2014 - Week 34 Cooking Results

Gorgonzola pasta, with onions, peppers and tomatoes (per suggestion of the Cheese Shop)

The Cheese Shop got in some beautiful Gorgonzola, and were selling it by the scoopful.  I got a couple of scoops.  With the idea that I would make it into a pasta sauce.  I may or may not have gotten carried away with this.  So I started off with some onions, peppers and some sausage.  Then added the rest of the tomatoes that I had (From Butcher Crick), then near the end added one of the two scoops of Gorgonzola.

Since this Gorgonzola wasn't very strong, it added a savory creamy flavor to it, but it wasn't like biting into a block of blue cheese.  And because combining red with white...and a bit of blue, that well, makes an oddly orange sauce.  That being said, it was a good dinner, as shown by the fact I ate it later that night (snack) and Shannon finished it off the next day.


om, nom nom.  I'm getting dangerously low on bacon.  Luckily Ethan has taken some of his hogs up for slaughter and processing.  This means more jowl bacon, more regular bacon, and hey, even Canadian bacon.  I think I have some bacon ends in the freezer, but I took the Canadian bacon out for thawing.

Lamb Burgers

Lamby Lamby lamb.

Chorizo tacos with radishes

Look, I'm not a huge radish fan, but in some applications, their taste (pickled an otherwise) are a great addition to things.  This includes tacos.  I love me some radishes on tacos.

Ham steak with potatoes with a tomato and feta salad

So a "simple" Saturday night dinner.  I roasted potatoes in olive oil with salt and pepper (in the oven first).  Made a Diced tomato and Feta salad seasoned with a bit of balsamic...very aged balsamic.  Then seared up a big slice of ham steak.  The potatoes (Grade A Gardens) took longer than I expected to get done.  But this gave some additional time for the tomatoes and feta to marinate in the balsamic.  It was a really good meal over all.  Other than the salt, pepper and Balsamic, everything came within a short distance from my house (Pork and feta from near Knoxville being the furthest away).

In addition I went to La Quercia this week and also had a Boulevard beer and Cheese tasting both associated with The Cheese Shop of Des Moines.  Both were quite fine and even though I already had had all but one of the Boulevard beers (well I supposed the Love Child #4 is separate then #3).  The cheese pairings were quite good.  And the ranged from a quite a bit of funk to very savory.  It was a fun time.

Visiting La Quercia

Yesterday I got a chance to go tour the La Quercia ham processing plant.  Because of timing, Shannon wasn't able to join me (over lapped with her work schedule), but I wasn't going to pass up this opportunity.  I joined a group of people from the Cheese Shop of Des Moines.  So we learned a few things about the process, heard a few stories, but I'll just highlight a few things that I found interesting.

It takes about 7 times as long to trim hams after they are finished, then it does to trim the legs before they start curing.

A few rooms have specially designed temperature control units.  In the "salting rooms" (not pictured), have cool air that comes down from a passive cooling unit (no fans) then heat that comes up form closer to the floor, and is piped up to meet in the middle, which creates circulation and a consistent floor to ceiling temperature (again important for the consistency of the hams).

They try to keep the aging rooms consistent with the general seasons of the year.  This is how the hams of old were cured.

They initially planned on 3 expansions in this location and are starting their 4th (or just finished their 4th).

The location is in a U shape, so you can start in shipping, go to the start and go through the seasons, then end back in shipping from the final processing room (good work design flow).

They don't have backup generators.  The areas have plenty of mass in them to help maintain the temperature, and apparently generators are not common in the industry.  While I can see the point, and generators a expensive as hell to maintain (I remember the announced visits of the generator techs (quarterly, I think) and the diesel fuel deliveries, etc, for computer backups at my office).  I get it, but there's an amount of risk there.

After the tour, we headed back to the break room and had some Arugula, Chicory, Balsamic and tomato salad, Butter and Prosciutto sandwiches, and some beautiful La Quercia meat.  

The general smells were milder than I thought they would be, but still delightful at all points of aging.  They certainly made a rumble in my stomach.  Probably didn't hurt that I really didn't have much to eat that morning.

I would like to go back sometime to see the work in process (leg and ham trimming, general movement, meat slicer in use, etc).  Though most of the developed goodness is due to time.  I'm also curious about the mechanics of it.  Similar to the visit to the Story City Locker, where we saw them cutting up the meat, making some sausage, etc.

I really enjoyed myself, and this probably just for food or science nerds, and not really for someone that isn't that interested in where their food comes from.

2014 - Week 34 Cooking

  • Gorgonzola pasta, with onions, peppers and tomatoes (per suggestion of the Cheese Shop)
  • BATs!
  • Lamb Burgers
  • Chorizo tacos with radishes
  • Ham steak with potatoes with a tomato and feta salad

Does this sound not very creative?  I don't feel it either.  We'll see what we do.  I feel in a rut (although it's a tasty delicious rut, but a rut none the less).

2014 - Week 33 Cooking Results

Asian-Style Pork Burgers

This was the real winner for the week.  I added the tomato, even though they weren't called for, but this really was "a tasty burger".  The way that the ginger, scallions in the pork combined with the cabbage dressed with rice vinegar and soy sauce was really quite good.  I would totally make this again, and so should you.

Chorizo Tacos!

The only thing that wasn't local was the jalapeno pepper.  Good stuffs.

Diced pork in flat bread (Probably Greekish, but we'll see)

Topped with some tomatoes and some yogurt combined with some aleppo pepper and a bit of hot sauce.  Good stuffs.


Om nom nom.

Tomato & Grilled Cheese

So you combine some Prairie Breeze, a bit of chevre, and some wonderfully delicious tomatoes, on some Country Italian bread.  It makes for a great sandwich.  You want to thin slice the tomatoes so you don't get too much juice in there to make the bread soggy, but if you use enough butter to bread to make it a nice crisp crust, you get it just ride.  I've been getting the balance between heat and butter more and more right every time I do this.

2014 - Week 32 Cooking Results

Corn and Chorizo Hash

Ok, I give up on this, it apparently isn't going to work out.  Maybe I'll try it later, when it's colder.

Butterflied Pork Chops with Haricot Vert Salad

Pork Chops delayed, Haricot...well...gone.

Chicken Salad sandwiches

This is what I was craving all week.  After going out to eat this week, way more than we normally do and certainly more than expected (Zombie Burger (for the Left Hand event, with Josh, Lindsay and Drew), Tacopocalypse (with Isaac), and HoQ (with Mom, Dad, Joseph and Isaac)).  I ran around on Friday to pick up a few ingredients and made it with:  Rotisserie Chicken (Chipotle), onion, celery, McClures's Spicy Pickles, a bit (and I do mean a bit, I've gotten chastised for a heavy hand with dill) of fresh dill, Mayo and Dijon Mustard.

On some ciabatta buns, they hit the spot that I was craving.


Om nom nom

Mini burgers (grass fed beef)

I do love me some grass fed beef.

2014 - Week 31 Cooking Results

Corn and Chorizo Hash


Pasta Frittata with Sausage and Hot Peppers (p21 Cook's Illustrated July & August 2014)

So this didn't work out for me.  The end result was good, but the issue here is the cooking time associated with the preparation.  So in trying to solidifying the top of the frittata they basically want you to slid it out of the pan, then flip it from plate to plate and slide it top side up back into the pan.  Since the eggs on top where not very close to being solid, it sort spilled and made quite a bit of a mess.  So maybe my bad for not letting it get solid enough, but it would've been easier (and I thought about doing it) to broil the thing, rather then flip it.  Though I suppose most non-stick pans would not be able to be broiled.

Anyways, after it finally cooked and I cleaned up the mess a bit (more fully the next day), it was pretty good, but just kind of annoying.

Iowa Loose Meat Sandwiches

So I was trying to think of what this was supposed to be like.  A Maid-Rite, I would guess, and then I was trying to think of what that tasted like, and I really couldn't come up with anything.  I know I've been, but it's probably been a half a decade or so since the last time I was in a Maid-Rite.  So I don't really know if it was like one or not, but it was pretty good.  I would've added more mustard to the meat (even though you are supposed to add the mustard and the pickles to the sandwich).  But I'm a huge fan of mustard.

B?T (depending on availability)

Some Crooked Gap Bacon, some Cleverly Farms Arugula, and Butcher Crick Tomatoes (First of the market season) and some multigrain wheat from La Mie.  Just a good truly simple meal.

Spaghetti with lemon and olive oil

Simple, maybe not lemony enough, but good things.

Máni Kurth

  • Máni Kurth (Originally "Socks", 1, 2)
  • Adopted from ARL via All-Pets Animal Hospital
  • Male, Age 3 (ARL) to 5.5 Months (Based on Teeth via our Vet)
  • Under watch for mild cold
  • under treatment for diarrhea and Coccidia

We went downtown to visit the Iowa Historical Building.  While looking for change for the parking meter, we saw a little black kitten in the window.  We headed over to the coffee shop next to HoQ, I bought an iced coffee and got extra change and headed back to feed the meter and stopped to play a little bit with the little black kitty.  He gave us a lot of attention.  while another couple came in to look at it we decided to think about it while we walked through the Historical building.

After wandering around, looking up some names, and thinking about it, we decided to go.  We paid our ARL adoption fee and, without a temporary carrier, took Máni home.  He was very vocal about the travelling and kept trying to get back over to me, while I was driving.  We safely made the trip and while Shannon made sure the 2nd bedroom was cat free, we rushed him upstairs to a bit of isolation (don't want to spread the cold or anything else he has until we're sure he's safe).

Shannon made an appointment at her work and we spent some time with him while we she waited until it was time to trek him off to the Vet for a checkup (this time in one of our carriers).  Came back with some treatment and some special food and Shannon headed out a bit later for more kitten gear.

So far Freyja and Loki have been curious and a bit hissy, but hopefully they'll get introduced properly soon, and be a bit more accepting.