Evolutionary Cornbread

GreenCHilliesMade the emergency cornbread again, This time added a small half-drained can of fire roasted green chilies and folded them in. Baked for 14 minutes (+2). Bread had an almost souffle-like texture. Yum!

Emergency Cornbread

emercrnbrdReturning from our Christmas vacation, we were tired of eating out and knew we had some frozen Brunswick Stew at home (our traditional way to use up turkey left from Thanksgiving). We had no trouble convincing each other it would be best with some cornbread. Oops.

The pantry was bare — the cornbread mix we knew was there wasn’t. So we pulled out a favorite scratch recipe. The pantry didn’t contain cornmeal, and the fridge has never had buttermilk in it as far as we  know. So, having been in Scouting and Camp Fire Girls, we MacGyvered.

Janet remembered we had some lime tortilla chips being saved for nachos. These I crushed and then ran through the blender until they were cornmeal again. I remembered we had some Greek Yogurt (5 oz), and this we topped off with fat free milk to 1 cup plus a tablespoon.

Emergency Cornbread recipe

  • 1/2 cup AP flour,
  • 1 cup finely ground corn chips (consider all the variety this offers)
  • 5 oz  Greek yogurt, topped to 8 oz + 1 tbsp w/milk
  • 1 tsp sugar (or agave nectar)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • salt from chips + 1/2 tsp (or 1 tsp if using cornmeal)
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk.

Mix wet ingredients. Mix dry ingredients. Mix together (I use a whisk for this). Allow to sit while preheating oven to 425 deg F. Preheat pan (pref cast iron) in oven. When oven is at temp, remove pan and grease/oil it. Pour mixture into the pan and level it. Cook until toothpick comes out dry from the center of the cake — about 12 minutes).

The result was excellent. It was a Johnnycake, hoe cake, cornmeal crumpet, that really complemented the stew. The left over cake sliced horizontally and toasted made a great breakfast.  As usual, this experiment has led us to think of other ways to use this recipe.  With onions, garlic, peppers and chopped seafood, we can see it as a great fritter mixture.

Driving and Flying and Kauai, Oh My!

Kauai 03

Po’ipu Sunset

Well, the blog is Periodically Peregrine, the periodicity has just changed a bit… for a while.

One of Janet’s sisters generously invited us to celebrate Christmas in a villa in Po’ipu, Kauai. Who could say “no” to that? All told, there were eight of us. Three sisters, our niece and four husbands …eight appetites in all.

Kauai 01

Kilauea Light

Logistically, it went like this. Drive Vero Beach to NW of Houston — Fly to LAX — overnight in LA — Fly to Honolulu, then Kauai — (Eat, Shop, Vegge, Sightsee) x 7 — Fly to LAX (too soon) — overnight — Fly to Houston — Linger in Houston — Drive to San Antonio to see my Mom’s husband — overnight at the Hyatt Hill Country — Drive to Houston — Linger — Drive to Arlington to see my father and his wife — overnight in Mansfield — Drive to Sam Rayburn Reservoir — Linger with family — Drive to Slidell, LA to visit sailing friends — Linger in Slidell — Drive to Vero Beach — recuperate.

We all shared the cooking when we weren’t sampling the local restaurants.  Po’ipu’s Red Salt, 1849 Eating House, Merriman’s, and the Olympic Cafe in Kapa’a all lived up to or exceeded expectations. I’m told Bubba Burger in Hanalei did too, but I came to Kauai for the Ono, Ahi, Hapu’upu’u, and Onaga!

The Christmas celebration included Janet’s Kalua Pork and many appetizers, sides and desserts from the others. Gift exchanges were small and thoughtful, as we drew recipients names from a basket (it took four tries) and shopped locally with a spending limit. Another gift was the older husbands got reacquainted after quite a few years. For eight folks pretty set in their ways, the dynamic was delightful.

Kauai 04

Wiamea Canyon on Christmas Day

Kauai 02

Wailua Falls

Kauai didn’t disappoint either. It has been 19 years since Janet and I were there last. Hurricane Iniki had just ransacked the island four years prior (rebuilding is slow on an island this isolated). The island has gone from 57,000 folks then to 69,000 now. It has new infrastructure, and goods and services only imagined back then. Fortunately these are largely constrained to Lihue, and the rest of the island has benefited. We went all the way up to Haʻena State Park beyond Hanalei and back over to Waimea canyon (on different days). It all remains Wow. Even though we arrived with 35-40 knot winds offshore and rain squalls, the weather moderated once we had adjusted for the time zone change, and it became classic tropical — temperate and intermittently showery. What’s not to love? Leaving, that’s what.

Although our peregrination home took us through some down right cold places, we returned to weather that matched Kauai’s for that day and time. Not bad.

Now we are looking at 25-35 mph winds gusting to 50 mph and 35 degrees tonight! At least it’s not snow.

Back to the Future, Harbor Branch, Dolphins & Me


Click for YouTube Video

I was just accepted as a volunteer working on the Dolphin Photo ID Program at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. Yippee!

Since attending David Starr Jordan Junior High School in Palo Alto which had a marine biology emphasis based on the donation of Jordan’s ichthyology library to the school, I have had an abiding interest in ocean science.

I learned to SCUBA dive in 1962 at age 13. In high school, I pursued science fair projects involving detecting electrical impulses from fish in a free swimming environments. I was also part of the team that designed and installed a 1500 gallon splash-zone salt water aquarium in our high school biology building entrance in 1966/67. (You can just buy these now!)

I was educated as a Chemical Engineer at Texas A&M University and specialized in ocean sciences and microbiology. There I taught SCUBA to university marine sciences personnel to include black water and recovery diving. I was part of the group that enticed Jacques Cousteau to visit A&M. As a graduate student in desalination thermodynamics, I sub-specialized in hyperbaric physiology (and was a guinea pig). During this time I also acted as an engineering diver for a Hydrolab habitat project under the auspices of Sea Grant and the NSF. My career vector toward oceanography seemed set, and then my very low Draft Lottery Number came up. [This was not a lottery you wanted to win.]

In the military, I supervised recreational diving in Florida for a few years, but my duties and post-military careers moved me away from the ocean for nearly 40 years. Retirement to Vero Beach has returned me to it.

I in-processed yesterday with Harbor Branch, so now it appears I am back to the future as I saw it in 1970. As I said, yippee.

Mole Poblano con Cerdo

Recently I made about 7 quarts of chili for a charity event (along with 12 other cooks of various concocti). Fortunately, Janet and I snuck a couple of dinners worth out of the pot before attending the event. There was none left, especially after some folks came back for seconds.

The chili was good, but for competitive reasons, it was beef based, and we prefer lighter meats these days. So, I dragged out my much tweeked Mole* recipe, but I didn’t want chicken, so we stopped by the mobbed Fresh Market (Tuesdays are sale days.) where we bought a four pound Boston Butt.

At home I deconstructed it, removing about 10 oz of fat, and cubing the meat. It went into the following preparation:

4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil (Potent)
1/6 cup + 1 tbsp Chili powder (11 tsp)
2 4 oz cans Chopped Green Chilies

Mix into meat and let work 6 – 12 hours in a refrigerator in a zip bag. Massage the mix a few times through the period.

1/4 cup White rum
1/4 cup Sultanas (Golden Raisins)
2 Cloves garlic, minced roasted
1 Sweet pepper, chopped
2 tsp Agave Nectar
2 – 4 tsp Soy Sauce
Micro-planed rind of 1 orange (Softball sized)

Mix and cover for 6 – 12 hours in reefer. Stir occasionally.

Dry spices
1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
Bloom all together in hot saute pan

Sauce Base
3 Yellow Onions, (tennis ball size) chopped
1/2 tsp Salt (adjust later)
1.5 boxes Pomi brand finely chopped tomatoes or equivalent
2+ oz bitter chocolate, chopped (86% cacao, wax free, or 3 oz 60% cacao)
1/6 cup + 1 tbsp Chili powder (yes, again)
1 cup Chicken stock
1 cup Hot Coffee, black
1/4 cup finely ground unsalted toasted almonds (also provides some thickening) [From a cookie sheet full of raw almonds toasted at 325° F for 23 minutes. Must be room temp for grinding.]

[Additional Thickener
1 can drained rinsed pinto beans pureed — only if feeding a crowd. (Pureeing with a ladle of tomato sauce speeds the process and evens out the texture.)]

Putting it together.

  • Brown marinaded meat in large kettle with olive oil. It will be too damp for a deep browning. Stir from time to time.
  • While meat is browning, saute the onions to translucent.
  • When meat is browned and onions are ready, pour the sauce base ingredients into the kettle.
  • Wipe the saute pan dry, and bloom the dry spices per above.
  • Add these to the kettle along with the macerated ingredients.
  • Simmer for an hour or two, lid-on, stirring from time to time. Drain water from inside lid each time before recovering the kettle.
  • Transfer solid ingredients to crock pot.
  • Continue to simmer sauce in the kettle until reduced by half then add to crock pot.
    Crock Cook for 6 – 8 hours before serving, stir from time to time, skim fat.
  • It’s done when the meat falls apart as it sees a spoon coming.

*When I was a tween (do we still use that portmanteau word?) my widowed Grandmother, who was quite the traveler, took me and my brother to Mexico — Mexico City, Taxco, Cuernavaca, Guadalajara et. al. We binge-toured museums, climbed pyramids, hitchhiked, and hung out with a plain clothes Federale who found her interesting. The real revelation was Mexican cuisine. I was used to, and liked Tex-Mex, or Mex-Tex depending on whether the Rio Grande was west or east, but I had never had the pleasure of the symphony folklorico of flavors we encountered deep in the country.  One such symphony was my first taste of Mole Poblano. I liked it so much I asked what was in it. The adults looked embarrassed on my behalf; one simply did not ask that question. To their chagrin (I guess) I was invited into the kitchen where I was shown what went into the Mole. I snacked on fried grasshoppers while I watched a woman older than my Grandmother, with a face off a pyramid, pound and grind the ingredients while she spoke a language I could not fathom. When I asked her in Spanish, she said, “La lengua de los aztecas,” and tapped her chin.  I was hooked — on Mole and Aztec history… I had met one!

What’s Cooking?

CauldronA good friend commented this blog was morphing from a cruising blog to a food blog. Not really, we are just mentally anchored in a food lagoon right now, thanks to hurricane season.

We have posted 848 times. Of those 116 posts have been tagged “Food/Drink.” 13.6% overall. Of those tagged Food/Drink, 20 have been posted since we moved into this house or 17%. During that time there were 16 non-food posts. So 54% were about food.

We sacrificed the last sailing season to getting the house the way we wanted it before other demands on our time made that difficult. But cruising or not, one has to eat and eating well is not that much more difficult than eating like a dorm rat in college. It just takes imagination and enthusiasm, that’s what we have sought to convey.

The latest additive to the bread recipe — 2.5 oz smoked white cheddar — oh wow!

There is another recipe coming. Mole Poblano Con Cerdo