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Friday, November 29, 2013

Cooking 4 Guys - The Big Game

Since the NFL has decided to copyright the official name of the "Big Game", you have to give it this name so they don't have their lawyers come at you with officious cease and desist orders for using the official name. But, we all know what you are talking about, and isn't that super.

On the first or second Sunday of February, after 17 weeks of NFL football, and 3 rounds of play-offs, we have the 2 "best" teams in each conference of the leagues facing off in the Big Game. Whether it's Peyton Manning, with his genius at the helm, or Geno Smith doing his best Joe Namath imitation and guaranteeing an upset of whoever they might be playing, or Big Ben and the Steelers right the ship and Ben goes for another ring, getting him closer to that other great Pittsburgh QB, Terry Bradshaw, the game now takes a back seat to the spectacle that occurs, both at the stadium, and in homes around the world, the biggest one day holiday/party of the year. Mardi Gras, New Years Eave, and the 4th of July rolled up into one big event. It may be at the stadium or in the parking lot, or at an organized club or bar, or just friends watching the game on your new Christmas Present, the 102" big screen tv (OK so mine is only 21", I can see as long as someone doesn't get up and stand in the way), people who don't know the difference between offense and defense, who never heard of Vince Lombardi, to those who know Joe Namath as a playboy and stocking salesman (OK that was years ago), are watching the Game (some only for the new commercials, some just for the party). The Big Game get together is not your ordinary Fall/Weekend Sunday guys come over football game. It takes time, and for the best atmosphere, you have to start getting ready ahead of time.

First on the list is beverages. Is it a sophisticated gathering with wine. What wine goes well with the sounds of bodies crashing together, or the thrill of victory, and agony of defeat? Is it going to be hard drinkers doing shot of Jack or Jim or tequila shooters? Or just a bunch of guys drinking their favorite malt beverage?

I'm not much of a wine drinker so I say if that's your choice, the only advice is to make it a drinking wine, not a sipping, appreciate the aroma and taste wine. Nothing too expensive, except for that one bottle for the end of the game, to toast when your team has just become the NFL Champions.

As far as harder drinks, I say make it a game within the game. Take a shot when a team scores a touchdown, a sip or half shot for field goals, and a double shot for safeties. Hopefully it's not a game where the teams light up the score board, tossing touchdown after touchdown, or some people won't make it to the end, and you'll have the morning after look of a typical Saturday morning at a frat house.

Beyond the battle between Coke and Pepsi, and their variants (whatever happened to 7-up?) and Sweet Tea here in the South, the final choice is Beer. With beer comes a few questions. Do you get a Keg? A couple of cases? or is the party small enough that you just have everyone bring their own? With the first 2 choices you have to make sure that it's a beer that a majority of the people like, with the last choice you have a smorgasbord or flavors and choices (as long as it's put into a communal cache for anyone to pick and choose). Like I said with the wine, you need a drinker's beer, most Americans will want one of the product from the big 3 of American beer, Anheiser-Busch, Miller, or Coors, but there are plenty of craft and small brewery choices that are good for times like this. I'm sure you have your own opinions as to which you prefer. Just make sure it's one that you can drink without the beer being the center of attention, and just something that tastes good while you are munching and cheering your team of the day to victory.

Now on to food.

You are definitely going to want your choice of a plethora of chips and dip. Whether it's potato chips and french onion dip, or tortilla chips and salsa or guacamole, or pita chips and humus (where did that come from???). You can either buy or make your dip, from the French Onion soup mix and sour cream, to queso dip from Rotel tomatoes and Velveeta, to guacamole made from fresh avocado. With potato chips, you usually want a couple of flavors of dip. With tortilla chips, salsa, and quacamole, and queso dip. No idea where to go with pita chips, but that wasn't what I grew up with. Talking about dip, if this is going to be more then just the guys, with wives and girl friends, and even the girl who is a friend who you grew up with who enjoys football almost as much as a guy, a good choice is a veggie platter with a dip. Unless you've done these before, it's best to just get one in the produce section of the grocery store. I used to have to cut veggies for an appetizer item at a restaurant I worked at, and it's a time consuming job, that I let it to the professionals now. With the veggie platter, you want a good cream cheese or sour cream based dip. A good spinach dip, or french onion, or any other dip you will find in the dairy section between the cheese, and sour cream and yogurt will do.

Next is the finger food for during the game. You want something you can grab and put on a paper plate to eat in front of the tv while watching the game. Stuff like meatballs and little sausages, cheese and crackers, wings, wings and more wings, and of course pizza, or a favorite in the Philadelphia area, tomato pie. This is all things you can place in a slow cooker, or on a platter for people to pick and choose. Like the beer, this is something you don't want to have to think about during the game, just something to munch on while the game is being played.

Now comes half time. You want something that can be ready and eaten in 15 to 20 minutes, even with the extended half time show, you don't want to linger and miss the 2nd half kick-of. Sandwiches are great, cold cuts and sliced cheeses, pulled pork or hot beef usually served on hardy buns rather then bread, subs and hoagies. The sandwiches can be make it yourself, with hot items in a slow cooker or other heated serving pan, the cold items, on trays (with lids you can remove at half time and replace to keep them as fresh as you can) which can be kept out during the 2nd half. Meatballs, Hot Dogs, Brats, Kielbasi, or any other meats you can shove in a bun. Home made fried chicken, or a bucket of the colonel's finest from KFC. Any of the salads you might have at a picnic like cole slaw, or potato salad. Pickles and olives, and spicier items like peperoncini or banana peppers, or hotter peppers if you like them, these are something you would probably have out early with the finger foods pre-game as well as now. Stuffed peppers with prosciutto and cheese.
And of course chili, I've heard of some Big Game parties that turn into chili cook-offs with people bringing their home made chili, and whether judged officially, or by how much is left at the end, you can make and try a large variety of Texas' state food.

Finally you have dessert, ok, not really a full dessert, but just some cakes or pies, or fudge or brownies. Something sweet is always a good thing. Fruit is another good choice, especially small fresh fruit you just set out, grapes are great, and of course orange wedges, a reminder of glory days of midget football.

Like any culinary event, or just guys getting together, the choices are yours to make. Go with a tradition you've had since the first NFL-AFL championship. Go with the meat based menu you used when da Bears did their Shuffle. Or go with sandwiches on sourdough bread from the days of Joe Montana and San Francisco reigned supreme. The Big Game is a party, an unofficial holiday, celebrate it like you would New Year's Eve, or the 4th of July. Have fun, enjoy the game, and try not too get too stuffed or drunk, remember tomorrow is Monday, and you have to work. Though you have a memory, and possibly stories to tell to last you until next February and another Big Game.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


A friend posted a graphic on Facebook today, it was one of those awareness types of posts for people with special needs. I agree with the spirit of his one comment in that we all have special needs. They could be severe needs that are life threatening, or mild needs that can be easily taken care of. Each one of us has needs that, with the help of others, can be lessened.

An African proverb that Hillary Clinton shared was "it takes a village to raise a child", unfortunately because of her political aspirations, this concept has been attacked. This concept is not unique to Africa and is how most people born before the 90s were raised. You knew your neighbor, you had no fear of letting your children go out to play, if something happened, you knew that there was someone who would be there to help. The special needs child was not a source of ridicule, or someone else's problem, but a person who was part of your life.

People ask "What went wrong with America?", maybe it is the loss of community that we once felt, but if you look around, that community is still here. To some it is online, like Facebook, Google+, or Twitter. To some it is offline, like Little League, or PTA, or the local bar, or the church. If you need help there is someone who you know that can help. In business, that is known as networking, in life it is known as community.

A community is not only where you are, but who you know. Everyone is there for a reason, some are there for more practical reasons, some are there just to make you smile, or for comic relief, some are there to be antagonists to make you stronger. Your community is probably larger then you realize. Maybe if we embraced our community again, and even spread it, we would make America strong again, and remove the feeling of fear and distrust we have enveloped ourselves with.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Cooking 4 Guys: 24 to 48 Hour Ribs

There is a revolution in cooking known as sous vide. Basically this method of cooking is to seal the food within a plastic bag, and to keep it at the desired temperature for a long time. Holding it at the precise temperature makes sure it isn't over cooked, and especially with cheaper cuts of meat, and ribs, it helps to break down the muscle that makes it tough, therefore a correctly cooked and tender dinner. You can make a guaranteed rare steak by keeping it at 125 degrees Fahrenheit, but the USDA recommends a minimum of 145 (which is medium) and other source recommend a minimum of 130 (which is the lower edge of medium rare). Also they say you should keep it at that temperature for over 2 hours to make sure it is safe. They have $5000 cooking machines, which are basically industrial style slow cookers with precise temperature gauges. But that's not what I'm talking about.

I am talking about using a couple items you may already have, and one item you probably have to buy. The first item is a beer cooler, the second is zip lock bags, and the third is a stick thermometer. If your cooler can hold ice for an entire football game, I'm not saying to keep the ice totally frozen, but that there still is a good amount of ice in it, it is probably good enough to work. Insulation works just as good at keeping heat in as keeping it out, a driving mug can keep your soda cool as well as keep your coffee hot. The thermometer you can get at Wal-Mart or Target, or through Amazon for $5 for an analog and $10 to $25 for a digital one. You can spend more if you like, and buy a beer cooler just for cooking in, but that's up to you.

Now on to the ribs. What you need is as many racks of ribs as you need, a bar-b-q rub, hot water, and your sauce of choice which is optional. You can cheat with the ribs and rub by buying a sealed pre-seasoned/pre-sauced package of ribs, but not pre-cooked in any way. The bar-b-q rub can be bought at the local grocery, look in the aisle next to the bar-b-q sauces, or by the seasoning section of the market, or you can make your own. A home made rub is fairly easy to make. Take a half cup of brown sugar, a quarter cup of salt, a tablespoon of chili powder, a half teaspoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, and smokey paprika. Mix together well. You can adjust it to your taste, making it sweeter, or spicier as you like.

Take the rub and coat the ribs, rub it in, smack it in, let it get absorbed into the meat. Coat the ribs good. Next step is to place the ribs into one gallon or two gallon zip lock bags. To seal the bag, have a bowl or pot with water, and lower the bag into the water, and let the pressure of the water push the air out of the bag. You want as much of a vacuum as you can get. When you get to the top, seal it 90%, leaving about an inch open, tilt it in the water to push the last bit of air out of that opening, and seal is shut. Try not to get any water into the bag, but a few drops won't hurt.

Now to cooking the ribs. Take the ribs out of the refrigerator so they warm to near room temperature. Get a pot, fill it with enough water to fill the beer cooler, heat it to when it is ready to boil, you don't really need it to boil fully. Take your thermometer, and check the temperature, should be right around 212 degrees (no duh), slowly add room temperature water until the temperature of the water in the pot is between 150 and 160 degrees. Place the ribs into the beer cooler, add enough water to the cooler to cover the ribs, checking the water temperature as you do as the ribs will cool the water, you want the water temperature to be above 150 degrees. Close the lid and go about your day.

One thing I suggest is to check the temperature of the water every 5 to 6 hours. Doing this will let some heat out, so have some boiling water ready to add, stirring the water around so that it gets back above 150 degrees, remove some water if it gets overfilled (this can be reheated later and rotated back into the cooler) . Of another way is to have a cooler just for cooking, get a thermometer that is a meter with an attached probe. Drill a hole in the top of the cooler, and slide the probe through it to have it resting in the water, take some epoxy or putty and seal the lid so that no heat seeps out. I would only say to do that if you plan on cooking beer cooler sous vide on a semi-regular basis. With this method you can just add some hot water when it goes below 150.

Let the ribs cook a minimum of 12 hours up to 24 hours this way to make sure the meat gets tender. When you are ready to finish and serve the ribs, heat your grill to high heat, or turn on your oven's broiler to preheat. Let it get as hot as it can. Place the gril/broiler rack as close as you can to the source of heat. Put the ribs on the grill, or under the broiler (if using the oven, place a pan under it to catch the drippings), and let them sear for 30 seconds to a minute per side, enough time to give them the brown color, or maillard reaction, of caramelizing for both the visual, and taste appeal. Coat with your favorite sauce and dig in.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cooking 4 Guys : The Grill

Guys need one thing above everything else to cook, Fire. Whether it's a wood burning stove, a charcoal grill, or a gas grill, it all starts as fire. Although there are plenty of tools to use when grilling, from that kit of a spatula, tongs, and other items in it's own case, to the fork with a thermometer in it, to your favorite apron with it's appropriate saying, all we need is a blade, a pointy object, fire, and food (preferably meat). Grab a stick, poke it through a hot dog or sausage, hold it over the fire and occasionally turn it get the right amount of brown and black, and we are happy. To test if the grill is hot enough we use our hand, hold it over the heat, and if you can keep it there for 5 seconds, it's not hot enough. If you have to move it after 2 or 3, get cooking. To clean the grill, we heat the grill and then use a wire brush like the one in our tool kit to clean rust and gunk for things. We grill things we wouldn't otherwise eat, and make them tasty morsels of culinary delight.

Another process using the grill is smoking. You can do this a couple of ways, one is to have a separate smoking chamber and connect it to the chamber where the food is. The smoke is allowed to surround and infuse taste into the food. This is usually a longer process, from all day, to days and weeks to make items like smoked ham and smoked turkey, or even preserving it like jerky. Another way is a more direct approach, with the multiple area cooking. You have a hot side and a cool side of the grill. A Weber kettle is great for this because is has lid that can be rotated so you can direct the smoke over your food to give it that flavor you want. Usually you start this type of smoking by first searing the meat, or other food, giving it the desired grill marks, on the hot side of the grill. Then you move it to the cool side of the grill, and add your soaked wood on the hot side, either directly or in a foil pouch with holes punched into it, allowing it to create the smoke and the taste you want. A third, cheating method, is to steam or boil the food in a mixture of water and liquid smoke. This infuses the flavor into the meat, and is even part of how some say to cook tougher cuts of meat or especially ribs.

Something else you can do on a grill is a variation of the tortilla pizza I mentioned in an earlier post. Take a tortilla, spray it with some sort of cooking spray, place it on the grill for a couple of minutes. When it gets some grill marks, flip it over and put your toppings on it. Close the lid for about 5 minutes and then check it out to see if it's done. This is great for those leftovers at the end of the night, slices of tomato, onions, peppers, and cheese. If you have a pizza stone, even better, place it on the grill to heat up for long enough and you have the crisp crust with a smokey taste.

Many side dishes can also be cooked in the grill, grilled corn to baked potato are 2 that come to mind. For corn, I have seen variations on 2 methods, both start with opening it, pealing back the husks, and removing the silk. The first method is to soak the corn and close the husk back around it and place it on the grill until the outer leaves start to singe and turn black. You then peal the husk and eat. The second is to remove the husk, or even peal it back and tie it as a handle, and then soak it and place it direct on the grill. Place the husk on a cool spot or hanging over the edge of the grill, and you can use it to hold your ear of corn as you enjoy it. One variation on that last method of cooking corn, I saw on a TV show with Rick Bayless, a cook who would travel through Mexico, to the markets, and peasant areas, to learn the everyday cooking of the regions and states of Mexico. The variation is more the condiments added to the corn when done. Combine the two methods of cooking corn I first stated, soaking the corn, and cooking it in the husk, letting it stand until it cools a bit, peal back the husk and butter the corn lightly and place it on the grill to get the marks and smoky taste. Combine some Mexican crema, or sour cream with a little bit of milk or cream to thin it out. Use the crema instead of butter, and then coat with grated queso anejo or parmesan cheese, or some other dried grated cheese, and then coat with powdered chili. The recipe for this is located at on Rick Bayless' Frontera web site.

Potatoes are even easier, even if they take longer. This is great with charcoal as the potatoes start to cook while you wait for them to heat to grill the other items.This method is also good for cooking whole large onions, or other root vegetables. Take your potatoes, soak them for a bit with some water then pat them dry, wrap them in foil. Poke some wholes in the foil and into the potatoes to let the steam out and to let it bake as it finishes. Start the charcoals, and place the foil wrapped potatoes and stick them directly into the coals. As you prepare the coals for cooking you can turn the potatoes to get cooked evenly, finally moving them to the edge of the fire while you place the grill on top and cook the rest of the meal. Remove them from the fire when it gets to the firmness you like, unwrap and butter and season to taste.


Been away from my computer but now I'm back

I've been away from my main computer set up the past 2 months, and haven't been able to make posts like I wanted to, as I said, my schedule of posting is going to be chaotic, and sometimes life gets in the way. I've been online with first my phone, and now my tablet, but I have enough trouble posting responses in Facebook, or answering texts with my kids, that there was no way I was going to make full posts here, not sure what the equivalent to carpal tunnel syndrome is for the thumbs, but I would have surely experienced it if I tried.
I now have my computer set up and running, so again I will be able to post, here and in all of my forums of sharing my worldly knowledge, not that it's a lot, but it is unique.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Cooking 4 Guys - Kitchen Gadgets

If you ever spent a sleepless night surfing the tv, you have seen some of the most amazing gadgets. Gadgets to help you clean. Gadgets to help you in the garden. Gadgets to make women look sexier, prettier, healthier, more well endowed. Gadgets for your to do lists. And one of the biggest categories, kitchen gadgets.

Two of the kings of Kitchen Gadgets are of course Ron Popeil, the God of late night infomercials, and George Foreman, with the many variations of the George Foreman Grills.

Ron Popeil, the man behind Ronco, and Popeil, was a tinkerer. He either improved or created items that made your life simpler and easier. From the Popeil Pocket Fisherman, to the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie, He gave us what we didn't know we wanted, and did it for less. And of course when you thought you were getting everything you could, but wait, we will also add the set of Ginsu knives, or some other bonus item, that takes the amazing item you were buying and made it better.

Then you have George Foreman, Olympic Gold Medalist and 2 time heavy weight boxing champion. When he made his comback for his second title, he said it was due to healthy eating. Russell Hobbs Inc. came to George with an offer, that took George from being a well paid athlete to a multi-millionaire entrepreneur. At it's peak he was making millions of dollar a month for his endorcement. Finally the company paid him to be able to use his name on the Grills.

Now to the Gadgets.

Starting with the Showtime Rotisserie, nothing could fit cooking for guys, then as Ron and his studio audience says, "You just Set It, and Forget It!" You can start easy and put on Hot Dogs or Wieners, or your favorite sausage or wurst. Use the rack and make hamburgers or fish. Or go all the way with a roasted chicken or a roast beef or pork.

With the Foreman Grill, you can make anything you would regularly make on a grill outdoors, indoors now. Hot dogs, hamburgers, Use as a press to make Grilled Cheese or Paninis. Grill chicken breasts or fish. Even the worlds perfect food, Bacon.

One of the first Kitchen Gadgets I got, was somewhere between many of the other gadgets. I don't even know if it has a special name, just the sandwich maker. Each half of the maker has 4 triangles, 2 sets of 2 side by side, so it is a square cut in half diagonally. The triangles are indented with a shelf so that when closed and cooking it seals the edges of the sandwich. Great for grilled cheese, or fruit pies using bread and jelly or jam. Another great item I've made in them is triangle pancakes. Use your favorite pancake mix, and cook them into pancakes you can pick up and dip in your syrup. Or corn muffins, using a box of Jiffy or other corn bread mix, and do the same. Any muffin mix or even cake mix can be used to make individual treats. A bonus is adding a filling to the batter and let it cook inside it. Cutting hot dogs, or pre cooked breakfast sausages to the desired length you add them to the corn bread for corn dogs, or to the pancake for pigs in the blanket.

Every gadget starts with one original purpose, but grow either with the recipe book you get with the gadget, or online at the company web site or even communities set up of fans of the gadgets. And there are so many things you can do just using your imagination and whatever you have in your refrigerator.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Some Random Thoughts

I see so many posts on Social Networks where one person has a dissenting voice. Whether I agree with or disagree with that voice, I enjoy that someone posts that voice, unless it becomes a flame war like the good ol' days of dial up bbs.

I follow people with ideas and ideals both the same and contrary to mine. I want to know what the "others" are thinking, too. I try to not allow others to upset me enough with their posts, and most times when a post comes up I don't agree with, I'll look up the information that is offered.

Everyone comes to Facebook, or Google+, or Twitter, or any social Network, as a choice. I choose to sign on . I choose who I follow. I choose which posts to read. I choose to ignore or unfriend anyone I wish to. I choose not to follow blindly. I choose to research what is posted. I choose to accept or reject. You can too.

I am not a Sheeple, I do not think like "normal" folk. I enjoy posting things just for the reaction I get. If we disagree, then we can start a discussion, but if it appears that no progress is made in either direction, then we must agree to disagree.

I am not aiming any post at anyone in particular, unless I tag you specifically. If you are offended or take it personally, I apologize that you feel I am attacking you. I friended you because I enjoyed our real face to face interactions, or I like what you post here on Facebook. I do not wish to change that friending, but I will not step back from a belief without a reason, and I accept your challenge to see things your way, although I don't guarantee that I will ever do so.

I do not want anyone to have to walk a mile in my shoes, or live the life I did. I like that you try to understand what I've gone through, but to tell the truth, I don't really care. I am me, and I don't understand what you've gone through except through what you've related to me. I know there is more then one side to a story, and many times there is more then 2 or 3. I've heard it and seen it many times with people I know. But I still don't fully understand what's going on. Don't ask me to choose someone, either - or, I won't, and if you are insecure enough, then I will miss you when you are gone.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Cooking 4 Guys - Pizza

Pizza, along with Wings, are 2 of the most eaten foods on SB Sunday. You either order from your favorite pizza joint, many have pizza and wing deals for the game, or you pop a frozen pizza into the oven before the game, or time it so it's ready at half time. It's so easy, but it's easy to make your own quicky pizza for one or a small group with items that may already be around.

First is one that they already sell at some pizza joints, the french bread or garlic bread pizza. You take a sub or steak roll, or even a hot dog or burger roll. Put some butter, margarine, or veggie oil, purist may say olive oil, but we aren't purist, we are just hungry, onto the roll. Add some garlic powder, or grated garlic to it. A pinch or two of your favorite Italian seasoning, an Italian seasoning blend, some basil, some oregano as example. Stick it in the toaster oven and toast for a minute or so. From here you can go white and just add the toppings and some cheese, and toast until the cheese starts to turn brown. Or you can go red, and add some tomato sauce of some sort, the toppings, and the cheese. Using English muffins as the base is also a great choice.

For those who like thin pizza, you can move over to tortillas or wraps. Make it the same way as the french bread pizza, except I would use a spray like Pam, especially the garlic, or olive oil flavored. Don't bother to toast it before had, and watch it as it gets cooking, the tortillas can start to burn quickly. A combo I like to make with tortilla pizza is a taco pizza. For this I use crushed or diced tomatoes, or salsa, as the tomato sauce. Add some ground beef, and either some chili powder or taco seasoning, (you know you can close up the packets and save them in a sandwich bag or in a plastic container to use again later).I'll use a Mexican blend or cheese, or even just cheddar cheese. Let it cook until the cheese melts, top with your favorite taco toppings, avocado, guacamole, tomatoes or more salsa, lettuce, onions, olives. Another option is re-fried beans on the tortilla before putting on the tomato or salsa, and you can make your own personal version of a 7 layer dip.

Finally I have an easy pizza for a group of guys getting together. Get a can of biscuits like Pillsbury Grands. Read the can for 2 numbers, the temperature to cook it on and how long to cook it. Turn on the oven to the temperature you read. Grab a square cake pan, a round cake pan, or pie pan, a casserole dish, or some sort of oven cookware, even a cast iron skillet. Open the can of biscuits and cut each biscuit in quarter. Oil the bottom of the pan how every you want to, spray or actual oil. Place the biscuit pieces into the pan. Top with your pizza sauce, same as above, use what you have and a little bit of seasoning of choice. Place toppings and Italian cheese on top, and put into the oven and cook for however long it said on the biscuit tube. Make sure the cheese is melted to you liking, and enjoy.

Each one is quick and easy, and with the french bread and tortilla pizza, everyone can make their own combination.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cooking for Guys - Wings

Everyone knows that Buffaloes don't fly, but we love their wings. You can get them HOT, mild, suicide, Asian, barbq, garlic and spice, bone in, boneless, breaded or not, drummies, and multiple other combinations and variations. They are great with pizza, watching the game, as an appetizers, by them self, and most restaurants have them.

First off, where did they come from? Buffalo, New York. The story I hear is that some college guys were home over the holidays, and wanted something to eat. The stores were closed for either Christmas or New Years Eve, so the one asked his mother to make something for them. She looked in the refrigerator and saw chicken wings, Franks(tm) Red Hot sauce, some celery, and some bleu cheese dressing. She figured with guys this age she would make something out of this. So she fried up the wings, coated them with the Franks(tm) hot sauce, cut some celery and served it with bleu cheese on the side. The guys loved it, and later in the holiday they went to their local drinking establishment and got them to make a batch of wings for them. The bartender and cook tried them, agreed they were awesome, the owner figured, 'hey, if guys eat wings, they need beer to cool it down.' and at that, Buffalo Wings were born.

Now I don't know if that was the whole truth, or just one of the many internet stories that grow, but with that said, who but a bunch of guys would think of making what has turned into the only food that competes with pizza on SB Sunday, or for a great guy gathering.

So how do you make them at home? It's so simple, any guy can do it. Get a bunch of bunch wings. Seperate them into the 3 parts, the tip, the drum, and whatever that other part is called. Throw out the chicken tips (my mom, or most professional cooks might keep the tips to use to make stock or broth) Deep fry them until they are cooked through. Get a bowl, put the wings in the bowl. Poor enough Franks (tm) hot sauce over the wings. Toss them so the Franks(tm) Red Hot sauce coats the wings. Dump them on to your favorite serving plate/platter/tray or whatever you plan on serving them on. Cut the celery into 2 1/2 to 3 inch pieces, cut the ones from the bottom of the stalk in half, put them on a plate, fill a bowl with bleu cheese dressing. Use the bleu cheese as a dip for either the celery or the wings.

Variations to this are using other types of wings, I have seen many recipes and offerings of turkey wings, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Use another type of dressing, Ranch is now the favorite dressing offered with wings at restaurants. Bake the wings instead of deep frying, if you don't have a fryer or some sort of pan you can deep fry in. They also have racks to let you cook the wings on a bar-b-q grill Vary the vegetable sticks in addition to or instead of celery.

I have a couple of other variations that go beyond just the basics.

I use to work at Pizza shops during my cooking career. Some had wings, some didn't. At one of them (T.D. Alfredos in Phoenixville, good people, good food), one of the drivers used to take the wings and fry them half way and them finish them up by running them through the over. It gave the wings a crispy sking. Then he would coat them with the sauce and eat them. I saw that and decided to take it a step further. I fried the wings for a couple minutes, until about half way done. I then made a dry rub of what we had on hand, some garlic powder, some oregano, some cayenne pepper, some salt and pepper, and using one of the to go containers I would shake the wings in the rub until they were coated. Then I ran them through the over, a conveyor belt oven for half the time that a pizza cooked. The amounts of spices varied on how I was feeling that day, and whether I wanted the wing hot or HOT. While the wings were cooking I took a small sauce pan and melted half a stick of butter, when it was melted, I added the Franks(tm) Red Hot to it. Then when the wings came out I dump them in the sauce pan and let them soak up the sauce. After a minute or 3, I would pick them out, and plate them up (usually a sandwich tray with a sheet of wrap) making sure to pour the sauce that was left in the pan over the wings. With some bleu cheese dressing, and plenty of napkins, I was ready.

Another variation is the Asian Spice wings. Some restaurants started serving the wings with a spicy sauce that resembled a General Tso's or Sesame sauce. When going to the places that serve these, they are my wing flavor of choice. Finally, Frank's(tm) has come out with an Asian Spicy Sauce, made for wings or anything else you want to give an Asian tang. I can make the wings using the basic recipe and substitute the Frank's(tm) Spicy Asian sauce instead of the normal Franks's(tm) Red Hot.

The final variation I am going to bring up isn't really wings. The boneless wing is usually a chicken breast that is cut into chunks and usually coated with a batter or breaded. I enjoy eating them at restaurants, but would prefer if they didn't have the coating on them. Two items that restaurants serve that give you the kick of Buffalo Wings are Buffalo Chicken Salads, and Wraps. Take a chicken breast, or chicken tenders, cook them how you wish, cut them into slices. Coat the slices with your Buffalo sauce and build a salad or wrap and add the Buffalo chicken to it. Most people who eat these tend to go with Ranch dressing on the salad or in the wrap.

There are many other things you can do with your wings, don't be afraid to give them a try. If you aren't sure just try it on one wing to see if you like it, them go for it or adjust it to your taste.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cooking for Guys - Ramen

Everyone knows what Ramen is, it's that square packet of noodles and a small pouch of seasoning. At least for most that's what it is. I first really found out what Ramen is from the movie "Ramen Girl", it's sort of an anti-love story. The main character moves to Japan to be with her boyfriend who moved there for work, it's not a big part of the movie but it is a big part of her motivation. He then takes off for another job, leaving her behind in the apartment, basically telling her he doesn't know when and if he'll be back. This eventually ends up with the girl going to a Ramen shop and finally becoming the apprentice of the Master. The movie is mostly a chick flick, but the cooking, and the view of Japanese custom and lifestyle kept me watching. After watching this movie I started to learn about Ramen, and even how to take it from the pack to an actual meal.

One of the first things I learned is that the seasoning packet contains so much sodium and salt that it gives you 1/3 of the daily recommended value for the day. So usually the first thing I do when I open the pack is to throw away the seasoning packet. Then I get started with creating dinner. Second thing I figured out, is that Ramen isn't much different then angel hair pasta, they are both thin wheat noodles, Ramen noodles can be bought in a 5 pack for about $1 to $1.25, a one pound box of angel hair noodles can cost about the same. A pack of Ramen is 3 ounces, by using angel hair pasta, you can get 5 1/3 portions of this size. Angel hair pasta may take an extra 2 or 3 minutes to cook, but the rest of the preparation is the same, so if you want, just buy the angel hair and use that, and you don't have to throw away the packets any more.

Now on to the cooking part.

Tonight I was in the mood for some Italian food, so I took a can of tomato soup, started heating it by the directions on the can.. I added some garlic salt, and some Italian seasoning to the soup. Then when it started to steam I put the Ramen noodles into the soup. When it started to bubble a bit I lowered the heat to medium and let it cook the Ramen. When it was done I added some Parmesan cheese, and had a nice bowl of quick and easy pasta.

Another Ramen creation I made was when I was in the mood for Cajun food. I cooked the Ramen and drained the noodles with a colander. While the Ramen cooked I chopped some onions, I had some shrimp in the freezer so grabbed a couple of them, grabbed some cajun seasoning, and garlic. While the Ramen drained I put some oil in the pan, added the onions and cooked them for a couple of minutes. Then I added the garlic and cajun seasoning, and finally the shrimp. I let the shrimp cook for a couple of minutes and then added the Ramen. I stirred it up good to mix the seasonings and to make sure the shrimp was done cooking, then added a bit of Louisiana hot sauce to add a little bit of a kick, and even though it was noodles and not rice, I had a substitute Jambalaya. You can add chicken if you want, a little bit of ham, some diced celery. In fact I was told by a cook from Louisiana, that basically Jambalaya is a stew that you can put anything you have or like into it.

If you like stir fry, get out your fry pan or wok if you have one. Chop up some vegetables, onions, peppers, carrots, celery, even broccoli or cauliflower, whatever you have, already cut up, or frozen is fine. Even a mixture from a bag of frozen stir fry veggies. Pick your choice of meat(s), I like to use left over or frozen chicken, or shrimp, but you can use any meat, look at the variety in a Chinese menu, and those are just the "Americanized" Chinese foods. Then finally the sauce, could be as simple as the packets from your last trip to a Chinese restaurant, you know the soy sauce, and duck sauce, or you buy another type of sauce in the ethnic section of the grocery store. Again start by cooking the Ramen and draining it. Then put some oil in your pan and heat it up. Don't use olive oil as that will start to smoke, basic veggie oil, corn oil, or peanut oil. Take the meat you have and cook it until mostly done, you don't want it fully done because you are going to finish with the veggies and noodles later. Take the meat out and set it aside in a bowl or on a plate, I'll use the plate I am going to eat it on (remember to wash the plate when you return the meat to the pan, you don't have to scrub it, just run it under hot water to clean and sanitize it). Add the veggies, things like the onions and garlic first, followed by carrots and celery, then the peppers and broccoli. Cook each set of added veggies for a minute or two before adding the next. Then add the sauce to the pan, and cook it in to the veggies. Make sure you have enough sauce that it is still wet. After a minute or two you put your meat back into the pan (remember to wash the plate or bowl) and finally the noodles. Stir it up good to mix it together. If you want to you can add some sesame seeds or a little bit of hot sauce to finalize the dish right before eating it.

These are 3 quick ideas to build on for the nights you need something to eat and think you don't have anything to make. You can make Ramen Alfredo, or Ramen butter noodles (both are the same, except you add some Parmesan cheese and a bit of milk or cream to the Alfredo, just cook the noodles in the butter, and salt and pepper,and let it soak in a bit). It can be as easy or complicated as you want to make it. Use your leftovers, or check what's in the freezer. Any thing you can do with spaghetti or most other pastas, can be done with Ramen.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Cooking for Guys - getting started.

I am what is known as a professional cook. All that means is I get paid to cook. So I decided I'm going to start posting some recipes, and cooking tips. Most of these are directed towards guys, not men, or gentlemen, just guys. They will be stuff that you make late at night, or when a bunch of guys get together and hang out. A lot are going to be like how Buffalo Wings were said to be invented. You look in the fridge or in the pantry and see what you have.

One thing you may notice as I go along is that I like using gadgets. In my life I've owned a George Forman Grill, a rice cooker, a bread maker, a quesadilla maker, a food dryer, a couple of coffee machines, a food processor, a sandwich maker, and some more gadgets I like to play with. I also had access to a griddle, grill pan that covered 2 stove top burners, and you flip over to have either a flat surface or the grill lines. My brother had one of the Magic Bullets, which also is a great item for drinks.

As far as actual pots and pans, and utensils, I have a couple of items beyond the typical things you have around the kitchen.

I have an egg pan, it is an 8 inch pan that is only used for making eggs, fried, scrambled, and omelettes. I do not put it in the dish washer. I do not use any harsh scrubbing material. I do not use metal utensils or scrubbers on it. I use rubber spatulas and plastic coated utensils. I do my best to not scratch the surface so it is non-stick. The one I have now has the non-stick coating, but I've also used cast iron, aluminum, and stainless steel. Each if taken care of keep a good non-stick surface. I've also gotten to use one of the new green pans, they are worth the price but like any other you have to take care of it.

I have a wok. I use this for stir fry obviously, for regular pan cooking, for hot oil frying, for making pop-corn, and for steaming. A good wok can be one of the most versatile pans you can have.

I also have a professional quality chef's knife. I bought this at a store that only sold knives. I got one that felt right to me, was comfortable in my hand. It is an 8 inch blade on it. I also have a block set of knives with a serrated blade, a 12 inch cooks knife, a filet knife, a paring knife, and a utility knife. The only other knife I use is a cleaver. For that I have a Chinese cleaver as I enjoy using that for more aggressive chopping and splitting meats like ribs, and chicken, into pieces.

A couple of utensils I have and use are high temperature rubber spatulas and a couple of sets of tongs.

You don't need any of these items, they are just things I've picked up through the years, because I enjoy cooking. At work I need to follow directions, so at home, and even for my own meals, I like to be creative. As I post more of these posts, I will occasionally feature one of them, as I will also feature a certain ingredient, or cooking style, or item. In my mind I've already started thinking of a post about ramen noodles, and pizza, among other topics. If you have any suggestions, make sure to leave comments so I can either respond to them directly, or take them into consideration for a future post.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


I have said I am a believer in chaos. I wanted to expand on that.

In my eyes Chaos is similar to karma but different. Karma is like the Wiccan law of 3, everything you send out comes back to you threefold, therefor if you do good, it comes back triple, but if you do evil, the bad is three times as bad. In Chaos however, each action is sent out, in an ever expanding sphere, sort of like the rings of a pebble being thrown in a pond. If you skip a stone over the pond, there are multiple rings, each adding and subtracting from the next and the next ring, causing larger swells and falls, or even cancelling each other for that moment when they meet. As it goes, it is absorbed by the pond, never actually disappearing but joining with other forces until they coalesce into what again is a smooth, unbroken surface of the pond.

A thought or an opinion you have, resonates in your mind, and makes you act or react in a certain way. It can be absorbed into your unconscious, be let loose through your subconscious, or stay conscious and acted on. It can combine with other thoughts and opinions and be quieted and absorbed, or combined to make a swell in your opinions. You can block what another person says, not even considering it consciously while it build in your subconscious until it has to be acted on or rejected. You can spread your own conclusion, and action out, and have further reactions by others. If your action is small, it may have little or no affect, if it is large, it may have more far reaching affect. If it's doing a "random act of kindness" it may resonate in the recipient or someone who sees it, and start a chain reaction, or if it's an evil it may spread a fear or anger in others. Each reaction is dependent on how firm the resolve of the recipient or spectator is at blocking or allowing the action to expand. Each reaction is in it's own way chaotically spread out as a video on the internet that either sits unwatched or goes viral and everyone sees it.

Like Karma, Chaos gets reactions, but it never really returns except in chaotic ways. Every supposedly Karmic return is just Chaos taking it's turn and randomly allowing you to maybe win the lottery, get that better job/position, or negatively, put you in the path of that truck that missed a red light. Each may come after years of opposite luck, but are the result of the random actions of the powers and beings that are currently in force. Karma is just people wishing that the good they do comes back, or the evil others do hurts those who do evil, and noticing the good or evil that happened and giving it a reason. Chaos is saying that stuff happens.

Now I am going to post this, letting it go into the internet, and hoping that some people read it, and maybe get something from it. Either letting it swim around in your head, or sharing it with others, so that the internet, and Chaos, can let it take it's path to where ever it will go.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

86,400 seconds

I just read a post on Google+ about time, about how to use it and not lose it. The post is at .
It is an interesting viewpoint of your life and your time, but it goes against how I think and look at things. Pretty much I have a chaotic Zen view of life. Not chaotic as in no structure, but chaotic as in the chaos butterfly, where every action causes other actions which affects everything around it and eventually in some way, the entire world. Now the flapping of the wings of a butterfly probably has no affect on a monsoon in China, but it does cause a reaction from a distraction of a passing creature, or the spread of pollen, or something else that causes a new cause and effect. It is one of Newton's Laws, and also can be seen in karma, and the law of 3, but mostly these reactions are either instantaneous, or long term effects. How long it takes can be quantified, but not limited by the clock.
Most of my life I have been in the food business. Most of that in pizza shops. Each day was different, although there are trends that you find when you have been doing it over a long period of time. You know that it will be busy over lunch time, and over traditional dinner time, but you don't know how busy until it happens. You know that Thursday and Friday are busy. You know that weekends follow a different “clock”. This is all reactions to outside sources from the work schedule, their payday, and external societal influences. If there is some sort of event scheduled near by, it may either bring people to you or take them away. You can make educated guesses, but you don't know until it actually happens. Working in this part of the business, you go with the flow, and learn to change course as needed to get the order out, although another part of the job is preparation, and stocking which both depends on past history, and future expectation, and is more structured and less spur of the moment.
As to time and the clock, I tend to live my life on a rolling schedule, put into the structured time frame of a job, and social and family interactions, but also flowing freely inside these constraints. I have times I sleep 3 hours, and times I sleep 12 hours. Depending on my work and what others are doing and when, I may have an entire day free to do what I want, or have only minutes for myself. But I've learned to take those minutes, and use them when I can. My entertainment tends to be on demand as even with tv and movies I tend to watch it either from my computer or online via Netflix or other video sites. I can even stop time in a show, go take care of business of the moment and then come back and continue from where I stopped.
An analogy that came to mind is baseball. You have each individual pitch, you don't know what the pitcher will throw or if it will be swung on or what the result will be. That may take a second or two. Then you have the plate appearance that may be a single pitch or theoretically an infinite number of pitches. That can take a couple of seconds up to minutes e(specially if the pitching coach or manager goes to the mound or there is a pitching change). Next is the inning. 3 outs per side, 6 outs if you count both teams chances at bat. Depending on the results of the plate appearances, and other occurrences, they may take mere minutes, or what may seem like hours. Then the game itself. In games with younger players it is usually a 6 inning game. In those with mid teens it may be 7 innings. In the games among older teens and adults it goes to 9 innings. Of course the game may go into extra innings if it is tied after the completion of each full inning, until one team or the other finally wins. That may be a quick game if low scoring, and may be 2, 3, or 4 hours, some have gone on further but that is rare. Each game can be part of a series or tournament, which can last a couple of days, or weeks like the play-offs of the MLB, or it can be part of the season, which in MLB is 6 months, and that doesn't include the couple months of spring training in preparation of the season. The analogy that I am brining up with this is that even with each of these parts has structure, the whole is a compilation of actions and reactions, that do not take time into consideration. Each game is pleasurable in it's own way, as a 1 to 0 pitcher dual or a 15 to 14 home run fest. If I am worried about how long it is taking, I lose out on the enjoyment.
I live each day and enjoy every second that I can, trying as best not to allow the outside influences affect me too much. But I don't worry about whether I was affected, except as to how it pertains to my next minute. For the most part I am even tempered because I live second to second, minute to minute, day to day, and try not to let anything but this moment in time affect me. Whether I have 1 day, or 12 hours or 720 minutes, or 86,400 seconds, it all flows, on into the next day, so that I don't worry about filling the next second or minute, or day. I just let it flow.