Mike C.

Okay, so, another dear friend has died. That is two in nine months. Mike was another guy I had known for over thirty years. He was a quiet, humble guy who had a love of history and who made fine things out of wood, handmade hardwood bowls and sculptures and some things I still don’t know what they are.

In my last lifetime, when I was an electrician, we worked together doing construction, during the Reagan administration, for an outfit called New Age Construction. Mike introduced me to politics and Beethoven and I came to feel as comfortable around him as I do around anyone: the kind of comfortable where you know you can do something stupid and it doesn’t change anything.

Anyway, his lungs had been betraying him for a very long time and I am sure he was quite tired of the whole physical ailment thing. I did not see him at the end, but, as I understand it, he went out on his own terms and comfortable. And you have to admire that, you know?

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Sweet Rotisserie

I have been feeling a little bad about my Rotisserie Chicken Showdown, a little bit like a hypocrite. I mean, it is easy to criticize someone else’s efforts, but had I ever made a rotisserie chicken, or a rotisserie anything for that matter?  No.  Never.  I had talked the talk, but never walked the walk.  Had never put my chicken where my mouth was. I was just a critic. It’s easy to be a critic.  Click here to read more.

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Stefado (also spelled Stifado)

Okay, here is a great Greek beef stew that I have eaten all my life.  It is serious Greek comfort food, the cloves, cinnamon and allspice being especially great during the winter.

Again, I am copying this recipe straight from my mother’s piece of paper.  And I am assuming that the dish came straight from Yia Yia.

3 lbs Chuck or Round cut in 2 inch cubes
.5 lb. butter [not sure what this is for, but dad loved his butter]
3 Garlic cloves
3 Bay leaves
1 Cinnamon stick, cut in half
1 tsp Allspice
1 Can tomato paste (the small can)
1.5 Cups Burgundy wine
3 lbs small pearl onions
Enough olive oil to brown beef and onions

  1. In a kettle, brown meat over high heat.
  2. Add garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon and allspice.
  3. Stir well.
  4. Add tomato paste, wine, 1 cup water.
  5. Meanwhile, in a skillet, sauté onions until golden brown in olive oil.
  6. Drain on paper, then add to meat.
  7. Simmer 2 – 2.5 hours on very low fire until meat, onions are tender.

Sauce should cover meat at all times.

Add more water if necessary.

Sauce should be thick when ready to serve.


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Thunder Jitters Last Night

We had a big storm last night, lots of rain and lots of what sounded like hail pummelling the plastic top the roof over my upper deck. Just outside my bedroom. A lot of thunder and lightning, sometimes looking and sounding like it was happening right over my house.

I put the Thundershirt on Lucy and gave her Calming XL from Pet Naturals, but about two in the morning she woke me up, extremely anxious, so much that she burrowed under the covers and buried herself at my feet.  I didn’t like that, so I coerced her to come to the top of the bed with her snout sticking out of the blankets. That took about an hour.

Is this what I have to look forward to this winter with El Niño coming?

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Porchetta Pork Roast

I almost forgot: I made this Porchetta Pork Roast over the weekend.  It is from a NYT recipe and is AMAZING!

Make it.  Make it now! You WILL have foodgasms.

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Mistura – Follow Up

I just posted a new addition to the Rotisserie Chicken Showdown about Mistura, the Peruvian Rotisserie on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland.  I went there a couple weeks ago with my friend, Mark Fisher, and . . . WOWWIE! The rotisserie chicken in AWESOME!!!  So much flavor. The chicken is vibrant with flavor. Exactly the kind of thing I love, and I couldn’t tell what the rub is made of from just one meal.  I was enjoying it way too much. I guess I will just have to return, over and over. Click here to read more.

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Spinach Stuffing

When I was a kid, my mom never made bread-based stuffing on Thanksgiving.  She made the recipe below, sometimes in the turkey, sometimes not so much. Once I saw the turkey liver lemon juice in the recipe, I figured it had to have something to do with my father, Pete the Greek. I asked her and, sure enough, it was something his mother (my Yia Yia) made. So she made it for him.

I did not eat much of it then: I had a child’s obligatory revulsion to spinach, but I have since grown to love the stuff.  I am copying this recipe directly from my mother’s recipe, which, I assume, comes straight from Yia Yia. So, you will have to forgive some of the strange phrasings and vague measurements.  My mom (and apparently (Yia Yia) like to leave a lot of room for personal taste and creativity.  Anyway, here goes. Click here to read more.

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My Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

This is my version of the NYT Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Garlic recipe I posted a while back. You will need a fry pan big enough to hold the sprouts. Use cast iron, or other oven tolerant material that heats evenly. I use a 9” carbon steel fry pan.

1 pint Brussels sprouts (about a pound)
4 to 6tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to coat bottom of pan
5 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar ( I like my sprouts a little on the tart/vinegary side)

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Trim bottom of Brussels sprouts, and slice each in half top to bottom.
  3. Heat oil in cast-iron pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
  4. Put sprouts cut side down in one layer in pan.
  5. Put in garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Cook, undisturbed, until sprouts brown on bottom, then transfer to oven.
  7. Roast for ten minutes, shaking pan at 5 minutes.
  8. Pour Balsamic over the sprouts and toss to coat as much as possible.
  9. Return pan to oven and roast sprouts until sprouts they are quite brown and tender, about 10 more minutes. (Toss the sprouts as necessary.)
  10. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve hot or warm.
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Wisdom Teeth, the Follow-up

That did not go how I expected at all. In some ways it was much better than I expected and in some ways much worse. On the one hand, the operation itself was much longer and harder then even Dr. McDonald thought it would be and it has taken me two weeks to recover almost all of my energy. But on the other hand, there was very little swelling and the actual pain dissipated after about 5 days, leaving a persistent ache that ibuprofen easily handles. In any case, I’d say my experience was better than most of the stories I have heard, and I have heard a lot of stories. Click here to read more.

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NYT Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Garlic

Here is a really good recipe for Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts.  These things are popping up everywhere and I love them.  I am in the process of tweaking this receipe to suit my tastes. I also tried basamically roasting just the cloves of garlic and holy moses were they good.

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