Monday, October 18, 2010

Des Moines Half Marathon recap

I ran the half marathon yesterday morning. I worked really hard for it and I'm really proud of the outcome.

I was shooting for a 2:10 time and I crossed the finish line in 2:12! It was a really good run and the weather was perfect. The only problem came around mile 11 or so when my hamstring started to act up. I stopped to stretch it, which was a mistake because when I stood up, it seized up on me.

It was a really good day and although I'm a little sore today, it was all worth it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nature Notes: Who's peeking at me?

Visit Michelle at the fascinating Nature Notes Thursday to learn something new.

I would love to tell you that this little bird, which I believe is a female goldfinch, was posing for me this morning. I would love to tell you that she stayed in one spot long enough for a decent photo.
But she didn't. She came and went. She flitted and skittered. She marched up and down the length of the windowsill. She came right up to the glass and looked at me. I just snapped photos like I knew what I was doing and was as surprised as you are that I got some good shots.

It was a beautiful fall morning today, one in a long streak that we completely deserve given the perfectly awful weather we've had for more than 12 months.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The moral of this story: steak knives are deceptive?

I made soup. The soup required straining, so I bought a strainer. I’ll be taking the strainer back to Target because I didn’t strain the soup. That’s one of those final little steps you have to do if you are serving guests, isn’t it? I am just me eating it as is. Cooking is simpler and I’m $8.99 richer.

After I shared with you all my canned meeet recipes, my friend Pippa sent me an email right away telling me how disgusted she was begging me for more. Pippa is from Georgia, so I am including in today’s post a recipe called Dixie Dandy Bake.

The Dixie Dandy Bake is super spectacular enough to be featured on the cover of this cookbook. It's the delicacy item in the lower left corner looking a lot like a meatloaf with cling peach slices on top surrounded by tomatoes and drizzled in a glaze of heavy syrup.

Those crazy folks down in Dixie!

Dixie Dandy Bake
1 1-pound can applesauce
¼ teaspoon ginger
2 12-ounce cans luncheon meat
1 8-ounce can pineapple slices
1 1-pound 2-ounce can sweet potatoes
* * *
½ cup apricot jam
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water

Combine applesauce and ginger; spread in 10x6x1-1/2 inch baking dish. Slice each loaf of luncheon meat 3 times on the diagonal, cutting only ¾ of the way through.
Halve pineapple slices; insert in cuts in meat. Place meat atop applesauce; arrange sweet potatoes around meat. Combine remaining ingredients. Spread over meat, pineapple and potatoes. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

I’m now keenly aware that in the 1960s in the United States, there were no fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy or meat. Were they trying to rid the country of a stockpile of canned goods from the war? Was it all from bomb shelter rations? Someone tell me. Here is another hot dog recipe to have your family rushing to the dinner table.

Go meat!

Cheese Franks
1 pound (8 to 10) frankfurters
* * *
1 6-ounce roll process cheese food: pepper, garlic, smoky or bacon flavor
1 3-ounce package corn chips, coarsely crushed (about 1 cup)

Split frankfurters lengthwise, cutting only about ¾ the way through. Place in a shallow baking dish or jellyroll pan. Spread cut surfaces with cheese food; sprinkle cheese generously with crushed corn chips. Bake in moderate over (350) until heated through, about 15 minutes. Serves 4 or 5.

I’m thinking about cooking my way through the Better Homes and Garden Creative Cooking Library like that woman did for Julia Childs’ cookbook and then made a vast fortune from a book and movie. Can’t you see it? Who should play me in the movie? Helen Hunt? Sarah Jessica Parker? Those are the stars I’ve been compared to most often.


You won’t believe what they suggest you do to bologna, which I prefer spelling like this: baloney. Yes, I have a preference about how to spell it, pronounce it and eat it. Yes, I am willing to eat it on the rare occasion. I eat it fried to death in a hot skillet and served on white bread with mayo and lettuce. That’s all my brother Mike’s fault because he was in charge of me for a few summers and had to feed me.

Clearly he took that job seriously. Well, OK. He was pretty good at looking after me. OK, at any rate he was good at feeding me.

Oh! and since we are blaming our brothers and talking about food all at once I will tell you a story.

When I was a kid, we ate supper together every night. I don’t remember there being exceptions to that. When I was in elementary school, I didn’t get grounded for being late to the table, although reality kicked into high gear once yours truly got into junior high.

I was playing with Belinda Butcher, she of the Parisian mother/Butcher Hollow connection fame of late. I never heard my mother call. Heaven only knows what we were so engrossed in that I totally missed supper.

I wasn’t just late, I completely missed supper.

My brother John’s bedroom was a spare room that was behind the garage and connected to the dining room in our three-bedroom ranch. His bedroom was the “fourth” and my parents let him paint the walls black. Oh, our rooms are a whole ‘nother story. One room had the prettiest wallpaper and the other was bigger and Mike and I changed rooms incessantly.

Back to suppertime.

John was in his room and heard me come into the kitchen and he told me my plate was in the oven. I took it out of the oven and I asked him what it was. He said it was some sort of steak. I ate it all and I swear I even remember sitting alone at the table with a steak knife cutting through the meat. I liked it and since I was incredibly busy that day, I’m sure I was famished. Moreover, I also remember sitting there wondering if I was going to be in trouble (probably the first time I had never shown up for supper) and what I missed (my family make do without moi? Impossible!)

If I remember this right everyone was more than a little amazed that I had eaten my entire supper. I will spare you the suspense: it was liver, not steak.

My lying brother was very clever, but I liked the liver and will eat it to this day.

The moral of the story is that if you lay out steak knives, no one will suspect they aren’t eating steak: It’s the power of suggestion.

I dare you to make the Dixie Dandy (Steak) Bake and serve it for supper tonight.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I need a break

It feels a little like life has had a jolly time kicking me around the last couple days. So to lift my spirits, I am going to make let you all enjoy my 1963 Better Homes and Gardens Barbecues and Picnics cookbook: The newest in barbecuing! 135 recipes for cookouts, porch suppers, picnics.

And then I'll include something from Cooking with Cheese.

You come here for excitement, right?

Strap yourself in. The first recipe is strange enough that I believe it could taste pretty interesting, but in the 21st century it is probably illegal to cook it.

Nutty Pups
A new favorite for all ages
Broil franks to suit yourself. Serve in hot toasted buns spread with chunk-style peanut butter. Great when made with Frank Wrap-ups. Pass pickle relish.

I adore peanut butter and pickle sandwiches and this seems a little like that. I've heard of people who eat peanut butter and baloney. Not much different. Frankly, I know you are burning with desire to know about the Frank Wrap-ups.

Frank Wrap-ups
Slit frankfurters lengthwise to about 1/4 inch from each end; stuff with pickle relish and wrap each with a bacon strip, anchoring ends with toothpicks. Broil over hot coals, turning once, till filling is hot and bacon crisped. (Remember to remove toothpicks anchoring bacon.)

I know there must be a joke in there about removing the toothpicks, but I'm distracted. Those wrap-ups seem like a whole lotta work and how is the pickle relish going to stay inside the hot dog? Also on the rare occasion when I have tried the bacon-wrapped hot dog thing, the bacon doesn't actually cook to crispy. Is it just me?

OK, so back in 1963, canned luncheon meeet was either still very popular or the Spam/Armour folks paid for lots of recipes judging from the number of times canned luncheon meeet is mentioned in these books. Here are some fun ones for your next party.

Get your spit ready!

Cheese-frosted Luncheon Meat
Anchor canned luncheon meat on a spit. Blend 2 parts triple-use cheese spread and 1 part Dijon-style prepared mustard; slather on all sides of meat. Grill over hot coals till golden brown. Slice and serve with dill pickle slices on toasted rolls. Pass extra sauce.

Thread 1-1/2 inch squares of canned luncheon meat on skewers with quartered orange slices (cut thick, with peel on) and canned sweet potatoes. Broil over slow coals; turn often and brush with glaze. Glaze: Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup vinegar, and 1 tablespoon prepared mustard; simmer uncovered 10 minutes.

"Canned luncheon meeet" sounds like a polite way of saying something else like telling someone you have to go "down the hall" when really you need to piddle.

Next up is Cooking with Cheese from 1966, which you can see from the photo that cooking is spelled with a lowercase C and cheese is in caps. Clever typography to catch your eye. I have a number of these cookbooks and they all have something going on to get your attention. I go to jumble sales and I can't pass these things up. Maybe they're all over the country, but they are published here in Des Moines, so they're e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e around this town.

Here are two dips for that meeet party I'm convinced you're planning and not inviting me to.

Low-calorie dip
1 12-ounce carton (1.5 cups) cream-style cottage cheese
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspon salad-spice-and-herb mix
In electric blender or mixer, blend all ingredients until almost smooth. Chill. Garnish with snippets of parsley. Pass celery and carrot sticks. Makes about 1-1/2 cups dip.

Dip Away Diet Dip
Beat one 12-ounce carton small curd cream-style cottage cheese, 1-1/2 teaspoons instant minced onion and 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt with electric mixer. Chill. Stir in 1 tablespoon finely chopped canned pimiento or snipped parsley. Serve with relish sticks.

If you make anything, let me know! I'm going to go ice my hamstring, chew my fingernails and stare blankly.