Archives

My Newest Favorite Sandwich

Yeah, it’s been a while. I’ve been having serious health problems—I’m sick of the fascist, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic orange clown we call the president.

trump

enemies

I’ve often said that bacon is the only thing keeping me from being a vegetarian. Last week, I discovered a product that has eliminated that excuse.

I started reading about meat alternatives a few months ago when, for health reasons, I decided to cut down on my consumption of animal protein. The only alternative seemed to be tofu—and I didn’t like the texture (yes, I know: I’m a picky eater). And the recipes I found to alter the texture seemed like an awful lot of work. I mean, who wants to spend the better part of an hour just to fix breakfast?

Then I discovered tempeh (pronounced TEM-pay). Like tofu, it’s made from soybeans, but it has a much firmer texture. I looked around and found what I was looking for: a soy-based bacon substitute.

I was doubtful at first, but after reading several reviews, I decided to take the plunge. I headed to my nearest Wegman’s and bought a package of Lightlife® Fakin’ Bacon. As George Takei would say, “Oh, my!”

tempeh

Trust me on this: as a dyed-in-the-wool pork bacon eater, I can honestly say that this is the one food that has overcome my last objection to a vegetarian diet. Don’t believe me? Try my newest favorite sandwich—and the ultimate test for any bacon substitute—a TLT (tempeh, lettuce, and tomato) sandwich:

Robyn’s TLT

  • 2 slices of your favorite bread
  • 2 slices of Lightlife® Fakin’ Bacon (I use 2 strips cut in half. I find that gives me the perfect size forr my bread)
  • Romaine lettuce
  • A nice ripe tomato
  • Mayonnaise
  1. Toast the bread and lightly coat with the mayo.
  2. Tear a piece of lettuce to fit.
  3. Slice the tomato.
  4. Put all of the ingredients on one piece of toast.
  5. Heat the tempeh in a fry pan with a little bit of oil or butter until the edges are crisp.
  6. Remove the tempeh from the pan and put it on top of the other ingredients. Cover with the other piece of toast.
  7. Enjoy!

I’ve also enjoyed this sandwich with the addition of a fried egg and a couple of slices of cheddar cheese on it as well. Hey! It’s cooking! Use your imagination: if you can imagine it, you can make it!

My Search For Authentic Pub Food

One of my regular programs to watch is PBS’ “The Mind of a Chef.” One of the most recent episodes featured Scotch egg. A Scotch egg consists of a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, coated in bread crumbs and baked or deep-fried. Pretty simple, huh? But before I invested any time in learning or finding a recipe, I decided to check out various pubs around Rochester to find the best Scotch egg in town. So I fired up my browser and Googled® “Rochester NY Pubs,” and started going down the list.

I must have checked the menus of at least 6 “authentic” Irish pubs before realizing why I don’t patronize any of them. How can you claim to be an “authentic Irish pub” when your menu consists of nachos, Buffalo chicken wings, tacos, sliders, and nothing but traditional Southwest American cuisine?

Then I checked out The Old Toad. Here’s what it has to say about itself:

Located at 277 Alexander Street, The Old Toad is nothing short of your traditional British local. From the staff to the food and ales, everything is purely authentic. Even the bar itself was imported from Great Britain. Truly “a pub from over there, over here”.

And on the menu? Under “Starters” I discovered this gem: “Scotch” Egg. Hard boiled egg wrapped in Scotch whisky seasoned sausage meat, bread crumbed and fried until crisp and golden, served with homemade mustard sauce.

A further look at Google® confirmed my suspicions: The Old Toad is the only place in Rochester that offers a Scotch egg. The only other hit for “Scotch egg Rochester” on Google® was an Irish pub in Rochester, Minnesota. And that’s just too far for me to drive.

I did, however, find a link to the web site for the magazine Edible Finger Lakes, a publication which features cuisine and beverages from our neck of the woods. And there I found the article For Passing at Parties: The Scotch Egg. And wonder of wonders, the attribution for the recipe is “a non-boozy version from The Old Toad!”

ediblefingerlakes

Now the only decision remaining for me is this: do I go to the Toad, or make it myself?

Scotch Eggs

By The Old Toad in Rochester

scotch eggs
A platter of Scotch eggs. Photo by Robyn Wishna

(Serves 12, as an appetizer)

Ingredients:

3 leeks, finely chopped and washed
1 tablespoon butter
3 pounds of sausage (breakfast sausage works well)
2 shots of whiskey (optional)
7 drops of Tabasco
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
12 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups breadcrumbs
Canola oil

Directions:

  1. Pan fry leeks in a little butter over low heat until translucent. Let cool, then mix with sausage in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well.
  2. Place eggs in a pan of cold water and bring to a boil. Cook for 8 minutes. Quickly remove from water and refresh making sure that you crack all of the eggs (this will stop the yolks from going grey). Peel shells and wash eggs of any remaining shell bits.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using clean, slightly wet hands, encase sausage meat around an egg and shape it into a ball. Place finished eggs on a baking sheet while you work through them all. Put flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs in three shallow bowls or pie plates. One by one, dip each pork-wrapped egg in flour then whisked egg and lastly into breadcrumbs.
  4. After all the eggs have been coated, fill a frying pan with canola oil, about two-inches deep. Heat oil to about 350 degrees. Flash fry the eggs, turning them with tongs until evenly browned on all sides. Place fried eggs on a clean baking sheet and cook in oven for 20 minutes. Turn each of the eggs over to prevent them sticking to the tray. Remove from oven, allow to cool and enjoy.

Thanks fpr reading!

Robyn Jane

Collections and Hoardings

I’m a collector. It’s a habit I developed rather late in life, when I was in my early 30s. That’s when I got my first personal computer and discovered the world of public domain software. And in those early days of the computer revolution, with the exception of a few big-name, brand-name programs, that’s pretty much all there was. WordStar was the de facto word processing program, the Microsoft Word of its day. Because of several shortcomings in the program—mostly due to technical issues in the CP/M operating system—several add-on programs became available. SpellStar was a spell-checker which was later included with WordStar, as was DataStar, a program used to generate mass mailings. Eventually, a spreadsheet program, CalcStar, rounded out the package.

WordStar also needed help with academic writing. Again, because of hardware limitations and weaknesses in the O/S, it didn’t do such academic requirements as endnotes and bibliographies. That’s when I took it upon myself to learn to program in Turbo Pascal in order to write a couple of programs to overcome those limitations. This, in turn, developed into an obsession the habit of collecting Pascal source code, because hey! you never know!

Sadly (at least for my programming career), computers grew more powerful and programming languages grew more complex. BASIC and Pascal gave way to C and then C++. CP/M yielded to MS-DOS and PC-DOS, which in turn became Windows. Dr. Dobb’s Journal of Computer Calisthenics and Orthodontics (Running Light Without Overbyte) morphed into Dr. Dobb’s Journal of Propaganda for and People Who Program Exclusively in C and C++ For Windows. No longer could I whip out a nifty little utility in a couple of hours, and so I just gave up and let my compiler disks gather dust. There were a couple of DOS-based programs I wrote for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, but that was almost 40 years ago, and I’m sure they’ve moved on to Windows by now.

But I still have my obsession with collecting things. It’s no longer centered around software, since just about everything and anything I could possibly want is available on the Internet, but now concerns recipes.

Collecting and Organizing Recipes

My iPad Mini has replaced my floppy disk storage boxes for housing my collections. There are three main programs I use: Pepperplate, Evernote, and The New York Times Cooking app (available for both Android and iOS). My web browser has buttons that allow me to import recipes directly into either Pepperplate of the NYT app. In addition, my NY Times account is linked to my Evernote account, so everything I save to one app is also saved to the other. Currently, I have 166 recipes in NYT, 137 of which were imported from Evernote. My Pepperplate account has 2355 recipes.

All of these recipes are available on my iPad, which is why I rarely buy cookbooks anymore.

But as I said before, it’s an obsession. Why do I call it an obsession, as opposed to a hobby? Well, do I really need 15 different recipes for fried chicken? How about 8 recipes for pies and hand pies, when I’ve never made either in my life? And that doesn’t even count the number of recipes I’ve pinned or re-pinned on Pinterest!

And I almost forgot! I’ve also got a few in OneNote!

See? I told you it was an obsession!

Robyn Jane

Well, THAT Was Yummy!

The 7-Up biscuits recipe is definitely a keeper. Only 4 ingredients, and I cheated on one of them. Here’s the recipe:

7-Up Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Bisquick
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup 7-up
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Mix Bisquick, sour cream and 7 up. (Dough will be very soft – which is fine)
  • Knead and fold dough until coated with your baking mix.
  • Pat dough out and cut biscuits using a round biscuit or cookie cutter (mason jars or other kitchen items work great for this too).
  • Melt butter in bottom of cookie sheet pan or 9×13 casserole dish.
  • Place biscuits on top of melted butter and bake for 12-15 minutes or until brown.

7Up biscuits

And that’s it. Pretty simple, huh? Oh, and what I said about cheating? I swapped out WalMart’s in-house brand baking mix for the Bisquick. It’s all good!

Robyn

Food Software, and Pre-Planning

PINTEREST

I was stuck for a title for this post, the idea for which came to me after spending around 12 hours this past week re-organizing my Pinterest boards. Oh, dear. Well, I suppose there may be a few of you who are still unfamiliar with Pinterest, so let’s look at just what it is.

Wikipedia describes it this way:

“Pinterest is a free website that requires registration to use. Users can upload, save, sort, and manage images—known as pins—and other media content (e.g., videos and images) through collections known as pinboards. Pinterest acts as a personalized media platform. Users can browse the content of others on the main page. Users can then save individual pins to one of their own boards using the “Pin It” button, with Pinboards typically organized by a central topic or theme. Users can personalize their experience with Pinterest by pinning items, creating boards, and interacting with other members. By doing so, the users “pin feed” displays unique, personalized results.”

That makes it perfectly clear, doesn’t it? I guess the best way to understand it is to go take a look at my boards. As always, clicking on the link will open it in a new window, so you won’t lose your place here.

A confession: I opened a Pinterest account nearly a year before I even figured out what it was. Once I started using it, I discovered it is almost as big a time-sink as StumbleUpon. Now I spend a lot of time each week adding to my collection. (Oh, the joys of being retired, combined with agoraphobia!)

PEPPERPLATE

Pepperplate bills itself as “Finally, Some Help In The Kitchen.” Not very informative, is it? But if I explain that it is a cloud-based database for storing all of your favorite recipes, and that you can access them, edit them, delete them, and add to them from your computer, smartphone, iPad, or Android tablet, does that help? Or if I tell you that I have over 2500 recipes there, and it is my “go-to” cookbook, might that interest you?

PINTEREST AND PEPPERPLATE

For me, the two programs are the perfect combination for finding and using new recipes. But lest you think that they’re only for food, I also use Pinterest for other things, such as discovering new knitting and crochet patterns, keeping in touch graphically with my daughter, and just generally learning new stuff every day. But it’s how I use it with Pepperplate is my topic for today.

Please don’t let the fact that I spent 12 hours reorganizing my boards and pins deter you from giving it a try. That’s one of the reasons for this post: to help you avoid some of the mistakes I made in the beginning, and to share what I’ve learned on my journey.

Because isn’t that what life is? A journey? (In case you forget, look at the title of my blog!)

I think the biggest mistake people make when first starting out with Pinterest is being too generalized when creating boards. I know this was my problem, and I’ve talked with a lot of other Pinterest users (we call ourselves “pinners”) who said they made the same mistake. For example, one of my first boards was “FOOD.” A nice, handy catch-all, yes? Well, to keep the board from being to unwieldy, I have since broken it down into many other categories: Asian Foods; Rice, Beans and Legumes; Indian Foods; Breads; and Spices, just to name a few. With almost 18,000 pins, I want to make them as easy to find as I can.

And even the Breads category is further subdivided into about 10 or 15 other categories.

So when setting up your initial boards, it helps to think narrowly. But don’t worry too much: if you don’t think narrowly enough, you can always go back later and create more boards. Which is what I spent those 12 hours doing. (Not to worry: I didn’t do it all in one sitting; even I’m not that masochistic!)

So go ahead and give them a try. They don’t cost anything (except time), and you just might find them as indispensable as so many of us do.