Gray Flannel Dwarf



Now, over the years, I’ve run the gamut on breakfast meat combinations. Steak and eggs. Bacon and eggs. Grits and bacon. Sausage, across its varied forms, in gravy, on a muffin, or alongside pancakes. Like most of you, I’ve probably tried just about everything… or so I thought.

Looked at the menu at the cafeteria today, and what were they serving up for breakfast? Chicken and waffles?? Are you kidding me? That’s the strangest thing I’d ever heard of. Is this actually… popular?

Well, apparently so.

All thing said, I’m still not so sure they served it up right here — looked like they were little more than breaded chicken fingers — and I didn’t try it. But I do have to wonder what it’s like…

Tags: — cswiii @ 11:26 am


Pumpkin Soup Recipe

As a follow-up… here ya go. Fantastic stuff. My modifications/changes are in italics. An addition I might make to this soup would be a few bacon crumbles, which probably would’ve tasted really good. Maybe next time. I’ve put underscores next to the recipe for your shopping list.

Spicy Chipotle Pumpkin Soup
Prep time: 45m
Ready: 1h 15m
Yields: 4 servings


__ 2 T oil
__ 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
__ 1 t minced garlic, fresh
__ 1 t minced ginger, fresh
__ 1 15 oz can pureed pumpkin
__ 4-5 C chicken/vegetable broth
__ 1-2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped roughly. I used three and it was pretty spicy. Prepare accordingly.
__ 1/2 C half and half
__ 2 T lemon juice
__ 1 T brown sugar
__ salt, pepper
__ 1/2 C creme fraiche (garnish) * I just used sour cream
__ Fresh cilantro (garnish)


1. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.
2. Saute onion for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender and golden. Remove about 1/2 cup of the caramelised onion and set aside for garnish.
3. Add garlic and ginger to the pot and stir for 2-3 minutes
4. Stir in canned pumpkin, 2 cups stock and chipotles, simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot I didn’t do this. I did mince the onions in a mini veggie chopper, however, before adding everything else. Probably a good thing.
6. Add the remaining stock (to desired thickness), half and half, lemon juice and brown sugar. Season to taste w/ salt and pepper. I added neither salt nor pepper. Used about 4 cups of stock overall and it was still thinner than I’d expected).
7. Simmer for 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings as needed.
8. Garnish each serving with a dollop of creme fraiche*, a spoonful of caramelised onions and a sprinkling of cilantro leaves.

Tags: , , , , — cswiii @ 7:47 pm



Last night we went with a local coworker to eat at The Moose Preserve last night. Kinda half log cabin feel, half regular local pub, but without a seedy atmosphere.

We all split an appetizer plate — duck tenders, rabbit ravioli, venison sausage, whitefish pate and buffalo (meat)balls. We each then ordered the Road Kill Platter, which wasn’t actually as much food as might imply, but was still tasty and plenty filling. Quail, bacon-wrapped venison skewers, and wild boar sausage on a bed of wild rice.

Was as good a night as any to enjoy a nice glass of Laphroaig, as far as I was concerned.

I then teamed up with said coworker versus my other two fellow travellers to play pool on some lackluster tables. The cues weren’t all that great either. Regardless, we won 4-0 which came as a mild shock.

cswiii @ 3:44 pm



The guy through whom I did my financing for my old townhouse sends out bi-monthly-ish “Hey, I’m still here for all your loan needs!” postcards. They’re still making their way to my new house because the post office is still forwarding on stuff to the new address, 8-10 months or so later.

The postcards this guy sends out — and I’ve seen others do the same thing — are something akin to this, each one having a recipe on it. This is done for obvious reasons of course — “Ooh, that looks good, I’ll hold on to this!”

Well, now that I live over 300+ miles away, it’s not likely I’ll be using his services anymore, but regardless, the recipe on a recent card we received, for a chipotle pumpkin soup, was attempted last night at our house… and it was good.

We tried it out, to see if we thought it would be a good idea to make at the yearly Thanksgiving beach excursion. Wife thought it was slightly too spicy. But that’s because I put three chipotles in, rather than the two for which the recipe called. Also used dollops of sour cream instead of creme fraiche because I couldn’t find the latter in any stores around here (I miss you, Wegmans), and that worked just fine. Also, it called for putting everything in the blender on puree. I don’t have a blender, but chopping the caramelised onions up in a veggie dicer was good enough.

I’ll post the recipe here sometime. Fantastic stuff! Until then, you’ll just have to be tortured, awaiting the recipe — I couldn’t find it anywhere online.

cswiii @ 11:32 am



Huge kudos to the North Carolina General Assembly and to Governor Mike Easley for passing HB392, which raises the cap on alcohol content in beer to 15%. North Carolinians will finally be able to purchase fantastic craft beers previously unavailable in the state, due to an older 6% imposed cap.

More thanks goes out to the folks at Pop the Cap for all their hard work campaigning and lobbying to get this done. Sean, if you’re ever in Apex, let me know — I owe you a round.

For what it’s worth, this is just in time for the World Beer Festival in Durham…

Tags: , — cswiii @ 10:45 pm


‘Cued up

My dad sent me a copy of this article in the mail the other day, commenting how, living near Raleigh, I fall right near the middle of the NC barbecue debate.

The funny thing is, while I do prefer the vinegar based stuff (sorry, Seth), when I make ‘cue seasonings, I make a much better one when I add tomato.

This said — western ‘cue is mostly tomato with a splash of vinegar. Eastern ‘cue is mostly vinegar and peppers. My base, however, is a cross between the two — usually 2:1 ketchup to vinegar, with my other seasonings coming in later.

Based on my methods and my location, I guess you could call me the Henry Clay of BBQ country, eh?

Also: It’s funny how trains of thought chug. I got to talkin’ about BBQ, started looking for ‘cue places up here in Michigan, found a soul food place, pondered the meaning of “Beans and Cornbread” until my coworker mentioned that it was a song, and when looking that up, I stumbled across Prepare to Meet Your Bakerina.

Food weblogs rock.

cswiii @ 2:36 pm



So, the new Harris Teeter opened up down the street, sometime in the past two weeks or so. After biking a few laps around the lake at Apex Community Park, I was a bit hungry and thirsty, so I decided it was as good a time as any to go check it out.

I’m glad it’s there, for a myriad of reasons. First of all, it’s open 24 hours, which is a good thing. After having 24 hour grocery stores all over the DC area, it was a little adjustment finding out that stores around here close at 10 or 11ish. I mean, I don’t make it a habit to do all my grocery shopping at wee hours, but the convenience can’t be downplayed.

Secondly, while wandering through the store, I saw that they carry kefir. Good stuff.

And then I saw the Grapples.

Now, I was a bit disappointed, as were others, from what I’ve seen on other weblogs, that they aren’t a hybrid or anything, but rather apples flavoured with artificial grape. I didn’t realise this until I got home. In any case, I tried one. I am kind of ashamed to say that they’re pretty good! I’ve seen that others couldn’t taste the grape flavour. I dunno… it was pretty evident in the ones that I bought.

They’re not cheap, unfortunately — about $5 for four of them — so I won’t be buying them all the time, but it’s a pretty good treat. I don’t know what kind of statement it’s saying that fresh fruit can be bastardised in this manner and still be tasty. But I could certainly eat these instead of candy anyday, and if this is indeed their marketing ploy, which seems to be the case, they’ve somehow succeeded.

cswiii @ 9:39 pm


Poppin’ caps

(I am sure I will see some interesting search queries for the site, based on that title)

One thing I’d begun to hear about, shortly before moving down here, was the silly, antiquated laws in NC — and four other states, for that matter — regarding alcohol content in beers. More specifically, in NC, you can’t sell a beer that is any stronger than 6%. This is not fun, esp. when my favourite beer (9%), and a few others by the same company, are above that level.

So anyway, such a silly law exists… at least, that is the case currently… but that may be changing soon.

My friend told me about efforts to remove this cap, beginning this year, in the State legislature. Sure enough, a new bill was introduced yesterday that would effectively remove the cap on alcohol percentage.

More information is available at Pop the Cap. They also happen to have a blog.

cswiii @ 12:09 pm


Wok and Roll

From the East Bay Express:

“Don’t get me wrong,” she warns. “The wok will always be used in Chinese restaurants. But there has been a huge movement in the United States [toward] nonstick-coated cookware, which I find really appalling because the more you cook in a wok, the more it naturally becomes nonstick. Yet most people are intimidated by the wok because they don’t understand the principles of seasoning” — a process that is traditionally called “opening” the wok — “and then keeping a pan for years. I also find it really sad to see that that old-world wok cooking tradition is not being passed on.”

I’ve seen this firsthand, and in fact, it’s been a flash point between my wife and me, a couple of times. I bought a good, sturdy carbon-steel(?) wok about five years ago, and I did everything the right way… I seasoned it when I got it, I clean it, but I don’t scrub it hard (as to not remove the seasoning), I oil it, and I never let it sit wet. I mean, it’s not too different from how you handle a cast iron skillet.

Regardless, she complains about the wok all the time. “It’s too heavy”, “It’s so gross looking”, “Ohmigod, you have to really scrub that thing when you’re done with it”, etc. When I printed a copy of this article for her today, she talked about how food sticks to my wok. Well, it wouldn’t, and didn’t used to, if it weren’t for the fact that any “seasoning” I’d accumulated in the bottom of the wok has since been scrubbed away.

She’s convinced that we need to trash “that dirty, ugly thing” and get a lightweight, teflon coated thing. And the thought of that just makes me shudder.

Is my wok heavy? Sure it is. Does it look disgusting? Well, it’s pretty ugly, to tell the truth… but it my mind, those things are qualities, not, detractions. I have a few nice, stainless steel pans, and I am really enjoying the collection of Henckels knives, and certainly, these things get cleaned well, as they are meant to be. Likewise, I like to treat the wok appropriately, too.

Anyway, just an interesting article, I thought.

cswiii @ 3:01 pm


35 Chinese

So to celebrate the Chinese new year (xin nian kuai le!) and to celebrate severing the last tangible vestiges we had with DC (sold my old house), we decided we were going to go to dinner tonight. The wife called a friend’s relative who just so happens to live in the area, and he recommended 35 Chinese if we wanted good, real Chinese food.

And what impressive fare we had! Yeah, yeah, they had the buffet like every Chinese place has these days, but I totally steered clear of that old hat.

Instead… boiled sichuan fish! Cold sichuan noodles! Shredded potatoes with peppers! Just freaking fantastic!! I have no doubt that my insides will be feeling the effects of all that sichuan pepper, long about 4 AM, but it was well worth it.

Too bad I have a self-imposed ban and/or distaste for reheated seafood lunches in the office (phew!), or else I’d bring some in tomorrow. Oh well, the noodles will be pretty good, right around noon…

And by the way — the author of the review linked above gave the place two stars… even though he correctly admits that “Meanwhile, the rest of Cary continues to belly up to the buffet. They’re missing the boat,” and also states at the end, “2: Number of stars awarded. Steer clear of the buffet tables and stick with the authentic menu, though, and your experience is likely to rate another star. *”

I’d agree. This is at least a three star joint…. and we got four large dishes for under $40.

cswiii @ 10:13 pm


Autumn beers

Been trying to organise certain bits of the house in order to move in a lot of the wife’s stuff, and to figure out where to put all the wedding gifts. This has been actually pretty difficult, because I haven’t much furniture, shelving, or storage in my house, so everything remains cluttered. Literally half my basement is gone.

Clearing and arranging cupboards, I once again encountered the 750mL bottle of Liefmans Kriekbier. I’ve had it for some time now — at least one year, probably more than two, but that’s okay because it’s been sitting in various dark cupboards, and regardless, after deciding to open it, it turns out that it aged pretty well. I already wish I’d sat and savoured it some more, but as it stands, I was trying to get things done, and drank most of it down pretty quickly, letting my roommate try some of it, in exchange for a bit of chocolate, which, albeit milk chocolate and not dark, complemented the beer well.

Fall always makes me want to try new beers, and while this wasn’t a new one to me, it indeed makes me want to hit the beer store tomorrow to find something tasty, perhaps sit out on the back porch and take in the crisp air.

Then again, it’s supposed to be near 80 tomorrow. I guess I’ll just have to buy enough to get me through this warm snap ;).

cswiii @ 4:18 am


Easy Quesadillas

For all y’all bachelors out there — or people just too lazy to cook, here is an easy and tasty way to make some quick grub. Not fancy by any means, but yum.

You need:
Two tortillas
* Cheddar (or your cheese of choice)
* A tomato, small
* 1-2 Cheese steak strips
* A bunch of different seasonings.
* Corn (I used frozen corn but I imagine drained canned corn will do)

* Break the cheese steak into 16ths — break into four pieces and then break those up. Stick them on a plate, microwave them for about 1-1 1/2 minutes.
* dice up about 1/2 to all of the small tomato,
* put a tortilla on another plate. spread some cheese over it, and add the diced tomato.
* Add seasonings of your choice. This time around I just put dried onion flakes, garlic powder, cumin, and hot pepper flakes.
* Throw on just a small handful of corn — three pinches ought to suffice.
* Place the cooked cheese steak strips on top of all this, and sprinkle just a bit more cheese on top.
* Drop the second tortilla on top. Microwave for about 2 minutes. You might put a paper towel over top to absorb some of the steam.

…and that’s it. You’re done. Let it cool for a bit, and dig in. You also might try adding chile peppers and/or green onions to this… I’m sure you could use any meat you wanted too, but it will take longer to cook.

cswiii @ 7:59 pm


Chillin’ and grillin’

Catfish came into town; some kinda family thing, he came in a day early to chill.

Thus, mid-day through midnight Friday consisted of much relaxation, several beers, and some smoked beef brisket that would knock you off your feet. Ever since I got my Char-Griller, I’ve been trying to cook out whenever the weather is nice.

Now, as it stands, I’ve been learning and perfecting my grill techniques for probably a little over ten years now, but I’d never done much of anything resembling barbecuing until I got this grill. Certainly it’s not bbq if it’s not pork, mind you, but nonetheless, barbecued brisket can be pretty damned tasty. I can’t give away my sauce recipe — not that it’s secret, I just can’t ever remember it, and it’s never the same — but I can state the basics.

For a nice brisket around three lbs…

  • 1c ketchup
  • 1/2c vinegar, though I usually end up adding more, to about 1c.
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small to medium onion.

After that, you’re on your own. I generally add some or all of the following, in seemingly random amounts:

  • pepper
  • hot pepper (either chili powder or pepper flakes)
  • mustard
  • paprika
  • cumin
  • cinnamon
  • various green herbs

I haven’t yet tackled real, honest-to-god pork bbq, mainly because my housemate doesn’t dig on swine. Regardless, I’m itchin’…now I just need to figure out a good dry rub for some pork bbq. Wet rubs are easy enough for me, but I have to learn both.

cswiii @ 4:36 pm


Chef Boy-R-Teedz

Cooked some great dinner last night. Actually, altogether, we cooked up a storm. My housemate made up some jiao zi (yum!), some bitter melon (yuk!), and some rice. Using the George Foreman Grill, I cooked up some homestyle porkchops with sliced apple:

3 Tbsp butter/margarine
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 C maple syrup
[Makes enough for 4 chops]

Melt all those together; cut up an apple or two, thinly. If desired, sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on apples. Brush the aformentioned sauce all over the porkchops, and on apples. throw the stuff on the grill for 8-10 minutes.

The chops came out ok… they tasted ok, but I couldn’t sear them as nicely as if I’d used a real grill, so they didn’t look exciting. I might have to resort to my “liquid smoke” next time, again, too :-P.

Also — if you’ve got any leftover sauce, and assuming you didn’t stick the basting brush repeatedly into it (thus getting raw meat juices in it), it’s pretty tasty to just dip straight-up raw apples in it.

However, last night’s pork chops are by no means the end of the story. We had some leftover salmon steaks in the freezer; my housemate wanted to use ‘em up. I don’t eat much seafood at all, but I’m willing to try cooking it. I think that’s something like a blind man directing traffic… I basically have to experiment, read books and figure out how to cook it, but I almost never actually eat it — so I have to trust the opinions of those actually doing so. Apparently last night’s were exquisite…

In any case, I found a recipe that I didn’t quite follow. Mostly because I don’t have a food processor to make the garlic sauce. So I just brushed the stuff on, instead.

1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
5 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp cumin powder
Handful of almonds.
Salt, pepper
[Makes enough for 2-3 steaks]

Chop almonds; Bake on pan in 350 degree oven for 10+ minutes.

Chop garlic really small (Hint: Garlic presses are great). Mix garlic w/ cumin and the rest of the wet ingredients, in a bowl. It looks kinda ugly ;). Brush mix onto both sides of salmon steaks. Add salt and pepper to taste. Grill until salmon is cooked to desired levels (probably about 12 minutes on GFG). Cover the top with toasted almonds. Serve and enjoy.

It was a delicious night. Too bad I didn’t have any wine to go with it. But I still have a pork chop for lunch today. :)

cswiii @ 10:16 am