Friday, September 30, 2005

Wine Test

Today's entry is a bit opn the short side. It's coming down to the end of warm weather here in Chicago so I'm going to try and get outside for awhile this afternoon and enjoy it while I can.

I came across a wine test earlier this morning that I thought was kind of fun. Check it out, and enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Help Fill My Cooking Directory!

I have been working on a new cooking related directory over the past few months. I've got most of the bugs worked out and am ready to start taking more submissions.

There are 3 options when you submit a site:

1) Free
2) Free + reciprocal link (you get better placement as the directory grows)
3) $25/year - guaranteed top 3 placement in the category you choose.

So if you know of a great culinary related site, including your own of course, stop by the cooking directory and submit it today.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Discount Thanksgiving Decorations

Sticking with today's Thanksgiving theme, I thought I would post some information about where to get discount Thanksgiving decorations. I've been put of charge of buying the decorations for all the major holidays this year...and don't liker spending a lot on something I'll probably just throw away after the holidays are over. I already know I'm too lazy to pack them up and save for future it will be 5+ years before my house comes up again in the rotation to host Thanksgiving.

Anyway, here are a few good places to pick up Thanksgiving decorations at discount prices:

Great Occasions

Terry's Village

Online Discount Mart

Second Grade Thanksgiving Art Projects

I have a brother who's in second grade this year. They are getting ready to start working on their Thanksgiving art projects in the nect couple of weeks. While I'm not much for breaking out the scissors and glue, I can make up for it by posting some info & links about ideas for a second grade Thanksgiving art projects.

Here are a couple links to pages I came across that have information about Thanksgiving art projects:

Here's an idea I found laying around the house from back in the day when I was still a kid and in school. I stil remeber actually making this when I was a kid. Although I found the instructions, my coffee filter turkey is long gone...

Coffee Filter Turkeys

Materials: coffee filter per child, markers, paper plate per child, spray bottle of water, body of a turkey.

Instructions: Give each student a coffee filter and a paper plate. Students use their markers to color the coffee filter. They can make patterns with their markers or scribble on the filter. I suggest that they color their filter on their paper plate.

When colored spray the coffee filter (which has been placed on the paper plate) with water. The colors should begin to run creating a mixture of colors. Let dry. I usually let them dry overnight. Create a body of a turkey and place it in front of the coffee filter (which serves as the feathers). Hang for others to enjoy.

Here are some pictures of what coffee filter turkeys can look like.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Food News

I would have never guessed...CNN has a whole section dedicated to food news.

What's even more interesting is it appears they could care less about that section of their website. Most of the articles are years old, or the links just don't work at all. I'm surprised a major site like CNN would take such an apathetic approach to what could be a great section of their site.

Get to work CNN...the food bloggers are killing you!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tips for Storing and Preparing Meat

I just came across an article on food safety month over at the cattle network. Don't ask how I found's been a long day and I honestly couldn't tell you. Random Internet surfing has a habit of taking you to some interesting places.

Anyway, the article talks about basic safe practices for storing and preparing meat. It covers basic topics such as;

"Using a meat thermometer is the one sure way to be certain burgers are fully cooked," Roeder said. "Not cooking your burgers to an adequate temperature can result in foodborne illness.


"Food packed on ice or kept in the refrigerator until just before serving will help prevent illness," Roeder said. "The two hour rule is the key -- you have two hours at room temperature for perishable foods. On very hot days, however, food warms more quickly and a more realistically safe time is about one hour."

That should give you basic idea of what the article is all about. While you're at it,take a few minutes to browse around the cattle network. I honestly never really thought about how much was really out there online about cows, and despite the somewhat amusing name, there's a ton of interesting info on the site.

While we're on the subject of meat, check out this meat recipes page for some good meat based recipes.

Zesty Pinto Bean Soup

I'm living solo this week so I've asked some of friends to e-mail me some easy recipes so I can have something other than pizza every night:-)

Here's one for pinto bean soup that I'm going to try tonight.

1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
1/4 C. plus 2 Tb. water
1 1/2 ts ground cumin
1/4 ts ground red pepper
1/4 C. plus 2 Tb thinly sliced green onions
1/2 C. Finely chopped green bell peppers
2 (15 1/2 oz) cans pinto beans, undrained
1 (14 1/2 oz) can no-salt added whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
Vegetable Cooking Spray

- Coat a saucepan with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot.
- Add bell pepper; saute 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Add 1 can pinto beans and mash.
- Add remaining beans, tomatoes, and next 4 ingredients...stir well.
- Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Scoop soup into bowls and top with onions.

Seems quick and simple...just what I'll be in the mood for after a 12+ hour work day.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Chefs Starting Lives Over in Corpus Christi

I came across this story today and thought it was worth sharing.

Here's a little preview:

"Some chefs and food service workers from the Big Easy are starting their lives over in Corpus Christi, thanks to some local restaurants.

Lindsey Wheat fled the hurricane and flooding in Southeast Louisiana. Now, just a couple of weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area, she has already gotten a new apartment and a job at a local restaurant here in Corpus Christi."

I think it's great to read some positive stories after countless hours of watching/listening to nothing but horrible news surrounding the devastation caused by the hurricane that almost completely wiped out some areas in New Orleans.

Hats off to Matt Terhune (the reporter) for this story.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Gas Stove Simmering Tip

When simmering something on a gas range it is sometimes difficult to get the heat low enough. If this happens to you, take a second grate and put it on top of the first grate you are using. This will raise the pan a touch further from the flame. Most of the time doing this will drop the heat just enough to get you where you want to be.

Build Your Own Double Barrel Smoker/BBQ

During the winter months here in Chicago I tend to spend quite a bit of time working in the garage (it's heated) on projects that I'll have a chance to use the following summer.

With winter quickly approaching in Chicago I decided that this winter I'd like to try and build my own smoker. One of the first sites I came across, Big Smokey Design, has a ton of great information on building smokers & grills. It's my first and last stop, and the site I'll be using this winter while I'm toiling away in the garage trying to build something useful for summer 2006.

The Best Marinades for Fish

Check out the fish marinades thread over at The Wine and Food Forum.

I tried this one last night:

Marinade 2 – Beer Marinade For fillets of fish or shrimps

A lightly piquant marinade that will add an interesting touch to dishes usually made with wine marinade. Worth trying with small cuts of beef, lamb and chicken and with fish and seafood.

1 1/2 cups beer
1/4 cup olive oil or other salad oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. powdered mustard
1 tsp. ground ginger
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce
2 Tbsp. sugar
4 Tbsp. orange marmalade
2 cloves garlic, minced

Pour the beer into a mixing bowl and slowly, stirring constantly add the oil. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Spoon the marinade over the item being prepared and marinate for 2 hours before cooking.

Very, very tasty!

Related - Determining if Fish is Done/Cooked

Friday, September 09, 2005

Grilled Steak Marinade Recipe

This marinade recipe was e-mailed to me earlier this week by a friend from Ohio.


1/2 tsp. Seasoned Salt
1/4 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1 Cup Scottish Ale
2 tsp. Brown Sugar


- Place your favorite cut of steak in a shallow pan and pour ale on steak.
- Marinate for 1 hour in refrigerator or longer if you have the time.
- Remove steak from ale and mix dry ingredients together.
- Rub mixture on both sides of steak.
- Let marinate with dry ingredients for 1/2 hour or more.

Preheat a skillet or grill to med high heat. Add vegetable spray or vegetable oil and braze to perfection.

Should handle 1 1/2 lbs of beef without a problem.

Make Your Own Butterfinger Candy

I came across a great recipe for the kids over at Cooking Light today that I wanted to share.

Butterfinger Candy Recipe

10 oz candy corn
10 oz. peanut butter -- (2 cups)
1 pkg. chocolate candy coating -- (10 oz) - (Baker's melting chocolate that comes in a microwaveable bowl in the baking aisle works fine)

- Melt candy corn in microwave on high 1 minute.
- Stir and continue cooking in 15-second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval.
- Stir in peanut butter.
- Spread mixture in a buttered dish. Cool completely.
- Cut into squares.
- Dip in melted chocolate candy coating.
- Lay on waxed paper to set.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Britain Sends Help for Katrina Victims

Britain is sending 50,000 military ration packs to Louisiana for the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. The packs, filled with boil-in-the-bag entrees and desserts such as rice pudding, will be airlifted to the disaster zone over the next few days.

The ration pack, which is standard issue for the British Armed Forces on operations, includes a boil-in-the-bag breakfast and main meal as well as pudding, snacks, cookies, sweets, coffee and tea and tissues. The pack contains a mini-stove and matches to heat up meals and drinks.

While not exactly the best tasting meal you'll ever have, when you're hungry it gets the job done. I went on a 7 day "survival" trip in a canoe a few years ago and we lived off military rations for the entire trip.

If you would like to make a donation to help the victim's of Katrina visit the Red Cross's website for more information.

It's all about the water

Ok, so maybe this isn't an entry directly related to food & cooking but it needs to be posted anyway. I've had to take a few days off from food blogging due to kidney stones, most likely the most painful thing a man will ever go through. I've actually been told by a few women who have given birth and who have kidney stones that they would prefer to give birth to 10 more children before they would opt for a kidney stone. I can relate...kidney stones are so unbelievably painful it's hard to even describe in words.

Anyways, prevention is the key and it turns out water is a big part of that. Here are a few resources I came across this morning relating to kidney stones. What they are, how to prevent them and what to do if you think you have one.