Friday, July 30, 2010

Recipe #55: mountain man rendezvous

(39 recipes to go.)
Leading up to Travis' birthday extravaganza, we watched Lonesome Dove to get us in the mood for some frontier action. Then, celebrated at the Mountain Man Rendezvous in Red Lodge, MT! Steppin' back in time, we spent the entire weekend in the 1840's. Not only did we dress the part, but we stayed in character the entire time! No watches, no lawnchairs, nothing. Travis lived out his Jeremiah Johnson dream!
Continuing with the rustic-themed birthday week, I made Chico's Orange-Glazed Quail with Pecan Cornbread Stuffing for a quaint dinner. Quail, by the way, is not easy to find. Here's a piece of advice when searching for this dainty bird; 1) specify you DON'T want it alive, and 2) you DO want it for human consumption! -Apparently its a common treat for pet snakes! Finally, we were able to order it at Fossil Farms. (Also got some alligator meat from this website, being as we've been wanting to give it a try for awhile now. Just fried it up and it was actually not too bad! Texture & flavor of this high-protein meat is exactly like a PORK CHOP.) Since I'd already made the Chicken Stock beforehand (in recipe #54), I simply unthawed it and added it to the Maple Cornbread stuffing & other ingredients to make the quail dish. No stranger to this cornbread, its delicious and we've referred to it in recipes #39, #44, & #51. Baking this bread made me chuckle as I thought of what Jackyl's lead singer (Jesse James Dupree) said during last week's concert, "Ya know a woman really loves you if she makes a big batch of cornbread for ya!" Overall, this adventurous meal was pretty good... Although Travis just couldn't get past the LIZARD part when eating the alligator! The quail tasted kinda like a gamehen, and the miniature drumsticks cracked me up!
Perfect 34th celebration for this mountain man birthday boy. (And that little stinker saw his birthday present came from Crazy Crow Trading Post, and spent an entire month on their website trying to figure out what he got!) On his actual birthday my parents took us out to eat at Red Lobster, where we also celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary. After a week of quail, alligator, & campfire meals, some shrimp & crab fit well into our festivities! Happy Birthday Babe!
~Rating of Orange-Glazed Quail: 8 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of Maple Cornbread in the pecan stuffing: 8 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of Chicken Stock: 7 stars (out of 10)
~Quotes of the day: "The only healthy way to live life is to learn to like all the little everyday things, like a sip of good whiskey in the evening, a soft bed, a glass of buttermilk, or a feisty gentleman like myself." -Gus in Lonesome Dove. "I can skin 'em as fast as you can catch 'em." -Jeremiah Johnson.
~Music while cooking: Best of The Kentucky Headhunters, & Jimmy's Chicken Shack's Bring Your Own Stereo

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Recipes #53 & #54: Whew doggy, its hot out there!

(40 recipes to go.)
With some of the most sizzling temps of the year, you'd think baking would be the last thing on my mind for a Sunday afternoon. But with the air conditioning & tunes cranked up, that's exactly what I did today while Travis shot his bow in the driveway. In the mood for a lil Carrot Cake, I literally baked up a storm as evening thundershowers cooled off the night. And here's an excellent tidbit I found online when hubby's grocery store trip left him empty handed for the particular fromage listed in this recipe; Mascarpone Cheese can be substituted with 8 oz cream cheese, 1/4 c heavy cream, & 2 tbsp butter (commonly used in Tiramisu). Mmm, creamy deliciousness. Even though Travis thought this cake looked kinda funny (I tried cutting the recipe in half to make a smaller dessert), the outcome was still sweet & tasty.
Then, continuing with my domestic mood, I opted to make the cookbook's Chicken Stock. I froze it, with the intention of using it someday soon if I can ever find some quail. One thing to note about this recipe, plenty of time was allowed for it to simmer (the cookbook said 6 to 12 hours). But after just TWO hours, I'm glad I paused my deep-cleaning chores to check on it. It evaporated so much, only 2 cups of broth was saved. I really don't think it could've sat much longer on the stove before it simmered down to nothing! And a big perk with this broth; it made our house smell extra good...
~Rating of Carrot Cake: 7.5 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of Chicken Broth: 7 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." -Helen Keller
~Music while cooking: Buckcherry's 15, & Jackyl's When Moonshine & Dynamite Collide. (Saw both bands in concert yesterday, along with Smash Mouth, at the Bullpen Rally near Red Lodge, MT. They were so dang awesome! Even got to meet Jackyl -I've been a fan since high school- and Travis snatched a Buckcherry guitar pick that was thrown into the crowd. Such a crazy fun day!!)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Recipe #52: Caramel Rolls in the Mountains

(42 recipes to go.)

Green grass, wet cold snow
High upon the mountain top
Deer and mustangs roam

Vast Pryor Mountains
Camp, hidden in junipers

And flowers on hills

Relax by campfire
Sing along with radio
Big dipper shines bright

Gust of wind, tent blows
Sprinkles of rain quite lulling
Sleep so, so soundly

Gooey caramel rolls
Pork ribs and potatoes too
Smolder on hot coals

Explore, discover
Sage Creek, brook trout, Penn’s Cabin

Drive across the range
Bridger to Cowley and back
Bumpy road, six snakes

Amidst scorching dust
Sun and rocks, hot like dessert
Crooked Creek is burnt

Mountain base so dry
Skinny dip to cool, refresh
Made us giggle too

Loungin' around camp
Read a book, shoot some arrows
Dogs snooze and cows moo

Breeze blows scent of sage
Bluebells, Indian Paintbrush
In rugged terrain

~Rating of Caramel Rolls: 8 stars (out of 10)
~Music while cooking: Nelly Furtado's Loose
~Quote of the day: "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him" -Voltaire (quote from book I read while camping; Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Recipe #51: Wine Tasting & The Big Apple

(43 recipes to go.)
Chico Resort is well-known for its wine cellar. Thanks to Simply Wine for ordering some bottles of vino for us. (The only one unavailable is Steele's Late Harvest 1991, but everything else suggested in the cookbook can be reserved.) Our first two on the list; Luna Vineyard's Pinot Grigio & Steele Chardonnay. We shared them with family & friends during May & June. These nice little springtime treats proved Chico's wine reputation; they were tasty!
The Luna really got around. I first sampled it on a fabulous girls night out at the Cancer Society's Sex In the City 2 movie premiere party. Yummy! It then drove with us to Devils Lake, ND where we fished with Travis' cousin Marcus & his wife Lacey. Travis, his Aunt Cindy, & I sipped the bottle while playing a hilarious round of Apples To Apples (We love this game, been playing it a lot with my parents lately too.). And the final Luna bottle flew the open skies with us to Minneapolis for our nephew Caleb's high school graduation. A gift for the hostess with the mostess, my sister-in-law Shannon drank it during the cowboy-themed grad party and seemed to really enjoy it. Overall, the Luna Vineyard got great reviews, except Travis thought it had too much of an alcohol taste.
The Steele Chardonnay accompanied me on the trip of a lifetime; a girls retreat to New York City! I surprised Jamie & Janel with this indulgence our first night there, on our way to a fantastic biker jazz band. Simply magnificent! With my mind still on The Big Apple upon my return, I made the cookbook's APPLE Chutney Frenched Pork Chop with Cornbread Stuffing for my darling husband. Delish. And in lieu of Independence Day, I accompanied the apple pork chop by recreating the most delectable treat I discovered in NYC; the infamous Magnolia Bakery's cupcakes (as seen on Sex & The City). Check it out! I found the recipe online. It certainly fulfills any sugar cravings you may have...
Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers. Combine 1 1/2 c self-rising flour & 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour. In another bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream 1 c (2 sticks) of butter until smooth. Add 2 c sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add 4 room-temperature eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with 1 c milk and 1 tsp vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes.
Magnolia Bakery Frosting
Place 1 c (2 sticks) of butter in mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of sugar and then 1/2 c milk and 2 tsp vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add 2-4 more c of sugar, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly.
~Rating of Luna Vineyard's Pinot Grigio: 8 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of Steele Chardonnay: 8 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of Frenched Pork Chop with Cornbread Stuffing & Apple Chutney: 8 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of Maple Cornbread, a repeat from recipe #39 (& mentioned in recipe #44), that was used in the pork chop's stuffing: 8.5 stars (out of 10) ~My parents were excited I brought them the leftovers!
~Quote of the day: Miranda from Sex & The City: "Do you have a rolling pin?" Carrie: "On me?" Miranda: "In your kitchen." Carrie: "Are you kidding me? I use my oven for storage."
~Music while cooking: Rocky Horror Picture Show, & Abba Gold

Recipe #50: Our anniversary... at Chico!

(44 recipes to go.)
We celebrated two milestones with the Grilled Venison Loin; recipe number FIFTY and our FIVE-year wedding anniversary. These steaks were deeeelicious! They marinated in the cooler all the way up to cousin Keith's cabin before we grilled them on the front porch. And this ended up being one of our most fun trips EVER! We went 4-wheeling in the Absaroka Mountains (saw grizzly poo), fished Dailey Lake, drove through Yellowstone National Park (saw buffalo, big bull elk, & a cinnamon black bear), were amazed by all the snow in the Beartooth Pass, & soaked in Chico's hot springs. Usually those sleep-inducing mineral pools make us very lethargic (see description from last time we hit the resort), but for some reason we felt like spry young teenagers this night! We danced under the moon, laughed so hard, cranked up The Steve Miller Band & Pink, and cruised the backroads of Paradise Valley. We were so amused!
And on a side note, you may recall our indecisiveness over this year's garden in recipe #33. (Travis' second medical leave helped us decide on not planting one this year.) Well, we also toured Chico's beautiful Heirloom Garden during this trip. There are walking paths and benches that welcome visitors to explore. And according to the cookbook, thermal run-off from the swimming pool irrigates the summer garden as well as the year-round greenhouse. (This makes me look forward to Farmer's Market, which should be starting up in just a few weeks. Visions of fresh produce, oh my!) Also, we were pretty stoked, TRAVIS SPOTTED THE VERY ROCK THAT IS ON THE COVER OF THE CHICO COOKBOOK (SEE PHOTO OF ME SITTING ON IT)! All in all, this was an excellent way to celebrate our anniversary. And speaking of weddings, we were asked to submit a recipe for a wedding cookbook; Travis promptly selected the Walnut Gorgonzola Salad that we loved on recipes #22 & #25 and mentioned in recipes #33 & #34. I'm sure the bride & groom will enjoy it too!
~Rating of Grilled Venison Loin: 7.5 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "Two are better than one... If they fall, one will lift up his fellow..." -Ecclesiastes 4:9.
~Music while cooking: None.