Cowboy’s Kitchen Invasion: Egg Rollin’

It’s Little Sister’s birthday today.

Here she is, gathering wood for our fire back in the olden days…

It’s also my Momma’s.

And here she is, when we were nothing but a twinkle in her eye…

They are two stubborn, competitive, well spoken and beautiful women who love to eat and who turn another year older today.

And I’m happy about that. Because without them my world would be missing the kind of tear-streaming laughter that only a momma and a sister can elicit.

We have a big party in the works for tomorrow to celebrate them properly. There will be sledding, there will be dips and chips and wine and cocktails and neighbors. And there will be cake. I will make it. It will be from scratch. And it will be chocolate.

I’m not going to make any promises about it being delicious, but that’s what I’m going to aim for.

Anyway, I’ll tell you one thing that all Veeder women have in common, when it comes to our birthdays we like to stretch the party out over a few days (or in my case, at least the entire month of August).

And so it began for Little Sister yesterday when she arrived at our place after work with a bag full of ingredients and a mission to teach Husband and I how to make egg rolls.

Now, Little Sister is notorious for calling me or Momma during an impromptu trip to the grocery store hundreds of miles away and demanding that, no matter where we are in the world, we retrieve from thin air that recipe she enjoyed so much once during her childhood…and then she proceeds to call us every ten minutes during the multiple hour process to walk her through it.

So when my dear, sweet, squishy cheeked Little Sister  informed me that she was going to make us egg rolls I was excited and intrigued and knew it probably had something to do with the man in her life.

And now we introduce: The Boyfriend.

He’s a pretty good guy I tell you. Funny and patient and brought up by a family who makes cooking a competition.

Which is actually perfect because Little Sister happens to be competitive, and, well, if you turn cooking into a sport where beer drinking and eating is encouraged, I guess she can get right on board with that.

And so this is where the egg rolls come in, the whole process a tradition in The Boyfriend’s family complete with friendly rivalry and snide remarks about who makes the best roll.

I decided we needed aprons.

Husband decided to put on his hat, roll up his sleeves, turn on some Johnny Cash, pour himself some whiskey, and sharpen his knives for forty five minutes.

I decided to document.

And so I present to you a long overdue installment of “Cowboy in the Kitchen”…with a twist.

Cowboy’s Kitchen Invasion: Egg Rollin’ with Little Sister and The Boyfriend

I promise this is easy, no matter how complicated we make it look.

I promise I’ve never had 90% of these ingredients in my kitchen before.

I promise you I will now stock up.

I promise you’re gonna love them.

Let’s get, umm, rollin…

Step One: Essential Ingredients

Ok, first things first (because you know the rules). Pour yourself a drink while you sing along to “Ring of Fire,” because, well,       this is Cowboy’s Kitchen.

Apparently when Little Sister cooks, she likes to drink out of giant mason jars. She doesn’t mess around people.

Now gather the ingredients.

  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 2 packages cole slaw (you can also shred your own cabbage, but we figured this was homemade enough for Little Sister’s debut)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (not pictured)
  • 12 oz package of tofu. Cowboys, don’t be scared, here’s what it looks like in case you’ve never seen it:
  • 1/2 package cellophane noodles (we used Malifun Rice Sticks)
  • 2 packages (30) egg roll skins
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 2 T seasoning salt (Lowry’s)
  • 1 T ginger
  • 3 T Chinese 5 Spice
  • Dash of pepper to taste
  • Sweet and Sour sauce for dipping
  • Vegetable Oil for frying

Step Two: Prep

Alrighty, got it all? Good. Now heat a good amount of oil up in a fryer, enough to get those egg rolls frying.

This is Cowboy’s favorite part. He loves his fryer. He guards it with his life and has given me specific directions not to touch it.  Now that it’s out of storage, I have a feeling we’ll be having fried suppers for a good week or so. So much for New Year’s Resolutions.

Anyway, while the oil’s heating up, brown the pork in a pan on the stove. You can add a little salt and pepper here for taste if you’d like.

Now, soak those thin cellophane noodles in water (for about 10 to 15 minutes) to get them softened up.

If you feel like it, you can sing the old “Chicago” hit “Cellophane” in your best Broadway voice while waving your jazz hands about the kitchen. Your Little Sister will love that.

Step 3: Chop and Mix

Ok, now chop up those green onions. Don’t worry, Cowboy’s spent the last 20 minutes sharpening that knife so it should get the job done.

In a big mixing bowl add the coleslaw, carrots and onions and mix it all up.

Add the cooked (and drained) pork and the tofu. No need to cut up the tofu, it’s in this recipe to help the ingredients stick together.

Now add the seasoning and watch as Little Sister and The Boyfriend argue about the correct amount.

“If you screw something up, no big deal, it’s only like $12,” says the easy going boyfriend.

“Yeah, that’s what irks me. If we screw this up, we’re out $12!” exclaims the frugal little sister.

Silently hope the whole opposites attracting thing works out for them as you move onto my favorite part, cutting up the thin noodles with a kitchen scissors.

That’s Cowboy’s hopeful wondering face…

Add those noodles to the rest of the ingredients,  mix it all up and get ready to roll!

Step 4: Roll ‘em up

Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Time to roll ‘em.

  • Grab yourself a small bowl of water and wet your counter before placing one egg roll skin flat and at an angle before you.
  • Place about a 2 T of the egg roll mix at the center of one egg roll skin
  • Fold the edge closest you you over the mix,
    then fold in the left and right side of the skin

    and roll it up in a nice and tight little wrap.

The egg roll skins should be flexible and easy to work with and when you wrap them up the corners should seal up really nice. To get this to happen, just keep your fingers wet and add water to the edges and seams of the egg roll wrapper.

Step 5: Fry ‘em

This is where egg roll making becomes a team sport, so put your differences aside and work together!

  • Place the wrapped egg rolls on a cookie sheet and ask The Boyfriend to begin frying them up while you work on wrapping them. You don’t want the little guys to sit too long before you cook them because they dry up and get sticky.


  • Cook each roll 3 or 4 at a time in the fryer (or in a deep frying pan with oil) for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and place on a plate and marvel at how much more delicious they look than those professional egg rolls you’ve seen at the bottom of your Chinese take-out when you used to live in town.
  • Wonder how much it would cost to get Chicken Lo-Mein delivered to the ranch.
  • Think maybe your life could be complete if someone would come over to show you how to make cream cheese and crab wontons to go with them.
    Because this recipe makes a large batch, you can feed your guests as you go, or place them in a pan and keep them warm in the oven until supper time. You may also freeze them in plastic baggies and warm them up in the oven for another day.Or, if you’re The Boyfriend, you can sneak three or four in your girlfriend’s purse for lunch the next day.Step 5: Sit down and eat and tell the story about the cold winter day when Little Sister was born 24 years ago

    Happy Birthday Little Sister and Momma!

    Love you and love these egg rolls!

    And you’re gonna love my cake.

    See ya on the sledding hill tomorrow.

Momma’s Mouth Watering Fudge-A Christmas Gift

The Merriest Christmas to all of you. I hope you’re reading this and looking forward to a weekend filled with friends and family and laughter and delicious food. To honor your friendship and support I am giving you a gift that has been enjoyed by many families around the countryside here Christmas after Christmas, courtesy of my Momma. You remember her? My Momma, the woman who has Santa Clause’s cell phone number on speed dial and continues to make Christmas the most magical time of the year. Every year.

There she is, buried under presents and squished between a couple other holly, jolly family members...

And one of the ways she does this is by whipping up this recipe and distributing it in fancy little green and red containers adorned with bows to every person who has touched her family’s life or made her laugh or brought her a bottle of wine at the perfect moment a bottle of wine was necessary throughout the year.

Men drool over this. Women hide it in places their families won’t find it. Kids sneak pieces of this heartfelt delicacy while their parent’s have their backs turned. It’s a little bit of heaven in your mouth.

It’s my momma’s fudge..and I’m going to give you the recipe.  A recipe that is sure to put you on the top of the “Nice” list year after year.

Make this and even the family members who’ve disowned you will be knocking at your door, apologizing for their wrong doing with a bottle of champaign begging you to forgive them…and please, can I have a piece of that fudge.

It’s that easy.

Really.

I can even make  it…all by myself!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 12 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 12 oz package milk chocolate chips
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1 pound of butter (No worries, I’ll post my Momma’s instructional aerobic video after Christmas)
  • 1 can evaporated milk

Got it?

Ok, onward.

  • Butter an 8×12 baking dish
  • Bring sugar and evaporated milk to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue to stir and boil for 7 minutes.
  • Remove pot from heat and stir chocolate chips, vanilla and butter.

  • Stir until smooth and pour into the buttered baking dish
  • Refrigerate until set
  • Ask your hubby or the woman in your life with incredible strength to help you cut the fudge into squares
  • Serve up on a cute platter and stand back and smile as you experience that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with spreading holiday cheer.


If you’re looking for me and this fudge, we are more than likely shamefully hiding out somewhere.

Merry Christmas friends. Much love from our house to yours!

Turkey, ping pong, a cheeseball and memories…



I hope the holiday weekend was good to everyone. I hope the sun rose bright and warm and flooded your kitchen with streams of light while you or your momma or your gramma or pops or sister or mother-in-law basted the turkey and rolled up their sleeves, saying something like “whew, it’s warm in here isn’t it?” as you cracked the window open, letting the crisp fall air billow in from outside.

I hope you helped make something wonderful to eat, like a cheesecake or pie or a cookie salad (yes, such thing exists). I hope you played games, took a walk, laughed really hard, maybe even danced a little before dessert.

I hope there was ping-pong or a game of spoons or maybe even a friendly round of poker on your list of things to do.

I hope there was a cheeseball. I really do.

Because these are traditions aren’t they? The ping-pong? The kitchen hot flashes? The cheeseball? Every family has them, the things that are constant in an ever-changing and unpredictable life. It’s my favorite thing about the holidays, to know that I will be in a kitchen somewhere with my mother and that there will always be turkey and pie…that I won’t be judged on this day for unbuttoning the top button of my pants…

Yes, some things remain constant…but some things sneak up on us. While we’re busy with that extra slice of cobbler things are tweaking and evolving and changing the world we know little by little until suddenly you find gray hair mixed in with the black ones and you look around to find that those who used to sit with you at the kids table now have kids of their own.

How the hell did that happen?

My handsome nephew

And as the family tree branches out, so do the holidays, turning aunts into grammas, grandma’s into great ones, best friends into uncles and cousins into mommas who are now wearing aprons and hosting their own Thanksgiving meals hundreds of miles away.

So our lives change taking with them some of our traditions. When I was growing up Thanksgiving was always held at my aunt K’s in South Dakota. It was one of my favorite holidays because it meant that we got to see my cousins and run in the hay bales, sing songs we made up and put on ridiculous plays about pilgrims and how the first Thanksgiving may have gone down in our naive and theatrical heads. One year we put my little sister and cousin in ridiculous hats, built them a homemade ship out of a cardboard box and sent them sailing over the living room as we subjected the rest of the family to our version of the story of how our great land was settled as I stood on one leg (the other was in a cast) waiting for the “pilgrims” to make it to shore.

That was one activity that thankfully never made it to “tradition” status.

I miss those days and my ugly sweaters. I miss my aunt’s cheesy potatoes and how watching her work in the kitchen made me feel like my grandmother was in the room . I miss listening to my brilliant cousins whine and moan while their dad requested one more song on the piano. I miss that music.

But now the turkey is in my cousin’s oven and she is the momma proudly requesting a performance from her gifted children and I am miles away with my nieces and nephews opening the window for my mother-in-law before scooping her gravy onto the hot turkey she’d been cooking since the early morning hours.

And I smile to myself because my mother-by-marriage reminds me a little of my aunt K. They way she effortlessly pulls it all together. The way she never loses her sweet and calm nature even when it’s 87 degrees in the kitchen and there are thirteen kids scrambling at her feet, the way her cheeks flush after her first glass of wine…

the way she forgot the sweet potatoes in the microwave until 10 pm….

Because even as time changes our circumstance, taking people we love from us, bringing into the world new little ones to adore,  making us brave enough to try new recipes, to host our own Thanksgivings, to introduce someone to the family, even when weather snows us in, throwing us a sledding party after dessert, or gives us the gift of a 50 degree day in November, I love knowing there are a few things we can count on during this holiday:

One of them is turkey…

and the other is memories.

I hope you made some good ones this holiday.

Next year, the memories are at our house…

our new house.

And get ready, because the cheeseball will be epic.

P.S. It looks like our photography show may have to become a “day after Thanksgiving” tradition. If you missed it, no worries, our things are up all week at the Visitors Center in Watford City, so stop on by take a look and maybe, you know, finish your Christmas shopping :)

Cowboy Cooks: Hunting Camp Stew

In case you didn’t notice all of the pickups driving a little bit slower down the highway…or that blaze orange and camouflage have suddenly appeared as a fashion statement…or, you know,   your husband/boyfriend/significant other has been missing since last Friday come  think of it, I am here to remind you.

It’s deer hunting season.

It’s official.

I think I’ve mentioned it before here, but deer hunting season is a holiday around here with its own set of traditions. Kids get out of school, basement poker becomes a popular activity, beer gets a new, hunting appropriate look and clean-cut men grow beards, wear vests, drink whisky, wake up at the butt-crack of dawn to walk miles and miles in the whipping wind only to  sleep together in close, smelly quarters in the middle of nowhere, rain, shine or snow, in what is known up here as  “hunting camp.”

Now hunting camp seems pretty rustic and masculine for the city boys whose main outdoor chore is weed eating around the rose bushes. Those boys itch for the day they can pack up their duffles with camouflage, bourbon, bullets and only one change of underwear and head for the hills and to their manly roots. Somehow it doesn’t ring as particularly romantic to the man who chases cattle out of his yard on a daily basis and frequently finds deer legs on his front porch, a gift from the canine friends he feeds perfectly decent dog food every morning.

But regardless of the man’s living situation, hanging with the guys at hunting camp is a staple of hunting season. Because really, after the big bucks are stalked and spotted and the farting, burping and scratching is freely is underway, what the season is really about is camaraderie and fellowship and getting back to the primal need of man to hunt and gather in order to feed his people.


Yes, it’s about the food. It always comes back to the food. So what an appropriate time for Cowboy to whip out his famous and simply rustic hunting camp stew. Because the second best thing to the whiskey at hunting camp is, hands down, the chow.

Our family takes great care when a wild animal is taken from our ranch. We prepare and put to use as much of the meat as we can, so this recipe  is the perfect solution for those cuts of meat that aren’t as savory and tender, but still deserve a place on your plate.

I haven’t mastered the art of cooking wild game, but I tell you when I leave it to the men in my life, they do not disappoint.

The following recipe is made with wild elk meat from an animal taken by pops from our ranch earlier this fall.

Elk meat, when prepared properly, is tender and lean and can be ground up to make delicious burger, steaks and roast. We use the leftover cuts of meat that don’t fit in those categories to prepare stir fry, appetizers, fajitas, chilli and, of course, this stew, but this recipe will be equally delicious if you want to use beef or venison.

So let’s get to it shall we?

Cowboy Cooks Hunting Camp Stew

Step 1: Grab a glass

First things first, put on your snarky apron, neckerchief, sexy cowboy hat and pour yourself a drink…oh, and remember to not say the words “sexy cowboy hat” in hunting camp.

This evening’s drink of choice: Black Velvet

Which brings up another hunting camp rule: avoid singing Alannah Myles’s “Black Velvet” at the top of your lungs while pouring yourself a drink. That will go over about as well as “sexy cowboy hat.”

Ok, when preparing himself a glass of whiskey, Cowboy sometimes likes to make his own, manly version of the famous and classy “whiskey sour”. So he adds a splash of lemon juice and an ice-cube.

No, it’s not your gramma’s drink.

Alright, now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on.

Step 2: Gather the ingredients: 

Here’s are the simply, basic ingredients that you’re gonna need besides whiskey.

  • 2 lbs elk meat (or venison or beef) cubed into bite sized pieces…man bites
  • 10 whole cherry/Roma tomatoes
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen corn
  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen peas
  • 3 large carrots
  • ½ large purple onion
  • 1 T black pepper
  • ½ t red pepper
  • 1 t thyme leaves
  • ½ t rubbed sage
  • 3 fresh garlic cloves
  • salt to taste (and don’t go easy on the salt ok)
  • ½ stick butter
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups flour

Now if you are a man in a hunting camp, you more than likely packed and prepared for this hearty meal. If you are a woman in a little house in the middle of nowhere who put “go grocery shopping” on the bottom of her to do list, right behind the laundry, you will have to run to the neighbor’s to get potatoes and onions…and then come back home only to realize you don’t have carrots either…

don't look at me like that...

Ok, now that you have everything, lets move on.

Step 3: Prep your ingredients

Bring your cups of water to a boil in a large pot. And when I say large, I mean it. We had overflow people…making this a two pot stew…for two people.

You heard me, now go scrounge up that giant pot you save for cooking giant things…

Ok, now while you’re boiling the water cut up some things:

Cube the meat into man-sized pieces

Dice three garlic cloves

I know what you're thinking...pretty fancy dish for hunting camp...

Dice 1/2 purple onion


Cube 4 medium potatoes


Dice three large carrots…take a bite—what’s up doc?

Ok, now your water should be close to boiling.

Drop the potatoes and carrots in there to get them cooking.

Step 3: The meat

Now we are going to deal with the meat.

Warm up your skillet on medium/high heat and add ½ stick butter (and a little bacon grease left over from breakfast ) and melt. Use olive oil too if you want..or just butter…or just olive oil…whatever…it’s hunting camp, you can do what you want.

Now we are going to prepare a little flour coating for the meat.

Measure 2 cups of flour in a flat tupperwear or open bowl. To the flour add the black pepper, red pepper, thyme, sage and plenty of salt.

Mix this concoction together with your hands because you are manly like that.

Then give your meat a little dusting of salt and then coat the pieces in the flour mixture.

Now make sure your skillet is nice and hot and add the meat…then grunt like Tim the “Tool Man” Taylor because that’s what you do at hunting camp.


Now add the onions and garlic too.

Cook the meat to very rare. You won’t want to cook it all the way because it will have more cooking to do when you add it to the pot.

Go ahead, give it a taste.

Good right?

Ok now you can add it to the boiling water with those delicious chunks of carrot and potato. Boil for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are nearly done.

Step 4: Finishing it up

When your carrots and potatoes are done to your liking (about 15 minutes prior to serving)  add the rest of your colorful ingredients:

In goes the corn…

and the peas…

and the tomatoes

*queue tomato dropping action sequence*


Sweat a little because it’s about to boil over….

Now add some of the leftover flour mixture to the stew and cook until desired thickness

Simmer for about 15 minutes or until everything is cooked to the proper consistency.

Also, don’t forget to taste your work. I like a little more salt in my stew, others might want a little more heat, so adjust the seasoning as you go along your merry, manly way. This stew is pretty basic, which leave room for any kind of seasoning your manly heart desires.

Oh, and while your waiting, have someone make biscuits to go along with your hearty meal.

I am pretty gifted as far as baking goes, so I took on the task.


Yup. Ah Pilsbury, making regular wives into Betty Crocker every day.

Alright, now we’ve found ourselves adequately whiskied up and things are smelling a bit better in the hunting camp, I think it’s time for our final step.

Step 5: Eat!

Now if you’re actually in a hunting camp instead of a tiny house with your wife, I would like to imagine that you would serve this up in some of those tin camping bowls. But my white dishes with the blue design will have to do for today.

Now stand back in your apron and not-sexy at all cowboy hat as the rest of the men at camp give you some grunts and thumbs up while they devour your stew.

There won’t be any left over for lunch I guarantee…I mean, playing poker and swapping stories around the fire is exhausting.

Happy hunting everyone!

Cowboy Cooks Garden Tomato Soup

Ok speaking of tomatoes…(because we were speaking of tomatoes weren’t we?) I am so excited to share with you some news I’ve been waiting for all summer while we grilled burgers outside at 10pm because we just got in and the sun hadn’t set yet. I love those days. I do.  And I love burgers, what girl doesn’t? But as the summer winds down and the days get shorter the one thing that keeps me from whining like a little girl who wants to stay up past her bedtime is this: longer nights divided by more Cowboy time in the kitchen = rich, hearty food that tastes like heaven…which results in a little something to take the edge off the cooler weather and inevitable winter…oh, and a little extra padding on my rear-end to help keep me warm.

Yes, cream and butter and hearty seasonings have blown back into my life with the autumn wind and I’m in the market for bigger stretchy pants because, you guessed it…

Cowboy’s cute butt is back in the kitchen…

And here he is, with his favorite ingredient: heavy whipping cream

and this time he’s outdone himself.

Now, I don’t like to push the man. Really I don’t. He has been busy this summer working on getting our new house squared away, building me picture frames, chasing cows around, fixing things I’ve recently broken, and, you know, working. So I haven’t asked him if he has any new recipes brewing up there under his hat. I haven’t mentioned to him that I am sstttaarrvvinng over here.  No I haven’t. But this weekend as he watched his dearly beloved sob and stomp and whine and worry and nearly lose an eye as she tackled the age-old tradition of vegetable canning only to clean it all up, put her hands on her hips, reach for her goggles and declare that she was now going to attempt tomato soup…at 6 pm…I think he felt the need to run interference.

Because he must have been starving too…and he couldn’t wait until 3 am to enjoy his wife’s amateur tomato soup attempt.

So last Sunday Cowboy swooped in and rescued his maiden in fleece pants from her overzealous self by suggesting that perhaps he could try cooking tomato soup. That maybe he had an idea for a recipe. That possibly it would be good for her to find her camera and computer and do what she does best…document it.

And boy am I glad I did. Because the thing with Cowboy’s cooking is this: it’s all in his head, like a story or a song–if it’s not written down the melody might change a bit or the plot might thicken sooner the next time around.

So I gladly handed over the metaphorical apron, grabbed my camera and notebook and watched as the man I married whipped up a little piece of heaven right there on the very same table where I was nearly murdered by a jalapeno pepper. It was a beautiful thing and I know you’re going to love it….

and I am only just a little jealous of the ease at which this man tackles life…and soup.

So grab your favorite autumn brew and those pesky tomatoes…and then grab a few more because you’re going to want to make a double batch of this stuff:

Cowboy Cooks Garden Tomato Soup

Ok, here’s what you need, gathered and deliberately documented by following Cowboy around the kitchen using the journalist skills I acquired in college, and that cute little reporter hat, pen and paper pad.

  • 3 cups diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup, or 3 medium garden carrots (use more if you wanna)
  • 1/4 large purple onion
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic (I have to tell you, I was looking everywhere in this tiny kitchen for fresh garlic when I was making my salsa. I whined and dug and threw things around. Cowboy mentions he would like some garlic and it just magically appeared in the cupboard. This is my life. I get a mess, Cowboy gets a magic cupboard…anyway moving on)
  • 1 12 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp dill weed (haha, dill weed)
  • 1 Tbsp basil (fresh would be best, but I forgot to plant basil, so dried tastes great too)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro (or dried will work too)
  • 1 tsp rosemary (we had a little rosemary debate, you know, now that I am an expert. I didn’t win. But if the little rosemary seed floaters annoy you like they annoy me, just put in a 1/2 tsp)
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 (heaping) tsp chopped chives
  • 4 bouillon cubes
  • 1 stick butter (or 8 Tbsp if it makes you feel better)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (get your cream out of the fridge before use and set it on the counter for a bit. This way, when you add it to the hot soup it will blend well.)

Step 1: Call your Pops who is home alone to invite him for supper. I mean, he was kind enough to grow these tomatoes (and carrots) for you.


Step 2: Serve you and  your cook an Autumn Ale, you know, to keep with the mood of the season. 

Octoberfest. Perfect.

Step 3: Sharpen your knives.

In Cowboy’s kitchen, this is the step that takes the longest. I mean, he has a knife briefcase. 

Really.

And in that knife briefcase lives this mamajamma.

I know this looks weird, but Cowboy tests the sharpness of his knives by attempting to shave the hair off his knuckles…just like John Wayne or something, I dunno.

I think I said something like “Holy Shit!”

Step 3: Chop and simmer the veggies

  • Dice three cups worth of garden tomatoes


and put those babies in large a pot to simmer on low while you prep the other veggies

  • Dice three garden carrots. Look at these heavenly creatures!

I especially like this one. Pops said he was holding the rest of the carrots together when he found him.

What a nice little carrot. I liked him so much I ate him.

Ok, yeah, anyway,  dice about one cup worth of carrots.

  • Now dice up 1/4 of that large, purple onion…

..sniff, sniff..please don’t cry.

  • Add the onions and carrots to the pot with the tomatoes
  • And pour in the tomato sauce
While the veggies and sauce simmer on low, move on to
 
Step 4: The seasoning
First, plop in the butter
Yup. The whole stick…or if you’d like, just 8 tablespoons.
Now, in no particular order add the seasonings to the pot, tasting and testing as you go to make sure you just love it.
1 bay leaf
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp dill weed
1 Tbsp basil
1 Tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro
1 tsp rosemary
Ground black pepper to taste
1 (heaping) tsp chopped chives
4 bouillon cubes
Beautiful.
Now let the concoction simmer this way on low for a bit.  Have some more brew. Set your table. Read Cowboy magazine, whatever. You must cook this all up, letting the flavors blend and allowing the onions and carrots to cook.
About 30 minutes.
Onward!
Step 5: The best part

Need I say more?

Once the veggies are nice and cooked, measure yourself out a heaping cup of your room temperature heavy whipping cream and slowly stir it into the soup.
Now say “mmmm….mmmmm….mmmmm….” while Campbells sobs silently to himself…
Let warm for a few minutes and…well…what you will have there people is some damn good tomater soup.
Damn good!
So waste no time…
Step 6: Serve it up!
If you want, make yourself a grilled cheese to go with it.
But honestly, you won’t want to touch that stupid sandwich. My photos in the dim lighting of my home do not do it justice.

All you will want is this soup.

Forever.

And Ever.

Amen.

A long story about a woman in fleece pants and a bunch of tomatoes…

Once upon a time in a land  far, far away there lived a woman with unruly hair, a one eyed pug, a tiny kitchen and a Pops with a garden full of tomatoes.

Now, this wild haired woman was good at some things…like the game Catch Phrase, making guacamole, eating tortilla chips and wandering among the buttes and singing songs to fields full of pretty birds, deer and wildflowers (picture Snow White, without the impractical dress and minus six or seven dwarves). She had a good life, yes indeed. She felt fulfilled living in her small cabin, waking up to a pink sky and a sun rising over the red barn and taking on a day filled with creative things, like taking photos, writing stories, playing guitar, riding horses and, well, eating guacamole. Her life was complete and organized just the way she wanted it.

Having lived in this cabin in the middle of nowhere for over a year, the woman was indeed comfortable. She had seen the summer sun, felt the snow on her tongue and watched eagerly as it melted into water in the spring sun and filled the creek beds. She had basked through two glorious summers and wound down with the wind that blew the leaves off of the trees in the fall. So when the weather began to shift,  the breeze turned crisp, the horses and the pug started to grow their long coats, and the woman’s tan skin began to fade back to its pasty white appearance, the woman with wild hair knew what was in store for her. Winter was coming and she was excited to celebrate accordingly. She took longer coffee breaks, she wore her down vest when she was out on her paint in the golden hills, she put another blanket on the bed and at night and traded in her shorts for her favorite thing in the world: fleece stretchy pants.

All was well and right in her autumn world as she sat in her recliner, feet adequately slippered, sipping on hot homemade soup and watching “Project Runway” with the surround sound engaged. Then, just as Tim Gunn was telling the latest fashion loser to “pack their needles, or sewing machine, or weird, creepy mannequin body and go,” the woman with wild hair heard someone at the door.

"Who's there?"

“Tap tap…hhheeelllooo”

She set down her soup, un-reclined, rolled her fleecy body out of her chair and went to the door.

It was her Pops. And he was carrying a giant box….

full of tomatoes…

And a really, really big and heavy looking garbage bag. …

“Hi Jess, whatcha doing?”

“oh, hi, umm, nothing. Cleaning. Yeah. Cleaning the house. Whew, been working on it all weekend,” the wild haired woman replied.

“Oh, ok. Yeah. I don’t want to interrupt that then, but I thought I’d stop by and bring you some of these tomatoes…my garden was full of them and I had to pick them before the frost…”

“Oh, ok. Yeah. Great. Tomatoes. Wow, there’s a lot of them aren’t there. Haha. Yeah. That’s a lot of salads…,” she felt her face begin to flush and her armpits go sweaty.

“Yeah,” said her Pops. “I had a great garden this year. Lots of tomatoes, and, well, say, I was thinking maybe you could do something with these. You know, like salsa or soup or something…you know how to can don’t you? I mean, that strawberry-rhubarb jam you made this spring  was pretty delicious…” He smiled a toothy grin and the woman felt an unruly curl spring out of its place in her unkempt ponytail.

She was full-on sweating now, regretting her fleece pants and recalling the overconfident, naive, head first dive approach she has used to attack every new kitchen experiment in her life…and the piece of rhubarb she’s been meaning to clean off of her ceiling for months.

Her voice came out of her lungs a few octaves higher as she replied, “Oh, sure Pops. No problem. I’ve always wanted to try canning salsa. Never had the opportunity. Look there, I could make jars and jars with that yield…and, umm, so well what’s in that giant garbage bag there?”

“Oh this?” he replied, hefting a thirty ton bag up from the ground and over his shoulder. “These here are crabapples! I picked them from the tree behind our house…”

“Oh really? I remember that tree…”

“Yeah. Your gram used to make the best crab apple jelly. I absolutely loved it. I was thinking you could try it? Don’t you think? It shouldn’t be that hard. Oh, it’s so good. Nothing better.”

The wild haired woman paused, recalling for the first time in years the sweet taste of her grandmother’s crab apple jelly on a piece of hot toast. It was delicious, there was nothing better. He was right. She could handle the thirty tons of apples–jelly she had done before without killing anyone.

But how does a giant box of tomatoes turn into restaurant style pacante sauce?

And how could she say no to a man who sees her as his only chance to taste, once again, his favorite homemade goodies?

She smiled and hefted the thirty ton bag of apples over her own shoulders as her pops set the boxes of tomatoes on the table in her quaint kitchen.

“Can’t wait,” chirped her Pops as he flew out the door.

“Me too,” whimpered the woman as she assessed the situation.

“You have not seen the last of me,” said the eliminated designer over her surround sound.

And so there she was, alone. Alone in a house filled with autumn’s harvest. Fruits of her father’s labor and a nearly 100 year old apple tree. The woman poured herself a glass of wine, accepted that television wouldn’t be an option for three to four years, sat down at the table, closed her eyes and tried her best to channel Martha Stewart…

…then woke up the next morning with a tomato stuck to her cheek and a vague memory of a dream involving Martha and a mini mansion made out of pumpkins.

She grabbed a cup of coffee and turned to the only thing she knew: Google.

Yup. She Googled it. She Googled  “tomato canning,” “salsa,” “what the hell is a hot water bath?” “can I poison relatives if I attempt to make homemade salsa without the supervision of a professional?” and “Martha, help me.”

Finding, again, no direct answers and no home phone number for Martha or Paula Dean, the woman put on her town clothes, went to work and talked to her neighbor….the same neighbor who got her out of the plum jelly mess of 2010.

And her life was saved as her lovely, experienced friend presented her with her mother’s own original tried and true salsa recipe. And as the wild haired woman marched her weary butt to the grocery store to pick up the rest of her ingredients, it occurred to her that the very recipe she had in her purse could possibly have been made by her grandmother. The two women were best friends!

Revitalized by that thought, the woman drove home, ran inside and unloaded her ingredients and set them alongside her hand-written recipe. She dove in…ignoring the fact that it was 8:30 pm on a Tuesday.

Tomatoes? She had ‘em.  Onions? Check. Tomato paste, spices, celery? Yes! She even mustered up the strength to purchase two green peppers and six jalapenos–scary, scary ingredients for this pasty woman with scandinavian blood. This was going to be good. Easy. Just follow the recipe…

She boiled water and submerged the fresh, ripe tomatoes for one minute, then transferred them to ice water. And although this was a new process, this tomato peeling thing, she was getting it. She had it down. It looked like a regular tomato massacre had occurred in her kitchen. Boy, time flies when you get the hang of something, she thought to herself, because by the time she was done with step #1 it was already 11 pm. No worries, she could power through. She must! Jalapenos here she comes…wait, a minute…where were her caning jars?

Shit.

She stormed the three steps to her bedroom and laid down face first on the bed and passed out. Tomorrow was another day and she hoped the naked tomatoes could wait.

The next morning the sun rose like it always does over the red barn as the tomatoes sat chilling in the refrigerator. The woman pulled on her fleece pants and called her momma in town to ask her to bring some jars home with her. See, the woman had a big project due that day, and unfortunately that big project didn’t involve a trip to town…or the tomatoes. It was 7 pm before the woman looked up from her work to a knock on the door. It was her momma, and the jars.

Thrilled with the arrival of her final supply, the woman got to work. She mixed herself a margarita, chopped up the naked tomatoes, cut up the onions…and proceeded to weep like a baby, stepping outside every few moments to compose herself. This salsa thing was serious business. Then she moved on to the green peppers. She crinkled her brow against the sweat that always forms in response to these green vegetables. But really, it was no problem. Check. Phew. On to the jalapenos…she needed six.

Six? Really?! “Are you sure?” she muttered to herself as she examined the recipe for the sixteenth time. “I thought this woman was a Lutheran!”

But despite her questions, the wild haired woman, whose hair tends to grow larger in stressful situations, has always been one to follow directions. So onward she went, carefully cutting the foreign peppers, removing the seeds, wiping her eyes and….

“ahhhhh, my eeeyyyeees, my eeyyyyeeees, they’re burning! BUURRNNINNGG!!,” she screamed as her husband jumped six feet off the chair and appeared in the kitchen.

“What, what is it?” he asked calmly.

“Myyyy eyyyyeesss, they’re on fiiirreee,” she screamed again as she swung open the bathroom door and submerged her head under the running water of the sink.

“Good Lord, Jessie. Don’t touch your eyes when you’re cutting up peppers! Mercy, calm down,” her husband instructed as he leaned in over the sink with her.

“ugghgghghghgh,….gargle gargle….I…hateah…pepphhaaas…” she sobbed.

She sat down on the toilet as her husband examined the damage. With a clean bill of health and her characteristic determination, the woman with wild hair and blood shot eyes, returned to her work in the kitchen. She finished slicing. She finished dicing. She finished seasoning and measuring and put it all in a pot to cook while she prepared for the next step: the hot water bath.

It was now closing in on 10 pm on day three of what she was now referring to as “The Great Salsa Debacle of 2011.”

The woman reached into her cupboards, dug around and pulled out the biggest pot she owned. Her instructions clearly stated that the “jars must be submerged in the boiling water for 30 minutes to ensure that when consumed the salsa will not poison every person in your life you loved enough to gift with homemade salsa.”

She grabbed a jar, tested the depth of her biggest pot…then threw her body to the floor…

her husband handed her the phone.

She dialed…

“Hi, you’ve reached the Veeders…leave a message and we’ll call you back…” said the answering machine.

“Heelllooo, momm, are you theeerreee. I am in the middle of a canning crisis and I need a bigger…”

“Hello, yes. Jess. What do you need?”

“Oh, thank the LORD. You answered. I am in the middle of canning salsa…I need a bigger pot. I know you have one. You HAVE TO HAVE ONE!”

“It’s 10:30 at night”

“I know, I’m coming over.”

So she did. And made no apologies. The wild haired woman in fleece sweatpants with blood shot eyes got in her car and drove the mile to her mommas to get a bigger pot. She was determined and was pretty sure she was sweating jalapenos out through her skin. Sweet Martha, she was itchy. But she got her pot. She got her pot, went back home, solicited her husband’s assistance, filled the jars to the top with the peppery, tomato-ey, spicy concoction, accidentally rubbed her eyes again, ignored the sting this time, because dammit, this was getting done, submerged the jars in the water bath, put the timer on 30 minutes, sat down on the couch to watch the latest episode of “Modern Family,” dozed off, drooled a little and was startled awake by the beeping of the timer.

Thank goodness she remembered to set the timer.

And thank goodness for neighbors, mommas, husbands,  big pots and tried and true recipes.

and  for winter and a break from tomatoes.

Oh, and really…thank the Lord this story, this project, this drama has a happy ending…

Yes, once upon a time in a land  far, far away there lived a woman with unruly hair, a one eyed pug, and a tiny kitchen who thought she had her comfortable world figured out…until a box of tomatoes not-so-effortlessly turned into a shelf full of delicious, homemade salsa…and the wild haired, red eyed woman with a tomato stuck to her face into something that resembles…

the exact opposite of Martha Stewart

The End. 

Pizza Cook-off: Cowboy vs. Cowgirl

Ah, pizza! Pizza for breakfast. Pizza for lunch. Pizza at suppertime. Hell, pizza for a snack. I do it. You should too.

In honor of the upcoming Super Bowl Sunday extravaganza, you know, where Dominos Pizza is expected to deliver 1.2 million pies to Americans in our homes where we are all whooping and hollering and sporting jerseys, Cowboy and I decided we wanted in on the action.

Not the jersey thing, but the pizza thing.

But we had to get creative, because it turns out Dominos doesn’t deliver out here.

What? It’s only 90 miles of blowing, drifting snow and now, I heard, a little ice will be splashed in for good measure. Geesh.

Oh, the price we pay to live in the wilderness.

Anyway, it just so happens that Cowboy has in his super secret hiding place where his super secret recipes are stored a super secret, super crunchy, super thin, super easy pizza crust recipe.

And then, of course, he has in his super secret cooking brain super delicious homemade pizza concoctions that never fail him—i.e.: the breakfast pizza, the chicken alfredo pizza, the taco pizza, and of course, the BBQ beef pizza.

And that’s what he’s cooking for us today.

Perfect. Can’t wait. Sounds hearty and meaty and cheesy and very, very Cowboy.

Which got me thinking…hey I might have something to contribute here that doesn’t involve a hunk of cheese in the shape of a holiday figure.

I might have an idea for a pizza that is very light, very vegetably, very colorful, very, very…well…Cowgirl.

And so the Cowboy vs. Cowgirl pizza challenge idea was born. To which Cowboy replied, “Whatever, you don’t stand a chance noodle arms.”

And I, with my quick and clever wit shot back “No, you don’t stand a chance…you, you…beef arms…”

Silence.

I turned and ran the three steps to the bedroom and cried in the corner while I hugged my knees, realizing I started something that couldn’t be undone, much like that hobbit movie with the ring and the, well….nevermind.

Anyway, this ain’t gonna be pretty.  But I’m brave, despite the size of my muscles and the range of my cooking skills.

Great idea.

Just.

Great.

Either way, Cowboy or Cowgirl, I think you will enjoy these recipes. If anything, just prepare the crust and add your own toppings, because really, you can’t go wrong.

So let’s get ya going on the crust while I pull myself together and put on my Cowgirl cooking outfit.

The crust:

Below is a picture of Cowboy’s super secret recipe that has been with him since freshman year of college. A recipe he no doubt acquired from his momma or his sister and wrote down in a dark room with only one light bulb dangling from the ceiling and then promptly folded it up and shoved it in his underwear drawer or under his mattress or in the ceiling paneling until he needed it again.

Well, at least that’s what it looks like.

Ok.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees while you gather the following ingredients.

  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tbs oil
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ¼  tsp dry yeast – bread machine yeast

Photo for you, cause I had no idea what this was...

Pour all of these ingredients in a big bowl and mix together.

Here you will see Cowboy using his Christmas present from his biggest fan, my momma

It seems like cheating, it’s so easy, but if you don’t have a Kitchen Aid mixer, that’s ok. Neither did we all of our lives and we were not pizza-less. Just add the above ingredients to a bowl and mix with your hands until everything is mashed together and you achieve the proper consistency so you can roll it out successfully and get it to the pizza pan.

You may have to add a bit more flour as you go to get it just right.

Ok, this look familiar?

Sprinkle flour on your surface and plop down the dough.

Roll out with rolling pin until it is stretched out big enough to cover your pizza pan.

Spray your pan with cooking spray and transfer the dough.

This recipe makes enough dough for you to decide if  you would like your crust a bit thicker or a bit thinner, because who’s the boss? Not Tony Danza. You. You’re the boss.

Now, use a knife to cut off the excess dough.

What you do with that dough is up to you.

I made a pizza dough snowman.

Of course I did.

Ok, “Ta da!” the crust is ready. Perfection.

Cowboy and I both used this pizza dough recipe, but I cooked mine for about 5 minutes to get it nice and brown and crispy before adding the toppings and throwing the pizza pie back in the oven to heat it up.

Cowboy piled all the toppings on the uncooked crust and put it all in the oven to melt together.

So let the games begin…with my pizza. Because I like the phrase “Ladies First.”

Always have.

Cowgirl Pizza
Chicken-Bacon Pesto

Once I convinced Cowboy to prepare my crust for me (which you will notice wasn’t quite as beautifully executed as the one he took ownership of) by using my wit and charm and negotiation skills I prepared the following toppings.

  • 3 chicken breasts, seasoned, baked and shredded
  • ½ lb of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1 ½ cups feta cheese
  • 1 can artichokes, drained, rinsed and chopped
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Chopped green onions
  • Olive oil
  • 1 package pesto mix (or make your own, that would be better. But you know who you’re dealing with here…I had to make the packaged pesto twice because of a common mishap I have with reading directions on the back of packaged food items. Happened all the time in college with hamburger helper…I’ll tell you about it sometime)

The oven was preheated to 350, so I threw my pizza crust in there for about 5 minutes to get it nice and golden brown while I incorrectly followed the instructions on the back of the pesto mix package and then started over and stirred it up correctly for crying out loud.

When the crust was finished I took it out of the oven and spread the pesto mix over the crust and began layer my toppings, under Cowboy’s watchful and judgment-filled stare…(oh, and his underdeveloped camera skills)….

I accomplished all this while, enduring, before I even poured myself a glass of wine (which I had to postpone until the project was complete to ensure total concentration…) comments such as these:

“Where’s the cheese?”

“Chicken? Chicken is for vegetarians.”

“Sniff, sniff…what’s that smell? Hmmm…yeah…well, what ever…”

“What are those green things? Artic-whats?”

“Well, if you call that pizza.”

My confidence was shaken.

But I held it together and when my toppings were beautifully assembled on the not so beautiful crust, I put the pizza in the oven to bake for about 10 minutes while I ran back to the bedroom and cried a little.

The buzzer beeped

I came out.

I pulled my pizza from the oven and cut us some slices…

Silence.

I ate three peices.

Despite his skepticism and his lack of love of artic-whats, vegetable chicken and feta cheese, Cowboy had two.

I think that’s what I call a hit.

So I poured myself a glass of the good stuff and left the dishes for the dogs.

It’s about time they started earning their keep around here.

Now Cowboy’s turn, which is sure to involve a fair amount of cheese and seasoning and patience and calm, cool and collectiveness that I have never possessed…oh Martha Stewart, we don’t stand a chance….

Cowboy Pizza
Zesty BBQ Beef


Ok, it took Cowboy a day to recover from the shock to his system that was my pizza. So day two, Cowboy began his pizza excursion by digging in the freezer for a 3.5 lb beef roast, seasoning it to his liking and  submerging it 3/4 of the way in water in our crock-pot…

…and slow cooking it for a good five to six hours.

If you need to, click here for the basic instructions for cooking a beef roast–there are about a million different easy ways to cook it, but takes some time and patience, which I don’t seem to possess either. I will tell you it was torture milling around the house with this slab of meat cooking and smelling so deliciously scrumtious and hearty all day. All. Day.

By the time we got started on the pizza project it was 5:30pm and I was sure I was going to die of starvation.

Ok, so while the beef is finishing up its cooking process, pour yourself a glass of whiskey (because Cowboys can cook while they drink…seems to make it better, not worse. Someday I will master the only multi-tasking activity males possess)

Looks like we need to call the liquor store to see if they deliver...

…and gather the following ingredients for the BBQ sauce.

Sauce


  • 1 18 oz bottle of BBQ sauce
  • ½ cup Jelly – Strawberry or Grape
  • 2 Tblsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 ½ Tblsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tblsp garlic pepper
  • 1 Tblsp minced onion
  • 1 tsp Steakhouse seasoning grinder (Cowboy says: “I don’t know what this is exactly, but it’s got a bunch of delicious shit in it”)
  • 1 tsp red pepper
  • 1 Tblsp cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp Liquid Smoke
  • A couples shakes of celery salt
  • 4 ounces of scotch (or whiskey of course)

Oh, and also grab yourself the following for the pizza toppings:

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese

Ok, pour all of the sauce ingredients, except the scotch, into a big bowl.

Then, to help you get all of the BBQ sauce out of the bottle, pour the scotch into the BBQ bottle, shake it up and dump the concoction into the bowl too.

Who said Cowboy’s weren’t thrifty?

Now mix it all up!

Ok, your roast is smelling delicious and is ready to be brought out into the world.

*Cowboy only used about half of his roast for the pizza, so if you have a big 4 lb roast, cut it in half and use the other half for sandwiches or something. That would be good.

Now shred your roast with a fork

And then cut it up a bit more with a knife

Now taste your sauce to make sure it is delicious. Add spices and more scotch if you need to.

Next, combine your shredded roast and the sauce in the crockpot and cook on high (or 350, depending on your roasting method) for about an hour to let the seasoning and sauce soak in and make it nice and tasty.

And add that onion if you want to. Or you can save it for the top of the pizza.

While you wait, this would be a good time to prepare your pizza crust and preheat the oven to 350.

And listen to Cowboy say things like:

“If this roast is any indication of what my pizza is going to taste like, your pizza doesn’t stand a chance….”

And wipe away tears.

Ok, like I said, Cowboy chose not to pre-cook his pizza crust. So when your roast is done, slap your BBQ beef concoction onto the uncooked pizza crust you prepared.

Now it’s time for the cheese! Cowboy was wondering where it was? Well, he found it.

Place pizza in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until crust and cheese are a nice golden brown…

…and you will have this…

And it will be delicious.

And resemble, in no way, the pizza your wife came up with.

And you will determine that to compare the two would be like comparing apples to oranges…just like you and said wife.

And said wife will say: “That means we both win!”

And you will say together, in wedded bliss unison: ” Take that Dominos.”

And ride off into the sunset.

Happy Super Bowl Weekend party people! I hope your team wins.

Cowboy Cooks Crock Pot Chili

Ok party people, the holidays are officially over here at the ranch and I have dubbed it that way by taking down my beloved tree, tossing the wreath, unplugging the lights and packing my decorations up nice and neat (well, neat enough).

Because I needed to cleanse the holiday, get rid of all of the distraction so I can begin work on my will power.

I mean, the second Christmas at the in-laws over New Years really put to the test just  how many cookies and cocktail weenies and shrimps and candy canes and cheese balls a girl could possibly eat without touching a single vegetable unless I found it coated in some sort of cheese or white sauce during the last month—yup, I really pushed the limit of those stretchy pants….

…oh stretchy pants, how I love thee…

Anyway, now is the time. Back to reality.  Back to real pants. No more sugar cookies for breakfast. No more cheese ball for lunch. Because in 2 days we are hitting the slopes for a weekend of music and mayhem and physical activity, and I have exactly 48 hours to get in shape, dammit…

See ya next year...

That is what I told husband as I was lugging the Christmas boxes upstairs and instructing him to take the candy cane covered tree out of my sight…

But apparently he had other plans.

Plans that included this chili.

Because what every ski bunny needs after a long day skidding, face-first down the slopes, is a nice hot bowl of chili to ease the pain of her lack of athleticism and grace…and we are making it tonight to take with us…

…and it’s gonna be just the way Cowboy likes it, finally, so pipe down about your aversion to anything above mild and get ready to feel some real heat ok?

Cowboy staring down the spices...concocting plans...loving every minute

Well, at least the northern states’ version of heat. Cowboy would like to apologize in advance to anyone from Texas or New Mexico who knows how to assemble a chili that makes your aunt Edna breathe fire…and like it. This is a German boy’s, crock pot attempt…and it’s damn good–well as good as anything can be without butter and flour.

Ok, hold on to your long underwear, cause Cowboy’s cookin’ snow meltin’, nose de-frostin’, wool sock wearin’ chili. And he ain’t taming it down for no one…especially me.

Step One: First things first

Grab yourself a beer why don’t ya. And an apron that says exactly what you’re thinking. Oh, and a crock pot, or some version of the thing with a lid

Now gather the following ingredients:

  • 1 lb hamburger
  • 1 1/2 lbs stew meat
  • 1 large red onion
  • 8 oz container whole mushrooms
  • and as many jalapenos you can handle

    I can't handle it....!!!!

  • Brown the hamburger in the crock pot if you have the time and John Wayne is on anyway, or you can just throw it in a pan on the stove. Add some chili powder and salt and pepper if you want
  • While the hamburger is cooking chop the red onion, mushrooms and jalapenos. (I didn’t get any photos of this cause I was busy finishing off the last of the Christmas fudge, you know, to get it out of sight).
  • Now throw the hamburger, stew meat (uncooked), onion, mushrooms and jalapenos (add some of the jalapeno juice if you’re feeling brave and daring) in the pot where they can all get acquainted before the real party begins…

Now you’re ready for the hard part–gathering the rest of the ingredients to dump in the pot and stir.

Literally, that is all you do.

And taste.

And smell

And tell yourself over and over what an amazing chef you are…

I think I might even be capable of completing this recipe, if I weren't so distracted by the view...and those damn candy canes

Step 2: Ok, dig in the pantry and pull out the following ingredients:


  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Black pepper to taste (a little more than a little but a little less than a lot)
  • Red pepper to taste (Cowboy says, “Red pepper is a tricky little devil…it doesn’t taste so strong at first, but it’s the after burn that kills ya…ooofff…”)
  • 7 oz can green chilies
  • 28 oz can of baked beans
  • 15 oz can navy beans (drained) (“navy beans, navy beans, navy beans…” Lunch Lady Land? Anyone? Anyone?…)
  • 15 oz can kidney beans (drained)
  • 15 oz can pinto beans (drained)
  • 15 oz can spicy chili beans
  • 15 oz can black beans (drained)
    (Cowboy says “You don’t have to use all these  beans, but I do cause I like ‘em.”)
  • 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce (if you don’t have this you can use Tabasco sauce…Cowboy can’t pronounce the name of this, but made it clear that  “it adds a delicious spicy taste to things..anything…says so right on the bottle.”
  • Oh, and you can add some Cajun seasoning too, if you’re feeling particularly southern today.
  • And last but not least, of course, the chili powder. Get acquainted with it, cause, as I was told, without it, chili is just a bunch of beans.
  • Ok, so in no particular order, open your cans and your lids and dump it all in the pot.

  • Now get that chili powder out of your holster and give it a few generous shakes.

Keep adding until it tastes good to you.

And now for, the secret ingredient: the fresh, whole cherry tomatoes. Which are apparently important and so enticing that I accidentally used a few on my salad for lunch (oh yeah, a salad…this is serious).

Anyway, Cowboy noticed. “Looks like I’m missing 5 to 6 tomatoes,” he said.

To which I replied, “Tomatoes? Tomatoes? Do those look like snickerdoodles?”

  • So now you add those tomatoes to the chili and mix it all up until you’re happy with it.

  • Now put that crock pot on low and wait.

Because it wouldn’t be Cowboy’s Kitchen without the wait. And we skipped the butter this time around, so I am sure you’re all thrown for a loop.


If you’re starving, like me, you can bring the concoction to a low boil/simmer for about 1 hour and that should be good enough to eat. But you can’t overcook it. The longer it stews the better.

Cowboy recommends the following, word for word:

“Have all this shit ready in the morning, throw it in a pot, put it on low and eat it for supper…that’s the best way to do it…”

We are going to put it in a Tupperwear, freeze it and transport it a few hundred miles to Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota, where we will fling our bodies down a slippery, ice packed mountain of danger and when we are done we will drink something to take the edge off and listen to some good tunes at a mountain music festival this weekend.

And then enjoy the hell out of this chili.

And I will work on my plan of not breaking every bone in my body, or face skidding, or crying, or panicking.

Or at least escaping death.

Pray for me.

But don’t pray for this chili.

Just make it and you shall be saved.

Or at least warmed up.

And unless you wanna come with us, I’ll see ya when I get back….

…hopefully in one piece…

 

Cowboy Cooks Apple Strudel (For Supper)

Oh man, I just looked at the weather report and it doesn’t look like we are going to get a wave of tropical weather anytime soon. I was out there this weekend and if I was in denial in any way before our ride to break ice on the stock dam, I was soon frozen into reality.

Cowboy breaking ice

And so were my toes, no matter how thick the wool socks.

So we came in, thawed our feet on the heater and Cowboy said “Let’s make strudel!”

Apple Strudel

And I said a quiet prayer of thanks to sweet Jesus for sending down a man who would utter those lovely words.

Because by “Let’s make strudel!” he really meant “I’ll make strudel.”

It’s one of those charming understandings that this married couple shares: He makes strudel. I stand back and hand him things.

Ahhh, “Let’s make strudel:” some of the best three words that have come out of Cowboy’s mouth. They are right up there with “Found your _________ (insert various expensive things I lost that he told me never to lose) and, you know, “Marry me.” Which is really only two words. Two words that I didn’t fully appreciate until dear husband first came to me with the idea:

Strudel. Apple Strudel. Apple Strudel for Supper.

You heard me.

Apparently Cowboy’s momma has been making this traditional German “dessert for supper” dish for years, putting her right up there with some of the best mommas in the world. And you might be surprised that this would work as a late evening dish, but, well, Cowboy says to trust.

And I trust.

So Cowboy called his momma to get the finishing touches on the recipe and we packed up our supplies and made the trek over to my momma’s house. We had some very important company coming in from Texas to deer hunt and Cowboy apparently thought said company was getting too skinny.

Also, Cowboy needed more space for our journey to food heaven.

And momma has more space.

But momma doesn’t have sharp knives.

Sharpen Knife

Here we go again.

Sharpen Knife

Sharpen Knife

First things first:

Dress the part: Cowboy wanted to welcome our guest in style, so he wore his polyester shirt and his vest….and his mustache…

Cowboy

Ta da!

Ahh, the vest. So practical. Warm AND classy.

Hydrate: Drink of choice: Jeremiah Weed. All the cool kids are drinking it. And. We. Are. Cool. Kids.

Jeremiah Weed

Cool.

Now select the proper tunes: Drive By Truckers

Let’s do this:

Cowboy Cooks Momma’s Homemade Apple Strudel (For Supper? Gasp!)


Ingredients:

  • 6 Apples (the more bitter the better. A motto that applies to apples—women and weather? Not so much)
  • 2 ½ Sticks of Butter
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 Heap’n scoop of Crisco
  • 2 to 3 Cups Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Cup Milk

And the meat. Yes, you were wondering about this weren’t ya? The meat you serve with the dish is actually an important component. Cowboy usually chooses venison sausage, but any type of ham or breakfast sausage will work as well to transform this dish into a flavorful combination of sweet and tart and salty and, of course, carb loaded goodness to warm up those toes and send you straight into hibernation.

Step One: Prep your skillet

  • Turn your electric skillet or frying pan on low to warm it up

  • Add 2 cups of water and 1 stick of butter to the skillet

Cowboy says: “That’s what I like about my kitchen, we measure butter in sticks not tablespoons.”

  • Add a big “heapn’ spoon full of Crisco”  to the skillet as well

(Oh my Gawd)

To this I said to Cowboy “You mean a tablespoon?”

And cowboy replied “No. Not a tablespoon. This much. This is how much I’m putting in there.”

(Yes, this is happening…)

Step Two: The dough

You may sense a theme happening here based on the last two entries of “Cowboy’s Kitchen.” Much of Cowboy’s favorite dishes happen to be heritage food. And his heritage happens to be German. And, apparently the Germans from which he sprung made meals that were based from the following simple ingredients: Flour, egg, milk, salt.

The good ‘ol white stuff.

I have advised we go in a different, lighter direction next time. But it’s Cowboy’s Kitchen, so really, I can’t promise anything.

Ok.

  • Using a one handed egg crack technique (You’ve seen this before) crack one egg into a liquid measuring cup

  • Add milk to the egg until it equals a cup (another classic technique.)

Now get my momma another beer…cause she’s thirsty and, as she said “they’re going down smooth tonight”

Why Cowboy got married: Wedding ring = tool.

  • Whisk the mixture. Well, a whisk is what you’re supposed to use, but Cowboy prefers to “Fork.” He’s old school like that. All the cool kids are old school. Haven’t you heard?

  • Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl

  • Add handfuls of flour to the mixture and mix with your hands until the consistency allows you to roll it out thin with a rolling pin. About 2 to 3 cups of flour.

You might notice that this is not the hand of a cowboy. That's my momma's hand. Cowboy made her help.

And then this is what happened. Needless to say, I have never had to wonder where I inherited my deficiencies in the kitchen.

  • Sprinkle flour on your surface to avoid stick, place the dough on the flour and begin kneading the dough adding flour as you “knead” it (get it?)  in order to prepare it to be rolled out thin with a rolling pin.

  • Once you have the dough at the proper consistency make sure that your surface is still coated in flour (you may need to add more) and roll the dough out flat and thin with a rolling pin.

Hmmm, there’s something sexy about a man and his rolling pin….

Anyway, be careful not to tear holes in the dough, but if you do, it will all turn out in the end, so don’t worry, just take another drink.

Because it's all about the attitude, so do whatever it takes.

  • Sprinkle salt over the rolled out dough

Step 3: The apples

  • Peel 6 medium sized apples (hey, at least this time it’s apples and not potatoes)

And if you want to, conduct a contest  with your kitchen assistants to see who can get the longest peel. We did.

My momma’s attempt:

Oh momma.

Cowboy’s skills:

Pretty good, pretty good…

And, drum roll please….

Clearly not dressed for such success and for the other side of the camera, I won! I won!

And was accused of cheating because I used a peeler. But to that I say: That’s why God invented them.

Ok, moving right along.

  • Slice apples thin and into quarter sized pieces and spread them out over the dough.

*Note: Cowboy didn’t cut the apples into small enough pieces here and this made it harder to roll up the strudel. So slice your apples smaller than you see here will ya? And then forgive Cowboy cause he ain’t perfect…

  • Sprinkle cinnamon over the apples.

  • Now, cut a stick and a half of butter into 1 tablespoon slices and place over apples…..

…yes, this is also happening…

  • Now you must coat, and by coat I mean COVER the apples and the butter and the cinnamon and the dough in SUGAR.

Cinnamon, butter, sugar?

Supper.

This is where Cowboy says you should start getting excited.

Are you excited?

I am.

And hungry.

And doing some sit-ups to prepare.

Good thing I wore my stretchy pants.

  • Now you’re gonna roll all this up into a tight log (my words, not Cowboy’s), so Cowboy recommends you cut this concoction in half to make it easier. Oh, and smaller apples make it easier too.

Cowboy used a spatula to help in the process of the roll up. Take a look here to see how it’s done.

And don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect and if there are holes and you need to patch things up. I promise you your taste buds won’t care.

And neither will your guests.

Step 4: The finale

  • Make sure your water/butter/Crisco mix is at a dull boil
  • Now slice the rolled strudel into approximately 2 to 3 inch pieces and place them on your skillet or pan

  • Sprinkle the strudel with cinnamon and cover your skillet or pan, making sure the cover is sealed so you don’t allow the heat to escape

  • Covered, cook the strudel on one side for 25 minutes
  • Flip the strudel and cook for another 20 minutes uncovered, frying the bottom of the noodle so it is firm and golden.

Step 5: Meat and eat

Now I’m sure you’re not quiet convinced that this can indeed satisfy as a supper dish, but serve your guests a slice of apple strudel heaven with a side of your favorite sausage and the flavor combination is sure to delight.

Some people like to add to the chaos by garnishing with syrup. Hey, you might as well go all out.

I say, add a glass of wine like my momma and I and you’re sure to sleep until spring.

Just like the bears and the squirrels.

Ahhh, I just don’t think they make meals like this down south…but then, they don’t need the extra padding for winter.

You can thank me when you wake up.

*Note: Here I feel the need to explain what I was dealing with during my quest to bring you this recipe in all of its glory.  Because three things occurred that challenged me during this kitchen experience (and I don’t need any help being challenged).

1. The sun went down, like really fast as it typically does this time of year…
and…
2. My momma doesn’t believe in overhead lighting, even in times like these. “It’s just not flattering,” she says…
…which didn’t help with the fact that…
3. Cowboy’s cooking is a slow, thought out process, as I have explained before and I have been known to be less than prepared and…well my camera battery died.

So I borrowed a camera from my pops to finish the job.

I hope you got the idea, but the strudel looks better in person, I promise.

Next time I’ll bring a battery pack and a spotlight.

And more wine.

Another lesson learned in Cowboy’s Kitchen.

Cowboy Cooks Noodles and Crunchies

Today in Cowboy’s Kitchen we feature a long-standing German tradition in Cowboy’s family. It is a special treat his momma makes him when he is over for a visit.

It is “I love you so much I’m  gonna fatten you up” food.

It is weird.

Just weird enough to win my mom and pops over when Cowboy prepared this for them when we were dating….you know, back in the day.

So we invited them over for a taste, because my momma claims that Cowboy hasn’t made this particular dish for her in “a hundred years.”

Now I will list the four reasons this dish has stood the test of time and has won mothers and girlfriends over for generations (and now that I’m thinking about it, probably won some women husbands as well)…

Because it is:

1. Mostly white
2. Buttery
3. Fried
4. Carb loaded

Perfect for that slimming waistline and to keep you warm in the unexpected weather.

It is also really great because it sure isn’t fancy. You probably all have these items fully stocked in your cupboards and fridges as we speak.

But before we begin, Cowboy would like to express his embarrassment. Because due to the blizzard, we don’t have the good booze.

Hence, his drink of choice tonight….Svedka Vodka…(Cowboy says he got this on sale)

Ummm…ok…

Swedish vodka
+
German Food

It’s a blending of cultures…just like us.

Also, Cowboy decided after last time we needed some good music to set the proper frame of mind.

Now playing: Fred Eaglesmith

…with a splash of Red Bull

Our little kitchen is rockin’

Rock.  ‘N.

First things first:

Cowboy says you don’t cut anything, not even a potato, until the knife is sharp enough to shave with.

I waited a good fifteen minutes while this went on…and on…

…and on…

So much preparation.

Whew…deep breath as I remember Cowboy’s motto: “No bitch’n in the kitchen.”

Lesson learned.

Here we go.

Cowboy Cooks Homemade Noodles and Crunchies

The simple cast of characters:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 4 slices bread or 4 buns
  • sprinkle of salt

See what I’m saying about the carbs….
and the white…

Oh, and a side of meat….cause this is a Cowboy’s kitchen after all.

*Note: Cowboy usually serves this dish with a side of deer or breakfast sausage of some sort. Here is where I admit that I was put in charge of thawing out the meat and I unintentionally forgot that our ancient microwave doesn’t have a proper defrost setting and proceeded to cook the sausage until it took on the consistency of a rubber mask.

Anyway, we had to resort to the ham slab that brother in law brought us.

Another lesson learned.

Step One: The Potatoes

  • Peel 4  medium sized potatoes (or more, depending on how gaunt your guests are)
  • Cut potatoes into bite sized pieces (the actual size depends on how big your guests’ mouths are…)
  • Place cut potatoes in boiling water with “three to four twists on a sea salt grinder.”(But before you do, quickly add a ½ tablespoon of butter to the boiling water. And be quiet about it cause it’s Cowboy’s secret ingredient)


  • Boil for 10-15 minutes

Now step outside and call a couple coyotes (seriously, that is what he did)…what did I say about Cowboy’s methods? Slow and steady, it’s about the process.

The Red Bull doesn’t even budge this.

Now, while you’re waiting, and after the coyote call, begin the noodles. And be prepared to impress your big mouthed guests (or your future wife or husband or mother in law). Cause this is what I call seriously homemade.

Step 2: The Noodles

  • Using the one hand egg crack technique, crack one egg into a liquid measuring cup
  • Whisk with fork
  • Add a little salt
  • Add 1 cup of milk to the egg, whisk again and pour into a bowl
  • Now add a handful and a half  of flour to the mixture and stir

Cowboy says dough is all about the feel, not precise measurements…

  • So…stir and add flour until the dough is knead-able
  • Then sprinkle a bit of flour on your surface to avoid stick
  • Knead the dough while continuing to sprinkle flour on the mix, adding flour as you knead to help roll the dough out evenly



  • Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s about 1/8th of an inch thick

Here you can see Cowboy showing off a little by tossing the dough in the air. You can do this too, if you want.

But if you’re like me and don’t really like the idea of cleaning dough off of the ceiling and shampooing it out of you and your guest’s hair, you can skip it…a rolling pin will do fine.

  • Now cut the dough into strips, about 1 inch wide

Cowboy uses a pizza cutter cause he’s not the type of guy who is opposed to new technology. If you want to do it old school, use a knife.

  • Then cut the dough again the opposite direction, creating nice little rectangles
  • Now check your potatoes to make sure they are on their way to being done
  • Add the noodles to the boiling potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes (the noodles will float when they are done)

Also a really great excuse to use his man sized spatula.

Uff da.

Step 3: The Crunchies

Now for the best part….the crunchies. You were wondering about these weren’t ya!

  • While cooking the noodles, melt 1 1/2 sticks of butter in a pan (Cowboy prefers cast iron…typical) and melt completely

While the butter is melting, tear apart bread or buns into bite sized pieces.(It’s ok if they are stale and old, this is what you do with that stuff)

  • Now welcome you’re guests because they bring wine
  • Add the bread to the butter and fry, stirring occasionally, until the bread pieces are golden brown and “crunchy”
    Crunchy.
    Get it? 

    Note: some of the crunchies may be a little black and that’s ok because it adds a rustic flavor. But just be sure not to burn them to a char, I warn you. That’ll really piss you off.

  • Remove from heat.

Step 4: Pull it Together

  • Strain noodle and potato mixture and put in a serving bowl
  • Add crunchies to the potato and noodle mix
  • Stir with your favorite big spoon

Step 5: Sit Down and Eat

Now don’t forget that meat…any kind of meat, cause it aint a meal unless there’s meat—no matter the butter and carbohydrates.

Oh, and I added my own touch to this meal…snarky napkins.

Just had-ta.

Weirdly delicious isn’t it?

Told ya!

Ahhh, it just doesn’t matter how much Red Bull you consume, the carbs always win.

The carbs always win.

Now lay back and enjoy your coma. You earned it.