Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Name is Trevor and I Cook Brownish Things

I haven't had much outdoor activity in the past couple of weeks. Not much to post there. But, since the cooler weather has rolled in, I have been doing a lot of cooking and eating. Putting on the "winter coat", maybe? I don't know. Anyway, I just figured I'd post a few things I've made over the years and documented.

Right after my last grandparent passed, I really got into genealogy and started to research my family's origins. The family I grew up around and identified with most, my mother's side (surnamed Thomas), which came from the British Isles. Specifically Redruth, Cornwall and Cardiff, Wales. Being something of an Anglophile, already, this just seemed a natural extension of my interests. In this, I became interested in aspects of family tradition that were likely lost as my family became more Americanized. Food seemed like an obvious cultural loss. So I started attempting to make some traditional British foods for the fun of it. I usually put my own spin on the recipe, though. Substituting things like carrots for swede (rutabaga), etc.

Anyway, here are a few of the things I've made and eaten. The Brits like them some heavy and hardy foods.

Cornish Pasty. Pronounced "pass-tee" and yes, there's a stripper or burlesque joke in here somewhere, but that's as far as I'm going with it. It's a family(ish) blog. Pasties are meat, potatoes, onions and carrots baked in a short crust. Kind of a homemade potpie flavored Hot Pocket with a history dating back to the Cornish tin mining industry. I've made them several times. They're quite filling. I've eaten three since Sunday, when I made about a dozen.

Cornish Pasties

Helping dad cook Cornish Pasties

Cornish Pasty Before the Oven

Perhaps a close cousin to the pasty is the Irish Dingle Pie. Basically the same thing, only in a circular pie shape instead of a half moon. Honestly, the pasty is easier to make. The Dingle Pies require some forethought in rolling out two sets of slightly different sized circles. One set for the bases and one for the caps.

Irish Dingle Pies

My variation on Yorkshire Rarebit. Similar to Welsh Rarebit, only you add egg and bacon. The cheese sauce you put on your toast has beer and mustard in it. Can't remember the actual recipe at the moment, but it's much better than the simple cheese on toast thing sounds.

Yorkshire Rarebit (sort of...)

Cottage pie, only distinguishable from Shepherds Pie by the filling of ground beef rather than lamb, is a favorite in our house. It's easy to make and you can even use leftover ingredients from your Cornish Pasty endeavors to make it, like I did this past weekend.

Shepherds Pie (Cottage Pie) 1

Shepherds Pie (Cottage Pie) 2

Shepherds Pie (Cottage Pie) 4

Shepherd's Pie

Beer Bread. Beer and bread in one awesome package. Need I say more?

Happiness... is home baked beer bread and butter. :)

Beef and Ale or Stout Stew with Irish Brown Soda Scones or Bread. Probably my favorite to make. It takes about three hours and is best done on a cold and lazy weekend where you don't plan to do much other than hang out around the house.

Get'n stew-pid. Cooking a beef and ale stew.

Guinness Stew Prep

Guinness Stew Prep

Guinness Stew and Brown Soda Scones

Guinness Stew and Brown Soda Bread

Iron Chef Wannabe...

Brown Soda Bread

Brown Soda Scones

Homemade brown soda scones.

And on to dessert!

Scottish Shortbread. It can be made in large rounds or cut up into fun shapes using cookie cutters, depending on the occasion.

Scottish Shortbread

Scottish Shortbread

Shortbread Santa

Shortbread Cookies

Finishing where we started, the dessert pasty. These were made with blueberries, mulberries off the tree behind the house, a little sugar and a dab of butter. Simple and they came out great! I've also made them with honey and cinnamon sugar

mulberry, blueberry and honey/cinnamon pasties

Food is an great way to feel a cultural connection to a place, even if you've never been there. I'm a VERY picky eater and it's taken some retraining myself to get my head around a few foods. Like when I make Indian curries, Chinese stir-fry, Mexican and SW style foods, etc. I sometimes have to make myself step outside my comfort zone and am, more often than not, pleasantly surprised. But I do need to work on getting more veggies into my meals, I'll admit.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

Kayaking Table Rock Lake

Friday night, in spite of a horrible weather forecast, my friend Brian and I headed down to Cape Fair, Missouri and Table Rock Lake to do some kayaking and fishing. We got down there around dark, dumped our excess gear at Brian's friend's cabin, reloaded the kayaks and hit the water for some night paddling.

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Being heavily overcast, it was really dark out. The only ambient light was bouncing off the cloud cover from the surrounding lakeside homes and resorts. We used colored glow sticks as port and starboard navigation lights and LEDs hung inside, which made the boats look like Chinese paper lanterns. After a while, we killed the LEDs. A better idea in theory than practice. They made a lot of light pollution and it was hard to see past your own kayak deck.

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We paddled about 2 miles in the dark, owls hooted and herons squawked their displeasure at your passing. No other boats to be seen. It was rather surreal, but an absolute blast.

Kayaking Table Rock Lake Oct-12-13, 2012

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Photo Oct 13, 7 27 10 AM_s

Saturday morning, up bright and early around sunrise. Back to the same put-in point. We paddled out as the daylight was starting to kiss the lake from over the surrounding hills. An absolutely beautiful morning. Bass boats joined us on this trip, though. There were quite a few of them zipping across the lake at breakneck speed.

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Working our way to an island we'd spotted on a map the day before, we fished the leeward bluff line and lake shore. We ended up catching five fish, total. Three large mouth bass, one striped bass hybrid and a crappie. Several of which could have been kept. Especially the good size bass Brian caught. He was trolling across the lake when it hit and it had recently eaten a large crawdad/crayfish.

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We saw plenty of wildlife on this trip. Turtles popped their heads up around the boats, constantly. We saw a dozen blue herons or more, some Canada geese, coots and bald eagles. We also saw a lot of Coyote scat and evidence of raccoons feeding on shellfish on the island.

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After a second breakfast on the island, we pulled the kayaks over the narrow isthmus exposed by a summer of drought and circumnavigated before a windy paddle back towards the truck and take-out. By the time we made it back, it was gusting heavily and there was no going to windward. It was even difficult to cross perpendicular to the breeze. Erring on the safe side, having covered about 5.5 miles, we called it a day.

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An absolutely awesome kayak trip. The epitome of why we built the boats.