Archive for the ‘Food Blog Events’ Category

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Better Beers for the Party Season

December 12, 2008

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Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas tree…” or perhaps, “Santa Baby, slip a sable under the tree.
..” or hopefully not, “Grandma got run over by a reindeer…”

These are some of the lyrics that will invade our subconscious in the coming days as we navigate holiday parties. We’ll all try to drink, eat and be merry as we rub elbows with friends we’ve may have seen earlier in the day shopping at the supermarket, or that acquaintance, who turns out to be your best friend’s brand new flame, that you’ve not seen since last year’s party, or just a chance to get together with your aunts, uncles, siblings, and parents with the buffer of friends and without the formal requirements of carving a roasted beast.

Whatever the invite list, odds are you are going to be there a while. Someone is going to have the radio or the cable music channel set to “sounds of the season,” while you try to maneuver a drink, a fork, a napkin, and full plate with two hands and try to keep your Christmas sweater from needing a trip to the dry cleaner’s before Tuesday’s office Christmas party.

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Now I could make a suggestion about delicious hors d’oeuvres. We have plenty in our recipe index, but I’m actually going to speak to the bigger foul — the beer. Oh, I know some of you people don’t drink or think you don’t like beer. Heck, I didn’t like beer until a couple years ago, and the still wife looks at me funny sometimes. But, people, we can do better than Bud, Bud Light, et al.

One of the best things I learned about beer is that it is more like food then you might think. It’s got its seasons. In the spring, you drink the rich bochs developed by monks as “liquid bread” to sustain them through the fasting of lent. In the summer, you drink pilsners and lagers with their light crisp styles. In the fall, you drink harvest beers and sometimes delicious pumpkin ales. At this time of year, you drink Christmas beers. Now, some of them are bad, and tragically so. Yet there are a few really great ones, brewed with things like dried cherries, honey, cinnamon, thyme, and orange peel. The results are some delicious beers that stand up to cheese plates, fatty finger foods, and  even  some delicious sweets.

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So these are my recommendations to replace your big case of Rolling Rock. The one warning is that all of these are rather ‘high test.’ They have more in common with drinking a glass of white wine than your normal beers. So, warn folks who enjoy their beer, or you might find people frisky in the coat closet.

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Troeg’s Mad Elf (11% AbV)— This Pennsylvania brewer combines cherries and local honey to create this slightly sweet and medium-bodied beer. It’s got nice carbonation  that keeps it light enough to pair well with a lot of foods. But, in general, it’s a joy to drink.

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St. Bernadus’ Christmas Ale (11% AbV) & N’ice Chouffe (10% AbV) — Both are classic Belgium Christmas beers. Brewed with orange peel, they are dark brown, spicy and medium bodied. Lots of good dried fruit flavor in both beers.

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Brooklyn Brewery’s Dark Chocolate Stout (10% AbV) — This is on my short list of all-time favorite beers. This beer tastes so rich and full of chocolate, it’s amazing to realize this flavor is created only by the blend of roasted malts. It’s creamy and has good carbonation. This can be served across a chocolate dessert instead of coffee, or surprisingly, against a pungent cheese. I’m a huge fan and it is one of the few beers I’ve ever bought a case of.

Finally, just a reminder that we are giving away copies of my wife’s and grandmother’s book. Just participate in our holiday traditions event.

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Share your traditions… Win a book!

December 10, 2008

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Frequent readers and subscribers to our feed will notice we’ve taken a couple of sabbaticals since we began this blog. Occassionally people have mailed asking, “So, what are you up to?” Well, this post is an effort at both making excuses and shameless self-promotion.

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Well, during one of these breaks, the wife – the funny and talented one – wrote a book: Cole Family Christmas. The tale is based on a true story told by my 88-year-old grandmother, Hazel Cole Kendle, who was the youngest of the nine Cole children.

Cole Family Christmas tells the story of a very special Christmas my family experienced in 1920 when my great-grandfather was working as a coal miner in Kentucky. That year, he had received a promotion and had a little more money, and so the nine Cole children were able to write to Santa to ask for special gifts from the “Wish Book” (AKA the Sears catalogue). But when a freak snowstorm prevented the gifts from being delivered, my great-grandparents had to scramble to save Christmas. As the Cole children remembered it, though, the results of their efforts were even more inspiring – and more meaningful – than the store-bought gifts they had wished for.

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This story was passed down in the family for years, until at last my mother thought it should be memorialized in writing. Originally planned as a small pamphlet to be handed out at our annual family reunion, the project blossomed into a book geared toward families and younger readers. Cole Family Christmas is now a hardcover book, complete with beautiful illustrations, and has received broad distribution. We’ve been lucky not only to be picked up by online sources like Amazon, but also by brick and mortar places like Barnes and Noble.

It has been a thrill for us to see Cole Family Christmas sitting in the children section’s at bookstores. As I hope you can tell, I’m extremely proud of my wife. As a result, I’m going to try to capitalize on my wife’s talent even more than usual.

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We are going to have a contest.

As you might be able to tell, traditions around the holidays are a big deal for my family. The one I remember most as a child is the annual cookie decorating contest. Like many families, we’d make dozens of cookies, and then a major competition would begin. Typically, the winner would be picked by the first non-participant to walk in the door — a rule that resulted in a hilarious, and controversial, choice when a teenage girlfriend of my older brother made the choice one year.

What are your traditions? We’d love for you to share them, too! To sweeten the pot, we’ll award the top three favorites with a signed copy of the book. Below are the rules:

Rules:

1. Post on your blog about your family’s food traditions for the holidays. It doesn’t need to be about Christmas.

2. Only one submission per blog.

3. Send an email to myhusbandcooks@gmail.com that includes your name, your blog’s name, a link to the relevant photo, and to the post in which it appears.

4. The best three (3) posts will get an autographed copy of the book.

5. The deadline is December 20, 2008 at 11:59 PM EST.

6. Round up will be posted on December 23, 2008. 

My family will choose the winners as soon as all the posts are up, and we’ll be sending out the books ASAP in hopes of getting you the book before Christmas day — unless you live outside North America, then we’ll do our best to get it there before New Years. I hope you enjoy our little competition and have a Merry Christmas!

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A French inspired St. Patrick’s Day: Bisquick & beer fried fish

March 14, 2007

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You know my husband is getting cocky when he tries to rumble with Betty Crocker. But that’s how I found him one recent evening: Staring, hard-eyed, at a box of her famous Bisquick.

“I will conquer you, Bisquick,” he might have said (but didn’t.)

Apparently this dramatic face off was inspired by one of our favorite fellow bloggers, Mimi, of French Kitchen in America. She recently challenged her readers to come up with recipes using the famous product — or, actually, any biscuit mix, including homemade — whether up-market or down-home. My husband, of course, couldn’t resist, and decided to take on the original and iconic cooking behemoth, Betty Crocker’s Bisquick.

… Hence, another evening when I come home to find disturbing evidence of his cooking obsession. Him and a box of Bisquick. About to cage match. Jeesh.

Problem is, I can’t complain too vociferously — or he won’t make me this Bisquick-and-beer battered fried fish again.

That’s right: After much thought, the husband determined to jettison the usual baking methodology and throw his Bisquick into hot oil — after first combining it with beer and throwing a fish around in it. The results are delectable, but sadly, extremely fattening. (Then again, who said fried fish was health food?)

The classic fried cod that exited our stove had the appropriate and amazing crunchy top coat, made slightly and delightfully sweet from the magic Bisquick formula. The fish inside was cooked perfectly — moist, tender and steaming. All the seasoning was spot on, and bonus: The husband also made some delicious curried tartar sauce to match. And, of course, he also made chips (for what is fish without chips?) … bringing the sum total calories and fat of the meal to near-record levels.

But nevermind about all that nutritional information business. The point is: It tastes good. And I think Betty Crocker would agree. But if I catch her alone with my husband again…

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Backgrounder…
It’s actually very true… I was staring at a box of Bisquick. It sat next to me one night while watching TV. In fact, I know way more about Bisquick than I did before — because you can’t help but read the nutritional information and ingredients when staring at the box. Aside from some surprising stuff on the side label (let’s just say this isn’t a low-fat or low-cal meal), what you learn very quickly is that it is simply a modified self-rising flour. Once I understood that, I realized I needed a theme and a concept. What good is an ingredient if it has no purpose?

It didn’t take me long to realize my theme would be Ireland. I know Mimi has French heritage and has great passion for that country, but this time of year is about Ireland and Saint Patrick. Unfortunately, Ireland, like its despised British cousin, hasn’t had a great culinary tradition until recently. So I began to imagine stews with drop biscuits and various other hearty fare.

Then it clicked. My wife and I were in Ireland a few years back, and I thought of one of the funniest sights on that trip. We were in Dublin, and my wife got fish and chips at this small chipper. In fact, the chipper was so small that there were no tables and it was all take away (notice the respect for the local lingo… not carry out like here in the States… it’s take away). She ordered haddock. The next thing I know, my wife is carrying around a huge hunk of fish. I’m pretty sure they just battered the whole filet and handed it to her. So, imagine her gnawing on a fried fish that is taken from a fish about as big as she is. It’s natural absurdist comedy. Thinking back on this, I knew wanted to make fish and chips.

The only hang-up was the breading. On most fried fish, the coating is just a flour with seasoning and leavener. I didn’t even need the leavener, since Bisquick gets you most of the way there. Plus, Bisquick has sugar and its own flavor. So I added some heat and dimension with paprika and cayenne, and used the beer to give it a bit more rise and flavor.

The results were impressive. I was shocked how well it worked. The Bisquick has a lightness in flavor that keeps the batter around the fish sweet. There is actually more depth of flavor than when I’ve made similar dishes with regular flour. So, I’m delighted to share this with you as it was great lesson for me.

Finally, there are a couple technical notes. First, after I decided to do this recipe, I caught an episode of America’s Test Kitchen doing a fish and chips episode. The show was very informative and I would highly recommend it (it’s a TiVo season pass for us). While I don’t use their recipe or even their breading technique, it did influence the choices I made, so I want to give a proper hats off to the folks at Cook’s Illustrated.

Second, I used an Irish red ale, Smithwick’s. It has a good depth of flavor. I suspect if you wanted to be even more Irish for the holiday, you could use Harp. However, I would stay away from Guinness or other dark stouts. I think the beautiful body and deep chocolate flavor would really undermine the lightness of the batter. Though, I would highly recommend drinking a Guinness with this.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Five things about me (er, us)

February 11, 2007

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This is our first meme. We could use an explanation of the origins of the term ‘meme,’ but what we do know is that we were chosen by Chez Pim for the “5 Things About Me” meme and to pass it on. Well, we decided since MHC is a two-person operation, we’d tell you 5 things you don’t know about “us” instead.

1. Our first date was to see “Natural Born Killers.” What does this say about our relationship? Was it a fluke or did it set the tone? Either way, we’re still together nearly 13 years later. We met when we were seniors in high school — though we didn’t go to the same school — and were set up by mutual friends. It was the wife’s best friend’s birthday party, and we were the only two who were sober — and, our friends said, smart — so naturally they tried to get us together. Cupid couldn’t have done any better. Ain’t love grand?

2. Food weaknesses. Depite the Husband’s affection for fancy food, we actually do have a weakness for the simple things. Take, for example, his love of a good burger. If he’s ravenous and seeking a comfort food, burger is his go-to choice. If stranded on a desert island with only burgers for sustenence (where is such an island?), he would no doubt survive happily until age 40, when he’d perish from heart failure. (Taking him to heaven, where he’d continue to dine readily on the all-you-can eat burgers there). The Husband also has a weakness for chocolate. Yes, the stereotype is that women love chocolate — but the Husband’s affection for the stuff vastly exceeds the Wife’s. Her weakness, on the other hand, is for heat. Spicy foods. Of all kinds. Her common refrain when sampling a dish: “This is good. But you know what would make it really good? Red pepper flakes.” (She’s not all wrong, you know.)

3. And now a fond memory of the Wife from the Husband. We were in Paris about five years ago, rekindling the romance. It was a perfectly sunny day, one of our last in Europe after backpacking. We were sitting on a park bench in front of the Louvre after deciding we didn’t want to spend one more day in a museum, no matter how great it would be. How to fill the time? This is when one of the Wife’s special skills comes in handy. She can recite entire movies, line by line; the Princess Bride in particular. So, the Husband was treated to whole scenes of that classic bit of cinema on a park bench outside the Louvre on a perfect sunny day in Paris. The only question that remains is, “Do you know the classic blunders?” Inconceivable.

4. When cooking was a contact sport. The Husband certainly knows his way around the kitchen nowadays — but it wasn’t always that way. When he first started cooking, in addition to a few failed dishes (shock! horror!), there were also a few second- and third-degree burns, singed arm hair and small knife wounds. The Wife remembers vividly when the Mother-in-Law came to visit and found her son badly bandaged after one such encounter with a hot oven rack. Eyebrows were raised. “I swear it was the margarita pizza’s fault.” Not a great defense but, sadly, true.

5. Our secret ambition: To create a Frankenfoodie. We’re still tweaking the recipe, but we think it might go:

1 quart of Alton Brown (for food curiosity and special cheesy flavor)

3 cups of Mario Batali (his glutton content will help thicken the dish)

1/2 cup of Jeffrey Steingarten (sharp, bitter flavor and mad writing skillz)

2 tbsp. of Gordon Ramsey (for his athletic ability, tall stature, foul mouth and British accent — come on!)

1 tbsp. of Paula Deen (um, that’s just like adding butter or bacon fat — a must have in any recipe)

1 tsp. of Christopher Kimball (he may be a little dry and tough, but with braising he’ll soften)

A splash of Anthony Bourdain (not too much, that’s strong stuff)

Eye of newt (a must in any witch’s brew!)

Directions: Stir to combine, let stew on high heat for 50 days and nights. Pour into your favorite foodie mold and enjoy!

Actually, we haven’t perfected the recipe, and would love your thoughts.

Finally, we appreciate the tap by Pim and we decided to pass it along to some of our favorite other blogs. So the following folks are ‘it’:

Mimi at French Kitchen in America
Brilynn at Jumbo Empanadas
Scott at Sugar & Lard
Kate at Cook ‘n Kate
PuddingPop at Wait-and-See Pudding

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Round-up time for: Food Bloggers’ Geography #1: Southern Style

October 22, 2006

MHCCompass_2.jpgI loved doing this event. While this is not the largest event ever done, I was moved by the remarkable quality that people put into them. Without exception, each of the entries speaks to a very personal place the food comes from. People have such a sense of where they live and what they eat. I hope everyone enjoys this run down as much as we enjoyed hosting the event.

275031500_fb832d127f.jpgColumbus Foodie’s Becke sent in Spaetzle mit Speck und Eier (Noodles with Bacon and Eggs) This is a really neat recipe influenced by her own family in the South of Germany, the State of Hesse to be more precise (which I admit I looked up after reading her post). She describes this recipe as a Southern German take on spaghetti carbonara. This sort of recipe is why we did this event, to learn new regional food and to hear connections to people and food.

biscuits-and-sorghum04-400.jpgKevin of Seriously Good sent in what I think is a quintessentially regional eat—sorghum syrup and biscuits. Sweet sorghum is a grassy grain used to produce syrup. The syrup has a distinct flavor and African roots that grounded itself in the US’s South long before the Civil War. Kevin gives us an important look at its role in his life and how food is often associated with home. Kevin apologizes because he was having photo issues, but personally, I couldn’t careless. The story and the piece of history he brings us is infinitely more important and the food still looks delicious.

pork-chop-and-fried-chicken-001.jpgMickey of Kitchen Inferno sends us another piece like Kevin’s. His recipe, Smoked Pork Chops with Sauce Beautiful, speaks to a history and a different time. Mickey recounts the traditions of soul food and its expansion as the South and Southerners changed during the first part of the 20th century. I love dishes that speak of much more than what you are eating.

captaincaribbean.jpgBrilynn of Jumbo Empanadas sent in a great recipe with an even better name, Captain Brilynn’s Caribbean Catch. Like many of us who put headlines on things, she likes alliterations and suggests that she might have changed her name for a moment to get that fourth “C” in there. The recipe has beautiful South American flavors with cilantro, salsa, avocados, and that delicious but dangerous, Scotch Bonnet/ Habenero. She suggested serving it with a Juba from another entry, which I think I might want regardless.

0759hoisinchicken_broccoli600×450.jpgI do love when people take the sense of what we were doing to heart. From the southern exposure of their house in the south side of Toronto in southern Ontario, Elizabeth of blog from OUR Kitchen brings us a dish that I believe might have its roots in Southeast Asia by using cumin and hoisin. This delicious dish is Hoisin Chicken and Broccoli. She hoped she didn’t stretch the “South” too much, I’m just surprised more people didn’t. She gets kudos from us with her free wheeling interpretation.

greentomatoblt.jpgFinally and despite her morning sickness, Jennifer of Weekly Dish sent a beautiful post about this not so fun period and a gorgeous fried green tomato sandwich. My wife and I are terrifically sympathetic to this situation and hope it doesn’t last the whole term. Most pleasing to me is her writing. It had me hooked when she brought up barbeque. She, as a gal from Mississippi near Memphis, contends that barbeque is beef and ribs. I will withhold umbrage from such an affront. Citing my own North Carolina roots, I contend that barbeque is pork and pork shoulder without that thick molasses based stuff. Of course, I am kidding, but she writes well on the subject of how there is no monolithic US Southern cuisine.

Editor’s note: I want to appologize to Mickey at Kitchen Inferno and thank his cousin Kevin. Kevin pointed out that I gave Mickey a gender transformation and that was sloppy on my part. I fixed it so now HE gets the proper credit. I’m an idiot. Also, my name is Kendle and my whole life I’ve gotten mail with “Ms. Kendle”, so I try to becareful and I clearly wasn’t in this case. So I’m terribly sorry.

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Today’s Your Last Day

October 20, 2006

MHCCompass_2.jpgEntries for our Southern Style Food Blogging are due in less than 24 hours! So time to get cooking, photoing, posting and emailing. We can’t wait to see what everyone creates. You can find the original post about the event here. We are looking forward to this weekend and reading them all. We’ll present a roundup of all the entries on Oct. 22!

Rules:
1. Only one submission per person, please.

2. It must be a recipe whose roots are geographically “South”…. We encourage all interpretations of that.

3. Send an email to myhusbandcooks@gmail.com that includes your name, your blog’s name, a link to the relevant photo, and to the post in which it appears.

4. The deadline is Oct. 20, 2006 at midnight ET.

Thanks so much!

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Reminder for FBG #1: Southern Style

October 16, 2006

MHCCompass_2.jpgThis coming weekend is My Husband Cooks first food blogging event. Break out your cameras and your best “Southern” style cooking. We have a very liberal interpretation of the South. We can’t wait to see what everyone creates. You can find the original post here, and look forward to this weekend. We’ll present a roundup of all the entries on Oct. 22!

Rules:
1. Only one submission per person, please.

2. It must be a recipe whose roots are geographically “South”…. We encourage all interpretations of that.

3. Send an email to myhusbandcooks@gmail.com that includes your name, your blog’s name, a link to the relevant photo, and to the post in which it appears.

4. The deadline is Oct. 20, 2006 at midnight.