Thursday, May 21, 2009

Two for the Money

Spring Sunrise at Spadoville

It's 4:31 a.m. here in Western Wisconsin. It's May 21st. I have been up for a while. Couldn't sleep. I just heard the first of the bird songs for the day. I can't identify the bird, but I heard one. It is officially morning. Up at this latitude, the day starts to creep up on you pretty early. It's still "night" outside, but the sky is starting to lighten in the Northeast. I can watch, if I pay attention after March 20th, the sun rising farther and farther to the North of dead East as each day passes. It starts its Southward journey after June 21st, the Summer Solstice.

We've had some warm windy weather. The past few days have been hot and humid, in the 90's Fahrenheit, (quick now my Canuck friends, what's the Celsius?) around 33 C.

Today, the NOAA weather service on line report calls for, well, here, I'll let you read it:

Today: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms, then scattered showers after 7am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 69. North northwest wind between 8 and 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

That's a big change. We need the rain. I planted two apple trees and some blackberry bushes last week. I've been watering them daily. We'll see if we get any moisture. I didn't plant anything in the garden. I have some Roma beans, the wide flat Italian green beans, and some early corn. I believe I'll get these into the ground this weekend. I also have to pick up some tomato plants from a friend who has offered started plants. His tomatoes are the best I have ever eaten. And I mean that! Meaty flesh, flavorful. Just wonderful.

So, a small garden. I'll shop at the Framer's Market too. They are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays here in River falls, WI. There is sure to be a lot of fresh organic produce available. Nothing like fresh stuff for great eating, healthy eating. When the weather gets warm, I crave cold salads. Just the opposite of wanting hot soup on a blustery November day. A couple of my favorites are here in this post.

Typical Farmer's Market scene.

Yes folks, recipes. If you've read up to this point, you are hereby directed to the announcement that there will be a recipe posted. I mean, others do it. My friend Beth at Beth's Blog, ( I call it Beth's liberal Reader's Digest), has a wide variety of news items, quips, jokes, pictures, soundbites personal items when she's screwing around at work and the recipes. By the way, I find it interesting reading. A magazine if you will, and very well done. I even read her recipes, but don't venture away from my usual to try a lot of new stuff.

I have found that if someone posts a recipe, I have made something close at one time or another. I will make what I usually make and vary it with the recipe that someone posted. I must be getting old and set in my ways. Either that, or too lazy to go to the store and get ingredients that I don't have on hand at any given time and make something totally different than anything I've ever made before.

Since I have had many jobs, ( the last W2 count was 78 I believe), and more than a half dozen as a cook, (Chef is not in my vocabulary), I can usually look at a recipe and see the ingredients and pretty much figure how they go together. I do like to experiment, and sometimes when I do, I get something special as in especially good to eat. So, that made me think of the dinner I made night before last. Something simple called tacos, but different than most. I'll post that recipe too.

So, two recipes, one a summery cool salad and the other a great new way to have tacos, or burritos or some sort of spiced things wrapped in corn or flour tortillas. These are gonna be conversational recipes by the way. No lists. You write it down if you want to. If you try either of these, I'd really like to know what you thought of them. Of course I'll accept the obligatory "That sounds so delicious" comment from anyone being the blog whore that I have become.

Take some fresh tomatoes. I slice them in half and take any core out of them at the stem end. I then quarter them, or eighth them. I get some cucumbers too. I use a potato peeler and take off some of the skin. I like to leave them with stripes. I slice them into pieces about a quarter inch thick. The last thing I use is red onion. I peel the skin and slice thin into rings.

Striped Cukes

I mix the tomatoes, cukes and onion together and pour on my own home made Italian salad dressing. You can use you own home made or store bought if you want to. But this dressing is what I call Italian as this is how my Mom makes it.

Did you know life is like an onion? You peel it off a bit at a time and sometimes you weep.

Olive oil, red wine vinegar, a touch of water mixed or shaken with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, sweet basil, parsley flakes and a pinch of sugar. Amounts? Well, that's a good one. Use some of each. If you don't want it too salty, don't use a lot of salt. Same with pepper and sugar and garlic and onion. A Tablespoon of each except the sugar in a couple of cups of vinegar and oil will work, thereabouts.

Italian Bread, 100% Semolina Flour

Shake it well, pour it on the veggies, toss is and toss it again, put it in the fridge and let the flavors blend. It's like anything else, better in a while rather than as soon as you make it. Serve it with a slice of some good Artisan Italian bread. Butter is up to you. The bread alone, dipped in this dressing while eating the veggies is to die for. I'm having this salad today!

Now, for the tacos. Here's what I do. I cut up chicken in strips and pieces, helter skelter, but small bite size pieces. I pour some olive oil into a cast iron skillet. I put in the chicken when the pan is hot and fry away. After a few moments, I season with salt and pepper and garlic powder. I stir. I add water, a cup or so, then I add Chile powder.

Now I don't use store bought Chile powder. I use real Chile powder made from New Mexican Red Chilies from Hatch New Mexico. It comes in varieties.

Oh wow, I hear the crows now, they have started their morning cawing. Got to be a half dozen of them, cool!!

These are not MY tacos, but you get the idea

Anyway, the Chile powder bought in the store has cumin and other spices in it. The stuff I use is just Chilies and it comes in different heat scales. I use Sandia. It is hot and has a bite, but not overwhelming. Here's a place where you can order some. It's called Da Gift Basket. And Here's the Chile Powder section.

I stir in the chile and let the water reduce. What is left is a great tasting lively filling for a taco or a burrito. Tender bits coated with red Chile. I dress it up with shredded cheese, Colby, Colby Jack or Cheddar, freshly chopped tomatoes, chopped onion and shredded lettuce. Some sour cream, or better yet, guacamole and you have a feast. I like mine on warmed corn tortillas. Mrs. Spadoman likes the flour torts. I use another cast iron skillet to warm the tortillas. I admit to pouring on some Zapatas taco sauce from a bottle. It does not over power the taste of the Chilies I used when cooking the chicken, but it adds a little something for me.

Hey, vegetarian? That's okay. Use green and yellow zucchini and red, orange, yellow and green peppers along with some sliced portobello mushrooms and onions. Cook them like you did the chicken. Or roast them sprinkled with the Chile powder. Makes a wonderful veggie taco with real flavor!

Okay, so there it is. It's freakin' five A freakin' M. I don't have pictures. I guess I could make some Heuvos Rancheros, but I'll take some next time I make this stuff and show you that I am for real. Last time I made the tacos, I used leftover pork loin roast. I sliced it real thin and chopped into small pieces and did it like the chicken. It was already cooked, so it didn't need much time. Try it with buffalo or with a tender sirloin steak. Shrimp too, or add the Chile to the breading and fry some fish.

I had fun this morning. I just decided I'm going out for breakfast at Yoody's favorite diner. Ray's Southside.

Grand daughter Yoody and me at Ray's Southside a week or so ago

Peace to All and All you hold Dear. Bon Appetite!


Mel said...

Wait, wait.....what is it I'm suppose to say?


*going back to locate the quote*


(sorry...started droolin' over the bread and lost all train of thought....LOL)

Spadoman said...

Mel... You're spose to say, "That sounds so delicious" or words to that effect, just so I can feel good about myself.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thorne said...

Okay, so... Yummmm... I used to make my own oil and vinegar dressing until I fell in love with Girard's Original French. That salad would also be fantastic with lime juice and a little chile, garlic, cracked pepper and salt. (Although my daughter uses lime juice and seasoned salt- it's yummy, too).
My tomatoes are going into the garden this evening when it cools off. Also a couple squash. I need to find the energy to prepare another bed for the beans and radishes and garlic chives; my garden is in a sorry state.
You've inspired me. I may have to post a recipe, soon.

fjb said...

"That sounds so delicious". There, I've made the obligatory compliment.:)

Really, the Italian salad dressing sounds great and I'm going to try it. Just imagining dipping that fresh Italian loaf in it is making me verrrry hungry.

Here's my similar yet different off-the-cuff Greek dressing: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic (lots), sugar, sea salt, rosemary, thyme, sage. Put in a jar with screw on lid, shake then put in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the herbs season.

Anne said...

now i'm hungry! you're a busy guy, joe. enjoy your garden.

eaprez said...

Thanks for the shout out. Great pics and ummmmm I love those recipes - I intend to try them as they seem very simple even for me :) Lovely pic of you and your grand dtr....I like those types of eateries - usually have better food than a chain. I tend to lean towards 'homestyle' cooking.

Mel said...

Ohhhhhhhhhh yeah.

That sounds sooooooo delicious!!

How'm I doin'? LOL

Actually, the veggie salad--I'm all about...though, ya know, himself makes an awesome thickly sliced, firm red tomato, black olives, cubes of mozerella cheese, bit of salt and pepper and balsamic vinegar/oil shaken and poured over it all salad that is to DIE for.

Mmmmmm...yummm! :-)