Cooking on All Cylinders!

November 25, 2015

What exactly differentiates a “cook” from a “chef?”  Brian Geiger, in his blog post for posits two characteristics: creativity and career.  A chef is paid to make food.    He further differentiates the two by stating: “A chef has to be responsible for the soul of the food. A chef should have a deep understanding of how to cook many types of food, what flavors go together, how to handle kitchen equipment (knife skills come in handy here), and so on. A chef should not require the directions part of a recipe, and usually shouldn’t require the amounts in a recipe, either.”

Additionally, I ran across this quotation by A.A. Gill that sums it up beautifully as well.

“The difference between a chef and a cook is the difference between a wife and a prostitute.  Cooks do meals  for people they know and love.  Chefs do it anonymously  for anyone who’s got the price.”

I definitely fall into the “cook” category.

A Little Sweet and a Little Spicy!

November 24, 2015

Here’s a recipe (courtesy of Taste of Home) that is super easy and sounds super delicious . . .  can’t wait to try this nibble food.

Sweet and Spicy Peanuts
3 cups of salted peanuts
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons of hot water
2 Tablespoons of butter, melted
1 Tablespoon Siracha or hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon of chili powder

1.  Place peanuts in a greased 1-1/2 quart slow cooker.  In a small bowl, combine the sugars, water, butter, hot sauce, and chili powder.  Pour over the peanuts.  Cover and cook on high for 1-1/2 hours, stirring once.

2.  Spread on waxed paper to cool and store in an airtight container.

College Basketball 2016, Week Three!

November 23, 2015

127Michigan State faced an early test this week against Kansas (#4) at the State Farm Champions Classic in Chicago.  The Spartans did not look sharp (numerous turnovers and fouls) and trailed most of the game.  But they were able to come from behind to win.  The Spartans also had no trouble at all in their win over Arkansas Pine Bluff later in the week.  The Big Ten currently has five (5) teams in the AP top-25: Maryland (#3), Michigan State (#13), Indiana (#14), Purdue (#21), and Michigan (#24).  And even though the season has barely gotten underway, we have already experienced a slew of upsets, so these rankings are quite apt to change.  Ah, the parity in college basketball continues to confound.

Next up for the Spartans: the Eagles of Eastern Michigan University (tonight) and the Eagles of Boston College (Thursday).  Go Green!

The upsets this week included:
North Carolina (#1) losing to unranked Northern Iowa by four (4) points.
Kansas (#4) losing to Michigan State (#13) by six (6) points.
Virginia (#6) losing to unranked George Washington by five (5) points.
Wichita State (#9) losing to unranked Tulsa.
Utah (#16) losing to unranked Miami.
Baylor (#20) losing to Oregon (#25).
Butler (#22) losing to unranked Miami.
Michigan (#24) losing to unranked Xavier.

The close calls this week (won by six points or less [two scores] or in overtime) included:
Maryland (#3) defeating unranked Georgetown by only four (4) points.
Duke (#5) defeating unranked Georgetown by only two (2) points.
Oklahoma (#8) defeating unranked Memphis by six (6) points.
Utah (#16) defeating unranked San Diego State by five (5) points.
Utah (#16) defeating unranked Temple by six (6) points.
Vanderbilt (#17) defeating unranked Stony Brook in overtime.
Oregon (#25) defeating unranked Valparaiso by six (6) points.

Top-25 match-ups won by the higher-ranked team included:
Kentucky (#2) defeating Duke (#5).

College Football 2015, Week Twelve!

November 22, 2015

127Michigan State was on the road this week traveling to Columbus to face the Buckeyes of Ohio State and they played without their star quarterback, Connor Cook (major bummer). The Spartans played their best defensive game of the season and came away with the victory by kicking the winning field goal as time expired!  Woohoo!  What a game.  Only two of the top-25 teams remain unbeaten (Clemson and Iowa).  The Big Ten Conference currently has six team in the College Football Playoff poll (three in the top-10): Ohio State (#3), Iowa (#5), Michigan State (#9), Michigan (#12), Northwestern (#20), and Wisconsin (#25), though these rankings will most probably change tomorrow.

Next up for the Spartans: their final home game of the Big Ten Conference season hosting the Nittany Lions of Penn State.  Go Green!

The upsets this week included:
Ohio State (#3) losing to Michigan State (#9) by three (3) points as time expired.
Oklahoma State (#6) losing to Baylor (#10).
Utah (#13) losing to unranked UCLA.
LSU (#15) losing to Ole Miss (#22).
Houston (#19) losing to unranked Connecticut by three (3) points.
Memphis (#21) losing to unranked Temple.

The close calls this week (games that were won by a touchdown or less) included:
Notre Dame (#4) defeating unranked Boston College by only three (3) points.
Florida (#8) defeating unranked Florida Atlantic by six (6) points in overtime.
North Carolina (#12) defeating unranked Virginia Tech by three (3) points in overtime.

Top-25 match-ups won by the higher-ranked team included:
Oklahoma (#7) defeating TCU (#18) by only one (1) point.
Oregon (#23) defeating USC (#24).
Northwestern (#20) defeating Wisconsin (#25) by six (6) points.

Trivia in the Kitchen,. Number Sixty-Four!

November 21, 2015

How important is the size of your eggs when cooking and/or baking?  Some times the size matters (baking a cake, making custard, etc.) and sometimes it doesn’t (making a frittata, making a strata, or just using beaten eggs).  But if the recipe calls for large eggs and you only have medium or extra-large on hand, they you may want to consult a handy substitution chart.  The first thing that you will want to do is measure the volume of your substitute eggs (beaten/blended) and then use the equivalent amount to what a large egg would have given you.

1 large egg, beaten = 3-1/4 tablespoons
2 large eggs, beaten = 6-1/2 tablespoons (1/4 cup + 2-1/2 tablespoons)
3 large eggs, beaten = 9-2/3 tablespoons (1/2 cup + 1-2/3 tablespoons)
4 large eggs, beaten = 12-3/4 tablespoons (3/4 cup + 3/4 teaspoon)
5 large eggs, beaten = 1 cup

The weight and composition of eggs is as follows (average):

Extra-large eggs: about 2-1/2 ounces per egg, or 1/4 cup (2-2/3 tablespoons white and 1-1/3 tablespoons yolk)
Large eggs: about 2 ounces per egg, or 3-1/4 tablespoons (2-1/4 tablespoons white and 1 rounded tablespoon yolk)
Medium eggs: about 1-3/4 ounces per egg, or 3 tablespoons (2 tablespoons white and 1 tablespoon yolk)

If you recipe call for 3 eggs or less, make a direct substitution (size won’t matter), however, when your recipe gets above the 3 egg limit (4,5, or 6) use the following substitutions:

  • in place of 4 large eggs, use 4 extra-large or 5 medium
  • in place of 5 large eggs, use 4 extra-large or 6 medium
  • in place of 6 large eggs, use 5 extra-large or 7 medium

Source: How To Cook An Egg by the editors, contributors, and readers of Fine Cooking magazine (Molly Stevens), p. 68-69.

A Collector’s Portfolio, Part Seven!

November 20, 2015

IMG_0751_Flight_PlanThis painting is the seventh (in a series of eight) signed and numbered, limited edition (250) giclee prints from “The Art of Charles R. Murphy: a Collector’s Portfolio” that I acquired two summers ago, while vacationing in the Traverse City, Michigan area. This piece is a bit more on abstract than I usually like, but not horribly so.  On this print, I particularly like the orange highlights along with the dark contrasts — the bird really makes this piece work (in my humble opinion).  The title: “Flight Plan” the artist: Charles R. Murphy, the medium: giclee print, the enjoyment: on-going!

The Nun – From Rabelais!

November 19, 2015

Here is the next installment of poetry generally attributed to Thomas, the sixth Earl of Harrington (circa 1730).  This particular poem will be continued with the second and final part tomorrow.  Enjoy!

The Nun – from Rabelais

Few arguments it will require
To prove, that when a nun and friar
Are left together in a cell,
They oft do something else than tell
Their rosary; a man’s a man,
And ’tis not silly vows that can
Subdue the heat of wild desire.
Nor cool nor quench their lustful fire.

Of flesh and blood the nuns are formed;
And their soft hearts are quickly stormed,
Although ten thousand oaths they swear,
They can’t the least confinement bear:
And, though in cursed cloister pent,
That may their wished escape prevent,
Yet Nature still will find a vent;
And I am told some women can
Do very near as much as man;
And others have found out a sport,
To please them, of another sort.

But these are secrets past my skill,
You let them practice what they will;
They of these baubles quickly tire,
If they can get a priest of friar.

But what I say will pass for nought,
Unless examples can be brought
To vouch the truth that I advance.
Long, long ago, there was in France,
A charming nun, who was beguiled,
Or, in plain English, was with child,
The lady abbess, in despair,
Her garments rent, and tore her hair;
And, overpowered with rage, did call
The nuns together in the hall;
The guilty nun came with the rest,
And not the least concern expressed.

To her the angry abbess spoke,
“You strumpet, who our laws have broke,
“Tell me, as you would shun damnation,
“Who got that child?” She gravely said,
“For aught I know I am a maid;
“For, Madam,” and at that she smiled,
“I’m sure I never bore a child.”
That’s not enough,” the abbes cried,
“Your guilt, you slut, can’t be denied;
“Your belly’s like to burst its skin;
“Come tell me, whore, who thrust it in?”

The pregnant nun began to laugh,
To see the abbess in the chaff;
Then said, “since you desire to know,
“To whom I this great belly owe,
“I’ll honestly the truth declare,
“And all the steps of this affair;
“:On Whitsun’s eve, seven months ago,
“The time I most exactly know,m
“As on my bed I sleepless lay,
“Young father Stiffrump came that way,
“My door he opened, ventured in;
“I just had stripped me to the skin;
“My nakedness I could not hide:
“The friar laid his frock aside;
“Faith, Madam, had you seen that sight,
“It would have brought your heart delight,
“At least, I’m sure it gave to mine;
“You know his face and shapes are fine;
“I’ve never seen a naked man,
“And to admire him straight began;
“I gazed upon his lovely shape,
“Nor did I  let one charm escape;
“But, O! What raptures seized my heart
“When I beheld a certain part!
“A sight I’d never seen before;
“With joy I viewed it over and over;
“So long, so large, and so erect,
“That in my soul it raised respect;
“I guessed its use, and wished that he
“Would make the experiment on me;
“And as I wished the friar did
“:And the dear object wholly hid,
“Where you may guess; my heart doth melt
“To think upon the joy I felt.”

The abbess said, “You wicked jade,
“Why did you not cry out for aid?”
“Ah Madam, Madam,” said the nun,
“The deed was in the dorter done;
“And sure you know, as well as i,
“We dare not in the dorter cry.”

” ‘Tis true,” the fretting abbess said,
“But, when you found yourself betrayed,
:Why did you not, by making signs,
“Discover all his lewd designs?”

At this the merry nun laughed loud,
And said, “I did all that I could;
“I heaved my buttocks to and fro,
“And that way did my danger show,
“But ’twas in vain; no friendly nun
“To help a ruined sister run.”

“Yet,” said the abbess, “you’re to blame;
“Why did you not declare your shame,
“Soon as the wicked deed was done?”
“Alas!” replied the wanton nun,
“I was a young and silly maid,
“And so of consequence afraid
“The deed would send me down to hell;
“So, ere the friar left the cell,
“I all my sins to him confessed,
“Who kindly set my soul at rest;
“And, for a penance, did impose
“I never should the thing disclose.”

Note: printed on the page following the title page was the following: “from a collection of poems that have been generally ascribed to Thomas, sixth Earl of Harrington. He was the son of Charles, the fifth Earl, and Margaret Lesslie, Countess of Rothes; and fought on the Royal side at the battle of Shirreffmuir, along with his brother John Lesslie, Earl of Rothes, and his own son, Lord Binning. These poems, according to Pinkerton, were printed about 1730, and have been reprinted in 1753, 1765, 1767, and 1777. He was also the author of Mia treatise on forest trees, which has gone through several editions. He died in 1735.” However, if these dates are correct (and I am by no means an expert historian in such matters), these poems could only have been written by either the first or second Earl of Harrington (William Stanhope and W.S. Jr.).

By the Shore!

November 18, 2015

While we did not actually reside on the eastern littoral of Lake Leelanau, we had a small lot (with a cabin for guests) just down from the house that included some shoreline.


lit-er-uh l \, adjective;

1.  of or relating to the shore of a lake, sea, or ocean.

2.   (on ocean shores) of or relating to the biogeographic region between the sublittoral zoneand the high-water line and sometimes including the supralittoral zone above the high-water line.
3.  of or relating to the region of freshwater lake beds from the sublittoral zone up to andincluding damp areas on shore.
Source: The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate by Eugene Ehrlich, and,

Cheesecake of the Month – November 2015!

November 17, 2015

Thank you Dolores McNiven for forwarding me this fabulous (and easy) cheesecake recipe modeled after my all-time favorite Girl Scout cookie.  You take your basic cheesecake filling, use an Oreo crust and top it with caramel, toasted coconut, and chocolate. Yum!

Samoa Cheesecake


  • 24 Oreo cookies
  • 4 Tablespoons melted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 packages (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 3/4 cups caramel dip or sauce (you can either buy the 16-ounce store-bought tubs of caramel dip, or use 1 3/4 cups homemade caramel sauce)
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate


Preheat oven to 325°F, and grease a 9-inch springform pan. Carefully wrap the outside of the pan in 2 layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil, being sure that there are NO gaps where water could seep through.

Add Oreo cookies to the bowl of a food processor, and process until completely crumbled. (Or you can do this step by hand by crushing Oreos with a meat mallet inside a ziplock freezer bag.) Add in the melted butter, and stir or process until evenly mixed with the Oreos. Press the Oreo mixture evenly into the bottom of the springform pan. Then place the pan in a large roasting dish (or any pan larger than the springform), and bring a tea kettle or pot of water to boil in preparation for the water bath. Set aside.  (*If you don’t want to place the pan directly in a water bath, you can skip this last step and just place a pan of water on the shelf beneath the cheesecake pan.)

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium speed for 3 minutes until smooth. Add sugar and beat for an additional minute until well blended. Add Greek yogurt and vanilla, and beat for an additional minute, stopping partway to scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until blended. Do not overbeat! Pour into crust.

Place the double pans in the oven on a shelf on the bottom third of the oven. Very carefully use a tea kettle (or large measuring cup) to pour the boiling water in the larger pan to form a water bath around the springform, so that it comes up about 1-inch around the springform.

Close the oven door, and bake about 1 hour 30 min, or until center is almost set. (The cake should still jiggle ever so slightly.) Turn oven off, and open oven door slightly. Let cheesecake set in oven 1 hour. Then remove cheesecake from oven, carefully run a knife around the edges of the cake, and then let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove springform rim, and top cheesecake with Samoa topping. Return the cheesecake to the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes for the topping to set. Then serve, or cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

For the topping . . .

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread shredded coconut out in an even layer on a parchment-covered (or aluminum foil-covered) baking sheet. Bake for about 6 minutes, or until the top layer of coconut is toasted and lightly golden, then remove the tray and stir the coconut. Bake for an additional 3-4 minutes or until the new layer of coconut is lightly golden. (Keep a close eye on it so that the coconut does not burn.) Remove the pan, and pour coconut into a mixing bowl.

Add 1 cup caramel sauce to the bowl with the coconut, and stir to combine. (If your caramel is not very pour-able, heat it in the microwave or in a small saucepan until it is just slightly warmed.)

Using a spoon, spread a separate 1/2 cup of caramel sauce onto the chilled cheesecake. Then top with the caramel/coconut mixture, and press it down until the top of the cheesecake is covered.

Pour the melted chocolate into a piping bag or a Ziplock bag with the corner snipped off, then pipe it onto the top of the coconut/caramel mixture in even lines. Repeat in a separate bag with the remaining caramel sauce.

Recipe courtesy of Country Living magazine and

College Basketball 2016, Week One!

November 16, 2015

127The college basketball season has official begun, and, there has already been what I would consider a MAJOR upset in the top-25 (a Big Ten team, no less).  The Big Ten has six (6) teams in the pre-season AP top-25: Maryland (#3), Michigan State (#13), Indiana (#15), Wisconsin (#17), Purdue (#23), and Michigan (#25).

Next up for the Spartans: an early season test against the Jayhawks of Kansas (#4) in the State Farm Champions Classic tomorrow (Tuesday) .  Go Green!

The upsets this week included:
Wisconsin (#17) losing to unranked Western Illinois by two (2) points.

The close calls this week (won by six points or less [two scores] or in overtime) included:

Top-25 match-ups won by the higher-ranked team included:


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