25 December, 2008
24 December, 2008
Nathaniel and Sprocket sharing "their" couch.
Christmas Day, 2008
Sprocket slept almost all night without vomiting. However, when we tried to hydrate him by administering lukewarm water with an eyedropper.....He immediately threw up again. He has not eaten at all. Nothing stays long in his upper GI.
Ms. D is off work until New Years. She will take him back into the Vet's Clinic tomorrow. I simply do not know how much longer the lil' black bugger can keep this up. He is so weak, lethargic.....moving like a Sloth, slow, almost imperceptably slow.
We would not be able to keep this up if it were not for your corporate support, both physical, emotional and fiscal!
THAT, as far as I am concerned, is the true miracle here.
20 December, 2008
Out of my culinary memories, one in particular was brought back with eidetic clarity by "MCPO Airdale" in a thread over at http://www.sondrak.com/ He spoke of rolling the warm pizzelle, fresh from the iron into a tube....thereby creating a foundation for canoli.
~ A San Francisco Tangent
On the southern-most end of the Marin County headlands, near the base of Mt. Tamalipas, there is an old roadhouse which has been in continuous operation since the 1930's. The Buckeye Roadhouse is nothing like what most folk picture a roadhouse. It is a fine, understated, high quality restaurant featuring fantastic Northern California Wine Country cuisine.
My brother and I were taken their by one of our clients while we worked on building and installing custom mill work.
Long story short ~ DINNER:
24 yr. old Glenmorangie and a splash of water followed by a full dozen fresh bay oysters on the half-shell, washed down with an Anchor Steam Porter...T
Then a dinner of pan seared steelhead fillet on a bed of wild rice and fresh serrano chile and corn with angel hair onion rings and a crisp "Stag's Leap" Chardonnay that was spectacular.
Desert was a chocolate pizzelle canoli filled with dark chocolate whipped cream and ricotta cheese drizzled over with hot dark chocolate/pine nut sauce, a glass of 50 year old Spanish Port.....almost as good as making love.....almost! And a cup of the cleanest tasting coffee I have ever had the pleasure to drink, strong but no bitterness at all.
Which in turn reminded me of the pizzelle canoli we had in Mexico:
They were stuffed with fresh whipped cream and mexican vanilla (VERY pungent!) and their version of ricotta and drizzled over with a hot hard sauce with crushed pistachios....a good snifter of Pedro Domeque VSOP and dark, rich michoacan coffee. *SIGH!*
If any of y'all wish to try your hand at making pizzelles, you can purchase irons like this one here:
The Advent Season is nigh over and preparations well in hand to celebrate a Christmas eve Mass at St. James.
There will be Pizzelles!
17 December, 2008
16 December, 2008
After the Alberta Clipper raged down the front range, on the first day when the temp rises above single digits, when we can walk outside the artificially heated confines of man and not feel skin freeze, lungs rage against the cold.....that is good.
15 December, 2008
Back in the day when Ed "Weatherman" Bowman did the KOA radio weather and produced a nightly, hand drawn TV weather report using a cosmic looking map with "winds aloft, high pressure cells and storm fronts" all lovingly painted, he and Pete Smythe of KOA radio coined the phrase:
The Brown Palace Hotel
The elegant "Brown Palace" hotel hosts livestock in its main foyer. Fine looking horses are paraded through for the guests to enjoy and a small corral is set up to hold the Grand Champion Steer for public display.
Nothing wanted to move....except the blondes. Nathaniel "No Fear" the Dog and Chester Rachet Cat just had to go outside. You can see their foot prints in the above photo. The high Sunday was an intolerable 12 or 15 degrees. The wind caused it to feel more like 3 to 4 degrees ~ BRRRRRR!
......And then the sky cleared.
At this altitude, when the sky clears there is nothing to hold the heat close to the ground. Convection causes any heat to rise and cold, cold air settles into the river basins and lowlands all across the high plains.
The low temp recorded at Denver International Airport last night was 19 degrees below zero, with winds gusting to 20 mph which translate to a wind chill factor of 48 degrees below zero. A ridiculously cold night.
Stock Show Weather had arrived....much to the dismay of St. Al Goreball of Warming.
Now, I know that weather and climate are two different concepts and scientific disciplines. And I choose not to politicize either one, with the exception of the above reference to Al Gore. It is a little jab.
UNLIKE the frigid temps we are experiencing for most of this WEEK! Canadian cold that has dropped all the way down into Texas (Thank you Melissa) according to her report from Austin.
Stock Show weather indeed!
02 December, 2008
30 November, 2008
Therefore, as of today, I moved all of the previous posts over to:
For those of you who have read and commented, or have simply read and moved on, thanks for visiting!
I hope you will visit the new site and comment if you feel so compelled. Whether you are pissed with what I say, or agree with me, please respond. All I ask is that you DO NOT remain anonymous. Your comment will be removed.
The whole idea behind Elegant Dust was to create a quiet haven from the incessant, tumultuous and frantic noise and growing barbarism of the post-modern world. With that in mind, I want to make this post a return to the folksy, comfortable tenor of earlier writes.
Yesterday, we awoke to the first protracted snow storm of the season. It remained cold and steel grey all day, with snow flurries off and on. We were gifted with the remnants of a spiral sliced ham last week...the leftovers from the little feast held after the ceremony honoring my late half-sister Carrie Lundquist and the spreading of her ashes.
That ham shank and hock were begging to be cooked up with a traditional Southern set of recipes.
- 1 pound of large, dried Lima beans
- 1 full ham shank and hock ( the honey cured and spiral sliced kind, if possible)
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cups of chicken stock
- 2 medium, dried sweet Anaheim (Hatch, NM) Chiles. (I use them fresh off the ristras.)
- Kosher salt, coarse ground black pepper....and a dash of Mexican Oregano.
Sort, wash and soak the beans in cold water overnight, at least 8 hours. Place in a large dutch oven.
Trim the meat from the shank and split the hock at the knuckle, remove tendons and connective tissue, add to the beans. Add the the chicken stock and enough water to cover well. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and heavy simmer for 45 minutes.
Place the chiles in a shallow bowl, cover with boiling water and let sit for 20 minutes.
Coarse chop the onion and celery. Split the chiles, remove the ribs and seed, chop fine.
Remove the shank and hock from the beans. Set aside and let cool. Add the veges, oregano and chile. Stir and add salt and pepper to taste.
Remove meat pockets from the shank, chop coarse, and add to the soup. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a high simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (adjusted for high altitude)
- 1 cup of fresh buttermilk
- 1 large (or 2 medium) eggs....the fresher, the better!
- 1 half stick of unsalted buddah
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup of sugar....(I like less)
- Salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Melt the buddah in a high sided 12 inch cast iron skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat. When the butter begins to brown, Whisk the egg(s), the buttermilk and most of the buddah into the dry ingredients. Return the cast iron to the stove top. Pour the batter into the smoking cast iron and let it sizzle for a second or two and then put it into the oven for 25 to 35 minutes....Check for top browning at 20 minutes. Remove when the top begins to brown. Run a knife around the perimeter and turn onto a plate or platter. You will be rewarded with a toasted, crunchy crust... a sweet and light bread with a little "bite" from the buttermilk... YUMMMM!
The salad is the last of the tomatoes and cukes from the garden, along with fresh greens from the last of the local harvests sold at the Farmer's markets. From now until late March....the 'maters and lettuce will taste more like cardboard than fresh veges.
21 November, 2008
Which immediately prompted a discussion thread of personal experiences with kimchi and other utterly oddball cultural culinary delights. Which, in turn, started me thinking of regional oddities I have experienced.
He gently smiled so broad and warm it would have melted February snow...and introduced himself and the other workers. They were elderly and skinny men, quiet and unsure of these "whitey collitch bow'ies" in their midst. Buck started the bus and we headed down the sandy road. About five minutes later we pulled up in front of a weathered clapboard corner market with a broken screen door and rusty tin signs which held the building together.
20 November, 2008
19 November, 2008
The good Corporal General Kim Du Toit, Grand Poobah of "The Nation of Riflemen" movement and basic all around curmudgeonly good guy, is celebrating his natal anniversary day. (That would be "birthday" for those of you in Yorba Linda.)
Pop on over and give a celebratory greeting.
In his honor...and for your own safety and security... Go out and buy AMMUNITION today. Try for 100 rounds of rifle and/or 100 rounds of pistol and a brick (500 rounds) of .22 rimfire.
For those of us who reload....primers, wads, cases, bullets and more powder should all be on the list.
"DEFENSE OF SELF, FAMILY AND PROPERTY IS THE RIGHT -AND RESPONSIBILITY- OF EVERY FREEDOM LOVING AMERICAN."
18 November, 2008
When the last of the Olathe Sweet Corn comes to market, along with fresh Sakata Farms Roma Tomatoes, Bell Peppers and Big Button Mushrooms and sweet Vidalia Onions. Its a perfect time to crank up the charcoal grill.
The above is the plating of the following menu:
- Beer Marinated Chicken Breasts - skinned and boned, Red Bird Farms Chicken Breasts lightly tenderized with the tines of a fork. Marinated for an hour or so in beer, chopped fresh roma tomato, chopped fresh basil, onion and garlic powder, salt and pepper. Grill over direct heat, turning frequently. At each turn, dip back into the marinade and allow the tomato and basil bits to cook along with the chicken.
- Vege Kabobs - Skewer quartered fresh Vidalia onion, halved Roma tomato and chunked Bell Pepper and de-stemmed Mushroom on bamboo skewers. (Bamboo holds veges better'n steel!) Grill off direct heat and brush frequently and liberally with Extra Virgin Olive oil spiced up with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder, Sweet Chimayo chile powder and a dash of worchester. Turn frequently and gently with tongs.
- Corn on the Cob - Grilled on the edge of direct heat and brush frequently with the same spiced Extra Virgin Olive oil. Turn as the kernels brown.
*NOTE: Getting each of the different elements to come off of the grill at the same time means good grill and coal heat management. The chicken takes the longest and most direct heat, followed by the corn and finally the vege kabobs.
"Ya' Sure Ya'betcha its Autumn"
When the local late apples begin to come off, its time to go Northern European with a Pork Loin Roast, surrounded by fresh sauerkraut, sliced onion and apples, served with dill/caraway mashed 'taters and salad.
- Pork Loin Roast - Drench the roast with flour spiced with salt and pepper. Brown in a hot cast iron skillet, liberally oiled with bacon grease, rolling till all surfaces are toasty brown. Place in a high sided roasting pan wiped down with EVOO on a bed of sauteed, finely chopped onion, garlic and celery. Roast at 350 degrees for 15 minutes and turn the roast over. Roast for another fifteen minutes and add two cored and sectioned apples, coarse chopped onion and about a pound of fresh sauerkraut sprinkled with dill and caraway seed. Return to the oven and roast for an additional 20 minutes, or until the apples begin to soften.
-Dill/Caraway Mashed 'Taters - Scrub and coarse cube three or four or six Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes...depending on size and how many folks you plan to feed. Leave the skin on! Place in a large sauce pan, cover with water, add a couple pinches of salt and about a teaspoon of caraway and dill seed. Boil till soft. Drain and add lotsa buddah and whole milk and hand mash until the chunky yet smooth.
These are truly seasonal meals. Damn tasty!
09 November, 2008
One physical attribute of the run-off is that it has the power to change the flow of the river. The raging current seeks the path of least resistance. And sometimes it bypasses one or more of the large Ox-bows, cutting them off. They are no longer part of the river's flow. Slowly they turn into backwater swamps, stagnant and fetid. Over the years, the prairie reclaims them. Its how the deep riparian meadow soil of the montane valleys is created.
02 November, 2008
Over at "Irish Elk" (http://mcns.blogspot.com/) where the conservative Roman Catholic side of New England is well represented, one of the posts led to a recipe for an late Summer/early Autumn dessert "Apple Slump" which helped fuel my own cooking/canning...and yes, hunting frenzy, here in the High Plains.
First, our Pronghorn Antelope hunt had to be cancelled. My twenty-five year hunting/fishing partner lost his father to lung cancer. We buried him on opening day of antelope season. May God richly bless his soul and reward his spirit for his lively faith here on Earth.
Outside of the overwhelming and continuous barrage of Gatling gun political ads on the radio and TV, computer generated phone calls and yard signs proclaiming someone or something, we have been blessed with a magnificent Autumn. Two weeks ago we were privy to an early Canadian cold front which hammered our tomatoes and cukes and all tender garden plants. That, in turn, led me to open up a tome by one of my favorite writers and Colorado native; Gene Amole.
Gene loved this wild land. For twenty years he wrote a bi-weekely column about it, shared old recipes, recalled lost memories from frontier days...and personally held court at the only 24 hour classical music station between Chicago and the West Coast. His recipe for Green Tomato Relish/Piccallilly/Chow-Chow is a classic. Ms. D and I canned 16 quarts.
However, I digress.
That left five large pumpkins, to be processed. One became a Jack-O-Lantern, one was donated to the squirrels and here is a pic of the three remaining "calabasas":
We have a full "Ristra" of mild Anaheim Chiles from Hatch, New Mexico, pumpkin, leftover venison, more pumpkin and cheap pork shoulder roast to turn into Autumn feasts.
I told Mrs. Peperium that I would share my favorite Pumpkin Soup Recipes, and I will.
But first, a couple of photos from our stroll along Clear Creek today. It is true Indian Summer, the last warm days before the Canadian and Pacific cold fronts begin their barrage of the Rocky Mountains and the High Plains. As always, the pics are clickable and will open to a larger format.
Our rough Collie, Nate:
Looking downstream, towards the South Platte
Pedestrian Bridge and Cottonwood
Now, on with the recipes:
White Bean, Pumpkin and Chipotle Soup:
- 1/2 pound cannelini or Great Northern beans (I like to use black turtle beans, however, the "pumpkin" color is lost in the dark liquor from the beans.)
- 1 smoked hamhock, split
- 1/2 teaspoon dried "epazote" (optional - available in Hispanic markets)
- 1 or 2 (for the adventurous) Chipotle chiles, dried or en adobo sauce (yum!!!)
- 2 tablespoons of oil. (peanut, cannola, corn, mild olive)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 pounds of seeded and peeled pumpkin meat, cut into 1" cubes
- 1 small bunch of Swiss chard, coarse chopped (YES, Swiss chard or Kale or turnip greens!)
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano (Mexican tends to be spicier than domestic)
- Kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper to taste
Sort the beans for rocks and inedibles. Soak in cold water overnight. Drain and place in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add the hamhock, epazote, and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer till the beans are tender, about 45 minutes.
If your chipotles are dried, cut in half, place in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 30 minutes. Remove stems and seeds and membranes and chop fine. The chiles en adobo need only to have the stems, seeds and membrane removed, then chopped finely. (DO NOT think that the stems, seeds and membranes are inconsequential! If left intact, the soup will be hotter'n'depot stove!)
In a medium skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until soft. Do not let the garlic brown.
Add the onion/garlic mix to the cooked beans. Add in the pumpkin, chard, chiles, oregano, and a half-teaspoon of salt. Simmer over low heat until the pumpkin is tender, about 20 minutes. (It takes a full half hour here in Denver's altitude.) Remove the hamhock, shred any available meat and return it to the soup, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with warm "masa harina" tortillas (or...as Ms. P's post brought to mind, Navajo frybread!)
Espanola Pumpkin Soup
Here's a pumpkin soup that ya'll are gonna love...and it's a much better use of pumpkin than that sweet marshmellow thing that we so often do for the holidays.
- 1 onion, quartered
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 or three potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks an equal amount of peeled and seeded pumkin meat
- 4-6 cups chicken stock (I like the low sodium)
- 1 Scotch bonnet chile - (use an habanero or chipoltle if there are tender palettes.)
- 1 bay leaf, broken
- other spices that you like - I like allspice and salt and freshly ground pepper.
Peel and cube potatoes and pumpkin into equal sized chunks heat some olive oil in a big pot and add the onion and garlic - saute a few minutes Add the chicken stock, potatoes and pumpkin meat, bring to a boil, reduce reat, add the scotch bonnet and spices of you choice. Cook over low heat, just simmering, for maybe two hours until the potatoes and pumpkin are mushy. Remove the scotch bonnet and bay leaf if you used one.
Transfer the mixture, in batches, to a food processor and puree till smooth. Return the mixture to the pot, reheat and adjust seasonings - I added a splash of cognac. Be forewarned that if you actually do use a scotch bonnet or habanero chile, this is a pretty spicy soup, even if you discard the chile. You might experiment by removing the chile earlier in the process; but mine was delicious! Enjoy!
BTW, this one is traditionally served in a hollowed out pumpkin carcass, warmed with hot water and blue corn flour tortillas.
1)- Epazote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epazote
2)- Gene Amole's favorite columns from the Rocky Mountain News have been published in three compilations, MORNING, AMOLE AGAIN and AMOLE, ONE MORE TIME. There are copies available at Amazon:
Gene also penned a book about the last days of his life and the prospect of imminent death:
THE LAST CHAPTER: GENE AMOLE ON DYING. He and Thomas Hornsby Ferril were good friends. Ferril was Colorado's Poet Laureate from the mid-1970's until his death in the late '80's