Homemade Salsa

I like to make homemade salsa using my little chopper.  *An aside… I found my stick blender attachment, hiding behind the counter door divider above my stove.  I had looked for it several months ago and wondered where I would have put it.  As I was moving something recently, it fell over from behind the divider.  It was just visually hidden.

I like the Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes from Hunts, but you can’t buy these, in any brand, that do not begin to put in a bunch of sugar.

Here are some of the things that I will put in my homemade salsa:

  • Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
  • Vidalia Onion
  • Bell Pepper (Red, Yellow or Green)
  • Salsa Ranchera (Herdez)
  • Turmeric
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Roasted Garlic (or garlic powder)
  • Cumin seed
  • Dry Basil (fresh if I have it)
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Lime juice
  • Splenda
  • Agave Nectar

I would prefer it to be chunky, but with this blender, it is almost smooth.

I bought a can of Herdez Salsa Ranchera Medium, but it is still pretty hot.  *Shown is the hot version.

 

 

Advertisements

Sclafani Balsamic Vinegar

I have not been using balsamic vinegar for a while, but I want to remember a brand that I liked.  It is “Sclafani Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.”  You can take tomatoes, that do not have that good tomato flavor, and halve them and pour some balsamic vinegar over them… Then bake them in the oven, and the vinegar reduces to a sweet syrup and the tomatoes are delicious as a side.

Famous Toastery, Southern Pines, NC

Several months ago, Deborah Savage and I went to the Famous Toastery, in Southern Pines for breakfast.  She had a coupon.  It was a good breakfast experience.  I think I had a couple of eggs, probably over medium, bacon, hash browns and an English Muffin, with coffee.

Yesterday morning, I got up thinking that I wanted to have a special breakfast somewhere, other than the Rainbow.  The trip up to Southern Pines only took about 30 minutes.  *The traffic flow through Spring Lake has changed for the better.

The Famous Toastery was already busy by the time I made it there.  I had forgotten that it was Mother’s Day, which a waitress, at the end of my meal, mentioned.

I ordered coffee and water… two eggs over medium, bacon, hash browns, and an English Muffin.  The coffee is strong.  The eggs had a little runny white.  There were about 3 strips of bacon, and a couple of slices were burnt black with just a little brown, but still getting over my late Spring bout of flu, I could not tell if the burnt bacon tasted more like charcoal.  The hash browns are chunky, whole skin, potatoes, with a mild seasoning.  The catchup was almost out, but went well with the potatoes.  I added a little Texas Pete hot sauce to my potatoes… which poured out more quickly than it does from the narrow mouthed bottle.

Before my meal arrived, a waitress brought me a mildly sweet block of cornbread, with a small plastic cup of apple butter.  I tried the cornbread with my egg yolks, and later had a small spoonful of the apple butter.  Both delicious.  I also had some Blackberry jam with part of my English Muffin.  This is the same brand of jam that Cracker Barrel uses.

There were plenty of waitresses, many very young, mostly girls or young women.

At the end of my meal, one waitress asked if I wanted her to take my bill to the register… but first she needed to take some dishes to the back.  In the brief time, while she was taking the dirty dishes back, another young waitress took my bill and credit card to be paid.

The first, slightly older waitress came back and I told her that another waitress had taken my bill up to be paid.  She remained and we began to converse.  This is where I mentioned the large number of waitresses, and she reminded me that this was Mother’s Day.  I do not recall all that we talked about, but the conversation did linger, and when the receipt, to be signed was returned to me, I gave a fairly generous tip.

I did enjoy my visit to the Famous Toastery in Southern Pines again, and hope to return again, hopefully with Deborah, and maybe Russ.

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Here is where I found the recipe that I used ( http://www.kitchentreaty.com/homemade-thousand-island-dressing/ ):

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise*
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 2 teaspoons finely diced onion (I use red onion but yellow or white would work just fine)
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic (about half of a small clove)
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce (optional)

Mount Olive Pickle Company offers several No Sugar (Splenda) items, including Relish, Bread & Butter Pickles and Sweet Gherkins.  I normally have several of these in my cupboard.  That is because I have found a few times, or groceries, that there were no Splenda versions available.  As often as I have bought a jar of relish, when I went to my refrigerator this morning, there was no opened jar, and looking about my pantry, there was none there either.  But, there were Bread & Butter Pickle slices sweetened with Splenda.  I opened the jar, put what I estimated would equal two tablespoons of relish into my little chopper and viola… sweet pickle relish (without the sugar).  I used the chopper to also make my finely diced onion (Vidalia).  I did not have fresh garlic, so I used a small portion of garlic powder.  I also had no regular Texas Pete or Tabasco Sauce, so I opened a specialty bottle of hot sauce.  I had some chipotle flavored hot sauces, but did not want to add that to the thousand island dressing.

I am just beginning to feel better after what may be a late spring bout of the flu.   So, I mixed the ingredients and tried a teaspoon for taste.  The color and texture appears to be about right, but my taste buds could barely identify the sweetness, let alone the nuance of flavors that should exist.  But, I have faith that this will be an excellent, easy to fix, recipe to make when I am planning to make some more Pastrami Reuben Sandwiches at home.

Now, for my two cents regarding where the name Thousand Island came from…  I am guessing that because of the relish bits that permeate this creamy dressing, that someone might have said, “It reminds me of the thousand islands around here.”

I’ve put my jar of homemade Thousand Island Dressing in my fridge and plan to use a little on some cauliflower and Campari tomatoes for a lunch salad about an hour from now.

Harris Teeter: Hot / Salad Bar – Allergic Reaction

I have been religiously visiting the Harris Teeter Hot / Salad Bar for week day lunches for the last several of months.  I did this because they have many vegetable selections that are not fried… asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, green beans, etc.  I have eaten pork, chicken, shrimp, salmon, meatballs, etc. and sometime just the salad bar.  I have had no problem with this until yesterday.

Here were some of the items that I added to my “hamburger” sized carry out box:  garden peas, wild rice, cauliflower, salmon, steamed carrots & broccoli, green beans, red & yellow bell pepper, sugar snap peas, quinoa, raw onion, bean salad, shredded parmesan cheese, bacon bits.  I think this was everything that I included in the small box.

I paid for the carry out and went to my car to eat.  I did not have any drink, and do not usually.  I started to eat, and listen to the radio.  I soon noted that my throat was beginning to close up, and there seemed to be a reaction forcing the food back up… not throwing up, but as if gas might be filling me up.  *I stopped eating and began to wonder if I shouldn’t go inside to get some water to drink.  The reaction began to subside, but I decided to close the box and take it back to my office to try again.  That way I could fix a drink (lemonade mix from WalMart) in case the problem occurred again.

Sure enough, as I began to eat, some salmon, some bell pepper, a green bean, the allergic reaction began to occur again.  I stopped eating, and decided to throw the remainder into my trash can.

After a few minutes I decided to call the Harris Teeter to give them a “heads up” that there might be a problem.  I think the Manager’s name was Brian.  He offered to pay for my meal, but I said, “That’s not why I called.  Just wanted to give you a head up, in case someone else reports something similar, you will know.”

I fixed some sausage soup for dinner.  I used hot country sausage, with some left-over Kielbasa, and added onion, potato, garganzo beans and a little kale.  To this I added a large amount of smoked Paprika.  This was delicious!  I noted that I continued to cough a dry cough for the rest of the night and into this morning.

ADDENDUM:  I’ve been coughing that dry cough all day and it is now 4:36 pm.  Maybe it was some disinfectant or cleaner that had gotten on some of the food.  As I said, it wasn’t like food poisoning, but an allergic reaction.

ADDENDUM-ADDENDUM:  Oddly enough, the cough continued and then it became the flu.  Aches, chills, coughing until my stomach muscles were sore, etc.  I stayed out of work for two days.  Perhaps the allergic reaction weakened me so that I caught the flu.  Just odd.  I don’t think I’ve ever had one thing morph into another like this.  *I am now thinking that it was probably some cleaner or other chemical that was on the food, and not the food itself.

ADDENDUM [5/31/17]: I have started having the dry cough at the back of my throat again.  It reminds me of the one above, but I haven’t had any allergic reaction recently.

Pastrami Reuben at Home

So, I had such a good experience with Reuben sandwiches during my short vacation, that I bought the fixin’s at Harris Teeter and attempted to make this at home.

I looked online to see what the ingredients were and they are basically as follows:

  • Pastrami
  • Swiss Cheese (Baby)
  • Rye Bread
  • Sauerkraut
  • Thousand Island Dressing
  • Butter or Margarine

 

I bought a cheap can of sauerkraut at HT, got the pastrami & baby swiss from their deli, sliced thin (for sandwiches), and had the baker slice a fresh loaf of rye bread.  Heat a skillet up on the stove top.

Construct the sandwich…  spread the Thousand Island dressing on both of the insides of the rye bread.  Put the cheese on top of one and the sauerkraut on the other.  Place the pastrami on one and fold the other slice on top to make the sandwich.  Then butter the outside of one, or both of the bread slices.  I tried buttering the top slice, while the other was frying in the skillet, and buttering both before placing one side in the skillet.  *Your preference as to how you do this.  You need a wide spatula in order to turn the sandwich over once one side has heated through.

I think the Thousand Island Dressing “turns” the sauerkraut, as a little sugar/sweetner turns vinegar.  The two go good together.

My first attempt was a wonderful success!  I forgot to add one of the chilled dill pickles that I had also purchased during my first attempt.  *I make a messy sandwich, but delicious.  I thought of making french fries, but decided against that, but later made some coleslaw (cabbage, carrot, onion, mayo, mustard, celery seed, ground pepper, salt, sweetner, dry tarragon) that was a good alternative.  I wouldn’t have thought of the coleslaw, but when I couldn’t get fries at Groucho’s in Florence and they had coleslaw, it was a better option than fries… although, if I were out at a restaurant, I would probably order fries several times, rather than slaw.

This worked well.

On stove top with olive oil.  I started with Hot Italian Sausage, large diced.  Sliced some onion thinly.  Added some fennel seeds and roasted garlic.  Sauteed all.  While this was starting to cook, I put a few raw Brussels Sprouts, halved, in a bowl with just a little water in the bottom.  I placed a plate over the top of the bowl and turned the microwave on for 3 minutes.  The sprouts were steamed just right at the end of 3 minutes, tender.  I placed the Brussels Sprouts in the pan with the Italian Sausage and onions and added a small amount of Balsamic vinegar in the pan with a spoonful of Splenda.

Separately, I had blended some diced tomatoes, with oregano, onion, roasted garlic, Splenda sweetner, avocado oil, and ground pepper.  This was basically a tomato salsa.

These two tastes worked well together.

Wholly Smokin’ Restaurant

On my way to Savannah, to try and outrun the recent snow/ice storm, I stopped by Wholly Smokin’ Restaurant in Florence, SC to have an early dinner, about 4:30 pm on Friday.

20170106_164708There were no other customers when I arrived.  I was welcomed, and I sat near the back, on one side of the restaurant, but just before you get to the bar area.  A waitress  came to assist and I ordered unsweet tea, with sweetner.  I looked over the menu.  I think it was the pulled pork that I ordered, with sweet potato fries and slaw.  The slaw was more toward being savory, but I added a little sweetner to make it more likeable to my palette.

20170106_164711The waitress let me know that they also had a Jalapeno sauce and I asked for a small cup of that.  The hot sauce was good, and it was hot, but not too hot.

I enjoyed the sweet potato fries, which were a bright orange color.  The pulled pork was good also.

Yes.  This was a winner!

Shrimp & Hot Italian Sausage

  • Hot Italian Sausage (Whole Foods – Raleigh)
  • Cocktail Shrimp (frozen)
  • Leeks (round, white portion, sliced into rings)
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Italian Parsley (chopped)
  • Dried Onion Flakes
  • Garlic powder
  • Celery Seeds
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Fresh Ground Pepper (mix)
  • Half & Half
  • Margarine (butter)
  • Olive oil

I tried this also with onion and a few ramp roots when I was out of leeks.  I also added some fennel seeds, which I suppose should be in the Italian sausage.  Used mixed red and yellow bell pepper and with the Italian Parsley most colorful.

This was something I cooked on the stove top after 1 am in the morning.  It turned out really, really, good!

The leek almost disappeared.  Needed more red bell pepper, and maybe sliced smaller.  The margarine and half & half were excellent touches that brought the sauce together.  I think the home fries, like those in the Helen’s Kitchen Country Ham Breakfast photo would go very well with this.  The crispy outside texture of the potatoes with the cream sauce, and then the softer potato inside, soaking up that sauce to the last drop;-)  Mmmmm, Good!

 

Tamarind & Date Chutney

tamarind&date-chutney.jpgI think this is the brand of Tamarind & Date Chutney that I bought at an India Indian market in Apex, NC.  It is sweet, but for some reason reminds me of Texas Pete Chili.  It would go well with ham on a sandwich.