Category Archives: Food

Mrs RB3’s recipes that have kept us hardy and whole.

Sportin some green

This is the extent of my St. Patty’s Day celebration and the wearin’ o’ the green. The last few slurps of my Super Deluxe And Totally Awesome Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. With chicken so tender, and broth so flavorful and zippy, so spicy in fact, you should be sweating, just looking at this spoonful of golden goodness.

I realize that not everybody has the time and inclination to whip up a batch of something that will improve your health and more than likely put a spring in your step. Seriously, if a 58 year old, white male from the frozen north, where only white food and jello were allowed to be eaten, can whip up something like this, you have no excuses. None. Sure, Helen Keller might want to think twice about attempting to work a gas stove and serrano peppers, but the rest of you? Get with the program. I expect to hear back from each and every one of you, on your successes and sure, a few failures of making this totally awesome soup. Sniveling that the soup is too hot is not an acceptable excuse for not trying. You are supposed to suffer in life, not get fat and collect welfare.

Pro Tip: When cutting jalapeno and serrano peppers, don’t, and I mean DON’T touch any part of your face or other sensitive areas of your body, ever. Once you get that stuff on your hands it’s there for life. You might want to talk to Helen about how to deal with a handicap, umm, better yet, just wear disposable gloves.

Second Pro Tip: While simmering the soup, your eyes and lips may experience some burning, similar to being pepper sprayed like some vagrant hippy at some totally useless protest. This is normal and not to be concerned about.

I return you now back to your humdrum and boring corned beef and cabbage, which I’m told, the Irish don’t even eat. Only us Yanks who thought we were stealing a swell idea for dressing up in green and acting stupid. Like we needed an excuse.

Soup and Sammich

Seeing as this is another food post, I guess I should make a separate category and call it The Prairie Food Companion. Where some lonely knucklehead cooks his wife’s recipes, thinking “how hard could it be” and damn he misses his girl. A thousand words of that, ought to put the kybosh on your insomnia issues.

I’m a soup and sammich kinda guy and have been that way for years. I think it all started with Mom making me PB and J’s for lunch and I guess the soup would have been Kool Aid. Work with me, people. I ate a lot of PB&J’s and drank a lot of Kool Aid. Then came the voice changes and thoughts of love… of pizza, not that icky girl stuff. I remember coming home from school, I think I was 14 or so. I had eaten lunch, and here it was 3 hours later, and I was ravenous. I was in the wrestling program and we had regular weigh ins. I was 158 pounds that fall and could eat you out of house and home and then wonder what’s for supper? So, I’d come home, turn on the tv, and Star Trek was boldly going somewhere in space, while I grabbed a pizza from the freezer and made myself an after school snack. Ate the whole thing and when Mom came home and made supper, I ate that whole thing, had seconds and about a half gallon of ice cream for dessert. I kept up that routine until I left home and discovered that cooking for yourself kinda sucked. Mom was glad she didn’t have to refinance the mortgage to feed me.

I turned back to my old love of soup and sammich, because you could hardly screw that up, but according to My Dad, whose favorite saying while I was growing up was “you could screw up a soup sandwich.” I think I proved him right more than a couple of times. Being on your own and wandering the wasteland of poor choices in life, where you ate whatever and suffered the consequences of eating whatever. Finally got my head screwed on straight and found my wife. She’d done time in California, so her cooking style was eclectic, but I didn’t care, somebody else was doing the cooking. She liked different foods, that I characterized at the time as sour, bland or ishy. By that, I mean she would eat plain yogurt, kiwi fruit and some other awful stuff I didn’t much care for. I was a flooring contractor back then, and all the fumes from new carpet and vinyl caused me to not have a real good sense of smell. And without smelling good, you end up not being able to taste subtle flavors. She was forced to make big tasting food for me while she nibbled on the sour, bland and ishy stuff she liked. We eventually ended up in New Mexico where chile peppers are on everything but your breakfast cereal. There was a restaurant that we went to quite often, they had an habanero pork loin that was fantastic and out of the 5 times I had it, the habaneros won twice. You had to bring your A game when eating there. It became a grudge match that I eventually triumphed over, but oh, it hurt so good.

Shortly after that we moved to Missouri, or as I like to call it, Misery. We discovered Alton Brown on the Food Network and it pretty much changed how we went about food. My wife went from some California-esk cooking to a somewhat svelte hottie chef. I took an interest in consultant cooking. Meaning I dreamed up something that I thought would taste good and helped her figure out how to make it. Consultants don’t have to do the dishes, it’s in the contract, fine print. She started upping her game and by the time we settled in Kansas, people came to know her as the “Food Lady.” My son’s friends loved to eat at our house, we’ve bribed people with her pies, and even catered several holiday feasts at her sister’s house.

And then… and then the somewhat svelte and totally hot Mrs Chef went back home to Minnesota. Oh, quit your blubbering, it was part of the plan. I have to keep telling myself that, over and over. All of which left me no longer consulting, but actually having to do the dishes. She left me recipes of things that I might make when I got tired of eating frozen pizza. Well, I’m still not tired of it, but I decided to try the chicken noodle soup. I mean, it’s soup, how hard could it be, right?

I had a package of frozen chicken breasts in the freezer and thought I would experiment with brines. We’ve used a wet brine on chicken and pork for years and with great success. Just recently, I found a dry brine that I tried on pork and really liked. I would wet brine two chicken breasts and dry brine one. The wet brine can be cold or boiled and then cooled. So, one was cold mixed with 1/4 cup of salt, pepper, cayenne, thyme and garlic powder. The next one got the same amounts and spices and boiled and then cooled. Many cooks recommend boiling to better integrate the salt. The last breast was dry brined with the same spices and amounts but for only 2 hours, uncovered and in the fridge. The first 2 were in the fridge overnight. The next day, I pulled the two breasts in wet brines out of their solutions and dried them off, not rinsing the breasts with water. When the dry brined breast was ready, I added some parmesan cheese and they all got grilled to 165 degrees. I plated them up and samples were consumed. I could not detect a difference in the wet brined chicken. They were highly seasoned with salt, because it had not been washed off, but dang good. The dry brined chicken, I ate. It was the winner, very moist and tasty. I would use less salt next time, but dry brining was the way to go.

Soup day. I got the wife’s recipe out and made chicken noodle soup. I used one of the remaining chicken breasts for the soup. Because the chicken was well salted, I found I didn’t need to use any more salt to season the soup. And once the soup was done, I took part of the other breast and made a sammich from my freshly done home made bread. If your mouth is not watering right now, something might be wrong with you, better see your Doctor. My only wish was that my dearly missing wife could taste this ambrosia I had created. In an ironic twist, I had been complaining to Mrs Hottie Chef that she was spicing up her soups so much that I couldn’t enjoy the rest of the flavors. The soup I had just created, had a jalapeño and a serrano pepper, along with a fist full of cayenne. I was sweating like I was in a sauna when I got done, and liked it. Guess the cook won’t be hearing anymore complaints about spices in her cooking. When I was buying the peppers at Wally World, invariably the checkout girls are never sure what that green thing is. This one was able to identify the jalapeño, but she was stumped on the other one. I told her it was a serrano pepper. She kinda frowned like she hadn’t heard that before.

“What’s it taste like” she asked?

I asked her if she had tasted a jalapeño? She had, but it was way too hot.

“Well” I said “the serrano is the thinner angrier cousin of the jalapeño.”

“Ooh!” she shuddered, “I couldn’t eat that.”

Because I am, at heart, a decent person and not prone to embarrassing people, I didn’t point out the irony of a hispanic girl telling me she couldn’t eat something from south of the border. Kids, you buy ‘em books and they just chew the covers. In this part of the world though, not the spicy covers.

Earlier, I had mentioned weighing 158 pound at 14 years old and eating everything but the shingles off the house. I am 58 and weighed myself this morning. 161 pounds. I can attribute that to eating less, not smoking, not doing drugs, drinking in moderation, eating real food, not junk food, avoiding sugar like it’s poison and missing Mrs Hottie Chef. If you are trying to drop some pounds, I recommend everything above, but you’ll have to find your own Hottie Chef to pine for.

Chicken Noodle Soup

1 chicken breast, cut up
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1 or 2 jalapeños, chopped
Real men also throw in a serrano pepper, chopped, with seeds
1 quart of stock or broth
1 quart of water
1 teaspoon worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon cayenne & paprika
A squirt of anchovy paste, don’t avoid this part, you’ll be sorry
1 teaspoon parsley
4 oz noodles

Sauté chicken, onion, celery, carrots, peppers a few minutes, then add broth and seasonings and simmer a few more minutes. Add noodles and simmer at least 10 minutes until noodles are tender.

Cycles in shipping

I heard the dog futzing about, his way of telling me it’s time to go outside. A look at the clock and I find it to be a bit short of ‘time to get up.’ 3:49am. Things start early, out here on the prairie. I stumbled downstairs with ole Pea rushing to the door and doing his Hi Ho Silver routine. If you’re not old enough
to remember The Lone Ranger, his horse Silver would rear up and paw the air on command. Sweet Pea the dog does it whenever he’s excited to go outside, which is anytime except when it rains. He’s not one for long walks in the rain or anything in the rain, really. For a hunting dog, he don’t much like being wet.

I opened the door and let him out. He goes tearing off, into the dark, to wherever his nose tells him the most interesting scent is. Me, I stand out on the deck, checking the weather and listening to the night sounds. A pair of Great Horned Owls are flirting with each other on the back side of the ridge. It’s mating season for them and when they get it going, the whole neighborhood knows about it. There’s also my favorite, the Barred Owl, and he’s hooting down in the draw across the road. And from my front pasture, coyotes. Holy moly the coyotes. We have coyotes coming out of places you don’t want them to be coming out of. The dog usually stands on the deck and howls with them. I think Sweet Pea’s coyote name is Sings Bad. They don’t seem to mind though and keep yipping it up. A lot of times I will hear Canadian Geese passing overhead. Sometimes low enough to hear the wings beating through the air. Kind of neat, when it’s dark and foggy and you hear the sounds of wings passing over you. I also noticed something I hadn’t heard since last summer, Spring Peepers. Little frogs that come out early in the spring, sometimes real early. I don’t think I’ve heard them in February before. But then, I don’t think I remember a winter like we’d been having, since we’ve been here. Basically, this winter was 3 weeks in December. That was it. And now the Peepers were peeping. Crazy. You may be thinking “Global Warming!!!!!!” Put down the bong and listen to me. Al Gore is not a prophet, he’s a putz. We have cycles to our weather, and lately we’ve had warmer winters. In another decade, we might be having lots of snow and cold for the entire winter and it will be that way for 7 to 10 years. You live long enough, and you don’t smoke mary jane, you remember all these patterns and cycles.

Time to go in the house and have some coffee and let the bones loosen up while seeing what bad news is circulating on the web. While I’m scowling at what I’m reading, I start thinking about breakfast. Since the cook of the house left me, I’ve been making do and not too happy about it either. I mean before, when coffee was done, breakfast was served. For 25 years it was that way and now it’s this way. Cycles in breakfast. Hopefully, I will live long enough to see it cycle back to “breakfast is served.”

I was getting tired of making eggs and toast, basically getting tired of making anything at all. I had spotted a box of frozen waffles in the freezer and decided that would suffice for breakfast this morning. Put 4 of them in the toaster oven, have some more coffee and Ding! The waffles are hot and ready. Except, they were so freezer burned, dried out, that the dog was not even sure he wanted them. The situation just got real, so I reluctantly scratched Plan A. Sat back down and took a sip of cold coffee, just barely managing to not spit it out, and came up with a new plan. Mrs Hottie Chef used to make a breakfast burrito that really hit the spot. So fine, I’ll make one of those, and started wondering how much of a mess will it make. Plenty, I figure, and I head off to execute my new plan. Shred potatoes for hash browns. Almost lost part of my finger on that box grater. Kitchen tools are dangerous early in the morning. I needed 3 pans, one for the potatoes, one for bacon and one for the eggs. 3 cast iron pans, you use these guys everyday, you don’t need to be lifting weights at the gym. Got everything on the stove and spitting grease, you really have to be on your game to make sure things don’t burn and they all get done at the same time. And somehow, I nailed it. The last thing to do is heat up a tortilla, on a gas stove and not melt your finger nails. A neat trick that women folk never bother to tell you about.

Piled the whole thing together and it almost tasted like what she made, but not quite. Puzzling. It was now 4:45am and I was going to sit back down, but looked at the stove, with all those greasy pans, got up and started to get the sink ready to wash dishes. It’s like I don’t even know who I am any more. The old me hated doing dishes and cleaning up. The new me, runs a damn tight ship, and I gotta tell ya, nobody is more surprised than me when I found that out. Got everything washed up and cleaned before 5am. I don’t really want to tell my wife, because she might like it so much, I might own the job. That would be a bad cycle to live through.