Friday, February 27, 2015

By Marilyn Michael

For several years my husband and I lived three days a week onboard our sailboat moored at the edge of Washington's San Juan Islands, ninety minutes north of our home in a suburb of Seattle. By the time we completed the drive, we had shed the stresses of our work-a-day world. The weekly time onboard took us out of any suburban rut. It stimulated our creativity, brought us closer, (one TV channel will do that.) It introduced us to a different group of people and inspired us to new adventures. 

We never took the boat out much in the fall and winter and observed a quieting, literally an emptying, of “the dockside neighborhood.” They didn't know what they were missing, we'd think, as we walked past boat after boat sitting empty throughout the colder months. One neighbor we hadn't met walked by one evening and stopped to observe my husband who was standing on the back deck in a snow storm, with martini in hand, monitoring the barbeque. "What are you doing?", he called over. "Barbequing a duck." my husband replied. "You and I are going to very good friends." the guy smiled and walked on.

My husband, passionate about cooking, reveled in his hobby. Morning breakfasts with treats like Szechuan Eggs with Black Forest Ham were amazing. We had two Grover Washington cassettes we played a lot (this was the 1980's) To this day those songs, take me back to sitting on deck with a steaming coffee cup in hand looking out over steel gray water with neighboring boats appearing out of the mist and delicious smells wafting from the galley.  

Many times he’d cook all day Saturday challenging himself by doing it all in a large, stainless steel wok on the stovetop. No, he rarely cooked stir-fry in it. He would 'roast' a leg of lamb serving it with a jalapeno jelly sauce, simmer choppinos with fresh northwest fish and shellfish, fix a melt-in-your mouth marinated chicken, cabbage and potato concoction. It was during this time he developed one of our favorite of his dishes, Oxtail Goulash. 


Dutch oven or electric frying pan


6 meaty oxtails or lamb shanks (can use beef stew meat, but you will love the richness of the oxtails or lamb.)

1 14.5 oz. can beef consomm√© 

1 14.5 oz. can beef broth 

1 to 2 cups red wine 

1 bottle of Bloody Mary Mix - split (Mr. T’s is a favored brand) 

2 cans of Great Northern beans 

1 large onion cut into 1/8’s and separated 

Vegetables of choice. (At different times we've used: turnip chunks, slices of Portobello mushrooms, winter squash chunks, fresh green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, Crimini mushrooms, pea pods, baby carrots, Yukon Gold potatoes, rutabagas, parsnips, turnips, and Brussels sprouts.)

Wide noodles for serving.


Boil some wide noodles, coat with a little butter and set aside.

Sear meat briefly. With lid on Dutch oven or electric frying pan, boil the seared meat in the sauce (consomm√©, water, 1 cup wine, ½ bottle Bloody Mary Mix) for about 15 or 20 minutes on high. 

Add vegetables of choice and 1 can Great Northern Beans continue simmering covered on low heat until the meat comes easily off the bone and vegetables are done. Keep adding the rest of the Bloody Mary mix and more wine, if desired, as the meat and vegetables cook. 

Oxtails and lamb shanks are rich and they do have grease. Remove the meat and vegetables when done and add a tray of ice cubes to the sauce to degrease. The grease will cling to the ice cubes for easy removal. 

Add meat and vegetables back into the sauce with a second can of Great Northern Beans. Simmer for about 5 minutes. 

With oxtails, we like the meat left on the bone, but for a dinner party etc. you can remove the meat from the bones and place it back in the sauce. 

Serve over wide noodles.

* As this is a blog of interest to Foodies, I'm assuming readers are adventuresome eaters. If you haven't tried oxtails, I highly encourage you to. If they aren't readily available, ask the butcher to bring some in. We always find them fresh at a large Asian Supermarket in Seattle called Uwajimaya.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

By Linda Vernon
~~Al Roker

There are some things I love. Soup is one of them; another is Mexican food. Both speak of my southern California childhood and the comfort foods created in my mother’s kitchen. So what could be more perfect for me than Chicken Tortilla Soup?

Of course, there are some things I don’t like. I don’t like cilantro. There, I said it. I know, I know, in some circles that’s just blasphemy. So, I’m a blaspheming foodie. Sue me. I find the flavor overpowering, and consequently often leave cilantro out of dishes that traditionally contain it. You won’t find it in here. If you like it, add it.

Being over 50, as our blog title proclaims, means I’m also an empty-nester. That means I have no earthly need for the vats of soup I once made. I also don’t care to spend half-a-day preparing soup for one (or maybe two, if I can convince my dear husband that there’s nothing in the pot that will poison him).

So here is my very quick chicken tortilla soup recipe. It refrigerates well, if you don’t eat it all the first night. Be careful with the salt. Because of the canned foods used herein, I find I don’t need any salt at all. 

This dish is prepared using items you probably have in your cabinet or freezer right now. And if you don’t, add them to that list on the back of the envelope in the side pocket in your purse. 

No, not that pocket. The one with the broken zipper.


Linda’s Sinfully Simple Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 chicken breast
1 15oz can chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 4 oz can diced green chilis (not jalapenos, but Anaheim. I use Ortega brand)
1 15.5 oz can whole kernel corn with the juice
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed WELL, otherwise your soup will be grey. Like dirty sweat-sock water.
1 cup commercial salsa, medium to hot
½ fresh jalapeno, minced
½ to 1 tsp chili powder
Granulated garlic
Onion powder

Garnish with:

Tortilla Chips/strips
Sour cream
Shredded jalapeno jack cheese

Trim fat from chicken breast. Dust chicken with granulated garlic and onion powder. Mince jalapeno. Put chicken, jalapeno, and chicken broth in large, microwave-safe bowl with lid. Cook until chicken is done (about 5 minutes, depending on your microwave), remove from microwave and shred meat with two forks. Dump all contents into medium stockpot.

Add soup, chilis, corn, and black beans. Mix well. Add salsa and chili powder. Simmer for twenty minutes. Adjust seasoning. Serve with garnishes. Even cilantro.
Just don’t expect me to eat any of it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

By Barbara Winters 

venison chili by barbara tomer winters
After I mentioned that we got a backstrap of venison in trade for some of my husband's excellent smoked pork ribs, my house keeper asked if I liked venison.  Well, the conversation went more like this:

Her:  "You like derr?"

Me:  "What?"
Her:  "The derr?  You like the derr meat?"
Me:  "Oh, yes, yes we do.  Especially the sausage."
Her:  "Jose's cousin goes hunting and he brings us the... the derr heep."
Me:  "Mm hmm."
Her:  "Joo know.  The heep."
Me:  "Oh, yeah, the hip, ok, the haunch."
Her:  "Jess.  But two is too much."
Me:  "I'd think so."
Her:  "Joo wan' one?"
Me:  "Ah... Sure, that would be good."

So I got a very solidly frozen package of deer meat and began asking myself what we were going to do with it.

I  texted my husband that we had this and what should we do?  He said, "Stew.  Or chili."

Well chili sounded fascinating.  I began to explore the recipes for venison chili online and they seemed to be the same as beef chili.  I fell back on my absolute favorite chili recipe which I've used for ages.  It calls for 2 lbs. ofstew beef, shredded.  We ended up with 2 1/4 lbs of venison.  My husband gave it a brief time on the smoker for
a little bit of extra flavor first.

2 lbs. lean meat
1/3 cup chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons masa flour (corn flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
2 cups picante sauce or salsa
2 cups water

Brown the meat and drain off fat.  In a Dutch oven, combine meat, water and salsa.  Bring to a simmer.

Ladle off 1 cup of hot liquid into a bowl and whisk thoroughly with the masa flour.  Slowly stir in to thicken.
Spread the cumin in a small pan and toast it over medium high heat, to bring out the flavor.
Add cumin and other ingredients.  Simmer on low for 1/2 hour to an hour.  Serves 8.
For hotter chili add jalapenos or more cayenne, to taste. Delicious ladled over cornbread.
*This recipe is taken from the pre-prepared mix credited to Carroll Shelby's Real Texas Chili.