Jul 21, 2012

Shaving Evolution

When I was a young boy, slowly becoming a man, I had several people that passed on the tradition of how they shaved. And now I have to figure out how I will pass on the tradition to my son.

I was first exposed to "how to remove the peach fuzz" by using a gel based foam, in an aerosol, and a double-bladed disposable razor (without the comfort strip). Yeah, I suffered a lot of razor burn because of that, and it still makes me cringe when Macaulay Culkin applies the aftershave in the Home Alone movie.

Then my grandfathers stepped in. One of them exposed me to the foil shaver and the other to the triple headed rotary. But they both made my sensitive skin feel raw and burned when I was done. Especially on my neck.

A few years ago, I was given the safety razor that belonged to my father. I managed to find the double sided razor blades at the local grocery store (on the peg on the bottom left of the shaving aisle). I went to Lehman's and got a badger hair brush and mug. I use them when I have some time to enjoy the sensations of shaving. Plus, because of the quality of the shave, I don't have to do it every day. I gain a day or two in between.

So where does that leave me today? I use a combination of items because shaving isn't just a task that needs completed, it should be enjoyed too. I grew a beard and mustache, but still have some shaving to do on my cheeks and neck. I use an electric trimmer to keep the beard/mustache under control and occasionally do some trimming with thinning shears. I use the safety razor and badger brush on weekends when I have some time to enjoy the shave. On weekdays or when traveling, I hate to admit, but I use a triple bladed disposable because it is quick.

I'm saving my pennies to one day get a good straight razor. The barber shop that I go to finishes the haircut by using a straight razor and hot lather on your neck. That feels awesome!!! I can only imagine what it would feel like on my face. Stay tuned for an update when I get enough saved up to go back to Lehman's and make it a reality.

Recommended Links

Jul 17, 2012

Tortilla Brunch

It was a late Sunday morning...it was too late to make a belly filling full breakfast, but it was too early for a light lunch of sandwiches. Thank goodness for the concept of BRUNCH!!! Combine the two... so, I did. Here it is...makes 4 of them, with a couple of small portions of leftovers.

  • 1/2 lbs. ground Italian sausage
  • 2 hash brown patties
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 TBSP milk
  • 4 six inch tortillas
  • Shredded cheese
  • Italian herbs
  1. Preheat the toaster over to 425 F and then place the hash brown patties in for 15 minutes
  2. While they bake, brown the Italian sausage over medium heat
  3. Whisk the eggs with the milk and Italian herbs in a bowl, and pour into a small skillet. Cook over a medium heat
  4. Flip the hash brown patties and return to toaster over for 10 minutes
  5. Flip the eggs when needed
  6. When all are done cooking, split the hash brown patties in half lengthwise and split the eggs into 4 strips
  7. On a 6" tortilla, place one strip of potatoes, one strip of the eggs, cover with a few pinches of shredded cheese, add several tablespoons of browned sausage on top
  8. Fold up the bottom and then each side of the tortilla
  9. ENJOY!!!
  • Top the fillings with whatever sauces (Tabasco, ketchup, mustard, etc) with what you like
  • Use larger tortillas by adding more of the fillings, but that means you need to make more because the above would only make 2 tortilla brunch meals
  • Serve with a side of fruit and milk (for kids) and/or coffee or tea for adults
  • Use the Muggle Eggs recipe to cut down on the time to make the egg mixture
    Muggle Eggs

Jul 8, 2012

Sausage vs. Bratwurst vs. Kielbasa

An Irishman, a German, and a Polish guy are standing in a garage, each enjoying a cocktail and cigars... Yeah, it sounds like the beginning of a good joke, but it describes how my evening started. We had a very heated conversation about what the differences are between sausage, bratwurst, and kielbasa. Fortunately I had my HP tablet with me, so we searched the web. Turns out that they are all the same. We all had to come to the conclusion that we were all right, toasted, and have some suggestions on how to prepare them.

"Bratwurst" is best explained by Wikipedia as:
from brät-, which is finely chopped meat and Wurst, or sausage.
 "Kielbasa" is best explained by Wikipedia as:
in Polish “kielbasa” simply means “sausage
 "Sausage" is best explained by Wikipedia as:
made from ground meat (normally pork or beef), mixed with salt, herbs, and other spices with a tough skin around it
The only true "differences" between all of them are the meats and herbs/spices that are used in them. The process is the same. I'm not going to make you scroll down a lot to see any of the differences, use the links if you are interested. Now read on for the suggestions we all had for you in dealing with sausage/brat/kielbasa links:

Care / Prep
Put the links in the fridge as soon as you get back from the store.
Use them within 2 days or simply freeze them for future use.
Eat cooked links within 4 days and put them in the fridge within 2 hours of cooking them.
The internal temp of a cooked link should be above 165 F / 74 C. Use an instant thermometer.
Never thaw frozen links on the counter. Fridge overnight, microwave or use a Hot Water Bath.
Use a different cutting board for your veggies, never chop them on one where you've cut raw meat.

Use a medium or medium-low setting to prevent the casing from splitting open.
NEVER boil a link, poach it instead. Bring the water to a boil, turn it down to simmer. Put the links in and let sit for 30-45 minutes. Boiling will cause the links to shed their casing. Make sure you turn them every 10 mins.
Poach links before grilling. That insures that they are cooked, the grilling just adds flavor.
Do NOT pierce the casing while cooking, as it lets all of the moisture out, causing them to be dry.
If the casing does split, use tongs to remove the casing before serving.

Side Thoughts
Poach the links, Spiral Cut them, marinade, then grill.
Blood pudding (my FAVORITE breakfast side) is nothing more than sausage made with the addition of animal blood.
The butcher offers ground (non-encased) versions of the meat that can be used like ground beef. This adds flavor to the dishes you make. Purchase it in bulk instead of just "ground beef."
Serve on a steak bun, to allow room for the extra veggies you grilled.

Bottom line, save a bite or two to give to your dog... they'll appreciate it deeply...

Jul 6, 2012

Journey of the Hot Dog

WTF Casserole
It started by having dinner at a local restaurant that specializes in hot dogs. They have over 37 different ways that can be ordered. They come in "regular" size and "jumbo." I usually get the Old Yellar. But then I wanted some simple was for making hot dog meals in my own kitchen, in different ways beyond the "normal." I'm a little old school and keep a tablet and pen next to my computer and take copious notes. I don't know where some of this info originated, these were just the thoughts I jotted down.

Other than all of the traditional ways we've always prepared hot dogs, I only tended to use the WTF Casserole recipe that was jotted down on the back of an envelope in my recipe box. The first new way I tried a hot dog, was by using leftover mashed potatoes. Slit the cooked dog 7/8 of the way through along the length, and fill it with some leftover mashed potatoes (heated in the microwave). It actually was AWESOME. Next time I'll grab some leftover shredded cheese as a topping. I ate it rolled in a tortilla since I don't eat bread or buns.

But I came across a LOT more info that I scribbled in my notebook, and here is what I'll be endeavoring to bring the sensations of eating hot dogs this summer, to the forefront.

Do NOT boil hot dogs. Bring water to a boiling point, turn to simmer. Put dogs in for 20 minutes. Check the temp of the dog with an instant thermometer, but do not boil them.
Use a Dutch oven or stock pot with a steamer rack (like veggies) by bringing the water to a boil, turn to low, place the dogs in, cover tightly and steam for 5-7 minutes. Put the buns on top of them for the last 2 minutes or tortillas for the last 45 seconds.
Grilling requires turning them every couple of minutes, just when they start to darken, but before they become burnt (unless you want them that way). Hot dogs basically have 4 sides to them, so turn them over after about 2 minutes per side. Which means it takes about 8 minutes to grill them.
Over a true fire (when camping or using that fire pit) means dogs should be put OVER the flames or embers, but NOT in the flame itself.
We marinate a steak and add a marinade to poultry, why not a hot dog? I did manage to jot down the URL of a marinade for Grilled Hot Dogs (click the link to go there, I'm not copying and pasting).
Spiral Cutting the Dog
A link to the Why You Should Spiral-Cut Your Hot Dog for Grilling explains in a video an easy step, and provides some sound reasons why you should. I especially like the fact that the spiral cut prevents the relish and onions from sliding off and stops it from curling up at the ends.

Hmmmm....maybe I'll combine the last 2 points about marinating and spiral cutting into a single option of cutting first, THEN marinating... I'll keep you posted.

WTF Casserole

One of the very few recipes that I got from grandma while growing up. The rest of them are still imprinted on my memory. But, as a father, why not share something with the world that the kiddos are likely to eat? A casserole that combines macaroni & cheese with hot dogs. I'm typing online what has only ever been scribbled down on the back of an envelope. Enjoy.

Prior to baking
  • 1 to 1.5 cups macaroni pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 12 oz. condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • 2 hot dogs (cut into penny thin slices)
  1. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 375 F
  2. Spread pasta in the oiled/sprayed casserole dish that fits your oven
  3. Mix milk and Worcestershire sauce with the soup (a whisk is recommended)
  4. Pour that over the pasta and stir together
  5. Arrange hot dog slices over the top of the pasta mixture
  6. Bake 25 mins or until mixture is hot and bubbly
Serve with a side of veggies and fruit, and a glass of milk... Add spices if you desire a little more flavor, but kids like it bland...

Jul 4, 2012

Muggle Eggs

In searching for some quick, easy, and inexpensive yet wholesome recipes, I came across a recipe for making scrambled eggs in a coffee mug by using the microwave. I jotted it down on a piece of paper and can't find the original site it was from, but am going to share what was made this morning in 2 MINUTES.

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 TBSP milk
  • 2 TBSP shredded cheese
  • Coffee mug and fork
  • Beat the eggs, milk, and cheese with the fork in the mug
  • Microwave on HIGH for 45 seconds, fluff with the fork
  • Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds, fluff again
  • Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds, fluff
  • Microwave ovens vary, so another 30 seconds may be needed to finish the cooking
  • Use water instead of milk
  • Add a small pinch of salt/pepper, Tabasco, or any other spices you might like. The small packs of salt and pepper most take-out places include are just the right amount, save them instead of throwing them away.
  • Mix all ingredients in a small plastic container to take to the office for a late morning snack (there is a microwave oven SOMEWHERE at work, usually in the break room)
  • Add some cooked meat (ground sausage, ham cubes, etc.) for a little more flavor
Overall, it is yet another quick, easy meal you can make without causing a lot of utensils, pots, and plates to have to wash. Plus, it can be made portable and satisfy that teen that is always hungry. Enjoy...

Tortilla Pizzas à la Q

Assembled (pre-cooking) view of Tortilla Pizzas à la Q
In trying to share with my recently teen aged son some quick and easy food to make in the kitchen (without burning down the place), I used a dish that Elektra Q-Tion exposed me to. Using basic ingredients in the microwave for an easy and quick meal or even snack. Thank you Q!

  • 6" tortillas
  • pizza or spaghetti sauce
  • shredded cheese
  • pepperoni slices/toppings
  • spread 3 TBSP sauce per tortilla (leave 3/8" edge as the "crust" area)
  • spread several pinches of cheese (as much as you want)
  • place 8 pieces of pepperoni (in 4 stacks of 2 like the image above)
  • place on a microwave plate and cook in the microwave (on HIGH) for 30 seconds
  • cut with a butter knife or pizza cutter into 4 pieces
  • 3/8" edge because the cheese will melt and spread into those areas, keeping it on the tortilla instead of the plate
  • Laying the pepperoni that way, makes for easier cutting between them without causing a mess
  • 30 seconds to melt the cheese and heat it all up, but the plate isn't too hot for bare hands to handle
  • Cut into 4 pieces, fold them over on themselves to use a fork or simply use fingers
  • We all have items in our pantry or fridge that can be thrown on the pie. Modify this by what you have. Use the last few TBSP of salsa, tomato soup, or even ketchup in the fridge, and the last 2 or 3 slices of cheese.
  • Quick sauce for 5 or 6 of the pies explained above: 8 ounce can of tomato sauce, Italian mix herbs, simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Make larger pies by using the 10" or 12" tortillas. Add several more seconds to cooking time and enough ingredients to evenly cover the crust.
  • Smaller sized tortillas are easier for younger teens to handle. The easier to handle, the less mess made on the counter top.
  • Use more toppings (browned ground sausage, cooked ham cubes, hot dogs, crisp bacon, tomatoes, cooked veggies, etc.) but play with the cooking time to determine what works.
  • Flour tortillas (white or wheat) but not corn ones because they don't tend to cook "right" for me.
  • Use a plate as the only "key" dish so there are less things requiring washing. Teens DON'T wash dishes.
Easy & quick to make, less expensive than getting frozen pizza snacks, and your teen helps you get rid of the food that would get thrown away. Especially during the late night kitchen raids they mysteriously perform.