blackened1

Blackened Trout and Sauteed Kale with Ginger

In an effort to eat healthier, we have incorporated more fish into our diet.  Well, I have incorporated the fish and the rest of the family enjoys the benefits as well.  So far, I haven’t had a lot of resistance and Maddie, my five year old, actually comes home from school every day wanting to share a nice can of King Oscar Brisling Sardines.  As far as sardines go, they’re the best.  I’m actually really excited to have a kid to share this tradition with.  My dad used to kick back with a can and I’d hover around like a baby bird wanting to get my fill.

Eating better is nice, but it actually stems from trying to eliminate nightshade vegetables from my diet in an effort to reduce inflammation.  Autoimmune diseases are no pleasure cruises and it’s about time I try to monitor what I eat.

blackened2
I’m not really a fan of cruciferous foods, but that kale actually tasted…great.

Today was a bit challenging as I wanted blackened fish, but most blackening seasonings contain paprika and cayenne, two delicious nightshades.  I quickly looked up a nightshade free blackening seasoning recipe and decided I could make something taste halfway decent.  Granted, I only scanned the ingredients on Seaweed Girl’s Blog.  It was the first thing I saw on Google.  Though I’m not a ginger dynamo, the flavor is growing on me and today was a nice day to experiment.

If you want a zesty bed of kale, this worked out well.  I didn’t really follow the directions that closely.  Be sure to add about a half teaspoon of minced fresh ginger when you add the garlic.  Niiice.

I went with steelhead trout again.  I think it just has an amazing flavor.  I scraped the scales and coated the fillets with extra virgin olive oil.

Ingredients for Blackening Seasoning

1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground thyme

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon lemon peel (I found it on the spice aisle.  It’s granulated and worked nicely.)

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

Method

blackened3
This seasoning made a really nice crust.

Combine ingredients.  Simple.

Liberally rub seasoning into fish and allow to marinate 30 minutes.  I just left mine on the counter on butcher paper and continued prepping the rest of the meal.

Heat cast iron skillet.  It has to be hot to get the coating to crust.  Science happens right before your eyes as your food undergoes the magic that is the maillard reaction.

Place fillets flesh side down and make sure they make good contact with the skillet.  (If you have a lot of fish, you’ll need to work in batches.)  Allow to sear for three minutes.  You don’t want to fiddle with it and end up with a broken mess.

Turn fish over and allow to sear an additional two or three minutes.  It really depends on how thick your fillets are.

Remove from heat.  Enjoy.

psalms

Neutral Response

We live in a world where everyone is hypersensitive and we expect everyone to be nonoffensive. That sounds great. Who wants to be offended anyway? These expectations have culminated into full-on demands where it appears that nobody is permitted to have an opinion about anything. At least no one is permitted to have a dissenting opinion.

Where did this come from? Generally speaking, there are two positions: right and wrong. Left and right. Up and down. Creation and evolution. Abortion and pro-life. Gay and straight. Maybe my memory is failing, but wasn’t there a time where you could hold a view contrary to another and not be labeled as a hater?

Our society used to have a sense of right and wrong. Now, we embrace some distorted pluralist view that there is no absolute right and wrong, or worse, it doesn’t even matter. I recently had a religious discussion with a friend. I was explaining how pluralism does not apply to Christianity as Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) It’s pretty straightforward. Either it is true or false. You agree or disagree. He easily could have said, “You’re wrong.” It would have been refreshing to receive such an honest response.  Even saying, “I don’t know” would have been acceptable in this case.

302399_179039008838366_1218899141_n

Instead, I received some vapid postmodern double-speak. I still don’t know what to think of it. His response was something like this: “I have searched and am no closer to knowing if God is real or not [fair enough], but the First Amendment guarantees everyone freedom of religion and I’ll defend that 100%.” That’s like saying, “I don’t know if you like Cocoa Puffs, but let’s think about the Monroe Doctrine.”  I know why he brought up the First Amendment, but it had nothing to do with the conversation at hand.  Let’s leave the fallacies to the professionals, please. 

I can understand if someone is unsure of their religious views. It is a very lofty subject that has eternal implications. I also agree that freedom of religion is terrific, but the First Amendment was piggybacked onto the former statement which only confounded the issue. I asserted that John 14:6 is true, and instead of telling me I’m wrong, I get some noble Voltaire-ish rhetoric, except the quote that is misattributed to Voltaire begins with, “I disapprove of what you have to say…” There is a judgment statement attached to it. Instead, let’s not judge because truth is relative, or more appropriately, truth is irrelevant, and I’ll defend it anyway.”

Whaaaat? This is an exercise in absurdity. There is no truth. There is no falsehood. It’s all immaterial. I’m reminded of the Esurance commercial when the lady exclaims, “That’s not how any of this works!” This isn’t mere apathy, it’s propping up the virtue of ignorance.

“That’s not how any of this works.”

We aren’t discussing ice cream flavors. These are important matters! Is Jesus the only way? Is abortion murder? Are Trix really for kids? You can’t give a neutral response and wrap yourself up in your Enlightenment superhero cape.  In a world where far too many refuse to take a position of consequence, it is admirable to encounter someone who has the courage to take a stance even if he is in peril of being wrong.

image

Pan Seared Rosemary-Ginger Steelhead Trout

I really don’t particularly care to have restrictions on my diet.  I know I could lose twenty pounds and who knows what my cholesterol count is, but I’m experimenting with my diet in an effort to reduce inflammation.  I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, an autoimmune disorder and there’s nothing worse than angry joints.

IMG_4549.JPG
Marinating trout.

I’ve read that nightshades can cause inflammation.  My issue is that I eat nightshades daily.  I’m on my third day without tomatoes, potatoes, or peppers.  Believe me, trying to season my food without cayenne, paprika, chili powder, or Tabasco is a real challenge.  The plan is to see if I have any improvement after a month free of nightshades.

I’m also attempting to eat a little healthier.  I’m trying to get my family on board to eat fish at least once a week.  I spotted some beautiful steelhead at the grocery store and knew this was going to be dinner tonight.

I didn’t use any special recipe, I just knew I was going to use rosemary since my rosemary shrub is basically a tree now.  I didn’t measure anything, but I have some pretty close approximations.

Ingredients

olive oil (for coating the fish fillets)

1/2 cup rosemary, finely minced

1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, minced

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Nicely seared.
Nicely seared.

Method

Mix all ingredients except for the olive oil.  This will be your rub.

Coat fish fillets with olive oil and apply rub liberally to both sides.

Allow to sit at room temperature for thirty minutes.

Heat iron skillet.  Once medium hot, add fish fillets flesh side down.  (This may have to be done in batches depending on the amount of fish).

Sear fish for three minutes.  Turn over and sear the skin side for three minutes.

Fish should be cooked through and ready to eat.

Pan seared trout, mixed greens with apples and raspberries and a simple garlic vinaigrette, and black rice.
Pan seared trout, mixed greens with apples and raspberries and a simple garlic vinaigrette, and black rice.
IMG_4538.JPG

BBQ Chronicles: Billy’s Old Fashion Barbecue–Jasper, TX

The hunt for the best barbecue continues with the second joint today. This is a small victory as I have always wanted to hit more than one restaurant on the Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ establishments in a single day. Billy’s Old Fashion Barbecue happens to be number 9. I have a hair less than four years to visit the other 41 before the list is updated. I have my work cut out for me as these places are as far at 500 miles from home.

I wasn’t hungry when we rolled into Jasper, but I was here to eat barbecue. I knew I wanted brisket and when we found the dilapidated restaurant, I knew we were going to experience some magic.

I chose the sliced brisket sandwich. I wasn’t expecting this monstrosity as it was quite large. Topped with pickles and onions, this sauce soaked sandwich was perfect. I only wish I had ordered the sauce on the side. The sauce was decent, but I came for the meat.

The sliced brisket was very nice. It was juicy and the fat was rendered beautifully. It was a bit toothsome, but it certainly wasn’t tough. I had forgotten to ask for untrimmed meat, so I was pleased when I saw that the crusty bark was intact.

The meat had a mild flavor. Not too much smoke, and it wasn’t overpowered with seasoning. It was a simple, beefy masterpiece. At only 2 1/2 hours from home, I can see myself loading up the family for a nice meaty adventure. This is easily a 4.0/5.0. Well done, Texas Monthly. This BBQ doesn’t disappoint.

IMG_4534.JPG

IMG_4524.JPG

BBQ Chronicles: Hitch-N-Post–Livingston, TX

It’s been a few months since I have been able to hunt for some good Texas BBQ. It is a bit of a tradition that I enjoy with my oldest daughter, Alli. I’m not a hunter, so we aren’t likely to go kill deer as we spend time together, but we have our own game we like to track down. We decided to have lunch at the Hitch-N-Post in Livingston, TX. It’s 3 1/2 hours from home so we had time to work up an appetite.

IMG_4529-0.JPG
Schlock.

We both ordered untrimmed fatty brisket which in my estimation, is the best tasting meat. I usually try the sausage as well, but we are planning an early supper at another BBQ place and I don’t want to gorge myself.

The brisket, though cooked, could probably have used another four hours in the smoker to completely render the fat and make the meat fork tender. I actually had to use a knife to cut the meat. There was a beautiful smoke ring and a decent crust, but I was hoping for a denser crust. Then again, this ain’t Lockhart.

The beans were good, but they were punched up canned beans. The potato salad probably came from Brookshire Brothers, but I came for the meat. The sides are just a bonus.

More schlock.
More schlock.

Apparently, the proprietor has a policy to give free cake to first time customers. He was a really nice BBQ enthusiast as he asked if I had tried Snow’s in Lexington. Then he started showing me pictures of BBQ joints on his phone.

The ambience was a schlockfest with old tricycles dangling from the ceiling and tiki umbrellas reminiscent of Gilligan’s Island. It was enjoyable soaking it in while I soaked up sauce with my bread.

The food was good. I would rate it a 3.0/5.0, but with the outstanding service and friendly atmosphere, I rate it a solid 3.5. Hitch-N-Post is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.

IMG_4525.JPG

Minced garlic.

Chocolate Chicken Fricassee

I don’t feel like I have been all that productive this week as I have been dealing with a flare up.  It’s just one of those things.  One day you feel decent, the next day you feel like you got hit by a truck.  Gone are the days where I feel like a rockstar.  I’m just glad for the days where I don’t shuffle like an old man.  

My kids tell me to hobble like the wind which reminds me of soft rocker Christopher Cross.  I’m then reminded of a quote from Butthead.  Regarding soft rockers, he said, “They decided to rebel against their parents by making even softer rock.”  That’s the mark of ultimate rebellion.  Nevertheless, “Ride Like the Wind” and “Sailing” have been stuck on my mental playlist for 34 years.  I try to push it out with Metallica or Dave Brubeck, but Christopher Cross usually wins the Battle of the Bands inside my brain.

fricassee3

Around 11:30 last night I was inspired to make chicken fricassee…with chocolate.  I nearly jumped into my soccer mom minivan to score some chicken thighs and chocolate last night, but I was able to resist the temptation until this afternoon.  I know, chocolate chicken just doesn’t sound all that appealing.  It’s not like chocolate fondue or anything, just enough to add a touch of panache.  My biggest critics are my kids and they thought it was great.  If my kids like it, it’s a big win for me.

Ingredients

6 chicken thighs

2 tablespoons yellow mustard

1 cup flour (for dredging the chicken)

2 slices bacon

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 onions, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup flour

5 cups water

2 bay leaves

1 ounce 70% dark chocolate

1 tablespoon chicken base

3 tablespoons A1 steak sauce

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1 pound linguine (or pasta of your choice)

Seasoning Blend for Chicken

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

I love anything with gravy.
I love anything with gravy.

Method

Rinse chicken and remove excess fat and skin.  Pat dry with a paper towel.  Rub seasoning blend into chicken and coat with mustard.  Allow chicken to marinate for 30 minutes.

Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

Render fat from two slices bacon in a cast iron dutch oven.  Remove and add 1/2 cup vegetable oil.  When heated, add chicken, skin side down.  Cook in two batches.  Allow chicken to fry over medium heat for four minutes and turn.  Allow to fry three minutes longer.

While chicken is frying, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove chicken and pour 3/4 cup flour into pot.  Combine oil and flour to make a roux.  Turn heat down to low and stir continuously until roux is a dark brown, about the color of milk chocolate.

Once the roux is sufficiently dark, add sliced onions.  This will stop the browning process.  Saute until onions begin to soften and add garlic.  Continue to cook until fragrant and onions are soft.

Add water and stir until roux has completely dissolved, resulting in a smooth gravy.

Add bay leaves, chocolate, steak sauce, thyme, black pepper, white pepper, chili powder, paprika, oregano, parsley flakes, and cayenne.  Blend well and and taste.  Make adjustments if necessary.

Mince the two slices of bacon and add to the gravy.  Also, introduce the par-fried chicken to the pot.  Cover and place in oven for 45 minutes.

About fifteen minutes before chicken is ready, prepare pasta according to the directions on the package. Enjoy.

Chocolate chicken fricassee on a bed of linguine.
Chocolate chicken fricassee on a bed of linguine.

Pastrami and Prosciutto Melt on Rye with Pepperoni Mustard

I’m a sandwich addict.  I just can’t help myself.  If you have followed my work, you would know that I’m continually thinking about food.  The flexibility of the sandwich is what attracts me to this culinary medium.  One creation that was especially tasty was my Monstrous Meatloaf on Ciabatta.  Another traditional favorite is my take on the grilled cheese.  Or, there’s always the egg salad sandwich.  If you have the time, you can make Scintillating Chicken Salad Sliders on Arepas, or you can go all out and make my favorite one–the Scotch Egg Sandwich on a Pretzel Roll with Horseradish Mustard.  That took some work, but if you like bratwurst like I do, you’ll be sated.

I’ve been wanting to make pepperoni mustard for a couple of weeks now.  Originally, I thought it would go well with corned beef, but I just couldn’t pass up the pastrami.  Besides, the whole family likes pastrami.  Corned beef?  Not so much.

The pepperoni mustard only takes about fifteen minutes with the aid of a ninja-like food processor.  I don’t even own a food processor.  I had to borrow one to try this creation out.  The sandwich is also easy.  Just stack meat to the sky.

Stack 6 slices of pastrami in preheated iron skillet.  Place two slices prosciutto and top with swiss cheese.  Cover and let heat for two minutes.
Stack 6 slices of pastrami in preheated iron skillet. Place two slices prosciutto and top with swiss cheese. Cover and let heat for two minutes.

Ingredients

6-8 slices pastrami

2 slices prosciutto

3 slices Swiss cheese

2 slices rye bread

4 thinly sliced red onion rings

2 tablespoons jalapenos

1 tablespoon pepperoni mustard

Pepperoni mustard spread on a pastrami and prosciutto melt on rye.
Pepperoni mustard spread on a pastrami and prosciutto melt on rye.

Method

Preheat an iron skillet over medium heat.  I got a paper towel with some vegetable oil and rubbed it over the hot skillet to keep the meat from sticking.

Stack pastrami, prosciutto, and cheese in skillet and cover for two minutes so the cheese melts.  Carefully remove stack with a large spatula and place on a slice of rye bread.  Top with onions and jalapenos.  Spread pepperoni mustard on second slice of bread.  Top sandwich with second slice of bread.  Enjoy.

pastrami4

pepperoni mustard

Pepperoni Mustard

Yeah, I know it sounds kinda strange.  I just have so much pepperoni at the house.  It’s definitely a problem I don’t mind having, but I have to use up the pepperoni so I can purchase…more pepperoni.

This spread will go nicely on sandwiches and it’s simple to make.

Ingredients

1 cup sliced pepperoni, packed (like you would do brown sugar)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup dijon mustard

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice

1 garlic clove

1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish

1 tablespoon Mezzetta sun-ripened tomatoes in olive oil

2 tablespoons Maille whole grain mustard

Method

Using a food processor, chop pepperoni and olive oil into a slurry.  Slurry just doesn’t evoke feelings of deliciousness, but trust me.  Add all other ingredients except the whole grain mustard and blend in the food processor.  Stir in the whole grain mustard by hand so that the texture is maintained.

Spread on your favorite sandwich and enjoy.

IMG_4493.JPG

I’m A Dashionista–Roasted Potatoes and Smoked Sausage

image

I just received a check in the mail today from Mrs. Dash.  Yep, I sent in a variation of this recipe and I guess they thought it was good enough to eat.  I think I need a vanity plate that says “DSHINSTA.”  I updated this recipe so that you can enjoy it as it was submitted.  

My only wish is that I could have gotten a tiara.

Ingredients:

4 medium russet potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup mirepoix (I’m feeling puny today so I used some of the frozen variety)
1/2 pound Down Home sausage, split lengthwise, then split again and chopped
3 cloves chopped garlic
1 tomato, chopped
Olive oil
1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash Table Blend

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine first five ingredients.

Drizzle olive oil and toss to coat.

Season with Mrs. Dash.

Roast uncovered for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.

Can God Embody Both Love and Justice?

IMG_4489-1.JPG

Whenever a celebrity dies, the world weeps and insipid remarks like R.I.P. or “[insert celebrity name here] is in a better place” flood the internet. I’ve never heard someone say anything like, “[insert celebrity name here] lived in opposition to God, the Creator of the universe, and is in a real pickle.” Why do people always assume someone is in a better place after they die? It’s as if the world is caught up in a Ponzi scheme constructed of wishful thinking.

When someone dies, it is a reminder that our own death is drawing near. James, Jesus’ half brother, couldn’t be any clearer. He says, “You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (‭James‬ ‭4‬:‭14‬ ESV)

It is imperative that we know that certain conditions must be met before we can be assured that we “are going to a better place” after we die. Jesus says we must repent of our sins and put our trust in Him. People like to say that God is Love but say nothing about repentance. They must not have read Matthew 4:17. We cannot simply give Jesus a nod and continue living a lascivious lifestyle. We must repent.

It is true that God loves his creation, but is God so one sided? God has many attributes that we are comfortable with, but when we consider Him as the Judge, some try to deny Him of this trait because it is mean. Is it really mean, though?

When someone commits murder, do we want justice or do we want to set him free. We want the judge to sentence him to a long stay in prison. Even in our fallen nature, we have a sense of justice. But if we are confronted with the possibility of hell, we decide that our sins, crimes against the holy God are not significant enough to warrant hell. In fact, we like to believe that everyone will go to heaven. Except Hitler. We aren’t as bad as Hitler, right?

We forget about the numerous sins we commit daily against God. We are all liars, thieves, murderers and adulterers in our hearts, but we don’t deserve justice because only Hitler goes to hell. He is worse than we are. If only our eternity hinged on comparing ourselves to Hitler, everyone would go to heaven. Except Hitler of course.

We have to quit deluding ourselves into believing we are good people. What does the Bible day about man’s innate goodness? Paul clarifies the matter by quoting scripture. He says, “[A]s it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.'” (Romans‬ ‭3‬:‭10-12 ESV) It’s a good thing that only Hitler deserves hell.

God hates sin and He must punish it. No matter how emphatically we conjure the Hitler fallacy, we still stand condemned. Yet we cling to this idea of comparative goodness.

If God is a loving God and if He also demands justice, how can He accomplish both? The answer is Jesus Christ. God himself came to this earth to die in our place. The judgment on our heads was transferred to Him. Through Christ’s work on the cross, God is able to reconcile the apparent paradox regarding love and justice.

The death of a public figure is a reminder that death stalks us all. Granted, only God can see into our hearts, so should we remain silent on eternal matters? Jesus gives insight into what a Christian looks like. He says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” (John‬ ‭15‬:‭5-6‬ ESV)

This knowledge isn’t so we can point fingers. Jesus shared this so that we can search our own hearts to know if we truly are one of His sheep. I don’t want anyone to go to hell, but we should not assume that everyone goes to heaven because it is misleading. If we tell the people we love an unequivocal statement like, “[insert celebrity name here] is in a better place” even if evidence points to the contrary, we are spreading damnable lies that puts our loved ones’ souls in jeopardy. If we do not submit to Christ, we will have firsthand knowledge that Hitler isn’t alone in hell.

I'm just a hack who likes to eat.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 154 other followers

%d bloggers like this: