The first snow.

Last night, we had our first real snow of the season.  It had snowed earlier but it mainly hit the ground and melted.  But last night, we got about 2 inches of snow.  It was enough snow to cause school delays.  And, they are predicting more snow for this weekend.  Finally, the mold will be put to rest for the season.

It appears that winter has finally arrived.  So long allergies!

Beef Tenderloin Steaks.

I few months ago when beef tenderloins were on sale, I bought one and had it cut up into steaks that were about 2 inched thick. Then, I froze the steaks for eating at a later time.

Well, since that time, I have tried grilling them over charcoal, grilling them over gas and broiling them. But, every method that I have tried has left me disappointed with my results.

But, a recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated had an article on cooking beef tenderloin steaks and some sauce recipes. With only one steak left, I decided to try it for Sunday dinner.

First, I sprinkled both sides of the steak with fresh ground pepper and kosher salt. (Kosher salt is courser than table salt.) Then, I placed it on a roasting rack which was placed on a cookies sheet and put in the 275 degree oven for 15 minutes.

When the meat hit an internal temperature of between 90 and 95 degrees, I pulled the steak out of the oven. Then I put some oil in a frying pan and heated it until it started to smoke. Once the oil was hot, I browned the steak for minute on each side. Then, I pulled the steak from the frying pan and covered it with tin foil to keep it warm.

Next was the sauce which consisted of sliced mushrooms, shallots, red wine, Balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. Once the wine was reduce, the sauce was ready.

The steak was then cut in half, and the sauce was spread on the steak. It was fantastic!

Ted Nugent and the French reporter.

Ted Nugent is a former resident of Michigan, a rock musician and an avid bow hunter.

Recently, Ted Nugent was interviewed by a French reporter. The French reporter asked what the deer thinks when he first sees Ted. “Does he think, ‘this man could be my friend’ or does he think ‘this man killed my brother’?”

Ted replied that deer don’t think like that. He said that the only thing that deer think about are ‘what am I going to eat next, who am I going to screw next and which way do I run if there is danger….. kind of like the French.”

The reporter immediately ended the interview and left.

The coffee table book.

The other day, I went into Schuller Books (regional chain) to look for a book on Frank Lloyd Wright. We are remodeling our house and really like the looks of mission styling. Since Frank did a lot of mission styling in his designs, we though that a book of his work would give us some ideas.

As I was checking out, the clerk commented that the book was a lovely coffee table work. I agreed with him and left.

Now, I got to thinking about the term “coffee table book”. Why do we call them coffee table books? Do we leave them lying on the coffee table? And if so, who reads them?

If I am entertaining someone, I am certainly not going to say to them, “here, look at this book while on go out and mow the lawn”. Or worse yet, I am not going to say that I am boring so read this book while I watch you drink your coffee. If things are that bad, I might better loan them the book and give them a buck for a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

And, if the book is for me to read, as is the case with the present purchase, I am not going to read it at the coffee table. I will read it some place else such as at the dinner table.

Right now, the book resides next to the toilet, a place where solitude welcomes diversion.

Kitty Klocks

On the first Sunday in November, Day Light Savings time ended for the year. And, we set our clocks back an hour. And while we may have ended Day Light Savings time, no one told the kitties about it.

And so, while we are trying to sleep at 4:30 AM, the kitties still think that it is 5:30. And so, they promptly jump up on the bed to wake us.

First they start at the foot of the bed and start walking slowing up us. Then, when they get to our head they stick their noses in our faces.

The other morning when that happened, I pulled the covers over my head leaving only a small opening for breathing. Not to be deterred, the cat proceeded to lay on my head and purr loudly.

Now, understand, the cats are not concerned that we have overslept. Rather, they are concerned about getting fed. So, we have two choices. Either we get up and feed the cats, or we put up with their annoyance for an hour.

And while we hate getting up an hour early just to feed the cats, we have found that we can go back to sleep quite easily once the cats have been fed. Besides, Day Light Savings time begins again in a few weeks and when that happens, the cats will no longer bother us.

What’s your sign?

I was reading an article about side dishes for Thanksgiving. Apparently there is a side dish for each of the Zodiac signs. This got me thinking. Do you plan meals according to the signs of your guests or do you only invite guest who’s signs are compatible with your menu?

“You’re a Leo? Sorry, you’ll have to come some other time. We’re serving fish tonight.” Or how about “Come on over for dinner. By the way, what’s your sign so I’ll know what to fix?”

I think I’ll just stick with the tried and true method of “do you like Italian?”

A herd of turkeys.

img_2903.JPGWe had about 20 turkeys in our backyard this morning. A whole herd of them. It was funny to see them under the bird feeder. It was even funnier to see our cat out there with them. She was absolutely terrified.

We have seen turkeys in the past in our backyard but never more than 2 or 3 at a time. And, we have even got some pictures of a tom in full display. One year, we had a tom that kept pecking at his reflection in the glass.

Our digital camera has the annoying habit of automatically turning on the flash. So, if you don’t remember to shut off the flash, the flash will go off with your first picture. And such was the case with the first of the turkey pictures.

The flash really spooked them. Some went running in circles, some ran into each other, some flew though not very far. But, they recovered after a couple of seconds and went back to foraging.

Since turkeys have excellent vision, I am never quite sure just how close I can get to the window before I will spook them. Apparently today, the glare from the glass covered my presence.

It is kind of ironic that they showed up just before Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving!img_0663.JPG

Sweet potatoes

The other day, Kathy came across a recipe for a sweet potatoe dish that sounded quite good. So, I suggested that we try it for Thanksgiving.

She said that we might be able to find sweet potatoes in Grand Rapids. Confused, I stated that we buy them all of the time right here in Lowell. To which she replied that those are really yams.

Well, since I was the one who was going to be shopping for sweet potatoes, I decided to do a little web search. Maybe I could find a picture of a sweet potatoe. That would be very helpful.

Well, my first hit gave me a web site at Texas A&M entitled “the difference between sweet potatoes and yams. I figured that these people probably knew what they are talking about so here goes.

What most people call yams are really sweet potatoes. In fact, I would dare say that most people in the US and Canada have never seen a yam. I know that I haven’t.

Yams are not at all like a sweet potatoe. They come mainly from Africa and can be up to 8 feet in length and weigh up to 70 lbs.

Yams have a very tough skin and need to be cooked before they can be peeled. The meat of a yam is very stringy and quite starchy. Processing a yam for consumption might take several days.

Of course, the American consumer doesn’t help the confusion when they refer to sweet potatoes as yams. Nor does the American food processors as they often refer to sweet potatoes as yam sweet potatoes.

But, regardless, I am now quite sure that I will be able to try out this new sweet potatoe dish without having to search through exotic markets in Grand Rapids.

How to cook a turkey.

Most people over cook their turkey. They put it in the oven and cook it until the little red indicator pops up. And by the time that the little red indicator pops up, the turkey is over cooked. Over cooking a turkey produces a dry, barely eatable substance called meat.

The main problem is the stuffing. The turkey is done long before the stuffing in done. And the stuffing needs to be well cooked to prevent food poisoning.

A turkey is done when the breast is at about 170 degrees. But in order to cook the stuffing, the breast needs to be cooked to 185 degrees. Thus the stuffing get cooked to perfection but the bird is shot.

The solution? Don’t stuff the turkey. The stuffing can be cooked in a separate dish in the oven.

By not stuffing the turkey, you only need to cook the turkey to about 170 degrees. In doing so, you produce a meat that is moist and does not require large amounts of gravy to consume.

Also, I recommend brining the turkey for about 12 hours before cooking it.

To brine the turkey you will need a container large enough to completely submerse the bird. Then, for every quart of water used to submerse the bird, add 1/4 cup of salt and 2 TBS of sugar.

Remove the bird from the brine and dry the bird before cooking.

Mynt Fusion Bistro; the review.

Mynt Fusion Bistro is a new restaurant that opened a few weeks ago here in Lowell. So, the other night, Kathy and I decided to check it out.

We went there on a Thursday in order to avoid the weekend crowd. And, as expected, there was no wait. Great!

The inside has been redone. There is now carpeting on the floor which helps reduce the noise factor. And while the faux tin ceiling is still there, the decor is Asian.

The tables had table clothes and the napkins were linen. This gave us the impression that this was not another Chinese buffet.

The menu selection was quite nice and covered Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Thai. And the selections were moderately priced.

In an effort to benchmark an Asian restaurant, I tend to order a known fair. In the case of Mynt Fusion Bistro, I order Hot and Sour soup and General Zao chicken.

The Hot and Sour Soup was excellent! Good flavor, good zing. It was very much like what I make at home.

The General Zao chicken was very good! It had a nice flavor and was not greasy, but the zing wasn’t there so I was a little disappointed. However, in all fairness, I have never had a General Zao chicken that was really spicy.

The service was excellent and the atmosphere was very pleasant.

They provided a common brand of chop sticks, which I don’t particularly care for. But many places use them, including my favorite Thai restaurant, so, I was not too inconvenienced. Beside, I doubt that many patrons request them.

All and all, it was an excellent dining experience and I would recommend it to anyone. On a scale of 1 to 5, I would give it a 4.5.