Tea Time With Jesse

Six of One, Half Dozen the Other

Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Taste is a Funny Thing

Posted by middlerage on February 17, 2014

For awhile, now, I’ve had a post baking in the back of my mind about how our tastes change as we get older. When I was a kid I liked chocolate. Chocolate chocolate chocolate. Give me some Count Chocula breakfast cereal and pour some Hershey’s Syrup over it. On the other hand, my mom would tell me how raisins were a special treat when she was growing up (nothing like the Depression to make shite a treat); meanwhile my dad loves him some corn on the cob. And watermelon? fuhgeddaboudit. He loves watermelon. Me? I never understood the fascination; watermelon was occasionally fun for the seed spitting fights, but give me a chocolate ice cream cone. I am reminded of that scene from Fatso, where Dom DeLuise is slicing bread for his skinny younger brother: his brother says, “Dom, I like bread, you love bread, I only like it.” Once in a great while I would appreciate some watermelon, but I only like it, I don’t love it.

Fast forward 30 years and I find myself in a great reversal. Chocolate is still great, but I only opt for it about 10% of the time, and I now love watermelon. It’s like being a gambling addict, because you never know if you’ll get a truly great one. But if you find that sweet, perfect texture, on a hot summer day… I’d rather be sitting on my deck eating ice cold watermelon, than even thinking about chocolate.

So I wanna say that taste is very much an adult versus kid thing, but not so fast – I’ve recently decided I want to bake pies as a hobby. I’ve outfitted myself with the dishes and the rolling pin and all the other accoutrements. (Let me just say, pie crust is a bitch, and my creations are decidedly wonky at the moment). The other day I made an apple pie a bit too heavy on the cinnamon and nutmeg. It reminded me of mincemeat pie. I liked it well enough, but I considered it a very “adult” taste. Except my nine-year old couldn’t get enough of it. Wait  a minute, what’s going on here? S/he’s a Froot Loops lovin’ Pepperoni Pizza eater who shouldn’t be giving the time of day to a mince meat pie.

Meanwhile, the youngest kid (YK) loves – well love is too strong a word – really really likes broccoli! Go figure. The OK would rather catch on fire than eat a vegetable. And neither kid likes peanut butter much.

Gawd I love peanut butter. Maybe it’s the raisins and corn-on-de-cob of my generation.

Now. Back to figuring out how to get the *&^%# pie dough to quit sticking to the rolling surface…


Posted in kids, observations, Recipes | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

The Ultimate Sausage?

Posted by middlerage on August 7, 2013

Middlerage is in an inventive mood, and his deep thoughts have turned to… sausage?

I was just thinking about how supposedly sausage is a peasant food, a cheap way to make use of fat and trimmings while the lords on the hill eat their spit-roasted fine cuts of meat. Send the good stuff to nobility. Add plenty of salt and spices to the leftover trash meat, and you got yourself a decent source of nutrition for the serfs. Now, economic analysis may not support that thesis – the work involved to chop and season the trimmings, to extract and prepare the casings, to stuff and smoke the result is probably so labor intensive as to make “peasant food” a debatable term. But for the moment, let’s go with it; sausage is a way to make use of cheap food that might otherwise be thrown away. So methinks, what other food has this kind of underlying philosophy?

Wings! I’m not going to go research this to prove my point, but I think I recall hearing a story along the lines of a bartender in upstate NY meets somebody trying to unload tons of super cheap chicken wings, and he has the bright idea to roast them in seasoning and salt (sound familiar?) and sell what cost him pennies a truckload for pennies a plate. Genius! It’s like the thirst-inducing bowl of free peanuts on every bar top, but you actually entice the patrons to pay for the “peanuts.”

Now I’m on a roll. Potato skins! One of the franchise restaurants has the notion to take the tastiest part of a baked potato – okay, the second tastiest part after the toppings – and after adding salt and seasonings (ahem) sell the cheap peelings as expensive appetizers. Now they even make it into a snack food you can buy in a vending machine (additional processing applies).

Finally, in my native NM, you can buy lovingly shredded bits of high quality meats wrapped in corn flour and called the tamale. Again, supposedly a peasant food, but the labor involved makes that assertion questionable. Anyway, I’ve heard (but again am not in a position to prove), that tamales started out as a way to make use of the brains, entrails and head meat of various animals. Add enough salt and seasonings and just like the sausage, you hide the nasty origins and make something palatable and nutritious.

Which leads me to my million dollar idea for sausage:

The potato-skin/tamale/chicken-wing sausage. $14.99/lb in your freezer section.

It’s either the ultimate sausage or just the wurst idea.

Posted in Recipes, wtf | 4 Comments »

Secret Ingredient Midwest Guacamole

Posted by middlerage on January 3, 2013

So authentic guacamole, (and, really, the best guacamole), is a super fresh combo of avocados, tomatoes, chile*, onions, lemon juice and maybe assorted other garden delights. But sometimes, the americanized, white-bread, green-pasty version can have its moments, or hit just the right spot. Especially in sandwiches. This version usually consists of little more than ultra pureed avocados with some salt and maybe some garlic powder.

I call it Midwest, because that seems to evoke the spirit of bland Americana. One of my thesis advisors used to tell the story of asking for pepper at his MidWestern in-laws house during holiday dinner; they had to turn the house upside down just to find an old picnic shaker of pepper. The poor midwest – they get held up as the poster-boy of white-bread bland, but to be fair, if I had to get up at 5am to work a corn farm I wouldn’t want anything else than what they’d throw on the breakfast table.

So what’s my secret ingredient for MidWest guac? – Powdered buttermilk.

To the basic foundation of avocados, salt, garlic, add some buttermilk powder for a phenomenal and tangy zing. I promise, you’ll wow the other church ladies.

You  can find powdered buttermilk in the baking aisle, and it is often called for in bread recipes and the like. Not only is Secret Ingredient MidWest Guacamole good on a chip, but it makes a great spread for enhancing lunchmeat sandwiches.

So enjoy, and remember – avocados are a super food, full of healthy mono-unsaturated fats, as well as other super nutrients. And don’t forget to make a chunky bowl of authentic guac often, too.

*Your esteemed blogger originally hails from New Mexico, where the food staple is chile and the state question is “Red or Green” (as in, “what kind of chile sauce do you want drenched over your authentic New Mexican cuisine?”). In NM, “chile” is both the singular and plural term (ala’ one fish, two fish) for what less elegant regions (i.e. everywhere else) call “the chile pepper” or “chile peppers” (plural) or more clumsily the “chili pepper” or “chilli pepper” or horrifically “chillis”.

Posted in Recipes | 5 Comments »

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