Sunday, October 21, 2018

Eating Omaha...Hook and Lime

We had the distinct pleasure of getting tickets to The Dead South last night at the Slowdown venue.  It was a chilly evening and dinner was just across the street. Doors opened at 7 so we hit the eatery, Hook and Lime, about 6. Mostly tacos and drinks, the girls had margaritas and I had a Pacifico beer. We ordered every taco on the menu and none disappointed. The chips and salsa trio was a big hit as well. Nice place, great service, quick orders filled. Nice spot to hit before the show.

There were 2 opening acts, the first was ‘meh’ but the Whiskey Shivers was great but x rated language made me cringe, and I curse like a sailor.

The main act did not take the stage until close to 10, very late for this old guy but the show was mesmerizing. The act was like and old time revival with bare bulbs and amber glow at times. The bluegrass was impeccable and the cast of 4 was quite likeable. They were quite surprised the venue sold out and mentioned that more than once. These guys have a lot of fun and you could tell.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Above is the link for the rolls but since I have been making them, I have some things I do differently these days. For starters I use the whole can of pumpkin. I increased my use of the spices and used the Tangzhong starter for the dough as it made the rolls super tender.  I added another  1/2 cup of the liquid with about 1/2 c of flour and made a roux with I then added to the dough before the rest of the flour. I increased the liquid cause I like my dough a bit wet. I let it sit 40 minutes after mixing then mixed/kneaded (with the mixer) again before allowing it to rise. It will no longer be sticky and wet after the 40 minutes.
This year, I made the dough ahead of time and formed it to rolls, placed in the pan and froze them for several days before thawing them in the fridge and allowing the to rise in the cold.  They are awaiting baking early in the morning for Brenda’s work crew.
Please remember that my recipes are mostly suggestions and I riff off them every time I use them, changing and noting what works and what does not.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

How are you feeling?

As I walk through the rest of my life I guess I am bound to get the head tilt, pouty lips and question, 'How are you feeling?' I am great now that I am eating somewhat normally and not puking. You can stop asking now, I mean that in the nicest way possible but I’m not sick anymore.

Dealing with the daily mess of my diversion choice which really I don't think about that much unless my Apple Watch goes off to remind me to empty the bag every 2 hours or sooner. Really, after I returned to work I cannot say I felt anything but ok. No radiation or chemo made that possible but there was nothing left in me to treat really. While I had cancer and am a cancer survivor, of sorts, In reality I don’t have the concerns of breast cancer victims for reoccurrence so I feel a bit like a poser. Of course, no one is taking glamour shots of me and holding dinners for my survivorship but I didn’t suffer months of ‘curative’ treatments either.

I wear scrubs at work now because the belts I usually wear caused issues when sitting all day and although my co worker was kind enough to fashion a guard for me on his 3D printer, I still get occasional leaks in regular clothes which can be super annoying. Its all part of the deal and dealing with daily life. The problem of my stoma being directly at my waist and waistbands cutting it in two.

I had my first follow up CT this week which was clean. I, personally,  was not expecting anything else but my Family Practice Dr. put the seeds of doubt in my head. I reviewed all the final Pathology reports at work before the scan and was pretty confident I had nothing to worry about.  Mackenzie did my worrying for me and was so relieved with the news.

The big life  test is coming up as we head for our annual pilgrimage to Mexico and I have to figure out how to conceal my stuff in the pool or on a chaise lounge.  I bought several Rash Guard shirts to wear but when I was about 20 pounds lighter so we will see how that works out. I might have to ban the cameras this trip. We stayed overnight at Matt and Lori's a few months ago and that went well. Just a lot of extra work to ensure I am covered in case of untoward events. And the air travel...inflated bags due to pressure etc. Something new to deal with since you cannot vent the bags. We will bring a pin just in case I need a little pressure relief mid air.

All in all, life is good and I have no complaints. I’m ok, let’s talk about something else.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

So where were you on 9-11?

I remember this day clearly as I had just landed in D.C. on Monday for the annual Transcatheter Therapy Conference (TCT) and was looking forward to registration on Tuesday. It was to be a  quick trip and I was mostly about the vendor show as we were in the market for some equipment at work.

I had left Monday in my usual rush, looking forward to D.C. as always and the conference was always a good source of information and reconnecting with a lot of people I knew in the industry. I didn't take much cash with me, typical poor planning on my part but rarely did I need cash at these things. There were lots of reps that offer dinner and a lot of dinner meetings offered by major companies.  My hotel was the JW Marriot on the corner of the National Mall just down the street from the White House and a great view of the Washington Monument from my window on the 4th floor. D.C. was a busy, bustling madhouse Tuesday morning as usual. The TV was on but I was busy getting ready to register and grab some breakfast when the phone rang in my room. Brenda, asking if I was Ok?

A plane just flew into one of the twin towers. I could now see that on TV. Not sure why this did not register earlier but they were talking about the Oklahoma City bombing and I wasn't following closely. As she said something about a plane also hitting the Pentagon, I looked out the window precisely as a plume of black smoke drifted behind the memorial across the way.  It was all so surreal as I looked around my limited view of the city and noticed snipers on the roof next door and a huge array of sirens and activity down below.

The rest of the day was a blur as I tried to sort out what to do in the event of a massive catastrophe and being so far from home. The registration never opened that day or the ensuing days and eventually the conference was cancelled after a brief plenary session with all the attendees that had shown up.  The roads in and out of the city were blocked so if you were not there Monday or early Tuesday corning, you were not coming in our going out. The next few days were stunned silence and little movement on the streets below.

I remember finding the National Orthodox Russian cathedral on a map and started walking as it was the feast of the Elevation of the Cross. No buses or taxis were operating and the city, by Thursday, was a ghost town. All the hustle and bustle had subsided and no one was around. After about 3+  miles I found the church just past the Naval Observatory and stayed there for most of the afternoon as it was going to be a long walk back to the hotel. The bells and familiar service and vigil were a comfort and I could have stayed there forever. I really had nothing better to do. On Friday, the Smithsonian had reopened so I occupied my time revisiting the exhibits I had seen so many times when I was a kid living in Bethesda.

My agent had made multiple reservations on a flight home on Saturday after Dulles reopened. I had flown into Washington National but that remained closed. I have no idea the cab fare to Dulles would be so much and gave the taxi driver my last dime which didn't cover the fare. I was just so glad to be on my way home. Several of the docs I knew from Cedar Rapids offered me a ride to that city but I held out for a direct flight. One of the reservations finally hit and I had a seat out. Sadly, so many did not survive the attack.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Labor Day Love

Another nice family gathering in the books over a Mediterranean themed dinner. All the kids and SO's with a friend or two mixed in. Beautiful evening in Omaha between showers and storms.

I had some ground lamb in the freezer (about 2 pounds) and originally intended to make burgers but decided on sliders instead with Kefta spices. The 2 ounce patties were perfect portions for most of us and if you wanted a second or third then no guilt. Topped with feta and pickled red onions, they hit the spot as a foil to a salad laden with garden cukes, olives, tomatoes and a light Greek style vinaigrette.

The lamb was seasoned with typical regional spices including Cumin, Coriander, paprika, garlic and mint. Mint was also in the salad dressing. Tzatziki sauce for topping and a few chicken sausages for the not so crazy about lamb people and we were all set.

The spice mix for the sliders:

2 pounds ground beef or lamb (Kefta)

1/2 grated onion (I used a whole shallot)
2 garlic cloves minced
2 t paprika
2 t cumin
1/4 t coriander
1/4 t ground clove
1/4 t nutmeg
1/8 t ground cinnamon
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper

Opt  chopped mint about 1/3 cup, chopped pine nuts

Mix and using a 2 ounce scoop, form into equal portions. Form into balls and flatten, poking a depression in the centers. Makes a bout 13 slider patties. Grill over medium-high heat about 4 minutes per side.

Top with crumbled feta, Tzatziki sauce, pickled red onions.

For the Tzatziki I used grated cukes (about 2 medium, slated and drained mixed with 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup plain yogurt. Salt carefully as the cukles will be salty and ground pepper.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Stuffed Chops

We had a busy weekend with my in laws in town, a birthday celebration for my mother in law and various activities.  When they left town on Sunday, I had a couple of 1 1/4 pound chops to be dealt with.
I decided to stuff them after a conversation with Dr. Adam Burdorf on Friday. He was making something and we got to talking about making some sort of stuffing with various ingredients. Pork lends itself easily to fruit fillings so we investigated different kinds of fruit items. I had to stop on the way home to pick up some groceries so I picked up a can of apricots. I just didn't want to deal with reconstituted dry fruit or fresh although dry apricots soaked in whiskey had a certain charm.

I picked up the canned apricots and goat cheese and gave my mother in law a choice between steaks or chops and she chose steaks. We had a nice dinner with her favorite potatoes (pan gratin) and fresh yellow squash.  After they left on Sunday, I made the chops.

Apricot and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chops

2  1 1/4 pound chops, pre salted over night and a deep pocket cut into the sides
1 package herbed goat cheese, about 3 ounce
4 slices toasted bread
1 shallot minced
5-6 apricots chopped coarse
1 teas thyme
Cream to moisten
Salt and Pepper to taste

The chops were pre salted inside and out then brought to room temperature after spending the night in the fridge covered.

I mixed the filling in a bowl and stuffed the chops generously then placed them in a iron skillet heated with a bit of oil. I let the crust on each side for 5-7 minutes before roasting them in a 325 oven for about 30 minutes.
Yep they were as good as they look. We had sides left over from Fridays birthday dinner and a meal was made.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

BLT’s the Serious Eats Way

So tonight we had the in-laws in town and decided to take advantage of summers bounty, red, ripe tomatoes that beg for bacon and lettuce.

Mission accomplished thanks to Mackenzie for the tomatoes and Serious Eats for the inspiration and mayo recipe.

For those of you not a follower of Serious Eats, you have to toast (fry) your bread in the bacon fat, shred your lettuce pick the best summer tomatoes any make your own mayo. Make sure you salt your tomatoes.

The mayo is easy with a immersion blender and  narrow bottom container, just larger than the head of the blender.

1 fresh egg
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 t dijon mustard
1 med clove of garlic
1 cup of salad oil
Salt to taste

Place ingredients in order. Head of the blender to the bottom and blend on high, lifting a bit till all the oil is used and it is thick and smooth. Add salt to taste. 

Crisp bacon is key although, personally, I prefer softer bacon. Generous mayo on both slices of toasted bread then shredded lettuce. I love iceberg but any will do depending on your preference. Then those lucious tomatoes, salted followed by the bacon and the top bread. So tasty.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Dinner with Friends

Just the first round of plates..

A nice summer evening with friends at El Basha Mediterranean Grill made for some catching up and great conversation about travel and family. The table was laden with treats from the Middle East and we enjoyed the best of the Mediterranean diet (and the worst, deep fried kibbe, yum), domanthes, hummus (the best in Omaha), platters of baba ganoush, falafels and tabouleh.  We finished with mint tea and baklava and the night ended with plans to gather again. Thanks to Dr. Akkad for picking up the tab, Mark David and Jerry Abdouch for the reminiscing. Great evening.

Eating Omaha....Dairy Chef

I am not sure how the discussion started but hamburgers came up as a topic Sunday at church.  The best in Omaha was discussed and varied widely but there were a few places we had not yet tried.

It was rainy, really rainy Sunday and I knew the Dairy Chef always had a line and was only going to be open a while longer before it closes up for the winter. Knowing this,  we set out for Sunday dinner at the Dairy Chef, claimed by a few to be the greatest burger in Omaha (Elkhorn actually but they are a part of Omaha now so...). Now we have been around and there is a lot to compare too but we decided, since the weather was working in our favor, to hit this place and see what's up.

It is a tiny little spot with a lot of outdoor seating but a door to an interior that was deceptively larger than it let on. About 6 tables were on the inside afforded us a place to sit, so we placed an order, took a seat and waited.  Food is cooked to order here so a short wait.  Lots of Sunday families and little kids.  The burgers showed up with lettuce, tomato and onion. They were large and juicy. So juicy that Brenda's bun was soaked. Mine was okay and tasted really good and a heaping of fries completed the meal. We did not try the ice cream but best burger in Omaha? Still debatable, I have to go to Dinker's again to make sure but I would definitely hit this spot again. Two burgers, fries and a drink for $14. Not bad.  I have to go back for the ice cream. They pile it high here.....

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Slow to the Party...

After all these years I made chimichurri sauce for our T bone steaks tonight. I actually cooked the steaks directly in the grill rather than Sous Vide first. They were tasty, a little more done than I like but that sauce! Herby, fresh and a touch of heat. I used the Food and Wine recipe above. Bright green and crazy tasty on the meat. We have a new fav in the house. I just happened to have a half bunch of chopped parsley in the fridge I had wrapped in a moist paper towel inside a Ziplock. The rest was pure inspiration. It ended a nice day after a disappointing film, ‘Book Club’. What a waste of film and talent. Brenda and I were the only ones under 70 in the house but they all thought it to be laugh out loud funny. Really? They were all ladies, your Grandmas age. I found it disconcerting but redemption showed itself in the parking lot  where one of the seniors took a nasty tumble and nurse Brenda to the rescue. We helped get her back on her feet, offered some basic medical advice and got her into the passenger seat of the car.  Maybe God has a plan after all for us to be in the right place at the right time?
Try the chimichurri on your next steak or chop. I bet it’s great on fish too. Yum.


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