Friday, April 28, 2017

Tapenade-stuffed Pork Loin

Sams club had artichoke-olive tapenade. It looked nifty, and we were tired and hurting, so it ended up in our cart. (Grocery shopping when hurting is like grocery shopping when hungry; pain definitely erodes my impulse control.) So I was looking at it, and wondering what the heck one does with tapenade besides putting it on baguettes.

Turns out, it's good stuffed into pork loin. I added a little roasted garlic to the jarred mix, and then used about a cup of tapenade on four pounds of butterflied pork loin. (two 2-pound chunks.) Then I coated the top and sides of the pork loin logs with bacon, and secured them with kitchen twine.

See here for a pretty good idea of how I prepped the pork loin.

One difference: on top of the bacon, I sprinkled mesquite-smoked salt from Amarillo Grape & Olive. Excellent stuff, and makes up for a distinct lack of charcoal and fire.

Because I don't have a grill, I preheated the oven to 425 F, and cooked them for 40 minutes, then rested them for 10 minutes covered loosely with aluminum foil before carving.

Served with coleslaw and dessert of French silk pie, and everyone was happy. Even LawDog, who failed to object fast enough and got tasked with the twine-cutting and carving. (I distrust myself around sharp objects when past a certain level of tired, and have wonderful friends who don't mind stepping into the breach and making sure everything happens without blood or bandaids.)

Good stuff. Even if you haven't had jars of tapenade end up in your grocery cart, try it out!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Low Carb Coleslaw

Or, what to throw together as a side dish to tapenade-stuffed pork, barbeque, or pepperoni pizza chili.

Low Carb Coleslaw

2 bags pre-shredded coleslaw mix
1/2 red onion, quartered and then thinly sliced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp salt

Mix together, cover, chill for an hour. It won't look like enough dressing at first. Mix again well; the dressing will have pulled water out of the cabbage, onions, & carrot shreds, and made the whole thing much creamier. Serves 8.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Low Carb French Silk Pie

I promised Phlegmmy that I'd compile a recipe that I've drawn from three different sources, so here goes:

Low Carb French Silk Pie

1-1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix dry ingredients, add melted better and vanilla. Mix into a ball of dough. Press into pie plate in roughly even depth and up the sides a little, bake for 12 minutes. Let cool. (Takes longer than you think to cool; start this early.)


16 oz cream cheese, room temperature (2 boxes)
4 Tbsp sour cream
4 Tbsp butter, melted (half a stick)
1/4 cup truvia (or other stevia blend)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp truvia (for whipping cream)
1 tsp vanilla extract (for whipping cream)
1 Tbsp brandy (Van Der Hum, or Blackberry brandy. For the whipping cream.)

Put cream cheese, sour cream, butter, 1/4 cup truvia, 1 Tbsp vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and salt in bowl. On low speed, mix everything together until very well blended, and then beat a little faster to aerate. Rinse off beaters. Check crust - if still hot, pop into fridge to cool off.

In separate bowl, mix whipping cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and brandy until stiff peaks form. Break out a spatula and gently fold the whipped cream into the chocolate batter a third at a time, until the whole mix is creamy, fluffy, and well-mixed. Then scoop into pie crust, and smooth off the top.

Refrigerate - if you're making more than a few hours ahead, cover. Otherwise, just chill and enjoy.

The crust is an a variation on an excellent crust here: Wicked Stuffed
with chocolate and cinnamon added a la here: CJ Eats Keto
The filling is drawn from here: Ruled.Me

As a note: cocoa powder (and stevia) are bitter. One of the main functions of salt in cooking is to remove bitterness. Many cooks (and recipe creators) don't realize this, and instead try to overwhelm the bitter with sweet. If you're looking to cut sugar (and expensive sugar substitutes), the first thing to do is look at your ratio of bitter ingredients to salt to sugar. In this case, I have removed the sugar from the crust entirely by adding salt, and cut the sugar in the filling in half by adding a teaspoon of salt. The people eating the pie didn't miss the extra sweetness at all; they liked the pie just as is.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Proud, fierce, independent cat

Kili is a loving cat... from two feet away. She likes to be on the arm or back of the couch when I'm sitting on it, or curled up on the other side of the bed when I'm sleeping and Peter's already up. If I'm on the treadmill desk, she's ignoring me in the windowsill nearby.

Every now and then, on her terms, she likes actual contact; she'll climb on my chest, purring, in the middle of the night and settle in happily. Or she'll claim my lap, and I'm just supposed to move my laptop elsewhere and let her sit... but if I try to pet her, I get this look from her, and she vacates to out of touch range. (She's a pre-owned cat from the shelter. Like many pre-owned cats, she has issues.)

But last night, we had a front stall out over the Red River, and the bedroom was brightly lit with almost continuous flashes of lightning. I realized this when I woke up to the light and noise... and found a cat welded between my hip and Peter's side, underneath both our arms. Purring frantically.

Yep, proud, fierce, independent cat... until scared, and then it's all in on finding a way to be practically hiding underneath her humans, where they'll protect her.

Cats really are little women in fur coats!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Way Up North has moved!

If you haven't seen a post from Rev Paul lately, and were wondering where the daily life in Alaska, meditations on Scripture, and Unalaska Police Blotter reports went, he's now at:

If you're not reading him already, go forth and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

When people love their job

This morning, I was at the rehab center's gym, faithfully grunting, wheezing, and trying not to whimper as I'd made up my mind that today I was going to get through every single exercise on the discharge instructions list, at full weight, full reps, full time.

Side note here: North Texas Rehab has a gym area and a pool, and they've opened both up to the public as regular gym memberships. I think this is awesome business sense, because it lets them recoup cost for all the expensive machinery and pool maintenance - and in the therapy sense, because it lets clients continue working on the same machines and routines when they graduate to self-directed. Wish more places did that!

While I was contemplating the levels of sheer stubborn bloodymindedness the dumbbell exercises were taking, one of the older physical therapists was gently coaching an elderly lady through exercises nearby. She finished before me, and tottered her way out the door with a "Well, young man, I'm certainly glowing today!"

The therapist turned back to me just as I was collapsed on top of a yoga ball inbetween planks, and said "You doing all right?"

I lifted my head until I could see him, and summoned up a smile. "Yeah. Just following all my discharge instructions," and I twitched a hand at the form, "So I don't end up back in physical therapy."

He looked heavenward, raising two fists and pumping them. "Yes!!!" Then he looked back at me with a grin that pretty much showed all his back teeth. "The ones you're doing are great exercises. You'll get a lot stronger in no time."

I nodded, slightly dazed, and blinked a few times as he left the gym area. Then I finished the next set, and remembered that physical therapists are not unlike airplane mechanics: they rarely get to see the things they put so much work into actually doing well and working great. Apparently, I have made his day by proving that at least one client follows instructions, and is putting in the sweat labor to continue getting better.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Tuna Melt Stuffed Tomatoes

The recipe for this one is simple: preheat oven to 400 F. Slice top off tomatoes, scoop out innards with a spoon & discard. Turn upside down on a paper towel to drain while you make tuna fish salad the way you like it, and slice the cheese to cover the tops.

(Mine included tuna, mayo, diced celery, thinly sliced green onion, a little mustard, some cajun seasoned salt, and chopped parsley from the garden.)

Turn tomatoes back over. Spoon tuna fish salad into tomatoes, place on baking pan(I used a silicone baking sheet for low-mess cleanup), and top with cheese slices. In my case, I turned a couple pointy tomatoes that wouldn't stand up straight over and smooshed in the pointy end, or sliced it off with a sharp knife so they'd stand up straight.

Pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your tomatoes. Let cool a couple minutes, so the cheese doesn't burn your mouth. Enjoy!

Two out of two cats agree that I'm the most popular woman in the house right now, as the scent of hot tuna wafts out of the oven.

Original recipe here:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Duke Elegant and AvCanada

Sometimes things slip away into the dusty archives of the internet, and sometime they're lost and only 404's remain to mark their passing. For everyone who loves flying, let me pull back the curtain and show you some tales that were saved, when an old aviator found a message board and started swapping some "been there, done that"s you'd normally never hear anywhere that regulators and busybodies could ask questions.

Armed with the anonymity of an internet handle and a diagnosis of cancer that cleared off the last care he could have given, he started telling stories. The board is gone, (upgraded), but the stories have been saved.

I give you: Duke Elegant, and the big chill.

The intro:

The rest of the pages are here:

and finally wrapped up at Tales of a Wayward Aviator

Read 'em all. There's a bit missing here and there (sad to see the nose art from the firebombers is missing, now), and it's a strange form to see archived instead of reading as they came out, but what's left is worth reading, and passing on.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Rules for When to wake up the husband

Daddybear has an excellent (funny and true!) list for when it is and is not appropriate to wake up your husband...

For a taste:

1. Do not wake up your husband for inclement weather until the dude on TV is telling folks five miles from your house to get in the basement.
2. Do wake up your husband when you hear something that may or may not be a home intruder, large critter on the porch, or ghost.
3. Do not wake up your husband for a sick child until the child tells you it is sick. That is, of course, unless said sprog is an infant, in which case neither of you will be asleep anyway.
4. Do wake up your husband if the child announces said malady by spewing like a shaken can of cheap beer.

for the rest,
Go here, enjoy!

Read the rest, and tell me, what other rules would you suggest?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Italian-stuffed poblanos

This recipe started with the wicked stuffed blog's version, but I ran into a couple problems. First, banana peppers aren't in season in early April in Texas, so... poblanos. Also, doesn't take as much stuffing as they call for.

Italian-stuffed Poblanos

2 pair nitrile gloves (optional, but makes handling cut peppers and seeds so much easier!)
10 Poblano peppers
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 lbs mild country sausage
1 onion
2 tsp fennel
1/2 tsp black pepper
pinch red pepper
pinch garlic powder
2 tsp herbs de provence
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/4 cup wine
8oz shredded mozzarella
1 cup marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Don gloves, and set out two baking sheets with either silicone baking mates or aluminum foil
Pour olive oil into a bowl you can reach into to get oil all over your hands (but don't oil up yet.)
Cut off tops of poblanos & deseed.
Oil hands, and rub down the outside of the poblanos.
Put knife you used in the sink, then remove gloves & throw away.
Bake pobalos for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook sausage over medium heat. Add fennel seeds, black & red pepper, cook until browned. Add onion & salt (if you think it needs salt, cook until onions translucent.
Add herbs de provence, and deglaze the pan with the wine.
Set sausage mixture aside to cool.

When peppers come out of the oven, let cool until merely warm to the touch.
Don second pair of nitrile gloves, open cheese packet.
Cut each poblano in half, then strip out the pith and seeds you missed earlier.
Lay poblano halves back on baking sheets, skin down.
Crumble the sausage & onion mixture even finer if needed, and heap onto peppers.
Layer cheese on top of sausage mixture. Toss gloves, have still clean hands.

If you let everything sit to room temperature, pop trays back into 350 oven for 5 minutes or so. If not, skip this step.
Turn on broiler, and broil peppers until the mozzarella is bubbly and browning. Swap baking trays & broil other one, too.
While broiling, stick marinara sauce in microwave on reheat power, stopping to stir occasionally, until steaming hot.

Serve marinara on side with ladle, and trays of peppers laid across the burners on the stove, with a spatula. Is tasty, not fancy.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Biting off more than I can chew

I'm about to graduate from Physical Therapy. Unfortunately, I already know this song and dance: I'm not 100%, I'm just to the point where I don't need to be supervised in order to safely get there. I know the exercises, I know the routine, I have the equipment... go forth and get the last 10% back, and better tan that, on my own time.

Sadly, my brain still wants to say "You're 100%! You're graduating! You should do ALL THE THINGS! And do them now!"

Well, I can get the bathrooms cleaned, three loads of laundry folded (and two more washed), and dinner made. But I can't get those last two loads folded, and even dinner's going to require a while on the couch recuperating before I get up to tackle the last stuffing the peppers and sticking them in the oven bit.

Our writing group is going low carb. This is awesome, because it means I get to try out low carb recipes that are just far, far too much work for two people. This is a whole lot more work than my shoulder likes, because I'm using it as an excuse to learn the dark arts (chemistry and physics) of low-carb baking.

Today's recipes will either be wonderful or be the kind of disaster that sends us out to a nearby restaurant. Among other things, I figured out that the "lemon custard" for the tart was really just a sweetened hollandaise sauce... right as it split on me. Thank goodness for the internet, because I'd clean forgotten how to repair split sauces!

now I just need to mop the kitchen and dining room, vacuum the couch and cat tree (Maine coon kitten - when it comes to shedding, he's definitely the malamute of the cat world!), mow the back lawn, clean the place up, fold the last two loads of laundry, and...

Maybe I'll just sit here and have some tea.