Sunday, January 22, 2006

...Scene of the Crime: Revisited

I thought I'd update you on our trip out for our anniversary:

Apparently, Dan's River Grill is now closed for regular dining. The owners, as of the first of the year, are keeping the restaurant only for catering parties. Needless to say, we were quite bummed when we got there.

We headed up to Chelsea, hoping to get a table at "The Common Grill", only to be told that the wait was 90 minutes. we ended up having dinner at the pub across the street. OK food, but not the nice dinner we had planned for.

You know what they say: stuff happens.

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Returning to the Scence of the Crime

Susan and I are celebrating the anniversary of our first date today. Makes it seem like quite the whirlwind as we've been married for 11 weeks.

Susan and I met via, and emailed for two weeks before we got together for a face to face encounter. We split the difference in mileage between Dexter (where she lived and where we live now) and Adrian (where I used to live and still work). We met at one of my favorite restaurants, Dan's River Grill in Manchester. We are going back tonight, thus the title of the post.

The food at Dan's is wonderful, reasonably priced and the atmosphere is warm and friendly. I did not realize this until I checked out their website, but these are the same folks who run the "Moveable Feast" catering in MI. I've had Moveable Feast fare before, and they are great in that regard as well.

Anyhow, we're off for dinner, and I am certain a few jokes about going back to Dan's.

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Sunday, July 10, 2005


Susan and I went over to Janels today, where we met up with one of my ten friends named Mike.  The reason for the gathering? Our first attempt at a group tamale project. 

Imagine if you will, four of us in a roughly 8' x 8' kitchen:  me making sauces, Janel and Mike on batter duty, and Susan untangling and sorting rehydrated corn husks.  A bit crowded, but fun.  Add a pitcher of margaritas (outstanding ones, and I have not had a drink in eons, ESPECIALLY not tequila), lots of amusing jokes and jabs, a decided lack of lard onhand (this was brought up quite a bit... vegetable shortening was substituted), and the TV crroning out the 70's music channel.

The result was almost 5 dozen chicken and pork tamales, distributed evenly amongst us three, with three left over for tasing on the spot.

A good day indeed.  I love getting together with friends for things like this.

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Sunday, February 13, 2005

Homemade Granola

The house is starting to fill with the warm aroma of toasting granola: roasting nuts, oats, cinnamon, brown sugar, and a hint of vanilla.

I used to travel about 40 miles to Ann Arbor regularly to pick up granola from the local Great Harvest Bread Company. It was $6.50 a pound, and very very good. But when I add in gas and time, etc..., and the fact that they use pecans (which are not my favorite), it seemed a bit extravagant. I decided to try making my own after watching a "Good Eats" episode on oats. I love watching "Good Eats". Alton Brown is always amusing, and the science he uses to explain the way recipes work is usually spot on, and well presented.

But back to the great smell in my kitchen... I start with Alton's recipe, and make a few modifications:

Alton Brown's Granola:

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup cashews
3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar.
In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.
Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add raisins and mix until evenly distributed.

The result: toasty sweet crunchy goodness.

I've tweaked Alton's recipe to suit my tastes a bit more. My modifications to Alton's Recipe are below:

Instead of two cups of nuts (almonds and cashews), I go with three cups of mixed nuts and seeds (cashew pieces, almonds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, sesame seeds).

I substitute honey for the maple syrup.

I use golden raisins (3/4 cup) and dried cranberries (3/4 cup) instead of regular raisins.

I add 1 tsp of vanilla extract, and 1 tsp of cinnamon.

I cannot get my granola to hold together like a bar, which I would like, as I eat as a snack instead of as cereal, but I'm thinking that using butter instead of oil and adding some wheat germ might bind it together better. I should also lay the granola out on parchment paper when I bake it and let it cool in the tray... that might help as well. If I let it cool in the pan now, it'll have to be chipped out with a chisel (brown sugar, don't ya know).

Anyhow, try either recipe...they're certainly "Good Eats" as well as good for you (whole grains, nuts, seeds).

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Saturday, December 18, 2004

making the biscotti rounds

All of the biscotti has been baked, rebaked, packaged, and a lot of it has been delivered.

The white chocolate spice and cranberry/pistachio biscotti came out as good as, if not better than, the first two batches. It certainly did not hurt that the dried cranberries were soaked for quite some time in a generous bath of Absolut Mandarin vodka.

The spice biscotti were only baked once, and they ended up bigger (I always forget how much something that has baking powder (and soda) in it will rise) and less crunchy than the others. Still very good, but more cookie like. Topping them with a drizzle of melted white chocolate was a nice touch.

Small batches were placed in festive green GladWare and many are now resting with friends.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Among other things that I did today (shopping, more outdoor lights, etc.), I made it into the kitchen and started my foray into Christmas baking.

I decided on biscotti this year. I have recently been having biscotti occasionally at night to satisfy my post dinner sweet tooth without lots of calories or fat. I really like the crunchy nature of them.

So, I found some recipes online, and then also bought a biscotti cookbook ( has fricking everything). I decided on 4 recipes.

Triple Chocolate (chocolate dough, choclate chips, and melted chocolate drizzle).
Lemon Pine Nut
Cranberry Pistachio
White Chocolate spice (ginger, allspice, cinnamon and cloves, with molasses and brown sugar, white chocolate chips and drizzle)

The first two batches are complete. I like them both, but the lemon pignoli are awesome. I love pine nuts, and the lemon combination is wonderful.

I am looking forward to seeing what the white choco spice ones turn out like tomorrow.

There was recipe I think I may also try later on, as I am not sure how many of my friends would like it: spicy pear and white raisin. You use dried pear...which I love. It also has orange extract in it.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Curiously Strong, and Curiously Different.

alt_altoidsMy package from the Altoids people showed up today.

I was having problems finding Spearmint Altoids here in Adrian. So I went online to order some and found out that there are two new (at least to me) flavors out there. I have had the sours (and am unimpressed), but the idea of Ginger and Liqourice (their spelling, not mine) intrigued me enough to order some to sample.

All I can say is: Very Curiously Strong! I am a big fan of ginger, and a little less so of licorice, but I really like both of these. The ginger is pretty damn hot, and the Liquorice is strongly cooling. I am not certain that either make for a suitable breath mint, but they are pretty tasty.

I wonder what is next? Cloves?

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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Brownies and Mojitos

On the hottest day of the summer, what do I decide to do in an un-air conditioned house? That's right...bake brownies.

My friend Kevin, of Pocket Pigs fame found the recipe (I think it is from / Alton Brown) and made some last weekend. He brought them for dessert Saturday night and they ignited a chocolate craving. Needeless to say, I got the recipe, and actually had all the ingredients in house, so...

It is an easy recipe, so I included it in the continuation below.

It turns out that either my oven is not as hot as it should be, or that the recipe requires more than 45 minutes to bake. My brownies came out a lot more "fudgier" than Kevin's. Still good, but probably a hair underbaked. Not quite half-baked like the guy who made them on a hot night in a sweltering house, but at least I had mojitos to keep me cool.

For those of you who've never heard of a mojito, it is a great summer drink that is Spanish/Mexican (?) in origin. Essentially it is a mix of crushed mint leaves, sugar, fresh lime juice, club soda, and ice. Rum is added if you want, but I am not much of a drinker. Very refreshing.

Kevin's Brownie Recipe Nabbed from Alton Brown / Food TV

Soft butter, for greasing the pan
Flour, for dusting the buttered pan
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar, sifted
1 cup brown sugar, sifted
8 ounces melted butter
11/4 cups cocoa, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.

In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs at medium speed until fluffy and light yellow. Add both sugars. Add remaining ingredients, and mix to combine.

Pour the batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square pan and bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness with the tried-and-true toothpick method: a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan should come out clean. When it's done, remove to a rack to cool. Resist the temptation to cut into it until it's mostly cool.

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Monday, July 12, 2004

Michigan Treasure Cookies

treas_cookie (Click to enlarge) OK, so on one of the hottest days of the summer thus far, what do I decide to do? Bake Cookies. My house has no central air, and the only A/C's are in my bedroom and den. So, I decide to fire up the oven to 350 degrees. Not terribly bright this one. But I could not resist.

I am baking Michigan Treasure Cookies. This is a new recipe for me. This cookie is a candidate for the official State Cookie for the state of Michigan. I read about it in last week's Detroit Free Press. The back story on the recipe and the fight for official status is in this article (which includes the recipe): COOKING UP A STATE SYMBOL: Children mix cherries, chocolate and politics to seek recognition for their Michigan cookie.

The cookies are essentially chocolate chips and dried cherries in a chocolate cookie dough. The recipe was pretty easy and the results are pretty delicious. After letting them cool for a few moments, breaking one open reveals lots of ooey, gooey, Ghirardelli goodness, along with a whiff of the dried cherries. The positive flavor combination of chocolate and cherries is well known [Disclaimer: I must admit, I am NOT a fan of cherry pie, or most fresh cherries in particluar (I do enjoy the Rainier variety)], but the dried fruit, along with the semi-sweet chocolate and cocoa based dough, is mind boggling. These are really good, so I guess it is worth the hundred or so degrees of heat in my poor kitchen. These would go perfect with a cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk. However, even I am not crazy enough to brew coffee on a night like tonight, and there is no milk in the house, so I will skip this particular part of the enjoyment until a later time.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Low Carb Colas


pepsiedge(Click either image to enlarge)

I don't want to get off on a rant here, but I wonder how much money has been spent by the Coke and Pepsi companies on making half calorie colas. Pepsi "Edge". Coke "C2". This whole catering to the Atkins fanatics is a bunch of bullshit. Honestly, if you are truly going no carbs, drink water for crying out loud. Half the carbs is still 20 freaking grams of sugar per serving.

Hey, I got an about buying a Diet Pepsi, or Diet Coke like the rest of us people who figured out freaking years ago that regular sodas have TOO MANY EMPTY CALORIES!!!!!

Yes, I can hear the whining.."But Keith, artificial sweeteners leave a funny aftertaste" or "Artificial sweeteners are bad for you" I got news for you: both of the low carb options still have artificial sweeteners in them. And FYI: Aspartame, Ace K, and Sucralose are as safe as sugar.

Aftertaste? Yes, there is an aftertaste. You get used to it. It is kinda like switching from whole milk to skim. Once you take the time to give it a chance, going back to the original product is WAY too rich.

OK. I'm done.

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