March 22, 2015

New Cooking Appliance

I frequent a Pellet Stove forum - at first it was to soak up knowledge, now it is more conversation and helping others, expecially with St. Croix Hastings/Greenfied stoves, since that is the one I have had to figure out everything on. I still learn plenty about both stoves and set ups in general. And we all share what pellets are available where (some areas have shortages, other areas have gluts, and still other areas the price can be as much a $4/bag difference between retailers). And we share how different brands are burning so those that drop big bucks on buying several tons at a time don't get stuck with crappy pellets.

A couple of weeks ago, someone asked if anyone had tried cooking with their pellet stove. After much off topic banter, a member reported that he had just tried baking some potatoes in his Harman P61a (the same model that I have in the basement) and that they had come out perfectly. Well, that is all it took and I was off and running.

I bought a couple of sweet potatoes, washed/scrubbed them up well, wrapped them in foil (still wet) and set them on the ledges at the side of the stove. I made sure it was in a maintenance burn (would not turn itself off), set the timer and went about my business.

1.3 hours later I removed the foil packages and opened them up to find perfectly steamed sweet potatoes. I dumped them in a bowel and stripped off the skin (very easy - just lifter right off), then added some real butter.

After the butter had melted a bit, I mashed them all together, added a bit of real maple syrup, about 1/2 cup of oats, ground cinnamon and some water.

Sweet potatoes cooked in P61a

I then let the concoction sit a couple of hours for the oats to soak up the water and decided that a parfait would be perfect;  So, I scooped out a bit of the sweet potato mixture, added vanilla Greek yogurt, and topped it all off with cinnamon.

  Sweet Potato Desert with Yogurt

Awesome! I reported my results on the forum, and someone else chimed in with their results from steaming vegies in their stove. Someone still needs to do an experiment with filling a small crock with meat and vegies to make a stew for 1-2 people - I am looking forward to a report on that! Earlier this week I put in 3 more sweet potatoes and have been enjoying them at work (and for breakfast this morning).

Pellet stoves; keeping the house warm, blow drying hair, and now cooking - is there anything they can't do? LOL

Posted by Bogie on March 22, 2015 at 09:11 AM in At Home, Cooking | Permalink | Comments (5)

August 24, 2013

Steak Pizzaiola

Grabbed steak out of the freezer last night and thawed it in the fridge overnight. early this afternoon, I placed the thawed steaks in a marinade of worcestershire sauce, teriaki sauce and Dale's steak seasoning.

I fired up the grill tonight to cook the steaks, and saw the tomatoes and peppers I had brought in from the garden. "I should use some of those" I thought to myself. So, while the steaks were on the grill, I cut up some tomatoes and hot peppers. Mixed in a bit of salt, pepper, oregana and spaghetti seasoning. Added in a tinge of Italian salad dressing and olive oil.

Threw the vegetable mixture in a hot skillet and then suddenly realized I neede to add garlic. Unfortunately, I didn't have any, so added garlic powder instead (and that was probably 10 years old). No matter, I let everything bubble for a couple of minutes and then turned off the burner.

Once the steaks were done, I put some of the sauce on a slab of meat (which turned out to be a nice medium rare - yeah me) and then topped the whole thing with parmesan cheese.

Steak Pizzaiola-sm
It was so fabulous that I had two steaks. That leaves two for dinners later in the week.

Posted by Bogie on August 24, 2013 at 09:20 PM in Cooking, Yard Work | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 24, 2013

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Aunt Helen saves me from having nothing to blog about. I clicked on her blog and scrolled thru some recipes until I found a video of her on a TV show (the recipe is here). This is a really easy recipe (even I should be able to follow it) and can easily be made into a wheat-free version by using corn meal instead of bread crumbs. I think I will have to try it for dinner tonight if I can find spaghetti squash!

Posted by Bogie on February 24, 2013 at 07:13 AM in Cooking, Family | Permalink | Comments (1)

December 23, 2012

Prep for Christmas

As we did on Thanksgiving, we will have several people here Christmas - in fact, the usual suspects. So, I have been getting ready for the feast. Today I brushed Missy so her hair doesn't end up in all the food, then vacuumed the whole house and cleaned restrooms. Then, I decided to make wheat-free pie crusts and perhaps the pies to go in them, and suddenly realized I had absolutely zero pie pans. Off to the store I went. I had my choice between Pyrex or ceramic or aluminum foil. I started to get one of each, when I turned the ceramic plate over and noticed it was from China.

After the rash of dicoveries of lead in just about everything from China the last couple of years, I decided I didn't want to find out the hard way that the paint on the ceramic was contaminated. Bonus - the Pyrex and aluminum foil plates were American made! I got two Pyrex pie plates along with a 3-pack of aluminum foil (in case I need to send some home with people).

By the time I was done making two different batches of dough and getting them in the fridge to "rest", then doing the dishes, I decided I wasn't going to be making pies today. since the oven wouldn't be used, I struck up a fire in the woodstove (the sun has kept the house at 66 degrees with the heater only going on once).

So, I decided to share a picture to help you relax.

Your welcome.

Posted by Bogie on December 23, 2012 at 05:18 PM in At Home, Cooking | Permalink | Comments (3)

October 15, 2012

Wheat Reduction

For the last 6 months, I have drastically reduced my wheat intake. I'm not going gluten free, rather close to wheat free. It has done my innards a world of good; I used to be constipated, constantly, like (okay, this may be TMI) I wouldn't go for 3-4 days, on a regular basis (no pun intended). Then, it was hard and painful. Don't talk to me about eating more fiber, I probably consume more fiber than any 3 people you know combined. Whole grains didn't help (of course, that included a lot of whole grain wheat). Also, the current rage, probiotics, didn't help one bit (tried that several years ago for 3 months - absolutely no difference). But, within a week of reducing my wheat intake, I was (and still am) very regular, with soft produce and no pain.

Sure, I have wheat sometimes; frozen pizzas (I only get thin crust now), some items that you don't expect to have wheat (gravies, spice mixes even cans of tuna mixed with peppers), and the occassional sub (homemade sausage, peppers and onions - MM MM MM). If we stop to eat at a sub shop, I usually have them put the meat/vegies in a bowl, and forgo the bread. I occasionally have a piece of cake or pie, but try to plan for it so I don't overload on wheat in one day. I foundseveral Mexican restaraunts make their tortilla chips for nachos out of flour tortillas (hey, I expected corn tortillas), so sometimes I have almost no choice to pick an item with wheat. But, for the most part, I can find a menu item that is wheat free. Oh, and note to self: if going to a vegatarian's wedding, take granola bars as everything there will have pasta in it.

Most granola and granola bars have wheat, so I have become something of an expert at finding those that don't. Unfortunately, most granola bars that are wheat free include chocolate in them. I try to stay away from chocolate as I will just continue to eat until all the bars are gone! Also, these are just the one's I can find at the local Wally World or Shaw's. Those in other areas of the country may have others available to them.

Granol bars that are wheat free:

  • Some Adtkins bars 
  • Some Balance Bars
  • All Kind bars
  • Enjoy Life (these are gluten free, and not as tasty as I would like so rarely get them).

Granola/Cereal that is wheat free:

  • Bob's Red Mill Granola
  • Udi's
  • Oatmeals - be careful, you would be amazed at how many have wheat in tehm too.

Those are not all gluten free, just wheat free. I have found a fairly quick and easy way to find out if they have wheat instead of perusing the ingredients, is to check at the end of the ingredients list where they list the allergens that are contained. If they don't list wheat (regardless if they list it as being manufactured in a plant that also processes wheat), then I'm good with it. Remember, if you are gluten intollerant, my listings and tips are not for you; other grains than wheat have gluten and any cross contamination from the plant will have adverse affects on you!

I have found pasta that is made from corn, oats, or rice. The best for taste and texture so far is pasta made from a combination of corn and rice by Heartland.

For bread, well, I haven't really tried that hard to find a substitute. I've never eaten that much bread anyway. Although occassionally WS will make us French Toast or pancakes for breakfast. That is one time I go ahead and eat wheat. Pancakes however can be made without wheat, as we attested to this weekend when I made the batter for banana pancakes usting a gluten free recipe. They turned out awesome, and I will share the recipe in the future.

I'm not writing this to convince anyone that they should go wheat free, or even gluten free - just as something that worked for me, for my particular issue.

Posted by Bogie on October 15, 2012 at 12:06 AM in Cooking, Life in General | Permalink | Comments (2)

October 11, 2012

Hard Freeze Harvest

We've had a couple of frosts, but we are due for our first hard freeze Friday night. Even after frost, the tomatoes, peppers and basil have still continued to grow (slowly - and unbeleivable as it seems because of our cold temps). Today I cust down all the good basil left, picked all the peppers, and took the few tomatoes that have started to blush since I picked last Saturday.

The basil was run thru the food processor, mixed with a bit of vinegar first (to try to keep the basil from turning black from oxidizing), then olive oil. It was then divided up in an ice cube tray to freeze.

Basil Ice Cubes
Lemon basil is on the left, regular basil is on the right.

I decided to do something similar with the peppers, using more vineger to provide acidity, then adding a bit of olive oil - don't try this at home, I'm unsure how it will work, or how safe it is. Since I had quite a few peppers, I filled one ice cube tray, plus a jelly and jam jar. Those jars were vacuum sealed before placing in the freezer.

Pepper Ice cubes
Pepper Ice cubes

I'm hoping these processes make using the peppers more convenient and the basil flavor stays more fresh.

Posted by Bogie on October 11, 2012 at 07:01 PM in Cooking, Yard Work | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 10, 2012

Greek Style Salad Recipe

For the last several weeks I have been getting Greek Cucumber-Tomato salad from the deli at the store. With tomatoes ripening, plenty of fresh herbs ready for plucking and a ripe zucchini, I decided I should make it fresh instead. I looked at several recipes online, substituted ingredients, and here is what I came up with. Just keep in mind, I rarely measure anything, so ingredients are on a "to taste" or to "visual appeal" basis.

  • Tomatoes, diced
  • Zucchini, diced - this was substituted for peeled cucumber and it came out nicely
  • Spanish onion, sliced (some may prefer red onion - I only had Spanish and it blended in well)
  • Black olives, halved
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Fresh basil and oregano, chopped (I have both regular and lemon basil plants, so I used some of each)
  • Greek vinaigrette(substitute red wine vinegar and olive oil if desired).
  • Black pepper

Add all ingredients to a bowl except the last three items. Drizzle on vinaigrette a small amount at a time (1/8 cup or so) and toss. Add vinaigretteuntil desired consistancey. Add fresh herbs and pepper last, toss lightly, let sit for at least 30 minutes in the fridge for the flavors to blend.

This keeps well for several days in the fridge, so you can make a large batch and savor some each day.


Posted by Bogie on August 10, 2012 at 04:28 AM in Cooking | Permalink | Comments (1)

January 02, 2012

Tasty Pork Chops

The Weekend Pundit notes that he uses his George Foreman grill mostly during the summer, when he can't use the outdoor grill.

Even though it is winter, I'm really liking the George Foreman grill. Last night I cooked up pork chops that came out fabulously tasty - thought I would share the recipe (as usual, I started with a supplied recipe, and made it a little differently):

Whisk together, then marinade pork chops in:

  • 1/4 C lite Soy Sauce (or low sodium - why can't they make low sodium lite?)
  • 2 tsp Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • Chopped garlic cloves (or I use the canned chopped garlic - about 1 tsp)

Cooked on the GF grill for 8 minutes and voila, it was done.

The pork chops came out with lots of taste, nice and tender, and very juicy. Tonight it will probably be burgers on the GF grill. The middle of the week will probably be chili in the crockpot - it is supposed to be down in the single digits at night, so we will definitely need some rib sticking warmth!

Posted by Bogie on January 2, 2012 at 06:32 AM in Cooking | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 05, 2011

Food for the Season

While we were on vacation, we had lots of good food that was homemade. Along that vein, Cop Car directed me to a relative's food blog. She has had TV cooking shows and is an author of a pastry book. I am delighted that she is sharing recipes, and am trying one that uses produce for the fall season. I won't lie, I tweaked a bit to account for what I had on hand (canned squash instead of fresh - presentation suffers; cooked fresh cranberries with sugar instead of canned).

More food goodness was found at WS's family get together. WS's sister had a wonderful stew hearty soup for which she was happy to share the recipe. I, in turn, will share it with you.

Sante Fe Soup

  • Brown 1 pund Hamburger, drain and place in crockpot then add rest of ingredients
  • 1 Can Corn (do not drain)
  • 1 Can Chili Beans
  • 1 Can Green Chilis
  • 1 Can Rotel (diced tomatoes as far as I can tell)

Heat up in crockpot and simmer at least 1 hour. Add Velveeta Cheese until mixture has desired consistency.

So there are plenty of places to ad lib, but not many ways you can screw it up. I would think using sausage 1/2 pound of meat would be a good change. Adding hotter peppers than the chilis is another place for substitution. Also, there are no sizes of cans. I'm guessing that the corn and beans are 15-16 oz cans. the green chilis are 3.5-4.5 oz cans and the tomatoes 26-28 oz.

Tis the season for eating all kinds of stomache fillingfoods, and you can't go srong with either the Sante Fe Soup or pickings from the Ardant Cook!

Posted by Bogie on December 5, 2011 at 04:29 AM in Cooking | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 26, 2011

Corn Bread

This morning, I started 16 bean soup (with Ham, of course) in the crockpot.

This evening, I fed the dogs, and gave them the last 2 eggs with their kibble.

My plan was to have cornbread with the ham and bean soup.

This may seem like unorganized rambling, but does anyone see a problem that ties them all together?

If you thought that I needed some eggs to make the corn bread, DING, DING, DING, you win a prize (of no consequence, no color, no smell, no feel, I'll send it by air mail).

So thinking I couldn't have been the first idiot to have given the eggs that were for the corn meal to her dogs, I got on the internet. Although no one fessed up to having fed ingredients meant for their evening meal to their pets, there were plenty of people that had no eggs, had a hankering for corn bread, and were to lazy (broke, out of time, other) to go to the store. here is the recipe I decided to go with, along with my modifications:

  • 1 1/2 cups soymilk (I used 2% milk)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar (I cut back to 1 TBL after reading some of the comments)
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour or 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I used 2 TBL of soy flour and the rest of the cup filled with rice flour for a gluten-free bread)
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar or 2 tablespoons other artificial sweetener (I used 1 1/2 TBL of Splenda Baking Mix)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (I used 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I used 2+ TBLS of bacon grease)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  2. Blend the milk and vinegar (see, you want sour milk) and set aside.
  3. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Add the milk mixture and the oil (grease), and stir until just blended.
  5. Spread the batter into a nonstick or lightly oil-sprayed 9-inch square baking dish.
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes (25 for me).

Test for doneness by the toothpick method, in the center.

It came out very good for use with bean soup (or chili). The taste is low key and won't compete with the soup. If you are looking for something that is more toward eating with just a bit of butter on it, up the sugar content and use butter instead of oil or bacon grease.

Posted by Bogie on February 26, 2011 at 07:48 PM in Cooking, Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (2)