Friday, November 11, 2016

R.I.P. Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen died yesterday at the age of 82.
I don't know that I could have enjoyed a whole concert of his singing, but I certainly would have enjoyed a whole concert of his songs.

82 is nothing like as old as it used to be, but it's still impressive that he had just issued another new album. What a way to go out. (Or as the song goes [not his], If you gotta go, that's the way to go.)

He'll be missed, but his music will keep him in our memories for years and years to come.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Carnage du Jour - 01 November 2016

"Do we have anything we can do on the grill? It's a beautiful night."

I love being asked questions like that.

The answer was that we had smoked sausage, hot dogs, and half of a beef tenderloin.
I also got to use my new chimney-type charcoal starter, so double bonus!

The sausage and hot dogs were just the normal "put them on and cook them, smearing mustard (Nance's) on the smoked sausage as it cooks" kind of thing, but what you really want to know about is the beef tenderloin.

I made a rub of dry mustard, rubbed thyme, onion powder, and a touch of salt. I rubbed that on the beef and let it sit a bit before taking it to the grill.
The beef got cooked over semi-indirect heat (semi- because I wanted a bit of a crust on it, but not too much) while we also grilled some rainbow carrots and golden beets.
(There was also a pot of yellow rice going inside with a half can of Red Gold diced tomatoes with chipotle added toward the end of the cooking.)

Once everything was done, the beef rested briefly and then sliced, Heidi took her plate to the table while I finished filling my own. Before I could join her, she came back and told me the extra little piece I had dropped on her plate was the best piece of meat she had ever put in her mouth.
I'm not sure I'd go quite that far, but oh my was that a delicious tenderloin.

Highly recommended.

Monday, October 03, 2016

R.I.P. Sir Neville Marriner

More sad news came in this morning.
The now-formerly-ubiquitous Sir Neville Marriner has died at the age of 92.

The founder and long-time conductor of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields was one of the most recorded conductors ever, and he was actually quite excellent at it.

There was even the Detroit connection through his time as artistic director of Michigan's Meadowbrook Festival from 1979-1984.

He will be well and truly missed.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

R.I.P. Arnold Palmer

I'll admit it - I used to watch golf on television.
I still do on occasion, but not as often as I did in the days of Arnold Palmer.

Yep. I was a member of Arnie's Army and mighty proud of it.
In fact, my golf clubs (excepting the putter) boldly display Arnold Palmer's autograph - at least as printed on or forged into them.

He was a great guy, by all accounts, and it would be nice to hoist a mixture of Iced Tea and Lemonade in his memory.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Shockage du Jour - 14 August 2016

I'm shocked at times to find that I agree on a topic with someone with whom I generally disagree. There are even times when I find myself embarrassed to agree with someone who is generally repulsive or repugnant to me.
I'll not name names here, but I will give one example that's milder than most.

I think of Mitch Albom as a good writer and generally good guy. I like a lot of his charity work and enjoy reading his columns from time to time.

Still, we don't tend to be in the same part of the political and economic policy spectrum most of the time, so I was pleasantly surprised to read his column on the death tax this weekend.

It's a very nice indictment of the general government attitude of "you don't earn that money, we just let you keep some of it to spend on yourself" that passes for tax policy these days.

Check it out here if you haven't read it yet.

Nicely done, Mitch.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Joyage du Jour - 16 July 2016

I realise that I waited a fairly long while to post this, but I wanted to have a bit of perspective before essaying the topic.

Happily, perspective seems not to have changed much of anything here. Joy is the weakest word that will remotely touch the experience.
You see, Christian - yes, my flavour consultant of many a carnage noted here - got married, and it was a wonderful day.

The rehearsal dinner was fabulous, what with mussels, Belgian beers, and feather bowling at the Cadieux Café.
The ceremony was perfect - personal and real in the beautiful sanctuary of Grosse Pointe United Methodist Church.
The bride was beautiful, of course. Not that she needed bridality to be beautiful, mind you - Dana is a beautiful woman in any way you care to imagine.
The reception was as much fun as can be had, what with friends, family, new family, new friends, food, dancing, music, photography, and whatever else could be needed or wanted.

The best part is that we now have a daughter, and we love her.
We have a son, and we love him.
We have them both, and we love them each, but even better, we love them together.

Marriage is a wonderful thing - a dream within a dream.

God sure can design and ordain spectacular stuff!

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Carnage du Jour - 01 July 2016

We had a nice roasting chicken in the refrigerator and it was next in line so what to do?
I had cleverly had my butcher cut out the backbone (retaining it for stock purposes, of course), so it wasn't going to take terribly long to cook in butterfly (or spatchcock) mode. The weather was great and the Weber grill beckoned.

While the coals got ready, I remembered having seen a recipe for Persian spiced chicken, but didn't seem to have any ground allspice (I know, really?), so I went into improv mode.
I made a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, Hungarian paprika, chipotle powder, and garlic salt and rubbed that onto the very lightly oiled skin of the chicken.
It started skin side up over a cool part of the fire, then flipped a couple times, moving around to get a crispy skin and a fully cooked interior.
Rice and corn made for a nice pair of sides and the chicken was very tasty - juicy and crispy with a slight afterglow of spice with each bite. It was spicy in the sense of flavourful, but not in the sense of hot as it seems to be used today.

Delicious and highly recommended - definitely one to be repeated.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Carnage du Jour - 04 June 2016

Tenderloin - but this time it wasn't pork, it was beef.

I had bought a whole beef tenderloin some time ago and cut it into two two-pound-ish roasts, cooking one and freezing the other.

Well, as I said, that was some time ago and it was time to cook the remaining, now-thawed portion.

Since my trusty Better Homes & Gardens cookbook told me that tenderloin should be roasted at a higher temperature than most cuts (it might have been 425 rather than 350?), I thought I'd do it on my (also trusty) Weber grill.

The fire was doing its thing, getting ready in the chimney starter, so I pulled out the roast and gave it a liberal rubbing of kosher salt, dried thyme, and dry mustard. At the same time I was lightly marinating some fresh Michigan asparagus in a mixture of balsamic vinaigrette and green goddess dressings, as well as preparing some cheese-stuffed mushroom caps for the grill.
Simply grilling it for something on the order of 25 minutes (turning it every 5 or 10, eventually checking with my instant read thermometer for an internal 140) with the other items joining after a few minutes was all it took.

I have to admit that this was one of the most successful beef tenderloins I've ever done, and the sides were so good as to evince the comment from Heidi that she didn't know which of the three items was her favourite.

Delicious and highly recommended.

Monday, May 02, 2016

R.I.P. Del Schneider

The bulk of this post is a repost of a classic from this blog, but done in honor and remembrance of my late father-in-law, Del Schneider.
There are too many great stories to share in this brief post, and too many to forget, but let this serve as a quick memorial to the man who not only gave me his daughter's hand in marriage, but also taught me how to cook bratwurst properly.
Dad you will be missed, remembered, and celebrated.
I love you.

How to Cook Bratwurst

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.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

R.I.P. Merle Haggard

Sad to note the passing of a truly great singer, songwriter, and musician.

Merle had some great hits, but most of what he wrote and performed should have been even more popular than it was.

Perhaps the angels with their Silver Wings can help to Sing Him Back Home to where the Good Times Ain't Over For Good.

Go spin a few Haggard tunes and have a beer (to celebrate National Beer Day on top of it). I think Hag would approve.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Pescage du Jour - 17 February 2016

What's so special about a Blue Plate Special?

That, of course, depends upon the specifics. In this instance we're considering that revered combination of salmon patties and spaghetti, and that actually can be something special.

When I got home from work, Heidi informed me of the selection for that evening's meal - my only task was to create the patties. After opening a brace of cans of salmon, finding the panko (it was right in front of me, of course, that's why it took so long to find it), getting the horseradish sauce, lime juice, and so forth, it was only a matter of minutes to create a tasty blend of meat, flavours, and binder which was ready to become nice crispy patties.

The spaghetti went into the pasta pot, the sauce had already been created and was heating nicely on the back burner, and so it was time to fry those patties. (Perhaps sauté is more correct, but since I was going for crispy, I think it really was fry.)

Once the pasta was done and drained, the patties were removed from the warm oven where they had rested after being taken from the skillet. Noodles and sauce went down first, then a couple patties, then another splash of sauce and a dusting of shredded cheese (a blend of parmesan, romano, and asiago) and we were good to go.

Oh, and so was the meal - tasty as always, and all thanks to Heidi's announcing her craving.

Delicious and highly recommended.