2018 - Week 49 Cooking Results

French Tacos: baguette, Brie, Pate, cornichons

This came out of going to the Richard the Whale release. I’m not sure how this came up as we were driving to drop the Matta’s teenager off at a swim meet and a mild lack of a filter as the mild intoxication was wearing off (it was a beer release party). So the Thought and discussion of how to do a french taco came about, so you need a shell, and then ingredients that are French (in essence, not necessarily in actual origin). So after a bit of back and forth the combo was made. I picked up a american brie style cheese, some country style pate from the cheese shop and I had some leftover cornichons from thanksgiving (bought two jars). I wasn’t able to make it to La Mie to get a baguette, so I picked up an “artisinal” one which was…ok…I guess. I baked it in the oven for a bit and added cornichons to my “taco” afterwards. It was pretty damn good.

Quick and Easy Skillet Tamale Pie With Brown Butter Cornbread Crust Recipe

This was quick, it was easy and it cam together in a very tasty fashion. I was happy with how it turned out.

Crispy Breadcrumb Fried Eggs

I’m was almost out of farm fresh eggs (now am). So I decided not to experiment on the last set of eggs.

Roasted Garlic Mac & Cheese

I originally started on one website’s recipe and after reading it and finding it incomplete, shopped around a bit and found one that seemed ok. I’m not sure what I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but it was kind of lacking. It seemed to not hit all the notes that one would expect. The roasted garlic stood out, good cheese, but not like the random mac that I do (mustard and blue usually stand out as notes). I dunno. Lots of pots and pans too.

Bangers & Potatoes

Good, Shannon requested mashed potatoes, so I’ll do that next time.

2018 - Week 47 Cooking & Thanksgiving Results

Yet another practice Boston butt

I used a Crooked Gap pork and it turned out very well. The rub was adapted from a book, and advice from my brother. Generally to be happy I tweak and prod and poke and experiment until it’s adapted to my flavor profile, with account taken for heat level for Shannon. The amount of time from start to end did not really allow for this, but I think the ratios:

  • 1/4 c salt

  • 1/4 c brown sugar packed

  • 2 T black pepper

  • 1 T garlic powder

  • 1 T onion powder

  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper

Work as a good base point to move forward. Now the mix of wood, how often I top the smoker container off, when I put in. And I’m thinking a new step, over the last couple of hours, to retain more liquid. If that is done by spray or wrapping the pork. Currently I’m using 1/2 Jack Daniels Barrels oak and 1/2 apple wood (by volume, visually inspected), topping off the container every 3 hours with apple wood.

Anyways, more variables to adjust, more practice to do.

Quick Tomato Chicken Curry


Mutton Burgers

They were good, and after a busy(ish) day.


Getting these to come together pretty quickly, as it is. Just a good simple meal.


There is a whole stream of photos, that document the progress along the way. My primary take away is that this is a better way of doing things. By limiting the amount of work the day of, it is generally less stressful, especially when you don’t have to worry as much about the semi-exacting timing to get a gigantic bird to cook well. I did not plan that last hour well, I should’ve had a number of things ready to go before then, and I had time too.

The potatoes struggled in the smoker to get that last texture right and I had to finish them in the oven at a slightly higher temperature. This also led to a debate between a few friends as to the proper texture of potatoes in potato salad. I compared it as similar to al dente, but a bit firmer. I’m pretty sure the smoke flavor is associated with the olive oil that they’re in, rather then the potatoes themselves, but I don’t know enough to know for sure. But even so, the fingerlings (Grade A Gardens) were a bit softer and the other potatoes (another producer through the Iowa Food Coop) were firmer. Had I known, I may have cooked them separately.

For the Pork, they were of varied size, and bone size, So some were a bit over 200 degrees and some where a bit under and some were about on. It was a bit challenging and I didn’t have enough things to monitor them all, especially since the climb in temperature at the end was very slow (falling temp outside probably slowed it a bit). Mixed together, I think it was pretty good, not as good as I want it to be, but still pretty good. To serve, I mixed in a bit of apple cider vinegar, the spice mix, and warmed it up in a crock pot with apple cider in the bottom.

I literally misplaced half a pound of Parmigiano Reggiano. I good portion of that meant to go into the mashed potatoes. I still don’t know where it is. So I called an audible and we had garlic mashed potatoes.

Everything else went about as expected. The Cheese spread got some complements and asks for the recipe, I toned down the spice level a bit to adapt to my family. Overall I’m pretty happy, and I was able to be social with my family, as opposed to normally where I stare out the window, sip whiskey for half an hour and unwind the stress.

I want to thank my wife Shannon for helping me pull this off one more year (taking care of all the non-kitchen stuff and some of the kitchen stuff), The support of many local wonderful farmers, and high class shops like the Cheese Shop and Iowa Food Coop. And my family for helping expand the food selection and helping with the serving and etc.

2018 - Week 46 Cooking Results

Yet another practice Boston butt

Moving to tomorrow, the timing for today didn’t work out.

Practice Smoking fingerling potatoes

I did this today. It made for a nice easy experience. A little olive oil, a little salt, a little pepper, boom, done (like 90 something minutes later).

Tom Kha Gai

Relatively easy to make, a good use of both chicken and coconut milk.

Kimchi Udon with Scallions

I’m going to give up on making this for a bit.

Taco Salad

Easy, done. I used some of the leftover pork butt with beans and tomatoes. This left a nice smokey flavor to the normal flavor. it was a nice touch.

Grilled Cheese and Mortadella

I really do love Mortadella, it warms up nice and contrasts well with the the cheese and the bread. I had some nice crisp bread too, which I seem to be getting better at.

Pork Burgers

OM nom nom.

2018 - Week 45 Cooking Results

Kimchi Udon with Scallions

Delayed? Skipped? dunno yet.

Hot Sausage and Cabbage Stir Fry

I really liked this, it was a nice combination of familiar and odder flavors. It was also very easy.

Chorizo Quesadillas

Simple and easy, and then done.

Another Practice Pork Shoulder.

This did not go near as well as I would’ve thought. I changed the rub, as the previous one was deemed to be to peppery, I used a boneless shoulder (practicing on cheap meat), it was still, partially frozen, and it was cold outside. So the problem, of many, I think was that the rub didn’t have enough salt, I even added a bit more as to try to get. As it was 8:PM and it was slowly inching up on the last few degrees, I turned the heat up a bit. So there were many mistakes. I’m going to go again, but this time go back to the true part, bone in, tried and true rub and go from there. I’ve only got a few more practice times before we gotta go for it. So the take away, be patient and start early.

Early Fall Trip 2018 - Coming home Through Burlington, IA

We had plans to go through Nauvoo, however it is a much smaller town then I remember (I’d be my who knows how many times, and Shannon’s first time) and apprently closes down almost entirely on Sunday afternoon (very unwelcoming). I guess I should’ve done more research, rather then just depending on my memory. So we needed a lunch and made a call that instead of looking in a tiny town where everything appeared to be closed, we’d head to Burlington, which was on our plan anyways.

Snake Alley

Mosquito Park

Early Fall Trip 2018 - Dana Thomas House

So the Dana Thomas House is another check in our long list of visiting public Frank Lloyd Wright places. As with many places, the photographs of the inside was forbidden, and I can understand it to some extent (sales of photos, time on tours, etc), but there was the lamp, and butterfly chandelier (OMG) that I really really wanted to spend time with. So it made me a bit sad, but it was a wonderful double visit (we arrived to one of the last tours of the day, so we came back the next day to take pictures in the garden).

Early Fall Trip 2018 - Abe Lincoln Binge and Springfield, IL

(alt title: Whole lotta Lincoln Going On)

We visited The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Union Station, Lincoln Home, Old state Capital, Lincoln’s Tomb, The Lincoln - Herndon Law offices, Lincoln Depot, New Salem and the Lincoln Memorial Garden and Nature Center. We walked around quite a bit in the downtown area, so we took some shots from around there too. I really liked the red door of the First Presbyterian Church just down the street from the Lincoln Home. I may have scared a UPS person that was close by as I expressed how pretty I thought it was.

Early Fall Trip 2018 - Airbnb - Virginia, IL

This was our first Airbnb, we have been thinking about it for a while, there is always a bit of trepidation there, because it is a new thing. That being said, this was quite a delightful experience. It felt like staying at a friends house (without the feeling that you may be a burden on your friend). It was cozy and nice, and unlike some places, I didn’t have that much problem falling asleep (I did have a hard time finding the right position so my CPAP machine would work right). There was enough space to allow me to stay up a bit later (as is usually the case), unlike a hotel room. We were located right on the town square, with the courthouse across the street. While we were hoping that this place that was just a couple doors down would be open (it had permanently closed the week before we got there). There was a lot of noise related to harvest season (semis going back and forth), but for the most part it was pretty quiet.

Early Fall Trip 2018 - To Springfield, Illinois

I am easily bored while driving, so while we trip, we try to schedule breaks, and avoid roads we’ve driven many times before. I have lived in Iowa all of my life (Shannon most) and I’ve never been here. A bit out of the way, sure, but a nice stop off.

American Gothic House

Maharishi University

I’ll not lie, this is partially because of my interest of the obscure, plus the mention of a golden dome was interesting (yellow is more accurate)

Villa Kathrine

Just across the river in Quincy. This is an indicator of an odd fellow liking a concept and making it happen. A wonderful view, the house still looks out of place, even decades upon decades after being there.