Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009 Grilled Rum Butter Lime Shrimp and Sassy Sockeye Salmon

At GreenWood the Holiday Season begins with the Winter Solstice or Hanukkah and continues on past the New Year, but Christmas Eve is the fulcrum point of the season.  I usually cook a massive meal: appetizers and main courses accompanied by all manner of libations, and this year was no different.  We started with an appetizer of grilled shrimp marinated in a rum, butter, lime and pepper concoction, then moved on to baked sockeye salmon in a tangy sauce.  White jasmine rice and brussels sprouts complete the tableau, accented with various Christmas tunes and occasional fighting between overexcited children.

This meal involves a few stages of preperation but once it's all in motion everything comes together in under an hour; make sure you have your own libations handy, since you'll be doing a decent imitation of Squiddly-Diddly in just a few moments.  These portions will serve 4, with a hearty salad it will serve up to 6.

Mister C's Grilled Rum Butter Citrus Shrimp
2 pounds Large, Huge, Colossal or other Monster Shrimp, fresh
4oz Spiced Rum (I like good old Cap'n Morgan Silver)
4 Tbsp Melted Butter
1 Tbsp Cracked or Coarsely Ground Peppercorns
1 Tbsp Ground or Grated Ginger
1/4 Cup Lime Juice
Depending upon your preference you can leave the shells on the shrimp or peel and devein them, I left them in the shell this time because I'm lazy and it was Christmas Eve.  Mix the rum, butter, ginger and pepper and pour over the shrimp in a spill-proof container with a good lid (you'll be shaking it up to distribute the marinade), but don't add the lime juice just yet unless you want ceviche, and give a few good shakes to get the marinade on all the shrimp. I let the shrimp marinate in the mix for at least an hour at room temperature (hence the need for fresh shrimp), shaking or stirring every 15-20 minutes or so to make sure the concoction gets to all the shrimp. While the shrimp is marinating you can make the Sassy Sauce for the salmon:
Mister C's Sassy Sockeye Salmon
Filet of Sockeye Salmon (Wild-Caught, at least 3 lbs)
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Cup Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
1/4 Cup Chopped Scallions (mostly greens)
2 Tbsp Fresh Grated Ginger or Ginger Paste
2 Tbsp Fresh Chopped or Minced Garlic
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil (more if you like the sesame to be dominant)
4 Tbsp Honey
Place the salmon in an appropriately-sized baking dish then combine all the sauce ingredients in a medium mixing bowl or large (2+cup) measuring cup; I put the mix in the microwave for around 20 seconds to warm it up and make the honey a bit easier to blend. This makes about 12oz of sauce- I divide it by half, setting aside 6oz or so to add for the final stage.  Pour half of the sauce over the salmon, making sure to coat all of the fish, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

While the salmon is marinating get your grill or broiler going, if grilling set the flame medium-high. I usually line the grill with foil for several reasons but mostly for ease of cleanup and to ensure more even cooking.  Time for the all-important cocktail to make the evening bright, you can be a big tot with your eyes all-aglow and find it easy to sleep tonight... go ahead and preheat your oven to 375F so you can segue from shrimp to salmon without a pause.  Now, some chefs with book-learning advise us to discard the shrimp marinade, but to me that's a waste of rum and butter so I keep it on hand to add to the grill while the shrimp is cooking- another reason I use foil when grilling the shimp! Place the shrimp on the grill, add the rest of the marinade and simmer/grill them about 2-3 minutes each side if they're peeled, add a minute if they're in the shell; it really doesn't take longer than 8 minutes in any case unless you wish to have very tough shrimp. The key is to grill them to medium at most so you can still taste the juices and marinade.  Take them off the grill and place into a bowl or covered dish to keep them warm while you're baking the salmon, drizzle the lime juice over them and give a stir. For an appetizer simply move them to a serving dish and introduce your dinner companions to your culinary creativity.

Pop the salmon in the oven, uncovered, and bake for 15-20 minutes- the aroma will drive you mad, and bring your dinner participants into the kitchen. Chase them away, for you are not finished.  When the salmon takes on that distinctive "flaky" look, add the remaining sauce to the fish and turn the oven to broil. Broil for no more than 5 minutes, to carmelize the honey and add that finishing touch to a grand and elegant piece of fish.  Take the salmon from the oven, capture the sauce for the rice and drizzling.  You are done but for the compliments.  I served this with jasmine rice, brussels sprouts and a good red wine. For dessert we enjoyed Ashley's Hot Buttered Rum, while the children had hot chocolate. Preare this for your next festive occasion and let your admirers know you got it from Cookin' With Mister C-

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Personal Chickens With Citrus Apricot Ginger Glaze - Baked Stuffed Cornish Hens

 Baked Stuffed Cornish Hens With Citrus Apricot Glaze - "Personal Chickens"

Before I get to the recipe for the birds, I'm going to stage the scene with a bit of reminiscence- 

As a professional musician and artist I've had the great fortune to meet and become friends with some of the most excellent people of our time.  Many are writers or authors or media personalities, others are captains of industry, some come from very privileged backgrounds which have allowed them to pursue artistic paths, others travel frequently to Cons or other conferences.  For reasons I still don't understand it seems the Universe (Jesus? Ganesha? Quanyin? Anyone? Anyone?) desires my path to cross theirs in what is usually a serendipitous manner, late in the evenings; I've learned to read the signs and pay attention.  Some of these fine folk have become very good friends over the years, and we share all the trappings that good friends bring.  My friend M is one of those life-sharing friends who I was foreordained to meet in just that fashion: Ashley used to babysit her children when she was a teenager, in the DC area- nearly twenty years before we met and married. M is a world traveler, a research biologist with the Smithsonian, and also happens to be a top-level travel agent with a thirst for Science Fiction and Celtic Music.  She was our liason for two of the three tours of Ireland the band led, but she was never a tour leader except when she absolutely needed to be so. She just wanted to hang out with a bunch of like-minded cool folks and had the ability and talent to make it happen.  I've traveled with her, on boats and planes six thousand miles from home, drank whisky in centuries-old pubs... she's a Good Friend. Added to all this is a lifelong friendship between M and Ashley, which predates my presence in either of their lives by two decades- the kindly mocking voice of Gandalf whispers in my ear "A chance meeting... if chance it was..." She's also a bit of an Erma Bombeck-type, the quintessential Mom and has a full complement of domestic anecdotes. I posted another Cornish Hen dish on Facebook, to which M replied when her son was younger he called them "personal chickens" because everyone got their own hen. I loved it, and told her I'd try to make a signature dish and work "Personal Chickens" into the name of the dish. Her son's name begins with a "C", this one's for you-

Mister C's Personal Chickens With Citrus Apricot Ginger Glaze
Prep Time: 30 Minutes  Total Time: 2 Hours    Serves: 4
We like to brine the birds to make sure they don't dry out when browned in the oven.  Use enough water to cover them completely, add at least a half cup of salt and a couple of tablespoons of sugar to the water and stir it to mix then add the birds to soak for at least 2 hours.  Safety dictates you refrigerate while brining, however I rarely have that much space in my refrigerator... do as you will, I say.  You will need:

4 Fresh or thawed and rinsed Cornish Game Hens (at least 24oz each) 
Citrus Apricot Ginger Glaze
4oz Apricot Preserves (or 4oz Dried Apricots with 2oz water and 2oz warm honey to soak until soft) 
2oz Fresh Pineapple, Orange or Grapefruit
4 Tbsp Fresh Ginger or Ginger Paste (dry ginger is less potent if you want to tone it down)
1 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes (more or less to taste)
1 Tsp Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Blend all ingredients until smooth, then set aside for glazing the birds

 Fruit Nut Stuffing

Bread Stuffing with Fruit and Nuts
4 Cups Stale Bread, cut into small cubes (whole grain or multigrain is good because it's very firm)
1 Cup Chopped Celery
1 Cup Chopped Onion
2 Tbsp Butter (just enough to moisten the bread)
1/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts, Almonds or Pistachios
1/4 Cup Dried Apricots, finely chopped
1/4 Cup Dried Cranberries, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Olive Oil and Butter, combined equal parts (1 Tbsp each, warmed and mixed)
Before you start preparing the stuffing, preheat the oven to 350F.
In a large sautee pan or cast iron skillet heat the olive oil/butter mixture and add the onions and celery, sauteeing until just soft then remove it to a bowl. In the skillet add the remaining butter and bread chunks, moving the bread until it is moistened then stir until the bread is very slightly browned. Then add the onions, celery, nuts and fruit to the bread and stir on medium-low heat until it's thoroughly mixed, steamy and soft. Remove the stuffing from the heat and cover it to keep it moist.
Remove the birds from the brine mixture, discard the brine and fill the cavities with the stuffing- it's OK if it overflows a bit. Place the stuffed birds neck-to-neck in the baking dish: I've found that it assists in cooking the thicker ends of the birds if they're arranged that way.  Glaze the birds generously and place on the center rack of the oven for 30 minutes. If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know what to do next; for you newcomers, this is the part of Cookin' With Mister C where the refreshing cocktail or glass of wine becomes necessary.  After all, you've just whipped up the beginnings of a culinary whirlwind and now you have to recharge... you're not done yet, and from here you're going to be moving pretty fast.  After 30 minutes pull those birdies out and add another layer of glaze, making sure to touch up those spots where they touch the sides of the dish and each other. If you're using a baking dish you may wish to pull the juices out of the dish for gravy or other purposes, because the brining makes for a very moist bird. Put the birds back in the oven, glazing at 15-minute intervals over the next 45 minutes. Make sure to turn the pan as often as needed to assure they all brown evenly and pull the juices with a baster bulb when the dish starts to fill up.
After a total of 75 minutes or so the birds should be glazed golden and beginning to crisp on the wingtips.  Remove the birds fromn the oven and all them to rest for the next 10 minutes or so while you pull together your sides; this time I served a Caesar Salad and Sauteed White Button Mushrooms. Place a Personal Chicken on each plate and your family and guests will know you did all this Just For Them.
Enjoy, and if you like this recipe and Cookin' With Mister C, please send your friends and dearest enemies to Life at GreenWood!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Slow Cooker Garam Masala Pork

Garam Masala Pork - Embrace the Crockpot!
With Thanksgiving behind us we look now to anything not made with turkey, and here at GreenWood that's usually pork in some form.  As it's the Holiday Season with its attendant errands and general lack of time, I start preparing dinner sometime before breakfast so I can get on with jewelry work as the shop warms later in the day. A warm shop makes a difference in how I work the metals and cut the stones with which I make the pieces, most notably my hands work better when it's 70F or above.

We visit two or three households for Thanksgiving and of course we bring bulky veggies with us- so we always have surplus sweet potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables with not much space to store them. Over the weekend my local Kroger was running a special on pork butts so I picked up a couple with a plan for slow-cook masala, single-pot style with all the veggies and a simmering coconut broth.  Remember my last post, about the glories of the crockpot? It's my stove-on-the-counter when I need to make dinner by the dawn's early light, and today it's my buddy for sure. This recipe is easy to make for the half-awake, except for the part with the kitchen knife.... Assuming you make it through the vegetable-chopping relatively unscathed, it's a fifteen-minute setup and then you can go about your day.  If you use the quantity of vegetables called for in the recipe it will make a huge amount of broth, so spice it accordingly.  This is not a low-fat dish, so don't go back for seconds; it's actually better a day or three later because the broth infuses the vegetables and makes for a masala conversion experience at your cubicle or desk during lunchtime.  Here goes:

Mister C's Slow Cooker Garam Masala Pork

You'll need:
Boston Butt Pork Roast 3-5lb, bone-in
2 Large Sweet Potatoes, cut into 2" pieces
4 Carrots, chopped coarsely (about 1" or so)
4 Medium White or Red Potatoes, cut into 2" pieces
4 Celery Stalks, cut into big pieces
3 Scallions, chopped or sliced
4 Tbsp Garam Masala powder
8oz Coconut Milk
2 Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Cracked Peppercorns

Put the all the vegetables into the crockpot, mix them up a bit, turn the crockpot on the 8 or 10-hour setting and let them sit in there without spices for a few ticks.  Meanwhile, take the Garam Masala and coconut milk and mix them together very well until it looks like spicy mustard.  Those specks in the mixture are little masala flavor bombs, and they do a bit of magic of their own while the roast is cooking. Take about two-thirds of the coconut masala mix and pour it onto the vegetables in the crockpot, then mix it in until they're completely coated. Then arrange the veggies artfully- make a "nest" for the roast to sit in- lay in the roast and smother it with the rest of the masala mixture. Sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper and you are done until time to serve it up.  I'll usually serve this with jasmine rice on the side to soak up the masala broth, or you can serve it with naan bread.  A hearty beer or red wine will complement this dish nicely, as will hot or iced tea.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Crock Pot Wednesday: Mediterranean Chicken

Wednesdays are serious crunch days around GreenWood, usually 18 hours at least so I like to get dinner started around 9am in the trusty crock pot.  Today's photo has the early morning Sun shining through the kitchen window; because the window is incredibly dirty it gives a beautiful, soft illumination to the entire kitchen. I read once that professional photographers used to smear petroleum jelly on their lenses to get a similar effect, so my reluctance to actually clean the windows has a bit of artistic pique involved... but that's another story if not another blog entirely.  The carrots and celery are a couple of the ingredients for today's dish, sans the rose petals. Of course you can throw them in, as you prefer, to give the house a hint of rose aroma while it's cooking. 

Busy is the word for Wednesday, especially since we've started the rehab effort on the house and shop in earnest.  Add to that the normal schedule of rising at 5:50am to get kids ready for school, doing the regular day's chores and finishing rehearsal at the studio around 11pm and I have almost no time to bathe, let alone cook in my accustomed manner. Enter the crock pot.  I used to think the crock pot was for unimaginative people who had no desire to eat well or overworked career-moms who just needed to have something ready by the time she and hubby got home from work... needless to say my perception's changed over the years. Now I make all sorts of dishes with the slow cooker, from traditonal pot roast to more experiemental stuff like miso apple beef and cinnamon mole. I buy whole chicken cut-up as well as the boneless breasts and thighs because I'm cheap, and I like to keep bone-in chicken on hand for soups or stocks.

This dish is so easy to fix, all you need to do is add some rice or a salad and you'll have a hot and very good meal at the end of the day.

Mister C's Mediterranean Slow Cook Chicken

One whole chicken, cut-up
Four carrots, sliced or chopped into 1" sections
Four stalks celery, cut into 1" sections
4 tbsp Mediterranean Seasoning (or, 1 tsp of the following: Sea Salt, Dried Red Pepper, Dried Garlic, Dried Onion, Grated Lemon Peel, Parsley)
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Cracked Pepper

No one wants to look at raw chicken, so here's a photo of Bossa Nova Salad ingredients

Place the carrots and celery in the bottom of the crock pot, sprinkle with the sea salt and pepper.  Then arrange the pieces of chicken so the seasoning mix will cover each piece.  Sprinkle the seasoning mix over the chicken and cook for 8-10 hours.  I leave the skin on the chicken to flavor the vegetables, but you can just as easily remove it to keep those fat calories down.  The crockpot will cook the chicken to fall-off-the-bone tenderness and the vegetables should be soft and richly-seasoned.  Serve with rice or fresh bread and salad. 

Men, this bit of advice is for you: Learn how to use a crock pot.  It'll open up new possibilities in the realm of "set and forget" cooking, it just takes a bit of forethought so you don't wind up with crock pot puree.  We'll revisit the slow-cooker method from time to time, because sometimes there's not enough time to prepare dinner.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Attaining the age of 42 has been somewhat of a milestone for me, in that philosophical space where I give a damn about age, life experience and all that rot. I've prepared for it by making sure I always have my towel handy (in my car, backpack, and onstage) while attempting to keep an open mind in the face of ridiculous events;  I've tried growing a second head;  I may yet decide to run for public office. I've learned not to pick fights with folks who run Major Wacko Religions- however satisfying it may be to show them the error of their ways- and will thank others to return the favor when I decide to found my own version of Major Wacko Religion.  At this point in the paragraph I'd like to thank Doug Adams for his lovely advice: "Don't Panic!"  I know you're dead, dude, but that simple admonition has literally saved my life more than once.  It has also made my life very nice on occasion, when presented with other, ahem, situations in which a young (or not so young) man might, errr, panic.

You see, I'm really a dweeb cursed with a Superhero's resume- except my parents weren't murdered (they'll be married 44 years in January), my home planet wasn't destroyed, I wasn't tutored by aliens or bitten by radioactive vermin... well, come to think about it I'm just a dweeb who happens to smell nice and can defend himself pretty well.  I did spend years playing in a drainage ditch, and there were some serious puddles and rocks down there: the comic books seemed more real if I read them in a drainpipe.

What in the hell does this inane ramble have anything to do with the concept of "42"? A friend lent me a copy of Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy back in middle school, and I began a lifelong inquiry into the nature of "42".  I was fascinated with such an absurd Answer To A Question, but my Baptist upbringing had prepared me for any number of absurdities when faced with asking about Life, the Universe, Everything.  About the same time I attended my first science fiction convention (on the sly: my parents thought I was spending the night with my friend Chris), where I heard grown men and women answering all sorts of questions with "42".  Why, I asked, were these alleged "grownups" who obviously had their own cars and might have even had sex spouting such nonsense? To my confused pre-adolescent mind they seemed to be speaking in a Code, one that gave them great security regarding the Known Universe, all boiled down to the words "Forty-Two".  When I asked said grownups what the significance of "42" was, they laughed- not at me, but near me- and suggested I needed to think about the question instead of the answer.  That same convention I met Leonard Nemoy (it was VulCon at the old Castlegate Hotel in Atlanta) , and it's one of those occasions that one never forgets: I knew just enough about Spock to know he was a Vulcan, and that Logic ruled his life.  I ran into Mr. Nemoy, literally running, and when I looked up and saw Mr. Spock he smiled at me. "Where are you headed in such a hurry?" he asked. "FORTY-TWO!" I answered, thinking I had just the Answer. He stopped smiling, and gave me that arched eyebrow that let me know that Mr. Spock had relegated me to that disdainful realm of "Fascinating".  He moved on, having a life and all, while I thought about "Forty-Two" for the next thirty years or so.

As I've approached the age of 42 I've watched many of my friends and family reach that magical number and continue onward with nary a sideways glance; was 42 just another number, with no real significance?  Now that I've arrived there myself I think there is something special about the number: it shows up in so many significant spots:  In mathematics, a magic cube can be constructed using 27 same-size cubes whose nominal values progress from 1 to 27, using a 3x3x3 progression in which every straight line drawn through the center of the cube comprises 3 cubes whose sum is 42.  If you were to fall into a hole which went straight through the Earth, your elapsed time would be 42 minutes- assuming you didn't bump or slide on the way. It's the angle in degrees in which a rainbow appears, the number of gods and goddesses in ancient Egypt, and the number of letters contained in one of the Qabbalistic names of God.

As I pondered the significance of 42, and upon reaching that magical number of years, I've suspected the philosophical retort that it might be the correct answer to a question incorrectly asked might just add some seasoning to the pan. What I can claim with reasonable certainty is that 42 has inspired me and countless others to wonder what's behind the seemingly nonsensical answers Life, The Universe and Everything provides us. We'll see what the year brings...mmm?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Boneless Pork Loin Steaks with Hot Fruit Relish

I haven't posted a recipe in a while: Cookin' With Mister C has taken on a bit of a soggy tinge lately, what with the two feet of rain we've had over the past 10 days or so. The rain began the day we buried Sadie, and finally stopped yesterday morning; food has been more or less an afterthought on those grey days. Mushrooms are growing in the chicken coop, and the grass is approaching knee-high simply because I haven't been able to mow for nearly two weeks. So to snap us out of our musty reverie, here's something brightly-colored and spicy-hot to celebrate the return of the Sun, however briefly:

Mister C's Boneless Pork Loin Steaks with Hot Fruit Relish

Serves four.

1-1/2 - 2lbs (4 pieces) Boneless Pork Loin chops or steaks at least 1" thick
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tsp Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
4 Kiwi Fruits, peeled and diced
1/2 lb Strawberries, diced
1 Mango, peeled and diced
2 Tbsp Green Onion tops and bulbs, chopped fine
1 Medium Jalapeno, Serrano, or Sacramento Pepper, chopped (substitute 1 tbsp fresh ginger)

First, make the relish: combine the fruit, onion and pepper and mix well. Add more or less pepper depending on your sweet/heat tolerance; I like the Sacramento pepper because it's medium-hot but very sweet. It'll get a bit gloppy, but that's the goal- if it's too chunky then add orange juice a little at a time while stirring the mix. Relish is very much about consistency, so mix it with a fork or wooden spoon until it has that unmistakable relish look-and-feel. Set it aside, or better yet chill for an hour or so before you start cooking the pork. Sensitive palates take note: This relish hits around a "7" on the heat meter so adjust your pepper accordingly or substitute the fresh ginger.

Combine Olive and Sesame oils in a medium frying pan on medium heat, add the garlic and chops. Pan-fry the chops until done, slice medium-thin and add the relish. As a lower-calorie option, cover the pork with the relish and bake at 350F for 30 minutes or so until done.

This goes well with jasmine or basmati rice and a salad. For a different serving option, spoon the relish over rice or serve the relish on the side.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

RIP Sadie Mae, The Junkyard Dog

Sadie Mae 1993- 2009

One month since my last update, although it seems like a season has passed here at Greenwood. The dog is our dear old mutt Sadie, 15 or 16 years old and as goofy as the photo suggests. Sadie in her senility had taken to following whatever happened to be moving around her, and would become confused and unable to find her way home. We have no fences here at GreenWood- although we've wished for them for some time now- so I had to hunt her down more than once. Yesterday, she evidently followed Zoe and Ash to the bus stop, and then being basically blind and deaf wandered into the highway and was hit by a car. Tragic, yes but certainly not unexpected.

Old Sadie was rescued as a puppy from a junkyard by Zoe's dad Felix, where she had been fed massive quantities of booze and suffered subsequent brain damage. She was a full grown trash-eater by the time I came onto the scene, a weird and kind of scary chow-german shepherd mix; she'd get spastic and run away if one tried to pet her, but then she'd come up behind you and shove her head in your lap for a good scratch. The house in Decatur was in an older suburban neighborhood, and so there were animal control employees who collected unfenced dogs. Sadie mocked them, and their lariats, and their food traps; she especially enjoyed mocking their football-fake-rush attempts to tackle her, giving them good sport and showing them how it was done. They never managed to catch her, so they settled for yelling at us about our dog from time to time.

We moved to GreenWood in 2002 and of course Sadie came with us. Ash said she didn't travel well and would puke in the moving van, but it turned out she was just fine. Now Sadie had lots of land to explore, woods to sniff and all sorts of animals to discover. Sadie stayed on the porch, not caring at all that there were deer in the field along with rabbits and squirrels practically underfoot. What got her riled was unfamiliar cars coming up the long driveway, and it was on those occasions that we saw the other side of Sadie the Junkyard Dog. She wasn't a big dog, but she gave the impression that she didn't need to be. Never one to cry wolf, when she started barking I knew I needed to come outside.

A couple of years later Norno and Tatsu came along, all 150+ pounds of them and Sadie had to learn the dominance game. She didn't mind being lowest in the pack as long as she could still eat compost and lay about on the porch. Sometimes I had to wade into a three-dog fight but they pretty much functioned as a mini-pack. Then Tatsu was killed, and we had a succession of strays show up who Sadie accepted in her strange way: Jax, the flying Jack Russell who bit her tail constantly; Honey, the Corgie/lab mix who was part of a rescue litter of nine puppies; then came Pugsley.

Sadie and Pugsley were inseperable, and Pugsley was the only dog I ever saw Sadie play with. Every morning they made their rounds together, trotting side by side around GreenWood. She would spring to her feet whenever he came outside, and always seemed happy to see him. When she was so stiff she couldn't get up Pugsley was able to get her up and moving when all she would do was bite me.

These past couple of years her decline accelerated, and she was basically blind and deaf. I could tell that petting her was painful and she just wanted to lie about most of the day. We gave her glucosamine and Prednisone when she began to fall off the front porch, her back legs not really working correctly. When she discovered that she could move about without so much pain, she would try to run but with her legs locked. She looked like a hobby-horse trying to make a break for it, but she kept up somehow.

The last few weeks were difficult, as it was becoming obvious that she was losing what was left of her vitality and mind; Ash and I talked several times about the option of giving her release but we decided that we'd just tough it out and let her come to her end naturally. She wandered off two weeks ago and we thought she was dead then, but my neighbors found her and I brought her back to the house. I knew then it was pretty much a matter of time, I just hoped it didn't happen while we were away at Dragon*Con. We came home and there was Sadie, standing on the porch like she'd just been put off a bus in a strange town, not really knowing us but happy to see us nonetheless. She was so frail that Norno's tail could knock her over, and she had a hard time rolling off her dog bed but she managed to rouse herself whenever there were leftover ribs to be had- a frequent treat here at GreenWood.

When I walked outside yesterday morning to take Conor to school I didn't see her on the porch; I knew that I'd find her dead this time. She was on the side of the highway, facing East with her ears straight up. No blood, not mangled, but looking towards the rising sun like she'd just decided to lay down and die right then and there. No final twisted grimace of violent death, her eyes still clear and her mouth closed; she looked like she'd been prepared by a taxidermist. I had my yellow garden wagon down on the highway to carry her back in some semblance of comfort, and when a trucker saw what I was doing he stopped right there in the highway and blocked traffic so I wouldn't get hit myself. When I rolled her back across the highway he flashed his lights and gave her three quick blasts from his air horn, then the world returned to its mindless rush. At that moment, the skies opened and torrential rain began to fall: I think that was the longest walk I've ever taken up the Road and driveway.

I knew where I wanted to bury her, there's a spot at the edge of the woods near the pumphouse where a previous owner had buried a dog. It looks North, towards Three Sisters mountain and Woody Gap where the Appalachian Trail begins its first serious rise. Sadie was a bigger dog than I realized, and her grave took me all day to dig. I had to dodge lightning and the worst of the deluge but there was nothing for it, she deserved to be laid in comfort- I'd be able to anesthetise myself later. We all participated in filling her grave, Felix was on the cellphone while we were working so it was a true family affair. Sadie's spot is ringed with rocks we've collected over the years, and I'll be planting a V-8 engine head as her headstone in honor of the junkyard dog that she was until the moment of her passing.

We came in and celebrated Sadie's long life with bloody rare ribeyes, smashed potatoes with Old Bay and a romaine/sweet pepper salad. Ash and I drank an entire bottle of Shiraz, and toasted the Old Lady until we were pretty well snockered.

RIP Sadie Mae, you old weirdo.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mungo Jerry Pork Loin with Toasty Nuts

I've been up to my eyeballs in the backend of production for "That Night in the Garden", with all the associated pain which comes from independently producing a CD and then sending our baby off to the finishing school known as "Mastering and Artwork" at our production facility. So, I'm indulging in a little thumb-sucking and doing only creative things in the shop and kitchen. We've got peppers, lettuce and tomatoes coming in- plus an early pumpkin from the compost bin.

Today's Cooking With Mister C was inspired by what was in my fruit and veggie cooler, and it's been damned hot the past week, so I've been revisiting "In the Summertime" by Mungo Jerry. It was the first album my uncle ever gave me, but I've always been inspired by the line "just do what you feel" so I found Bing cherries and a mango that were languishing beneath a bunch of carrots and lettuce. Chopped in the blender with some ginger paste and it makes for a tart and interesting combination of fruity layers. Mango:Mungo/Cherry:Jerry and so you will know where my mind is of late. Nuts are the new good thing for men my age, so I added a couple of tablespoons of crushed cashews and pine nuts browned in olive oil as a crunchy topping for the pork loin I was going to grill. It's pretty, dark red and thick with plenty of sweet tang and the final punch of the ginger enhances the cherry and mango.

Served with my trademark Bossa Nova Salad, with fresh peppers and green beans from the garden and white rice.

Here's the recipe:

Mister C's Mungo Jerry Pork Loin with Toasty Nuts

Lean Pork Loin 3-5lbs
1 Cup Sweet Bing Cherries (Stoned, and as ripe as you can stand)
1 Medium Mango
1 Tbsp Ginger Paste (or chopped for the blender)
2 Tbsp Chopped Cashews
2 Tbsp Pine Nuts
1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Pit the cherries but don't skin them, peel and slice the mango into large chunks and add these with the ginger to the blender or food processor. Chop only long enough to break up the cherries and mango, but don't puree- it needs to be thick and chunky, almost like salsa.

Set the sauce aside to do its thing, and heat up the olive oil in a small pan on medium heat. When it starts to smell like hot olive oil, add the nuts and begin toasting them in the pan; you have to be vigilant in keeping the nuts turned so they won't scorch. When your nuts begin to smell toasty and turn golden brown take them off the heat and let them sit in the remnants of the oil for a bit.

Turn the grill to medium heat or preheat to 400F in the oven with the baking rack set high in the oven, and use about 1/3 of the sauce to make a thick baste on the pork loin, concentrating on the top of the roast. Take the nuts and add to the sauce on top of the pork loin, pressing them in a bit as you go. Close it up and cook for 1 to 1.5 hours, no more basting needed. When the loin comes to 165F through the center it's ready. Let the loin set for 5 minutes, then slice. Add the remaining sauce to the slices and get ready for the compliments.

Monday, August 3, 2009

On Goat Cheese and Geodes

A couple of weeks ago we visited Victoria in her college town of Huntsville, Alabama. We're geeks, and so instead of doing the regular parents-visiting-their-kid-at-college stuff like taking all her roommates grocery shopping and cleaning their I-really-don't-know-how-long-that's-been-there apartment (hey, look at it as an immune-system builder), we left our Pug to be doted over by beautiful college girls and their buff-but-polite guys-in-waiting and headed for SciQuest at Calhoun College. It's a hands-on science museum, literally in the shadow of the Space Shuttle and Saturn V as it's across the road from Marshall Space Center. There's a little shop inside the museum, and it took me all of 2 minutes to find the geode bin. Walnut-sized whole geodes. A dollar each. Hmmm, I have rock saws. So we took the geodes home, and discovered one was partially hollow and one had a beautiful heart-shaped pattern when sawed and polished. We're mad for geodes, some of my most prized possesions are geodes which contain ancient water that's anywhere between 40 million and 300 million years old. And they're translucent, so you can actually see the water that most likely was contemporary with the dinosaurs. That's near the top of my Cool List...

Who? Oh, Vic. She had a great time with Pugsley, and it's nice to finally be able to have a cocktail with my oldest daughter while talking about things adults talk about (True Blood, Dragon*Con- you know the drill). We took her out to dinner at Bonefish Grill where we saw the inspiration entree for today's Cookin' With Mister C. No one ordered it, but it was billed as "Lily's Chicken", grilled with lemon and basil and served with goat cheese, sauteed spinach and artichoke hearts. Not being one to simply rip off a signature dish of a nationwide chain of fine restaurants, I thought about how it might be prepared and then changed the parts I thought could be done differently. It's significantly different from the Bonefish recipe as I really wanted to make a goat cheese sauce with a bit of color and tang:

This was served with mushrooms sauteed with oilve oil and pine nuts, over whole grains with roasted garlic and pecans. It came out so much better than I expected, even Conor wanted seconds; in retrospect I'd double the goat cheese sauce recipe and juice a fresh lime to add more tart to the recipe. The only downturn is that it comes out distinctly purple instead of red, looking a bit like baba ganoush but a true knockout for the taste buds. Take a Lactaid or two, this is rich.

Mister C's Lemon Basil Chicken with Red Wine Goat Cheese Sauce

Six Boneless Chicken Breast Halves (2lbs or so)
4 Tbsp Butter
A Handful of Fresh Basil (or 2 Tbsp Dried Basil)
1 Lemon, Juiced
1 Cup Chicken Broth
4 oz. Goat Cheese
1 Tsp Mediterranean Seasoning (or 1/4 tsp each: grated lemon peel, salt, pepper, parsley, garlic)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Red Wine (or 1/4 cup for less thick sauce and more tang)

Melt the butter, chop the basil finely (save a pinch for the sauce) and mix with the lemon juice into the butter. Keep this at room temperature or warmer for at least 20 minutes to allow the oils and acids to mix and mingle. While you're waiting, preheat the grill and begin the sauce:

Red Wine Goat Cheese Sauce

Add the chicken broth, olive oil and wine to a saucepan and simmer until reduced by about half. Add the Goat Cheese and Mediterranean Seasoning, simmering and stirring until it thickens.

Grill the chicken, turning and brushing with the lemon basil mixture frequently until done. Add the Goat Cheese sauce in a healthy portion to the sliced chicken breasts, and serve with the sides and a salad. I'm one of those people who believe that red wine goes with everything except a Baby Ruth, but a cold crisp white would also do nicely.

Spend some time over this meal, it's worth it.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Summer Rain and Summer Everything

We just wrapped up Emerald Rose's latest live CD titled "That Night in the Garden", which does a fine job of summing it all up. It's been a challenge physically as well, in that Arthur's wife had open-heart surgery and a dear friend of mine died of a series of heart attacks- culminating in yours truly leading the funeral in a Presbyterian church of all places. The title does as good a job as any describing our common touch-stone for the summer. Speaking of Summer, this is the time in our year when the "first fruits" come in- namely the peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. Add to that the berries that have just finished producing and we have the bounty of Summer, and a harbinger of the Autumn to come. So, it's time to modify that old stand-by of ribs and fruit glaze to reflect the current season. Dinner tonight is a double-rack of ribs grilled with a glaze of black currant, red raspberry, strawberry, apricot (it's first harvest in California) and a bit of pineapple for zip (it's always pineapple season in Hawaii). Recipe to follow after I finish rambling...

On the jewelry design front, I'm preparing to make a series of Argentium silver pendants and earrings fashioned to remind the beholder of the moons of the Cosmos. They'll be individual creations, but not modeled after specific celestial bodies. They'll also be augmented with small gemstones, but they should most affordable when I'm done with them, especially in light of the fact they will all be unique. I'll post photos as I make progress....

Grilled Ribs with First Fruits Glaze

2 Racks Pork Spare Ribs (10lbs or so)
1 lb of the first fruits for your neck of the woods (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc)
2" section of ginger root, sliced (substitute 2 tbsp dried if no fresh available)
1 Hot red pepper
4 tbsp Soy sauce
2 Tbsp Honey

Preheat the grill to 300F, then puree the fruit, ginger, pepper, honey and soy sauce. Remember, you're not in the zone without something tasty to refresh your parched tongue, so while the glaze ingredients are getting acquainted do yourself a favor and take care of that little detail straight away. By now your grill should be hot enough, so toss the ribs on without glaze for 10 minutes, then brush just enough glaze to lightly coat the ribs. Close the grill up and forget about it for the next 20 minutes. Brush the glaze on every 20 minutes until they are done to your taste. I've given up posting cooking times as everyone has their personal opinion of "done": you're a grown-up with your own car keys and credit cards, and I know you'll be fine. For what it's worth, mine usually take around two hours... and the remainder of the glaze is just fine after 2 minutes in the microwave on its lowest setting. Makes a great dipping sauce.

This time I served a Bossa Nova Salad (my black bean salad with cucumber), but in keeping with the "First Fruits" motif I scavenged the garden for fresh green beans to add to the mix.

I'm not posting pics this time, because cooked ribs look pretty much the same no matter how you prepare them- unless you boil them. If you boil them you need to read this blog from the first post forward before you attempt to cook ribs again.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Recording Blues and Squid Tacos

We've encountered our usual snares during this latest round of recording- the studio computer's main hard drive gave up the ghost and so I spent many days scrambling to make everything exactly the way it was before. We've been hard at work in the studio but also recording live before our fans: this is the shortest deadline we've ever given ourselves, so it's been intense. Jewelry commissions are a bit thin but I always have enough material to cut that I'm not without more work than I care to do artistically.

We've been eating a pretty eclectic diet lately, but a summertime favorite is fish tacos, San Felipe-style. Easy, low-impact and quick cleanup. We substitute or add squid to the cod fillets usually used, and the beer batter is the key as always. Here is the batter recipe:

1 cup Regular All-Purpose Flour
2 tbsp Cornstarch
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp Oregano (optional: San Felipe recipe)
1 egg
1 cup fresh dark beer
1 lb fish (Cod is our favorite for tacos)

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Cut the cod into 1" wide strips, cut squid into tentacles and 1" tube sections. Add to the batter and stir to coat thoroughly. Heat oil to 375F, enough to deep-fry (at least 2"). Add fish and squid a bit at a time, taking care not to overcook (a light gold is perfect). Drain and set aside.

Now, all that's needed is about a dozen corn tortillas, a couple of chopped fresh tomatoes, shredded cabbage and cheese. And that frosty rum-laced drink. I bet you thought I'd forgotten about the booze, eh?


Friday, May 15, 2009

Bossa Nova...Salad!

Bossa Nova- my ultimate chill music. No other music quite captures that combination of relaxed anticipation, the languorous sensuality and ease of mind that tropical breezes and bright colors incite. I have a passion for Portuguese although I don't speak a word of it; but that's the beauty of Bossa Nova: it doesn't require fluency, only an open ear. Ashley's cousin Jessica Sarles is one of the up-and-coming artists in the NYC Brazilian acoustic jazz scene, and she's very good- check her out at her MySpace page to hear some samples of Gringa. If you're a fan of Brazilian jazz (it's smooooth) do yourself a favor and give a listen.

In my last post I promised the recipe for Mr. C's Black Bean Salad so without further ado, here 'tis:

Mr C's Black Bean Salad

2 Large Bell Peppers (red, yellow or orange)
1 Medium Tomatillo
1 Medium Cucumber
1 Can Black Beans, drained
1 Can Sweet White Corn, drained
3 Green Onions
Italian Salad Dressing

Dice the peppers, onions, tomatillo and cucumber and toss into a salad bowl. Add the black beans and corn, toss again to mix, then add salad dressing to taste- usually about 4oz. Toss again to coat the salad and chill covered for at least 2 hours before serving. This dish gets better the longer it chills, so be sure to make enough to enjoy the next day- Relaxe e Desfruite!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Easy as Pie: Mr. C's JerkBerryRibs

Back in the early '90s I was working as a full-time bench jeweler and salesman while going through a rough divorce. The first Bush had recently left office, and I was reeling from the mini-recession a single Bush term had cast the nation into; I was in need of comfort, and so I discovered the music of Bob Marley, the local graduate school and gourmet cooking on a budget.

My new roommate Dan was a wealthy grad student and epicure, raised in the surf culture of the Eastern Shore and had already enjoyed life as an international downhill skiing champion. To my everlasting gratitude he was also a die-hard live music fan and a world-class connoisseur of reggae music. We were both young, single and enjoyed cooking Caribbean food while partying hard, so we devised a sure-fire method of keeping the people coming (with a focus on female grad students) and the fun times going: "Bring it and we'll cook it" parties. Add booze, grad-school "party favors" and music and we had a serious event happening, but adding the booze and other stuff to the mix made for some interesting experimentation in the kitchen. And in the back yard, upstairs den, and on the stoop of our townhouse. Soon there were people I didn't know in my dining room, showing up with all sorts of meat to grill or bake and we began to see the need to move the party out to the back garden with an eye towards co-opting the communal greenspace (and industrial-sized grill) behind our building. That decision was not well-thought out, as there are always more people who want to come to a cookout than you have space to accommodate, and we soon ran afoul of the building association. We also realized that we were actually reducing our ability to stay under the radar of the local constabulary, as those worthies have always gone the extra mile to ensure that no group of grad students has a good time off-campus... but I digress...

Being health-conscious surfer/snowboarder types we tried to ensure that our offerings were indulgently organic if not specifically low-calorie, and so we began to combine fruit with tahini and other interesting textures to use as sauces or glazes. As our epicurean mob began to expand with the addition of girlfriends and friends from abroad, Dan and I found ourselves relying increasingly on the grill in the garden rather than the oven; more fruit found its way into glazes because it's so easy to combine taste and texture and save the leftover glaze as a sauce. Our garden was full of organic peppers, tomatoes and herbs plus we had a huge organic grocery store a couple of miles away which carried a variety of inexpensive jams and preserves which served as the carrier for the glazes. Then we added herbs and spices as time and availability permitted, and settled in for one gastronomic journey of discovery after another. It was cheap, allowed us to drink and party at home and acquire a reputation for being Really Cool.

Why the long ramble down memory lane when you're waiting for a recipe? Because the road to a favorite recipe often leads past landmarks in the memory: cooking for others (whether they are your family or friends) is equal parts creativity, nurturing and social justification. When we set out to cook something other than burgers or fishsticks we usually have a memory associated with what we're preparing; sometimes it's an attitude or feeling that motivates that desire to re-create or embellish a memorable dish. Personally I like to remember favorite times and what type of cuisine I associate with them, and then get creative from there. Tropical always works for me, and fruit is somewhat neglected in meat and fish recipes so I like to experiment with them mixed with jerk spices on the grill. In the present, I make sure we have plenty of all-fruit preserves because this is one of the family favorites. This time I served it with a Black Bean Salad and white rice. I'll post my Black Bean Salad recipe in the next post-

With all that said, here's my JerkBerry Ribs Recipe:

Mr. C's JerkBerry Ribs
*double or triple amounts for multiple racks

Rack of Pork Spare Ribs (at least 5lbs)
1 cup of mixed all-fruit preserves (or fresh fruit mashed into goo for less sweet and more tart)
*This version used 1/3cup each of strawberry, red raspberry and black currant preserves
4 Tbsp Jerk Seasoning (adjust the quantity to your heat preference- we like it hot)
2 Tbsp Minced Ginger or Ginger Paste
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Honey (to carmelize)

Warm the preserves or fruit mash with the honey until soupy (about 30 sec in the microwave), then add the other ingredients and mix well. Now's the time to do several things: Start the grill, and try to get it no warmer than 300F... it's harder than you'd think, at least for my grill. Now you can fix that frosty beverage of your choice and prepare for the basting. Toss the ribs on the grill bone-side down (I used foil and nonstick spray because I loathe cleaning the grill more than I absolutely must) and baste the top and sides of the meat with the glaze. Close the grill and resume partying with your friends or kids (in appropriate fashion, of course). Check on them every 20 minutes or so, basting fresh each time until they are done. I usually cook them for at least 2 hours if I can: Because they cook at such a low temperature the juices are retained and they practically fall from the bone.

Let me know how yours turns out, and share it with a Dad Who Cooks.

On Beltane, or May Day

Welcome the "official" debut of Life at GreenWood- the place where I live and work. Here I hope you'll find enough that's interesting that you'll drop by or leave a comment about Cookin' With Mister C, GreenWood Studio creations, Church of The GreenWood or the many things of a musing nature I hope to post here. Music and video will show up here too, with Emerald Rose news as well as other projects I'm working on.

Happy Beltaine to those of us who celebrate in the Old Style- may your day be lascivious and fun! Happy May Day to my friends who celebrate for Workers' Rights, and to those who just want some reason to dance around a Maypole!

Be sure to catch the previous posts for recipes and other minutiae- I'll have more recipes and studio updates soon

Monday, April 27, 2009

Grilled Seafood with Butter Rum Lemon Baste

Sundays at GreenWood are usually laid-back, late breakfast and leisurely work on the property being the general rule for the day. As our workload gets heavier during the week at the lab and in both studios, we find that we like at least one weekend day to be the proverbial Day Of Rest; this being GreenWood, that means not resting much but doing yard work, and devoting some time to What I'd Like For Dinner.

Rum. Silver spiced rum with citrus. That's what we imbibe on Sundays, and ... you know, as long as the bottle's right there... We also like to have seafood on Sundays, and after working on the garden I'm in a sweaty but tropical frame of mind- so this happened:

Mister C's Grilled Seafood With Butter Rum Lemon Pepper Baste

4 Fillets (4-6oz) Tuna, Amberjack, Snapper or other firm fish
12 Large Sea Scallops
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Oz. Silver Spiced Rum (the vanilla makes the difference)
1 Oz. Lemon or Lime Juice (or fresh-squeezed)
1 Tbsp Cracked Pepper

Heat the grill to 400F, and melt the butter in a small bowl. Add the rum, juice and pepper and stir until mixed. Dip the scallops in the baste, then brush both sides of the fish and toss on the grill. Grill, turning and basting frequently, until done (no more than 10 min for scallops and fish) and serve hot. Garnish with additional citrus slices and rum drink served with a silly straw. Brown bread and a fresh salad complete the meal, and you'll start Monday on a good note- especially if you have leftovers. This is also terrific in the salad.

Lush-Us Chocolate Guinness Chili

Anything can come up here at GreenWood- So I sort of got roped into a chili cookoff... and I had to make it on Band Night. I usually reserve chili for the "out of the box" meals but I had to make a gallon and was a command performance. No photos of the Chili as I've never seen one that didn't look gross... It's a bit on the sweet side, but a novel recipe and I thought it would do well:

Mr. C's Lush-Us Guinness Chili
2lbs Lean Ground Beef or Turkey
24oz Diced Tomatoes (about 6 good-size fresh or a large can)
1 Bottle Guinness Extra Stout (or other bitter dark beer)
1 Cup Strong Brewed Coffee
2 Chopped Onions
3 Cloves Garlic (chopped)
4 Cans Red Kidney Beans
2 Cans Black Beans
1 Can Beef Broth or 1Tbsp Better Than Bullion
2 Cans Tomato Paste
1/4 Cup Packed Brown Sugar (optional)
4 Tbs Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Oregano
2 Tbsp Cumin
4 Hot Chili Peppers chopped
1/4 Cup Masa or Cornstarch Paste (optional)
2 Tbs Cocoa or Mole

Brown the meat with the garlic and onions, then drain and put in a large stewpot and bring the heat to simmer. Add the diced tomatoes, beer, coffee, beef broth or bullion and tomato paste. Simmer for 20 minutes, then add the brown sugar (optional), cumin, chili powder and peppers, cocoa or mole, oregano and salt to taste. Simmer another 20 minutes, then add the beans and masa if desired. Cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring to keep from sticking.

Now this is fine served after cooking for an hour or so, modified for your personal sweet-salty-spicy preferences; it's much better the next day. Usually a hunk of good brown bread and another Guinness is all that's needed to complete the tableau.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cookin With Mister C: Beautiful Baked Sockeye Salmon

The original inspiration for the salmon can be found on CDKitchen under the title "Firecracker Salmon". We like more "zip" and less "fire" so I modified it to suit our particular taste and it's a family favorite. The sauce is the heart of the meal but it's very easy to prepare. Regarding the fish: a friend of mine used to work in a salmon processing plant in Alaska, and she told me to never never never eat salmon that was not bright red; if memory serves, she referred to the typical orange farm-raised salmon as 'dog food'... and meant it. So, about once a month I pick up a nice slab of Alaskan Sockeye, bake it in this wonderful tangy sauce and make my family happy:

Fillet of Sockeye Salmon 2-3 pounds

Mister C's Salmon Sauce:
4 Tbsp Olive oil
4 Tbsp Soy sauce
4 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp Grated ginger or ginger paste
2 Tbsp Honey
2 Tsp Sesame oil
3 Cloves chopped garlic
1 Tsp Red pepper (adds zip)
Mix the sauce ingredients together in a large measuring cup or small bowl, until blended. I find that 30 seconds in the microwave will heat it up and facilitate mixing. Preheat your oven to 375F after you finish the mixing. Place the salmon skin-side down in a 9X13 baking dish, mix the sauce once more and pour evenly over the fish and bake uncovered for around 20 minutes adjusting for thickness and desired doneness. This also makes a fine glaze for grilling, just halve all the ingredients except the honey. Don't overcook the salmon or you'll realize just how good it could have been, and you can always pop it in the microwave for a minute if it's too rare.

My browned pine nuts and whole baby portobello mushrooms in an olive oil and butter sauce are definitely not low-calorie but so very good and packed with vitamins. You can throw it together in about 10 minutes:

8oz Whole baby Portobello mushroms
1/4 Cup Raw pine nuts
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp Butter

Heat the butter in a large skillet or pan until just sizzling, then add the olive oil. Add the pine nuts, browning them evenly. I like to take the pan from the heat for a minute or two and allow the oil, butter and pine nuts to develop a heady infusion; if you do so then remove the pan when the pine nuts begin to change color or they will overcook and turn dark brown. Take the time to grab that frosty beverage of your choice, then return the pan to the heat and add the whole mushrooms, toss and cover for a few minutes, then toss and cover for another few minutes. Uncover, toss once more and serve hot.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On Tax Day

Well, it looks like the extra delay in filing my taxes was worthwhile if stressful- we're getting a larger refund as a result- but ye Gods! This is the reason I hire accountants! Now I have about two weeks' backlog in the jewelry studio, and an entire recording studio revamp while recording and editing a live CD due by late August. Yes, I know that after 14 years we shouldn't do this to ourselves but I'm beginning to believe it's a fundamental ingredient in the Emerald Rose Music Pie. Nonetheless, the taxes are done and I can get back to artistic-type endeavors. I have three pieces destined for Japan and three going to Australia, plus a couple of pieces which are to be used as Ayurvedic jewelry... so I have plenty to keep me busy in the shop. Recording is always a long and tedious process, even live CDs, because nothing is totally live (and hasn't been for a very long time). Emerald Rose has so many different facets that we have to offer at least 16 tunes or else we'll have left something out and catch it from our fans, which translates is one hell of a lot of work to achieve that effortless live sound.

Have you noticed a distinct band slant? Good reason, today's a Wednesday, and that's Band Night for the past 12 years or so. With that in mind, and taxes taking most of the day we're having crockpot country ribs, served with rice and a selection of Indian cuisine including Norvat Korma and Dal Makhani. And Guiness, because it's my last one and I can't get more until it's gone. You should never leave a Guiness alone in the cooler for more than a day, or it'll turn bitter.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday's Cookin With Mister C

So I had one of those proverbial days on the eve of Tax Deadline, and a billing error with the accountant pretty much derailed all my Studio work today. I'm blessed with a lot of very interesting jewelry commissions, but the delay is killing me. Sooo, with an eye towards preparing something that I can mash into goo I realized that my kids had never experienced the savage joy of the mighty meatloaf. Tonight's the night...

Barbecue Meatloaf with Smashed Potatoes and Vegetable Medley.

The Smashed Potatoes are simply a bit more... man-mashed, you could say. The vegetable medley is basically whatever I can find that I can steam together. That saves more time to devote to the meatloaf: It's an easy list of ingredients but more importantly it lets me rummage through my cabinets like a mad scientist, wield sharp knives and mangle meat with my hands. Some days a guy just has to make some meatloaf.

Preheat oven to 375F
1.5lb lean ground beef or turkey
1 cup oatmeal or breadcrumbs
1 onion chopped
1 egg
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1.5 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp coarse ground pepper or to taste (I use at least 1 tbsp)
24oz bottle of Barbecue Sauce of your choice or you can make your own:
16oz tomato sauce (fresh or from the can)
1 cup water
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp spicy mustard
1 tsp vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Combine three-quarters of the sauce with the rest of the ingredients, mangling until unrecognizable as anything other than raw meatloaf with onions. Dump the mixture into a casserole dish (9x6 should do), level it off and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Add the remaining sauce to cover the top of the meatloaf and bake another 30 minutes or until the loaf is 165F in the center. Before slicing, take 5 minutes to fix yourself a refreshing drink. With rum. And an umbrella. And a straw. That's better. Have another sip, to prepare for the slicing. Lay it out just like Mom used to do, diner-menu style if you want to add some presentation value to your meal, and the leftovers make a fine, tangy Shepherd's Pie. Just mangle them a bit more, heat and serve.

Inaugural Post

I finally decided to point my websites and social networking PR to a central blog where I can manage all the things I want to share with you. Here you'll find the most comprehensive cross-section of my life, work and musings.
Check back often, because a lot of stuff happens around here- Cookin' With Mister C will live here, under its own label, better and more like a food blog complete with pics and video. New projects for GreenWood Studio will be introduced here as well as on the Studio website, and I'll try to keep you updated about Emerald Rose as best I can. Ash paints with acrylic, makes pottery for sale to individuals and restaurants, and we help organize mythology-related seminars and conferences. Naturally, I'll let you know what's in the hopper as it presents itself...