From the Fortune Cookie

February 28, 2007

Mud thrown is ground lost – from a sign along the highway.

Spring is on the way – it’s time to grow!

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From the Fortune Cookie…

February 13, 2007

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. The ones we love will be showered with cards, chocolates, roses BUT don’t forget the most important gift of all – the HUG that says “I love you, always, unconditionally, with joy!”

A Fall Day at the Lake

September 25, 2006

Wild Rice Harvest

Here I go again, raving about our vacation in Minnesota BUT…

While we were there, we met Alan and Kay Zika, who in the fall produce one of our favorite things – Wild Rice. The Zikas and their family hand parch the wild rice in small lots, over open fires, so you get that nice smoky flavor when you cook it. The Zikas hand parched 10,000 lbs. of green rice this fall. They then hull the rice, using machinery that Alan built especially for the task. The hulled rice is then bagged in 1 lb. packages and sold to hungry customers.

Wild rice is actually not rice at all but a annual water-grass seed that produces a nutritious grain. For more on the history of this wondrous grain, go here.

Now, for the part we all really like: cooking and eating. Here is one of our favorite recipes, taken from the link above (and they have more than one recipe, too, as well as cooking instructions for stove top, microwave and oven).

Wild Rice Stuffing
1 cup raw wild rice
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sage
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup minced onion
4 oz. can mushrooms (or chopped fresh mushrooms)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme

Cook rice in boiling broth. Saute celery, onions and mushrooms in butter for 2-3 minutes. Combine all incgredients. Makes about 6 cups or enough to stuff a 10 lb. turkey. Also great with any wild game OR roasted chicken or pork.

After you try Minnesota wild rice, I can guarantee that rice will never be the same for you again.

Til next time…Diane

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Waiting for walleye…

July 31, 2006

walleyeHi!

I’m back from vacation. John and I spent a week in Minnesota with friends at Pelican Lake. Between the eagles in the evening and the loons waking us up in the morning, coffee on the dock and walleye for dinner, it was a fantastic trip.

And while we are STILL waiting to catch walleye, we have eaten said fish and highly recommend it. Our friends Rick and Corene did a “shore lunch” for us the day we left. I will dream of that lunch til we go back next year.

Rick’s Shore Lunch

Walleye fillets (2 per person)
1-2 eggs
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
Salt to taste
Chile powder to taste
1 potatoe per person plus one for the pot, thin sliced
3 large onions, thin sliced
3 large bottles of Canola Oil
Baked beans (optional)

Rick built a large wood fire in his fire pit, then placed a rectangular grate over the fire. In one of the largest cast iron skillets I’ve ever seen he poured one bottle of Canola oil and placed the whole thing over the fire. Once the oil was hot, he added the potatoes and let them fry for about 30 minutes. Then he added the sliced onions and let the whole pan sizzle.

Then, in a second very large skillet, he poured one and 1/2 bottles of Canola oil and put this pan on the fire to heat. He mixed the cornmeal with egg, salt (chile powder optional) in a large zip lock bag. Then he took the walleye fillets, 2 at a time, and dredged them firts in flour, then in egg and cornmeal mixture. Once the oil was hot, into the pan went the fillets. Twenty minutes later, we were eating a meal fit for anyone, royalty or not.

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Hamburger We Americans have been making burgers for years and yet we continue to search for perfection – from “gourmet” to the local greasy spoon. I personally lean toward old fashioned greasy spoons over burgers stuffed with things like truffles – but that’s just me.

I’m also partial to green chile cheese burgers, for what should be obvious reasons! 😉 You can make ’em fancy, like Bobby Flay or simply add some good green chile to your cheese burger.

Over at Epicurious, they’ve listed some tips for perfection, from Steven Raichlen, host of Barbecue University on PBS, and Chris Schlesinger, coauthor of The Thrill of the Grill and How To Cook Meat. Here’s a couple of basics to keep in mind:

1. Type of meat. Both Schlesinger and Raichlen recommend staying in the middle of the spectrum. “I like equal parts chuck and sirloin — the former for flavor, the latter for finesse,” says Raichlen. If you’re buying preground beef, remember that fat can be trimmed or added during the grinding process — always check the percentage on the label: 15 to 20 percent fat is ideal.

2. Forming patties. “Cold meat and cold, wet hands,” says Raichlen. “Chill your hands under cold running water, then work as gently and quickly as possible so as not to bruise or heat the meat.” Handling the meat delicately prevents the burgers from getting too dense and firm, and keeping it cold prevents the fat from melting, which would also make the burgers tougher. Both Schlesinger and Raichlen favor thick patties — at least one inch thick — so they can develop a seared crust on the outside while still staying pink on the inside.

They also advise salting and peppering liberally just before grilling – helps the flavor and makes for a great crust.

Here’s a “gourmet” recipe for you (from our June e-letter):

Blue Cheese and Red Hots Burgers

2 pounds ground beef chuck
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces blue cheese
1/2 cup Cannon’s Red Hots, drained
4 large hamburger or kaiser buns, split in half
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and drained (optional)
Desired condiments, such as sliced tomatoes, Romaine lettuce, sliced onions, mayonnaise, mustard

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill. (Alternately, cook the patties in a large skillet over medium-high heat.)

In a bowl, combine the beef, garlic, salt, and pepper, and mix gently but thoroughly. Divide
into 4 equal balls.

In a separate bowl, combine crumbled cheese and Red Hots.

Form hollow in each ball of hamburger, fill with cheese/Red Hots mixture. Roll back into a ball and carefully flatten (so that cheese and chiles are completely sealed.)

Place the stuffed patties on the grill and cook to desired temperature, about 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. (Alternately, cook the patties in a large skillet over medium-high heat.)

Place the buns on the grill, inside down, until just warmed through, about 30 seconds. Remove the patties and buns from the grill.

Place the buns on serving plates and top with desired condiments. Arrange 1 patty on each bottom bun and top with 2 strips of bacon (if desired). Place the top buns on each burger and serve immediately, with leftover cheese and Red Hots on the side (we like to add even more on top of the burger!) Makes 4 servings

Note: You can substitute pretty much any type of cheese. A smoked cheddar is also terrific. We like Grafton Village smoked cheddar (applewood or hickory).

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