Sunday Column: Winter and heavy whipping cream…

IMG_9739Out here, in this season, snow comes and goes quickly. We froze our butts off early last week, only to be welcomed by a thaw at the end of it, followed by 30 mph winds that blew the snow sideways on Sunday.

Coincidently this is also the day we chose to clean out the shop and our basement, sending me winging boxes of unusable crap into the garbage pit only to have it all fly back into my face…like three of four times…before I decided to approach the whole chore from the opposite direction. You know, wind at my back…always the right choice.

A choice made after almost the entire contents in the back of the pickup blew out across the prairie on my way to the dump, sending me flailing after it.

A choice made after the old pickup without a parking brake nearly rolled into said garbage pit while my back was turned, you know, flinging things.

Winter. Some days you’re such a bitch.

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Oh, but we have ways of coping around here.

Because when the season of snow-pelting-you-so-hard-in-the-eyeballs-they-threaten-to- freeze-shut is upon us, we strip off our forty-seven layers and head to the kitchen to whip up something warm, preferably with noodles and heavy whipping cream.

Yes, if we have to have winter, at least we have heavy whipping cream to get us through.

IMG_9779So that’s what this week’s column is about. It’s about the recipes Husband and I concoct in our little kitchen to pass the time on long winter nights.

Coming Home: Bring on the heavy cream, butter and winter weather
by Jessie Veeder
11-23-14
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

IMG_2906And I realize that the holiday season is just starting, and we have a trip to Cabo in the works to help ring in the new year, so really, I should just take it easy and have a salad for gawd sake, but for some reason the thought of squeezing my pasty white squishy body in a bathing suit in a month or so is not scary enough to keep me from a second helping of Husband’s famous cream noodles.

Yes. You read it up there. Homemade noodles fried and smothered in cream.

There’s that. And then there’s the two giant pots of knoephla soup mom and I cooked up for the crew of hunters/family this weekend. And yes, it was me who convinced her to add another pot.

Because you can’t have enough creamy soup. You can’t have too much! You can always save it and have it for lunch every day until Christmas!

Want to see how it’s done? I show ya here:
Cowboy Cooks Knoephla

And don’t even get me started on the traditional holiday cheese ball I’ll be concocting on Thursday…

Or the fact that all I want for breakfast for the rest of my life is a caramel roll followed by a donut washed down with seven cups of coffee.

Because it’s winter and I’m ssstttaarrrvvinnnggg.

It’s winter and my primal instincts are kicking in.

“Stock up, stock up, stock up…” they whisper. “You don’t know where your next meal is coming from.”

And I believe the voices. Even though I do.

I do know where my next meal is coming from.

It’s coming from my refrigerator and from the imagination of the man with deep German immigrant roots who can make anything with enough butter, flour, cream, potatoes and a side of pork.

Ugh, I’m so hungry. I can’t wait until 6:00.

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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.

Life and Waffles

It’s not too often that the threat of a being snowed in at the ranch for a couple days doesn’t mess with a series of laid out plans to make the 30 miles drive to work, move some cows, see a concert, put on an event or catch a plane out of this arctic tundra.

For Little Sister the freezing rain and blowing snow turned a four and a half hour drive to the Black Hills in South Dakota into something more like ten.

For my parents on a mission to see Bruce Springsteen perform in Minneapolis last night, it meant leaving early and timing their departure so the storm followed them, ensuring they had a chance to miss the snow, but not The Boss.

There was no way they were missing The Boss.

For others it meant a day off work, a day in the ditch, or a night spent sleeping in a hotel room when all you really wanted was to be home with your family snuggled up on the couch with something cooking on the stove.

For us it meant lighting the fireplace, rounding up the power tools and getting some shit done around here.

But ever since the first snow flake fell a few weeks ago I’ve been starving. So in preparation for the storm and the scheduled house construction project I stopped by the grocery store on my way out of town on Thursday to stock up on the essentials I would need to finally make some of those mouth-watering recipes I’ve been scoping out on Pinterest since last December.

Because I had no weekend gambling or concert plans and I was alright with watching the storm settle in nicely over our little cabin in the oaks, as long as I had the necessary ingredients to feed us.

Because I’m starving.

So as the freezing rain coated my world with ice on Friday and dumped a pile of snow on the whole mess on Saturday morning, I pulled on my wool socks and rummaged around in my cupboards for the flour and sugar and other baking type things…because today was the day I was going to attempt these: Homemade cinnamon roll waffles

I’ve had my eye on these little breakfast shaped pieces of heaven since last winter’s recipe pinning marathon. So on Saturday, I was determined that they come to life in my kitchen.

Now, I have to tell you that I am not a cook. Or a baker. Or a domestic diva. But the thought of these waffles sitting on my breakfast table waiting for a hot, buttery cinnamon drizzle followed by a sweet and sugary cream cheese frosting must have provided me with a sort of Betty Crocker out-of-body-experience.

Nothing was going to stop me from serving these babies up hot to me and my Carpenter Cowboy–not an overflowing waffle iron, not a microwave butter explosion, not a kitchen prepped to be torn apart for the impending tile project and certainly not my lack of culinary skills. I was going to make these things.

From scratch.

And I was going to eat as many as I wanted.

Because it was a snow day and this is what you do on snow days.

And I was starving.

So I did. And I’m telling you here because I was so damn proud of myself, the same way I am when I manage to accomplish anything worth eating in the kitchen. And I was wishing someone, besides Husband, was snowed in in this house to help me eat them and tell me how ass-kickingly domestic I’ve become…because there is only so much cooking-compliment-fishing the man can handle, no matter how much he likes the waffles.

Because the man can make his own damn waffles, so he’s not that impressed.

But I was. So to go along with our crock pot roast dinner, I made this.

Hasselback Garlic Cheesy Bread

Yup.

Ok, so it doesn’t look as mouth-watering as the photo attached to the original recipe, but, c’mon, I made this from freakin’ scratch people. Me. I did that.

Home. Made. Bread.

And when I say homemade, I mean it. Yup, the successful homemade waffles gave me the little nudge of confidence necessary to tackle the things you need to make bread from scratch– like yeast and Husband’s Kitchenaid Mixer.

So as my dearly beloved braved the weather to work on shoveling and checking the horses and other man-type things, I was inside trying to figure out how the hell to use the mixer, waiting for the bread to rise, rolling it out, putting it on a pan and waiting for it to rise some more.  I concocted my own garlic butter, used that pastry brush thingy that I shoved in the back of my drawer and brushed the top of the loaves, baking them until they turned a perfect golden brown. And when Husband came in from the cold, there I stood covered in flour with hands on my hips, content and proud at my delicious accomplishment, wishing again, that someone else was there to taste it, because surely they wouldn’t believe me.

Or him.

I mean really, for all of the things my husband is to me, he seems to lacks the enthusiasm gene.

Anyway, the snow fell and the weekend moved from Saturday into Sunday and we worked on transforming this house into the home we dreamed of.

I stained doors and we put up the backsplash in the kitchen.


Husband made sawdust and I swept the floor,  poured us a couple cups of coffee and then a couple glasses of wine. I braved the weather to snap some photos and he laughed when I came in covered in snow with frozen fingers.

We didn’t look at the clock, we just paid attention to the way the light fought its way through the clouds and into the house that smelled like breakfast bacon and cedar.

I didn’t fix my hair or put on makeup and for two days the only other souls we encountered had four legs and fur and were sleeping on our floor.

This is the way I imagined our winters in this house. And it isn’t often that those imagined things play out the way you thought them up. Especially when it comes to cooking and home construction. And I don’t know why it happened to work out this particular weekend. I don’t know why I didn’t have plans to play music, or to catch a party or a concert or gamble down in Vegas, except that I didn’t.

And neither did Husband.

Because more than anything in the world I think the two of us, whether or not we will admit it, really only want to be here, eating each other’s cooking, cleaning up after one another, following our plans and building our life nail by nail, board by board and tile by tile.

From scratch.

Like the waffles, which turned out pretty good, against all odds.

Amateur Night in the kitchen–with special guest, Rhubarb

It’s on the verge of toppling over to summer on the prairie and as I watch all things grow and reach to the sky, blossom and sprout and green up, I talk about it with neighbors and friends. We talk about lawn mowing and how saturated the ground is. We talk about lilacs and what we’re planting this year. We talk about tulips and getting the outdoor flowers in pots.

We talk about weeds and weather and the short growing season.

And we talk about rhubarb.

Because it’s a universal language around here. If you’re from the prairie you have undoubtedly tasted rhubarb in many forms, in jellies, jams, syrups, pies, cakes, cookies, puddings, salads and breads. You have probably had it pickled, cooked, souped, dried and made into wine. 

Hell, if you’re really thrifty you’ve probably made boats or clothing or shelter out of it. It’s so abundant around here husband’s working on a way to burn it for an alternative, renewable and cheap fuel source.

It’s so common and hearty that I had a patch of it growing on our land and didn’t even know it–until pops came over with his shovel looking to add a another plant  to his garden.

“More rhubarb!? Wait. I have rhubarb?” I said as he marched behind the house and over to the area where my grandmother (his mother) once kept her garden. And sure enough, there on the end of the spindly plum trees and looking dangerously similar to my enemy, burdock, sat a two big, leafy rhubarb plants.

As pops dug his shovel around the perimeter of the smaller plant and placed it in the back of his pickup for transplanting, it occurred to me that these plants have likely been growing here my entire life. And that rhubarb jam and syrup and crisp I remember from my childhood more than likely came from them.

Now that’s what you call an heirloom vegetable.

Anyway, suddenly I had a craving for all things rhubarb. Suddenly I was working hard to channel Betty Crocker with all of these ideas and confidence for creating something delicious with the only edible thing (besides dandelions) growing in my yard this spring.

I called husband to come and help me collect some of the stalks while informing him quite assuredly that I was going to make something delicious out of this.

“It’s easy,”  I said to him as he pulled the stocks from the ground. “It’s easy I’m sure because everyone’s doing it. There’s rhubarb something-or-other every where I turn. How hard can it be>”

So off he went to break the inedible (and I heard from the ladies at the museum yesterday, poisonous..eek!) leaves off of the top of the plants and off I went to google the shit out of “Rhubarb recipes.”

Yes. I Googled it. 

Just like I Googled jelly making.

Don’t judge.

My human resources are limited on this subject and by 9:30 pm, I am sure all two of them were wrapping up their own rhubarb projects and getting ready for bed like normal, hardworking women with a head on their shoulders.

My head? Well, it was quickly spinning because as soon as I plugged  “Rhubarb Recipes” into the search engine the first thing that came up was an entire website dedicated to the plant.

I am not kidding.

Here it is.

www.rhubarbinfo.com/recipes

But you probably all know about it anyway because you probably contribute and wear that rhubarb t-shirt they’re selling around as you work in your gardens and make exquisite rhubarb pies in your kitchens.

Damn you and all your homemaking capabilities!

Sorry. I had to get it out because at 9:45 pm on a Tuesday night I dove into that rhubarb website and didn’t come out on the other end until well past midnight.

It was a harsh lesson in the dangers of being a rookie homemaker with full internet access and all human life-lines tucked tight in bed.

Anyway after purchasing my very own “Got Rhubarb?” t-shirt from the site (because I believe there’s nothing like a t-shirt to commemorate brave events like this) and browsing through countless muffin, sauce, pie and bar recipes, I chose the following after having a recent delicious encounter with a strawberry-rhubarb jam made from a professional.

Ingredients:

2 pounds strawberries (4 cups, mashed)

2 pounds rhubarb (8 cups, 1/2 inch pieces)

6 cups sugar

Procedure:

Wash fruit. Cut rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces. Cover rhubarb with half of the sugar and let stand 1 to 2 hours. Crush berries and mix with remaining sugar and combine with rhubarb. Place mixture over low heat until sugar is dissolved, then boil rapidly, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Cook until thick. Pour into sterilized Kerr jars to within 1/4 inch of top. Put on cap, screw band firmly tight. Process in boiling water bath 10 minutes. Yield: 10 eight oz. jar

I am not a professional. Did I mention this? But the presence of only three ingredients enticed me.

I had strawberries.


I had sugar. I definitely had rhubarb. I had (too much) confidence and I thought I had a stove around here somewhere… I was certain I was on my way to the Homemaker Hall of Fame…

Until I realized I didn’t actually have jars.

Dammit.

So I jumped in the pickup and made a trip to my mommas to collect the jars that once contained delicious Christmas preserves and tomato soups and homemade pickles and jelly from my aunt and neighbors.

Fifteen minutes later it was 10:00 pm and I was back in the kitchen realizing that not having canning supplies in the house wasn’t going to be my first and only rookie move. Turns out starting this project past 9:00 in the evening after skimming the recipe and skipping over the part where the rhubarb needs to stand in sugar for 1 to 2 hours was my second mistake.

Oh well, I just finished mowing the lawn, fed the calf and took that long anticipated shower while I waited.

And by then I was ready to realize my third rookie mistake: getting a vague recipe off of the internet without even watching a damn YouTube video on the topic.

What do you mean by “cook until thick?” What’s thick? How thick? How long? What am I doing? Where am I and what did you do with Martha Stewart’s voice that’s supposed to be running through my head right now?

Which brings me to rookie move number four: over confidence. Over confidence in a usually under-confident kitchen rat. That and allowing husband to fall asleep while I attempted to pour what I decided was thick-enough, boiling-hot jam into the boiling-hot jars.

“Are you sleeping! HEY! ARE YOU SSSLLLLEEEEPPIIINGGGG???” HHHHEEEEYYYYAAAA!! I NNNNEEEDD YOUUURR HHELPPA HHEREEE!”

I think the snoring coming from our bedroom three steps away was a little exaggerated and a lot fake.

I was on my own. On my own with a sticky mess,

six jars of strawberry-rhubarb jam

and a kitchen that looked like this.

I wept.

And then, at 12:30 am realized my fifth and final mistake:

Not. Making. Wine.

Oh well, I wiped the jars, and plopped down next to husband and poked him.

Still, er, sleeping.

And then I asked: “What’s another name for rhubarb?”

“Snore”

“Celery with a sunburn…bwhwahahahhah!”

I guess he really was sleeping ’cause I know he would have laughed at that one.

Anyway, turns out the jam was rookie-proof and my family has been enjoying it on toast, ice-cream and pancakes. I haven’t dared open my own jar yet, knowing that my family can be overly kind and encouraging, especially when it comes to someone in the family attempting anything domestic.

They always give an A for effort.

Anyone have any rookie-proof rhubarb recipes? I heard that rhubarb grows back….

Oh, and since you learned what not to do here,  check out this site for a glimpse into the kitchen of a professional rhubarb connoisseur to learn how to do it right: Rhubarb and Venison 

Cowboy Cooks Crunchy French Toast

Well Cowboy got his cute butt back in the kitchen this weekend. It was no big deal, except the clouds opened up, the sun shone down on the barnyard and all the animals and the birds in the woods met me outside in the morning spring air and joined me in my pouffy dress as I  spontaneously choreographed a song and dance number appropriately titled “Hallelujah.”

And then after my big finish I pulled myself together and promptly joined Cowboy inside because I didn’t want to miss this. I mean he’s been a busy man who, despite my protesting, has left his apron folded up for so long he actually forgot about it. But this weekend enough was enough. After weeks of overcooked noodles, undercooked chicken, Fruity Pebbles for breakfast, lunch, dinner and bagels for dessert I was carb loaded, tired of googling recipes with three ingredients and ready for some real, hearty, cooking.

And ready for breakfast, Cowboy style.

Turns out I was not the only one who has been impatiently awaiting Cowboy’s triumphant return to his craft. Cowboy’s dad has been phoning in his requests for recipes for Cowboy to tweak and try for months. Recipes he’s concocted or dreamed about while flipping through and falling asleep to home renovation channels, reality TV and hunting shows.

Yes, this breakfast idea came into Cowboy’s culinary life via a phone call from his dad, who has probably found the only hunting program on the face of the planet that has a cooking segment. But I guess you come across some surprising programming when you are faced with insomnia and one trillion channels.

Anyway, after three prodding phone calls from his loving father, Cowboy caved and began the process of analyzing the ingredients and making tweaks to Cowboy this recipe up.

So I’d like to take a moment to thank father-in-law for his persistence. See, lately I’ve had this brilliant idea to partake in lunges and boxing and weight lifting and other torturous activities under the guidance of a DVD staring a couple TV personalities who go by the name of Jillian and Bob. Did I mention the lunges. Lots and lots of lunges.

So for the love of Martha, I was starving.

Let’s get to it.

Cowboy Cooks Crunchy French Toast


Step 1: Hydration

This particular morning called for the classic Orange Julius.

My recipe:

  • 6 oz frozen orange juice from concentrate
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • splash of vanilla
  • 10 ice cubes

Throw in a blender and blend away.

And then gasp as your husband grabs the vodka and turns you into a sinner and your innocent Orange Julius into something much less family-mall-day and a little more rock-star rebellious–The Vodkaulius. Or, if you have Malibu rum you could turn your morning into a tropical getaway by creating what we fondly refer to as The Malibulious.

Please don’t judge us.

Step 2: The Ingredients

Ok, once you are adequately hydrated and liquored up at 11 am, fumble around the kitchen and gather the following:

  • 8 slices of bread (Cowboy likes Texas Toast the best. Wifey couldn’t find Texas Toast at the grocery store. We worked through it)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream (yes, I said it)
  • 2 cups flakey cereal (We used Honey Bunches of Oats, but corn flakes or some sort of bran could work too)
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon
  • A sprinkle of sugar

Now step back, throw some bacon on the griddle, take a sip of your VodkaMalibulious and wonder how you could go wrong with heavy whipping cream, sugar and vodka in the morning.

You will not come up with an answer.

Moving on.

Step 3: Mix it up

  • Warm up your griddle or pan to about 350 while you mix up the ingredients and wait on the bacon (because if you think you are going to have a Cowboy breakfast without bacon your are sorely mistaken my friend.)

  • In a casserole dish or other flat container crack three eggs

  • Add the cream, milk and vanilla

  • Then whisk (or fork) it all together

  • Sprinkle in the cinnamon and sugar. We have a fancy 2-in-1 cinnamon and sugar grinder because apparently we use the combo enough to warrant this type of purchase. Try not to be jealous.

  • Here’s where Cowboy, in his true spontaneous recipe fashion, threw me a curveball secret ingredient and reached for the brown sugar I didn’t know about (and neither did you) and added a few pinches of the sweet stuff. Ok, ok, things were getting serious around here. I started lunging.

  • Ok, now set that concoction aside, in a separate casserole dish add your cereal

  • And crush it up a bit, Cowboy style (or you know, you could use a utensil if you aren’t man enough to use your knuckles…geesh)

Step 4: Cook it already

Alrighty, now we bring it all together.

  • Make sure your griddle is saturated with cooking oil and the oil is nice a hot.

  • Dip a piece of bread in the egg/milk/sugar/crazy healthy concoction, fully coating both sides, regular french toast style

  • Then move the saturated bread slice over to the cereal and coat it evenly on both sides

  • Now throw it on the griddle

and continue the process until your griddle is full of coated bread and the house smells like breakfast and sweet cinnamon and sugar and everything that’s right and good with the world.

  • Cook the toast about three minutes on this side or until the cereal is nice and golden brown. While you’re waiting get your syrup and bacon and all your breakfast additions ready to roll so you won’t have to wait one extra minute to eat. Now flip ‘em over!

  • Wait another three minutes or so, plate the golden, sweet, crunchy breakfast toasts up and turn around to find that your dear wife has called your in-laws and they are waiting patiently with their own Vodkauliouses, bacon, syrup and snarky napkins for this hunting show inspired, father suggested, breakfast item…and that same wife is lunging and singing a Disney song. And then whisper to yourself “what have I become?”

And enjoy…with bacon and maple syrup…

or bacon, eggs and a little splash of summer in the form of homemade Chokecherry syrup.

Ahhh, heaven is a sunny weekend and breakfast at the ranch.

Have a great Monday…

If you need me, I’ll be lunging…

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 Heavenly Caramel Rolls

It’s Wednesday. Ughhh. Sometimes Wednesday’s are hard. You know, not the beginning of the week, not quite the end…just smack in the middle. Uff. If you’re sitting in an office or at home with the kiddies or maybe you’re driving down the road ( hopefully not reading this…geesh, pay attention) I would like to invite you to visualize Sunday with me.

Ah, sweet Sunday. It’s coming my friend.

Sunday mornings are one of my very favorite things on the planet.

Sunday mornings and coffee.

Because Sunday mornings involve pots and pots of coffee, sipped slowly out of my favorite mug with my feet up and nowhere to be. So I guess coffee is what really puts Sunday mornings up and over the top for me.

Cups and cups of coffee.

And these caramel rolls.

Coffee, caramel rolls, Sunday morning…the best…

…add this guy milling around the kitchen in his sexy cowboy flannel jammies and that’s it…I’m done.

Pretty sure my heaven is a big ‘ol pile of Sundays.

Anyway, I am sure most of you have your Sunday morning rituals that are pretty damn fantastically relaxing and cuddly and cozy and full of caffeinated beverages. But just in case you want to send it on over into the simple, heavenly, gooey, caramelicious, sugary, sweet category, Cowboy would like to share this recipe. A recipe his momma makes at every family gathering where there are mornings involved.

And I’ll tell you, a house full of relatives in the AM while the coffee is still brewing might have you shaking in your slippers, but you no longer have to worry in situations like this, because before you even pull these out of the oven, the aroma alone rouses the most bear-like guest out of hibernation…

…on occasion, there has even been applause.

Standing ovations.

Those reaction may have been solely mine, but still.

So without further adieu, I present you a glimpse into our Sunday mornings and these perfectly effortless caramel rolls.

P.S.: In case you were worried, there will be no photos displayed of me in the glory of the morning sunrise. The world (and the Schwann’s man) is in no way ready…

Cowboy Cooks His Mamma’s Heavenly Caramel Rolls:


Three simple ingredients:  (I know, I know…only three ingredients!!! Wow, Cowboy’s gone soft. But I must remind you, this is a day of rest…)

  • Package of frozen pre-made cinnamon rolls (6 rolls make one 8X11 pan. 8 rolls make one 9X13 pan)

Go ahead and save that little packet of cream cheese frosting for your toaster strudel. What you are about to create will not hold a candle.

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (or you can use half and half if you are thinking a little skinnier. But as Cowboy would like to remind you “Heavy is better…same goes with every recipe”)

  • 1 cup brown sugar (and if your wife forgot to seal the brown sugar last time she had oatmeal…which was like three years ago, if she remembers correctly…your sugar might be a bit lumpy. But don’t get mad at her. Be proud that she’s eating oatmeal and don’t worry, cause the lumps will cook themselves on out of there.)

Regarding the measurement of cream and brown sugar, Cowboy has somethin’ to say:  “The important part is that it goes on in equal parts. The amount depends on how gooey you want your rolls. If you want to use two cups of each be my guest you rebel, but I have never had a complaint at one cup each.”

Just like Cowboy to be so darn flexible.

Now let’s get going:

Step 1: Think about breakfast the night before. Take your frozen cinnamon rolls out and place in a greased 9X13 or 8X11 pan.

Put the pan in the oven overnight  so they rise while you dream of Matthew McConaughey, or, you know, saving the world.  (But for goodness sake, don’t turn the oven on! That’s not the kind of warm Sunday morning we are going for here…)

Step 2: Wake up, wipe out the eye crusties and before you go any further, for cryin’ out loud, get your coffee brewing. Pour yourself a cup of Joe in your favorite mug…

Perhaps your mug dons a snarky comment. Whatever. Your mug, your intentions. And I will NOT say it’s a fine morning sir. I don’t know how parallel the two run…

Then if you are, you know, going to a later Church service, go ahead and splash a generous amount of the sweet stuff in there…

But if you are going to Church during it’s regularly scheduled programming, I don’t think Jesus will mind if you treat yourself to a little splash. I mean, he was the guy who turned water into wine…

…I’m just sayin’…

Ok, that’s better. Now open the oven and declare “Martha Stewart they’ve risen!”

Take the rolls out and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees

Step 3: A little trick to make your life easier when you are ready to dig in. Loosen the edges of the rolls with a spatula so the caramel runs down the sides of the pan and the rolls don’t stick. You will be glad you did.

Step 4: Pour brown sugar and cream in a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk together until they are nice and blended.

Cowboy would like to remind you that this is heavy whipping cream, so if you overachieve and mix it too long you will have yourself some whipped cream, and that kind of vigor is just crazy…especially in the hours before the sun comes up.

Now pour the concoction (that has no hope of not being delicious) over the rolls.

Step 5: Put the pan in the oven and check in 20 minutes (if you can wait that long)

Here is where Cowboy gets to use the random Christmas present I purchased for him in a moment of weakness. I mean, with all of this new cooking technology at our fingertips (i.e. our 1955 oven and the first microwave ever invented) he was dying for a kitchen timer magnet.

Best. Present. Ever.

While you wait, have an orange or something. You know, to balance out the damage you are about to do when you eat the entire pan of these rolls…

…trust me, if you don’t grab these rolls out of the oven and immediately retreat with your fork into the nearest room with a lock, you will at least be tempted.

But whatever you do, definitely have more coffee…

Step 6: Ok, once the rolls are a nice golden brown color, take them out of the oven.

Grab another pan or put some tinfoil on the counter, because now you’re going to flip them over to let them out of their pan and present them to the crowd of drooling relatives that have most likely gathered in your kitchen by now.

Good flip. Now scrape the remaining caramel from the pan onto the rolls….

…pause for the applause and whistles….

..bow if you wanna…

…I know you wanna…

And say something like “Oh, this was nothing really. Effortless…wow, no need to throw roses…geesh…I just love you all. So. Much.” (wipe a tear)

Then stand back and watch them disappear.

Or, if you’re in our house, stand back and watch your wife find a few dozen reasons to walk by the pan throughout the day and take a bite or two along the way. It’s a Sunday miracle how fast a pan of caramel rolls disappears in a household of two.

Here’s to a heavenly Sunday….

…on a Wednesday…

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: Garlic Beer Can Chicken and Deep Fried Green Beans

One of Cowboy’s specialties is seasoning. He seasons everything. He stands in front of the spice cabinet while rubbing his chin and saying “hmmmmm…” for a good amount of time before he delves into any kind of grilling or baking or frying recipe. He smells the stuff, he breathes in the aroma, he says “hmmmm…” again….

and then he sharpens his knives…

Yup, Cowboy’s cooking is well thought out. And his knives are sharp.

And so we embark on another four hour cooking project.

Because little sister came home a bit upset that she missed the last Cowboy concoction, so she made a formal request that on this trip she be involved in the process.

So Cowboy began a plan to cook something she might like. And vowed she wouldn’t get away without getting her hands dirty.

And I vowed to make her wear a neckerchief.

Don't worry, she loves it when I do this.

Poor little sister had no idea what she was getting into.

And after a good nine hours on a train in the middle of a blizzard with no sleep and a “few” drinks the night before, little sister may have very well relinquished her request if she could, but Cowboy made good on his promise to teach this young woman a thing or two about seasoning…

…and how to really cook in college.

Because the following recipe was developed and tested tried and true while Cowboy was earning what some call an education.

Yup, this little masterpiece would hang out on a low heat grill for up to six hours, seasoned to perfection, while Cowboy and his roommate….er…studied…taking breaks to check the moisture of the meat, to baste, to monitor.

And this process worked really well for them, because as soon as their studying was done, as soon as they knew everything there was to know about philosophy or psychology or introduction to walking, the chicken was there waiting for them…

Or maybe it went more like — as soon as they were nice and toasted, so was the chicken.

I think that sounds more like the truth.

Speaking of toasty, let’s begin with the warm up:

Cowboy’s beverage of choice on a cold day…

…and mine. As you can see, I’ve come prepared.

And little sister?

Yeah, little sister figured she had enough the night before.

Ok, now that we’re all settled in, I present to you…

The chicken:

Step One: Pre-heat

Here is where I would like to tell you to get up in the morning, have some coffee with a splash of Bailey’s,  pre-heat the grill to 225 degrees and be prepared to hang around and hem and haw over the bird for a good six hours in the warm sunshine. And it will be worth it.

But this is what we’re dealing with on this blustery, November day in North Dakota.

And by blustery, I mean, with the wind chill,  20 degrees below zero.

Ain’t no body grillin’ today.

So we improvised.

And preheated the oven, located inside our cozy abode, to 350.

Now for the ingredients:

Chicken Rub:

  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 pinch Basil
  • 2 pinches Poultry Seasoning
  • 2 pinches Weatherford Famous Seasoning (Cowboy says: “Not sure what in it, but that shit ‘s good)
  • Sprinkle of Celery Salt
  • Seven grinder twists of Garlic Sea Salt
  • Sprinkle Dillweed  (the seasoning, not your uncle Bob)
  • 1 pinch Lemon Pepper
  • 2 pinches Parsley
  • 1 pinch Ground Bell Pepper
  • Sprinkle Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 pinches Rosemary
  • 1 secret ingredient (shhh, I’ll tell you about it later)

And…

  • 1 tired, travel weary little sister
  • 1 woman with a camera and a growling stomach
  • 1 Cowboy
  • 1 blizzard
  • 2 neckerchiefs
  • 1 tiny house
  • and a couple dogs

Step 2: The Chicken Rub

  • Mince  garlic and  onion and place in small bowl

Woah those little ones are rank…

Keep it together girl, Cowboy’s don’t cry.

  • Add  extra virgin olive to the garlic and onion mix

And if that doesn’t look delicious enough, I have to tell you what happened next…

..trying to hide his secret ingredient, Cowboy snuck behind my back and added two tablespoons of melted butter to the mix as well…still a little reluctant to fully expose his methods in the kitchen.

I yelled “Stop! You must tell the people what you do! You must tell them everything!”

Cowboy replied, “Can’t I have any secrets?”

I hollered, “No! No! There are no secrets from me. There are no secrets from them. There are no secrets you can keep!”

Little sister worried about our marriage falling apart before her eyes and blurted, “Oh, look at the pretty horses out the window.”

So I did…

And so did Cowboy…

Then all was right with the world again, so he gave in and agreed about the secret thing…

…but not before giving me this look.

…sometimes I get this look.

Sometimes.

I hate this look.

But I must fight to give the people what they want. I must fight to win. So it’s worth it.

Ok, moving on.

  • Now add the rest of the seasonings to the garlic, yellow onion, olive oil and BUTTER mixture

(Just a note, the above seasoning measurements do not have to be precise. Cowboy doesn’t use measuring spoons and you don’t have to either. Just do what feels right…and smells right)

  • Now mix the concoction with your hands so you’ll be mistaken for a grilled chicken for two to three days—a great way to attract manly men. Little sis can thank me at the wedding

Now it’s time to rub that chicken up.

There she is, just waiting for her rub down.....(sorry, that was inappropriate)

  • Grab the bird and separate the skin from the meat and, using your hand, thoroughly, and surprisingly violently, shove the spice rub in there like so:

  • Rub the outside and inside of the chicken with the mix as well

Little sister has never been more thankful for being spared of a task…

Step 3: Time for the beer:

First, when your little sister asks the following question…

“What does the beer do for the chicken?”

…you must answer…

“It’s for moisture…it gives it a little bit of taste…”

And then you can continue

  • Crack open a can of your favorite beer. It doesn’t have to be camouflage Busch, but apparently that is our flavor of choice

  • The can should only be about ½ or ¾ full. And to get it that way, you know what to do.

Cowboy says: “If you accidentally drink too much, which can happen from time to time, don’t worry ‘bout it. Just open a new beer and repeat.”

  • Take the tab off the beer for the Ronald McDonald house
  • Place beer on the special beer can chicken rack, which is made for this sort of thing.

Cowboy speaks again: “If you don’t own a beer can chicken rack,  you sure as shit can weld one up quick-like….if you’re a real redneck…I mean cowboy….just bend some iron, use barbed wire, you know, that sort of thing.”

  • Place the unsuspecting chicken on the beer can like so:

Poor chicken...so innocent, so trusting...she never saw it coming...

  • And now another secret…more butter. Add another 2 tbsp of butter between the meat and the skin of the bird

Now to cook the thing….which requires a bit of explanation, because, like I said, if this were a summer day and not the middle of a blizzard, we would put the bird on the grill in the morning and cook it all day on low while we basked in the summer sun with a few beers of our own while we waited happily for about 5 to 6 hours.

It would be a major ordeal.

A holiday.

An event it itself.

But here, because of the cold and the time restraints, we baked the chicken on 350 for about 3 hours.

Here’s a link that explains how long to cook a chicken based on how big your bird is. Chicken Cook Time

I'LL see YOU later.

So Cowboy waits for his beer can chicken.

In the cold of November.

In the house.

And while he waits, he deep fat fries things….

Like these homemade potato chips for the guests while they wait…

Yeah, he just whipped those up.

But we must stay on task…

On to the next part of our meal.

Step 4: The Green Beans (how Cowboy gets his vegetables…deep fried and golden)

Ingredients:

Now you must answer another question as sister decides she feels well enough for a small drink:

“How many green beans are there?”

“In the world? A billion”

“No, in this bag.”

“Oh, I don’t know, a few big handfuls.”

Ok then,

  • A few big handfuls of fresh green beans with the ends removed
  • 4 cups pretzels
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 ½ tbsp Weatherford Famous Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp Tony’s Seasoning (Cowboy’s Favorite)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup cream or milk
  • Frying oil

Now get out that deep fryer you’ve been dying to use (or you can use a frying pan with deep sides as well) and make sure your oil is hot and sizzley, about 350 degrees.

  • Clean and prep the green beans
  • Dump the pretzels on the counter and crush with a rolling pin. (You didn’t think Cowboy would get through this entire dinner without using a rolling pin did ya? )

  • Place pretzels in a medium bowl and add the flour. Mix together.

  • Add the Weatherford Seasoning and the Tony’s Seasoning to the mix

  • In a separate bowl, crack two eggs and add the cream or milk and whisk (or fork…you know the drill)

Now all is prepared and right with the world and you my begin the assembly line:

  • Dip a handful of green beans in the egg and cream mix…

  • then dip in the pretzel mix, coating each bean evenly…

  • and then place the beans on into the fryer

  • Cook each batch of beans for 5-7 minutes, or until the batter is golden brown
  • Remove from the fryer and place on a paper towel

Hey, hands off my beans! Wait for the chicken! Where's the damn chicken?

Phew…Ok. By now hours have passed and I am a good pound and 1/2 of fried potatoes and four glasses of wine in.

At the beginning of the evening I looked like this:

I have since found a new, styling way to wear my neckerchief:

But it has been well worth it, because the chicken! The chicken is done!

Go get her Cowboy!

Cowboy potholders

And now we eat.

Praise Jesus we eat.

And don’t worry, we’ll talk about those mashed potatoes (and the potato chips) later. They’re delicious, but I’m starving.

Hope you’re weekend was filled with days like these (minus the look).

Until we meet again…

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.