The (maybe) final word on seafood chowder

I’ve been making seafood chowder pretty much daily. Over the last couple weeks the recipe hasn’t changed. It is SO good! This will make two servings if you add sides (salad, garlic toast, fresh baked rolls, etc.) and choose to share. Otherwise, be a pig and eat it all yourself without sides. It’s worth it!

  • 3-4 large uncooked shrimp split lengthwise and cut into 3/4″ lengths
  • 1/4 lb Pacific cod cut into 3/4″ cubes
  • 2 tomatillos (3 if they’re small, 1 if they’re large) Don’t leave these out. They add a necessary brightness to the dish
  • Green and red pepper diced into 1/4″ pieces
  • Green onion split lengthwise and cut into 1/4″ lengths
  • Tomato, 1 thick slice cubed
  • Broccoli, steamed and sliced fine, 1 cup
  • Shiitake mushroom. This is a texture item. Cube or dice
  • Bone or vegetable broth, 1 cup
  • White wine, 1/4-1/3 cup
  • Fish sauce, 2 tsp
  • Cilantro, 1 tbsp
  • Salt (the dish doesn’t need it but if you like salty stuff, add some!)
  • Gochugaru (Korean red pepper), 1 tsp. Use less or more depending on your taste.
  • Sour cream, 1/4 cup
  • Garlic oil
  • Butter

This is a bit fussy to make because things need to be added in the right order but is so awesome it’s totally worth it.

Clean and cut the broccoli into big pieces. Steam until not quite tender. I use my Instant Pot with a steamer basket. I set it for pressure cook, turn off the keep warm function and set the time to zero minutes. When the light goes off I release the pressure and remove the pot. I get the right tenderness every time. I can start the broccoli and prepare all the other veges while it’s coming up to pressure. By the time I’ve got them all chopped or diced and my pan started the broccoli is done.

I’m a huge fan of cast iron frying pans. I have a bunch. I use an 8″ deepish Lodge pan for this recipe. You could use a sauce pan or a bigger shallower pan . . . do what works for you.

Add butter and garlic oil to the pan. Once heated add all the veges except broccoli. Cook until nearly tender. If your pan starts to look a bit dry, add more butter. Add the broccoli. Cook until thoroughly warmed through. Add broth, wine, fish sauce, cilantro, gochugaru, salt to taste.

Once the mixture starts to simmer stir in the fish and shrimp. Adjust the temperature as necessary to keep the mixture at a very light simmer. Once the fish and shrimp is cooked through (be careful not to overcook) add the sour cream to the center of the pan (don’t stir it in yet) and turn the heat down to just below simmer.

Let sit about five minutes so the sour cream can come up to temperature. Stir the sour cream into the mix and serve.

 

 

Mickey’s Mariner’s Compass

I had planned to make a bog coat for my friend Mickey . . . but that’s just not going to happen. After making and wearing a bog coat I realized it was not going to be a garment she would wear more than once. It’s too bulky. It’s too awkward. It lacks shape. For people our shape and size it’s the equivalent of weary a bulky sack. Not good.

So I have this lovely start that was intended to be the center back of the bog coat which now needs to be repurposed into a 45″x60″ lap quilt, something Mickey will use often. I am imagining this as the compass rose of an oval mariner’s compass. I’ve made a mariner’s compass. They go together quite quickly using the freezer paper flip and sew method for the quadrants of the compass and come out beautifully accurate when using machine basting for the center oval.

So that’s my current plan, a mariner’s compass with the horse head as the compass rose.

This horse head is 10″ tall and was appliquéd using my machine basting technique. I love this technique because it lets me be very accurate. One nostril rim is less than 1/8″ wide. Because the fabric is a good quality batik and the thin portions of the design are on the bias, it should hold up really well to wear and washing.

A tent for the win!

When I make spareribs I marinate the ribs overnight in a rub made of spices and apple cider vinegar. I make the spice mix in bulk and add the vinegar to the spices just before using it as a rub. It’s a five or six to one mix, spice mix to vinegar.

Then the spareribs are cooked at 425º for an hour. This truly messes up my oven. It gets a coating of grease that’s truly unappealing to see or clean.

Yesterday I tried something different. I made a tent out of parchment paper with the edges sitting inside the pan to catch all the splatter. My oven stayed clean and the ribs came out perfect. I couldn’t be more pleased.

Mindy’s Spring

I’ve been fighting with the design on this sweater for months. I’ve tried a number of different things that don’t please me, don’t work with the yarn, come out the wrong shape, don’t highlight the colors . . . ugh. Just ugh.

I’ve finally settled on something that works. It’s unique, it’s beautiful, it’s the right shape, it fits . . . now to see if I have the necessary amount of yarn for 3/4 length sleeves and tunic length body.

Sweaters delivered

Plaid!
Plaid!

I delivered three sweaters a few days ago, one to my friend Mickey and two to Mindy. Mickey got Midnight Plaid, a design and color that suits her well. I’m struggling with not having taken a picture of the completed sweater before passing it on. I did the same thing with one of Mindy’s as well. No clue. Too eager to get on with the next project, I suspect. Hopefully I can get pics from Mickey and Mindy.

Just Guessing take two
This is a bit along the lines of one of the scarves Stephen West designed, something about bricks. It’s based on my Just Guessing sweater.

Mindy was ecstatic with the two sweaters she received. She loves tunic length sweaters and the yellow gradient sweater with the rolled neckline and kangaroo pocket (yup, didn’t take a picture of the completed sweater) really made her smile. The other was my purple version of Just Guessing officially dubbed Mosaic.

Task shortening cooking

I love barbequed spare ribs but they’re a lot of fuss to fix. Clean the ribs, season the ribs, stick ’em in the fridge overnight, bake the ribs, make sauce for the ribs, coat the ribs and bake the sauce in. That’s a lot of steps for a meal that’s eaten and gone in 20 minutes. Add to that, a rack of spare ribs is too much food for the two of us.

By now you’ve figured I’ve got a plan . . . and I do! I don’t want to give up on spare ribs. They are so good and pair so well with so many sides. I’ve figured out a way to enjoy them without having excessive leftover while speeding the process along.

Clean two racks of pork spare ribs. Cut them into two-person sized servings. Prepare the rub, apply it generously and stick the whole mess in the fridge overnight. The next morning bake them according to the instruction. Let cool. Pack each 2-meal sized piece in a separate ziplock bag, stick those in a big ziplock bag and freeze.

Make a double batch of barbeque sauce. Cool and pour into ice cube trays (the silicone ones work awesomely well). Stick the trays in the freezer. When frozen, pop the cubes of barbeque sauce out of the trays and stick them into a ziplock bag and put that bag into the larger ziplock bag holding the seasoned and baked spare ribs.

When you want barbequed spare ribs pull out a meal’s worth, 2-4 cubes of barbeque sauce and thaw. Coat and cook (I use an oven bag to ease cleanup) and you’re done! Meal prep in minutes instead of fussing all day. You’ve fussed just once for 6-10 meals.

Nothing is static

I can’t seem to leave recipes alone. I’ve got to tweak and add and change and . . .

I’m fairly sure it’s a chronic thing. A perfectly fine pork stir fry morphs into something else. The seed is never lost as I do my best to document changes. It’s got to be excess creativity or boredom or something else.

I’ve changed my pork rub recipe. I’ve added ground cardamom and . . . and here’s why it’s so important to document. I cannot remember what the second thing I added is. I’ll have to make a trip to the kitchen and go through the spices to refresh my memory.

Hotdog for the win!

With food intolerances, it’s difficult to find processed meats that are worthy. Hempler’s meat products are definitely worthy. We eat their bacon, hotdogs, ground pork and more. Nothing they make (that we’ve tried) rates as high FODMAP. Everything we’ve tried has been gluten MSG and GMO free . . . all in all a truly awesome product line.

I love one dish meals. We don’t sit down together to eat unless we have company. We eat on totally different schedules. If Wadly’s eating fried chicken I’m usually having something totally different. Stir fried pork, tuna or egg salad . . . something that’s not fried chicken. When he has two hotdogs heated in the microwave (yeah, me too) I’ll cut up a hotdog and have it with broccoli, bacon, green onion, bone broth, red and green pepper . . . and it’s awesome. I’ve done the same thing with a can of green beans. Hotdog for the win.

Pork soup/stew . . . uh . . . something

For those of us with food sensitivities it’s easy to get in a rut and eat the same things all the time. There’s a limited number of things we can eat and we have a tendency to fix the same things all the time. For a lot of us it’s easier to list the things we can eat rather than the plethora of things we can’t. One of the things that’s a big no is processed foods. The chance of cross contamination is huge and the repercussions truly suck.

I love pork. Pork is like chicken, it comes in two varieties, juicy/tasty and dry/bland. I don’t care for light meat port (pork chops, picnic roast, etc.). I love dark meat pork (pork steaks, sirloin roast). As a result I do a lot of stuff with pork. I have no idea what this thing I’m making is. It’s a pork stir fry (that’s how it starts) which turns into a soup which could be a stew if the broth was thickened. I don’t know what to call it but it sure is good.

Peanut Butter Custard ala Instant Pot

I’m test driving a peanut butter custard recipe and it came out quite good. The recipe produces three servings.

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup organic plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk

Beat the egg whites to aerate them just a bit. Don’t beat them into a meringue, just give them a decent number of bubbles to lighten them a bit.

In a separate bowl mix egg yoke, peanut butter, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and yogurt. Mix thoroughly. Add milk a little bit at a time mixing it in thoroughly.

Add egg whites to the egg yoke mixture and mix in without beating heavily.

Distribute equally to three buttered ½ pint canning jars or 1 cup ramekins. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips on the top if desired. Butterscotch chips would also be excellent!

Place on trivet in the Instant Pot with 1½ cups of water beneath. Pressure cook on high for 7 minutes. Immediately release pressure, undo and offset the lid to allow the jars to cool in place. Once the jars can be handled by a bare hand, remove them. Serve warm or cold, top with a drizzle of caramel, chocolate ganache or serve with an ice cream topper.

Annoying and totally off topic

I am prefacing this by saying yes, I know I’m not normal. Why would I want to be normal? So boring . . . but I digress.

Over the years I’ve accumulated a fair number of audiobooks, everything some authors have produced, samplings from others, selected series’ from yet more. Some books I listen to over and over, some series a couple times a year, others more or less often, some in preparation of an author’s new release.

I’ve run into a most annoying thing. I’ve got audiobooks from three different services requiring three different apps on my mobile device. This is so annoying! I have to switch from one to another to work my way through a series.

Somebody, please program an audiobook subscription service manager with an Android app so I can have one app with everything I’ve ever purchased or downloaded including the pre-DRM audiobooks stored on my computer. Charge a monthly nominal fee to consolidate all subscriptions (Amazon, Scribd, Audiobooks, etc.) into one point of access and I’ll be your first subscriber.

Breakfast Hoagie

I’ve been making breakfast hoagies for Wadly and he raves over them. They’re simple to make but a bit fussy as it takes three pans. I like to cook so I don’t see it as a burden.

  • sourdough hotdog bun or hoagie roll (hotdog bun is small, hoagie is big – adjust for your hunger level)
  • fresh ground pork (I usually buy a 1 or 1½ pound package, mix in the appropriate amount of seasoning, separate it into serving sizes into zippered snack bags and stick it in a larger labeled bag into the freezer.)
  • sausage seasoning (1½ tbsp/lb) (seasoning mix recipe is here)
  • green onion
  • butter
  • egg
  • 1½ tbsp sour cream

Mix the egg and sour cream.

Dice the green onion, add to egg mix.

Butter a HOT 5″ frying pan and dump the egg mix in. Reduce the heat and turn over when needed. Don’t overcook.

Place one slab of butter in a HOT pan under each side of the bun. Turn the heat down, watch carefully and rotate as needed. You want the hoagie to come out brown and crunchy, not burnt.

Shape the sausage into a size and shape that matches your bun. Cook this in a separate pan. Once it’s turned over, add a slice a cheese to the top. Wadly likes American, your tastes may align with cheddar or mozzarella or . . .

Once everything is done, assemble. While the order of assembly isn’t particularly significant, the taste is.

Breakfast Sausage Seasoning

My awesome brother spun by months ago and gifted me with his breakfast sausage seasoning recipe. I introduced him to white pepper. He doesn’t like anything even remotely hot so white pepper was an awesome addition to his kitchen. I see this as a fairly fair trade.

My sibling’s seasoning recipe got a bit of a tweak to suit my palate (I don’t mind a bit of hot as long as Wadly can handle it) and I’ve been using the adjusted recipe ever since.

Dosing is at 1½ tablespoons per pound of freshly ground pork . . . or more depending on your tastes.

  • 3 tbsp rubbed/ground sage
  • 2 tsp salt (I’m not a huge fan of salt so try this amount and add as needed)
  • 1 tsp white pepper (I agree with my brother on this, black pepper is a bit too bold)
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar – I make my own, 1 tsp organic molasses to 1 cup organic cane sugar, store in a jar with a moisture proof lid.

I give this mix a whirl or two in my spice grinder to blend it and get the kosher salt reduced and distributed. Then I stick it in a ½ cup jelly jar for later use. The mouth of the jar is big enough for a tablespoon to fit in easily, the lid is nice and flat for writing the name of the spice combination and they stack neatly.

Plaid!

This is coming along nicely. The pattern produced some interesting challenges. Intarsia in the round is not a challenge but getting the width of the horizontal red to match the width of the vertical red was. I tried Latvian braid but it was excessively fussy for the desired result. The answer proved to be a sizer larger crochet hook and surface crochet worked in the desired location. The second challenge was getting good corners where the red changed directions.

I’m having to cut the background color’s yarn at the start of each square. It’s not onerous and the result is very good. I’ve been working in ends as I go.

My hat!

Leftover sunset shrug yarn . . . but this time for me!

This is really simple helix. I’ve got a jog where the color changes but I’m thinking the mailbox isn’t going to care when I show up wearing it.

Stepping up my game

My cod/shrimp chowder thing is continuing to improve. Today’s effort is particularly good. Added . . . mushroom and cooked broccoli. OMGosh. SO good.

Here’s the guide when cooking for one.

All the veges are equal amounts with red and green pepper counting as one veg. I cut all the veges (except cooked broccoli – sliced, zucchini – sticks and mushrooms halved and sliced) into 1/4″ cubes. In total that’s about 1/8 cup each of cooked broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, spinach and green onion.

Heat a cast iron skillet (my pan of choice) adding butter, garlic oil and sesame oil (twice as much butter as each oil). Add green onion, peppers, mushroom and saute’ for a bit. Add zucchini, spinach and broccoli and sautee for a bit.

Add seafood. This really can be anything. I used cubed cod (1/4 lb. pacific) and 4 medium shrimp diced into four pieces each.

Add bone broth (about 2/3 cup), sour cream (1/2 cup), clam broth (1 tbsp), fish sauce (1/2 tsp), cilantro (1/2 tsp) and Korean red pepper (gochugaru, 1/2 tsp).

Stir to incorporate everything and let simmer until the fish is done.

This is SO good!

Cod/Shrimp Chowder

I’m still playing with cod/shrimp dishes. My latest is really pretty good!

Green onion
Green pepper
Red pepper
Tomatillos
Zucchini
Garlic oil
Toasted sesame oil
Butter
Cod
Shrimp
Sour cream
Fish sauce
Bone broth
Clam juice
Korean red pepper (gochugaru)
Cilantro

Dice up the veges. Saute’ everything but the zucchini in butter, garlic oil, sesame oil. After those veges are al dente add the zucchini. Once the zucchini has started to soften add the seafood. Add everything else. Simmer until the fish is done.

Yup, it really is that simple. There’s lots of stuff but it’s totally uncomplicated.

Not quite poached cod

Lovely stuff!Wadly bought a new white wine for me to try. He’s such a star!

This is a remake of a recipe I pulled off the internet. The original calls for parsley instead of cilantro. I have to admit, I’m not a fan of parsley. The original recipe has no veges. Can you imagine me eating a dish without veges? Steak makes sense with vege sides, cod soup doesn’t.

Ingredients include Pacific cod, shrimp, carrot, zucchini, green onion, green pepper shiitake mushroom, fish sauce (small splash), white wine (Quail Run Chardonnay), bone broth, cilantro, basil, salt, garlic oil, sesame oil, butter.

Saute the veges in butter, garlic oil and sesame oil. Start with sliced carrots as they’re the most dense. While they’re cooking slice and add green onion, green pepper, mushroom and finally zucchini. Once the veges are al dente, lift them out of the pan with a slotted spoon. Add shrimp and slices of cod to the pan, turning them to cook both sides. Don’t overcook. Cod is a fragile fish and will fall apart. Add the vegetables back to the pan. Add bone broth, wine, fish sauce and spices. Stir gently, warm through and turn off the heat.

This has a lovely mild but rich flavor. I’m adding it to my favorites. I can picture eating it with a crunchy toasted sourdough slice. Mmmm. I bet Wadly has his with pan toasted home made biscuits.

I didn’t think of adding saffron but you can bet I’ll try it next time. Saffron is awesome with this kind of seafood. Have you ever done Julia Child’s bouillabaisse? It’s awesome! I also didn’t think of garnishing this with toasted sesame seeds. Again, next time.

Quick and easy salmon

Our local Walmart has lovely fresh Atlantic salmon. It’s silver salmon, which isn’t my favorite, but it is really good and really fresh. It comes vacuum packed in a plastic tray.

Cooking is it dead easy. It comes out beautifully moist and flavorful.

Rinse the salmon, pat dry and place skin side down on a rack over an oven pan.

Dice a couple green onions. Mix with good quality mayo (I like Sir Kensington Classic). Spread the mixture evenly over the salmon fillet. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes. If the thickest portion of the fillet flakes when a fork is inserted, it’s done.

This is fabulous stuff and it reheats well.

Playing with seafood

I’m fighting an antibiotic resistant infection . . . and winning. One of the protocols is to avoid red meat. Anyone who follows my blog knows I adore red meat. Beef is my favorite meat, hands down, but as the daughter of a fisherman I also love seafood. I love fresh salmon, canned tuna, shellfish and . . . Pacific cod. If you’ve had cod and have been singularly unimpressed, I don’t blame you. Not all cod is created equal. My absolute favorite cod is a little recognized fish – orange roughy, a truly fabulously tasty fish. Sadly, orange roughy isn’t widely available outside of fishing port towns.

A close second to my taste buds is Pacific cod. Not Alaskan cod (relatively tasteless but widely available) or any variation thereof. Pacific cod is it’s own class of cod. It’s flavorful in a way that makes it delightful to cook with. Tonight I had cod and shrimp in a white sauce and it was heavenly. Here’s what I did.

Saute sliced mushroom (I used shiitake), grated zucchini and diced green onion in garlic oil and butter. Sprinkle thyme, gochugaru and salt over the sauteing vegetables. Once the veges are al dente, lift them out with a slotted spoon. Add thawed cod and shrimp (and more butter) to the pan. Turn the seafood, cooking on both sides. Spoon the seafood out. Add milk. As the milk is coming up to temperature mix a bit of milk with a bit of corn starch and a bit of the warmed milk from the pan. Stir that into the pan. Continue to stir as it thickens. Once it’s thickened add the seafood and vegetables back to the pan and let it simmer just a little bit longer.

Trust me, this is fabulous!

The Fail, the second act

Picking the stripeSo as not to repeat my first fail, testing will be required.

I need a bold and visible stripe for my plaid, not Silken  used in my first attempt, a really lovely color but just not right for this.  I tested a bunch of possibles and chose Rose. It’s bright, clear, stands out nicely against the Midnight background and will stand out on the variegated  squares.

Next I have to pick the yarn to use for the squares. I want each square to be variegated, unique and to stand out from the base. It can’t have a color in it that’s going to blend into my Midnight base like the purple in Khaki Girl.

Two of the auditioned yarns don’t have enough variegation/contrast to make them viable candidates. Left to right: Brilliant Blues, Cotton Candy, Soothe, Orchid Smash (out), Hot Spot (out), Frosty Morning and the Rose for the stripes. I’ve got a TINY bit of On Parade (discontinued, picture me crying) that might make a square (fingers crossed).

So, time for a little test knit . . . it’s lovely . . . and again a complete fail. Ugh. I was loving this . . . up until my plaid block ran into my vneck ribbing. Yeah, not loving that so much.

So, the next challenge is plaid placement. In my original scheme I had exactly one stitch to work with. Planning that tightly doesn’t make me happy. Have a gross math fail (plaid running into ribbing) also doesn’t make me happy.

Making the blocks smaller isn’t going to make me happy. The red stripe is already borderline overwhelming the variegated color blocks. I could move the start of the plaid down which doesn’t please me. If I could do anything I’d make the blocks two stitches wider as a better balance to the boldness of the Rose stripe. Alternatively, I could be less square! There’s a lovely thought.

So this is the new plan. I didn’t draw in the stripes but rest assured they will be there. If I can make the blocks 2 stitches wider at the same time, I think I’m golden. I’m going to lay out the new colorwork on the existing project and see where my lines, squares and rectangles hit. If the layout works I’m off to the races!

 

Modern minimalist plaid

Plaid!

I’ve done a lot of sweaters with something diagonal. Apparently I like that. Who knew? Yeah yeah, I’m rolling eyes at me too.

I had a thought . . . and it’s turning into something I think will be lovely and not boring to knit. I did the drawing and it pondered over enough times for it to get smudged with something. That’s always a good sign, interest captured. If I note down an idea and it’s pristine a week later, that’s a bad sign. It’s too boring to warrant much effort.

I have six balls of Bamboo Pop Midnight. It’s a lovely rich dark blue, definitely a “me” color. Finding a project for it has been the issue. I think this just might be the one.

The swatch

So, test knit! A couple frogs later and this is what I’ve got. I tried just knitting the horizontal stripe but that was a big fail. I tried conventional Latvian Braid and it gave the right effect but was just too fussy. The answer is the Latvian Braid effect worked with a crochet hook after the row has been knit. I tried using a hook the same size as my needles and it caused a tiny bit of puckering in the work. I moved up one size and it seems to be as close to perfect as I think I can get.

So I’m off working on the sweater. The first attempt at Plaid! is a fail. So, the question is . . . switch the stripes to black? And the question is . . . don’t include any variegateds with a color similar to the base of the sweater? And the question is . . . start the first square above the fading saddle line?

So . . . frogging back. How far is key.

 

Pug Life

Peggy with a tuna fish jar

I don’t think it’s possible to truly know a breed until you live with them. Case in point, I had no idea how happy and intelligent the pug is until we had a couple. Our latest is a 4-year old and she’s vastly entertaining.

So . . . the dog door story. We live isolated in the country. Our home is in the middle of 12 acres of south sloping pasture. Our dog pack swells and shrinks but it’s a gradual thing. Sometimes we have lots. When our Chow cross died we were down to just one dog, a lab mix rescue who is bitey.

Our dog door has a long runway on the outside to keep the weather out. It was cobbled together over time out of pieces of plywood and wood framing of wildly varying dimensions. For Buddy (young, athletic, good vision) it worked fine.

Our son had a friend who needed to rehome an aged pug. He could no longer care for her and we had room, time and love to spare so here she came! She was an absolute darling with cataracts. Dealing with the long dark tunnel outside our dog door was just too much so we rebuilt the run with a better base, glass roof and wall panels for visibility and a string of icicle lights for lighting at night.

The day the dog door run was finished she was happily using it without issue. Score!

Literally the next day, she died. I am not kidding, puked on the carpet, keeled over and DIED. That really sucked.

In less than a week another pug needed rehoming. It’s so funny how things come about. This one was young, just turned four. She had separation anxiety something fierce. She needs people 24/7, the more people the better. Because one of us is always home (or she can go with us if we leave together) it’s worked out really well. She’s vastly amusing, adores Wadly and is happy here with us. Score!