Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Vegetable Soup

Are there many things better than homemade vegetable soup on a cold day? Not no but Hell No! Ah but you say, you live in Florida, it never gets cold there. I beg to differ. Brrrrrr.
We're going to make a big batch today so we can freeze some for our next cold snap. We start with about 56 ounces of crushed tomatoes and about 40 ounces of tomato sauce in a 10 quart stock pot. Begin heating over  medium low heat.
Now I like to fry up a pan full of bacon.
Fry until crispy and then crumble into the pot.
In the bacon drippings sweat two large, coarsely chopped onions.
Into the pot they go. Now I like beef in my soup so I bought a roast that was on sale and chopped it into one inch cubes. I always get whatever is on sale as long as it is fairly lean. Today I used a shoulder roast that I trimmed the fat off of. If you like beef use a lot. If you don't like it, don't use it.

 I brown it in the frying pan.
And into the pot it goes. Now I like to add four or five carrots and the same amount of celery.
Now I add one pound packages of these frozen vegetables, thawed.
Baby limas.
Field peas with snaps.
And gumbo vegetables. Can you use canned vegetables? 'Course the hell you can! You can use any combination of vegetables that you like. And you could start saving your left over vegetables into a freezer bag and just keep adding to it through out the year. They make great soup also. Now add water to the top, cover vented, and bring slowly to a low boil.
Once you get it boiling add potatoes if you like.
Adjust the seasonings. Lots of pepper and salt to taste. You may need to add sugar if the tomatoes were not sweet enough. Now let it simmer away filling your house with the smell of fresh soup.
It's about time I got that drink!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Oyster Roast

Oysters (or as my father used to call them: ersters) are to me one of the better things in life. Most folks either love 'em or they hate 'em. I'm gonna show you how to love 'em. You may think you know every possible way to cook these succulent little bi-valves but until you've tasted them this way, you really have not had them at their best. First you'll need a way to roast them.
An oyster roast is basically a fire box and a piece of steel for the oysters to roast on. But it does not have to be as fancy as the one shown above. I've cooked them on an old car hood sitting on some cinder blocks. Any place that you can build a fire under a piece of steel will work just fine. Now it's time to start the fire. I like to use some newspaper and some fat lighter wood.
 The anticipation is just nerve racking.

While the fire is heating up it's time to get out oyster knives, bowls and condiments. Among the favorites are ketchup, hot pepper vinegar, hot sauce, and melted butter.
You must also have some corn bread or hush puppies to go with your oysters. Here is my 91 year old mother cooking fried corn bread just as she has forever. One of the best tasting things that you will ever put in your mouth. Don't ask her for the recipe 'cause she doesn't have it. She just knows.

 Looks like the fire is about right, think we should try some before everybody else gets here to make sure they're OK?
HELL YEAH! Throw about a half 'a bushel  on.
Now cover with some soaking wet burlap.
After a few short minutes the oysters will start to pop open. If you like 'em juicy now's the time to dig in. Wait a little longer and they will dry out a bit.
There is something about roasting and steaming the oysters at the same time that gives them such a unique flavor. Oh and watch out for that person who has never eaten oysters before. They will reluctantly try one and end up eating more than anybody!
When the kids can start eating oysters faster than you can open them, it's time for them to get their own knife. Usually about the time they're 6 or so.

Time to start another batch.
Yum Yum.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Slap Your Grandma Chili

OK, I'll go through this one more time for my yankee friends. Nobody wants to slap their Grandma. But what if you tasted something so good, so delicious, and you were told that the only way that you could get some more would be if you slapped your Grandma? And it was so good that you would indeed slap your Grandma to get some more. That would have to be pretty damn good. That's how good this chili is. Here's what you need to make it.
In a five quart pot squish up two 14.5 or one 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes.
Add two 14.5 ounce cans of tomato sauce. we like to use salt free if available. Start heating over a medium low heat.
Now sweat two large or combination of an equal amount of onions, coarsely chopped.
Add the onions to the tomato mixture and brown 1.5-2 pounds of ground sirloin.
Any time that I brown hamburger I like to heavily pepper it.
While the burger is browning, remove the casings from five links of mild Italian sausage. If you can find the sausage without the casing that's fine too. We like the Publix brand of sausage.
Break the sausage down as small as you can.
When the ground sirloin has browned, drain it and then add it to the tomato mixture.
Now do the same with the sausage.
When it has browned, drain it and add to the pot.
Add two packs of McCormicks hot chili spice slowly, mixing a little bit into the pot at a time. Add a few jalapenos to taste and water to top.

Cover and bring to a slow boil.
As the chili boils, fat from the sausage will gather on the top.

Skim and remove the fat.
Continue to skim and stir occasionally until chili has reduced to your preferred consistency, we like to reduce by about a third.
Our favorite condiments.
We serve it like this.
Or this.
Where's mine?