Musing on food and cooking ...

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Weird Foods of Wisconsin Christmas

Sorry all for not posting for a while, but I have been terribly sick - fever, cough, head filled with cement. In fact, I have been sleeping until at least 10 every day for almost a week, which all of you know is unheard of. So, yup I am sick!

Well, I am feeling a little better today so I thought I would talk about the weird foods one finds at Christmas gatherings in many parts of Wisconsin... some of which are tasty and others which should be banished from the face of the earth.

Wolf Bait - this one is actually not bad even with the strange name. It is basically cream cheese, chopped up onion, and chopped up dried chipped beef or ham. Mix it all together and serve with buttery crackers. Yum yum! But it will make you need some mouthwash.

Cannibal Sandwiches - Good ground beef, chopped green peppers, chopped onions - mixed together with salt and pepper. Serve raw with rye bread. Yup, no cooking. I don't see this as often now as there have been so many e coli scares, but it used to be quite common. I always found it hilarious, considering how many cannibal grave robbing serial killers Wisconsin has produced over the years.

Lutefisk - This is a Scandihoovian tradition. It is basically cod fish that has been preserved in lye. Yes, lye. The same stuff mobsters use to dissolve bodies in remote burial sites. Basically, the pye-preserved cod gets rinsed and rinsed and rinsed again. Then it is boiled until it looks like a giant glob of snot. It is served with lefse (potato flatbread) and butter and sometimes sliced onion. Gack.

All in all, Christmas was ok. Visiting the stepfather's family was a bit like being in a casino - so many lights and noise and yelling and smoking. No jackpots though! And a definite lack of vegetables. I am not used to living n a situation where the meat is central and the veggie is the condiment. It is good to be home...

Monday, December 18, 2006

You Win Some, You Lose Some

So, I have been doing a bit more cooking lately. Likely because it is winter, and I get the urge to cook (and eat!) more during winter. Sadly, most of my recipes have been meat or seafood-based, just because the veggies are not as nice in the winter herein the Great White North.

Here is a round-up of recent winners!

Tex-Mex Shrimp Saute

8 oz shrimp
3 medium, ripe tomatoes
1 medium onion
1 cup corn (I prefer Trader Joe's Fire-Roasted Corn)
1 T cumin
2 t Southwest Seasoning (Penzey's)

Chop the tomatoes (keep the seeds and skin based on your taste and patience level) and onion. Saute onion in some garlic olive oil. Throw in cumin and Southwest Seasoning (use chilli powder if you don't have the Southwest Seasoning and then go and get some, because it rocks the house). Throw in shrimp and corn. Just before the shrimp get all pink frmo their internal thermometers, throw in the tomatoes. Cook until heated throw and full of bubbly goodness. Serve over pasta or rice.

Fig-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

1 breast per person (make sure they are the plump and meaty breasts, not the skinny individually packed frozen breasts)
Your favorite stuffing mix
1 medium red onion
5 dried figs per person
.25 cup of pecans

Mix up the stuffing according to the directions on the package. Chop the figs and the onion and throw them into the stuffing (add less onion if you only have a couple of people eating). Mix in the pecans. Then, butterfly each breast and stuff with the stuffing mixture. Put into a high-sided baking pan and put in the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes. Towards the end of cooking, slice some Fontina cheese and put on top. If you can melt the Fontina under the broiler so it gets a pretty brown crust. Just be careful not to burn the cheese under the broiler, which is easy to do.

Crock-Pot Venison for a Party Crowd

1.5 pounds of venison stew meat
1 handful of dried mushrooms (I use wild ones handpicked by mia madre but feel free to use whatever ones strike your fancy at the store - even try some morels! Yum!)
2 T dried toasted onion flakes
2 T garlic powder
1 T powdered ancho chillis (or chilli powder)
salt and pepper
even broth to cover the venison.

Throw everything in the Crock-Pot by 7:30 am. Turn on high. Come back at 4:45 pm. Turn off Crock-Pot. Using potholders, transport to car. Go to Party. Serve at holiday buffet. Take home an empty Crock-Pot.

And one loser -

Shrimp and Mushrooms in Chilli Garlic Sauce

Theoretically, this should have been yummy. I just used shrimp and mushrooms and a Cook-Do sauce. I love Cook-Do. For someone looking to have a lazy Asian supper, Cook-Do is the way to go. And I normally love the Chilli Garlic Cook-Do sauce. I don't know if the mushrooms were sliced to thinly or what the deal was, but this dish just did not speak to me. Actually, the only part I liked was the sauce, which I spooned over brown rice. The rest of it I chucked.

Which you should never be afraid to do. Ever. Just chuck it!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I had to be discounted

Well, the auction is over. And when it came time to put the money on the bidding sheet, my pre-auction interestees were not interested in paying for my cooking adventures. In fact, my starting bid was discounted by 50% just to get people interested. The romantic dinner for two and the vegeterian family style meal each went for $10 and the garden party - valued at $200 - went for $20.

The winners are cool folks with whom I will enjoy cooking! I will let you know what we end up making...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I am going to be the hit of the auction!

So, this week is the week of getting nothing done, of basically going from party to party and pressing the flesh. Which is really hard for me because I am a bit shy at parties and really only go to see if someone will drink too much and dance on a table, especially someone who is terribly shy and awkward in real life.

It could happen.

Nevertheless, I have - at all the staff and faculty parties I have been going to - been talking up my donations to the upcoming silent auction. And really, I think these certificates are going to bring in some cashola. There was a minor almost-loud-voice shoving match between two people last night who each want a particular certificate, and one person has already asked if he can get lessons without having to bid on an adventure.

There is something here. This could really end up being a new career path if I decide to make a radical change. Maybe I should start writing a business plan.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Totally off topic political post

I know. I know. This blog is supposed to be about food and cooking and the occassional insanity of my cats. But really, we all know blogs are about whatever happens to spew out of your brain at any given moment. Most of mine just happen to be about food, cooking, grocery shopping, or something related to eating. However, even my brain thinks about other things once in a while.

And I gotta say. I am actually feeling a bit sorry for Bush I. Yes, the father of Dubya and Jeb. Apparently, he was giving some sort of speech somewhere and was talking about when Jeb was defeated in his bid to be Gov'nah of Florida in 1994. And he kinda broke down. Started crying at the part where he was talking about Jeb being gracious in defeat.

You have to wonder if he was really crying about Jeb at that point.

It has to be hard to be the father of Dubya. I imagine that it must be kind of like being the parent of a mass murderer. As a parent, you want to be proud of your children and support them no matter what. As a human being, you must be horrified that one of your own could do such awful things.

Now, Bush I wasn't a bad president. He wasn't a particularly good president, either. But right now, I wish he would be a good parent and send little Georgie to the corner for a time out.