Who’s Hungry? A Hearty New Year’s Day Meal

I was inspired by all the discussion in the pressure cooker thread and made beef stew for dinner. I don’t have a pressure cooker, so I did this in my stockpot on the stove top.


3 lbs of stew meat cut into 1/2 inch chunks

2 sweet onions cut in half and sliced thin

1 whole head of garlic cloves, peeled

5 turnips (I used these instead of potatoes, if you’re a potato person, use potatoes) chopped into cubes

1 bag of carrots chopped

2 bay leaves

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Concentrated beef jus to taste

Worcestershire Sauce or A1 to taste

1/2 a bottle of your favorite dark beer (or if you prefer red wine)

12 cups of water

Roux (melted butter and flour) or cornstarch as a thickening agent – cook’s preference

(stew meat and veggies cooking down)


Take a large stockpot, place over medium high heat, and once hot coat the bottom with extra virgin olive oil and 1/3 of a stick of unsalted butter. Once they are hot add the meat with salt and pepper, mix, and sauté until the meat is browned. While the meat is browning, chop, slice, and peel your vegetables. Add the sliced onions and the hole cloves of garlic to the meat, stir, and sweat off the onions and garlic. Add the concentrated beef jus (I used the better than bullion brand) and the Worcestershire or A1 and combine. Deglaze the beef, onions, and garlic with 6 to 8 ounces of the dark beer (I used Guinness stout today because they were out of Chimay Blue at the store) Add the chopped root vegetables, combine, and cook down. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Once the veggies have begun to soften add 12 cups of water, bring to a boil, and then cook until the meat and the root veggies are fork tender. Check to see if you need to adjust seasoning and do so if necessary. Then add your thickening agent of choice to bring the stew broth to your desired thickness. Serve and enjoy.

Open thread!

Annals of Regression

I wish we were saying goodbye to this kind of stupidity along with 2017, but I fear not. “Unfiltered Fervor: The Rush to Get Off the Water Grid.”

One of the markers of civilized living used to be having water piped into your home, but that’s so twentieth century. Now we have “raw” “live” “real” water, untreated and ready to grow some algae.

There was a spring not too far from where we lived. My mother would occasionally take us kids along to fill up bottles of water for drinking. The spring was capped, and the water came out in a sluiceway that made it easy to fill the bottles.

I can recall drinking water from streams on hiking trips. That was before giardia became a big concern and before there were lots of people hiking in the mountains. I know, giardia comes from the natural animals that naturally live in those places. I never got sick from it.

I’m concerned about the lack of understanding of chemistry and biology shown by the people described in the article. The writeup is not bad. Here are a few of my thoughts as I was reading it.

At Rainbow Grocery, a cooperative in this city’s Mission District, one brand of water is so popular that it’s often out of stock. But one recent evening, there was a glittering rack of it: glass orbs containing 2.5 gallons of what is billed as “raw water” — unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized spring water, $36.99 each and $14.99 per refill

Santa Fe water rates are high, an $18.42 monthly service charge, plus $6.06 per 1,000 gallons for the first tier, and $21.72 per thousand gallons after that. The “raw water” is about $6 per gallon, a thousand times as much.

An Arizona company, Zero Mass Water, which installs systems allowing people to collect water directly from the atmosphere around their homes, began taking orders in November from across the United States…The system — called Source, which retails for $4,500, including installation — draws moisture from the air (the way rice does in a saltshaker) and filters it, producing about 10 liters of water a day and storing about 60 liters.

Gonna take a long time to amortize that initial investment.

There is some nonsense about fluoride. That’s kind of amusing – resistance to fluoride originally came from the right wing. General Jack D. Ripper in “Dr. Strangelove” drinks only pure grain alcohol and rainwater to maintain his purity of essence from the fluoride put in by the gummint for mind control. This time around, it’s the hippies (or whatever we’re calling them today). Fluoride has been studied, and no harmful effects have been found at the levels added to drinking water. It’s kind of wonderful (to me anyway) that kids today have so many fewer cavities. That’s from fluoride.

I think it’s a federal requirement that water systems send out an accounting of the trace elements and potential bacteriological contaminants in their water. I know I get them twice a year and am always impressed that the numbers are so low. But that’s part of what the new water fanatics are concerned about: not enough “good” minerals and probiotics.

He said “real water” should expire after a few months. His does. “It stays most fresh within one lunar cycle of delivery,” he said. “If it sits around too long, it’ll turn green. People don’t even realize that because all their water’s dead, so they never see it turn green.”

Eh. The green is algae. If a closed bottle of “real water” turns green after one lunar cycle, also known as a month, it had algae in it to begin with, or spores. And who knows what else – E. coli, V. cholerae, S. enterica. Just thinking about that makes me want to boil water before I drink it.

The thinking seems to be part of the general desire to get away from the ordinary and brand oneself as special, along with magical thinking about the purity of nature and nature spirits. I wish we could turn this kind of energy toward dealing with global warming.


Pastafarianisms (Open Thread)

My husband is making his miraculous, restorative chicken soup! (I must be sicker than I thought!) Here are the noodles:

He has to go to a special store to acquire them, but it’s so worth it! I’d never heard of that kind of noodle until I married into a Polish-American family.

What are your go-to restorative foods? Favorite pastas?

I’m not trying to horn in on TaMara’s territory — this ain’t a food thread, necessarily. It’s an open thread!

Friday Morning Open Thread: Global Mash-Up


The Midwestern state university I attended offered chocolate cheese — it tasted like extremely rich fudge, appropriate for a state where tourists were called “fudgies” — so I shouldn’t have been surprised that 2017 gave us cheese tea. Per the Washington Post:

You are thinking: Those are two words that do not go together. Cheese! In tea! But we’re not talking Humboldt Fog or Camembert here. The cheese used in cheese tea is usually a cream cheese — sometimes sweet, sometimes salty — combined with condensed milk. It forms a tall, frothy head at the top of the beverage, sort of like whipped cream in a frappuccino. The teas are often matcha, oolong, jasmine and black, and you can customize them with fruits and other flavor infusions. They’re kind of like bubble tea, which has made its way into mall food courts across America.

Shops in Taiwan and China are both credited for starting the cheese tea fad, and some Chinese cheese tea shops command queues 75 people long. It spread to Singapore, Hong Kong and other large Asian cities before it came to New York and California via the bubble tea chain Happy Lemon, and Little Fluffy Head, a Los Angeles shop that specializes in the beverage, among others. Some shops are even starting to riff on the ingredients, like a place in San Francisco that uses Mascarpone and Meyer lemon. The trend has also made its way to England, where people care deeply about their tea and are feeling very threatened…

The Spousal Unit, who’s become an Upton Tea fanatic (thanks Cole), loves extremely sweet dairy-heavy drinks. (You can tell he’s from a pure Cow People bloodline, because every doctor who’s asked about his diet is astonished at his excellent cholesterol levels.) Gonna have to introduce him to this one…

Apart from food fads, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up the week / year?

Who Wants Dessert? Peanut Butter Cup Pie

I did a wee bit of baking for today. My sister in law requested that I make her a peanut butter cup pie. Which I did. I also made another salted caramel cheesecake (recipe at the link). So I hope everybody wants dessert!

(sorry about the lighting…)

Peanut Butter Cup Pie


1 and 1/2 cups of crushed chocolate graham grackers

1/2 stick of sweet unsalted butter melted

Coat a 10 inch wide, as deep as you’ve got pie pan with cooking spray or wipe with sweet, unsalted butter. Combine the crushed chocolate graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter. Spoon into the greased pie pan and pat down from the center to the sides and then up the sides. Place in the freezer.

Dark Chocolate Ganache Base

4 ounces dark chocolate chips (use semi-sweet if you prefer)

4 ounces heavy whipping cream

Place the dark chocolate chips in a bowl. Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate chips. Let stand for five minutes. With a whisk, combine the hot cream and the melted chocolate completely to make a ganache. Remove the pie crust from the freezer. Pour the ganache into the bottom of the pie crust and with an offset spatula (or a non offset spatula if you prefer), gently work the ganache around the bottom of the crust and up the sides before it sets. Place in the refrigerator.

Peanut Butter Filling (Mousse)

10 ounces heavy whipping cream

20 ounces of peanut butter

2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar

Whip 10 ounces of heavy whipping cream to stiff peaks and then place in the refrigerator. Whip 20 ounces of peanut butter – whatever type you prefer – until the color begins to lighten and it becomes very, very smooth. Add between 2 and 3 tablespoons of sugar (to taste and depending on how sweet the peanut butter you’re using is). Continue to whip for another 3 to 5 minutes until the sugar is thoroughly incorporated.

Remove the whipped cream from the refrigerator and fold it into the whipped, sweetened peanut butter. Once the whipped cream and peanut butter are thoroughly incorporated remove the pie crust from the refrigerator and fill the crust with the peanut butter filling (mousse). It should look like this:

Place the pie back in the refrigerator and refrigerate for at least four hours (I let mine sit overnight).

Now we make the top.

Dark Chocolate Ganache Topping

8 ounces dark chocolate chips (use semi-sweet if you prefer)

8 ounces heavy whipping cream

Place the dark chocolate chips in a bowl. Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate chips. Let stand for five minutes. With a whisk, combine the hot cream and the melted chocolate completely to make a ganache. Remove the pie from the refrigerator. It must be cold. Pour the chocolate ganache onto the center of the pie and then use an offset spatula to work the ganache out to the edge of the pie so it mates up with the top of the crust. It should look like this:

Place it back in the refrigerator for at least a 1/2 hour before serving so the ganache can finish setting up on top. When ready to serve, remove the pie from the refrigerator, slice it, plate it, and eat it. Or if you’re really hard core just eat it straight from the pie pan (you know who you are…).

What I really need to do is get a silicon pie mold. Then I can chocolate ganache the entire inside of the mold, then fill it with the peanut butter mousse, then ganache the top. Once it is all set I can just pop it out of the mold and have a very large, stand alone peanut butter cup.

Anyhow: open thread!

Shitty politics. Shitty pizza. Papa John’s.

Wingnut pizza mogul Papa John Schnatter is hanging up the pizza peel:

Schnatter is the cheap prick who previously caught flak for lamenting the additional $0.14-per-pie cost of insuring his employees after the ACA passed.

He was a Trump donor and took up Trump’s line about the NFL players’ BLM protests, claiming it cost his chain of ketchup-encrusted hardtack purveyors $70 million.

White supremacists publicly made Papa John’s their official pizza chain, which made decent folks give it the side-eye. That actually did hurt business.

So, Schnatter will remain chairman and continue to be obscenely wealthy. I’m sure Trump’s tax scam will shower him with extra wealth.

But it turns out that if the public face of your company is a Trumpster, that’s bad for business. Good.

A Late Evening Snack: Salted Caramel Cheesecake

Earlier this week I broke out the emergency tiara, frilly apron, and matching oven mitts to make a salted caramel cheesecake. This was a favor for the Mom who was giving it as a gift. So I did the salted caramel parts while she did the cheesecake parts.

Here’s the recipe.


3 eight ounce bars of cream cheese

3 eggs

8 ounces of sour cream

1 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 cup of graham cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons of butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter and mix with the graham cracker crumbs to make the crust. Place the butter moistened crumbs into the bottom of a 10 inch diameter springform pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray or buttered. Pat down the crumbs to form the base and then place in the freezer while preparing the cheesecake batter.

Whip the cream cheese and the eggs together until smooth. Alternating between one bar of cream cheese and one egg. Add the sour cream and whip until incorporated. Then add the sugar and the vanilla.

Salted Caramel Ganache

8 ounces of heavy whipping cream

8 ounces of caramels

Place the caramels in a bowl that can be used as the top part of a double boiler. Scald the heavy whipping cream. Pour the scalded cream over the caramels and let sit for five minutes. If the caramels are not completely melted and soft and won’t incorporate with the cream, place the bowl over the top of a pot of boiling water/bottom half of a double boiler, and whisk until the caramels melt and incorporate with the cream into a ganache. Then add kosher salt to taste.

Add the salted caramel ganache to the cheesecake batter and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Remove the springform pan from the freezer and pour the cheesecake batter into it. Place in the oven and back for one hour. Then turn off the oven and let it cool with the door open for one hour. Then remove from the oven and let cool on the counter for one hour. Then refrigerate. Once the cheesecake is cold (at least several hours in the refrigerator), make a 1/2 batch of the salted caramel ganache and pour onto the top of the cold cheesecake. It will begin to set up immediately. Sprinkle with kosher salt or finishing salt and place back in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


Open thread!