Damn SPAM!!!!

No..not the new awful type of Spam…not the kind that makes you cringe every time you fire up your email client….we are talking the real deal here…the one…the only…

Why all the noise about the mystery meat in a can? After my last column about being an omnivore, I had to work late one night and came home to find the Spam stash completely consumed by the family. I think I even saw a couple of crumbs in the goldfish bowl.

This mass consumption of Spam lead me to muse upon its origins and uses as I showered later that night. (Yes, I think of food even in the shower.)

Besides the well known fact that Hawaiians have us all beat on the per capita consumption of Spam, did you even know there was a Hawaiian Spam? Or how about Smoked Spam? In our local stores we have only have Spam, low sodium Spam and Turkey Spam. Now according to the Spam homepage, Spam came from the words “Spiced Ham”. Ok…I can see that..but what about Turkey Spam? It doesn’t have any “-am” in it. It’s got “-urkey”! So now we have…

If this isn’t enough Spam for you…there's a lot more, including Monty Python’s Spamalot. On their website you can purchase limited edition Spam!

And finally, I have found what I am getting my hubby for Christmas…Hot and Spicy Spam, what ever true Spam-a-holic wants this holiday gift giving season…Yum!


The reason why I am not participating the IMBB 19: a testament to Veganism

I was kinda bummed by this month’s Is My Blog Burning. I like vegetables well enough, but mostly as side dished to a big heaping plate of dead critter. Eat nothing but grains, veggies and fruits. Eschew all animal by-products? No Jell-o (and everyone knows there is always room for Jell-o). No bee spit. No cheddar. NO BACON! It t’aint natural I tell ya…nope..not one bit.

Personally, I could try to survive without eating any animal products for one day, but there would be a revolt among the plebes. The carefully hidden store of Spam would be raided; any critter that moved too slowly would be fair game for the starving hoards. “Dear, didn’t we have three goldfish a couple of hours ago?”

So to celebrate my commitment to eating animal protein, I went to Adam’s house and fried up some prime loin chops. I prefer a nice rib chop, as you can hold the rib like a handle and gnaw the meat off as our ancestors did. Plus the fat gets nice and brown, and I like the sounds the bone makes when I suck the last of the juices from it. (Eating meat is very tactile and satisfying. I can’t say I have ever had the same experience eating any type of vegetable matter. Well with the possible exception of one pear.)

My weapons in the war pork chops are Seasoned Salt and a cast iron skillet. The salt adds an unidentifiable something to the mix and the skillet let’s me get a good crust on the meat because of the way it holds heat. (I usually take my 12” skillet when traveling to Adam’s. Being single, his kitchen is lacking in hardcore cooking tools.)

I bought a whole pork loin and cut it into butterfly chops myself. It saves about $1.00/pound and allows me to control the thickness of chop. I hate having to buy prepackaged meats. I have gone out of my way to make friends with the local butcher who is glad to custom cut items for me upon request, but with something like boneless pork, there is no reason not to tackle it with a sharp knife and some basic knowledge.

I sprinkle the chops with Seasoned Salt, onion powder, garlic powder and cayenne pepper and let them sit while the skillet heats up. I usually have to add a couple tablespoons of oil to the pan, as the pork these days is too lean to provide its own lubrication. Once the pan is good and hot, in go my lil’ chops. (At this point, I get out the pepper spray to keep the men out of the kitchen until I am ready to serve. The smell of cooking meat drives them crazy and distracts them from their football.)

Once I get the first side browned (thank you Maillard reaction!), I flip them over and wait. I usually cook these over medium high heat. I will cut one and check for doneness after a few minutes. I am sorry I can’t give you times. I am old-fashioned in that I cook by looks and smells.

I served these fine looking pieces of porcine flesh with mashed Yukon Gold potatoes and sautéed green beans. Just a side note: the potatoes had a whole stick of butter and lots of whole milk in them. However, any vegan would have been able to eat the beans, which were sautéed in olive oil and garlic with salt and fresh ground pepper.

So there you have it - my anti-vegan meal! Bon appétit!


Hi. Again.

Ummmmmmm…I’ve been bad. I haven’t posted the 7th. That’s because my work has eaten all my free time. Hopefully as the cookie baking season commences, I will be able to post more frequently.

Most of the past ten days has been pretty damned dull: long hours and lots of fast food. Last Sunday was spent at a training session for work. At least they had a catered lunch and lots of free coffee. It wasn’t great, but in the immortal words of my college roommate Cheryl, “If it’s free, it’s gotta be good!”

However, I did get to cook for Adam on the 10th. We had spaghetti carbonara, fresh tomato salad and some really great bread from the newly opened Whole Foods. Adam and our friend George waxed poetic over the wide variety of foods. Whole Foods even carries ostrich eggs. As much as George and Adam carried on, I think I better research how to cook an egg that big.

I also had time this weekend to experiment with some new foods. This week Meijer had packages of beef ribs for $.99 per pound. I had the butcher crack the two slabs into three pieces each and pulled out my secret weapon in the War on Meat:

How to Cook Meat by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby

I constantly refer to this book when it comes to figuring how to cook all the odd bits of meat that the local markets offload for cheap: Eye of Round Roast, Beef Ribs, huge Sirloin Tip Roasts, fresh Picnic Hams, Etc. I went out of my way to find a book that would keep me from standing in front of the meat case, scratching my head and looking stupefied.

The recipe I used was Flintstone-Style BBQ Beef Ribs with Hot, Sweet and Sour Bone Sauce on page 80 and 81. By the end of the meal, the official title was Caveman Ribs with Bonesuckin’ Sauce. (I would reproduce it here, but I think that the copyright police might have something to say about it. Rule one: always ask permission!)

Eric and George came over and helped us polish them off. You know you are among good friends when you all sit around covered in glistening fat and blood red sauce making primal grunting noises and the only thing said is “Pass a beer, will ya?”

So if you are in the market for a good book on meat, this is it! It goes for about $6 in hardback on Amazon.

I used another book to defeat the dreaded Bake Sale monster as it reared its head on Friday night, after I came staggering home from 25 hours of shear hell. I needed fast, I needed cheap, I needed good. And it had to be from ingredients I had in my pantry. Tall order. I pulled out one of my new favorites The Good Cookie: Over 250 Delicious Recipes from Simple to Sublime by Tish Boyle and located something called “Crunchy Peanut Bars”. They were rechristened “Paydaze” by my hubby. A simple crust covered in peanut flavored caramel topped with salted peanuts. The recipe only made a 9 x 13 pan, but you have to cut them small or your would overdose on salty-sweet goodness. Definately PMS material.

Long story cut short: They sold out. The girls watching the table told me some lady bought a dozen of them alone. I think I have a keeper! YEAH!

I also made a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I knew this favorite would sell out...who can resist?!

The bake sale went to benefit the Worthington Public Libraries. Their funding from the state will be cut in half next year and they are trying to make up the difference. It's sad when one of the greatest public resources has to beg for funding... I hope my cookies helped a little bit. If you live in Worthington, please support your local library and vote for the levy this November. I know that I will!


I grew up spoiled rotten…

...on home canned vegetables.

I did not taste a commercially canned green bean until I ate a school lunch in first grade. Blech! Limp, overcooked and flavorless.

My father was a big believer in home gardening. He was of a fading generation even when I was a kid. His family was poor when he was growing up. They raised rabbits and chickens in their backyard, along with a large kitchen garden. My dad had four brothers, and they were all expected to help sustain the family by working in the garden as well as deliver papers, etc.

So it was only natural to him that we would have a large garden in our back yard. Our house sat on an acre lot in Obetz. (Yup, I’m a Southside gal!) The garden took up almost a ¼ of that lot. No kidding. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, cabbage (we made out own kraut), radishes, carrots, green beans, strawberries, turnips, beets, horseradish, rhubarb and I don’t know all what else. Many grown from seeds he had saved himself (beans and tomatoes especially) All weeded and watered with care and with help from us kids. And that isn’t even considering the grapes, apples and pears. I don’t think any pictures of it survive. I mean, who would waste film on pictures of tomatoes right?

Lest you think my father unique, our neighbors, the Raineys, had a garden just as large and plentiful. Willie Rainey loved his garden as much as my dad loved his, and every year there was a contest to see who could get the first ripe tomato. My dad always planted his Early Girls closer to the house so he could watch them for signs of the first blush. One year, my dad (who had a roughish sense of humor) bought a ripe store tomato and perched it in the branches of one plant just to see Mr. Rainey get jealous.

The reason I am waxing so poetic over gardening: heirloom tomatoes. I refuse to buy the plastic red orbs that pass for tomatoes in the grocery stores, and have learned to adapt my menu accordingly. I have my three plants in the back of my apartment along with a habanera and a jalapeño plant. But it’s not enough. Ever. So off the farmer’s market I go, reusable cloth bags in hand (aren’t I so PC?).

And here is a picture of some of my tomatoes before I turned them into a salad with a little salt and some shredded basil from Debbie’s garden. And BLTs. And cheese omelet and tomato sandwiches. Yeah…I said omelet sandwiches. You got a problem with that?!

Tony’s Omelet Sandwiches

6 slices good dense sandwich bread, toasted (We use Pepperidge Farm because they remember. Well that and I work close to their outlet store. Our preference is for buttermilk or sourdough for these sandwiches)

1 really huge beefsteak tomato, dead ripe, sliced about an 1/8 of an inch thick

6 eggs, beaten

4 oz of sharp cheddar sliced thin

2 T of butter

Mayo, salt and pepper to taste

Ok folks, get out that nonstick skillet! Put it over medium high heat. When heated, melt your butter. Once the butter is all bubbly, pour in your beaten eggs and lay the slices of cheddar on top. As the eggs cook, the cheese will melt into them. Scootch the eggs around in the pan and tilt it so the uncooked egg gets to the heat. Remember, like with scrambled eggs, remove them from the heat before they are done!

(When is it done? That’s the mystery. They should be almost set. If you have brown streaks on the back when you turn the omelet out on the plate, it’s overdone. You can still eat it, it just won’t be the best it could be.)

Turn the omelet out on a plate and slice into three pieces. Place on the toasted bread, salt and pepper and add your big honkin’ slice of ripe tomato goodness. Tony and I like a little mayo on ours but our daughter prefers the sandwiches without.

A couple of notes from Tony:

A) If you would like, you can add mushrooms, onions or any other vegetation you might like. Just make sure you sweat them down to get rid of most of their excess moisture.

B) Do not add salt to the eggs when you cook them. Wait until afterwards. It’s bad for the eggs and makes them toughen up.

So there. Now you know what we are doing with the mutant that was unfortunate enough to land in our back yard. Pictures coming soon!


Alert! Alert!

The scientists at International Department of Interstellar Observation and Technology (I.D.I.O.T.) have been observing the alien life forms growing on vine number three. The fruit has continued to grow to an alarming size then slowly turn an appealing red color. We have included a photo with a soda can for size reference.

Fearful to let the pod ripen any longer, a team in protective bio-suits removed the largest pod from the vine and transported it to the kitchen…uh hem..lab.

Further experiments are needed to examine the internal structure of this creature.

Stay tuned for further developments!