Another Saturday Meat Fieldtrip

I got kicked out of the house Saturday…no, I’m not kidding! Tony needed a quiet morning so that he could get his writing done, so he informed me Friday night that I would be taking the offspring and getting the hell out of Dodge (for at least 4 hours).

Now I could have wandered about aimlessly as I am want to do, but I had a hankerin’ for some meat. Not just any meat, but something smoky and salty..damn, this is starting to sound pornographic. So I went in search for something to satisfy my meat cravings now that my man had done kicked me out.

On my way to Schuman’s meats, I passed Thurn’s Specialty Meats. Now, you have to realize, I have passed Thurn’s for about 35 years. I have never gone in. I was always in a hurry, or they weren’t open, or the moon was in the wrong phase…excuses, excuses. There were no excuses this time. I was at liberty, I had money burning a hole in my pocket, it was a beautiful day and I had a meat jones on.

Thurn’s is only open 3 days a week. Yup. 3 days. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. And Saturday is only a half day. So I cruise into a mostly empty parking lot at 11:30 am, and was kinda worried…was there a reason it was empty? Did I miss the meat? Annie and I walked up to the door and entered.

If there is one thing I am sorry about, it is that the internet does not have smell. If I could have captured the smell that hit my nose when I walked in that door, I would be rich. It was the perfect smell for a meat shop. Smoke… rich, palpable, almost tangible. It made both of us take an extra deep breath. And then, I almost started drooling. Hell I did drool. I am drooling now just thinking about it. Dammit, now I have to go get a snack..be right back.

Have I mentioned how good their garlic bologna is? (I just ate a big chunk!) And their smoked braunschweiger…oh god. Now I need a sandwich of that…yummm.

The great thing about Thurn’s is that everything is made on site using family recipes. Smoked, cured, ground, or whatever needs to be done…right there. No vacuum sealed packages needed. Having been around over 100 years, they have it down pat.

My only regret – I did not get more. I picked up a pound of bacon, a small German bologna (about 2/3 of a pound), a pound of braunschweiger and a ½ pound of ham. I wanted to get some tongue, but they were out. (When informed they were out, a voice behind me piped up, “Damn, that is what I came for!”)

Now notice that in the picture that there is no ham. That’s because only two slices made it home. Annie unwrapped it in the car and we ate it right out of the package – no bread, no nothing. Only our love for Tony and shear willpower saved those two slices. Those disappeared as soon as we handed over the goods. And about half the bologna as well.

The bacon… bacon, bacon, bacon, bacon. I feel like that dog in the commercial. Moments after the above picture was taken, those lovely smoky strips of porcine flesh were sizzling in the pan. The odor of smoke filled the house as it cooked up. Eaten with the last of the tomatoes from my vines, it made a glorious “farewell to summer” lunch.

I can not wait until I have a chance to go down on a Thursday morning. Maybe I can get a little more – no, make that a lot more - of their quality products.

Here is just a partial list of what you can pick up – if you are lucky!

  • Bratwurst – 6 different kinds
  • Knockwursts
  • Bockwursts
  • Jagdwurst
  • Thuringer
  • Baked Ham
  • Pepperloaf
  • Honey Loaf
  • Souse
  • Head Cheese
  • Blood Sausage

plus tons more…

Thurn’s Specialty Meats

530 Greenlawn Ave.

Columbus, Ohio 43223



2005 Cookie Confab

Hot chicks covered in dough!!

Now that got your attention, didn't it?

Every year I get together with my girlfriends in my office to plan out our cookie baking strategies. (This includes Rick, who by his own admission is one of my girliest of friends.) The Cookie Confabs usually consist of lots of food, lots of gossip and tons of cookies. And a few tears and snarls because not everyone gets what they want. "Oh god...she is not going to want to make those nasty things again this year, is she?"

In attendance:



And myself.

The buffet was very crowded.

(Rick could not make it due to an illness in the family.)

First order of the day: Eat - and boy howdy, did we ever.

The Super Seafood Buffet is an oriental buffet that consists of the usual dishes: General Tao’s Chicken, Seafood Delight, Pizza, and so on, but they also offer a nice array of seafood items as well. There is usually at least one fish that has its head left on. Also the shrimp usually have heads. Some of the waiters do at times as well. Some mediocre dim sum, decent soups (seafood, hot and sour and wonton), ersatz sushi, and a Mongolian grill. Plus raw oysters, crab legs and mussels. You get the idea. Since the space used to be an Old Town Buffet, they have more buffet troughs than any of the other Asian buffets in town. As Jim, Gail's hubby (who hates Chinese food and calls it Catratdog) said when he saw the spread, "Holy cow, Rose, are you trying to kill us? We'll eat ourselves to death!"

(Let me digress for a moment to discuss buffet eating. There are certain rules that I adhere to as much as possible. The first is to only go on days where the buffet will be busy. Turnover of food is a good thing. The second is to never eat any raw items like oysters. The third is to watch what other people are avoiding and do likewise. That may seem rather odd, but I figure if they haven’t bent over and clutched their stomachs, I won’t either.)

Here are some pictures of our plates – I stopped taking pictures after the first volley – I was too busy eating. I can never seem to remember my audience once I start in on the food!

Once we were lying back in our chairs like bloated sea lions, we pulled out our cookie books. We reviewed last year’s list and decided to revise a large part of our repertoire. Last year was a too heavy on nuts and chocolate – so we tried to balance things out a little more. More fruit, more spice seemed to be the consensus. Personally, I think there needs to be more alcohol at the baking sessions, then these things wouldn't be a concern anymore.

Also, since we were baking so many different kinds, we decided to try one of the “all for one and one for all” recipes, where you make up a batch of plain dough and then season it differently for each type of cookie. I have doubts because all the cookies I’ve had using this technique have been too similar in texture and lacking in depth of flavor. It's kinda like your Uncle Fred. This is your Uncle Fred in a blond tupee. This is your Uncle Fred in a red toupee. It doesn't matter what color his hair is, he still tells the same bad jokes.

Also we are going to try making Stroopwaffles, a cookie popular in Holland. Dispite my husband's first thoughts, these have nothing to do with nudity or German pornography. The cookies are two crispy pizzelle-like wafers sandwiching wonderful caramel. They are heaven with a cup of coffee! Of course to hear my hubby talk, so am I. But that is a cookie that won't be baked here.

So, once again, the cookie ladies are embarking on their yearly odyssey. Can they get all their cookies finished? Will Jim gain another ten pounds? Will the staff at work be appeased or will they demand more?!

Stay tuned for updates throughout the holiday season. There will be pictures of the baking days and all the goodies produced. Also, if I can pry some of the family recipes out of the gals, I will post some here for you all to try.

So until Cookie Confab part 2, this is Rosie the Cookie Maven signing off

PS - I have already been told by my family that I will need to make Cashew Puffies, Pecan Tassies and Gingersnaps at my house. Sigh-a baker’s work is never done!


I am such a sucker...

for really bad lines.

I was looking into some leads about kitchen towels when I came across these.

Really Cheesey Kitchen Towels

My fav - There's something hot in the kitchen and it ain't the crockpot!


I just wanted you all to know...

I have 30 pounds of butter in my freezer. So there.

It's good for the soul...if you have one.

I have a confession.

I shop at K-mart.

Not often – just once in a while on my way home. Sometimes I need to pick up something and it’s convenient. Of course when I do stop in, I have to look at the latest Martha-ware. The one thing that caught my eye on a recent trip was a pack of kitchen towels.

I used to own boatloads of kitchen towels, all inherited from my mom. Most of these were vintage 50’s and 60’s and now they are too holey to be of any use. The last survivor is wrapping up a fruitcake that is pickling in the pantry. (Yes, I make fruitcake – that’s a whole other story!) I am pretty picky about the towels I want. No terrycloth – fine for baths, not for food. Heavy cotton. Something I can bleach if I need to. I want to pass them on to my daughter someday as well.

So here I am, standing in K-mart ogling the selection of towels. They look just like my mom’s. And it pissed me off.

I have been vaguely annoyed by the Martha Stewart line ever since it came out. Well, truth is, MARTHA has vaguely annoyed me since she came out - too much damned perfection. The crafts, the antiques, and the food – she made the average homemaker look like a slacker. You know when she was in prison she was like, “No, no..that is not a way to make a shank…give me that spoon and let me show you how. Now isn’t that better? Tomorrow I’ll show you how to cook Spam in the laundry steam press.”

A lot of this image isn’t even her. She knows how to hire the people who can make her look perfect. It is the same in every field. David Copperfield has a crew of extremely talented guys who round up the ideas and tricks that make up David’s stage show. Martha is no different. She gathers people to her and uses them to build up her own image. It’s smoke and mirrors, but like Copperfield’s illusions, people see what they want to believe in.

The K-mart line shows that she is not an innovator, but a re-inventor. The blurbs say inspired by Martha’s antique collection. The patterns on the towels, the glassware, the cookware – all knockoffs of some long dead creator. But I guess that is ok, because she is Martha.

I don’t want everyone to think that I hate Martha. I have never met her. A friend’s aunt used to work for Martha. The operative phrase being “used to”. The aunt has nothing to relate about her experiences with her former boss, being too much of a lady, but needless to say, you cannot mention “the name” in her presence.

So will I be buying those towels? Maybe – the jury is still out on that one. They were kind of on the thin side for my tastes. Will I be buying into the Stewart mystique? Well, it’s a lil’ on the thin side for my tastes too.


What I've been up to...

Yes..once again, I have let too much time elapse between posts. Mostly, it is because I am working long hours on lots of days - the company I work for is already gearing up for the holiday season. Yeah. More Christmas decorations in October. Whee. I am wondering if one day, people will simply throw up their hands in disgust and refuse to be manipulated by Corporate America...most likely not.

The only thing that is getting me through this week is the knowledge that this Sunday is the Cookie Confab, where the dedicated bakers in our group close ranks and decided what delectables to make for the coming holidays. This year, it will be Debbie, Gail, and I plus a new convert, Rick. Rick recently left the company we all work for and took a position as a bank manager (traitor!), but we decided he could play with us anyway.

The plan looks like this so far:

1) We will all pack up our recipe books
2) We will meet at a Chinese buffet so we can eat. This way no one has to cook!
3) We will plot out the amount of resources needed to mount the attack
4) and lastly, we will set dates for the baking days

In recent discussions around the figurative water cooler, several points have already been brought up. Gail has said she wants to make rolled decorated cookies this year. We have not done so in the past, so that will be something new. Also, I found out that two of the ladies that have joined our firm since last year have severe allergies. One, Lisa, is allergic to peanuts, but is fine with all other nuts. Laura, on the other hand, is allergic to all tree nuts, but has no problem with peanuts. We are planning to discuss how we should approach the baking and packaging of the cookies so we can avoid any unpleasant accidents.

Another concern is that we made too many cookies last year, both in total number of cookies and in variety. I know, I know… how can anyone have TOO MANY cookies…but trust me, there were a few types that seemed to linger on for days after the initial glut.

In preparation for this season, I experimented with a pumpkin cookie recipe from the All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett. While I loved the cookie, I thought the icing was too sweet and overpowered the spices in the cookie. Gail says she has a good cream cheese icing that she has been using for years, so we will see if a marriage is in order. I also like that these will keep up to a week, so that I can make them a couple days in advance if necessary. The spices seemed to meld with the pumpkin after sitting for a couple of days, plus they stayed very moist. My daughter took a dozen to school with her, and it received rave reviews from the lunch table as well. So this looks like a keeper provided I get the icing the way I want it.

I decided to risk the wrath of the copyright police and post the recipe for the pumpkin cookies here. If anyone has any suggestions for an alternative to the icing, drop me a line. I am always open to suggestions, especially when it comes to cookies.

Pumpkin Rocks
Makes 30 to 35 (2 3/4-inch) cookies.

1 cup (5 ounces) raisins
3 cups all-purpose white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups sugar

2/3 cup (1 stick plus 2 2/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, slightly softened

1/2 cup corn oil or other flavorless vegetable oil

1/4 cup light molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup canned pumpkin (not seasoned pumpkin filling)

cream-cheese frosting
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 3-ounce package cream cheese, slightly softened and cut into chunks

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease several baking sheets or coat with nonstick spray. In a small bowl, cover the raisins with hot water. Let stand for 10 min­utes. Drain well and set aside.

In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves, nutmeg, and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the sugar and butter until very well blended and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the oil, mo­lasses, vanilla, and pumpkin until evenly incorporated. Beat or stir in the flour mixture, then the raisins, until evenly incorporated.

Drop the dough onto the baking sheets in golf-ball-sized mounds, spac­ing about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned all over and slightly darker at the edges. Reverse the sheet from front to back halfway through baking to ensure even browning.

Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let stand until the cookies firm up slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to wire racks. Let stand until completely cooled.

For the frosting
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on low, then medium, speed, beat together the powdered sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla until well blended and very smooth. Add the orange juice and beat until evenly in­corporated. If the frosting is very stiff, add enough water to thin it to a spreadable but still firm consistency. Set the wire racks with the cookies over wax paper to catch drips. Using a table knife, swirl about 1 teaspoon frosting over the center of each cookie top. Let stand until the frosting completely sets, at least 1 hour. Store in a single layer or layered with wax paper in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.


Saturday Meat Field Trip

Well...I had not intended to spend the entire day Saturday buying, cooking and eating meat but that is what happened. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

Once he got up this morning, or more correctly, this afternoon, Tony announced that he wanted to make a pilgrimage to Schuman’s Meats on the South side of Columbus. He craved thick sliced bacon, loin chops and sausage. Upon hearing this, Annie jumped up and announced, that while she would not be able to go with us (babysitting duties), we needed to procure lots of garlic bologna and the link sausages "where the skin goes pop when you bite into them".

Sigh. So much for scrubbing the kitchen down and pouring over recipes for the cookie confab.

While I was using a whip on the hubby trying to get him away the computer and into the car, our friend Adam called. "You are going to a butcher shop? Do they have pork? I was hoping you would come over for the Ohio State game and cook more pork chops. If I drive you down, will you come over and make dinner?"

Sigh. “Of course.”

A few minutes later, George called. We tell him we are heading to Schumann's with Adam. "Can I come? Do they have ox tails? I want to make some ox tail soup this week."

Ok..now this has gone from a trip to the butcher's into a quest for meat.

A short while later, 1000 pounds of hungry human is crammed into Adam's car and speeding at 75 mph down 71 South in search of animal flesh...

Schuman’s is an old fashioned butcher shop. They have meat. Lots of meat. It's not a side line they got into because they were grocers. They custom cut meat from whole sides if that is what you want. You can get weird cuts you will never see at Wal-mart, where they don't even have butchers on staff. True, it is a little pricier, but not unreasonably so.

As we pulled into the parking lot, some of the staff (see picture!) was grilling fresh brats out in the parking lot FOR FREE! yeah!!! Free Food!! It's gotta be good! And it was. The brats popped when we bit into them, and hot juice trickled down our chins. Adam was in heaven. Free pork.

Inside, we went hog wild...chops, sausage, brats, bologna, ox tails, ground beef, ring liver pudding...wait..you say you have never heard of ring liver pudding? It is a finely textured sausage of pork meat and liver usually with some rice thrown into the mix. I haven’t had it in years. It was one of my father’s favorite things to eat with some good rye bread and mustard.

So what was the final haul?

  • Several pounds of “superlative” garlic bologna
  • 6 pounds of ox tails
  • 10 pounds of fresh ground chuck
  • 3 pounds of roll breakfast sausage
  • 3 pounds of thick sliced bacon
  • 6 pork loin chops
  • 10 butterfly chops
  • 5 pounds of natural casing breakfast links
  • 1 pound of ring liver pudding
This will fill up the freezer again for a while. I am making meatloaf on Sunday, and most likely ox tail stew for later in the week...

But wait! My Saturday adventures are not over!! Wait for the next exciting installment of... Meat Melodrama!

Mom-dom or the eternal struggle to feed the offspring

One of the challenges of being a parent and a working mom is feeding the family something tasty for breakfast in the mornings and still have time to chug down that all essential cup of morning java. My breakfast strategy kinda goes like this: You have about 15 minutes to eat in the AM, if you are lucky. The food needs to be hot, tasty and frugal. I also know that my teen daughter would rather talk than eat lunch, so at breakfast it is important to pack in as many calories as possible so she can function.

(My hubby asks, "Why can't we just be like those birds on the nature shows? The baby bird just opens it mouth and the mama bird pukes down it throat. Wasn't that good, little baby bird?")

One strategy is to stock up the freezer with homemade tasties. Homemade pancakes, properly wrapped, heat up well in the toaster or nuker. I also make breakfast burritos once or twice a month. They don’t look all that great, but they taste pretty damn good.

Basically, it’s scrambled eggs cooked with tons of veggies, cheese and a meat, wrapped in a corn tortilla, then individually wrapped in plastic wrap. A minute or two in the microwave - Presto! Breakfast on the run!

I also prepackage up oatmeal, Cream of Wheat and Coco Wheats in ziplock sandwich bags. Those are stored in larger re-sealable containers that have the basic cooking instructions written on the lid. Empty baggies are supposed to be placed back under the full bags so I can refill them. (Annie, I know you read this…take that as a HINT!)

A well stocked pantry makes it easy to come up with new and interesting experiments for my family to eat. My latest concoction was inspired by my trials with bread pudding and a wealth of $.99 loaves of bread from the Pepperidge Farms outlet store. Also, I had a pound of bulk sausage that needed to be used quickly. I always have eggs on hand, if for no other reason than to keep Annie from turning to cannibalism at school. After a little research online and in my cookbook collection, I decided a strata was the way to go.

Stratas, for those of you who do not know (or care), are casseroles usually containing slices of bread layered with meat, veggies and/or cheese and then topped with a egg/milk mixture, then placed in the fridge overnight to soak up the liquids. It is usually baked the next morning as a quick breakfast for the masses. The name has come to encompass all different types of casseroles lately, including those made with cubed bread, tortillas, plus sweet variations. I think bread pudding kinda falls into the ever widening definition of strata. I could be wrong..but hey, that wouldn’t be the first time.

Personally, I did not want to wait overnight. I wanted some instant gratification, so I cubed up my bread, giving it more surface area to soak up the custardy goodness of the eggs and milk. I used the Country Farmhouse White, though any of the Pepperidge Farm line would have been tasty (with the exceptions of the rye, pumpernickel or German Wheat, which contains some rye flour).

I fried up the bulk sausage (which proved to be disappointingly bland, and too low in fat) with onions, mushrooms and some mild chili peppers. I made very sure that everything had been drained of extra fat and that the mixture was at room temperature before I proceeded – nothing worse than greasy, chunky casseroles!

I used medium sharp cheddar, nothing special, just the plain kind you get for cheap at Kroger when it’s on sale for $2 a pound.

It turned out pretty good. Tony and Annie said they would eat it again, which is a good sign. I am waiting to see if I get a request to make it again soon. That will be the true test of this experiment’s product.

Rosie’s Experimental Strata
(or Breakfast Casserole, for those who ain’t into those furr-in words)

One pound of regular or spicy bulk sausage

One medium onion, diced

4 oz of white mushrooms, diced

1 large mild green chili, diced

9 eggs, beaten

1.5 cups milk, loving plucked from a cow’s teat

2 cups shredded cheese of your choice

1 loaf of substantial white bread (no Wonder Bread!), cubed into roughly 1 inch pieces

Salt, fresh ground pepper, pinch of cayenne plus anything else you might think will taste good

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 inch casserole pan. (I used a glass pan, so I lowered the temperature by 25 degrees.)

Fry up the sausage until cooked through, then remove from pan and drain. Sauté the onions, mushrooms and chili in the same pan, adding extra fat if necessary. Once the mushrooms had lost some of their moisture and the onions are transparent, mix with the sausage and let cool to room temperature.

Beat the eggs and milk together and season with the salt, pepper and other seasonings. Toss the bread cubes with the egg/milk mixture and let stand until bread has soaked up a good amount of the liquid.

Place one layer of the sausage mixture in the bottom of the greased casserole pan, then top with cheese, then slop in some of the bread/custard mixture and so on, ending with a bread/custard layer on top.

Bake for about 35-45 mins or until done. (Once again, I didn’t time it exactly. I just knew how done I wanted it to be. Sorry.)

Let cool about 10-15 minutes until cool enough to cut.

Serve with a salad for dinner, or fruit for breakfast.


True Food Porn

As I mentioned earlier, Whole Foods opened up a store in my neck of the woods. I was dying to get over to the store so Friday after work, I cruised by on my way home and bought some treats for Tony and me.

Let me tell you…This place is to food what the Lion’s Den is to adult entertainment. I was amazed by the variety and quality of the foods. In the produce section, I picked up a half dozen Honeycrisp apples and some eggs that were right out of the chickens’ butts! The last time I had an egg that fresh was the time my mom and I got lost on our way to Lancaster and found a chicken farm. (A real chicken farm, not an egg factory.) You know eggs are fresh when you crack them into the pan and the yolk stands at attention, with a rich golden yellow tone to the yolk.

I wandered past the fish area. Besides having filets and shellfish in cases, Whole Market has the whole fish on ice where you can inspect them. This makes me very happy. You can check first hand whether the gills are red and eyes look bright. There are a couple good fishmongers in town, including Ray Johnson’s, but none on my end of town.

On to the butcher shop…and Neiman Ranch pork. Ok, you know me…I do not usually go for froo-froo status items. However…in this case the beautiful marbling of the meat caught my eye. It has been years since I have seen intramuscular marbling on pork and quite frankly, I am sick of too lean pork. So at $6.99 per pound, I bought two big rib chops for me and Tony.

Next, the antipasti and olive bar: at $8.99/pound, they are cheaper and better than any of the local groceries. I picked up a nice selection of olives (I can’t remember which ones offhand) plus some cornichons and pickled onions to go with…

a variety of cheeses and some pork terrine from the cheese shop. A great selection…I did my happy cheese dance of joy. I picked up several selection including a raw milk fourme d’ambert, an aged goat cheese (Cana de Cabra), Parrano Originale, a nice runny Pont L’eveque and a soft sheep’s milk cheese I cannot remember the name of.

Lastly, I went to the bakery. I chose a baguette and another more rustic loaf. I was a good girl and avoided the luscious desserts as well as the chocolate counter.

All told, my purchases set me back about $50.00 – definitely not frugal, but as a celebration dinner (I just got a raise!) I managed to get 4 meals out of everything over the course of the weekend.

The honeycrisps were devoured within 30 minutes of arriving home…Annie ate two right off the bat…

The terrine, cheeses and bread, plus the remaining apples were our dinner on Friday.

The fresh eggs were cooked up for breakfast on Saturday…yum yum…

And lastly, the pork chops were dinner on Sunday along with a rice pilaf and some braised Swiss chard I picked up at the Worthington farmer’s market.

There is sufficient cheese left that I am planning a light meal on Monday night of tomato and bread salad, cheese and cold roast beef .

Would I go to Whole Foods every week? No.

Since I am not caught up in whole vegan/organic/free range deal that is sweeping the nation, I will only go when I need to pick up something special. If I have time, I’ll head down to Curds and Whey in the North Market, go to Schumann Meats in Grove City for my protein needs and the local farmer’s market when I can for my veggies. The rest of the time I will pinch Abe until he cries and stock up my pantry and freezer at Meijer and Kroger.

Oh, by the way, found this site via Google…I guess just because you are bringing the world organic, PC food doesn’t mean everyone loves you. Whole Foods Workers Unite!