October 21, 2006
August 4, 2006
Mom during our visit
Brandon and Jameson walking
Dan, Kelsey, and Mel lunch
Mel, Kelsey and Richard
December 25, 2005
August 8, 2005
July 23, 2005
December 25, 2004
A photo from Christmas at the Emerson home…
A few pictures from Christmas morning at our house…
October 2, 2004
French Toast can hardly be called a special family recipe but I’ll include some “secrets” that can make it extra good.
- Bowl – large enough (and shallow enough? ) to mix up the eggs and milk and then to soak the bread.
- Metal spatula to flip the French toast as it cooks – you may be able to improvise with some other utensil.
- Large frying pan – a griddle is better.
- Bread – Old slightly stale bread can work (this is a great way to use it up), French bread is sort of traditional but whole wheat, cinnamon-raisin, or just about any other kind of bread will work. Slightly thick slices are nice.
- Milk – regular milk is fine but buttermilk can be good, too.
- Sugar – (optional). I like to add a tablespoon or two of bown sugar to the batter.
- Cinnamon and vanilla – the “secret ingredients.”
- Maple syrup – the real thing is better than the artificial stuff. I rather use conservative amounts of real maple syrup than copious amounts of the cheap, phony substitute. Alternatives to maple syrup include yogurt mixed with fresh fruit and/or jam, powdered sugar.
Get out and/or slice sufficient quantities of bread. Depending upon the size and thickness of the bread slices, two slices per person is likely the minimum.
Mix a few eggs in a bowl. You’ll probably need at least one egg for every couple of slices of bread, but I often do this by sight and then just mix up more if I need it.
Add some milk to the eggs and stir it up well. I hear that some people may use approximately equal amounts of milk and eggs, though I think I tend to go a bit lighter on the milk.
I also like to add some brown sugar to the egg/milk mixture – just enough to sweeten it up a bit without going overboard. I also add some cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla and then mix them in.
Heat your griddle/frying pan to medium hot. Melt a bit of butter in the pan and make sure it is spread around.
Soak a slice or two of bread in the batter. Try to get it more or less soaked through.
Put the slices on the hot griddle and cook on the first side until they, well, begin to look like French toast. Turn the slices over and cook on the other side. I often add a little more butter to the griddle and I often melt a small amount of butter on the cooked side while the second side is cooking.
That’s pretty much it…
Since this in an official “Dad Recipe” the quantities and instructions may be a bit, well, vague. But that makes it more fun.
- Shallow glass casserole (like the one Dad uses to make chocolate chip bars for lunches) to cook the potatoes.
- Large mixing bowl or equivalent to mix everything
- Large spoon to stir things up.
- Metal spatula to turn potatoes as they cook
- Olive oil
- Herbs and spices: salt, pepper, basil, thyme, rosemary.
- Garlic (you could use garlic powder, but please don’t!
- Potatoes: I like to use the small red, white, and purple potatoes but you could use almost any smooth skinned potato. Yukon Golds are great but possibly cost a bit more. I honestly don’t know how many potatoes to get; maybe the equivalent of 8 medium or large potatoes.
Pre-heat the oven to about 400 degrees.
Wash the potatoes and cut the up in smallish pieces. The tiny potatoes I use could be cut in quarters; with larger potatoes you’ll simply cut them more. Put them in a big bowl.
Pour some olive oil over the potatoes – enough to coat them when you mix things up. Also add some salt, pepper, basil, thyme, and rosemary. A little paprika would work, too.
Mix everything up to distribute the old and herbs/spices thoroughly and evenly coat the potatoes.
Spread the potatoes in the casserole – not too deep. Nestle a half dozen or so garlic cloves into the potatoes.
Put the casserole in the oven for about 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, use a metal spatula to redistribute the potatoes so that they will brown evenly. Put them back in the over for another 30 minutes or so.
Remove them again and use the spatula to redistribute them.
You may need to do this one more time but you can use your judgment about when they look done.
In a word, ketchup.
I also to use the leftovers cut a bit smaller in quesadillas. Speaking of which…
(Dad style – there is a probably an official way to do this that is different.)
- Flour tortillas
- Cheese – monterey jack works fine. A bit of asiago adds flavor.
- Chopped cilantro (optional but good)
- Other fillings can include my Roasted Potatoes (see above), pre-cooked chicken, etc.
- Griddle or a large frying pan
There are several variations on this recipe but I’ll describe one using two tortillas per quesadilla.
Heat the griddle
Put some grated cheese in the middle of a tortilla. Stack another tortilla on top.
Melt some butter in the griddle (or butter the tortillas?)
Put the assembled tortillas/cheese on the griddle and heat until they start to brown. Turn over and repeat on the other side.
Variations: Add pre-cooked chicken, salsa, peppers, cilantro, salsa, whatever before cooking.
This is not exactly a health food dish – at least not if you the recipe that we use at home. One stick of butter, 1 1/2 cups of cream, 1 1/2 cups of cheese!
- Fettucine Noodles – one package.
- Cream – about 1 1/2 cups. Could possibly use all or part half & half.
- Parmesan cheese – about 5-6 ounces or 1 1/2 cups. The more finely shredded the better.
- Butter – 1/4 pound (1 stick)
- Two egg yolks – mixed with wire whisk or equivalent. (Yes, just the yolks.)
- Salt and pepper – though I generally find that salt is unnecessary, so taste first.
- Parsley – Maybe, though I usually don’t bother.
- One large pot – to boil the pasta
- One small pot – to make the sauce.
Put the large pot of water on the heat up to a boil. Add salt and, when you have just enough time left on the sauce, start the fettucine noodles cooking. This will be near the end of the process for making the sauce described below.
Heat the cream in the small pot on very low heat. Stir in often enough to keep a film from forming on the surface. Do not boil it, but get it just below boiling.
Begin to add the cheese, perhaps a heaping tablespoon or two at a time. Stir continuously to smoothly melt the cheese, Keep gradually adding the cheese – you can’t really rush this.
Once all the cheese has been added and is fairly (but not necessariy totally) smooth you can begin to add the butter a little at a time, still stirring continually. I generally cut the stick of butter into perhaps 8 pieces; I add one and stir until it melts, then add another.
Once this sauce is pretty smooth and fully of yummy fatty goodness remove it from the heat. Put the egg yolks in a small bowl and add a tablespoon or so of the sauce while stirring. Then add another tablespoon until you have added maybe a quarter cup of sauce to the eggs and stirred it smooth. (The idea here is to add the warm sauce to the cool egg yolks in small quantities to avoid hard-cooking the egg yolks.) Then add this back into the sauce in the pot, all the while stirring to mix it in thoroughly.
Season as needed with ground pepper and maybe some salt – but taste it first. It is pretty likely that you won’t need the salt.
Somewhere along the line you should have started the fettucine noodles cooking. If you do it just right they should finish just after the sauce is done. Put the noodles in some kind of serving dish and pour the sauce over the noodles and mix it with a couple of forks. (You may not need to use all the sauce, so use judgment here.)
Some people sprinkle some parsley on top of this.
This recipe starts out with a recipe from Fields of Greens for “Potato, Leek, and Celery Root Soup” but does not use celery root. The quantities and procedures do not need to be followed exactly – this soup is forgiving of some experimentation.
- Vegetable stock – I use powdered bulk vegetable broth from Whole Foods
- Potatoes – The recipe calls for “2 pounds large red or Yellow Finn potatos” peeled and cut into quarters.
- Salt and pepper
- Bay leaf – though the world won’t end if you don’t have one.
- Garlic – four cloves finely chopped – could be more or less depending upon the size of the cloves and your taste. Powdered garlic would work… I suppose… but why bother?
- Olive oil
- Leeks – 2 medium sized leeks cut in half lengthwise and then thinly sliced. You must carefully wash leeks. They are apparently grown in very fine soil that gets inside the stem. Soak them a bit, cut off the root ends, then cut them in half lengthwise. You’ll need to get in between the layers to clean them thoroughly – it isn’t a bad idea to separate the layers to clean them before chopping. Alternatively, you could chop them and then very carefully wash them in lots of running water.
- White wine – The recipe calls for 1/4 cup wine but it will work pretty well without this, too.
- Cream or sour cream – The recipe actually calls for “creme fraiche” but sour cream will work fine.
Materials you’ll need:
- Big spoon
- Big pot
- Cutting board
- Blender (or a hand blender or possibly a hand mixer)
The original recipe does things in a slightly different order, but my approach works pretty well and saves you one dirty pot.
Clean and chop the leeks.
On medium low, heat about a tablespoon each of olive oil and butter (or some other combination, or even different oil) in a very large pot.
Add the chopped leeks, a 1/2 teaspoon or so of salt, a bit of pepper to the pot and sautee over medium heat until the leeks soften – I’d say about 4-5 minutes but it depends.
Add perhaps a 1/4 cup of water, put a lid on the pot, reduce the heat a bit and steam for about 10 minutes.
Then add the wine (or not) and and chopped garlic and simmer uncovered until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
Add your quartered and peeled potatoes to the pot and add maybe a quart and a half of stock – or add the same amount of water and then add a fair amount of vegetable broth powder to create “instant stock.” You can add the bay leaf here if you have one.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for a half hour or so until the potatoes and leeks are fairly soft. Overcooking a bit is better than undercooking here.
You can just sort of mash the potatoes and leeks and have a somewhat chunky soup. Some people like it that way. I usually blend it to a pretty smooth consistency. (Take the bay leaf out before you do this!) You could use a hand mixer or, if you have one a hand blender or, better yet, a real blender. Improvising is fine.
After blending (or whatever) add a few tablespoons of sour cream (to your taste) and blend it in well. Test that soup and add salt and pepper if necessary.
August 24, 2004
Some photos from our August 23, 2004 day trip to Point Lobos State Reserve.
Jameson skips rocks
Brandon, Patty, and Kelsey skipping rocks
Kelsey, waiting for her ship to come in…
Kelsey at China Beach
Hot chocolate…and ice cream?