Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's Opening Day

Yes, I could have been there. A friend offered me a ticket at the last minute to Opening Day for the Nationals. I didn't go. The streak is broken - I had been to every Opening Day game since the Nationals came to town. Maybe things will be better this season as a result.

George Will, the syndicated columnist, is a baseball lover. In his column today, he offered this baseball quiz. Answers on Sunday (or you can click the link to the column - the answers are at the end). How'd you do? I consider myself a lover of baseball and I only got a few of these. Like I said, George Will knows and loves baseball.
  1. Which two players hold the record for the most seasons (23) played for the same team?
  2. Who hit 48 home runs beginning June 1, but only 51 in the season?
  3. Which two managers had six 100-win seasons?
  4. Who played the most regular-season games without ever playing a postseason game?
  5. Who has the best winning percentage among 300-win pitchers?
  6. Who had a 79-15 record over three years?
  7. Who was the player — and in what year — who led his league in home runs and RBIs, started every game of the World Series, and never crossed the Mississippi?
  8. Since Tris Speaker did it in 1912, who is the only player with 50 doubles and 50 stolen bases in a season?
  9. Which 10 Hall of Famers never played in the minor leagues?
  10. Who is the only catcher to lead a league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in the same season?
  11. When the strike stopped the 1994 season on Aug. 11, what team had the best record? And what was Tony Gwynn’s batting average?
  12. In 1955, the year they won their only championship in Brooklyn, what was the Dodgers’ average regular-season attendance?
  13. What two players share the record for most hits in a month?
  14. From 2000 through 2009, Roy Halladay pitched the most shutouts, 14. Who led the 1970s with 44?
  15. What pitcher won World Series games in three decades?
  16. Who won a batting title during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s?
  17. Who was the youngest pitcher to win a Cy Young award?
  18. What two-time MVP and Hall of Famer won league fielding titles as a shortstop and center fielder?
  19. Since 1900, what two pitchers won at least 20 games in 13 seasons?
  20. Who is the only pitcher to have 20-win seasons with both the Yankees and the Mets?
  21. Who is the only pitcher to have 2,000 strikeouts with two different teams?
  22. Who had at least 200 hits and 100 walks in four consecutive seasons?
  23. Whom did the Reds intentionally walk five times in a 1990 game?
  24. Who is the only pitcher to twice pitch a complete game in a World Series seventh game?
  25. Who twice got 10 or more hits in a World Series, with different teams?
  26. What Hall of Famer got his 3,000th hit off a Hall of Famer?
  27. The Yankees’ Bobby Richardson set a World Series record with 12 RBIs in the 1960 World Series. How many RBIs did he have during the regular season?
  28. What player, whose number 44 is retired by two teams, hit 44 home runs in four different seasons?
  29. What six pitchers had 3,000 strikeouts before (or without ever) allowing 1,000 walks?
  30. What team has won its last nine World Series games?
  31. Why was Roger Maris never intentionally walked in 1961 en route to 61 home runs?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Eggs in a Nest - not Toad in a Hole

As it is most Sunday mornings, it was my turn to get up with the boys and get breakfast together. SoBA has been in a, "I WANT CEREAL AND YOGURT!" (that is SoBA's normal voice delivery BTW) rut and I offered him eggs as an alternative. LBA is not a big fan of eggs, so I didn't offer them to him. SoBA turned me down for the declaration noted above. But I decided to make myself eggs and toast anyway. I really should have gone for the Eggs in a Nest, but it was good separately.

The Amateur Gourmet posted a while back about his idea of making Eggs in a Nest on a Saturday morning (but I'm usually sleeping on Saturday mornings); in his post, he mistakenly referred to it as Toad in a Hole. Then on top of this, I have been jonesing for French Toast - which I was going to make for Brinner tonight (Monday nights is always Brinner night at the launchpad - that's Breakfast for Dinner). But since Mrs. BA is off today with LBA, who doesn't have school today, French Toast will wait for next week - it will be pancakes.

Eggs in a Nest is something that Mrs. BA's sister managed to get LBA (he, the aforementioned disliker of eggs) to eat and they are relatively easy to make. The Amateur Gourmet's post raises it a level or two - but it is still worth a try. The post was not broken down into a recipe, but I have cobbled one together below. Enjoy!

The Amateur Gourmet's [Eggs in a Nest]
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Tabasco / hot sauce (if desired)
  • Parmesan cheese (if desired)
  • crusty french bread, sliced and a hole made in the middle
  • eggs (1 egg for each slice of bread)
  • salt
  • pepper
Whisk 1 egg and 1/2 cup milk together. Add in any extra ingredients desired to the custard. Soak bread in custard mixture briefly on each side to coat. Heat a non-stick skillet or cast iron frying pan, melting approx. 1 tbsp. butter, until butter begins to bubble. Place each slice of bread in a non-stick skillet or cast iron pan. Crack an egg into the hole in the middle of the bread. Sprinkle the bread/egg with some salt and pepper.

After approximately a minute, when the bread has toasted and there is a good seal on the egg in the hole, flip the bread over. Remove from pan after about 30 seconds (longer if you want a harder yolk) and serve. Sprinkle with some parsley and/or Parmesan cheese (if you used it in the custard).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happy Birthday to my Mother

Today would have been my mother's 81st birthday. One of the things she was devoted to over the course of her life was Girl Scouting. Some time ago I saw on Letters of Note, a great site that reprints correspondence from famous individuals at various points in their lives. This particular letter was from Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts in the UK. Baden-Powell's wife was Olave Baden-Powell, who founded the Girl Guides, the UK equivalent of the US Girl Scouts.

According to Olave, Robert Baden-Powell carried a letter with him at all times in an envelope marked, "In the event of my death." The letter was addressed "To the Boy Scouts." It was read for the first time shortly after his death in 1941. The sentiment in it could have easily come from my mother as well. God Bless You Mom. I miss you and I love you.
Dear Scouts,

If you have ever seen the play 'Peter Pan' you will remember how the pirate chief was always making his dying speech because he was afraid that possibly when the time came for him to die he might not have time to get it off his chest. It is much the same with me, and so, although I am not at this moment dying, I shall be doing so one of these days and I want to send you a parting word of good-bye.

Remember, it is the last time you will ever hear from me, so think it over.

I have had a most happy life and I want each one of you to have as happy a life too.

I believe that God put us in this jolly world to be happy and enjoy life. Happiness doesn't come from being rich, nor merely from being successful in your career, nor by self-indulgence. One step towards happiness is to make yourself healthy and strong while you are a boy, so that you can be useful and so you can enjoy life when you are a man.

Nature study will show you how full of beautiful and wonderful things God has made the world for you to enjoy. Be contented with what you have got and make the best of it. Look on the bright side of things instead of the gloomy one.

But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best. 'Be Prepared' in this way, to live happy and to die happy - stick to your Scout promise always - even after you have ceased to be a boy - and God help you to do it.

Your Friend,
(Signed, 'Robert Baden-Powell')

Monday, March 21, 2011

It's Spring! Eat Meat!

It's time to move the cooking back outside! Not that the winter has stopped me from utilizing my grill. But yesterday marked the Vernal Equinox, also known as the first day of Spring. The weather has certainly been better here in the DC area and it looks like we have seen the last of the snow this year. Maybe.

I spotted this recipe in the New York Times Magazine. It's possible I drooled on the pages a little . . . I was reminded of the time that I had dinner with a friend at his house. We grilled enormous Porterhouse steaks and then we sat down and watched Zulu.

There are actually two recipes here. The dreadfully easy straight up method and the second, more involved grilling one.

1966: Rib Roast of Beef
This recipe appeared in The Times in an article by Craig Claiborne. Recipe adapted from Ann Seranne, a former editor of Gourmet.
  • One 2- to 4-rib roast of beef, weighing 4½ to 12 pounds
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper.
  1. Remove the roast from the refrigerator 2½ to 4 hours before cooking.
  2. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
  3. Place the roast in an open, shallow roasting pan, fat side up. Sprinkle with a little flour, and rub the flour into the fat lightly. Season all over with salt and pepper.
  4. Put the roast in the preheated oven and roast according to the roasting chart below, timing the minutes exactly. When cooking time is finished, turn off the oven. Do not open the door at any time. Allow the roast to remain in the oven until oven is lukewarm, or about two hours. The roast will still have a crunchy brown outside and an internal heat suitable for serving as long as 4 hours after removing from the oven. Makes about 2 servings per rib.
Roasting Chart:

No. of Ribs Weight Without Ribs Roasting Time at 500 Degrees
2 4½ to 5 lbs. 25 to 30 mins.
3 8 to 9 lbs. 40 to 45 mins.
4 11 to 12 lbs. 55 to 60 mins.

2011 - Grilled Prime, Dry-Aged Rib-Eye Steak
by Harold Dieterle, the chef and owner of Kin Shop and Perilla in Manhattan.

For the herb butter:
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon minced chives
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the savory crust:
  • 1⁄3 cup panko (or other) dry bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped savory, thyme or marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the steak:
  • One 30- to 34-ounce prime, dry-aged rib-eye steak, brought to room temperature
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  1. Make the herb butter: In a small bowl, mash together the butter, lemon zest, chives, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Chill until needed.
  2. Make the savory bread crumbs: Combine the panko, savory (or other herb) and butter in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Stir until thoroughly blended.
  3. Heat your grill to medium high (notes for doing this on the stove top follow the recipe). Season both sides of the steak generously with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Lay the steak on the hot grill and sear both sides, 5 to 8 minutes on each side for medium rare; adjust the time according to how you like your steak done. Transfer the steak to a cutting board, spread the top with the herb butter and let rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Set an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler, then heat the broiler. Cover the top of the steak with the savory bread crumbs. Place the steak on a heatproof dish and set it under the broiler until the bread crumbs are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let sit for a minute, then slice and serve. Serves 2.
NOTE: If you would like to cook this on the stove instead of the grill, heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and turn on your stove fan. Sear the seasoned rib-eye for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, then transfer the pan to the oven to finish cooking, 3 to 6 minutes. Then transfer the steak to a cutting board to rest as in Step 3 above, and continue with the recipe.

Monday, March 14, 2011

One Last Cold Weather Recipe

With baseball season set to open at the end of the month and winter rapidly fading into the background, here is one last chili recipe to tide you over. So if it's cold where you are, or you don't mind chili all year round, here's a twist on regular chili. I could be persuaded to eat this.

From the Washington Post food section, February 23, 2011.

Cilantro Chicken and Chickpea "Chili"

The dish has the look of a white chili and the flavors of the Middle East. It’s a nice change from the long-cooked, chili-pepper-flavored versions.

Ground white-meat chicken is available at Whole Foods and many other supermarkets. If you can’t find it, use a food processor to grind your own from boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Ground white-meat turkey can be substituted.

Serve over white rice or on its own, with pita chips on the side.

MAKE AHEAD: This can be made a day in advance and refrigerated.
6 or 7 servings

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground white-meat chicken (see headnote)
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 large red, orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked no-salt-added chickpeas, drained
  • 3 cups no-salt-added or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1/2 to 1 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a a 4-quart pot, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat. Add half of the chicken; cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring, until the chicken loses its raw look. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a clean bowl. Repeat with the remaining chicken, adding a tablespoon of oil as needed.

When all of the chicken is cooked, add the remaining tablespoon of the oil to the pot. When it is hot, add the onion and bell pepper. Season with salt to taste. Reduce the heat to medium; cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the vegetables have softened.

Stir in the cumin and coriander; cook for 1 minute, then return the chicken to the pot. Add the chickpeas and broth, stirring to combine. Cover; once you hear the mixture bubbling, immediately reduce the heat to medium-low so the mixture is barely bubbling at the edges. Partially cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Combine the lemon juice and cornstarch in a measuring cup, then stir it into the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high; once the mixture begins to boil and thicken, remove from the heat.

Stir in the cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Divide among individual bowls; serve hot.

Recipe Source:
From Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
300 calories, 17g fat, 1g saturated fat, 90mg cholesterol, 190mg sodium, 14g carbohydrates, 3g dietary fiber, 1g sugar, 22g protein.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cheesecake in a Glass

This recipe appeared in my inbox not too long ago. Now I am a cheesecake purist. Really no one can touch my mothers. It is the best and really, it spoils cheesecake for me anywhere else.

But I'm (usually) willing to try new things. From C in DC via The English Kitchen.

Cheesecake in a Glass with Rhubarb Syrup
Serves 8

If you only make one dessert this year . . . let this be the one! Easily made the day before (without the topping). Top with the rhubarb just before serving.

  • 50g of butter (1/4 cup)
  • 200g shortbread type of biscuits, made into fine crumbs (about 2 cups)
For the cheese filling:
  • 350ml of double cream (1 1/3 cups whipping cream)
  • 150g of caster sugar (2/3 cup)
  • 250g of mascarpone cheese (1 cup)
  • 300g of soft cream cheese (1 1/4 cup)
  • the finely grated zest of an unwaxed orange
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
For the rhubarb topping:
  • 450g of rhubarb (1 pound)
  • 150g of caster sugar (2'3 cup)
  • 1 TBS honey
  • the finely grated zest of 1/2 unwaxed orange
First make the crumbs. You want the biscuits really crushed fine. (A biscuit is a cookie.) Melt the butter and mix it together with the biscuit crumbs. Set aside.

Measure the cream along with the sugar into a large bowl. Whisk with a balloon whisk just until it begins to thicken. Do not over whip as you will have problems. Fold in the mascarpone cheese and cream cheese, along with the orange zest and vanilla. Set aside.

Wash the rhubarb and trim. Cut into 1 inch lengths. Place into a large pan along with the sugar, orange zest, honey and 4 TBS water. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and gently poach the rhubarb until softened. This will take about 15 minutes or so. Remove the rhubarb with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Bring the juices back to the boil and reduce until it is thick and syrupy. Watch carefully as you don't want it to burn or disappear. Set aside to cool.

Spoon a tablespoon of the cheese mixture into the bottoms of some pretty glasses. Top with 1/3 of the crumbs. Spoon half of the remaining cheese mixture over top. Top with 1/3 of the crumbs. Add the remaining cheese mixture, once again spooning it on top. sprinkle with the remainder of the crumbs. Divide the poached rhubarb between all the glasses and spoon it on top of the crumbs. Drizzle with a bit of the rhubarb syrup. Serve.

Friday, March 4, 2011

It's a Sitcom Party!

Hey, it's Pizza / Movie night at the launchpad, but we are always up for a good sitcom. Check out this picture and see how many of the sitcoms you can identify. Click on the picture to see it larger. The key is here and the list is also below. No peeking until you at least try. I put in bold the ones that I missed.

Bonus Quiz - I have listed the characters as identified in the picture. Name the actors.

In other news, The US Government will not shutdown today. For that I am grateful, as I am sure are those people to whom I pay bills. The Congress passed another Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government for two more weeks, so they can keep talking about finding the money to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year.

Bonus Quiz #2 - Why is this date significant in American History? Why is it of some significance to Franklin Roosevelt, though he likely feels the same way about January 20?

Finally, if anyone is in the market for a car - I might be willing to give you mine. It would appear that another model of Mazdas (the Mazda6) may have spiders in the engine venting that may cause a fire. But a fire would be preferable to having SPIDERS in one's car! You can read the article about the recall here.

OK? Ready for the list. How'd you do?
  1. The Odd Couple (Felix Unger)
  2. Seinfeld (Cosmo Kramer)
  3. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (Mary Richards)
  4. Sanford and Son (Fred Sanford)
  5. Night Court (Nostradamus "Bull" Shannon)
  6. Mr. Belvedere (Lynn Aloysius Belvedere)
  7. Everybody Loves Raymond (Ray Barone)
  8. Welcome Back, Kotter (Gabe Kotter)
  9. What’s Happening!! (Freddie "Rerun" Stubbs)
  10. All in the Family (Archie Bunker)
  11. The Cosby Show (Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable)
  12. The Honeymooners (Ralph Kramden)
  13. Maude (Maude Findlay) - I got this one on the second pass
  14. Married . . . with Children (Al Bundy)
  15. The Facts of Life (Natalie Green)
  16. Chico and the Man (Ed Brown) - I thought it was Ed Norton, but that couldn't be right with Kramden also there.
  17. Will & Grace (Grace Adler) - but only because it didn't look like her.
  18. The Golden Girls (Sophia Petrillo)
  19. The Dick Van Dyke Show (Rob Petrie)
  20. Good Times (James "J.J." Evans, Jr.)
  21. Roseanne (Dan Connor)
  22. Saved by the Bell (Sam "Screech" Powers) - a show I never watched, thankfully
  23. Charles in Charge (Charles)
  24. Home Improvement (Wilson Wilson, Jr.)
  25. Family Matters (Steven Quincy Urkel)
  26. Three’s Company (Chrissy Snow)
  27. Growing Pains (Jason Seaver)
  28. Happy Days (Arthur "the Fonz" Fonzarelli)
  29. The Jeffersons (George Jefferson)
  30. Perfect Strangers (Balki Bartokomous)
  31. Laverne and Shirley (Laverne DeFazio)
  32. I Love Lucy (Lucy Ricardo)
  33. 227 (Sandra Clark)
  34. ALF (ALF)
  35. Family Ties (Alex P. Keaton) - although he looks like a girl, must be the hair
  36. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (William Smith)
  37. Friends (Rachel Green)
  38. Sabrina the Teenage Witch (Salem Saberhagen) - I knew the show, but would have never been able to come up with the cat's name
  39. Blossom (Blossom Russo) - tonight on a very special "Blossom," Blossom tries not to look so pained
  40. Out of This World (The Cube) - never would have gotten this one, either
  41. Frasier (Eddie)
  42. Webster (Webster Long)
  43. Full House (Michelle Tanner)
  44. Diff’rent Strokes (Arnold Jackson)
  45. Punky Brewster (Penelope "Punky" Brewster) - although I initially switched her with the Olsen twin.
  46. Who’s the Boss? (Tony Micelli)
  47. Mork & Mindy (Mork)
  48. Taxi (Louie DePalma)
  49. Two and a Half Men (Charlie Harper)