Grinding Meat

When I was young and my maternal grandmother was still living we used to make a wonderful meal we usually consumed as a large group at family gathering times. Sometimes the meal itself was enough to create the occasion sometimes we came together over this meal to celebrate some specific holiday or birthday. I suspect making and eating a big pot of Galuskies (I’m not even sure if this is how she spelled it) became a tradition in my mother’s family long before her father’s family left Europe and settled in the Chehalis Valley around 1901. By the time I was born the recipe had probably changed and even the name had likely been altered just as the last names of many Europeans had been changed when they entered the New World.  The simple cabbage rolls we enjoyed together exist in different forms and take on many names around the world. Ours are the best! My favorite part was grinding the meat. Pork shoulder was always the best choice. Of course we could have had the butcher grind it for us, but that would have left us at the mercy of someone else’s interpretation of what our work of art was meant to be. Besides, I would have been robbed of the pleasing sights, sounds and textures the task afforded me. I remember watching as she cut the meat into just the right sized pieces for what my hands and the grinder could handle. I then enjoyed a luxury many of my ancestors never did…the power of the ELECTRIC grinder.  Ah…the sound it made as I fed the first piece of pork into the shoot at the top, the feeling as the auger grabbed hold and twisted the meat at the perfect speed toward the blade and die, carefully chosen to extrude the perfect consistency on the other side. I did it just as she showed me and she always told me it was just right. I could immediately taste the kraut infused flavor and the trans-formative texture that awaited me. As I fed more pieces into the hopper I would often slip into a sort of trance. I endured visions of shoveling the first bite of the finished product balanced on a spoon full of silky mashed potato into my mouth.

I don’t often make the Galuskies anymore. I do however still grind the meat. I am grinding meat for other recipes and for other people, but in my minds eye I am the entranced little boy still grinding meat for my grandmother whose culinary influence is paramount to who I am today. I know she’s happy with the consistency I have achieved.

Published in: on September 28, 2007 at 8:07 am  Comments (1)  

On Words for Amy

Besides the everyday struggle to understand each others language and intended meanings, humanity fights the effects history has on the recorded definitions of words. Amy’s dilemma concerning her discovery in a thesaurus that the words “stay-at-home” were linked to the definitions of words like, untraveled and stick-in-the-mud, is a perfect example of how elusive definitions can be. Perhaps her thesaurus is “out of date”, if that phrase itself will even “hold water”. When did the phrase “stay-at-home” begin to refer to someone who manages a household and begin to cease referring to someone who could be described as a “stick-in-the-mud”? Or…is it really just a matter of what you read and who you talk too. Age, gender, culture, spirituality and more are all view points from which we look down on words and dissect them differently. I happen to agree with what I think Amy understands “stay-at-home” to be. Someone who is diligent, well rooted and able. I am sure there are people who would say a stay-at-home person is someone unadventurous, lazy and boring (that person has likely never tried to manage a large family). Even if we can’t manage to “pin-down” definitions for the elusive phrases and cliches the world languages have to offer, maybe we CAN begin to agree on the meanings of words that represent fundamentally human concepts like…friendship, love, god, evil, and hope.

Published in: on September 28, 2007 at 7:01 am  Comments (2)  

The 2 “Routine” Rules

Rule 1:

Stick to a routine it is a necessary part of life. Without it we lose our sense of a predictable existence. When this sense is lost or diminished we feel a proportionate amount of loss of control. When our sense of control falters our core of stability is eroded. It is the fear of this erosion that enables us to accept “routine”.

Rule 2: Remember to break rule 1

Published in: on September 8, 2007 at 2:04 pm  Comments (8)  

Trying to Blog

Whew!!! 

I think about bloging all the time. Most of the time I get to the site and just can’t make it happen for some reason. I have been enjoying everybody’s blogs but have been too mentally taxed to talk about anything myself. Fall is practically here and the routines are starting to take over. SOCCERSOCCERSOCCER!! Routine is good and I am happy to see our lives approaching the span of time when predictability takes the helm for awhile.

Bloging feels good.

Published in: on September 8, 2007 at 1:45 pm  Comments (1)  

DOGONE

Jasper is no more! I picked him up yesterday, after his quarantine period at the kennel and dropped him off at the Vet. I imagine by now he sleeps the eternal sleep. I am relieved to know he will never bite again…but still it is a little sad. Maybe he will come back as a nice slobbery lab next time.

Published in: on August 7, 2007 at 9:31 am  Comments (2)  

The Deck

…is going to be awesome. I stood on it last night for the first time. Well it didn’t have any actual decking so I was just standing on the frame work, but I can tell it’s going to be a beauty. I might even let the kids use it.

Published in: on August 1, 2007 at 11:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Jumping back in

I haven’t blogged much in the past week or so. Just seems like it has been to busy a life to talk about it. We are sooooo glad to have Morgan home safely. What a blessing to have a an intelligent free-thinking (almost) teen daughter like Morgan. We are very proud of her indeed. 

“Ella the Trooper” has been just that. Getting bit, having stiches and staying out of the sun hasn’t slowed her down much. Yesterday I said “Ella, you can’t be down by the pool. You need to stay in the shade.” She looked at me with sad eyes (my heart breaks) “OK Dad” – she’s beautiful.

I think Camille and Porter are thrilled to have Morgan back among them.

We have no front porch this morning. Maybe Lisa will post a picture. Our new front entryway deck will be started today. I will be happy not to paint the damn green stairs again. After that I think I’ll rip apart the enclosed porch. That room is to cold in the winter to be of much use anyway. I’m really pleased with how the house is starting to look and feel. This fall we will be adding some raised beds to the garden and defining the spaces a little more. With the addition of a small green house in the middle, I think the garden will actually be approaching the state I have always wanted.

Seems like the deli never stops moving. Hasn’t been much down time there lately. The tourists and antique shoppers are begining to run the streets again. Seems like I see almost as many new faces everyday as regulars. Doing our best to spread the love one mouthful at a time.

Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 7:12 am  Comments (5)  

Thurday Recipe – Salsa Verde

In Italy, salsa verde is a simple uncooked sauce with a wide variety of uses. It is great in the summer for all types of grilled meats, poultry and fish. In the winter it is served over boiled meats or even as a condiment for mashed potato or polenta.

 One bunch Italian (Flat leaf) parsley chopped fine

4 garlic cloves

zest of 2 lemons

1/4 cup capers

good quality Extra Virgin olive oil

1/2 cup bread crumbs (inside only from a day old loaf of baguette) – these bread crumbs should still have some moisture not dried

Kosher salt

Cracked black pepper

Chop the parsley and put in a mixing bowl. Chop the lemon zest fine and add to the bowl. Crush the garlic and add it as well. Put the capers and fresh bread crumb in and toss well. Add enought EV olive oil to make the sauce fluid but not very runny. Salt and pepper to taste. That’s all there is to it. It is best to make it one day ahead of use. It will keep in the frig for a very long time as long as there is a layer of olive oil protecting the top. If it gets a little thick just add a little more EV oil.

Published in: on July 26, 2007 at 3:57 pm  Comments (1)  

We’re going to shock the dog

Well we’re not really going shock him. We will just be delivering a “mild static correction” to keep him inside the area where he hopefully won’t cause to many problems. As it turns out the dog that decided to adopt us (I think the smells at the restaurant had a little to do with this) is only going to be trainable to a certain extent. Apparently Jack Russell Terriers are never really trained to the point of total voice command. So we got a wireless dog fence and I think it will be good. Once we get him trained he will have some free run and will be a more well adjusted canine. We’ll see how it all works out between he and the CATS!!!!

Published in: on July 19, 2007 at 10:48 am  Comments (3)  

Thursday Recipe – Eggplant Tagine

A tagine is simply a Moroccan stew of sorts. It can be made with a variety of meats and/or vegetables. Often fruits and nuts are added as well.

Here is a recipe for a tagine based on roasted eggplant. It will feed 4.

2 whole eggplant (large purple egg shaped variety)

Olive oil

Kosher salt

one small spanish onion diced

1 cup chopped dried fruit – apricots, raisins, figs, etc.

1/4 cup pine nuts

2 large tomato diced

1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

1/4 cup honey

1/4 tsp  ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground fennel seed

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

One box prepared couscous (follow instructions given on box)

water

 Pre-heat the oven to 400. Cut the ends off of the eggplant and remove half the peel by cutting strips of skin off lengthwise. Cut in half lengthwise and rub with olive oil and a little salt. Place on a sheet pan and roast in the oven until light golden and soft to the touch. Over roasting will cause them to fall apart later so be careful not to go to far in the oven. About 30-45 min. Allow to cool to room temperature. Cut into large peices about 2 inches.

In a saute pan on medium hight heat, cook the onion with a little olive oil until light brown and begining to soften. Add the chopped eggplant and saute 1 minute. Add the honey and let it bubble being careful not to let it start burning. Add the chopped fresh tomato, parsley, dried fruits and pinenuts. Season with spices and salt to taste. Reduce heat to medium and let  simmer for a few minutes. If the stew becomes to thick before the fruit is rehydrated nicely, add a little water 1/4 cup at a time. Adjust seasoning and serve over steam hot couscous. Can be finished off on the top with a little plain yogurt and paprika for a nice contrasting presentation.

Published in: on July 19, 2007 at 9:32 am  Comments (6)