Monday, July 29, 2013

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

The Brave Astronaut is usually in charge of getting dinner on the table - primarily because I'm home first.  Sometimes I am not sure what to make - and I think LBA would survive happily on Taco Night and Pizza, if we let him.  SoBA would eat his weight in Pasta and Peas.  With the return to school not so far off (and the evenings when we might run off to the pool for an evening swim), it's time to revive the menu for some new family dinners.

Here's a recipe I found that might please everyone in the Brave Astronaut Clan.  I will point out here that Mrs. BA does make a really good Chicken Parmesan.

Chicken Parmesan Burgers
Bon App├ętit | March 2010
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Active Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

  • 10 1/2-inch-thick slices French bread (4 inches in diameter); 8 slices toasted, 2 slices (crust removed) diced 
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 4 tablespoons minced fresh basil, divided, plus 12 large basil leaves 
  • 3/4 cup purchased refrigerated marinara sauce 
  • 12 ounces ground chicken (white meat) 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 4 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced 
  • 4 large radicchio leaves

Blend diced bread and Parmesan in processor to fine crumbs. Transfer to pie dish; mix in 2 tablespoons minced basil.

Mix marinara and 2 tablespoons basil in small saucepan. Transfer 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce to large bowl. Add chicken, 1/2 tablespoon oil, onion, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle with pepper; blend. Shape into four 1/2-inch-thick patties; coat with crumbs. Heat sauce over low heat.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook patties until bottoms are crusty, 4 minutes. Turn patties over; top with cheese. Cook 3 minutes. Cover; cook until cooked through and cheese is melted, about 1 minute.

Assemble burgers with bread, radicchio, basil leaves, and warm marinara.

Friday, July 26, 2013

50 Films for 50 States

As you, my faithful readers know, Friday is Pizza / Movie Night at the launchpad.  I spotted this post from Yahoo from a friend a week or so ago - listing 50 movies specific to the 50 states.  It sort of dovetails with the "patriotic list" I posted on the 4th of July.

Agree / Disagree?  Post your favorites in the comments.  My comments are below.
  1. Alabama - To Kill a Mockingbird - ooh, good start
  2. Alaska - Insomnia - this movie really weirded me out
  3. Arizona - Raising Arizona - well, naturally (Kate - is this one on the list? 1987!)
  4. Arkansas - Sling Blade - what, not Primary Colors? :)
  5. California - American Graffiti - this was likely the hardest state to pick just one movie.  I would have of course, turned to the disaster flick(s), but that's just me
  6. Colorado - The Shining
  7. Connecticut - Far From Heaven - I might have gone with The Ice Storm
  8. Delaware - Fight Club - the list admits the state is not mentioned but there are references to Wilmington
  9. Florida - Magic Mike
  10. Georgia - Gone With the Wind - duh.
  11. Hawaii - From Here to Eternity - what, no Pearl Harbor?
  12. Idaho - Napoleon Dynamite - evidently My Own Private Idaho does not take place in the potato state
  13. Illinois - The Blues Brothers - I can live with this (Kate, this one should also be on the list, 1980)
  14. Indiana - Hoosiers - again, duh.
  15. Iowa - Field of Dreams - "they'll come to Iowa, for reasons they can't fathom . . . "
  16. Kansas - Winchester '73 - Man, Jimmy Stewart AND Shelly Winters!?
  17. Kentucky - Coal Miner's Daughter - sure, sure (Kate, 1980)
  18. Louisiana - Interview with the Vampire - I might have gone Grisham here, but he may be more Mississippi.
  19. Maine - The Shawshank Redemption - second Stephen King movie on the list!
  20. Maryland - Diner - this list would have stopped right here if it wasn't Levinson
  21. Massachusetts - The Town - another tough state to narrow down, The Departed, Good Will Hunting also work here
  22. Michigan - Gran Torino
  23. Minnesota - Purple Rain - this movie takes place in Minneapolis?
  24. Mississippi - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  25. Missouri - Waiting For Guffman
  26. Montana - A River Runs Through It
  27. Nebraska - Election
  28. Nevada - Ocean's Eleven - Bugsy might have worked here, or Casino.
  29. New Hampshire - What About Bob? - this might make Anna's head explode.  Hotel New Hampshire, perhaps?
  30. New Jersey - Atlantic City 
  31. New Mexico - High Noon
  32. New York - Manhattan - well sure.  But again a state that's hard to pin down.
  33. North Carolina - Bull Durham
  34. North Dakota - Fargo - again, duh.
  35. Ohio - Heathers
  36. Oklahoma - The Outsiders - "stay gold, Ponyboy"
  37. Oregon - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  38. Pennsylvania - Groundhog Day - surely by pure repetition . . . 
  39. Rhode Island - Me, Myself, and Irene
  40. South Carolina - Glory
  41. South Dakota - North by Northwest - the big climactic scene and all . . . .
  42. Tennessee - Nashville
  43. Texas - Giant
  44. Utah - 127 Hours
  45. Vermont - Dead Poets Society - O Captain, My Captain!
  46. Virginia - Donnie Darko
  47. Washington - Singles
  48. West Virginia - We Are Marshall - nice call
  49. Wisconsin - Lars and the Real Girl
  50. Wyoming - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - "who are those guys?"

Monday, July 22, 2013

Candy Bar Pie? Yes, Please!

The Brave Astronaut has a sweet tooth.  There's no denying it.  I'm proud of it.  I embrace it.  Now I need Mrs. BA to make me some pie.  From BuzzFeed.  Now yes, I noticed there is peanut butter in it (which is not allowed for LBA - but there's always a substitution - regular old whipped cream perhaps?)

Candy Bar Ice Box Pie

For the crust
  • 2 ½ cups of pretzel sticks 
  • 3 tablespoons sugar 
  • 7 tablespoons butter, melted 
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
* Note that this crust recipe makes two crusts, enough for one double-crust pie or two single crust pies. Save the second round in your freezer in a plastic bag for up to a month.

For the caramel sauce 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 6 tablespoons water 
  • 4 tablespoon butter 
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream 
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt 
For the assembly
  • 1 ⅓ cup plus ⅔ cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips, divided 
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 3/4 cups chilled whipping cream, divided 
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided 
  • 2-3 Take 5 candy bars 
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips 
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (don’t use old-fashioned style or freshly ground) 

To make crust
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9” pie pan with butter or baking spray. Put pretzel sticks in a food processor and process for about 30 seconds. (Or put in a plastic bag and whack at them with the back of a spoon until they are in small crumbs.) Put the crumbs into a bowl then add the sugar, cream, and melted butter, mixing to combine. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes—the crust shouldn’t change color too much but it will set. Then freeze crust for 30 minutes while you make the caramel. 

To make caramel sauce 
  • Put sugar and water into a saucepan (try not to get any sugar or water on sides of pan) over medium low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Dissolve any crystals forming on the side with a wet pastry brush. Once sugar has dissolved increase heat to high. At this point, don’t stir the mixture anymore. It will start to bubble after a minute and you should occasionally take the pan’s handle and swirl it to keep the syrup moving. Once the syrup starts to turn a light gold, add the butter and heavy cream. The mixture will bubble wildly and that’s normal. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

To make chocolate ganache
  • Combine 1 ⅓ cup chocolate chips, 2/3 cup cream, corn syrup, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium heat until chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Whisk until melted and smooth. (You can also do this in a saucepan — just combine everything and heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until melted and combined.) Spread chocolate mixture over bottom of crust. Freeze 20 minutes. 
  • Cover chocolate layer with caramel (you may want to reheat and whisk caramel to get it “moving” before you add it), and freeze 20 minutes. 

To make peanut butter mousse 
  • Microwave peanut butter chips and 3/4 cup cream in large microwave-safe bowl on medium heat at 15-second intervals just until chips soften, stirring often. (Same goes here for doing this in a saucepan.) Whisk in peanut butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Set aside to cool. 
  • Using a whisk or electric beater, beat remaining 1 cup cream and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until very thick and just holding peaks. Once peanut butter mixture is cool, gently fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture. 
  • Spread mousse over caramel layer. 
  • Chill pie at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. To serve, melt remaining ¾ cup chocolate. Top pie with chopped candy bar pieces and drizzle with melted chocolate.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Bretton Woods Conference

Sixty-nine years ago this month in July 1944, the Bretton Woods Conference convened at the Bretton Woods Hotel in New Hampshire.  Arriving in secrecy at the hotel were delegates from around the world, there to help establish an international financial system to help the world recover from the Second World War.  The link above is to a virtual exhibition that I helped to create when I worked at the International Monetary Fund.

There's a new book out on the work of the conference and the individual efforts of Harry Dexter White, the chief U.S. representative.  The book also sheds some new light on allegations that White may have been a Soviet spy.  The book is an excellent companion piece to the 2010 Pulitzer Prize Winning Lords of Finance.  There was also a recent article about White's alleged spying that appeared in Foreign Affairs.  When I worked at the IMF, I had the honor of spending some time with Jacques Polak, who was also a representative at the conference.  He told some amazing stories about the workings of the conference.

We've come a long way from those days in New Hampshire (and later in Savannah). The Brave Astronaut has a good friend who is coming out with a book in September on financial warfare.  I'm looking forward to reading it - you should too!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tuna Noodle Casserole

When my parents were first married - they scraped to make ends meet.  One staple of their meals was the Tuna Noodle Casserole (with potato chips on top).  It never sounded all that appetizing and I love potato chips and tuna fish.  It might be worth reexamining at this point.  Here's a recipe from Pinch My Salt.

Homemade Tuna Noodle Casserole 
Serves 8
  • 12 ounces wide egg noodles 
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped 
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms (can substitute white button), finely chopped 
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped 
  • 7 tablespoons butter, divided 
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme 
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 4 cups whole milk 
  • 2 small (5 oz) cans of chunk tuna (water or olive-oil packed), drained and flaked into small pieces 
  • 1 1/2 cups peas (either frozen or fresh peas that have been shelled and blanched) 
  • 6 ounces medium cheddar cheese (I use Tillamook), shredded 
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 13×9-inch baking dish.

Cook egg noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water until almost tender; drain, rinse briefly under cold water, and return to pot off the heat.

Meanwhile, heat milk in microwave or on the stove just until warm then set aside off the heat. Heat 4 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook onions, mushrooms, and celery with a generous pinch of salt until all the water from the mushrooms has evaporated and the mixture is starting to brown and smell really great, about 12-15 minutes. Stir in the thyme and cook for a few seconds until fragrant and then stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute (mixture will be quite dry – that’s okay). Turn up heat to medium high and pour milk into the flour mixture, whisking to break up any clumps. Stir constantly until sauce is thickened and bubbly. Turn off heat and season well with salt and black pepper to taste.

Add sauce to the noodles in the pot along with the peas and tuna. Stir everything together well and at the very end stir in the shredded cheddar cheese. Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish.

Melt remaining three tablespoons of butter and toss with the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle buttered crumbs over the top of the casserole. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the bread crumbs are evenly browned and filling is bubbly. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Bells of Notre Dame

Today is Bastille Day - the day that marks the beginning of the French Revolution and the storming of the prison in Paris.  Earlier this year, in March, I spotted this about new bells being placed in the steeples of Notre Dame.  The cathedral marked its 850th Anniversary on March 23

The summer of 2013 is also the thirtieth (30 years!?) anniversary of my trip to France.  All of my siblings and I were given the opportunity by our parents to spend the majority of a summer in France, visiting with relatives in France.  (My father was born in France - on July 4, which of course didn't matter until he came here and there are still many Brave Astronaut relatives there.) In fact, as the BuzzFeed article notes, the bells were forged in Normandy, the neighboring province to where several of my family's relatives live - on the southern coast of Bretagne."

So, coming up - to commemorate my trip to France - I will post some recollections of my trip to France.  For now, won't you sing along with me?  (I'll have to check in with my father - if he's drinking today, he might break into song, as he is wont to do when he's had a few.)

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Best Lists of All Time

Is this the list of all lists? From the New Yorker via kottke.  My notes/comments in italics after those items worth noting or looking into further.

100. Generations of Adam (Genesis) (all that begatting)
99. Satchel Paige’s “How to Keep Young”
98. The Crain’s New York Business “40 Under 40”
97. Gentlemen Golfers of Leith’s “Articles & Laws in Playing at Golf” (the British Open starts next week!)
96. The World Rock Paper Scissors player’s responsibility code
95. Maxims “Hot 100”
94. Benjamin Franklin’s “Thirteen Virtues” (and LBA and I just watched 1776 last week!)
93. Benjamin Tusser’s “Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandrie”
92. The Rules
91. U.S. News and World Report’s best-college rankings
90. McDonald’s Big Mac-ingredients commercial
89. Mel Kiper’s N.F.L.-draft Big Board
88. Peoples “Most Beautiful People”
87. Peoples “Sexiest Man Alive”
86. Carter Chambers’s bucket list from “The Bucket List”
85. Stanley Coren’s dog-breed intelligence ranking
84. Wine Spectators “Top 100”
83. Maimonides’s “13 Principles of Faith”
82. Maria Kutchera’s “My Favorite Things” (“The Sound Of Music”)
81. Rolling Stones “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”
80. Dr. James Naismith’s original 13 Rules of Basket Ball
79. Rules, Regulations, & Laws of the Sheffield Foot-Ball Club
78. The Sporting News’ “Rules of Scientific Heckling”
77. Van Halen’s 1982 tour-provisions “rider” (the M&M rider)
76. Restaurants “50 Best Restaurants”
75. Modern Library’s “100 Best Novels”
74.’s “Top 100 North American Athletes of the (20th) Century”
73. American Film Institute’s “100 Years, 100 Movies”
72. The Economists “Big Mac Index”
71. Casey Kasem’s “American Top 40”
70. William the Conqueror’s “The Domesday Book”
69. Inc. 5000
68. Emily’s List
67. Lloyd’s List
66. National Register of Historic Places
65. Guest List, The Marriage of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales with the Lady Diana Spencer
64. Vietnam Veterans Memorial
63. Associated Press Top 25 Football Poll
62. Billboards “Top 100”
61. Fortune 500
60. Rosanne Cash’s “The List”
59. Social Register
58. Mrs. Astor’s 400
57. Mayflower passenger list
56. Classic Ruy Lopez Chess Opening, a.k.a. The Spanish Opening
55. Pablo Picasso’s “Recommendations for 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art”
54. Major Reforms Section, Republican Contract with America
53. U.S. Department of Defense’s “Iraqi 55” Most-Wanted Playing Cards
52. Catholic Online’s Saints & Angels database
51. U.S. Department of State’s designated foreign terrorist organizations
50. U.S. Department of State’s current travel warnings
49. 1927 Yankees’ opening-day lineup (Murderers Row)
48. Moneys “Best Places To Live In America”
47. The Michelin Red Guide
46. Fundamental Principles of Olympism
45. “Late Show With David Letterman” Top Ten
44. George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Network Television”
43. The New York Times’ best-sellers list
42. Mr. Blackwell’s worst-dressed list
41. The Dewey Decimal System
40. Delmonico’s Menu
39. Richard Nixon’s “Enemies List”
38. Facebook friends list
37. Shit List
36. The F.B.I.’s ten-most-wanted-fugitives list
35. The Beatles' set list, Majestic Ballroom concert in Luton, U.K., April 17, 1963
34. Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index
33. Russell 2000 Index
32. Standard & Poor’s 500
31. Dow Jones Industrials
30. “The Nifty Fifty”
29. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”
28. Forbes 400
27. The UNESCO “World Heritage List”
26. “The Spy 100”
25. The Apollo 11 surface checklist
24. Warren Buffett’s “Investment Criteria Checklist”
23. This grocery list
22. Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation
21. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
20. The U.S. Declaration of Independence list of grievances
19. The Fibonacci Sequence
18. Santa’s List!
17. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee?” (Sonnet 43)
16. Hasbro’s “2-Letter Scrabble Words List”
15. Kelley Blue Book
14. Dante Alighieri’s nine circles of Hell
13. Schindler’s list
12. “The Twelve Days of Christmas”
11. Marquess of Queensbury Rules
10. Robert’s Rules of Order
9. The World Wildlife Fund (endangered) species directory
8. Alcoholics Anonymous’ twelve steps
7. Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
6. Martin Luther’s "95 Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences"
5. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
4. The Ten Commandments
3. Craigslist
2. The Bill of Rights
1. The Periodic Table of Elements

Monday, July 8, 2013

It's Not Flag Cake

With the Fourth of July just a few days past - the opportunity for Flag Cake has come and gone.  BuzzFeed posted a list of 31 Things to Cook in July and these simple treats were on the list.  Hey, Bastille Day is next weekend.

Red, White, and Blueberry Shortcakes
Serves 6
Active time 30 minutes
Total time 1 hour

For the Biscuits:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces 
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk 
For the Topping:
  • 12 ounces blueberries 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon zest from one large lemon 
  • 3 tablespoons juice from one large lemon 
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla 
  • 1 quart strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced 
  • 1 cup whipped cream 

  1. Set rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times to thoroughly incorporate ingredients. Add butter and pulse 7 to 9 times or until butter and flour come together in pea-sized clumps. In a measuring cup whisk together buttermilk and vanilla. Add 1/3 of the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture, pulse several times to incorporate, then repeat until buttermilk has been fully incorporated and dough is beginning to come together. 
  2. Transfer dough to a well-floured surface, pat down and roll out to 1/2-inch thickness. Using a star-shaped biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits. Place biscuits on large baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack for cooling. 
  3. In a medium sauce pan combine blueberries, sugar, and lemon zest. In a small bowl whisk together lemon juice, corn starch, and vanilla. Pour mixture over blueberries and stir to incorporate. Heat berries over medium high heat, stirring frequently until juices come together to form thick sauce. Remove from heat and set aside. 
  4. Using a serrated knife split the biscuits and top with 1 tablespoon of blueberry sauce, sliced strawberries and whipped cream, if desired. Serve immediately.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

End of an Era

As most of you, my dear readers know, I got my start in the archival profession working at the archives for the Rockefeller family.  It was a good place to work and every year on July 8, we would take the time to remember the birthdays of Nelson Rockefeller and his grandfather, John D. Rockefeller.  There was usually cake, sometimes ice cream, but not necessarily Dubonnet and Oreos.

I noted a few months ago that JDR's great-grandson, John D. Rockefeller IV (Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-WV) has announced his intention to leave the United States Senate.  It marks a significant milestone in the family's history - there will not be a Rockefeller in high office in the United States for the first time in four decades and only the second time since the 1950s.

There are some younger Rockefellers who may be ready to take up the family business, but no one is actively pursuing it - and it also means that Jay's seat will likely turn red in the 2014 elections.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Born on the Fourth of July

Today is American Independence Day and the 84th birthday of my father - Happy Birthday Dad (born on the Fourth of July) - wish I could be there to help you celebrate! The word is my father will have some friends over for a little barbecue - my brother swooped in from Maine for an overnight visit earlier in the week - but he's already gone back.  My sister, who lives nearby will be over, too.

The Brave Astronaut clan will celebrate our independence (and the federal holiday) most likely poolside in the early part of the day.  LBA started asking last week when we would have our annual viewing of 1776 (about the same time I put the soundtrack CD in the car) - I'm hoping we get that in before we get to the pool.

In the evening - we will head to Annapolis, as we have done for the past several years to watch our friend march in the Independence Day Parade.  This year we are thinking of staying for the fireworks, as SoBA seems to be growing out of his fear of fireworks (as LBA did).  It is however a school / work day the next day - so that might not work out.

Hope whatever you are doing is fun and safe.  Happy Birthday America!  If you're feeling patriotic, here's a list of what [BuzzFeed thinks] your state contributes to the cause:
  1. ALABAMA: Forrest Gump - Alabama was the fictional home of Forrest Gump and the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. [really, that's the best they can come up with - a fictional character? - that's just sad]
  2. ALASKA: Bald Eagles - the national bird of the US, it can be found in every state except Hawaii, but the largest population nests in Alaska.
  3. ARIZONA: The Grand Canyon - considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the 277 mile-long fissure was carved by the Colorado River.
  4. ARKANSAS: Johnny Cash - the American singer, songwriter, actor and author was born in Kingsland on February 26, 1932.
  5. CALIFORNIA: McDonald’s - the burger joint was founded when the McDonalds family opened “The Airdrome” in 1937 in Monrovia.
  6. COLORADO: Cheeseburgers - though in dispute, the trademark for the American icon was awarded to Louis Ballast of the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In of Denver in 1935.
  7. CONNECTICUT: Lollipops - the term “Lolly Pop” wasn’t trademarked until 1931 by George Smith of New Haven.
  8. DELAWARE: The First State - on December 7, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States.
  9. FLORIDA: NASCAR - founded by William France, Sr. in 1948, the conglomerate is headquartered in Daytona Beach.
  10. GEORGIA: Coca-Cola - headquartered in Atlanta, the original recipe was conjured up at the Eagle Drug and Chemical Company in Columbus by John Pemberton.
  11. HAWAII: Pearl Harbor - part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, the USS Arizona Memorial located at Pearl Harbor commemorates the events of Japan’s attack on December 7, 1941 and honors the 1,177 brave sailors and marines whose lives were taken.
  12. IDAHO: Potatoes - the nation’s largest producer of potatoes, accounting for more than 20% of the country’s annual crop.
  13. ILLINOIS: John Deere - the man, John Deere, was born in Vermont, but he found success by inventing the first commercially successful cast-steel plow after settling in Grand Detour. He moved the business operations to Moline for shipping purposes, and it remains headquartered there today.
  14. INDIANA: NCAA - the National Collegiate Athletic Association moved its headquarters to Indianapolis in 1999.
  15. IOWA: John Wayne - born Marion Mitchell Morrison in Winterset, the actor, director and producer was awarded the government’s two highest civilian decorations, the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. [I'm sure, in part, for the number of times he was shot in the same leg in all those movies]
  16. KANSAS: White Castle - the home of the "belly bomber" was founded in Wichita in 1921, the “sliders” were priced at 5¢ a piece until the 1940s.
  17. KENTUCKY: Bourbon Whiskey - named after an area called “Old Bourbon” that is now Bourbon County. The state produces more than 90% of all the bourbon in the world, and there are currently more barrels of bourbon in the aging process than there are people within Kentucky.
  18. LOUISIANA: Mardi Gras - the annual celebrations in New Orleans have become synonymous with the city itself.
  19. MAINE: Lobster Rolls - the tasty treat have been served up since the 1970s.
  20. MARYLAND: Babe Ruth - the Sultan of Swat was born in Baltimore on February 6, 1895. [sure, that's nice, but how about Fort McHenry? the Flag? Hello?]
  21. MASSACHUSETTS: Basketball - Dr. James Naismith invented the game of basketball to serve as an “athletic distraction” for his rambunctious class at the Springfield YMCA. [Um, this list might suck a little too much to carry on - Minutemen? Bunker Hill, Pilgrims?]
  22. MICHIGAN: Muscle Cars - Ford and General Motors led the charge in the late 1940s and early 1950s from the “Motor City”
  23. MINNESOTA: Mall of America - Bloomington's mega-mall opened in 1992. The location boasts more than 520 stores, an indoor amusement park and an aquarium and occupies more than four million square feet.
  24. MISSISSIPPI: Elvis Presley - born in Tupelo on January 8, 1935
  25. MISSOURI: Budweiser - Adolphus Busch left Germany and settled in St. Louis in 1857. He married into the Anheuser family and started the foundation of the Anheuser-Busch Company.
  26. MONTANA: Grizzly Bears - the bears are the state animal of Montana.
  27. NEBRASKA: Kool-Aid - Edwin Perkins invented Kool-Aid in Hastings in 1927
  28. NEVADA: “All-You-Can-Eat” - Herb Macdonald came up with the idea to help promote tourism to the Las Vegas Strip in 1956.
  29. NEW HAMPSHIRE: Beer Pong - the game was invented at Dartmouth University in Hanover, NH. [This might be the worse entry on the list]
  30. NEW JERSEY: Drive-In Theaters - Richard Hollingshead, Jr. created the first drive-in theater in Camden
  31. NEW MEXICO: Nuclear Weapons - the state contains the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Besides weapon research and production, this was also the site for the first nuclear detonation, Trinity.
  32. NEW YORK: Jeans - Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss invented jeans in 1873 in New York.
  33. NORTH CAROLINA: Tobacco - North Carolina accounts for more than 70% of America’s tobacco production.
  34. NORTH DAKOTA: Baked Beans - roughly 1/3 of all America’s beans are produced in North Dakota.
  35. OHIO: Cedar Point - the 364-acre amusement park on the shores of Lake Erie has been commonly referred to as the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World”.
  36. OKLAHOMA: Girl Scout Cookies - the first cookie sale was held by the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, OK in 1917. The American Girl magazine suggested the idea in 1922, and the rest is history. [OK, we're redeeming ourselves with a Girl Scout mention]
  37. OREGON: Nike - founded as Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964 at the University of Oregon. The company changed its name to honor the Greek goddess of victory. They are headquartered near Beaverton.
  38. PENNSYLVANIA: Gettysburg - the site of our Civil War’s turning point. It was the battle featuring the most casualties as the Union thwarted Confederate General Robert Lee’s invasion of the north. [you like this, unless you're from the South]
  39. RHODE ISLAND: First Independence - on May 4, 1776, Rhode Island became the first of the 13 colonies to declare its independence from British rule.
  40. SOUTH CAROLINA: Fireworks - the state boasts the most lenient laws to buy and display fireworks.
  41. SOUTH DAKOTA: Mount Rushmore - the carving of four 60-foot faces began in 1927 and ended in 1941.
  42. TENNESSEE: Dollywood - opened in 1961 as “Rebel Railroad”, the park was renamed “Dollywood” after Dolly Parton became a co-owner in 1986. Since the country music star came into the picture, the park has doubled in size and attendance. [ooh, a couple of steps back here]
  43. TEXAS: Longhorn - the Longhorn is one of Texas’ state animals. It is also the mascot for the University of Texas at Austin. Not surprisingly, Texas leads the US in beef production.
  44. UTAH: The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints - Joseph Smith may have founded Mormonism in Western New York, but Brigham Young led the followers to modern day Utah after Smith’s death
  45. VERMONT: Apple Pie - the tasty dessert was designated the official state pie for Vermont in 1999. Apples are also the official state fruit.
  46. VIRGINIA: George Washington - the Father of our Country was born, lived, died and now rests in Virginia.
  47. WASHINGTON: Starbucks - what began as a small coffeehouse in Seattle, is now the largest coffeehouse chain in the world with more than 20 thousand locations.
  48. WEST VIRGINIA: Mother’s Day - the modern holiday was first celebrated in Grafton, WV when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mom in 1908. It was a nationally recognized holiday by 1914.
  49. WISCONSIN: Harley-Davidson - William Harley and Arthur Davidson grew up in Milwaukee, WI. Along with Arthur’s brother, Walter, they began making their prototypes in 1901. Harley-Davidson is still churning out choppers and hogs today from their headquarters in Milwaukee.
  50. WYOMING: Yellowstone - the National Park spans almost 3.5 thousand square miles. It hosts the world’s largest free roaming Buffalo population and the fabled geyser Old Faithful.

Monday, July 1, 2013

And We're Back! With More Pudding

I know, I know, I promised that I would be better.  But I don't know where the time goes anymore.  I still want to keep blogging - so I'm going to keep coming back here and posting stuff, including recipe Mondays.

I've posted about pudding before, c'mon who doesn't like pudding?  I LOVE pudding.  Mrs. BA are you listening?  She's made it for the neighbors (butterscotch).  She made chocolate pudding (stirring constantly) for a Chocolate Blackout Cake.  Granted I am a plain vanilla guy so vanilla pudding is always welcome.

So I spotted another chocolate pudding recipe the looks good.  Enjoy!

Glissade Chocolate Pudding
Use the best quality chocolate you can get your hands on - preferably in the 60-80% range. Also, this is the perfect make-ahead dessert, you can absolutely make it a day ahead of time. I've also done it with muscovado/brown sugar - A+! Also, as noted below, this recipe does feature raw egg* - I buy and use the best eggs I can, keep them refrigerated, and am personally comfortable with the risk (and I always mention if I'm serving something with raw egg in it). But it's really up to each individual to make the call. The standard disclaimer recommends children, pregnant women, the elderly, and anyone with an immune system disorder should avoid eating uncooked egg because of salmonella risk. 

  • 2 eggs, brought to room temperature shortly before using* 
  • 6 ounces / 170 g good-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped 
  • 4 tablespoons water 
  • 4 tablespoons fine grain sugar 
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • fine grain sea salt 
  • to top: heavy cream, loosely whipped, slightly sweetened (optional) 

Separate the whites and yolks of the eggs. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold very stiff peaks.

Combine the chocolate, water, sugar, butter, and a pinch of salt in a double boiler. If you don't have a double-boiler, you can fashion one by combining the ingredients in a medium stainless steel bowl, and then placing this bowl atop a small simmering saucepan of water. The idea is to apply just enough gentle heat to melt the chocolate. Stir until the ingredients come together smoothly. Remove from heat, and beat in the egg yolks. Add the egg whites, and fold gently until the pudding is uniform in texture. Pour the pudding into serving cups or glasses, and chill well - preferably for a few hours. Serve topped with a bit of whipped cream.

Serves 2-4.

*This recipe does use raw egg - children, pregnant women, the elderly, and anyone with an immune system disorder should avoid eating uncooked egg because of salmonella risk.

Adapted from La Patisserie est un Jeu d'Enfants by Michel Oliver. Published by Random House, 1966.

Prep time: 3 min - Cook time: 5 min