Mushroom Gravy – Thanksgiving 2018

We make this vegetarian gluten free gravy every thanksgiving as a second gravy option because everyone needs gravy on their mashed potatoes and stuffing for Thanksgiving.  I use vegetable broth instead of turkey broth and leave out the tarragon because I don’t like tarragon.

Mixed Mushroom and Tarragon Gravy

Bon Appetit – 2010

  • 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms (PJH: I use just 1/2 – 1 ounce as they are so pricey)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 pound fresh crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, stemmed, caps sliced
  • 1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps sliced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 4 1/4 cups Ultimate Turkey Stock or low-salt chicken broth, divided (PJH: I use vegetarian broth to keep in vegetarian)
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 5 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon

Place dried porcini in large bowl. Pour 2 cups boiling water over. Let stand until soft, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Using slotted spoon, transfer porcini to small bowl. Cool porcini, then chop. Pour porcini soaking liquid into medium bowl, leaving sediment behind.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic. Stir 15 seconds. Add fresh mushrooms, thyme, and sage. Sauté until mushrooms are tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to bowl. Add vermouth to skillet; boil 3 minutes, scraping up browned bits. Add 4 cups stock, fresh-mushroom mixture, porcini, and porcini liquid. Boil 10 minutes. Whisk in crème fraîche. Stir 1/4 cup stock and cornstarch in bowl to dissolve; mix into gravy. Cook until gravy coats spoon, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Thanksgiving 2018:
Wednesday – 10 people
Chicken Alfredo stuffed shells – just ok – regular are better
salad, garlic bread
Mitchells Ice Cream Pie
Thursday – 14 people
Turkey: brine; cook on grill
Reg Dressing
Veg Dressing
GF Dressing,
Reg Gravy
Veg Gravy
mashed potatoes, green beans, Brussels sprouts, rolls
Pumpkin pie
Apple pie squares
Friday: 34-35ish people (!)
smoked pulled pork
smoked and grilled sausages
Mac and cheese
enchilada casserole
leftover desserts
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Lentil Soup

We make this soup all the time.  We always use red lentils, give it a good whirl with an immersion blender when done and put some grated cheddar on top.

My Favorite Lentil Soup

Jane Brody’s Good Food Book

Jane Brody

  • 2 T olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 c chopped onions
  • 3 carrots, coarsely grated
  • 3/4 t marjoram, crumbled
  • 3/4 t thyme leaves, crumbled
  • 1 28-oz can tomatoes with their juice, coarsely chopped
  • 7 c broth (beef, chicken, or vegetable)
  • 1 1/2 c dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1/2 t salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 oz dry white wine
  • 1/3 c chopped fresh parsley or 2 T dried parsley flakes
  • 4 oz Cheddar, grated
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and saute the onions, carrots, marjoram, and thyme, stirring the vegetables for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, broth, and lentils.  Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer the soup for about 1 hour or until the lentils are tender.
  3. Add the salt, pepper, wine, and parsley, and simmer the soup for a few minutes.  Serve with cheese sprinkled on each portion.

Smoked Whole Chicken

Perfect, flavorful and moist chickens every time.  We always do two chickens with one recipe of brine and one recipe of fruit/veg on our Weber smokey mountain smoker for 4ish hours at 250 degrees (and throw some sausages on the second shelf for last two hours).  Definitely do the overnight brine.  The trimmings and carcass make great smokey stock for soup.

http://www.extraordinarybbq.com

Ingredients

  • 1, 3-5 lb chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 onion
  • 1 apple
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Olive Oil

brine recipe:

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup kosher/sea salt (1/2c iodized)
  • 1 cup brown sugar

brine instructions:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in whatever container is needed for the amount of meat you have. (PJH: two Costco chickens brined in big huge stock pot)
  2. Add your meat and don’t forget it MUST be refrigerated. You can brine for a few hours, overnight, or for several days!
  3. When you remove your meat from the brine, thoroughly rinse with cool water. Pat dry and your meat is ready for spices/rubs and off you go!

chicken instructions

1. Brine the chicken – overnight if possible.

2. Chop the lemon, onion, apple and garlic cloves. Throw them in a bowl and mix together with salt, pepper and olive oil. Set aside.

3. Take your chicken out of the brine and rinse with cool water. Set on a tray. Now take the mixture you just made and stuff it inside the chicken.

4. Rub olive oil all over your bird. This will help give it a nice golden brown color. Then sprinkle salt and pepper all over, and a light dusting of paprika for color.

5. Set up your grill for indirect cooking (or use your smoker).

6. Place your bird away from the heat, and throw a bunch of wood on your coals. Stick with fruit wood – apple is a good pairing with chicken. Assuming your grill holds its temp around 250, and depending on the weight, your chicken will cook for 3 – 5 hours. You want an internal temperature in the leg of 170. If the bird is bigger or your heat is lower, it will take longer to reach this temperature.

7. Let the chicken rest for at least 20 minutes before pulling apart or slicing.

Navarre, Ohio

Friday, September 21st, 2018

Courtney and I both took a needed day off for a long weekend adventure.  We have been casually biking the Ohio and Erie towpath trail for the past two years.  The only part we had left was the very southern end which is almost an hour and a half drive away.  So we decided to make a weekend of it, find a nice place to stay and knock it all off at once.  The furnace people showed up right at 8:00AM as scheduled for boiler maintenance and were gone by 9:00 and we hit the road.  We stopped at the new Whole Foods that just opened up on Harvard/271 and stocked up with lots of goodies.  Thank goodness it’s not closer or it would drive us to the poor house.  We then kept driving south for a visit to Stan Hywett Hall in Akron – another item on our bucket list that we’ve always wanted to do but haven’t.  Stan Hywett Hall was built in 1911 by F.A. Seiberling, founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.  It was much bigger and nicer than we expected.  It’s actually the 6th largest residence in the US.  We went on a guided tour of the house that took about and hour and a half and then spent another hour wandering through the large well kept gardens.  The house and grounds have been kept in great shape.  Everything in the house is original to the family and the gardens are beautiful.  We spent way more time than expected at Stan Hywett so we adjusted our plans on the fly, eating our Whole Foods sushi in the car instead of going out to lunch as planned.  We wanted to get a loop in on the trail and a rain storm was forecasted to blow in around 5:00PM.  We got to the trailhead in Clinton, OH where we previously left off and biked for about 20 miles.  It was a hot and humid day – hopefully the last one – so we sweated like pigs but were happy to be on the towpath.  We got to our Airbnb around 5:00PM in the middle of nowhere Navarre, OH and were very happy with our great little house.  It was a teeny little stone house build in 1846 that has been beautifully restored.  Original wood beams, great open floor plans.  Really nice.  Also just $80/night and 1 block from the towpath.  Perfect.  Check it out.  We unpacked, took a shower, sat on the great front porch, drank (too much) wine, watched the storm roll in and watched the pick up trucks roll by.  We were enjoying the house too much so again altered our well though out plans and blew off going out to dinner and ordered a pizza and played scrabble.  Perfect night.

beautiful day
Stan Hywett Hall
The music room
the dining room
the gardens were beautiful and well tended
secret garden

japanese garden
birch allee
hitting the towpath – we had it pretty much to ourselves all afternoon
1846 stone
relaxing on the porch watching the storm roll in

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

After morning chilling and a leisurely breakfast we were on the towpath by 9:30AM to knock out our largest stretch from Navarre to Bolivar to Zoar to the anticlimactic end of the trail on OH Route 800.  30 miles total – the longest we’ve biked in one stretch. It was way cooler out after the storm which made it much more pleasant.  We stopped on the loop back at Bolivar for lunch at a place called Sublime Smoke Fine BBQ and Craft Brew.  It turned out to be a great place.  We each had a beer, Courtney had a brisket sandwich and I had the pulled pork sandwich and we split some collard greens and Mac and cheese.  All very good.  We hit the trail again and rode back with no troubles.  After relaxing for awhile we drove up to Gervasi Vinyard for dinner.  A 30 minute drive up to Canton.  We had a nice dinner in their dining room reconfigured from an old barn.  We had wine flights, had some more wine for dinner and then a nice meal.  They had a great patio that would be nice in warm weather and beautiful grounds.  We headed back to Navarre and fell asleep watching a movie.

morning sun
beautiful day and beautiful scenery along the trail
the anti-climatic end of the trail
break time

trying to psyche up to hit the trail again
old and new

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

We had about 20 miles left of biking to complete today.  We did the first 10 from the house in the morning.  We packed up, said goodbye to the house and then drove to the trailhead to finish off our last 10 miles.  Hurray all done.  We got a hold of Claire and Corey and met them for lunch at Mustard Seed Cafe in Akron.  It was nice to catch up with them and had a nice meal listening to the duo that was playing good songs in the restaurant.  We hit the road and made it home in the early afternoon.

somewhere in Massilon
trail selfie

Corn Chowder

Nothing better with good fresh corn.  I like this recipe that we made recently with some local Ohio Corn

Corn Chowder

recipetineats.com

  • 4 ears of corn (or 4 cups / 750g / 1.5 lb frozen or canned corn, drained)
  • 1 tsp butter (or oil)
  • 250 g / 8 oz bacon , chopped
  • 2 tbsp / 30 g butter (use 3 tbsp if bacon is lean)
  • 1 garlic clove , minced
  • 1 small onion , diced (or half large onion) (yellow, brown or white)
  • 5 tbsp / 60g flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth , low sodium preferred
  • 3 cups milk (I used skim milk and it was fine)
  • 600 g / 1.2 lb potatoes , cut into 1 cm / 2/5″ cubes (about 2 large)
  • 2 sprigs of thyme OR 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3/4 cup / 185 ml cream
  • 3/4 cup shallots , green part finely sliced (green onions / scallions)
  • Salt and finely ground pepper to taste
  1. Cut the corn off the cob. Place a small ramekin in a large bowl. Place corn on the ramekin then cut the corn off. Keep naked cobs.
  2. Place 1 tsp butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until golden. Use a slotted spoon to remove onto a paper towel lined plate. Leave fat in pot.
  3. Lower heat to medium high. Add 2 tbsp butter, once melted, add garlic and onion. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes until onion is translucent.
  4. Add flour and mix it in. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  5. Add broth, milk, potatoes, thyme and bay leaf. Break naked cobs into 2 or 3 and add into the liquid. Put the lid on and simmer for 25 minutes (adjust heat so it’s simmering energetically but not bubbling like crazy or super gently).
  6. Remove lid, remove corn cobs. Add corn and cook for 5 minutes or until cooked to your taste.
  7. Stir through cream and 3/4 of the bacon and shallots. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with remaining bacon and shallots.

 

Las Vegas, July 2018

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

Grace is doing a twelve week internship at Boyd Gaming in Las Vegas so Courtney and I went to visit her for a long weekend of fun and frivolity.  We worked all day and caught the rapid to the airport to take an early evening flight.  We got to Vegas with no problems and Grace picked us up and drove us to our hotel, the  Mirage.  We forced ourselves to stay up to 11:00PM Pacific time by walking around for a bit and having a drink in one of the many bars in the hotel.

starting our journey at the Rapid station in beautiful CLE.
a quick pint and burger in the airport before our flight
We had the first row with extra leg room. nice.
in flight jack and gingies
the view from our room at the Mirage was spectacular
We liked the Mirage a lot. Great location and just cheesy enough.

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

We slept pretty well and didn’t end up getting up too early.  We hit the Mirage buffet around 8:00AM as it was included in the good deal we got for the weekend.  We don’t have much experience with buffets but this one sure seems awfully nice.  Everything we had was great – except the coffee,(No it was really bad-cbh) but I’m a snob.  I had fruit, cinnamon rolls, banana Nutella pancakes, bacon, pork belly, tamales on and on.  Just a little bit of each but it was a great meal.  We then took to the strip for a nice morning stroll taking in the sites: north past Treasure Island and then walked around inside the Wynn.  Went back to the hotel and were at the pool by 10:30. The pool was awesome with lots of palm trees, waterfalls and Pina coladas.  We had a lunch reservation at a place we wanted to go to but bagged it as we were enjoying lazing by the pool. We opted for a mid day happy hour meal later on instead.  After a short siesta we hit the pavement again walking through the humongous Caesar’s palace and then looped back to the Venetian where we were meeting Grace.  We had drinks and really good food at Canonita where Grace and her friend Julie eventually met us.  We took off for the Mirage afterwards as we had tickets for Cirque De Soleil’s  LOVE.  I have been wanting to go to this show for years and years and was so excited to finally be able to go.  It was great.  The staging, acrobatics, lighting, music and everything was amazing.  After the show we grabbed a daiquiri for the road and joined the throngs on the strip.  We walked through the Bellagio, watched the fountains a couple of times and  ended up back at the Mirage having pancakes for a late night meal.  We said goodbye to Grace who lyfted back to her place and quickly crashed after a long day.

view of the pool from our room in the early morning
vacation selfie
inside Wynn

strolling past the Venetian
assuming the position
It’s noon somewhere right?
loved the huge video screens they had everywhere
the Forum shops at Caesars Palace
enjoying margaritas at Canonita

ran into Fergie on the way out of the Venetian
going into the show
LOVE theatre pre show.
strolling through the Bellagio
It was a beautiful hot evening every night

late night pancakes

Friday, July 13th, 2018

We slept really well and were quickly getting acclimated to west coast time.  We hit the buffet again for another breakfast feast and then walked some it off checking out other spots.  We liked the Linq Promenade which was pretty new and found a nice store where we bought a few things.  We ubered out to the Orleans – a casino off the strip- where Grace’s office was.  Grace showed us around, introduced us to her colleagues and we had lunch at a place there with Grace and Julie.  Grace was able to get the afternoon off so we went back to the UNLV dorm where she was living to get a few things and then headed back to the Mirage to spend the afternoon at the pool like good Las Vegas tourists.  The pool was hopping but we managed to get a spot and had a good time cooling off in the pool, people watching and drinking too many pool drinks.  We ubered over to Fremont street.  We had tickets to see magician Mike Hammer at the Four Queens.   It was fun. 50% magic and 50% comedian. He was really good though.  Grace got pulled up to the stage for one of the tricks. After the show, we took in the crazy sights on Fremont street– people zip lining overhead, street performers, classy tourists…   We checked out the Container Park, an area with repurposed containers turned into small shops, restaurants and bars.  We sat outside at one of the bars. I had a very good Manhattan while we listened to a good Indigo Girls sort of band.  We then went a couple blocks down town and had dinner at Carson Kitchen and a great late night meal.  We sat on their roof top patio with the rest of the hipsters and split tempura green beans, gyro tacos, a butter burger and tater tots.  We walked back down Fremont Street and each headed back to our separate places after a fun night.

another beautiful hot morning. minus 10 for the fake grass though.
striking workers at Margaritaville – don’t go there!
working girl
Grace was staying at a dorm at UNLV that was pretty nice
pool time

view of pool action from our room
the lovely assistant
at least he’s honest
crazy Fremont street
pictures don’t do it justice
cocktails at Oak & Ivy at the Container Park
Another beautiful evening
off the strip

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

We slept in past 8:00AM Vegas time.  We got our stuff packed up and then headed down to the breakfast buffet which turned out to be a brunch buffet since it was Saturday and ended up having even more food… shrimp, prime rib, Chinese food, good desserts… can get used to this life.  We checked out around 10:30 and rented a car to go exploring.  We picked up Grace and headed to Mount Charleston – state park about an hour drive west of Las Vegas.  It was interesting to see how built out Las Vegas is getting and then it abruptly ends at the mountains.  The mountains were beautiful.  The elevation was pretty up there. We stopped at the welcome center in the park and soaked in the views and then went on about an hour hike up up up the mountain that was supposed to end at a waterfall but we never were able to find the waterfall.  It was fun to see something different – and so different than Las Vegas.  The elevation made the hike tougher than we expected.  We drove back to Las Vegas and went to Town Square Park – an outdoor mall place – and had late lunch/early dinner at Yard House – a sports bar with lots of beer choices.  It was nice to get out of the heat as it was super hot out.–it felt like we were standing in front of an open oven.  We still had some time to kill before we had to get to the airport so we did the Vegas thing and went to the Hooter’s casino and played blackjack for an hour.  The only gambling we did all weekend except for 15 minutes before the show on Friday.  Grace and I started with $20 each playing the cheap blackjack table and ended with a total of $100.  It was fun.  We said goodbye to Grace dropping her off at the nail salon to spend our $60 winnings and then headed to the airport to drop the car off and head back home on the red eye.  The red eye is as bad as it sounds, as usual,  but we made it back to CLE at 4:00AM, ubered home and were happy to be home after a fun long weekend.

Pictures fail to give justice to the beautiful landscape

…still looking for that waterfall.
beautiful country

chillin
living the dream
an airport with a view
back home to a beautiful Sunday on the beach

Washington DC, May-June, 2018

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

Courtney and I flew into DC for a 5 night trip. Checked into our hotel quickly and headed for the subway.
We headed down to the waterfront to check out that new growing neighborhood. Lots of new buildings going up and of course everyone is super young.  Had a drink at Blue Jacket and then walked around checking out the dining options and ended up going back to Blue Jacket for dinner as we liked it.
We hopped back on the Metro and got to the mall just as the sun was going down.
It turned out to be a picture perfect evening.
Nighttime is always the best time to check out the monuments.
tired selfie

Hanging out on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with a few other people.
Had the Viet Nam memorial to ourselves. Always emotional.
I love the DC Metro and our station was deeeeeep

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

Courtney had a conference to attend but it didn’t start until 10:00 so we had a quick Starbucks breakfast and then went for a long walk around the neighborhood we were staying in – Woodley Park, heading down to Embassy Row ogling at the big embassies and saying hello to Nelson Mandela.
Once Courtney took off for her conference I started walking down towards Georgetown. I like these lime green liriope.
The neighborhood we stayed in had beautiful houses everywhere.
I ended up somehow walking through this amazing park…
…with staircases leading to secret gardens (that I would discover the next day).
An oasis in the middle of the city
I eventually did ended up in Georgetown somehow and went to Tudor House to tour the gardens.
It was an old estate with a beautiful old sprawling garden.
lots of boxwood everywhere
note to self: nice option for a hose inside a wine barrel thingy

little garden spots were around every corner

So nice
the houses in the Georgetown neighborhood were amazing
I had lunch at Pizzeria Paradiso in downtown Georgetown.
I figured out the bus system and bussed downtown. I sat in the sculpture garden and took a break from the humid weather.
The Smithsonian Museum of Art was my destination to check out the Cezanne exhibit that was there.
The exhibit was focused on his portraits. It was amazing.
cut through to the modern wing
fell upon a whole room of Modiglianis – my fav.
One of my fav painting in person. So cool.
Went out to dinner with a big group to Roofers Union in Adams Morgan. Sat a long table with a view of the bustling street
Courtney and stayed after dinner and had another drink on their rooftop patio with the rest of the youngsters.

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

I started my day at the Renwick Gallery that had an exhibition of works from Burning Man.
Their large formal gallery was installed with all different balsa wood cutouts to look like a temple.
They encouraged everyone to write on everything.
I like the Renwick because the museum is different every time you go there.
Strolled past the White house after the museum. Trump helping any country…. ha ha ha… that’s a good one. Trump helping anyone besides himself… thats a good one. OK – enough of that.
Bussed back down to Georgetown area to visit Dumbarton Oaks.
I toured the amazing gardens.
more pea gravel transitions
L’Orangerie
Amazing spots everywhere

more nice brick edging

boxwood everywhere
liriope edging… coming to a garden near you soon

Courtney went out to dinner with colleagues and I met Ellen and Wally downtown at Central. We had a nice dinner – had hanger steak et frites – and caught up with them which was great.  I also stopped in for a peak at Trump Hotel in the old Post Office building that he RUINED.  More security than actual guests and just as tacky as you would imagine.

Friday, June 1st, 2018

breakfasted al fresco at a little place down the street
I walked to the zoo that was just a few blocks from our hotel and then walked toward the National Cathedral.
The Bishop’s garden there was another beautiful formal garden.

I likes this purple and green border. The plant in front is called ‘Pentagon: Dark towers bearded tongue’.

They were still doing repairs on the cathedral as a result of damage from the earthquake a few years ago.
I met Courtney for a late lunch.
Chilled out by the nice pool for awhile.
and then headed to the Smithsonian African American museum that we got tickets for months ago.
It was an interesting museum packed full of stuff.
The building was beautiful.
We were there for 2 1/2 hours before it closed and only got through about half of it.
We walked down the mall and were happy to be there for Friday Jazz in the garden.
Lots of people enjoying the hot weather and cool jazz.

We went to Zaytinya, a Jose Andres tapas place for dinner. We sat outside and had a really great dinner trying all sorts of different things.
Back on the Metro after a busy day.

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

Jack and Ximena arrive in DC in the morning and we met them at the Hotel Harrington where they were spending the night. We quickly walked over to the Portrait Gallery but had to make a side track to In and Out as the museum didn’t open to 11:00.
Henrietta Lacks
Powerful Obama portrait. Can’t wait to see what the Trump one will be…
Mrs Obama looking cool
The portrait gallery is in the over 100 year old patent building. great museum.

took a quick stroll through the National Gallery
and the Hirschorn
where we saw this sad looking guy

Courtney and I had tickets for the Holocaust museum and were there for about two hours and then met back up with J and X at Dupont Circle.
We had drinks and appetizers at a South American place and then had pizza down the street at another Pizza Paradiso. Said goodbye and headed back.

Saturday, June 2nd 2018

We had a mid morning flight back to CLE and made it home with no troubles.  Another great trip.