Monday, February 20, 2017

"What Aria Cooking" by the San Francisco Opera & "Defensive Eating with Morrissey (an English singer/songwriter) - Grammy Night 2017!

Date I made these recipes:  Sunday, February 12, 2017 – Grammy Awards!

What Aria Cooking? – The San Francisco Opera Cookbook, edited by Donna M. Casey for The San Francisco Opera Guild Auxiliary
Published by The San Francisco Opera Guild Auxiliary
© 1974
Purchased at Kona Bay Books, Kona, Hawaii
Recipe:  Egg Noodles Alla Bolognese from opera singer Ezio Flagello – p. 59

Defensive Eating with Morrissey – Vegan Recipes from the One You Left Behind – Recipes by Joshua Ploeg, illustrations by Automne Zingg
Published by Microcosm Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-62106-203-5; © 2016
Purchased at Common Good Books, St. Paul
Recipe:  Asparagus [with tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, onion, garlic and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar] – p. 13

Ah, the Grammy Awards!  This was the 59th time these awards for achievement in music have been handed out and as always, the music and the "What are you wearing" moments achieved new levels.  Not necessarily great levels in terms of fashion (or what I hesitantly call "fashion") but new levels, nonetheless.

So of course, with the award program looming, I set out to see if I had an appropriate cookbook to mark the occasion and folks, I found two – two – music-related cookbooks and I am just so chuffed with myself, I cannot tell you!

And so let's discuss our two disparate music cookbooks.  "In this corner, representing classical music..." we have What Aria Cooking by the San Francisco Opera Guild Auxiliary.  This cookbook is filled with recipes submitted by opera singers who have performed with the San Francisco Opera.

"And in this corner, representing alternative rock..." we have the British rocker, Morrissey.  Morrissey (Steven Patrick Morrissey) was lead singer for The Smiths before striking out on his own.  My local and favorite radio station, 89.3 - The Current, plays a great mix of music that hits just about every genre, and every once in a while, I hear a Morrissey song. I have to say that my favorite is probably "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful," because let's face it, that is a pretty accurate statement, musical or otherwise! Fair warning:  his cookbook, Defensive Eating with Morrissey, contains vegan recipes but several are workable for omnivores like me.

Those, then, are our two musical genres and so as Seth Meyers (formerly of Saturday Night Live, now host of his own late night talk show) says "For more on this, it's time for a Closer Look."

What Aria Cooking (an aria is song for solo voice, usually sung by a female) gives us a snapshot of artists involved with the San Francisco Opera in the way back i.e. 1974.  I like opera and have attended several over the years.  I must admit to being somewhat of a purist though, in that I am not necessarily fond of more modern operas as they strike me as precocious.  I mean really:  "The Manchurian Candidate opera?"  "The Shining opera?"  (Yes, these are actual operas, adapted from films.  Sigh.) Mozart and company are rolling around in their graves!  This is not to say that every "older" opera is great, but many are and besides, it is so much more fun to hear someone say "I shall smite thee and take off thy head" in Italian.  As a friend and I used to joke "It sounds so pretty!"

The recipe I used for tonight's dinner was from Italian-American bass Ezio Flagello.  Ezio sang primarily with the Metropolitan Opera from 1957-1984 and favored Italian opera productions such as Tosca, The Barber of Seville, and Don Giovanni.  And then I found this tidbit and it is most cool:  Ezio made a brief appearance as an opera impresario (opera company manager) in the movie, The Godfather II.  Nice!  I have no memory of that, but who needs an excuse to re-watch a Godfather movie?  Not me!  Poor Ezio had a shortened career as he passed away in 2009 at age 78.  (These days, that is on the "young" side of old.)  By the way, men's voices ranges are tenor (high), baritone (middle range) and bass (Low.  Sometimes very low.  "Basement" low.)  Ezio was a "basement" bass.

Now I have to share that I think my dad would have not only enjoyed this meal, but liked the fact that it came from an opera cookbook.  I come from a long line of opera lovers:  my grandfather, a Sicilian immigrant, used to listen to Met (Metropolitan Opera) radio broadcasts way before the dawn of the TV age, and my father listened with him as well.  My dad had a great baritone voice and although he never sang opera (at least to my knowledge), he played Captain Corcoran in his high school production of Gilbert and Sullivan's H. M. S. Pinafore, an operetta which is basically "opera, light."  He was also a member of a mixed chorus while attending Michigan State University. And although my singing voice is a mezzo-soprano and although I have performed more classical pieces (not opera though), I really enjoy singing what we would call "pop standards" songs by Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and the like rather than more serious, classical music.

Still and all, a friend of mine (who has since passed away) and I attended for many years regional tryouts sponsored by the Met, the winner of which went on to NYC to compete for a coveted spot on the Met stage. We joked that sometimes we went more for the fashion critique (or what I called "What Not to Wear to an Opera Audition") than we did for the singing, but we mostly wanted to be able to say "We saw him/her 'when'" and you know what, sometimes we did!

Speaking of "I knew him when," although I didn't recognize a lot of names on the "Artist Index" (and you probably won't as well), I hope most people are familiar with the name Luciano Pavarotti, whose dish for "Maltaliati con Fagioli" (pasta and beans) was high on my list of "for your consideration" until I switched it at the last minute.  Pavarotti is probably best know for singing Nessun Dorma from the opera Turandot, a production I saw a few years ago at the Minnesota Opera, and it requires the singer to hit ridiculously high notes which Pavarotti did on a regular basis until one day, he didn't.  He cracked the upper notes of whatever he was singing and I am not kidding when I say the opera world was just beside itself.  Jeez, the man has one bad day and he's vilified for life!  If you didn't know, the Italians love their operas and you had better have your A game when you perform at places like La Scalla (famous opera company) or else!

I also recognized the name Anna Moffo as she appeared on the Firestone and Goodyear (Tires) Christmas albums my parents bought every year.  These albums were popular during the 60's and 70's and I remember that Anna Moffo sang Ave Maria on one of them.  I must say that these albums were a great way to learn the names and style of many popular artists (classical, opera, jazz, pop) of the time and I miss listening to them.  Sadly, they do not seem to be available in CD form, only vinyl and we got rid of our turntable a long time ago.  Drats.

Beverly Sills and Frederica Van Stade (spelled "Van Staade" in the book) were also included in this cookbook.  Beverly Sills was an extremely well-known operatic soprano who appeared on various variety show specials in the 70's, and Frederica is a mezzo-soprano who has appeared in countless opera productions and countless recordings.  And on a "who knew" side note, Frederica and her ex-husband were involved in a law suit over marital property, the likes of which appeared in one of my law school text books and I'm willing to bet that I am one of a handful of law school students anywhere who knew who she was. And for those of you who just have to know the dirt, here's the citation:  Elkus v. Elkus, 572 N.Y.S.2d 901 (N.Y. App. Div. 1991).  (PS—I was also stunned to see another familiar name in a case found in my Wills and Trust case law book.  Not only was the name familiar, but I had met her previously – yikes! And I tell you what, in order to get a case in a law school textbook, you had to have a doozy of a situation going on and hers so qualified it was ridiculous!)

Now, one of the reasons I selected the dish I did, Ezio's very tasty pasta Bolognese, is because I needed something to match the recipe I selected from Morrissey's cookbook and boy, that was not easy.

As the title says, Morrissey's cookbook is a vegan cookbook and vegan cooking can be challenging which is why I took the easy way out and made a vegetable dish!  And it's not that some of the other vegan dishes didn't appeal, it's just that I did not feel like going out and buying ingredients I knew damned well I would never use again such as "nutritional yeast," or "miso," or "tempeh," a soy meat substitute.  Also, some of the recipes were rather involved, like his recipe for [vegan] "Lasagna" – p. 56 or "Spaghetti for Two – p. 73-75 and when it comes to cooking, the shorter the ingredient list and cooking times, the better.

And let me be clear that I don't care what Morrissey says, these two words do not go together:  "Vegan" and "Bologna."  Ew.  Ew, ew, ew and furthermore, why?  Why, why, why? (See p. 95).

In the end, I think I came up with the perfect food combination and that was Egg Noodles Alla Bolognese from the opera book, with a side of Asparagus from the Morrissey book.  I am a genius!

As between the two, Morrissey's recipe title, Asparagus, is a tad misleading because here's what it really is:  asparagus yes, but asparagus sprinkled with a mix of chopped onion, tomato, garlic, and oregano, then tossed with olive oil, roasted, and then completed with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  It was fantastic!  Plus, this dish took only 20 minutes to make and that worked out well.  The other thing I loved was that I was able to score some fresh and hearty asparagus from a local grocery store, something that used to be near-impossible during the winter months.  All in all, I am tucking this recipe away for future use!

The Bolognese recipe was also very easy although I had to siphon off the grease from the ground beef several times to avoid having a greasy mess on my hands.  This then left the sauce a little on the dry side, but no worries, just add more wine or, if wine is not your thing, some water or broth.

I also "cheated" a bit with the recipe and added a handful of chopped tomatoes that were left over from the asparagus.  Waste not, want not, don't you know.  All in all, this dish was very good and was light to eat despite the pasta and the ground beef.  I think the use of white wine made it so.

And so these dishes were winners (I am on a roll as so were my Super Bowl selections) but alas, just like the Super Bowl, some Grammy nominees did not walk away with their golden gramophone and that's a darn shame but there's always next year.

Congratulations then to all 2017 Emmy winners and to those who didn't win, perhaps a nice plate of pasta and some asparagus will help ease your pain?  (It did mine!)

Egg Noodles Alla Bolognese – serves 5
1 pound egg noodles
1 large onion
1 small can mushrooms
1 bell pepper, cut in 1" strips
3 slices ham (Ann's Note:  although the recipe didn't say, I chopped my ham into smaller pieces)
1 tablespoon diced celery
1 ¼ cups water
1 teaspoon tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound chopped meat (Ann's Note:  I'm pretty sure he meant ground beef as the recipe instructs you to "brown the meat."  That said, I bet you could substitute ground chicken or turkey if you wanted.)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon carrot shirrings (Ann's Note:  I have no idea what this means and neither did Google so I decided it meant "carrot peels" and that is what I used.)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/8 teaspoon marjoram
1/8 teaspoon basil leaf (dried)
1 cup white wine
Grated cheese

Brown meat, onion, carrot, celery, bell pepper in two tablespoons of oil.  (Ann's Note:  I made a half a recipe and thought that even one tablespoon of oil was too much.  When coupled with the grease from browning the "chopped meat," it made for quite a bit of grease that I had to remove or risk "ruining" the sauce.)

Add water, ham, garlic powder, parsley, marjoram, and basil.  Cook slowly, until water evaporates.  (Ann's Note:  yes, but trust me, after you let the water evaporate, you are going to want to add more liquid back in or the sauce will dry out.  You can either add more wine (the recipe calls for 1 cup), or more water or broth and that should do the trick.  Even then though, I had to keep taking out some of the grease...sigh).

Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, mushrooms, and wine.  Cook for one hour.  Pour Bolognese sauce over 1 pound cooked egg noodles and serve.  Add grated cheese if desired.

This recipe is from his forthcoming book "There's a Basso in the Kitchen."  Ann's Note:  It doesn't appear that this book was ever published as I cannot find it anywhere online and that is a damn shame because I would so add it to my collection!

Asparagus – Serving size not listed but 2 pounds should feed about 4-6
2 pounds asparagus
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup onion, chopped
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, pureed (Ann's Note:  he doesn't say whether or not to use oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes or not but I'm guessing you should.  I have dried, but not oiled, sun-dried tomatoes at home and they don't puree well—not that this stopped me from trying!)
Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, to taste
Balsamic vinegar to drizzle

Mix all ingredients together except balsamic vinegar, and then place in a casserole.  Roast at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and then mix again.

You can cook it for less time, if desired.

But with a bit more time and a few more gentler words and looking back we will forgive.

Broil for 3 to 5 minutes to finish.  Ann's Note:  I didn't broil but I did drizzle and then bake for another 3 minutes.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"Gridiron Cookery" & "Gourmet Game Night" - Chili and Oven-Baked Potato Chips with Onion Dip - Super Bowl 51

Date I made this recipe:  Sunday, February 5, 2017 – Super Bowl 51

Gridiron Cookery – The nation's most resourceful hostesses – the wives of football coaches – skilled at taming (and feeding) victory-mad mobs – or reviving a few low-spirited losers – break out 250 and more of their treasured recipes for wonderful food – Edited by Frances S. Daugherty and Aileen C. Brothers
Published by David McKay Company, Inc.
© 1960
Purchased at Barnes and Noble (Used) for a whopping dollar!
Recipe:  Chili – recipe submitted by Mrs. W. W. (Woody) Hayes, [The] Ohio State University – p. 75

Gourmet Game Nightbite-sized, mess-free eating for board-game parties, bridge clubs, poker nights, book groups, and more by Cynthia Nims
Published by Ten Speed Press
ISBN: 978-1-58008-088-0; © 2010
Purchased at Powell's Chicago
Recipe: Oven-Baked Potato Chips with Onion Dip – p. 22-23

Okay then, the Super Bowl was played two weeks ago, and I am obviously behind on all my reporting, but I am happy to say that I managed to make some awesome dishes for the big day (or any day, really):  Chili (what football game would be complete without chili) and Oven-Baked Potato Chips with Onion Dip.  Think "back-to-back" touchdowns."

And of course, the winning recipes came from two winning cookbooks, one old and one new:  Gridiron Cookery, published in 1960, and Gourmet Game Night, published in 2010.  Both books need a bit of explanation and so let's get right to it.

I've heard the term "gridiron" my whole life, usually in the context about talking about college football, but didn't really know what it meant until now.  According to Google, a "gridiron" is a "field for football, marked with regularly spaced parallel lines."  Please file this away for future use.

Gridiron Cookery is a compilation of recipes submitted by (primarily) college coaches' wives, all of whom are referred to in the book as Mrs. [insert husband's first name here] Coaches' Wife, for example  "Mrs. W. W. "Woody" Hayes, [The] Ohio State University," or "Mrs. Hugh Duffy Daugherty, Michigan State University."

This rankles.  Look, I know this was a sign of the [1960's] times, but 160 women submitted recipes for this book and not a one of them was listed by her first name/given name.  Not a one.  And here's a little tidbit of interest:  back then, and for many, many years later, the only time you ever learned that a woman had a first name was when she was widowed or divorced (gasp!) in which case she went by Mrs. Betty Jones.  Ridiculous!

At any rate, so coaches' wives from all over the U.S. and Canada (with a smattering from NFL coaches' wives] submitted recipes and you would think that a book about the college gridiron would feature some of the more prominent football schools but you would be wrong.  As a for instance, and please shout out if you recognize these teams from a Bowl Game appearance:  Furman University; Ferris Institute; The College of the Holy Cross; Springfield College, and Susquehanna University

You can't, can you?  No worries, reader, because neither can I.  I have never heard of any of these colleges much less of the prowess of their football teams.

On the other hand, I am well acquainted with these college football powerhouses: 
  • University of Alabama coached by Paul (Bear) Bryant, with recipe submitted by Mrs. Paul Bryant, no first name given!
  • University of Mississippi (a/k/a "Ole Miss" and by the way, "ole" is not the Spanish "ole" but rather "old" as in "Old Miss.")
  • University of Nebraska
  • University of  Wisconsin
  • University of Michigan (Patriot's quarterback, Tom Brady, is an alum)
  • Michigan State University
  • [The] Ohio State University coached by Wayne Woodrow "Woody" Hayes

And this is just a short list! 

Other interesting cookbook tidbits:
  • Today's Super Bowl battle pitted University of Michigan graduate, Tom Brady, against Boston College graduate, Matt Ryan but only the University of Michigan was featured in this cookbook.  Hmmm...foreshadowing of the game results? (Hint:  Matt Ryan got creamed.)
  • The proper way to talk about Ohio State University is to say The (pronounced "thee," never, ever "thuh.") Ohio State University because that is the official name.  I'm serious.
  • Speaking of The Ohio State University, Head Coach Wayne Woodrow "Woody" Hayes was a household name during my prime college football-watching years.  In fact, he was the enemy to my Michigan State Spartans and the University of Michigan Wolverines.  Woody was a great coach which is why I recognized the name right off the bat and I was happy to make the Mrs. Woody Hayes' (given name is Susan) most excellent chili recipe.
  • This is odd:  throughout the book, I would see often a listing such as "Mrs. Henry R. (Red) Sanders" then on the next line "Formerly University of California at Los Angeles."  Now kids, there is no such thing as a "former" University of California at Los Angeles.  The school continues to be called UCLA (University of California Los Angeles), just as Harvard was, is, and will always be Harvard University and not "Formerly Harvard University," perish the thought!
  • Also:  Seems to me that a book that includes a list of Contributors in alphabetical order and a [recipe] Index in alphabetical order should also include a list of "contributing" colleges and/or NFL in alphabetical order but they didn't because that would be too easy?  Had such a list existed, I could have ascertained quite easily that Boston College was not on the list rather than flipping through page after page to see if I spotted the name. 
  • There are a handful of recipes submitted by NFL coaches' wives and I learned the following:
    • The Los Angeles Chargers (as listed here) started as the Los Angeles Chargers, then they moved to San Diego where they played for many years, and are now on deck to become the Los Angeles Chargers again this coming season.  (Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there are also the Los Angeles Rams who started in LA, went to St. Louis for many years, and are also back in LA.  I cannot keep up with this stuff, I cannot.  To this day, I will always think of the Colts as being the Baltimore Colts and not the Indianapolis Colts because that is just wrong and it messes with my head!)
    • The current-day New York Jets went by the name "New York Titans" from 1960-1962.  I did not know that and so there goes the theory "Once you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way from your first cigarette to your last dying day!"  (Lyric from the Jet Song, from the musical/movie West Side Story).
    • And then there's the Cleveland Browns and this is hilarious:  the Browns' head coach from the 50's to the early 60's was Paul Brown, no relation.

You know, I've remarked several times that reading cookbooks is like reading history books as I learn so much about the time and place and football!

And now on to our second featured cookbook and recipe, Gourmet Game Night and the fan-tab-ulous recipe for Oven Baked Potato Chips with Onion Dip.  Damn, was this good.

Now some of you may have surmised from the title that this cookbook is intended for game nights that include card games or board games.  But since betting figures in mightily for the Super Bowl, I included it here and do believe that was a most excellent play call on my part. 

The thing I liked about this cookbook is that it features all kinds of bite-sized and non-messy bites to be eating while game playing because who wants something messy? For that matter, who wants to watch a game while eating messy food that might plop all over the floor or sofa, causing one to take a break in the action during which time, the "home" team almost inevitably scores and of course you will have missed it because you were doing cleanup on Aisle 9? (My problem isn't necessarily food but with drinks that seem to upend themselves at the worst time!)

This book's Table of Contents is broken into categories that make it easy to find a recipe in a snap.  The Table of Contents categories are:  Dips and Spreads; Skewers and Picks; All-Edibles; Sandwiches; Pastries; Small Dishes, and Drinks.  And the author also includes suggested menus for all kinds of game nights and that is fun.  A sample Game Night for Two to Four Menu includes "Rosemary Martinis;" "Salmon Poke in Endive Leaves;" "Oven-Baked Potato Chips with Onion Dip;" Lamb and Olive Kebabs," and "Nutella and Banana Galettes."  The author notes also games that you might be playing that evening such as Canasta, Mah-jongg, Scrabble, Bridge, or Pinochle.

Now I have never been a game player as I can't stand to sit still that long, but I do love food and must say that this onion dip recipe was so freaking good that I'm including it on my annual holiday party menu from here on out!  That said, there is no game night, football, baseball or other, during which I would ever serve "Salmon Poke in Endive Leaves" as I am not fond of salmon and is that dish just a tad precocious, or what?

So there you go folks, a game-winning Super Bowl menu.  In case you missed the game and care about these things, all good things came to an end for the Atlanta Falcons who were leading the New England Patriots at the half by a large margin, and then they weren't.  The Pats came back, tied the game, sent it into overtime and won.  This was definitely not my hoped for outcome but so it goes and hey, at least I had good food to take the sting off! 

These two dishes are great fare any time of the year so never mind that I posted them too late for the Super Bowl or any "bowl," really.  By the way, I was "this" close to making "Jackpot Casserole" from Gridiron Cookery just because I loved the name but in the end, it had to be chili or bust.

Chili – 6 servings – from Mrs. W. W. (Woody) Hayes . [The] Ohio State University
1 large onion, sliced
1 green pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 pound ground beef
1 No. 2 ½ can tomatoes (Ann's Note:  27-29 ounces, or 3 ½ cups)
1/8 teaspoon paprika
3 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 ½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon (more or less as desired) chili powder
1 No. 2 can kidney beans, drained (Ann's Note:  20 ounces, or 2 ½ cups)

Fry onion and green pepper in melted butter in Dutch oven or deep skillet.  Add ground beef and cook until brown.  Add tomatoes and seasonings.  Simmer about 2 hours, adding water if necessary.  Just before serving, add kidney beans.

Oven-Baked Potato Chips with Onion Dip – Makes 8-10 Dips with Chips
Onion Dip
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoons minced fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried
½ cup beef broth, preferably reduced-sodium
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
¾ cup top-quality mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
½ teaspoon Tabasco, or more to taste
Potato Chips
2 russet potatoes (about 1 ½ pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil

To make the onion dip, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and thyme and cook, stirring often, until the onions are very tender and nicely browned, 10 to 12 minutes.  The onions shouldn't brown too fast; reduce the heat to medium-low if needed.  Add the broth and garlic and cook until the liquid is completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  When cool, stir in the mayonnaise, sour cream, Tabasco, and salt to taste.  Transfer the dip to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line 2 baking sheets with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.  Set 2 oven racks at the centermost levels.

To prepare the potato chips, half-fill a large bowl with cold water.  Peel 1 of the potatoes and cut it crosswise into 1/8-inch thick slices, preferably using a mandoline slicer.  Add the slices to the water and repeat with the second potato.  Use your hands to swish the potato slices around in the water to remove the excess starch. (Ann's Note:  I hand cut these and despite best efforts, my slices were thicker than the 1/8-inch thick slices as noted in the recipes.  That said, I rather liked our thicker chip that wasn't really a chip but a nicely-baked potato slice.)

Dry the potato slices well on a clean kitchen towel.  Rinse and dry the bowl and return the potato slices to it.  Drizzle the olive oil over and toss to evenly coat the slices with the oil.  Arrange the potato slices in a single layer on the baking sheets and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Bake until the slices are lightly browned and crisp, 30 to 40 minutes, turning the slices over and switching the baking sheets about halfway through for even cooking.  Keep an eye on the progress near the end; some slices may be done sooner.  Transfer them to a wire rack to cool.  Ann's Note:  my chips were definitely not crisp but they were great nonetheless.  To "serve," I put some in a bowl and then spooned the dip on top and ate them as I would a baked potato.  Shall I just say that my dip ration was far, far greater than the potato?

To serve, spoon the dip into individual dishes and set them on a platter or tray.  Set the chips in a bowl alongside for your guests to serve themselves.

It is best to make dip at least 4 hours ahead, but it can be made up to 1 day ahead and kept covered and refrigerated.  The chips are best made not more than 2 hours before serving.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

"Dinner and a Movie - 12 themed movie nights with recipes to share and enjoy" - Popeye [Spinach] Pies for the SAG Awards

Date I made this recipe:  Sunday, January 29, 2017 – Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) Awards

Dinner and a Movie – 12 themed movie nights with recipes to share & enjoy by Katherine Bebo
Published by Ryland Peters & Small
ISBN: 978-1-84975-441-5; © 2013
Recipe:  Popeye [Spinach] Pie – p. 102

Well our TV and movie awards season is underway, and this past Sunday, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards were handed out and a good time was had by most (exception:  those who did not walk away with an award).  I like the fact that the SAG Awards are handed out at a dinner (dinners are way more relaxing) and that they are brief.  Kudos to the producers who bring that sucker in at two hours and change, something the Academy Award producers have yet to achieve. In fact, I do believe they are close to wrapping up last year's Oscar production and whew, in the nick of time too, as the 2017 Oscars will be held on the fast-approaching date of February 26th

Happily, when it comes to awards shows, I have "themed" cookbooks at the ready and this is one of them.  Granted, the SAG Awards go to both TV and film actors, producers, directors et al., but I have yet to find a cookbook compilation that addresses only TV shows. It stands to reason as movies were around before episodic TV but maybe some day soon, someone will join together as "man and wife," recipes from a number of TV shows, rather than just producing one per TV show, such as the I Love Lucy Cookbook, Edith Bunker's All In The Family Cookbook, or The Walton Family Cookbook (all of which I own), and the like.  Food for thought (pun intended).

Now normally, I tell my readers a bit about the book and then add some pertinent stories and then finish it up with the recipe.  But because there is so much about and in this book to discuss, I'm going to tell you right now that the recipe for the Popeye [Spinach] Pie is way down at the bottom, and if you want to skip there, be my guest.  I made this recipe (from the "Comic Book Hero" chapter) because my husband loves Popeye.  Loves him, loves the movie with Robin Williams and Shelly Duval, loves the whole shebang.  In fact, he wears often a Popeye bicycle jersey when out and about, and after I bought him a Popeye bendable figuring, he installed it on one of his bicycle handlebars which of course, generates a lot of conversation from fellow riders.

So that's my story and I'm sticking to it and so if you want to bail on me now, please continue to scroll down.  For those who want to see what this book is all about, follow along with Mitch as we discuss the Dinner and a Movie cookbook.

The Dinner and a Movie cookbook is comprised of 12 themed movie night menus.  At the beginning of each "chapter" or menu, there's a list of about 20 or so movies that fit that genre.  For kicks, I decided to see how many movies of each genre I have seen; my "scores" are listed below.  Each chapter contains also a cocktail befitting the genre, a popcorn befitting the genre, and a handful of other recipes that also work well with the theme.

Okay then, here are our 12 movie night menu "nominees:"
  1. Girl Power
  2. Fright Night
  3. The Big Apple
  4. Best of British
  5. Western
  6. The Golden Age
  7. Mob Squad (not to be confused with the TV show, the Mod Squad!)
  8. Sci-Fi
  9. Action-Adventure
  10. Comic Book Heroes
  11. James Bond
  12. Bollywood

All right then, let's get going and so "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!"  (Bette Davis, in the movie, All About Eve.)

Girl Power
  • Girl Power movies include: Thelma & Louise; 9 to 5; Steel Magnolias; The Devil Wears Prada, and Bend it Like Beckham.  
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  I've seen 18 out of 25 "Girl Power" movies which is amazingly high. So...I guess I like "chick flicks?" 
  • Girl Power food and beverage "highlights:" "Silk Stocking," (a cocktail); "Butter Toffee Popcorn," and "Mean Girl Muffins."

Fright Night
  • Fright Night movies include: Carrie, Jaws, The Shining, The Silence of the Lambs, and Sixth Sense.
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  I am not a horror flick chick and so my total number of movies viewed is a measly 8 out of 23.  I would like to point out though, that in the early 80's, some friends and I went to a late-night double feature of two movies included in this list, Eraserhead (what an odd, odd movie), and Night of the Living Dead so there's that. 
  • Fright Night food and beverage "highlights:" "Bloody Mary," "Paranoia Popcorn," and "Coffin Sandwiches."

The Big Apple (movies about NYC)
  • The Big Apple movies include:  When Harry Met Sally, Taxi Driver, King Kong, Gangs of New York, Breakfast at Tiffany's.
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  All told, I've watched 18 out of 26 "Big Apple" movies, although this list did not include movies like You've Got Mail which is too bad since my husband and I were in NYC when it was being filmed.  In fact, I went to Zabar's (Deli and grocery store) the day before they shot the scene where Meg Ryan stands in the "cash only" line despite not having cash.  And let me tell you from personal Zabar's shopping experience, that scene was not a work of fiction.  The sign at the register says "Cash only" and they mean it, dammit! 
  • The Big Apple food and beverage "highlights:" a "Manhattan" [cocktail] (of course!), "Raspberry and White Chocolate Popcorn," and a "Rollin' Reuben" sandwich.

Best of British
  • Best of British movies includeBridget Jones's Diary. Watership Down, A Fish Called Wanda, Mary Poppins, and Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  I've seen 13 out of 25 which is not too bad considering I am not even remotely British.
  • Best of British food and beverage "highlights:" "Nutty Popcorn," "Posh Pimms," (a Pimms cup is the summer go-to drink for all of England.  Or so I read), and "Sausage Rolls."

  • Western movies includeTrue Grit, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, City Slickers, and Back to the Future Part III. 
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  My viewing score in this category is a pathetic 6 out of 20.  Well, I was never fond of horses so....  As a note, one of the movies in this category is The Magnificent Seven which is  great movie based on a Japanese movie, Seven Samurai, directed by the late but legendary Japanese director, Akira Kurosawa.  Andy is a huge fan of his films, and when we first started dating, we watched a few of them on our own "Dinner and a Movie" night. 
  • Western food and beverage "highlights:"  "Lynchburg Lemonade," (a mix of lemonade and Jack Daniel's), the popcorn is "Popcorn Nachos," and, in a hilarious nod toward the movie, Blazing Saddles, "Blazing Backed Beans." (Yes, especially when watching that scene.)

The Golden Age
  • The Golden Age movies include:  Casablanca, It's a Wonderful Life, Singin' in the Rain, Holiday Inn, and a Streetcar Named Desire (I just have to:  "Stellllllaaaaaaaaa"). 
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score: I am pleased to report that I've seen 18 out of 20 of the movies listed here.  What can I say except I am an old soul who loves classic and timeless movies?
  • The Golden Age food and beverage "highlights:"  "Casablanca Cocktail" made with gin, likely because of this memorable line in the movie, Casablanca: "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine." The popcorn option is "Lover's Popcorn," (made with vanilla bean), and a sweet treat option is "Sparkling Diamond Cupcake" (The movie reference is Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the song "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend.")

Mob Squad
  • Mob Squad movies include:  The Godfather Trilogy; Goodfellas; Married to the Mob; Pulp Fiction; The Usual Suspects. 
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  If the author would have separated each Godfather movie instead of grouping them as a "trilogy," I would have done better in this category, but since she didn't, I've watched only 9 of 25 (some of them through my fingers because of the violence).
  • Mob Squad food and beverage "highlights:" "Espresso Martini" made with espresso (coffee) and vodka, each of which I like separately but cannot envision enjoying a mix of the two in a martini glass. The popcorn is "Public Enemy Popcorn," made with dried mushrooms and some black truffle and that's a yum, and who wouldn't love "'Got a Beef' Lasagna?"  I almost made that one but switched it up at the last minute.  Let me just also add that all the food in this category was Italian (not that popcorn is Italian) and I could have made every single recipe.  Still might!

  • Sci-Fi movies include:  Avatar; WALL-E; Independence Day; Alien; Planet of the Apes (probably the original).
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  This category was a challenge because there are movies that I think I've seen but probably haven't (like The Terminator) and so I'm going to err on the side of caution and say I've watched 10 out of 25.  The movie, The Matrix, is in this sci-fi grouping and I will confess to being one of those people who enjoyed the movie even if the whole concept of "human" artificial intelligence was too much for me! "Wait...what just happened?  Who are they again?  What?!"  I will also tell you that I saw the movie Spaceballs eons ago while traveling with a friend to Chicago on an Amtrak train.   And you know what, when you're "trapped" on a train or a plane, suddenly some of these movies don't seem so bad or so corny – like this one!  (Love me my John Candy, may he rest in peace.)
  • Sci-Fi food and beverage "highlights:"  a "Blue Moon" cocktail made with tequila, blue Curacao, lime juice and lemon sorbet, our popcorn is "Gremlin Popcorn" and there's a recipe for "Death Stars" cookies, guess where that idea came from? (Hint, it contains the famous line  "I am your father," which by the way is the actual movie quote and not, as many believe, "Luke, I am your father." But seriously, doesn't the latter quote sound better?)

  • Action-Adventure movies include:  Indiana Jones; Mad Max; Pirates of the Caribbean; Harry Potter; Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  Ugh.  I've only seen 6 out of 24 of these movies.  I guess I'm not into swashbuckling, either.  That said, one of my favorite concert band pieces to play for all time is music from the Pirates of the Caribbean.  But have I seen any of the "Pirates" movies?  No, reader, I have not. But the music is boss!
  • Action-Adventure food and beverage "highlights:"  "Paradise Island Punch" is a nod toward the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Beach.  Your popcorn is "Peanut Butter Popcorn," (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids) and then there's Hannibal's Jalapeno Poppers for the 1983 movie, The A-Team featuring actor Mr. T, he of the "I pity the fool" fame. 

Comic Book Hero
  • Comic Book Hero movies include:  The Avengers; Iron Man; Popeye; X-Men; The Incredibles.  When I was in my community band, we played music from The Incredibles for one of our summer concert series and it was a big hit.  It's also very fun to play.
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score:  At first blush, I don't think I'm going to do very well in this category but let's count and... nope.  As expected, I've seen a big 5 out of 26 movies and my only excuse is "I'm not a guy."  My husband read a lot of these comic books that were made into movies, whereas I read Archie, Ritchie Rich, Nancy, and every once in a while, Superman, and with the exception of the Archie comics, I read all the rest when visiting my grandma.  Grandma lived with my aunt and uncle and their family, and my cousins had quite the stockpile of comics that I read and re-read and re-read again every year while visiting. It was my very favorite thing to do as soon as we got there with the exception of hugging grandma, of course.
  • Comic Book Hero food and beverage "highlights:" "The Hulk's Smash" (tequila, Midori, Cointreau and lime juice), your popcorn is "Captain American Popcorn" (red, white, and blue), and the "entree" is the recipe I made for tonight's dinner, "Popeye Pie."  My husband loves Popeye.  Loves him, and this movie with the late Robin Williams is one of his favorites.  And so as tempting as some of the other dishes were (well, pretty much all of them), this was what I had to make. 

James Bond
  • James Bond movies include: Dr. No; Goldfinger; Casino Royal; The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy, and 21 other James Bond movies and only James Bond movies, go figure!
  • Ann's Movie-Watching Score:  I've seen ummm...2 out of 26?  Again, I'm not a guy.  Guys are mostly (although not always), the ones to watch James Bond movies.  But this gal loves her martini ("Shaken, not stirred") and will even put aside the fact that the "007 Martini" calls for a "dash of vermouth."  I like my martini really, really dry which is to say even a "splash" is overkill.
  • James Bond food and beverage "highlights:" "007 Martini," "Coconut Popcorn," which I gather is a nod to all the coconut [suntan] lotion-covered bathing beauties in these movies who emerge from the sea looking perfectly tanned, perfectly "not-drenched" with salt water, and with nary a hair out of place.  I wish.  And then there's "Diamonds Are Forever Steak."

  • Bollywood movies includeSalaam Bombay!; Slumdog Millionaire; Bend it Like Beckham; Monsoon Wedding, and Bride & Prejudice. 
  • Ann's Movie-Viewing Score: This is the final category, and seeing how "Bollywood" movies have only been a "thing" for the past couple of decades, I think I can be forgiven for not cleaning up in this category.  My score here is only 4 out of 25, but I absolutely loved all four:  Slumdog Millionaire, Bend It Like Beckham, Monsoon Wedding (loved, loved, loved), and Bride & Prejudice
  • Bollywood food and beverage "highlights:" a non-alcoholic "Rose Petal Drink," "Bombay Popcorn" that contains ghee (clarified butter), curry and mango chutney, and there's also "Chicken Tika Masala" for your Tika Masala fans.

So that concludes tonight's 2017 SAG Awards movie review, and now let's get on with the "show" and talk about the recipe – Popeye [Spinach] Pie.

Andy and I love spinach but prefer it to be mixed in with something rather than eaten "raw" in a salad.  In fact, Creamed Spinach is a favorite of mine even though I never had it growing up. 

The recipe is really simple:  use a store bought crust, fill a muffin tin with the dough, add the filling, add a raw egg in the middle, top with more crust and bake.  This pie's spinach filling, a mix of spinach and arugula, was divine, such that I kept eating it instead of putting it in the pie. 

Here's what didn't quite work though:  the egg in the middle of each pie was almost overdone and the crust needed a bit more time in the oven. But of course, had I left them in longer so the crust could brown, I might have incinerated the filling and who wants an incinerated spinach filling besides nobody ever?

The recipe suggests using ready-made shortcrust pastry, but when I Googled it to find out what it was (basically, a pie crust), I found a very easy recipe to make at home and so went with that.  Since I had already decided to make just half the recipe, it seemed easier to just make half the crust as well.

The thing that I loved about the recipe in general is that you use a muffin pan to make your individual pies and that was fun.  And I can easily see making these in a mini muffin pan for party appetizers, sans the egg but double the filling.  This one is going into the tickler file.

The instructions to tell you to bake the pie in the oven "for 10 minutes until the egg is just set and the pastry is just cooked," but as I alluded to above, these two items did not play well together in the oven and so the egg was almost cooked through instead of "just set," and the crust was a tad underdone.  Not that we didn't eat it anyway, but next time around, I'd like to get it right.

Here then, is your recipe:

Popeye [Spinach] Pie – Makes 8 pies
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to glaze
1 small onion, finely chopped
8 oz fresh spinach
1 cup ricotta
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
2 ½ cups rocket/arugula, finely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly chopped tarragon
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 lb ready-made shortcrust pastry (Ann's Note: this is basically a ready-made pie crust.  I made my own pastry crust; recipe is below)
8 eggs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

You will also need a large, heavy baking sheet, a round cookie cutter, and two 4-hole muffin pans.

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Put the baking sheet in the oven to heat for at least 30 minutes.  Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion and fry for 5 minutes until golden.  Let cool.

Steam the spinach until just wilted, refresh in cold water, then squeeze out as much moisture as possible and roughly chop.  Beat the spinach and onion into the ricotta with the Parmesan, rocket/arugula and tarragon.  Season well with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Roll out the pastry on a clean, lightly floured work surface.  Cut out 8 circles with the cutter.  Use these to line each muffin cup.  Fill each pie with some of the ricotta mixture.  Ann's Note:  to make your own short-crust pie dough, see below.

Make a small dent in each filling.  Break the eggs one at a time, separating the yolks from the whites.  Slip a yolk into the indent of each pie.  Season with salt and pepper.

Roll the pastry offcuts into long, thin ropes an cut into 16 lengths.  Use these to make a cross on the top of each pie, sealing the edges with a little water.  Brush lightly with olive oil.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until the egg is just set and the pastry cooked.  Ann's Note:  I think we are missing an instruction here.  The recipe calls for you to put a baking sheet in the oven to heat for at least 30 minutes, but then never again mentions what you are to do with it!  My guess is that you put the muffin pans on top of the [heated] baking sheet but that is only a guess.  I did not do that so perhaps that is why my pie crust was a little underdone...or not!  We will never know.

Serve hot.

145 grams all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter (1/4 pound), cut into 1/8-inch pieces
3 tablespoons ice water

Put flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor.  Add butter and quickly cut it into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add ice water and mix briefly, about 30 seconds, to form a soft dough.  Remove dough, shape into a thick disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.  Bring to cool room temperature before rolling.

To roll, lightly flour dough and counter.  Roll out gradually, periodically letting dough rest for a moment before continuing.  This makes rolling easier and will keep dough from shrinking back during baking.

Ann's Note:  at this point, the instruct you to roll out the dough so it will fit in a 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan but you will be using a muffin pan so adjust your dimensions accordingly.  The author also suggests you chill the dough for an hour before baking; we did not do that.

Monday, February 6, 2017

"Prison Ramen - Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars" When car repairs require budget eating!

Date I made this recipe:  January 28, 2017 – When car repairs require budget eating!

Prison Ramen – Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars by Clifton Collins Jr. and Gustavo "Goose" Alvarez; with a foreword by Samuel L. Jackson
Published by Workman Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-7611-8552-9; © 2015
Recipe:  Sloppy Ramen Joe – p. 35

So January was proving to be an interesting month anyway, and then this happened:  the transmission went out on my car.  And then when I brought my car into the shop so they could rebuild it (cheapest of the not-so-cheap options), they found that my radiator (original to my 1999 car) needed to be replaced.  With "tax and license," the bill was inching its way up to heavens which was not good.  At least they threw in the motor mounts (also needed) for "free," because at this point, they were calling with more bad news on practically an hourly basis.

It was at this point that I quipped to Andy "I'll guess we'll be eating ramen from now on," thus foreshadowing the use of today's featured cookbook.  And here's another foreshadowing moment:  things are going to get worse for your cars and your budget before they get better.

At the end of the following week, we were on deck to drive a car – didn't know which – to Chicago to see some friends.  We were hoping that my car would be done (it wasn't), but in the event it wasn't, we still had Andy's.

And we could have driven Andy's car to Chicago except that his car also had some minor issues mainly, the replacement of some engine gaskets.  Those leaky gaskets caused his car to emit oil and gas fumes into the car itself that gave me headaches.  And even though the fumes dissipated once we hit the open road, I thought we should get everything fixed before we went.  File that under "It seemed like a good idea at the time."  (It wasn't.)

In theory, this should have been a same-day repair and so Andy found a garage near his workplace and they even had courtesy shuttle service to and fro.  Toward the end of the day though, they called and said they weren't quite done and so could he come and get his car and then return with it the next day?

He could.  But when he got into his car to drive it home, the brakes were out.  "Out" as in the pedal went all the way to the floor. And since it's kind of hard to stop a car without brakes (unless you are Fred Flintstone), he left it there and drove home in a loaner car.

Let me just review with you where we stood on cars at this point:  My car was in the garage (still) and so a friend of Andy's loaned him one of his cars so I could drive Andy's car in the interim.  On the day that Andy took his car in for repairs, he left the friend's "loaner" car in our garage, and that night, when he drove home with the garage's loaner, we had two cars in our garage that belonged to neither one of us – ha! 

At this point, the Chicago trip was fast becoming a no-go because of all these car do-si-dos we were doing so we canned it and this was probably a good idea as snowstorms were predicted for the Chicago area that same weekend and we are not fond of driving in blizzards, go figure.

So all total, our two car repairs cost us a flipping fortune.  But shall I just tell you reader, that we still weren't done?  Okay, I'll tell you:  we still weren't done.  My car's rebuilt transmission runs great.  And the new radiator seems to be doing its job.  But my brakes were very squishy and that wasn't the case before the car went in and so Andy (my very own personal car repair person), worked on them this weekend and now I need a new...thingamajig.  It's a brake part and he will buy it and install it but it'll add another $250.00 to our collective bill. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it appears that the gasket replacement on Andy's car did not totally solve his problem either, and so he needs to investigate and repair.  Oh, and my key is now getting stuck in the ignition and Andy thinks he knows what part to replace and he will do so but in the meanwhile, what the hell is going on here?  And as if all that wasn't enough fun, I temporarily lost my wallet on Saturday (the same day as the ignition key problem) and seriously folks.  Seriously.  But in the happy news department,  the wallet was "found" an hour later and I am so relieved I cannot tell you.  Still, I had to drive home in my key-sticking car with the very soft brakes and without my license because...of course.

Meanwhile and back at the ranch, Part 2, was this a good time for inexpensive ramen, or what?

I believe I found this book, Prison Ramen, at Common Good Books in St. Paul (owned by author and radio show star, Garrison Keillor), and just had to chuckle (and of course, buy it) as this is just the type of book I like to have in my collection:  quirky and off-beat.  With books like these, I am not as interested in whether or not these recipes actually hold together, and when I selected this one, I warned my husband not to expect great things as I was cooking from it because I could, and also to give us a taste of our potential menu options for rest of our lives and/or until the car bills are paid, whichever comes first.

Of the two authors, Gustavo "Goose" Alvarez spent some time in both juvenile and adult correctional facilities before being released from prison in May 2013.  He is now involved in a mentorship program for at-risk kids.  While in prison, a riot broke out and he and fellow inmates were saved from certain death by a couple of older gang members.  To show their appreciation, Alvarez and his "homies" cooked food for everyone and the main entree at this thank you dinner was ramen.  I have to say that it's not like I ever contemplated what kind of food would be served in prison but "ramen" never crossed my mind.  I learn something new every day.

Co-author Clinton Collins Jr. is an actor who was working on the set of a prison movie when his friend, "Goose" was caught in real-life riot hell.  After checking to make sure "Goose" was okay, they came up with this cookbook.

Amazingly, I came up with five potential recipe candidates which is saying a lot, especially since most recipes call for a lot of processed, ready-made foods that I avoid like the plague.  For instance, in addition to ramen, you'll see recipes calling for processed cheese, prepackaged rice and/or rice and bean combinations and also [fried and packaged] pork rinds or pork skins, all of which contain a ton of salt.  A ton.  Those with high blood pressure "need not apply."

 My favorite title out of the five, even though I did not make it, was "Shawshank Spread," a sandwich spread made with ramen as a homage to the movie, The Shawshank Redemption.  Once upon a time, this movie was so overplayed on cable network, TNT, that it was dubbed "The 'Shawshank' Channel."  TNT moved on eventually to overplay episodes of Law & Order but I'm down with that as it's easier to re-watch 20 year's worth of TV show episodes than 20 year's worth of one single, solitary movie.  Just sayin'. 

As per usual, once I narrowed down my choices, I handed the book off to Andy who settled on Sloppy Ramen Joe just as I was hoping he would. I wasn't sure what this would taste like, but once I read the words "Sloppy" and "Joe," we were all in.

And you know what, it wasn't half bad!  It wasn't haute cuisine by any means, but it was not terrible.  It was also cheap, coming in at $3.93 for all ingredients except the onion which I had on hand, and the buns that we bought from Trader Joe's (can't recall the price.)  Three ninety three for a meal is not bad at all, although that said, I'm amending my remark to Andy about eating ramen from now on because there's way too much salt in all the ingredients and I'd rather spend a few pennies more to get fresh groceries.

Speaking of groceries, here's what we spent at the grocery store:
  • 2 packages of ramen came to $.50 total or $.25 each.  (No wonder starving college students eat this.  In our day, it was popcorn.)
  • 2 small cans (9 ounces total), Vienna Sausages came to $1.58, or $.79 each
  • 1 can Sloppy Joe Mix was $.99; we "splurged" and got a can of "thick and chunky" instead of the original which was priced at $.79
  • 1 overly large jalapeno cost us a whopping $.07. 
  • Onion (already had)
  • Trader Joe's pretzel buns, priced approximately at $1.98 or thereabouts

Cheap at twice the price, right?

Were I to make this again, here are the things I would change: use only one package of beef ramen (two makes way too much); skip adding the flavor [read: salt] packet unless you like resembling "Roly Poly," a toy I enjoyed as a child; use summer sausage (an option for you in the recipe) rather than Vienna sausages, and possibly leave out the jalapeno.  I don't know about you, but I find there is no such thing as a "small" jalapeno as called for in this recipe and there was no way I was adding the whole [gigantic] jalapeno to this recipe as I feared it would do irreversible damage to my digestive system!  In our case, a little jalapeno went a long way.

And so that, my friends concludes our car capers story and our Prison Ramen story, with a little bit of grocery shopping high finance thrown in for good measure.  This book is a fun read and some of the recipe names are pretty clever to boot. And if you like a cookbook that's a little off beat, this one's for you!

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that two days after Andy's friend loaned him one of his cars, the fuel pump went out on the other one.  I'm happy to report though, that he still likes us even though we appear to be car cursed for the time being!

Sloppy Ramen Joe – serving size not given but I'd say easily four people
2 packs beef flavor Ramen
1 ½ cups boiling water
1 can or pouch (7 to 11 ounces) read-to-eat Sloppy Joe
1 summer sausage (about 9 ounces), chopped, or 1 can (9 ounces) Vienna sausage, drained and chopped
½ medium-size onion, chopped
1 jalapeno chile, chopped
3 or 4 hamburger buns, split open

Crush the Ramen in the wrappers and empty into a bowl.  Set aside the seasoning packets.

Add the water, cover, and let sit for about 8 minutes.  Drain off excess water.

Combine the Sloppy Joe, sausage, onion, and jalapeno in a large microwavable bowl.  Cover and microwave for about 5 minutes, until hot.  (Ann's Note:  Do NOT do 5 minutes unless your microwave is as "weak as a kitten" i.e. doesn't have much power.  My bowl practically melted in those five minutes.)

Add the Ramen and seasoning.  Mix well.  (Ann's Note:  as mentioned above, you have been warned that adding both packets of seasoning will result in a salt overdose.)

Place the open buns on plates.  Cover with the Sloppy Joe-Ramen mixture.