Good morning all you happy people. Well, it’s official. With this post today, I hit two major milestones. As of today, I have been blogging for exactly one year; and, with this post, I have posted exactly 100 posts. I just seemed appropriate to combine the two milestones into one occasion.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you who read my “stuff”. Looking back over the previous 99 posts, I realize that some of it is pure crap. However, I hope you have found some gems amongst the poo, too. I’ve learned a lot about myself and the process of writing in the past year, and I’d like to think that my ability to convey a coherent thought is improving. I’m not anywhere near the level of skill I would like to have; but, then again, I suspect that is true of most anyone.
I would also like to give an extra special thank you to everyone who has taken the time to comment on my erratic efforts. I have always had comment moderation enabled on this blog; however, truthfully, I’ve never had to block a comment. I originally chose to use comment moderation because I had no idea what I was in for, and I wanted to make sure nothing unseemly found its way onto the comments page. I have left it enabled for purely selfish reasons…I like getting a sneak preview of what you all have to say. It also helps me respond to your comments quicker because I think this process should be a dialogue; and, if you’re going to take the time to comment, the least I can do is respond.
I envy those of you who have the time, skill, diligence and/or whatever else it takes to post just about every single day. I’ve averaged a post every 3 and a half days even though some of those posts were nothing more than a photo, a link to a news article or a silly joke. I don’t think I’ve gone more than about 10 days without posting which is too long in my opinion; however, as most of you know, life and work have a way of getting in the way. Especially here at Castle Erickson.
I had thought about trying to do some sort of giveaway to celebrate these two milestones, and then promptly decided against. Well, “decided” is probably a strong word to describe being too busy to give it serious thought and thus having the time to act on any decision. Besides, giving away 1 item or even a couple of items would leave some people leaving empty handed.
But wait…that doesn’t mean I’m sending everyone away empty handed. In fact, quite the opposite. I got to thinking that blogging is really about sharing a piece (or several pieces as the case may be) of ourselves, and everyone loves food (okay, okay…everyone except the anorexics and bulemics). Food makes us happy. Right? So, why not share a couple of my favorite recipes with everyone? That way, I can give everyone something special (well, special to me at least…hopefully you will think so, too) to make them happy.
First, I’d like to share my all-time favorite cookie recipe. I love me some cookies. I have a reputation to uphold of being able to sniff out a bakery in under 15 minutes in just about any city in which I happen to find myself. Seriously. The Queen can run into people she knows just about anywhere in the world…I find the bakeries. Some of you might be expecting another (roll your eyes here) chocolate chip cookie recipe. No. Don’t get me wrong, I am not in the habit of passing up chocolate chip cookies. They’re just not my all-time fav. The cookie that has that honor is the humble cinnamon cookie.
Cinnamon cookies baking in the oven smell simply divine. They fill up the whole house with the aroma of cinnamon. Mom used to bake these for us occasionally when I was a kid, and they never lasted long. Sometimes, they had trouble making it from the baking sheet to the plate (cooling racks are for rich folks and professionals…this was strictly an amateur lower middle class affair). This particular cookie comes from my grandmother’s World War II era Victory Cookbook. I had hoped to have photos of this extremely well worn cookbook to share with you; however, my sister…the devil has been holding it hostage for several years and keeps “forgetting” that it’s my turn to care for it for a while. It’s neat because a lot of the recipes have patriotic themed names, and I think there are tips for menu planning to help the war effort. At least, that’s what I remember since I can’t fact check myself thanks to my sister…the devil.
Victory Cookbook Cinnamon Cookies
2 Cups Sifted Flour
¼ Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
½ Cup Butter (melted)
1 Cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs (beaten)
Sift the dry ingredients together. I like to use a quart size plastic yogurt container, throw everything in, put the lid on and shake vigorously for a few seconds. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl (don’t ask me what the eggs did to deserve a beating…but I would imagine it had something to do with throwing the “good” eggs at someone’s house). Add the melted butter, sugar and vanilla to the eggs. Mix thoroughly until smooth. The original recipe doesn’t mention melting the butter first, but I have found that the butter mixes much easier when melted and it makes for a much smoother dough. Fold and mix dry ingredients into the mixing bowl (about a 1/3 at a time). Mix until dough is smooth (Hint: don’t try to use a hand mixer…use a spoon or a counter top mixer). An optional step I take is to divide the dough into thirds, wrap the thirds in wax paper and put them in the fridge for a little while to firm up the dough. Bake on a cookie sheet in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen.
The next recipe is my chili recipe. I know, I know. Everyone has an opinion about chili. My sister…the devil thinks that any chili that has beans in it is a stew. I, of course, have a differing opinion. Then there was the time I was invited over to someone’s house for a chili dinner. They were from Wisconsin, and the “chili” tasted just like my mother’s stew. They thought it was hot and spicy. Go figure. My recipe was something I cobbled together for a chili cook off at work a few years ago. It won second place out of six or seven entries. I think it beat the first place winner taste wise, but the voting was based on popularity and the winner came from a team with more supporters. Philistines.
K. Erickson’s Chili Cookoff Recipe
2 Pounds ground meat (chuck, sirloin, buffalo and/or [insert favorite game meat here])
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1 15 ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 12 ounce bottle of dark-ish beer (J.W. Dundee’s Honey Brown, Shiner Bock or Ziegenbock)
1 14.5 ounce can beef broth
3 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 4.5 ounce can chopped or diced green chiles (can substitute fresh jalapenos if desired)
2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons (or more) chili powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground red pepper
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
You will want to use a stock pot for this recipe since there is a lot of stuff to go in. Brown the meat over medium to high heat until the meat crumbles. Drain the fat. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté over medium heat until the onions start to change color. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for three hours or until thickened. You can also add ¼ cup of Masa flour or a 1/8 cup of corn starch thoroughly mixed with a ¼ to a ½ cup of water for thicker chili (I normally don’t bother with that step).
Thank you all again. I hope you enjoy the recipes.