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June 2007

What's in my fridge

Several bloggers are showing what's in their fridge, unedited. I'm always game so here's mine.

Stan couldn't believe I was doing this. Actually, now that I've had time to think about it I can't believe I'm doing it either.

I first read about showing what's in your fridge on chez-pim, a link from her site led me to sam with a link to her friend David. In my travels around the food blogs I ran across the refrigerator of Shauna James the Gluten free girl.
Now be aware I live in a 5th wheel travel trailer, full time. I'm good at jammin' and crammin'


Girls foodie weekend

Last weekend was girls weekend. Son in law was out of town so my step daughter Vicky and I decided to take advantage and have some girl time. I went to town Fri. night and got home this morning.

We had two must do-s, take the Coaster to Solana Beach and go out for sushi. Luckily I checked the
Solana Beachweb site and discovered that the Farmers Market was is only on Sunday afternoons. Vicky has business out of town Monday and would be flying out Sunday morning so that idea was out.

Friday night we had dinner at Lido’s Italian Restaurant  to make some alternative plans.
I had the Eggplant Parmesan, it was delicious and came with either minestrone soup or salad, a side of pasta of your choice and garlic bread. I had the shells in marinara sauce, and I was served one little scrawny piece of garlic buttered bread, un-toasted from what I could tell and a tad on the mooshey side. I made the mistake of ordering the soup, which was lacking the amount of veggies they normally serve, but the broth was really good. Vicky ordered a pineapple, pepperoni pizza, no comment here. 

We decided to take the trolley downtown to the Gaslamp District. Vicky hasn’t been on the trolley for years and has never been to the Gaslamp District.
Once we got there we wandered trough the historic U.S. Grant Hotel it is now owned by the
Sycuan Indian tribe .They have done wonders with the hotel and have kept its history safe, they also have the best Eggs Benedict I’ve ever had.

Once in the Gaslamp District we wandered around and shopped a while before stopping into

Dublin Square


for a half and half and a snack. We ordered Holohan Brothers Beef Crostini which is according to themenu, “select pieces of beef tips, braised in Guinness served on toasted baguettes and topped with cashel blue cheese sauce.”


We sat at the counter outside facing the street and had some interesting conversations with the passers-by.
Next door to the Pub is a little art gallery. The artist was kind enough to let me take some photos of his studio


I assured him I wouldn’t take any close ups and showed him the photos I did take before leaving. He tried to move his palate out of the way, I told him that was the charm of the studio, an actual artist owned working studio. He is a very gracious older gentleman.


We shopped some more and stopped for a little refreshing gelato. A nice clean shop with a good selection of flavors.


I had the mocha nut crunch


Vicky made sure he was making it right.

On our way home we got off the trolley at Fashion Valley and shopped a little more then went into Nordstrom Café


for a little pear almond dessert and coffee



Got back on the trolley and back to our car about 7:45 p.m. Wow, what a day.

Right from the trolley stop we went to Sushi Time in Lemon Grove. Vicky just discovered it a few weeks ago but they've been in business a few years. We enjoyed ourselves so much. Our lack of sushi knowledge shows but the staff is friendly and more than accommodating. 

We sat at the sushi bar and struck up a conversation with the couple sitting next to us. They recommended a good Vietnamese restaurant for us to try, they are Vietnamese so I'm sure they know of what they speak. I of course had to brag a little that I know how to make Pho and Summer rolls. They were duly impressed.;-)

They ordered a lot of good looking food and even passed their sashimi and dessert plates for me to photograph. How nice is that!!



From my observation the guys (chefs?) wearing black were like sous chefs, they only made the rolls and the chef wearing white was the big sashimi guy. Only the fancy plates came from him. Any sushi rolls that went on them he got from the others in black. Our sushi guy was very nice and friendly.


I have since learned they are called Itamae pronounced EE-ta-mai-eh. Also, you will get the best fish at the best price if you tell them omakase pronounced oh-ma-KAH-say which means make me what you think I'd like.

It all starts with a plate of Edamame beans, pickled ginger and wasabi.


Then we had California rolls


We also had some maguro


Crab filled salmon roll.


Finished roll and a close up


Here is another wonderful plate put out by the head Itamae


The fish case


I'd say the girls did good.

Trip to Lake Havasu AZ (one of them ;-)

Daughter Erika, husband B.J. and grandkids live in Lake Havasu AZ.

I usually visit about every other month. I make sure one of my visits falls on President’s day weekend. That’s the weekend of the Pyrotechnics Convention in Lake Havasu. The Fireworks developers show off their latest and greatest fireworks on this weekend. Fireworks are shot off every night from Fri to Sun. Many of our family members try and make it also. There are usually about 15 to 20 of us any given year. A combination of family and friends.

People trickle in on Friday and end up at Erika’s for dinner Friday night. It has become tradition that Friday night dinner is Aunt Margie’s world famous lasagna. Erika was very nervous and excited that she would be making the famous lasagna. She thought she’d be getting an old family recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation. Well, she was partly right, it’s been handed down from generation to generation in the Stouffer’s family. Yes, Aunt Margie’s world famous recipe is….Stouffer’s frozen lasagna.
It’s tough being the only “foodie” in the family.
Erika has lived away from us long enough to forget that Aunt Margie doesn’t cook.

One of the things Margie does best is being a Grandma.


I took Friday off and went over early. Erika asked me to stop by Basha’s Supermarket on my way in and pick up the famous recipe and the rest of dinner fixen’s as she was having a very busy day at work.

I have been to Basha’s several times during previous visits, but they added a very nice touchto their parking lot recently. Nice shade covers in the parking lot for the scorching summer days. This makes it so nice, no more blistering hot car door handles, and It sure helps keep the internal temperatures of the cars down.


Family started filtering in early evening. Annie, Jeff, baby and Mary Jane made a little vacation out of it and flew into Las Vegas, they came down for the weekend then went back to L.V. until Wed.

When they got their rental car they were given the worst possible directions for getting out of town. They were sent right in to the traffic for a major sporting event that was taking place that weekend. I think it was a basketball, or hockey (?) play off, whatever, they got sent smack dab into the middle of the traffic. grrrr. After a few wrong turns and several cell phone calls to Erika they got to L.H. late and just went right to the hotel. We didn’t see them until Sat Morning when we all went out for breakfast.



Back to Fri night.

The lasagna was cooked, even though it was a little extra crispy on the bottom (not burned, I don’t burn food ;-)


We had garlic bread, salad, and an array of fresh veggies, olives, marinated artichokes and pepperoncini. The pepperoncini were pretty hot. Jeremy ate one and about burned up on the spot. This of course encouraged the adults, (you know, the ones that are supposed to set a good example for the youth,) to entice him into eating another one with offers of monetary gain. He ate another whole one and earned three dollars. 


His friend Niki wanted to join in the fun, but by then the stakes were lowered so he ate a smaller one for a dollar. There were too many chili head kids there, we would have gone broke.


Margie had the brilliant idea to take a boat tour to Topoc Gorge
This is the trip we took.Margie, me, Jeremy, Annie, Jeff, Mary Jane, Paul and Erin went on the trip.It was a 3 hour tour. We thought of Gilligan’s Island but didn’t see anyone that looked like the Professor and Mary Anne on the boat, so we felt pretty safe. ;-0 

can you see the scorpion in the rock formation?


can you see the petroglyphs?

It was an amazing trip.


It was a little too long for some people. Jeff, Jeremy, Paul and Erin took a little snooze on the way back.Sleepers_12

It’s a good thing I spent most of my time on the back deck of the boat or else we would have missed the jet skiers playing in the wake of the boat.


Saturday night dinner traditionally is Kentucky Fried Chicken, quick and easy so we can get off to the fireworks in time. I was pretty tired so I stayed home and rested. I didn’t nap on the boat like some of the others. After the fireworks everyone came back to Erika’s and hung out for a while snacked, and played Rummicube. 

Jeremy just learned how to play and won his firstgame.

Jarod hung out with Uncle Paul playing video games (despite the glowing eyes he is not satan spawn,)
the girls cuddled up with Erin


The rest of us visited.




Uncle Robert provides Sunday morning breakfast that we cook at Erika’s then everyone goes their way. I was too busy cooking to take pictures. I'm the only one in my family that sees the value of taking pictures of food, go figure. ;-) 

Erika gave Annie a quick lesson in French braiding on a surprisingly co-operative two and a half year old.


I stayed until Monday and headed home along with everyone else and their brother in their motor homes, travel trailers and toy haulers. It was pretty nice until I started back up the mountain and into one of the worst rainfalls. I pulled off at Golden Acorn Casino, no I didn’t go in and gamble, though it was tempting to stop and have a drink. I came home the old highway which was much nicer since I didn’t have to deal with the traffic and the water spray from all the trucks and motor homes. I got home about 1:00 in the afternoon which gave me time to relax, un-pack and get ready for work the next day.

I'd say a good time was had by all.

Jal Jeera

Saveur Magazine featured an article on the street drink vendors in Mambai, India.The article included a recipe for Jal Jeera Cumin-laced tamarind and mint cooler. Jal Jeera in Hindi means cumin water.

From the article.
"Jal jeera, an exquisite tamarind drink spiked with lime and sugar, is infused with cumin and mint and seasoned with warming spices."


Tamarind pulp with some of the ingredients


@@@@@ Now You're Cooking! Export Format

Jal Jeera Cumin-Laced Tamarind and Mint Cooler


1/4 lb tamarind pulp
5 cups hot water
2 tablespoons Sugar
1/2 tablespoon cumin seed; toasted
1 teaspoon black salt
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon red chile powder
1/8 teaspoon garam masala
10 large fresh mint leaves

Put tamarind pulp and the hot water into a bowl; let soak for 30 minutes,periodically mashing the tamarind with your fingers and freeing as much as the pulp as possible from the fiber and seeds.
Working in batches, pour mixture into a strainer over a bowl. Press down on mixture until nothing but seeds and fiber are left in strainer. Discard solids.

To strained liquid, add sugar, toasted cumin seeds, black salt, lime juice, red chile powder, garam masala and 10 large fresh mint leaves; stir to combine.

Puree in a blender until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a pitcher and chill.
Serve over crushed ice.
Contributor: Saveur March 2007
Yield: 1 quart
** Exported from Now You're Cooking! v5.77 **

Oaxaca Mole

I participated in a smackdown challenge on the newsgroup challenge was to make a complicated dish, something you haven't made before and that is out of your comfort zone, or using an unusual ingredient.

I chose to make Mole. I have been wanting to try it for a long time but never got around to it, this was the perfect opportunity to do so.

Yes, it is worth the trouble. Yes, I'd do it again, it's freaking delicious.
It_is_spicy, as DH says it has some "happenings." The flavors are well blended, not one thing stands out from the rest. For my taste it could use a little salt, and I'm not a big salt user.

I involved several people at work as taste testers, I wanted true honest opinions.It got mixed reviews, some thought it was too bitter, one thought it was too sweet, and some thought it wasn't like mole at all.Others thought it was a perfect blending of all components, and could taste a little of each in every bite.

The recipe is at the end of the post. Here is what I did First the spices were dry toasted


Toasted spices in the Molcajete ready to grind

Grinding up the toasted spices The fragrance released by the grinding is unbelievable                            

Separating the seeds from the chiles, the seeds and chiles need to be toasted.
According to the recipe the fumes can be overpowering, it was nice outside so I fixed myself a gin and tonic and enjoyed the outdoors


                               Toasted these babies outdoors, don't stand downwind they are pungent 

                Nice and toasted seeds, it was fun toward the end when they started popping out of the pan          


Quickly ran the chiles under running water and toasted just enough to dry off, I had to be careful not to burn them


Toasted the onion and garlic outdoors also good thing, because they were strong


Back inside I toasted the seeds and nuts It was hard to keep from munching on them they were delicious


                   The chiles soaked in hot boiling water for half an hour and the seeds soaked in room temp                 water for an hour and a half with two changes of water


                  Pork in crockpot with cilantro and mint leaves, started in the morning before going to work

Grinding the nuts into a nice puree.I ground them again the next day, I didn't think the puree was smooth enough

Dried fruits soaking in the warmed sherry


                                Frying the plantains in butter

Pureed dried fruits and plantains with the sherry

Ready to grind the tomatoes, onion and garlic


      Grinding chiles and seeds wow!! what a mess, I had chile puree all over the place


Put the pureed chile and seeds through a sieve Hpim1294

Combined all the spices, purees and added chocolate                                                            Hpim1303_2

                             Finished product


This is how I like to eat it

This recipe was originally posted by Kay Hartman on
I left her personal notes intact.
TammyM and Victor Sack on rfc were nice enough to help me in my search for a terrific mole recipe.


Mole Negro de Oaxaca Oaxaca City-style Mole

About 2 quarts

12 whole black peppercorns
6 whole cloves
One 2-inch piece of canela
1/4 cup dried Oaxacan oregano or 2 tablespoons dried Mexican
oregano, crumbled
1 pound chilhuacles negros or 8 ounces each of mulato and guajillo
chiles, tops removed
1/2 to 1 cup lard (preferably home-rendered) or as needed
1/2 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) sesame seeds
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
1/2 cup pecan or walnut meats [I used pecans]
1 1/2 cups dry sherry [The only sherry I had on hand was Amontillado
so that's what I used]
1/2 cup dark raisins
1 cup pitted prunes, coarsely chopped
1 cup pitted dried apricots, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons butter (or omit and use part of the lard) [I did not
use any butter. I had this beautiful lard that Jack and I
rendered and I used that.]
1 large very ripe plantain, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 to 5 cups homemade chicken stock, or as needed
1/2 unpeeled head of garlic (about 8 large cloves)
1 large or 2 medium unpeeled onions [I used white onions]
2 large ripe tomatoes
5 to 6 large tomatillos, husks removed
One 3-ounce tablet Mexican chocolate or 3 cakes or 1 cup homemade
chocolate blend [I used 8 ounces of La Bellaza Stone Ground

Heat a small heavy skillet over medium-low heat and prepare to toast the spices. Add the peppercons and cloves; heat, shaking the pan and stirring constantly, until their aroma is released, about 1
minute. Empty into a small bowl. Add the canela to the pan and toast the same way for about 1 minute; add to the pepper and cloves.

Toast the dried oregano the same way until fragrant and add it to the other spices. Grind the toasted spices together in an electric coffee or spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Set aside.

Remove the tops from the chiles. Carefully shake out and reserve the seeds. Reserve the chiles separately.

Wipe the skillet clean. Raise the heat to high and add the reserved chile seeds. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until charred and black all over. (Because of the fumes, this is best done outdoors
if you have the means.) [I did this indoors but I have a good range hood. I had the fan going and the kitchen door to the backyard open. The fumes were tolerable under these circumstances, but just
barely.] You can speed up the process by sprinkling a few drops of vegetable oil over the seeds and very carefully igniting the oil with a match, standing well back from the flames and taking care to
shield your face, clothing, and hair. [Is it just me or does this sound too dangerous? I took the slow approach.] Place the burned chile seeds in a bowl and cover with cold water. Soak for 1 1/2
hours, changing the water twice. Drain and reserve.

While the chile seeds soak, heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of the lard in a heavy medium-size skillet over medium heat. When the fat ripples, add the sesame seeds and cook about 3 minutes, stirring constantly
and shaking the pan, just until lightly golden. Immediately scrape out the seeds into a heatproof bowl. Add a little more lard to the pan, heat, and cook the peanuts in the same way, about 3 minutes or
until lightly browned. Add to the bowl with the sesame seeds. Cook the slivered almonds, then the pecans, in the same way, allowing about 3 minutes cooking time for each. Add a little more fat each
time and add the toasted nuts to the sesame seeds and peanuts.

If desired, drain off the excess lard from the toasted nuts and reserve 2 tablespoons for cooking the plantain later. Let the nuts cool to room temperature. Place in a food processor and grind to a smooth paste. Scrape out the ground mixture into a bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the sherry until just too hot for your finger. Place the raisins and chopped dried fruits in a bowl. Pour the hot sherry over them and let soak for 30 minutes.

Heat the butter or reserved lard [I used lard] in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. When the fat is very hot, add the plantain and cook, turning several times with a spatula, until golden on both sides, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

Working in batches as necessary, rinse and griddle-dry the reserved seeded chiles by the directions below. As they are done, remove them to a deep bowl. Cover generously with boiling water and let
saok for about 20 minutes.

Place the plantain, soaked fruits, and sherry in a food processor. Process, in batches if necessary, to a thick puree; scrape out into a bowl and reserve.

Drain the soaked chiles. Working in batches as necessary, place the chiles and chile seeds in a blender, adding 1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken stock per batch, and process until smoothly pureed (4 minutes on
high), adding more stock if necessary. Working in convenient-sized batches, turn out the chile mixture into a medium-mesh sieve set over a large bowl. With a wooden spoon or pusher, force the puree
through, discarding any bits that won't go through.

Now you have 4 separate mixtures on hand; dry ground spices, ground nuts, pureed fruits, and pureed chiles. If you wish to continue with the recipe later, each of these things can hold for up to 4
hours (the chile mixture should be refrigerated). [I refrigerated the nuts, fruits, and chiles until the next day without problem.] When you are ready to proceed, heat a griddle or medium-size cast-iron skillet over low heat. Working in sequence, roast the garlic, onion, and tomatoes by the directions below, removing each kind as it is done and reserving it in a small bowl. While the other vegetables roast, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and drop in the tomatillos. Cook, uncovered, until they change color, about 3 minutes. Drain.

When the garlic, onion, and tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and place (with their juices) in a blender along with the tomatillos. Process until smoothly pureed (about 3 minutes onhigh).

Combine all the purees and the ground spices in a Dutch oven or saucepan large enough to hold everything. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and stir in the chocolate. Reduce the heat to
medium-low. Cook, covered, stirring often, for 30 to 40 minutes to marry and develop all the flavors.

Griddle-Drying Chiles

Unless otherwise directed in a recipe, remove and discard the tops and seeds of the chiles. I leave in the veins (the hottest part), but you can cut them away if you want to tone down the heat. Rinse the chiles under cold running water and shake off the excess moisture, but do not dry them. Heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact. A few at a time, place the chiles on the griddle and let them heat, turning occasionally with tongs, just until any clinging moisture is evaporated and the aroma is released. Allow approximately 30 to 45 seconds in all per chile for most kinds, slightly less for guajillos (which are very thin-skinned). The chiles should just become dry, hot, and fragrant; do not allow them to start really roasting or they will have a terrible scorched flavor. Remove from the griddle as they are done. Most recipes will call for placing them in a deep
bowl, covering generously with boiling water, and letting stand for about 15 to 20 minutes, then draining well.

To Griddle-Roast Onions and Garlic

Heat a heavy ungreased griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact. Place the unpeeled onion and individual unpeeled garlic cloves on the griddle. Cook,turning frequently, until somewhat softened, about 15 to 20 minutes for small onions, 20 to 25 minutes for medium onions, and 8 minutes for garlic cloves. With large onions I usually cut them in half
crosswise (leaving the skin on) and roast, turning frequently, for about 20 minutes. The cut side will char, but the black bits are easily scraped off. Remove the onions or garlic cloves from the griddle; when cool enough to handle, peel them over a bowl to catch the juices.

To Griddle-Roast Tomatoes

Heat the griddle or skillet over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact. Place the tomatoes on the griddle stem side down. (Started this way they lose less juice.) Cook, turning frequently, until the skin is blackened and blistered all over, about 10 to 15 minutes for small to medium and 15 to 20 minutes for larger tomatoes. Remove from the griddle to a bowl that wil hold the juices. When they are cool enough to handle, peel off the charred skin. If some tiny blackened bits remain, they will just
add to the flavor. Be sure to save all the delicious juices and add them to the dish.