Experimentation of Taste

A food blog that catalogs discovery of foods available through CSA Farms Shares and other arenas and the recipes to enhance the flavors.


Goodbye Fred

Tabblo: Good-bye Fred my sweet little cuddle bug.  You will be missed little buddy.

Last weekend was a sad one for us. Our beloved miniature dachshund, Fred, drowned in my dad’s Koi pond. Fred was a great dog. Sure he had his faults. These were determined almost immediately upon bringing him home from the breeder. “Fred,” I would tell him, “you need to shape up. You smell like a dog. And it’s not nice to steal people’s hearts.” He didn’t listen to me and never really overcame these problems.

Fred and I were both intrigued my wife’s beautiful long hair. If it dangled within reach, he would bite at it and tug gently. “Stop it, Fred!” was her interjection when I did this too. Fred was a great accomplice. Sadly, he lost interest in this game and I started to get in trouble.

We adopted a humane society dog at the same time as we got Fred. Frankie is a lab/pug mix. She came housebroken and already knew how to sit on command. The only trick Fred could do on command was “act cute”. I was always amused to use this command with him because it worked. Not that he did anything, he was just cute anyway. After he did his trick I would remind him of his fault again. “It’s not nice to steal people’s hearts, Fred.”

There are both problems and benefits of being a little dog. Fred used his size frequently in his escape-artist act. He would be placed safely in some space such as the kitchen, the back yard, his crate, etc. “Presto! Heeeere’s Fred.”

Click through for the rest of the story.

On a visit to my parent’s house we put our little puppy in the kitchen and went out to dinner. Fred excitedly greeted us at the front door when we returned. My dad, being a staunch advocate of dogs living outside, was not amused. When we discovered a big yellow puddle on the kitchen floor and another Fred present on the carpet, dad let the little dog have it. It didn’t matter that the yellow puddle was just the crock pot boiling over, Fred would have to perform a bigger trick than his usual “act cute, Fred” to steal my dad’s heart.

It turns out that Fred was just small enough to get through the toe kick at the corner of the kitchen. A toe kick is the little undercut at the bottom edge of cabinetry. Fred became very fond of this space because it was right at his height. It also was associated with interesting snacks in the kitchen. When we finished preparing dinner, he would sniff his way along the toe kick and clean up after us. This must have been a rewarding practice because he would sniff along toe kicks everywhere – at the Home Depot, under people’s dressers, at motels. Fred was definitely an optimist.

The problems with being a little dog are numerous. The lawn gets harder to navigate as it gets bigger. People can’t see you and so they step on you. Fred dealt with these problems in his own creative style. In soggy Longview it is pointless to put posts in the ground lest they rot soon afterwards. My fence is no exception, it has a concrete footing running the perimeter of the yard. We called it the Fred highway. If the grass was wet or long, you could count on Fred using this route. He hated water and to my dismay he would pee on the porch if it was too wet for him.

Fred was my present to Chris during our first Christmas together. Training a dog is certainly a good way to get to know the woman you will marry. We had to deal with all the puppy annoyances like potty training and whining. She was somewhat relieved of these duties since we didn’t live together yet and she couldn’t have pets at her apartment. He grew fairly obedient about coming when called and was very affectionate. He loved everyone and everyone loved him. I figured he was socially adjusted enough to be the ring-bearer at our wedding. Chris agreed but our pastor didn’t. I can still envision him running down the aisle. Running under a few pews. Doing some pirouettes. Excitedly running towards the nearest lady that smelled nice. It was probably a good thing to exclude him.

One night I came to bed and snuggled up close to my new bride. She smiled at me before I was distracted by something odd. “You smell like a dog!” I exclaimed suddenly wondering if Fred’s faults were contagious. She just laughed at me and pointed out that the “pillow” I had my head on was Fred. He didn’t move a muscle and blended in with the navy/plaid sheets better than I figured a black and gray dog would.

Fred did some amazing things in his two years with us. He hiked 20 miles with us on a scout hike. He went on a couple of cross country ski trips and refused to be carried. Frankie got to run and frolic in the snow and so did he. Fred was a little taskmaster when we went hiking. He got nervous and paced back and forth when our party got spread out. He even overcame his fear of water enough to hike through small streams.

My little Christmas present met his end right before Christmas this year. He went outside to do his business and pester Frankie in the snow. He never came back inside. My water-hater found a wet end. I can still imagine him thinking, “See I tried to tell everyone this was bad stuff!”

It amazes me how such a small dog took up so much space in my house. Wherever I was, he was always underfoot. He woke me up in the morning trotting up and down the hallway, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. I always fed Frankie first and Fred’s little head would pop out of the crate and his little eyes would stare at me with this look that said, “Come on! Where’s my food?”

No spot where the sun shines in the house was safe from Fred sitting there. He would even find the sun puddles on the edge of the bookshelves. He would work his way into people’s laps, snuggle close to Frankie in bed, and bark at any critter that came in the yard. The house is definitely more laid back without the little taskmaster.

I thank God that we enjoyed Fred for these years. He will be missed by all the hearts he stole in his short time with us.

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Sugar High Friday #26: Spooky Sugar Art

Tabblo: SHF #26: Spooky Sugar Art

I was so bewildered with this month's theme of Sugar Art proposed by host Habeas Brulee. I went to art school and I cook but my skills are mainly with bread and yarn not sugar. Right before Christmas I was talking with my Halloween loving friend and the idea came to me; I had been meaning to make her these cool cookies. I had even gotten as far as buying special cookie cutters.

These cookies are a lovely chocolate flavor with a crisp texture. They are basically Chocolate Sugar Cookies.  I mixed up a coffee flavored icing based on my friends fav chocolate combos.

Spooky Cookies

Everyday Food October 2006

  • 1 1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • sprinkles
  • icing (recipe below)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in egg. On low speed, mix in flour mixture. Divide dough in half, and form into 2 disks, each about 3/4 inch thick. Wrap disks in plastic; chill until firm, at least 45 minutes and up to 2 days.
  3. On a lightly floured sheet of waxed paper, using a floured rolling pin, roll dough 1/4 inch thick. (If dough becomes too soft to work with, refrigerate for a few minutes.)
  4. Using 2- to 3-inch Halloween cookie cutters, cut out shapes, dipping cutters in flour as necessary to prevent sticking; place on a baking sheet, spacing them 1 inch apart.
  5. Bake until surface is dry to the touch, 10 to 15 minutes (if decorating, press candies into dough halfway through baking). Cool cookies 1 to 2 minutes on baking sheet; transfer to a rack to cool completely. Serve, or store in an airtight container up to 3 days.

No-Fuss Icing

Cook's Country Charter Issue 2005
  • 2 T milk
  • 1 c confectioners' sugar
  • food coloring (optional)
  • 2-3 drops flavored extract (optional) - I used coffee

With small wisk, combine milk and sugar in small bowl to make soft, smooth icing.  Stir in optional ingredients.

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Merry Christmas Ya'll

Experimentation of Taste will be in the Land of no Internet or at least of Dial-up. So I will be back to post shortly after the new year. I will be back to regular posting and some new things that I have been mulling about in my flu-stricken brain.

Please stick with me as my extended family deals with Memo's extreme ill health. We love her deeply and want to spend as much time with her as possible. We would appreciate your prayers and thoughts at this difficult time. Christmas is being scheduled around Dr Appointments. Hopefully we don't have an emergency room visit until after Christmas. I have planned a super simple meal so that we can spend the time with her and not running around trying to have the perfect day. Perfect is spending time with that important person who means tons to you.

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Cookie Exchange 2006

cookiesJenny's  KulochaCarolyn's Chewy Chocolate-Cinnamon CookiesWendy's Mexican Wedding CakesKatie's Basic FlapjackCarolyn's Chocolate-covered Cherry BrowniesChrispy's Lime and Cornmeal Icebox ShortbreadChrispy's Butter Pecan Cookies

Click on a cookie to see the recipe

Planning this party took away from my blog time recently.  I hope this set of recipes makes up for all that.  7 people came (out of 12 invited) which is a great success during the business of Christmas.  We all had fun eating food, talking, drinking coffee and playing Christmas games. 

One of the games was present wrapping.  We paired people up as teams to wrap a box in wrapping paper.  This is no big deal - except that on each team one person could only use her left hand and the other her right.  The results were a lot of fun.  Everyone wrapped their present quicker than expected.

We had a varied group.  All of us are local - several from Longview originally.  Two ladies moved here this summer from Europe.  Katie, who joined us from England, just married a Longview man.  Jenny is here temporarily.  She heads back to Germany next year.  This provided more variety than the standard sugar cookie and frosting.  We barely missed having meringue cookies, since that lady's efforts fell flat.

Katie brought Basic Flapjack cookies.

Jenny brought Kulocha.

Wendy brought Mexican Wedding Cakes.

Carolyn (my co-host) brought Chewy Chocolate-Cinnamon Cookies and Chocolate-Covered Cherry Brownies.

I brought Butter Pecan Cookies and a very flat Icebox Shortbread with cornmeal and lime.

Carolyn and I made extra batches for two friends that have been having a difficult month and still wanted to participate.

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Chrispy's Lime and Cornmeal Icebox Shortbread

Chrispy's Lime and Cornmeal Icebox Shortbread
from Everyday Food Cookie Edition
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 c confectioners' sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 c all-purpose flour, plus for for rolling
  • zest of 2 limes
  • 1/4 c cornmeal

  1. With an elecric mixer, beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until
    smooth.  With mixer on low speed, add flour, mixing just until a dough forms.  Stir in zest and cornmeal. (or other mix-ins)
  2. Divide dough in half; place each half on a piece of lightly floured parchment or waxed paper.  Using the paper so the dough doesn't stick to your fingers, gently roll each half into a 1 1/2 - inch - diameter log.  Dividing evenly, sprinkle logs (to help coating adhere) and pressing in gently.  Wrap logs tightly in the paper, twisting ends to seal; refrigerate until firm, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  (Can be stored up to 6 months)
  3. Preheat oven to 350F.  Unwrap logs; with a serrated knife, cut dough into 3/8 in thick slices (if dough is crumbly leave at room temp, 5-10 min).  Place slices on baking sheets about 1 in apart.
  4. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until lightly golden around the edges, 15-20 min.  Cool on baking sheets, 1-2 min; transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Other mix ins are available at this link

Makes 3 dozen

These were very tasty but the cookies rebelled in the 9th hour and formed paper thin sheets the size of my baking sheet.  I know that once I took my silpat off the sheet it spread less but did not solve the complete problem.

Churchable ate 1/2 dozen for breakfast.

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Chrispy's Butter Pecan Cookies

Chrispy's Butter Pecan Cookies
from Everyday Food Cookie Edition
  • 3/4 c pecans (chopped finely)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 c sugar, plus more for coating and sprinkling
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1 c all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat butter and 1/3 c sugar until light and fluffy, about 1 min.  Beat vanilla, salt, and flour, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary, just until dough comes together.  Fold in pecans.
  3. Separate dough into 12 equal pieces.  Squeeze dough into balls; roll in sugar.  Place balls on a baking sheet, 3 inches apart.  gently flatten with the bottom of a glass (reshape sides if necessary).  Sprinkle with more sugar.
  4. Bake until cookies are golden brown, about 15 min.  Sprinkle with more sugar.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 cookies. I got 21 so your results may vary.
Very flaky and tasty!

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Carolyn's Chocolate-covered Cherry Brownies

Carolyn's Chocolate-covered Cherry Brownies
from Christmas with Southern Living 1998
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c cocoa
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 c butter, melted
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 c miniature marshmallows
  • 10 oz jar maraschino cherries, drained well and coarsely chopped
  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate morsels

  1. Combine first5 ingredients in a large bowl.  Add butter and eggs, stirring until smooth.  Pour batter into a greased and floured 13" x 9" x 2" pan.  Bake at 350F for 28 min.  Sprinkle marshmallows evenly over hot brownies; return to oven, and bake 1 more 1 more minute.  Sprinkle with cherries, and set aside to cool.
  2. Place chocolate morsels in a 2-c glass measuring cup; microwave at HIGH 1 minute.  Stir until chocolate is smooth.  Drizzle melted chocolate over uncut brownies.  Let stand until chocolate is set.  Cut into bars.

Makes 4 dozen

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Carolyn's Chewy Chocolate-Cinnamon Cookies

Carolyn's Chewy Chocolate-Cinnamon Cookies
from Christmas with Southern Living 1998
  • 1c butter, softened
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 (3.9 oz) package chocolate fudge instant pudding mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 (11.5 oz) package semisweet chocolate mega morsels (or regular)
  • 1 (2 1/2 oz) package walnut pieces, toasted and chopped (2/3 c)

  1. Beat butter at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugars and pudding mix, beating well.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
  2. Combine flour, soda, and cinnamon; gradually add to butter mixture, beating just until blended (do not overbeat).  Stir in chocolate morsels and walnuts.
  3. Drop dough by Tablespoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 350F for 9 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheets 1 minute.  Remove cookies to wire racks; cool completely.

Makes: 5 dozen
These are my favorite but I can't really turn down anything made from cinnamon. What are best friends supposed to make for you?

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Wendy's Mexican Wedding Cakes

Wendy's Mexican Wedding Cakes
  • 1 c soft butter or margarine
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • powdered sugar

  1. In a mixing bowl combine butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla; cream until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in flour.
  3. Pinch off small pieces of stiff dough and flatten into circles on ungreased baking sheets, or shape into 1 inch balls.
  4. Bake at 400F for 8-10 min or until creamy tan in color.
  5. Roll in powdered sugar while hot.  Cool.
  6. Roll in powdered sugar again.

Makes 5 dozen rich crisp cookies
Yummy! They keep seeming to disappear.

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Jenny's  Kulocha

Jenny's  Kulocha
  • 1 lb cottage cheese (blend until smooth)
  • 1 lb butter
  • 4 c flour
  • 2 c ground nuts
  • 1 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c canned milk
  • powdered sugar

  1. Cream butter and cottage cheese together
  2. Add flour slowly then form into balls and chill.
  3. Mix the filling from the nuts, brown sugar and canned milk
  4. Roll out dough, cut into squares and fill.
  5. Bake at 375F for 15min.
  6. Let cool slightly then roll in powdered sugar.

Makes 6 1/2 dozen cookies

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Katie's Basic Flapjack

Katie's Basic Flapjack
  • 1 c Butter
  • 1 c Soft Brown Sugar (packed)
  • 1/2 c Light Corn Syrup
  • 6 c Oats

  1. Line 9"x13" Pan with foil and grease inside
  2. Melt first three ingredients (don't boil!)
  3. combine with oats
  4. Spread in pan
  5. Cook 360 F for approximately 20-35 min or until golden
  6. Mark out squares while still warm
  7. Cool in tin
  8. Tip out, remove foil and cut with sharp knife

makes 40 cookies
Additions: you can add anything you like such as coconut, nuts, fruit, chocolate chips, etc.

This created the most buzz at the cookie exchange.  At church today, everyone asked me when I would be posting since they really wanted this recipe.

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BBM: Holiday Addition

Last Saturday, Churchable and I went to Mt. St. Helens to play in the snow.  Our dogs frolicked while we took a hike on snowshoes. When we got back home I received my Blogging By Mail package from Gigha at Gigha's thoughts on food and travel.  I am excited to share (and eat) those treats as well as show y'all what I am sending for BBM.  It was good to get out since I just got over being sick.  Today I am also posting several recipes from a cookie exchange I hosted.

Gigha is off on a trip to Asia, but sent me items from Europe.  I love Asia but I love Europe so much more.  The year I attended High School in Germany was unforgettable.  I loved the people, the countryside and of course the food.  It took me 2 years to work off all the schnitzel and Kinder Eggs I ate. 

She included things from all the places she has lived -  Sweden, Scotland and Belgium. 
Here is what she sent:
From Sweden: (Gigha's country of origin)

    crispbread with sunflower seeds (They arrived broken, but everything else was intact)

    spices for Glögg (similar to mulled wine)
From Scotland:

    oatmeal and cranberry biscuits (delicious - the dogs ate the last one when we accidentally left it on the couch)
From Belgium: (Gigha's current residence)

    cherry flavored beer (all mine since Churchable hates cherry)

    Christmas tea (lovely black tea with cinnamon. I love cinnamon!)

    gingerbread spices (not yet tried, but I'll have lots of time this winter)

    Belgium beer jam (typically used on foie gras - not something found in this house, but we will find a use for it)

    4 kinds of Chocolate (the bikini had the most amazing smell when I broke into it and the apricot flavor was delicious).

And some doggie treats.  The trout and salmon treats were already devoured enthusiastically.

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WHB: Freak Snow Storm and the Flu

Tabblo: Beety Red Risotto

My kitchen has been a little slow this week because I have been under the weather.  Despite my sniffles, I made it to Portland to see Christopher Kimball from America's Test Kitchen.  Fortunately I was able to convince Churchable to drive me because I was too exhausted.  My post this week is for Weekend Herb Blogging which is back with it's founder Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen.

The week before Thanksgiving, we went to Meemo's house in Spoke Vegas.  I spent my time cooking, making sure she had the things she needed, and decluttering a closet that no one could walk in - now you can and it has a whole empty shelf.  I decided early on to only cook tried-and-true dishes for my in-laws, but in our rush to leave I also grabbed those things that I had planned on making anyways.  This came with the added benefit of getting to scrub the refrigerator without having to move tons of stuff.  I had beets from my farmer Susie and I had been eyeing a recipe in Everyday Food for over 2 years, but did not have the courage to buy beets.  I had no clue about them and had never eaten them. 

Well the lovely red roots were roasted, chopped up and mixed into a beautiful Beet Risotto.  It tasted better than I thought it would.  The only problem is that I made it the main dish and it should have been a side dish.  Oh well, I will do that next time.  The flavor was sweet and creamy - not dirty like I thought it would be.  I know that it was decent because my teenage sister-in-law hates beets and she took a second helping.

After we got back, I still had more beets.  I should have stopped while I was ahead but I wanted to use up a mess of carrots and other items in army of produce that was successfully taking over my fridge.  I decided to pursue a recipe brought to mind by my farmer.  It was reminiscent of a carrot based pasta sauce I had while in college in 1998. I loved it but never found the product again nor a recipe.  My farmer mentioned that the macrobiotic movement in the 80's had a Winter Spaghetti Sauce that contained Carrots, Beets and Onions.  Running with this I looked on-line and found one thing that might have been close.  I made it and came up with the disaster below (luckily it was Vegan so the compost pile welcomed it).  I really would have preferred it to be more carrot than beet based.  I guess that I just needed less beets and more carrots.  I don't have the recipe or the link that I adapted but if any of you know of a recipe for a carrot based pasta sauce without tomatoes I would truly be interested.

Hopefully next week will be better and I can actually cook rather than letting the crockpot do it all - or at least smell the crockpot while it's cooking.  Churchable came home from work and commented that the house smelled great a couple of times this week and I felt a little left out.  Bye for now!

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