Category Archives: Food

俳句… HAIKU BOMBERS #2… St. Paddy’s Tacos

I first posted this story on March 15, 2012… I thought it would be fun to bring back for St. Pat’s Day 2016… it was one of my first attempts at writing a Haiku…

          Quill Shiv has a new Haiku writing prompt… A photo of Saint Patrick.  

My result:

                         You can make your own
                         corned beef, cabbage and salsa
                         at the taco bar.

 

Corned Beef and Cabbage Tacos… In 1986, back in my Restaurant Days, I went to work for Jerry Franco.  Jerry was a bit of a culinary impresario on the Sacramento restaurant scene.  He had just reopened the Town House on 21st Street, down the block from The Sacramento Bee newspaper.  The Town House had been a Mexican Food tradition and had been sitting empty for a few years after the owner retired.   Franco had opened in a blaze of glory, courting the news hounds and the denizens of California State Government. Having just left a job managing The Fabulous Fifties Cafe, I was ready to mingle with and serve adults.  So I went to work for Jerry as a waiter/bartender/manager.

It was a fun place to work, and we did some crazy promotions to try to make the Town House a success.  Big lunch business, big after-work bar business.  He kept a few Mexican items on the menu, along with the ‘Upscale Designer’ dishes he came up with.  Each Happy Hour, we featured a Taco Bar, where the patrons could make their own tacos, to wash down with their Martinis and G & T’s.  For me, that taco bar was a pain in the ass, since I had to leave the bar and run back to the kitchen to replenish the supplies.  But the tips were pretty good as long as the food held out.

Saint Patrick’s Day was coming up, and the Town House, along with every other bar and restaurant in Sacramento… no, in the United States… was looking for ways to make some money off one of our more important Drinking Holidays.  I had the bright idea to put corned beef and cabbage on our Taco Bar for the day.  Jerry agreed that it was a brilliant idea, and gave me full credit, in case it bombed.  Getting free publicity was not too difficult, since we always made sure to ‘take good care of’ certain writers from up the street.  Low and behold, we saw some nice mentions in the gossip and the What’s Going On In Town sections of the Bee the day before, and our Happy Hour was packed that St. Paddy’s Day.  In fact, two guys drove down from Hangtown at lunch time to try the CB&C Tacos.  I had to plead with the cook to make some for them.  At Happy Hour, the idea was well received, lots of new people came in, and best of all… Mr. Franco even stuck around to help stock the Taco Bar.
So, when I saw the photo prompt for this week’s Haiku… for some reason, I thought of those Corned Beef and Cabbage Tacos, and my days working at the Town House.
About four months later, I left for the Neon Restaurant Lights of Chicago.  I later heard that the Town House had closed and that Franco was the chef at a seafood joint in Cape Cod. Last time I was in SacTown, it was a gay bar.

Friday Fictioneers… COOKING WITH THE ANCIENTS

photo-15

You are bound and determined to leave the modern world and go back to basics on this one.  She will be impressed.

You stop cleaning the BBQ long enough to check progress in the bucket. The clay has to be the right consistency.

‘Hell, a turkey is too big.’ You decide duck over chicken. Not so much to cover, sounds more exotic.

To pluck or not to pluck… that is the question. You decide to pluck, and cover with lettuce.

She is coming over at seven to a table with candles and flowers.

You serve up a steaming clay egg.

*************

I have changed the last line of my story, from ‘black’ egg to ‘clay’ egg.  The duck in question is cooked in clay and brought to the table and cracked open.  I think people thought I meant a burnt duck egg.  

This week, our FriFicMuse Rochelle, has tempted us with a photo taken by the Aloha Man himself… Doug MacIlroy .  After seeing this photo, I now know where the Keck Observatory obtains the fantastic photos of the distant planets in the Universe.  To read what other writers see in Doug’s garage, click here:

To see the Adventures of Doug and Ted… click here:  ABOVE THE CLOUDS  and here: KING OF THE MOUNTAIN … Hey!  This is my blog!

俳句… HAIKU BOMBERS #2… St. Paddy’s Tacos

          Quill Shiv has a new Haiku writing prompt… A photo of Saint Patrick.  

My result:

                         You can make your own 
                         corned beef, cabbage and salsa
                         at the taco bar.

Corned Beef and Cabbage Tacos… In 1986, back in my Restaurant Days, I went to work for Jerry Franco.  Jerry was a bit of a culinary impresario on the Sacramento restaurant scene.  He had just reopened The Town House on 21st Street, down the block from The Sacramento Bee newspaper.  The Town House had been a Mexican Food tradition, and had been sitting empty for a few years after the owner retired.   Franco had opened in a blaze of glory, courting the news hounds and the denizens of California State Government. Having just left a job managing The Fabulous Fifties Cafe, I was ready to mingle with and serve adults.  So I went to work for Jerry as a waiter/bartender/manager.

It was a fun place to work, and we did some crazy promotions to try to make the The Town House a success.  Big lunch business, big after-work bar business.  He kept a few Mexican items on the menu, along with the ‘Upscale Designer’ dishes he came up with.  Each Happy Hour, we featured a Taco Bar, where the patrons could make their own tacos, to wash down with their Martinis and G & T’s.  For me, that taco bar was a pain in the ass, since I had to leave the bar and run back in the kitchen to replenish the supplies.  But the tips were pretty good as long as the food held out.

Saint Patrick’s Day was coming up, and The Town House, along with every other bar and restaurant in Sacramento… no, in the United States… was looking for ways to make some money off one of our more important Drinking Holidays.  I had the bright idea to put corned beef and cabbage on our Taco Bar for the day.  Jerry agreed that it was a brilliant idea, and gave me full credit, in case it bombed.  Getting free publicity was not too difficult, since we always made sure to ‘take good care of’ certain writers from up the street.  Low and behold, we saw some nice mentions in the gossip and the What’s Going On In Town sections of the Bee the day before, and our Happy Hour was packed that St. Paddy’s Day.  In fact, two guys drove down from Hangtown at lunch time to try the CB&C Tacos.  I had to plead with the cook to make some for them.  At Happy Hour, the idea was well received, lots of new people came in, and best of all… Mr. Franco even stuck around to help stock the Taco Bar.
So, when I saw the photo prompt for this week’s Haiku… for some reason, I thought of those Corned Beef and Cabbage Tacos, and working at The Town House.
About 4 months later, I left for the Neon Restaurant Lights of Chicago.  I later heard that the Town House had closed and that Franco was the chef at a seafood joint in Cape Cod.  Last time I was in SacTown, it was a gay bar.

MAKING COOKIES… Another Milestone in Life…

Yesterday, I made cookies.  Big deal, right?  Well in a way it was, because I had never made cookies before.  I guess that is technically not true, because I remember baking cookies once, a long time ago with my daughters… the chocolate chip kind you brought in a tube, and sliced up, and put on a baking sheet, and put in the oven, and baked.  But I’m not really counting that as cookie making, since I didn’t have anything to do with the ingredients… much like heating up a TV Dinner would qualify as cooking.   So, I made Oatmeal Date Pecan Cookies… from scratch.  From Scratch… now that is a term I dislike, and now I have used it.  Having worked in restaurants, the wording on menus is always interesting to me.  One of my pet peeves, is the use of terms like ‘our own’ and ‘from scratch’ in describing salad dressing and other items coming out of the kitchen.  But that’s just me, and now I have used ‘from scratch’… I guess that makes my cookies all the more special.  So, what’s the big deal about making cookies?  Well, nothing really, except it is another ‘notch in the belt’ of my trying new experiences.

Why Cookies?

About two or three weeks ago, I went by Ann’s house, and she had made cookies.  I was astonished.  Ann does not bake except at Thanksgiving, when she supplies pies for the feast.  So, I was surprised when she said she had made Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies… and they were really good.  Ann is very accomplished at making Authentic Indian Cuisine, and is a pretty good pie maker, but, she is not a cookie baking grandmother type.  So I figured if she could do it, I could also.  I had long had a yen for an oatmeal cookie with dates.  I once did some work for a woman who paid me in Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.  They were fantastic, and when I suggested she use dates instead of raisins the next time she made them, she said “oh, they are too expensive”.  I got some cookies at the market, but while they were tasty, they were not all that great.  So, I have had a longing for a good date cookie for some time now.

When I got serious about making the cookies, I realized I didn’t have any cookie making paraphernalia.   So I consulted a Cookie Expert, and who better than a yearly Blue Ribbon Winner at the San Juan County Fair… my daughter Ashley.  Both of my daughters are excellent bakers.   Krista is the Queen of Cakes and Ashley is the Cookie Monster.   So I was in good company when she advised me on what kind of cookie sheet to buy, and lent me her mixer along with a few tips.

I decided to start simple, and use the cookie recipe under the lid of the Quaker Oats box, that Ann had showed me… I figured that if she hadn’t screwed it up, I was safe to try it too.  I had to buy a lot things like flour, baking soda and sugars, and got some eggs from Krista’s chickens.  Ashley suggested pecans would be a nice compliment with the dates, so I added pecans to the recipe, along with the dates.

So, while watching the first NASCAR race of the season, I made Oatmeal Date Pecan Cookies… they were fantastic.  They were so good, I had to pause the race to go to the market to buy some vanilla ice cream.   The race was a good one, and one my  favorite drivers won… while I was eating some fantastic cookies.

COMFORT FOOD… Gooey Buns from SacTown


The other day, my friend Diane Norton was talking about comfort food. She was looking to make ‘Veal Goulash with Sauerkraut’.

The recipe was in an old book called ‘Luchow’s German Cookbook’. My friends in New York City might remember a restaurant near Union Square in Manhattan… It had been there for 102 years, and dished-up German-Austrian food. The elegant restaurant had served as a hangout for a lot of New York’sfinest, even named rooms after their favorites like Diamond Jim Brady and the actress Lillian Russell. Finally closing the door in 1984, Luchow’s let behind a rich history… and a cookbook.
 I have fond memories of Knackwurst and Red Cabbage from Sam’s Hof Brau, at 17th & J in Sacramento. In the old days… when there was a crock of horseradish and three types of mustard on every table, oh, and the barrel of free pickles. Your beer came in a frosted stein, and if you wanted a larger one, it came in a goblet shaped affair that was hard to lift even when empty. I loved that old place, and I would have loved Luchow’s.

Diane’s comfort food du jour is a veal stew served over sauerkraut. The modern recipe, taken from that old cookbook, recommends using Bubbie’s Sauerkraut… Bubbie’s is good, but I can go one better, as my sister Mariya makes delicious sauerkraut (organic, etc of course), and a new batch is fermenting as we speak. As soon as it’s ready, I’m making ‘Veal Goulash with Sauerkraut’.  And, Toni Franklin gave me some wonderful Smoked Paprika that will go toward making an authentic goulash.

So, I got to thinking… what is my Numero Uno comfort food. Like everyone else, I have my favorites, and who hasn’t written the menu of their last meal… Mine is Garlic Sausages with Ranch Beans and Asparagus. When I was around six, my parents forced my sister and me to take swimming lessons. I didn’t want to do it… I don’t remember her reaction, but she was a goody~two~shoes type so probably pretended to like them. So, for what seemed like endless Saturday mornings, at 10a.m. sharp… they would try to drown me. Afterwards my Mom would take us over to my Grandmother’s house for lunch. In an effort to get back in my good graces, they would always serve my favorite… Tomato soup with cut up hot dogs. I still like that, but instead of Campbell’s Tomato, it’s Wolfgang Puck’s Tomato Basil, with a Louisiana Hot Link… I’ve become such a gourmet. But still not my all time favorite. That one, I’ve not had in a long time. It’s called a Gooey Bun. I don’t know where they came from, or why they are called that. I wish now, I had thought to ask my Mother the provenance.

GOOEY BUNS!!! A morsel of heavenly delight. Again, from my Grandmother Gay. I never did see her eat one though. She was funny that way. Every Thanksgiving, Gay would cook the turkey for our dinner, but she always had a slice of ham for herself… she hated turkey. Her meals were always made with a lot of love. My sisters will remember Gooey Buns, and my daughters too. I loved them! I have made them twice in my life that I can remember. Once in Sacramento when Gay had retired from Gooey Bun making, and once in Chicago.

However, I did assist in the making of Gooey Buns many times, when I was little. Gay would let me turn the crank on the meat grinder, as she fed in the Bologna Sausage. I was not allowed to do both. After the Gooey was made, the mixture was stuffed into hot dog buns, they were wrapped in tinfoil and popped into the oven. It seemed to take forever for them to cook. With the advent of the Microwave, that angst was solved.

It was almost a holiday, at least for me, when Gooey Buns would arrive at our house. We always had them at the jewelry store during the Christmas season, we worked so hard and had to grab food on the run. She made them for many years, but only occasionally … that way they were always special when I got them.

So, that is my Comfort Food… Gooey Buns! I am going to make them again.   I still have that old meat grinder, although the crank has gone missing over the years, so I may have to use a food processor… it has to be chopped up just right.  I don’t know if you can even buy bologna sausage any more, I have some investigating to do.  I may have to use sliced balogny (as my grandmother would say)… perish the thought.

But I do have that recipe card… my Comfort Food Legacy. From Gay with Love!

STIR-FRY and THE WOK…Chinese Cooking Revisited

You know how one thing leads to another?  Well, yesterday my sister Mariya gave me some  snow peas from her garden.  I thought ‘what in the hell am I going to do with these’, and then remembered that I liked snow peas in a stir-fry.  So I went to the grocery store and picked up some veggies to go with them.  I forgot to get some tofu, and that bummed me out when I started cooking,  remembering  I liked tofu in my stir-fry.  I used to do a lot of stir-fry!

See, when I was in the middle of my mid-life crisis in the late ’70s I figured out that a great way to score with women, was to invite them to my house and cook them dinner.  I wasn’t wrong.  Unfortunately I only really knew Mexican and German cooking and they were not showy or sexy enough to impress.  So, I took cooking classes.  (also a great place to meet women)  I signed up for classes at William Glen in Sacramento.  A gourmet food and cookware/lifestyle store, they held classes in a kitchen/classroom at the back of the store.  Those guys were no dummies, as after class you had to pass all the merchandise to get out of the store… no easy feat to escape the cash register.   The instructors were first-rate… I took Italian from Biba Caggiano and Chinese from Martin Yan.  I decided that Chinese would be showy and Italian sexy.  My first class was Chinese taught by a young woman just arrived from Taiwan.  She lived in Chinatown in S.F. and came to town to teach the class.  She was very shy but a good teacher.  The recipes she gave the class were hand written and I still have them.

I took two classes from her and became quite adept at The Art of the Stir-fry, or so I thought. But, it was a lot of fun and I did like to show off.

I always served warm Sake (I know, not culturally correct) with Chinese and red wine with Italian.  And, always Ambrosia for dessert.  (I didn’t dress as a chef for my dates… I know you are thinking ‘What a Dork’)   A funny thing… years ago after I moved to Friday Harbor, a friend invited me to dinner at her house and did a stir-fry with tofu and stole my heart.   I’m thinking the tables were turned… had she heard my secret?

So yesterday I dug out my wok (which I bought on the way out of William Glen after my first class).  I don’t think I have used it for 10 years and was very unpleasantly surprised to find that it was all rusty.  And I don’t mean a little rusty… I mean a lot rusty.  I was ready for a little cleaning, but I ended up having to sand the rust out.  An hour later I had a clean if unbroken-in wok.  I paired some grilled chicken with a sesame orange glaze and the meal was a success.  Next up… The Mongolian Fire Pot!

So, it guess woking is a little like riding a bicycle… although I don’t remember as much food on the floor.

♨ ♨ ♨ ♨ ♨ ♨ ♨ ♨ ♨ ♨ ♨ ♨ 

moonshine

 

Back when I was new to blogging, and writing anything, I posted this… it was my 5th story.  I thought my friends at the Moonshine Grid could use a little food.

 

DESSERT DISASTER: The Dangers of the Internet!

Having been been away from home for some time, I was looking forward to a trip to the grocery store, or market as some would say, to stock up on goodies.  Of course DESSERT is a must, and I had to get my favorite… Marionberry Cobbler from the Willamette Valley.  And, that leads to Hand Churned French Vanilla Ice Cream to top it off!   After a trip to the Frozen Food Aisle I made my way through check out and headed for home.

Leaving my grocery bag (the reusable kind of course) on the backseat, I took some artwork I am preparing for the County Fair inside the house and decided to check my e-mail… two hours later I remembered the food.

Well, I took my time putting everything away ( being involved with facebook by now), having forgot there were frozen goodies involved.  By the time I dug out the cobbler and ice cream they were thoroughly melted.  And, to make matters worse, the cobbler was on end… meaning it had all slid together at one end of the container.  Well, in the fridge the ice cream went and I mixed the cobbler together and put it in the oven, figuring I would not cook it as long since it was no longer frozen… Hey Great!… more time to check out something on the computer.  Well, I cooked it about 1/2 hr. too long and it was an interesting brown colored crust.  The good thing was that the ice cream solidified enough to spoon out somewhat whole.

Tasted semi-okay and better than nothing I guess… Another example of the Dangers of the Internet!

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