairy servings and vegetables! Bonus, no?

Delicious, and highly recommended.

from grandteuton.blogspot.com


A coalition of religious leaders, called Sojourners, seems to me to be more a political than a spiritual group. I've reached that conclusion based on their desperate plea that there be no limit to spending by the federal government.

The question to which they keep bringing me is, "Why do they want to abdicate their responsibilities?"

Somehow they seem to think that the church shouldn't be in the business of helping and ministering to the poor; but rather that is the job of government, or perhaps it's merely that that the church isn't able to meet the needs they see.
Even apart from the horrifically inefficient manner in which governments tend to do things, it also means two things I see as desperately wicked:

  1. There can be no connection between the "charity" and the gospel, and
  2. It requires the taking of money from people who may not approve of that particular "charitable" cause but may have another charitable use for that money.
By advocating government "charity" to the poor, these religious leaders are actively encouraging the government to break the 8th commandment by stealing from some members of society to give to others.

As Congressman Crockett once said, "We have the right as individuals to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money.”  
In short, forced charity is no charity at all, and if it is simply a payment of money or a gift of material goods, it misses the point of doing charity in the Name of the Author of Charity - Jesus Christ.

I would amend Rep. Crockett's statement to say that as individuals, we have an obligation to give away as much of our own money in charity as is prudent. Remember what John Wesley said, "Having, first, gained all you can, and, secondly saved all you can, then give all you can."

Once again, remembering that Charity is one of the Four Loves, I come to the same question, "Why do they want to abdicate their responsibilities?"

More on this here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Carnage du Jour - 16 July 2011

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

It's been too hot to consider much in the way of cooking, really. Still, there were some left-over chicken thighs (made with a smoky citrus rub and roasted / semi-braised with some orange juice) in the fridge, so that seemed the logical starting point.
Pasta salad is always a good way to go when it's too hot to cook, but one is still hungry, so:
  • A pot of small-ish shells was boiled and cooled
  • Some aromatics were diced - onion, green pepper, and celery
  • A few cherry tomatoes were sliced (generally into 3, sometimes 4 slices)
  • Three chicken thighs were stripped and diced.
Now to dress the salad. Ranch dressing is a nice base for a pasta salad dressing, and I had just purchased a jar of jerk seasoning - a quick few squirts, a spoonful or two, a bit of mixing, and - voila! - a jerk ranch dressing that was quite tasty.

All in all, it was good enough to just grab a bite or two from the fridge the next day. Highly recommended to all and sundry.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Dick Tracy Moment

I don't know how many of you will remember the old Dick Tracy cartoons on TV, but one of the best parts was the opening sequence where a police car is driving through the city with siren blaring and lights blazing.
The scene was drawn from directly above, and the cool thing was watching all the cars and trucks pull off to the side to let the cops go by.
This morning on my way to work, I was driving up Hayes between 7 and 8 Mile when an ambulance was heading South with full lights and siren.
It was very gratifying to join all the other drivers in pulling off to the side to let the ambulance go by. Note that I said I joined - it wasn't a matter of my being the first and everyone else realising what they should be doing, but rather everyone on both sides of the road pulled over to let the ambulance roll.

Very cool.

Oh, and Dick Tracy's wrist radio was cool as well.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Carnage du Jour - 09 July 2011

Chicken? Another Chicken recipe?
Of course, folks - it's the most consumed protein in America (source: I made that up, but I'm probably correct).

At any rate, we had a couple nice chicken breasts ready for cooking, and that's just what we did.
We have a great old roasting pan (I guess that's what you'd call it - kind of like a 9x12 cake pan, but heavy aluminium), so I preheated the oven with that pan inside. Once all was up to temp (375F), I pulled it out onto the stovetop with the burner on high to keep things going.
The breasts had been rubbed with a combination of chipotle powder and Old Bay (great on chicken by itself, too!), so I just put a bit of oil in the pan and put the skin sides down to sear.
Once they got a bit of a crisp on, they were flipped over, the burner turned off, and the pan returned to the oven.

The accompaniment this evening was a nice wide egg noodle pasta tossed with some Alfredo sauce with pearl onions and sliced black olives along with the pan drippings from the chicken.
There was a nice plate of asparagus spears as well, so all in all, there was nothing to dislike.

The chicken was so moist and tender that it surprised even me, and everything else did nothing but enhance the overall experience.
I think I'm going to do chicken this way again soon, and I would encourage you to give it a try as well.


Thursday, July 07, 2011

Instant Photography is Back ?

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

I guess I didn't realise that it had gone away, but Polaroid is making real instant cameras and film again, in the form of the Polaroid 300.
This means you can capture the world in full analogue instant colour beauty, and you don't need a printer to see what it looks like.

Glad to see it's back - my first camera was a Polaroid Swinger, original list price $19.95. You can find them on eBay now for anywhere between $1 and $50, for all the sense that makes..


Sunday, July 03, 2011

The Dogs We Love

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

(I had to use that title, for when a DeWitt sees this post.)

Anyway, it was a dog's life, and we were privileged to share it for over fifteen years.

What a great dog.
From that little puppy watching the mist rise from the surface of Lake Nipigon, to that valiant dog making his final CROP Walk to help end hunger, to that somewhat unsteady old guy who had to be carried up and down the back steps, and so much between, that little dog with the funny tail has given us love and memories beyond measure ...
and to think we weren't ready for him.
We would have missed out on him, had Christian and James not picked him out of that litter of nine, and our lives would have been much the poorer for it.
Nice work, guys, nice work indeed.

Anyway, the poor old guy has been fighting a stinking bloody brain tumour for over a year, and we all knew that at some point he wasn't going to be able to keep it up, and now he hasn't; and once again, we weren't ready for him ... to go.

It's hard, but I'm glad I knew him and loved him and shared his joy in the simple act of living and being a dog. Kooder was the best dog that could be imagined, let alone that could be.

Have fun with the cats, buddy.

Friday, July 01, 2011

I'm ready for some Football!

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

At last, the CFL season has begun, and what a great game we saw on Canada Day eve pitting the Montreal Alouettes against the BC Lions.
Two quality teams with quarterbacks at very different points in their careers, but both slinging that ball around like crazy, great catches, missed Field Goals, amazing hits, all the stuff that makes the CFL game so great.
Now, for Canada Day, there's a double-header with the fabulout Hamilton Tiger-Cats hosting the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and then the Toronto Argonauts (Argos Suck) visiting the Calgary Stampeders.
Rounding out the holiday weekend, the Edmonton Eskimos will visit the Saskatchewan Rough Riders on Sunday.

It's pretty cool that the NFL Network is showing some of these games, but ESPN3 has them all if you have access to that service.

If you've never seen Canadian Football, you need to check it out - it's a faster, more exciting game than the NFL, and each team is really a part of its community.
Very cool, and highly recommended.

Oskee Wee Wee!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Carnage du Jour - 25 June 2011

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

You know, crock pots are wonderful things.
We had some spectacular pulled pork a week ago or so, made simply in the crock pot with a pork butt cooking down low and slow to tasty perfection.
Now, when there were some lamb chops to use up, a little light went on in my head.

Why not pulled lamb?
Why not indeed.

So, four chops nestled close together in a dry crock pot on high for a bit. The seasoning was simply salt and pepper on each side. A trip to the herbs growing on the back porch yielded some gorgeous rosemary - four large sprigs were dropped on top of the chops.
After they had gotten a bit of colour (and the kitchen began to smell wonderful), I flipped the chops and added a bit of braising liquid - in this case, some coffee - and dropped the temp to low.

Several hours later, the meat was falling off the bones (as expected) and shredded with a spoon, so that seemed like enough cooking. That was fortunate, as it was now time to eat.

Some nice whole wheat buns were loaded with the pulled lamb, which was enhanced with a bit of crumbled feta cheese, just because it's so good, and we tucked in to a most enjoyable sandwich.
On the side we had some beautiful ears of corn which had cooked in a bath of water with salt and sugar and some powdered chipotle.  All in all, an excellent meal - one I wouldn't mind repeating.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Carnage du Jour - 23 June 2011

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

It's a nice problem to have: what to do with extra filets? (Yes, as in Mignon.)  Well, with a bit of a nod to Eggs Benedict, we had a very tasty little treat.

Once a batch of Bearnaise sauce was complete, the steaks - which had been cooked on the grill a few days before - were reheated while an English muffin (don't you just love all those nooks and crannies?) toasted.

Straight from the toaster, the muffin halves were slathered with a bit of chipotle cheese, then topped with the steaks.

Into the pan vacated by the steaks went the eggs to be cooked to a perfect over easy, dusted with a bit of marjoram, oregano, and thyme.

The eggs topped the steaks and then were covered with the beautiful Bearnaise.

Slicing into this lovely stack of flavours, we were treated to a perfectly thickened yolk oozing over the rest of the savoury goodness.

Yum, is as good an expression as most, and actually quite apropos.

Friday, June 17, 2011

R.I.P. ReadyMade

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

Thursday 16 June 2011 was a sad day in publishing. Meredith announced that they're shuttering ReadyMade, a very fun, very cool magazine they had only fairly recently purchased.
It had been published since 2001, and was a snazzy part of the Maker movement, giving us all inspirational tips and tricks for ways to use things that otherwise might be dumped in the trash.
The monthly MacGyver challenge - e.g. "what can you do with a shipping pallet?" or "what's the coolest use for old vinyl LPs?" - was a highlight to me, but their extremely active blog was the tops.

A cool magazine that will be missed. One hopes they will find a way to persist online, if not in print.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Adult Bever-age du Jour

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

This is one solely for those of legal age, but it's good enough I thought I'd share nonetheless.

This is a cocktail called the Privateer:
  1. Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice.
  2. Drizzle some nice maple syrup over the ice.
  3. Fill with dark rum - Gosling's Black Seal 151 is the preferred one here.
  4. Enjoy.
I came up with this one quite a while ago, simply based on what was in the house and what seemed like a good idea to mix and drink. It was.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hard to believe it's been a year

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

and we're still missing Sydney.
One year ago today our good friend Sydney went home to his Lord.

We're missing a good friend, but more importantly:
Dorothy is missing a good husband.
The whole Williams family are missing a good father / grandfather / etc.
- They all still need and appreciate your prayers.
The congregation at the Avenue Church are missing a tireless worker and brother.
Christian Aid and the folks in Africa are missing a helper - a man who raised money and dug wells to help others to have a brighter present and future.

The world is missing a good man, but there is rejoicing in Heaven.

Oh yes, Sydney is missed here and now, but we know we'll see him again.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Triple D Road Trips

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

Back in March, my son was home for a pre-deployment leave and we got to spend some quality time with him.  One of the fun things we did was to revisit a "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" site, as well as adding a new one to his list.

The revisit was to Joe's Gizzard City in Potterville, Michigan.  It's a fun little dive bar with some wicked gizzards and a great battered, deep-fried cheeseburger.  Definitely worth the drive.

The new one (for him, but not for me) was a visit to Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger in Ann Arbor. Once again, a fun dive kind of place with excellent food and atmosphere.  Again well worth the drive.

Christian has been a Triple D fan for quite a while, to the extent of having an autographed copy of Guy Fieri's first cookbook from the show.

OK, the food was good, but the long drives where we could talk - about the places we were going, about the places he would be going, about random nonsense, about nothing - those long drives were the best part.  Not even a fully battered and deep-fried bacon cheeseburger could compete, and that's saying something.

So, next time you're looking for an excuse to drive and talk - and wouldn't mind a fun meal half-way through the driving part - give one of these a try.  Both are highly recommended.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kindles, Books, and Reading in General

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

First off, let me disclose that I haven't actually taken the plunge into ebooks, ibooks, epubs, and the like so far.
I really like having a book in my hands when I read, and being able to leave different books in different places where each will be read in turn.

In my best "why would I ever want that instead of the way I already know how to do it," mode, I largely dismissed the Kindle and its ilk. This past Christmas, I did do some investigating, mostly as a means to make sure the gifts being contemplated were not unreasonable - they weren't.

There are now three Kindles in the family, and as far as I can tell, there is so much more reading going on now than there had been - and more than I would ever have guessed - that my pseudo-Luddite recalcitrance has been shaken and my interest stirred.

When my son says he's trying to figure out what to read next when he finishes the last of a series of books he's been reading; and that he's wondering whether to go to something new, or to reread the Iliad or the Odyssey, well, the world's turned upside down, and time is out of joint, or something.

I said - aloud, not just to myself - that with all that reading going on, I might have to change my opinion on this whole Kindle thing, and I may be doing exactly that.

Yes, I may be doing exactly that, but I'd appreciate feedback from folks with experience with these devices. What do you love? What do you hate? Et cetera? Kindle? Nook? Kobo? Sony?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Marinade du Jour - 11 May 11

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

What to do with steaks that were packed at the last possible selling date, then brought home and not used for a few days?
What indeed?
Well, that is precisely the situation in which we found ourselves as we made plans for dinner with a couple friends who were joining us.

My preference with steaks is to keep them quite plain when cooking them. I really do like the flavour of a good steak on its own without much other than salt and pepper to set it off. Still, this seemed the perfect setting for a good marinade.
And so it was.

When my brother-in-law moved to Florida (many years ago), we received a couple nice Tupperware marinating units (I have no idea what they're really called). They've been quite handy many times over the years, and the one that remains was pressed into service once again.
Opening a bottle of wine (Barefoot Merlot, I believe), I poured some for the steaks, and some for the cook. Into the steaks' wine went about half as much Zesty Italian dressing and a bit of my (formerly) secret ingredient: vanilla extract.
Vanilla has a wonderful affinity for beef - I've used it in coffee for a pot roast as well - and you get that great "what's that other flavour in there?" reaction from discerning tasters.
Be sure, though, to use good vanilla extract - never imitation - as it really does make a huge difference in the final product.

And by the way, the meat was quite delicious.

Friday, May 13, 2011

How to Cook Bratwurst

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

As promised, I'm going to expose the secrets to perfect brats. First, though, let me take you, if I may, on a journey - a journey back to how I first learned the basics of this highly-favoured endeavour.

Perhaps you already know that my wife and her family hail originally from Wisconsin. Moving from Sheboygan, Wisconsin - sausage capital of the US - to the Detroit area meant some significant lifestyle changes, not least of which was the basic lack of what they had come to know and love as bratwurst. What to do?
Well, my ever-resourceful then-future father-in-law found a way to have real Sheboygan brats flown into Detroit, and massive quantities were received each year to the delight of all and sundry.

When the time came for me to ask him for his daughter's hand, I had already been introduced to the glories of properly-prepared bratwurst. He and I sat down in the living room, where I told him that I had an important question for him. "I was wondering," I asked, "where you get the brats?" The cool thing is, he told me the whole story about getting them flown in via a perhaps-then-illegal interstate meat transaction. With that out of the way, I told him that I wanted to marry his daughter, and he averred that he thought that was a good idea.

Sadly, the Sheboygan Sausage Company of Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin is no more, but the recipe was (supposedly) purchased by the Johnsonville company, and that is now the brat of choice.
(An interesting side note here: we did find what we considered to be vastly superior brats on a trip through Sheboygan at the Miesfeld's Triangle Market - several times State Champions, in fact - but the cost of shipping so far outweighed the cost of the sausage that it will remain a "when we pass through we're buying a bunch" kind of thing. But I digress.)
It was at a family reunion here in town that I learned at the elbow of my father-in-law just how it was done. (Note the past tense there, it actually gets better!) The brats must be boiled a bit in a mix of beer and water before going on the grill. This lets them release some of their fat before hitting the fire, the which can be an exciting event.
A squirt bottle of water was the tool of the day for keeping down the flare-ups that did arise, although the beer held in the other hand would do quite nicely as well. Care should be taken to avoid stirring up too many ashes - they can stick to the brats and make for a grittier-than-desirable experience (and yes, that does mean that charcoal is the preferred heat source).
There you have the basics of brat grilling. Condiments and bunnage are best left to the individual's taste, but mustard, onions, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut make up my starting point.

Now to reveal the secret to my enhanced bratwurst cooking process.
Into the pot of beer and water (I generally use Molson Canadian) I add an onion cut into wedges, and a healthy dose of nutmeg. These additions add just the right notes to the already-delicious flavour of the brats, and the kitchen smells glorious all the while too.

Now please, go and enjoy your bratwurst, but enjoy them responsibly.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Carnage du Jour - 09 May 2011

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

I'm not a big fan of mixed drinks - I'm more of a purist, really - but we just had a lovely Manhattan-marinated chicken breast on the grill, and I'd certainly do it again.

We recently took possession of a couple bottles of Southern Comfort (no, I'm not going to drink that straight - I tried it and that once was quite enough, thank you very much), so Southern Comfort Manhattans seemed a logical use.
Well, what about these two chicken breasts? Why not soak them in that stuff for a while before grilling?
Why not indeed.

So, a ziploc bag took on a pair of chicken breasts (boneless and skinless, btw) and then we added in the Southern Comfort, some sweet Vermouth (Stock, in case you wondered), a bit of garlic powder, and some olive oil, just to make it all stick.
Once the fire in the grill was ready and the batch of bratwurst had finished (I'll detail the "correct" way to cook brats in another post), on went the chicken.
I must say, it was tender, juicy, and flavourful - all one could ask of that cut, really.

The grilling added the needed snap to the surface which is normally lost from the skinless versions, and the marinade added its own special savour as well.
Highly recommended.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Bin Laden

from grandteuton.blogspot.com
Hearing the news of the SEALs raid, my first thought was, "Well, I hope you're enjoying your stay in Hell." Then I was embarrassed at having thought that.
Don't get me wrong, he deserved what he got in Pakistan - he asked for it, really. Still, it just doesn't feel right to celebrate the damnation of a human soul.
Of course, he will only get what he asked for - though not necessarily what he deserves, as God is merciful.
When one spends a lifetime resisting God's call, one can't expect Him to ignore that choice. God's not going to force Himself on anyone through eternity.
He made us with the ability to choose Him or not - we're not simply automata, bound to the inexorable consequences of our initial conditions and programming. We're actual free moral agents.
For that to matter, our choices have to matter, and so those who have resisted and rejected Him can expect to spend eternity separated from Him. If we're to find eternal separation from God anywhere, it surely will be found nowhere outside of Hell.

I'm not sure why I've been on the theology kick recently, but I think it's amazing how thinking about ultimate things can alter the way I think about proximate ones.

Here are a few of my recent reads you might want to check out:
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, C.S. Lewis
Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller
A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
He Came Down from Heaven, and The Forgiveness of Sins, Charles Williams

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How to Understand the Federal Budget

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

Here's a rather simple way to get your head around the federal budget: divide by 100,000,000 (yes, that's One Hundred Million).

Philip Greenspun has a nice post on this at his blog:


Check it out, and see if it all makes more sense, now.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

What to Read Next

from grandteuton.blogspot.com
Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller.

Wow. I waited a long time before finally buying and reading this book. I had heard nothing but good reviews from people I trust and/or admire, but still, I waited a long time before I bought it and read it. Generally that's a good way to make it nearly impossible for a book to live up to those raised expectations, but this one was even better than I had expected and had been led to believe it would be.

I've read plenty of books on theology.
I've read plenty of books on Christian living.
I've read plenty of books on growing up and learning what it's all about.
This one was different.

Rather than laying out a systematic theology, rather than giving advice on how to live so that my beliefs would show through, this book shows the reader what Christian living can look like.

The friends and acquaintances who peopled Miller's experiences and relationships were real enough to actually matter, and the lessons weren't simply presented as lessons, but rather as stories. There's a power to stories that can't be matched by discussions and arguments, and that power is very much in evidence here.

It reminded me of On the Road, by Kerouac, in that there was a great adventure of a man learning who he really is. At the same time, it's completely different - Miller grows into knowing what relationship is, and how that defines each of us.
Each time he spouted a strong opinion that bothered me, it was quickly followed by something like, "Now wait a minute; that's how I felt at the time. Let me tell you why, and how things changed after that." It was a very effective way to confront the reader with something challenging.

To sum up, this is one of the best books I've ever read - not just on Christian living, or spirituality, or whatever, just one of the best books I've ever read. It's nice to be challenged so much in a loving way.
Highly recommended to all and sundry.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Quiche-age du Jour - 27 March 2011

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

When Christian was home, I fell into my old shopping habits of buying more food than Heidi and I can eat on our own.  Of course, we didn't get around to cooking all the stuff we had thought to eat, so when he headed back to the last frontier (Alaska, not Space, more's the pity), we had a very sizable hunk of salmon filet waiting for us.
We gave it the old college try, but there was still a large piece of fish left over after dinner.  What to do?  What to do?  What else but a salmon quiche?!  (what ever happened to the interrobang?)

Technically, my quiches aren't really quiches.  Over the years, I've developed my own hybrid entity, sitting (quite comfortably, thank you very much) between a quiche and a soufflé.  It's lighter than a quiche, heartier than a soufflé, and it's my very own creation, so I like it best.
If you want to get technical, you'll just have to go hungry at my house.
So, Sunday comes along and it's time for the quiche.  I blind baked a crust (that smelled really good, by the way), and got the rest of the fixings ready.  Sautéed onions received the broken-up salmon to bring the fish up from refrigerator temperature, along with some nice little capers - after all, capers make everything savoury just that much better.  Into the crust went most of the fish/onion/caper mixture, followed by a blend of havarti and (European style) farmer's cheese, the rest of the fish stuff, the last of the cheese, and then my secret egg mixture to complete the filling.

In the oven at 450F for 13 minutes, immediately drop the temp to 350F and continue for another 15 minutes and it's all ready for brunch.  Spectacular enough to eat again for lunch on Monday (and I did), but delicious enough to want another piece on Sunday (but I didn't).

Just plain delicious.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Carnage du Jour - 16 March 2011 (plus Sauce-age!) [Updated]

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

Steaks are fairly simple things, aren't they?  Typically they are - and rightly so - and so they were again this time. What wasn't terribly simple was the accompaniment to the nicely broiled strip steaks.  Oh, and since there was a nice pile of shrimp from an earlier shrimp cocktail platter, they had to get heated at the last moment and piled on top of the steaks. [The shrimp are the update.  How could I have forgotten those beautiful shrimp sitting on top of my steak?]

Swiss chard is always great, and this was particularly fresh and tasty from the steamer (stalks in first to soften a bit, then the rest of the greens - don't toss the stalks, they're at least almost the best part!).
Still, what starch to go with?  Potatoes?  Pasta?  Rice?  How about grilled cantaloupe instead?
Brilliant, no?
Brilliant, yes!

A good-sized cantaloupe (probably really a muskmelon, as we don't get real cantaloupes much in the States) was seeded and cubed, then dusted with a bit of white pepper.  Into the very hot grill pan (how do people cook without one of these?) with some canola oil they went to develop some nice grill marks and begin to soften even beyond their nice ripe softness.  They were awfully tasty as is, but what's better than grilled fruit with something to drizzle on it?  (Answer: not much.)  So a quick sauce (which will definitely be repeated!) was created.
About a tablespoon of nice aged balsamic vinegar went into a quarter cup or so of honey, along with about a half tablespoon of dijon mustard and a sprinkling of beau monde (another go-to seasoning at Cleveland, by the way).  When they were fully mixed, it was little short of spectacular, really.  It worked perfectly on the melon, but as it got on the chard and steak, we discovered that it was simply delicious on each of those elements as well.

Definitely worth repeating, and soon.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Dinner and Guest

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

I don't remember how I got thinking about this, but I was wondering about that old question:
"If you could invite anyone to have dinner with you  - from anywhere, from any time, all that - who would you invite?"
It usually comes down to famous people of the past - writers, statesmen, etc. - or relatives you miss or never knew - my great-great-grandfather who fought in the Civil War, Uncle Jerome (just to see what's in his pocket), etc.
Then I got down to some extended wondering.  What would I serve to someone like that whom I've invited for dinner?

I think this could be a cool thread, so let me know who you'd invite, what you'd put on the menu, and why (why that person / those people? and why that menu?).  I'll reply in a comment after a while with my own party details.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Double R.I.P.

What a day of departures.  I heard on the radio this morning that two of my favourite entertainers have shuffled off this mortal coil.

We've lost George Shearing, the fabulous jazz pianist, composer of Lullaby of Birdland, to congestive heart failure.  George lived a long, fruitful life of 91 years, and produced a great body of work, both compositions and performances, many of which are readily available to us on CD, download, and all that good stuff.  He accomplished all this despite the fact that (to steal a great line) he was born blind and English - the latter being a bigger handicap to a jazz pianist.

In addition, we've lost Kenneth Mars, just shy of his 75th birthday. Most notices have mentioned his great roles in The Producers and Young Frankenstein, but I remember him most fondly for his recurring role as William W. D. "Bud" Prize on the old Fernwood 2night shows.  He usually was wearing a chinodontic device invented by his chinodontist, Cletus Emmet Wheelwelker.  This was one of the finest comedy programmes ever to grace network television, and it's a shame that it seems to be unavailable on DVD - or even in reruns.

Both of these gentlemen brought joy into the lives of many people, and both will be sorely missed.
Rest In Peace.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Carnage du Jour - 11 February 2011

from grandteuton.blogspot.com

At last - we finally broke out the Thai red curry lamb stew that my trusty crock pot had so ably cooked.
I had come across a jar of Thai red curry paste while shopping a couple weeks ago, and as there was a lamb roast in the refrigerator waiting to be cooked, it seemed like a great purchase.  It was.
Along with the lamb (cubed, salted, peppered, and seared in a skillet) went an acorn squash (also cubed), some onions and bok choy (the onions and stem pieces were sautéed a bit) and a whole bunch of that tasty red curry paste.

While it was not as hot and spicy as might be imagined (or feared), there was a ton of flavour, and the lamb was as tender as any meat I can remember ever eating.

Wow, this was really good, served on a bed of rice cooked in a bit of vegetable stock.