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Showing posts from May, 2020

What I Read This Week

What is a COVID-19 surcharge? Why some restaurants are adding an extra fee to your bill - We've not seen this hit our area yet, but this is happening in other parts of the US.  My first thought, of many, is that if your a restaurant choosing to do this you need to be upfront about it.  Don't make it a surprise charge when I get my bill at the end of the meal. One of world's best restaurants will seat mannequins at tables to make it look busy - A couple of weeks ago I shared about a place in Amsterdam that is using small greenhouse-style buildings for dining patrons.  This week we have a restaurant full of mannequins in Washington, VA.  They wanted to make the place feel a little less empty while dining capacity is limited. The Story Behind One of the Most Striking Photos of the Mount St. Helens Eruption After 40 Years - I love stories like this.  As a novice photographer myself, I always want to know the back story.  This an iconic piece of history with a  great ba

Recipe Review: Live Eat Learn How to Make Greek Yogurt

I've always wanted to make yogurt, but many of the recipes seemed so daunting and overly involved.  Then a few weeks ago my foodie friend in Texas sent me a yogurt recipe and kept encouraging me to try it.  She'd made it and it was amazing and tasted so good.  I printed the recipe and then it laid on the kitchen table until a week ago.  I finally got off my lazy excuses and made it. Recipe:    How to Make Greek Yogurt Source:   Live Eat Learn Level of Difficulty:   Easy Ingredients:   Fridge Staples Rating:   ★★★★★ It took me about 45 minutes to put the initial part of the yogurt together.  Then it was all about the waiting.  I opted to use our Excalibur Dehydrator on the 115° setting, per the instructions in my manual, instead of using the oven to keep it warm while it "incubated" and became yogurt. I chose to use my large glass bowl because it has a lid, and I knew I'd be straining it.  It took about 8 hours in the dehydrator.  I think using the towe

Snapshots of Our Alaskan Life

If you live in rural Alaska, you know when someone says “town” they mean the nearest large city, usually Anchorage or Fairbanks depending on where they live.  Translation - town means the “big” city. Last Friday we went to town for the first time since the COVID-19 Pandemic started.  It has been nearly three months, the longest we’ve ever gone without going to town.   We enjoyed our first meal in a restaurant in 70 days.  Yes, 70!  I know there are other states still under  quarantine, but the state of Alaska opened back up for business as usual with a side of social distancing last Friday.  We opted for one of our faves - Friar Tucks  Hoagie House.  The weather was even nice enough to sit outside.  I can only tell you that the French dip is amazing and you really must get the Hoo Doo cheese fries with it.  That’s what we order every single time we eat there.  We did change it up with an order of the pretzels with Hoo Doo cheese sauce, but hunger took over and the photo op was w

Recipe Review: Glen and Friends Cooking Emergency Cake

Being a house of two I love a dessert recipe that's a small batch kind of thing.  After seeing Glen make this cake I knew it would be the perfect blank slate to start making cakes with, and we wouldn't have to eat it for weeks.  I love Glen's vintage cookbook series and this is another one of the Depression Era recipes from his cookbook collection.  Recipe:   Emergency Cake Source:    Glen and Friends Cooking Level of Difficulty:   Easy Ingredients:   Pantry Staples Rating:   ★★★★★ Printable PDF:  Emergency Cake Bonus Frosting Recipe:   Small Batch Chocolat Mocha Frosting This cake is a basic white cake, nothing fancy but it has a soft, airy texture with a fine crumb.  The flavor is simple, how you'd expect a plain white cake to be.  The small size is perfect for a small birthday celebration, dinner for a few close friends, or to scratch the craving for cake. I must confess, I didn't gilded the lily right out the gate.  I had to add mini chocolate chi

Garden Update - Greenhouse Planted

On Mother's Day, we planted the greenhouse, which if you're keeping track, was a few weeks ago.  The weather was beautiful and it was an all-day affair.  I couldn't be happier to have all the plants moved out of the house and into their new home in the greenhouse. It will take some time for things to grow and fill in, but I think this year is going to be a good garden year.  Here's a look at the full house, wilted plants and all.  I can assure you that nearly everything perked up after a really good drink.  We've only lost two tomato plants and they weren't very hearty when we moved them. We planted the new raided bed planter with Winter Squash, Swiss Chard, Brussels Sprouts, Cucumbers, Bell Peppers, Broccoli, Mystery Squash (no really we have no idea what we saved seeds from), Anaheim Peppers, Pie Pumpkins, and Jalapeno Peppers. The ladder we built is where I planted herbs and lettuce.  I have Oregano, Basil, Marjoram, Rosemary, and Sage in the top

Weekly Reading Notes

What did I read?  Here's the list. Pandemic Gardens are Trending - We already had plans for a garden this year, but I'd be lying if I said this wasn't part of our reasoning when it came time to plant seeds.  We're planting a bit more than we normally would, and we'll be exploring storage ideas as we see what produces and how much. How the sausage gets made: This butcher wants people to eat less meat  - For me, the interesting part of the article was about a third of the way down the page when she started talking about using veggies as filler and binder in place of the traditional less appetizing fillers.  Sadly  Seemore Meats & Veggies isn't available in my area, but I'd totally try them if they were! The Secret to Better Egg Salad? Grill Your Eggs  - Say What?  I've heard of the traditional boiled egg.  Making them in the oven thanks, Alton Brown.  I've even learned that you can make them in the Instant Pot.  Now we can grill them?  Oh

Buying & Using a Whole Pork Lion

With the current limits placed on meat purchasing in many places, I felt this was a timely article to write.  Let me be clear, I'm talking about the full pork loin, not just the tenderloin, there is a difference.  The whole pork loin is something that isn't always available, but if you see it at your local grocery store I'd encourage you to purchase it and break it down yourself.  It's more commonly found this time of year, during grilling season.  If this idea is intimidating for you I'd encourage you to check out Joshua Wiesman's Video -  4 Easy Ways To Cook a Whole Pork Loin .  This is a great video, especially if you've portioned a full loin. I think we often see a full pork loin and think "we'd never cook that much meat" viewing it as something you purchase to smoke for the company picnic.  Which, while not wrong, is not the only option.  Breaking down whole cuts can be a huge budget saver, whether it's a pork loin or a chicken. 

Recipe Review: The Kitchn Crispy Sheet Pan Gnocchi and Veggies

I'm always looking for new recipe ideas for dinner that are meatless but are something Hubby will still enjoy.  Not all meatless meals are man-friendly.  Nough said! Recipe:  Crispy Sheet Pan Gnocchi and Veggies Source:  The Kitchn Level of Difficulty:  Easy Ingredients:  Mostly Fresh Rating:  ★★★★ Sheet Pan Gnocchi is easy to make, but finding gnocchi could be a challenge depending on where you live.  I buy Cordabella Potato Gnocchi at our commissary, but you can order gnocchi on  Amazon  if you can't find it in your local store.   I added asparagus and mushrooms to the veggies and use chopped bell pepper in place of the baby bell peppers called for.  I also finished the dish by serving it with some pearl mozzarella.   Next time I make this I will opt for Italian seasoning over the rosemary.  Rosemary was okay, but I think it would be a better dish without it.  I will leave out the tomatoes, they didn't add much to the dish.  I'd rather trade them f

One Chicken Multiple Meals

When there are only two people living in a house you get creative with how you make meals and deconstruct meals.  Preparing a whole chicken is one of those things that require some creativity to get the best value out of our money.  We pay on average $8 to $10 per whole chicken. We usually cook a whole chicken one of two ways in the crockpot, using the Fauxtisserie Chicken recipe from Our Best Bites or beer can style on the grill, sometimes with a little smoke. The first dinner is usually the chicken from the grill or crockpot with sides that fit the season we're cooking it.  Spring and summer might bring potato salad and baked beans, while fall and winter could bring mashed potatoes and gravy with peas or green bean casserole. After dinner the night of the cooking, we bone the chicken after dinner and separate white meat from the dark.  White meat will be used for sandwiches or a second chicken and sides kind of meal.  Dark meat is used for chicken salad, tacos, nachos,

Life Hack for Leftovers

We're all cooking a lot more right now.  Yes, I know things are beginning to open back up around the nation, but this is gonna take some time.  I also think we'll continue to cook more, at least I know we will in our house.  That said, I thought I'd share this quick tip with you all. I know what a struggle it can be to keep track of all the leftover bits that go into the fridge, with the promise to use it later.  Very often that promise is broken.  Leftover toppings for tacos, that spot of pizza sauce, maybe half a can of beans; all go in, never to be used.  Found months later, unidentifiable, ending up in the trash.    My life hack for leftovers a small dry-erase board ( similar to this one ) that hangs on the front of our fridge.  I write all the leftovers on the board, as they go into the fridge.  It's making packing hubby's lunches easier.  It also helps me when I'm planning and making dinner.  I can easily see what needs to be used up, reinvented, o

Weekly Reading Notes

Weekly Reading Notes is a weekly feature I've been thinking about trying.  I read a lot of amazing blogs every week and I want to share what I'm reading and the takeaways I have from each article. I Asked My Co-Workers How They Butter Toast. It Got Weird.  - Ok, let's be real, who's not gonna read an article with a title like that?  What I took away is that  I think I need a Japanese Butter Knife. 6 Little Gadgets Every Butter-Lover Should Own  - Is there a theme? Not really, but this article brings us the Butter Mill.  Yes, please!  This could change every baker's world. Deli-Style Whipped Cream Cheese - If only I could get my hands on good bakery bagels!   20 Awesome Avocado Varieties (Type A & Type B Avocados Explained)  - I had no idea there were so many kinds of Avocados.  I do love it when we travel to Hawaii and can get the varieties that make the Hass look like a mini version.   Aldi Has a Good Reason for Not Playing Any Music in

Recipe Review: King Arthur Flour Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza

OMG!  This Pizza is so good!  No really!  You must make it, but don't run off just yet, let's talk about it.  I found this through Instagram when  Kristen Miglore of Food52 Genius Recipes made it.  I learned this is King Arthur Flour Company's 2020 Recipe of the Year. Fist Make Recipe:    Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza Source:    King Arthur Flour Company Level of Difficulty:   Moderate Ingredients:   Pantry Staples Rating:   ★★★★★ Notes:   Food 52 Genius Article on the Pizza with Video This pizza reminds me of the Pizza Hut Pan Pizza of my childhood, with its crispy exterior, molten hot cheese, and soft tender insides. I think the real genius of this recipe is that the entire crust isn't covered in sauce.  It's just dropped on in a few pockets to give you a little pop of flavor as you eat your way through this pillow of heaven. The first time we made it I followed the recipe exactly, including slipping the dough into a gallon ziptop bag for its over-nig

Kitchen Library - Reference Books

I started building a kitchen library when we got married, nearly 13 years ago.  Before that, I had a handful of cookbooks and a recipe box.  I know what you're thinking - "well isn't that a kitchen library?"  The short answer is yes, but I'm talking about something that's a little more in-depth, something with a little more meat on the shelves so to speak. So what's in my kitchen library?  I have an array of cookbooks, books on food writing and how to write cookbooks, books about ingredients, books on dehydrations, books for selling table to market, books on substitutions, and even a book about wine.  I've also taken my recipes out of boxes, because I'm not a recipe box user, as much as I love the idea of one.  My recipes are in 3-ring binders, yes plural, and every recipe is in a sheet protector or photo pocket depending on what it's written on.  I also have a small selection of food memoirs on a shelf in the living room. Today I though

Recipe Review: Glen & Friends Cooking 1800's Grasmere Gingerbread

I want to by saying I'm a sucker for old recipes, but I usually just collect them for reading.  I have a great stash of old cookbooks, most of them are church books.  I've made a few recipes, but very few. I've been entertaining myself by watching cooking channels on Youtube, and a few weeks ago I stumbled onto Glen & Friends Cooking.  The first video of Glen's I watched was the  Behind The Scenes Kitchen Studio .  His studio is fantastic, but I digress.  We're here to talk about 1800's Grasmere Gingerbread. Recipe:  1800's Grasmere Gingerbread Source:   Glen & Friends Cooking Level of Difficulty:   Easy Ingredients:   Pantry Staples Rating:   ★★★★★ Printable Recipe: 1800's Grasmere Gingerbread Grasmere Gingerbread is like a jumbo soft ginger cookie than it is bread.  While the name is a bit misleading the ginger is not.  There are 2 teaspoons of ground ginger in this soft chewy bit of heaven. It's like your favorite soft mol

Recipe Adaptation - Homemade Biscuits

I've spent the better part of the last 13 years looking for the perfect biscuit recipe because I was tired of making do with crappy biscuits.  Anyone who really knows me knows the soul purpose of a biscuit in my life is to create the bed for which my sausage gravy will rest.  Those rare times we eat breakfast out hubby always teases "what are you gonna have, if there's no biscuits and gravy?"  Biscuits and gravy is, hands down, my favorite breakfast, so a good biscuit is essential. I learned to make the sausage gravy years ago, but the biscuit was kind of an afterthought.  I started with the biscuits in the can, fondly referred to as whop 'em biscuits.  Then there was the biscuit mix phase, not bad but I wanted more out of a biscuit.  After that I went through the homemade biscuit mix phase, always dense and never fluffy.  I even tried a handful of "from scratch" recipes out of cookbooks and from websites, never satisfied with the results.  Then, a c

Cooking Every Meal for the Last 57 Days

The other day while eating my lunch on the patio and enjoying the sun, it dawned on me, I have cooked every meal we've eaten for that last 57 days.  Yes.  Every. Meal.  Kind of crazy when you think about that.  We've not eaten out, we've not gotten carry out, nor have we grabbed something from the grocery store deli.  I can honestly say, I haven't really missed eating out.   Here's a look at some of the things we've indulged in and enjoyed. French Dip, Fries, & Star Fruit Spanikopita & Starfruit Mongolian Beef over Rice Rum Cake Focaccia Bread (We've made this twice) Soft Wrap Bread (So far this one's at three and counting) Instant Pot Pork Ribs, Potato Salad and Baked Beans  Meatloaf, Foccacia Bread, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, & Peas Scotch Eggs & Hashbrown Patties Garlic Bread Chicken Nuggets & Fries Grilled Pork with Salsa Verde, Mexican Ri