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.

Cowboy Cooks Knoephla

Everybody loves to eat. Especially during this season of the cool down when we all want to give in to those animal instincts telling us to stock up and hibernate.

Yes, everyone loves food. Even those of us who have been known to use our ovens for storage have a dish we try to re-create from our childhood—grandmother’s oatmeal cookies, aunt’s pickles, mother’s secret homemade mac and cheese that turned out was just Velveeta with a little milk over fancy noodles.

And out here, where the coyotes howl outside our window, the grocery store is a good thirty miles away and delivery is not an option unless you are planning on paying a serious fee, we count on those familiar favorite recipes to bring us together around a dinner table, in one room, under the vast prairie sky.

Hey, just because we get more dirt on our clothes and poop on our shoes than the rest of civilization doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy a fine dining experience.

So we make our own.

Well, “we” may not be the most honest term here.

Because, like my good friend Napoleon Dynamite, I have some sweet skills…cat scouting skills, Internet surfing skills, guitar skills, horse hairdressing skills, and the most practiced and honed skill of all…eating. Passionate eating.

I am good at eating.

But not so good at cooking…unless I have specific instructions and an entire day and a half to plan it out and execute a recipe. And by then I’m usually too tired from the effort of it all and too full from sampling each ingredient that I have no wish to eat again for another solid, well….ummm….thirty to forty minutes.

It’s exhausting.

No, I have little patience for food that doesn’t come directly from a box.

So although I can’t provide you with life-changing recipes that you will pass on from generation to generation (unless you wish to pass down that mac and cheese recipe, then I’m all in), I can give you something better.

Yes, much, much better.

See I know someone who doesn’t say much. He’s skilled and handsome and very, very tolerant. An unlikely character who knows cooking because he honed his skills alongside a woman who honed her skills alongside a woman who put heart and flour and some of that wholesome German-Russian discipline into her food.

Yup, he knows cooking.

So I married him.

Oh, husband has recipes, secret recipes that he has sharpened and perfected and put his own, rugged twist on. He has them tucked up under his hat and they come out of him in all of this lovely, delicious and oh so soul warming, buttery and carbohydrate loaded food that makes me weak in the knees. And then I promptly lay down in bed, pull the covers over my head knowing that I could die in my sleep and my last meal would be the best meal of my life.

Ok, I’m a little dramatic perhaps, but he does cook….really, really well.

We can all thank his momma for this.

And you can thank me and number one skill—persuasion—for getting him to agree to let me follow him around our tiny kitchen and document his every move.

Yup, my mad skills come in handy.

So hold on to your ladles as I present to you the first installment of—

A Cowboy In the Kitchen: Recipes and philosophy from the epitome of man—the cowboy.  Expect heartiness. Expect butter. Expect meat. Expect robust flavors. Expect bad grammar. Expect a mess.

 

But please, don’t expect diet food.

Our agreement? Husband gets to wear his hat and his fancy shirt, in all its polyester glory...

Today’s Recipe:

 

Homemade Knoephla Soup with Chicken (cause a cowboy’s gotta get his protein)


And before we go any further, the cowboy wants you to know that this doesn’t have to be pretty.  And it ain’t gonna be quick. Soup is about the process; so hang in for the long haul and don’t get hung up on meticulous measuring. There will no measuring spoons or cups, but a lot of pinches, dashes and shakes.

The only spoon you need is your taste test spoon. Use it often for best results.

And last but not least…

The #1 rule of soup. You can always add to it, but you can’t take it back.

Mooooving right along.

Cast of characters:

  • A Cowboy
  • A good attitude (no bitchin’ in the kitchen)
  • 3 to 5 ice cubes
  • Your favorite whiskey
  • Six chicken drumsticks or three chicken leg quarters,  thawed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 6-8 green onions
  • 4 large carrots
  • Half and Half
  • Chicken Base or Bouillon Cubes
  • Bay leaves
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Celery Salt
  • Thyme
  • Cilantro
  • Salt

(Yup, I know what you’re thinking, that’s a lot of spices. But, didn’t John Wayne say something about trust?) Anyway.

And finally…

  • One brother-in-law who will smell this from his camper in the yard and come over to see what’s cookin’

Step 1: Prepare

  • Put the ice cubes in your favorite glass
  • Pour desired amount of whiskey over the cubes
  • Take a drink

(This is not optional)

Step 2: The Broth

  • Put as much water in to the pot as you want soup broth.  (Too much is better than not enough. A cowboy’s logic in the kitchen and in life. )
  • Place chicken and bay leaves into the water
  • Add a two fingered pinch of rosemary and a sprinkle of salt
  • Bring to a gentle boil
  • Continue boiling until the chicken is cooked through–approximately 1/2 hour, but the longer the better, as the point is to cook the flavor out of the chicken to create a tasty broth.

Now kick back in your favorite recliner, sip some more whiskey and wait.


  • Once the chicken is cooked to your liking, remove it from the pot and skim the excess fat off the top of the water

  • Season the broth with:
    • A sprinkle of salt
    • A pinch of minced garlic
    • A couple shakes of basil
    • A couple shakes of celery salt
    • A pinch of thyme (Cowboy’s not sure what this is, but puts it in anyway ‘cause it sounds fancy)
    • A generous couple shakes of parsley
    • 3 tablespoons of chicken base (or several bullion cubes)

Waft the soup up to your nose to get a good whiff. Smells delicious. Add more seasoning if you wanna.

Stir.

And while you’re at it why don’t you take another sip of whiskey

Step 3: Soup contents

  • Remove the skin from the chicken and pull meat from the bone. Cut into bite sized pieces

  • Peel and dice four medium sized potatoes

  • Slice four large carrots

  • Dice 6-8 green onions

  • And…a half a stick of butter (optional. If you’re feeling diety, you can skip it, but it sure makes it tasty)

 

Add all above ingredients to the soup and continue cooking on low heat until the potatoes are tender. About 20 minutes.

 

mmmm…it smells good in here…I’m stttaaaarrrrvvvviiinnngggg…..

On a side note, this is what we have to work around...ridiculous.

In the meantime…the best part…

 

Step 4: The knoephla

  • Mix one egg with a cup of milk

  • Add a dash of salt and stir

  • Sprinkle flour on your counter or table to avoid stick

  • Add flour (about 3 to 4 cups) to the mixture and then knead the dough on the table until it no longer sticks to your hands and the consistency reminds you of play dough

  • Roll the dough out in to thin, round strips that look like small snakes

  • When the potatoes are done, using a kitchen scissors, clip off about ½ inch pieces of the dough and drop into soup mix

(you don’t have to use all of the dough, just put in as many as you like. Cowboy usually needs to upgrade to a bigger pot)

  • Cook kneophla until they float to the top of the soup mixture. About 10-15 minutes.

 

Step 5: The finale

  • When the knoephla pieces pop to the top of the mixture, take a little taste of the broth to see if it needs anything. Add more seasoning if you wanna.
  • Then, if you’re feeling too skinny, add to the mix a ½ pint of half and half. (c’mon you know you wanna) Heavy whipping cream also works, but we didn’t want to scare you off.

  • Say, “mmm.mmm.mmmm.”
  • Stir
  • Ladle into big boy sized bowls and serve with crackers and bread (because really, we need more carbs)

Time to eat!

 

Then leave the dishes for tomorrow and tip your hat down over your face and turn in for the night.

 

Agh, I’m exhausted.

We ate too much...

 

Cowboy says: “If it’s not the best soup you’ve ever eaten it’s because you missed the important ingredient…whiskey….or was that love? Yeah, love.

Repeat steps 1-5 adding more whiskey, which results, consequently, in more love.

Happy Kneophla to ya!