Cooking

Con Food

Between medicine and firearms, as well as renaissance faires and sci fi/comic cons, I’ve attended a lot of conventions (both mundane and otherwise) in my time. One of the biggest things on many people’s minds at any sort of con is the food — where to find it, what sort will be available, how much it will cost, and what the quality will be.

Where a con is located will have a major impact on the availability of food. If located at a downtown convention center, all sorts of restaurants will be within a few minutes walk, while most renaissance fairs are located in more rural locations, so the faire food is all there is. The Kentucky Expo Center is fairly isolated, with nothing within walking distance.

Yesterday, while wandering the halls of the Kentucky Expo Center while it was still mostly empty, I saw a variety of food trucks and other food booths. I’m not certain how they’ll stand up to the onslaught of the tens of thousands expected through the doors over the weekend, but they’re well-spaced throughout the center, provide a good variety of choices (from Mexican to bbq, sandwiches to salads, and a few other more uncommon options, as well), and don’t seem to be exorbitantly expensive.

So far, I can wholeheartedly recommend Lil’ Orbits donuts. They’re tiny donuts, freshly-made and rolled in cinnamon sugar. They’re so light and fluffy and just melt in your mouth.

The one food truck that I wish was here was one that I saw broken down on the side of the freeway last night. It said on the side, “Waffles Worth Dying For!” and was called something along the lines of “Bacon Waffle Truck”. After we’d gone by, I kept wanting to go back and rescue it and bring it to the NRAAM with us.

Categories: Around Town, Cooking, Firearms, Humor | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Weapon of Mass Consumption

Last week, my favorite baking source had a sale. Free shipping. And when flour comes in 3 pound and 5 pound bags, shipping gets pricey in a hurry if I don’t wait for this to come around.

I bought quite a bit of several different kinds of flour, as I’ve found a few new recipes that I want to try. I feel the need to branch out a bit, and with the warmer weather arriving, I’m hoping to feel a bit more like doing -stuff-.

I also bought a couple of specialty baking pans…a scone pan (because I’m a little tired of glumpy-looking scones) and a popover pan. The popover pan even came with a free box mix to try. I was a bit doubtful, but I decided to give it a try tonight.

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I added in a bit of grated Grand Cru cheese to each one, just for a bit of flavor. They popped amazingly well, but despite that, they were a bit heavy on the inside. Next time, I’ll use my tried-and-true recipe.

Still worth it, though.

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Spring is…Close

The first signs of spring are starting to appear around here…

My zippy little red car made its first appearance out of the garage since November? December? Something like that. And even better, the battery was still live and rarin’ to go! I didn’t have to jump it or hook it up to the trickle charger. Got lucky this year (because I forgot to hook it up when I parked it when the snow started flying).

I’ve also got a new backyard grill on order that will be delivered on Saturday. The old one decided to give up and die over the winter, and after 7 years, it’s time to just let it go and get a new one. I’m really looking forward to the first few steaks on the new one. I’m hoping the weekend cooperates just enough to let us out there to fire it up!

Categories: Cooking, Home | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Dinner Out

I’ll blame it on being tired. Well, beyond tired, really…exhausted and not thinking straight. Even though I have to admit that I let myself in for all of this mess, I still say it wasn’t really my fault.

I’d gone to pick my guy’s mom up when she called, just as I was ready to lay down for a nap. I still hadn’t slept after my night shift, and by the time I’d dropped her home after a stop or two, it was well after 4pm. I was hungry and I thought food would keep me going for a while longer. There was a sushi place just a little north of where I was, so I headed there. I figured I could get a quick bite and then get home and crash.

Unfortunately, the place was packed. There must’ve been a party going on, but all of the tables were taken, and I was told there’d be quite a wait. “But hang on. If you want, we can seat you now on the hibachi side,” said the hostess. “Alright,” I said, thinking, “How bad can this be? Hot food, fixed for me… Sounds great!”

I sat down. To my left…a 10 year old boy with his mother on his other side. To my right, a 6 year old boy with his father on his other side, followed by a baby in a carseat, two more boys, and their mother. I was trapped between two rambunctious boys. Lovely! What fun! And it only got better from there.

When the chef was tossing egg into people’s mouths, the 6 year old to my right got a bit rowdy. He jumped up and backwards on his chair, flipping himself and it all the way over and smashing it. He bounced up. The chair didn’t. It lay in smithereens, to be picked up and brushed aside, replaced by a new chair. He tried it again, but his dad caught the chair just before it toppled the second time. (Neither time did he catch the egg, of course.)

The 10 year old to my left wasn’t quite that bouncy, but he couldn’t hold on to his silverware to save his life. I quit counting after his fourth fork hit the floor. The waitress ended up just bringing a stack of forks for him to use. (I suppose I should be glad he wasn’t learning chopsticks that night.)

As for me? Apparently I wasn’t paying enough attention to the chef at one point, because he threw an onion slice at me and hit me dead on in the chest. I about went backwards in my chair from surprise at that!

But the food was good, and I had enough left for a snack later that night. I’ll just have to remember to pay attention at all times if I go back there.

Categories: Cooking, Wonderings | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

It Makes Everything Better!

Even having to go to work…

One of our (mine and my guy’s) favorite restaurants does grilled cheese. And when I say it “does grilled cheese”, I mean that it puts two slices of thick bread around just about anything you can think of, adds some cheese in there, and puts it on a grill. Bacon and eggs? Sure. Want to add a burger patty? Done. Pierogies and sauerkraut? You got it. Meatballs, fried mozzarella wedges, and marinara? Absolutely. (You get the idea.)

We’d been there earlier in the month, and we wouldn’t usually have gone back again quite so soon. A half a sandwich and some fries is plenty enough for a meal; the second half sandwich is a meal for later. But February was an odd month. Instead of the usual “monthly special”, they had 4 different monthly specials, each one only for a few days. The last 5 days of the month were devoted to a bacon lover’s dream.

The sandwich was called “The 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon Melt”. And yes, it had 6 types of bacon in it. Two types of cheese. Tomato and lettuce. All between two slices of thick bread. And then grilled. It was amazing.

Bacon Melt1

And perhaps the best part was that I had the second half to take to work with me.

Categories: Cooking, Health | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Last Night

Now this is the way to spend an evening… Sitting at home with Thot, online in #gbc, and listening to the Squirrel Report, with a very fine Kentucky bourbon and home-made caramel-filled apple cider cookies, still warm from the oven!

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Categories: Cooking, Home | Tags: | 2 Comments

A Redneck Moment

Christmas dinner this year was at my youngest brother’s house. He and his wife appreciate a good bottle of wine (almost) as much as I do, so I’d grabbed a bottle from my house to take downstate with me. I didn’t inspect it closely before choosing it, but I knew that it was one of the bottles that my local wine shop had recommended some time ago.

Fast forward to Christmas afternoon, shortly before dinner…

My sis-in-law went to open the bottle of wine. The foil cutter wasn’t working, but she said that it was getting dull and needed new blades, so she’d let my brother work on it. He came upstairs and attempted the cutter, again without success.

He decided that the fancy cork puller would be able to grab the cork just fine and pull it despite the foil, so he tried that. First try…no cork. Second try…no cork. Third try…STILL no cork. The worm just wasn’t catching in the cork at all. He moved to an older style opener but still had no luck at all.

We all looked at the top of the bottle and decided that the cork must be defective, as what the worm kept pulling up looked like little bits of fluff, maybe desiccated cork or even just thick foil. A shame, really, but my brother pulled down another bottle of wine and opened it. No big loss.

But he was curious, so he decided to do a “bottle-topsy” and try to figure out what really had gone wrong with the first bottle. After several minutes’ work with a fork on the foil, he started laughing. So did SIL and I.

It was a screw-top bottle. And the wine turned out to be very good after all of that.

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Welcome to the Future

I’m not big on hard and fast new year’s resolutions. I’ve found it far too easy to slide a day or two, then get discouraged and give up completely. This year, I’m going to try something a little different. I’m going to set some longer-term goals out there in front of me and see if I can make the changes needed in the short term to get there. Backsliding occasionally is allowed (and even somewhat expected, as I know I’m not perfect) and accounted for, and the goals are realistic.

— I want to commit to working out this year. It doesn’t have to be every day (and won’t be), but I’d like to work towards 3-4 days/week. It doesn’t have to be at the gym every time (and won’t be); it can be as simple as an energetic walk through the neighborhood when the weather allows for it or biking a good trail nearby. I want to be in better shape at the end of the year, though, than where I am today.

— I want to commit to eating better this year. I won’t give up all of my vices (good scotch, a steak fresh from the grill, or a piece of dark chocolate), but I will try to balance them with some of what is better for me a little more often than I tend to do now. I will cook more and better food at home in the kitchen that I love, that I had built for cooking in, and not rely so much on prepared meals or those eaten out.

— I want to commit to improving my shooting this year. I don’t want to just throw more lead down the range at targets (though that is fun); I really want to improve what I am doing and how I do it. I want to look into taking at least one class on shooting. I will start working on physical training that will improve the shooting that I do (including a full rehab of my shoulder now that it has been fixed). I plan to start attending and participating in more competitive shooting events, even if they are simple bowling pin matches or a more formal sort.

I think these are all reasonable goals and within my reach. Each of them will help me to better achieve the others, so that success in one will lead to improvement in the others…the ultimate positive feedback loop.

I wish y’all the best in your new year, and may your plans come to where you hope to see them.

Categories: Cooking, Firearms, Health, Long-term Goals | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Second Attempt (and Casualty the Second)

This baking thing is getting expensive. First the butter dish jumps out of the fridge. This time, as part of the clean-up, I put the paddle and dough hook for my stand mixer into the dishwasher. They’re metal after all, right? Why shouldn’t they go in the dishwasher! Well, apparently they shouldn’t. When I took them out after the cycle had run, they were heavily oxidized, to the point that even after scrubbing them clean and washing my hands for several minutes with the scrubber, not only was the scrubber ruined, my hands were still slightly discolored. The two pieces sort of look ok, but I’m not sure I trust them with food anymore. I’ve already ordered new ones, and I won’t be doing anymore baking until the new ones get here.

But the bread came out pretty good. It didn’t rise as well as I could have hoped, but I think I know why and can fix it for next time. I made what the recipe calls “Italian Easter Bread”. It has 3 kinds of cheese in it (all Italian cheeses) as well as cracked black pepper. It’s a rich bread with a bit of a bite to it.

This is after the dough attempted to rise. It more flattened out a bit without so much vertical rise, so the bread came out a bit heavy, but still very yum.

And after baking, the little loaves were nicely brown with little bits of gooey melted cheese running all through the bread. And the house smelled like toasted cheese for hours!

I just need to stop sacrificing things in order to get my baking done, or this isn’t going to end well.

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First Attempt. First Casualty.

Last night started my first attempt at baking something from scratch since finishing my baking course.  Of course, there had to be a casualty along the way.

This used to be the lid to my butter dish. It decided to jump from the top shelf of the fridge and left a nice gouge in the floor. These are just the largest of the chunks. The shards that went flying were small and numerous and took quite a while to clean up. It’ll be a few days before I’m comfortable walking barefoot in my kitchen again.

Today went better, though. I was fully prepared with the dough and the filling.

After rolling out the dough, layering in the filling, attempting (with more or less success) to roll the dough up and cut it (using a secret weapon of dental floss!), I had rolls in pans that were pre-filled with the pecans and caramel in the bottom.

Then after a little bit of time to rise and some time in the oven, there were CINNAMON ROLLS!

The house still smells wonderful. Next time, though, I think the rolls need a bit more of the caramel in the pan to start, and I want to make an icing for the top. But these are very yum for a first attempt.

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