Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Father's Day 2011

We enjoyed a great day last Sunday. It was Father's Day, you know! Unfortunately, I failed to get a picture of Paul with our kids that day, so I have included a picture of him on one of his favorite days this past winter.

Nick came out to the ranch in the morning and he and Paul enjoyed a round of golf together. Then, Nick mowed the lawn for his dad. If you have ever seen our lawn, you will understand that is a truly nice gift of time.  Nick is enjoying his new job and it is wonderful to see him happy. He deserves it!!!!

Suzanne and Ellen were able to join us in the evening and we shared a great meal together. Paul and I came up with an Asian "Surf and Turf" menu and it worked out quite well.

We made Halibut Coconut Curry with Charred Chiles and Lime. Click here for the recipe. It is well worth a try. I loved it. I've never made my own green curry sauce before.

Of course, Paul worked a steak into the menu plan. He found a Wolfgang Puck recipe in the paper for Szechuan Rib-Eye Steaks With Caramelized Shallot Sauce. You can find the recipe here. Again, I must say, this recipe is one to come back to again. With the steak, we served our new favorite side dish, grilled romaine. Both of these recipes would work perfectly for a dinner party.

We don't get to have our kids here for dinner often enough. Suzanne and Josh were here on Saturday night as well. Josh loved our bring home goodies from the barbecue competition that day!!!

It is fun for us to be able to look back to see how we celebrated our special times together.
I'll talk to you soon.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ribs, Rats and Recovery

Time slips away from me. We've been busy. Our new cabin on wheels is back at the dealer to have a few things added and corrected to our satisfaction. So, there are no camping trips to share here.

We judged another BBQ competition last Saturday. We donned our geeky outfits and badges

and headed to Canterbury Park for Blazin' Belmont Day.

Over 70 teams from throughout the United States set up a temporary little city to compete in the event.

Both of us were extremely impressed with the quality of the BBQ we judged. $25,000 in prize money was handed out at the awards ceremony.

Life throws curves at you sometimes. We found ourselves in a situation yesterday that I kept telling myself I couldn't believe I was experiencing. Unfortunately, it was all very real. Poor Suzanne. A rat entered her apartment building last Saturday evening. How do we know it moved in that night? Because, it entered through the toilet of her downstairs neighbor, who happens to be a good friend of mine. The poor dear. She witnessed the vermin's unwelcome entry into her bathroom. Yes, it is true. And yesterday morning, Suzanne called  to inform us she could hear it in her kitchen. Talk about rude awakenings! She had called her landlord but had to leave for the hospital. Could we please come and be there to make sure some resolution to the problem was attempted?  Paul had an appointment he could not reschedule. So, I found myself on

Yuck. I could hear the critter chewing away in the walls of her kitchen. I called health departments, animal control, exterminators and renter's rights offices. Mr. "I don't always fix things right the first time" Landlord took over four hours to arrive. He had indicated he would be there by the time we got there. GRRRR. While I waited and anxiously paced her apartment, I tripped over a computer cord and fell flat on the floor. Boom! And then I couldn't move. For like a minute. I honestly thought this:

Great, just great. With a rat that already has grossed me out beyond description gnawing away about 10 feet from where I am flat on my face. I willed myself to stand. All I could do was shuffle across the room.

And, then all I could think of was when our Great-Aunt Maggie (Margaret) came to visit when we were children. She struggled to get around and had to use a walker. I don't remember her otherwise.  When she came to visit, her sisters (my grandmother and another great aunt) used to announce, "Move the rugs, Grit's coming!" So I am listening to this rat chewing in the walls, and the first thing I think of is how we used to giggle when they made that announcement. I loved Aunt Maggie. She was a funny, funny woman. She even made me laugh 45 years after her death, when I was in pain, afraid of a rat attack! I'm moving pretty slowly around the ranch today, but luckily only suffered bruises. Dr. Suzanne checked me over last night.

On a completely different subject, we have started rehearsals for the summer show.

The cast is fantastic and I look forward to each evening.

And, Paul and I were asked to judge another KCBS contest on Saturday. This time we will be in Sauk Rapids at

As of this moment, Mr. Rat is still "at large." Suzanne is handling it all quite well and is looking into arrangements to move her belongings to storage. We are so glad she had already signed a lease on a new apartment starting in August. It is nice to have her temporarily back in her old room here at the ranch!

I'll talk to you soon. Never a dull moment!!!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Steakhouse Dinner Party Menu and Recipes

Paul and I hosted our dinner group last weekend. We were too busy to take pictures that night, but I still wanted to document the menu and recipes. I remember things better when I put it on my blog!

When we plan one of these parties, we first decide on our main course. We landed on steak, probably because we were eating it as we discussed.

We sidetracked into a discussion about old steakhouse and roadhouse restaurants and what we remembered from their menus.  From that discussion, our dinner party started to take shape.

My next step in the process is recipe research, which happens to be one of my favorite things IN THE WORLD. I have accumulated quite an extensive library of recipe books. They live in a bookcase in our living room. I pull up my rocking chair, open the doors and start taking a gander.

If I can't find exactly what I am looking for, I continue my search on the internet. I throw out ideas and we start to experiment. Our kids have learned this is a good time to cruise through the house, as the refrigerator has some interesting choices. I trust their palates and value their decisions. They appreciate the dinners and the leftovers.

After about three weeks of this process, our "old" steakhouse dinner with a "new" twist menu was set.

As these menus develop, Paul researches wine selections to serve with each course. We then start searching our local wine stores for possible choices. It's a tough job, but we carry on like the good soldiers we are. I make spreadsheets of grocery lists, develop timelines for food preparation, print the recipes and spreadsheets, and place everything in a three ring binder.

We are ready to start cooking!!!

Click on each menu item below to find the recipe.

We remembered the relish trays and bread baskets that we would be served at these old roadhouses. So, we started with a relish tray and basket of crostini served with white bean dip and curried mushroom pâté. And, how could one not include shrimp cocktail?

We also remembered the vegetable soups sometimes found on the menus. We decided to serve a broccoli, leek and spinach soup. We made half of the recipe, served six servings at our party and ate a bowl for lunch every day for the past four days. That original recipe makes enough to serve a 1962 Catholic family!

For your information, I base most of what I make in my kitchen on that frame of reference, so I always work at scaling down the amount of food I prepare.

We loved the salads from these old days. So we served iceberg lettuce wedges with bacon and purple onion. To top the salads, we made Zesty French Dressing, Thousand Island Dressing and Blue Cheese Dressing.  I even made my own mayonnaisse. I forgot to add the recipe to my collection, but will do so later. We loved those popovers served in the old days, so of course we had to make those as well. However, I forgot to put them on the table during the salad course that night, so they were eaten as a "between courses" treat.

Our main course was Paul's favorite bone-in rib eye steak topped with chimichurri sauce. On the side of the steak (on what little plate was leftover) we served lemon potatoes and sautéed mushrooms and onions.

We finished with Lemon Pannacotta with Lemon Marmalade.

After dessert, as they always do, the guys went to the patio and enjoyed a cigar while the women dozed in the living room. It's become a tradition!

And, just like every old steakhouse, we sent home "doggy bags."

Email me if you'd like a copy of my "dinner party in a binder"!!

We have to go now and help people retire. Talk to you soon.