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mgaretz

eG Food Blog: mgaretz (2011)

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Hi Everyone!

This blog is going to be a very mixed bag! I’ll be eating out more than in a usual week (not because I’m blogging, it just worked out that way) and I also want to detail a fabulous meal/experience we had at the Napa Rose in Disneyland.

First, a little about me: I’m 58 and live in San Ramon, CA (East Bay of San Francisco) with my wife, Ellen, my 21-year-old daughter Rebecca and our dog Max. In my previous marriage, my ex did all the cooking and I did all the cleaning. I always had a good palate and was good at telling you what was in a dish and/or how to fix a dish that was lacking, but never really learned anything beyond very basic kitchen skills. My kids always dreaded the days when Dad had to cook!

From 1992 to 2003 I owned a beer and wine brewing shop and also a commercial microbrewery. I designed all of the recipes for the beer kits and most of the recipes for the microbrewery and they were very successful. Our IPA won Best of Show at the California State Fair, besting beers from all over the state including the big guys, and the smaller like Sierra Nevada. The next year we won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for the IPA and a Silver for our Red. In 1994 I wrote and published what is still the definitive (but now very dated) guide to using hops in craft brewing. (Bottom line: I always was good at creating recipes.)

I got divorced in early 2007 and during the break-up I was working at Best Buy as the appliance manager. Along with washers and dryers I was selling ranges, microwaves, ovens, dishwashers, refrigerators and counter-top appliances - helping people to outfit entire kitchens. When I bought and moved into my own (and current) place, finding one with a decent kitchen was paramount because I intended to learn how to cook! There were several motivations for that: I wanted my daughter (who was staying with me half time) to look forward to meals, not dread them. It would also allow me to better sell kitchen appliances. And it would save me a lot of money compared to eating out! I now do 99% of the cooking for the family, and my daughter lives with us full time - learning to cook had something to do with that!

So I enrolled in a 12 week cooking class at the now defunct Viking Cooking School in Walnut Creek and learned my way around the kitchen. I like the cooking part, but for me the joy is in creating recipes and tweaking someone else’s to my liking and/or methods.

I started to upgrade my cookware and counter-top appliances - but that will be the subject of another post!

The food I cook tends to be somewhat simple, comfort food. Normal stuff a family of picky eaters will eat! My plating skills are minimal, especially compared to some of you here.

Now I work as a graphic designer/marketing person/data analyst at a large financial firm. I also read palms as a sideline. My current hobbies besides cooking are playing bluegrass guitar and sewing/embroidery.

Off to work - will post more this evening.

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Very cool! Can't wait to see what you have in store for us this week. Simple comfort food sounds great to me, looking forward to some new recipe ideas! No pressure though! :laugh:


If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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Hi Everyone!

This blog is going to be a very mixed bag! I’ll be eating out more than in a usual week (not because I’m blogging, it just worked out that way) and I also want to detail a fabulous meal/experience we had at the Napa Rose in Disneyland.

First, a little about me: I’m 58 and live in San Ramon, CA (East Bay of San Francisco) with my wife, Ellen, my 21-year-old daughter Rebecca and our dog Max. In my previous marriage, my ex did all the cooking and I did all the cleaning. I always had a good palate and was good at telling you what was in a dish and/or how to fix a dish that was lacking, but never really learned anything beyond very basic kitchen skills. My kids always dreaded the days when Dad had to cook!

From 1992 to 2003 I owned a beer and wine brewing shop and also a commercial microbrewery. I designed all of the recipes for the beer kits and most of the recipes for the microbrewery and they were very successful. Our IPA won Best of Show at the California State Fair, besting beers from all over the state including the big guys, and the smaller like Sierra Nevada. The next year we won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for the IPA and a Silver for our Red. In 1994 I wrote and published what is still the definitive (but now very dated) guide to using hops in craft brewing. (Bottom line: I always was good at creating recipes.)

I got divorced in early 2007 and during the break-up I was working at Best Buy as the appliance manager. Along with washers and dryers I was selling ranges, microwaves, ovens, dishwashers, refrigerators and counter-top appliances - helping people to outfit entire kitchens. When I bought and moved into my own (and current) place, finding one with a decent kitchen was paramount because I intended to learn how to cook! There were several motivations for that: I wanted my daughter (who was staying with me half time) to look forward to meals, not dread them. It would also allow me to better sell kitchen appliances. And it would save me a lot of money compared to eating out! I now do 99% of the cooking for the family, and my daughter lives with us full time - learning to cook had something to do with that!

So I enrolled in a 12 week cooking class at the now defunct Viking Cooking School in Walnut Creek and learned my way around the kitchen. I like the cooking part, but for me the joy is in creating recipes and tweaking someone else’s to my liking and/or methods.

I started to upgrade my cookware and counter-top appliances - but that will be the subject of another post!

The food I cook tends to be somewhat simple, comfort food. Normal stuff a family of picky eaters will eat! My plating skills are minimal, especially compared to some of you here.

Now I work as a graphic designer/marketing person/data analyst at a large financial firm. I also read palms as a sideline. My current hobbies besides cooking are playing bluegrass guitar and sewing/embroidery.

Off to work - will post more this evening.

You are inspiring! I love all of your diverse hobbies. I've never had my palm read....I might be scared to lol.

Do you still craft your own brews?

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Looking forward to this! Also fascinated by palmistry -- how did you acquire an interest/skill in that?


Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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hahaha! what a little blast from the past. i was a teacher at homechef(pasadena), a sf-based chain of cookware stores/cooking schools, which viking bought. i taught that 12-class basics series many, many times! i really think it gave a solid foundation for students, and was a great value. when homechef folded, i opened my own cooking school--that was 11 years ago. i still have students i met at homechef. will be looking forward to your postings, and to seeing some of those basics reflected in your meals!


"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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I too am looking forward to this week with great anticipation. I've also been involved in several diverse hobbies and avocations and have never been "bored" in my life.

The eating out venues are especially interesting as my daughter lives in Livermore and I plan a visit very soon.

The palm reading sounds like fun. The single time I had mine read, years ago when I had a booth at a Renaissance Faire, the reader told me I had the longest lifeline she had ever seen and I have hesitated to have it read again, in case the news was different! :laugh:


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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From 1992 to 2003 I owned a beer and wine brewing shop . . . In 1994 I wrote and published what is still the definitive (but now very dated) guide to using hops in craft brewing.

You're the guy who started up HopTech! Wow, that takes me back around 15 years. I might have your book, and I certainly bought some hops off you back then.


--

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Beer, bluegrass, and home cooking. Three of my favorite things, I'm looking forward to it!



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I too am looking forward to this week with great anticipation. I've also been involved in several diverse hobbies and avocations and have never been "bored" in my life.

The eating out venues are especially interesting as my daughter lives in Livermore and I plan a visit very soon.

The palm reading sounds like fun. The single time I had mine read, years ago when I had a booth at a Renaissance Faire, the reader told me I had the longest lifeline she had ever seen and I have hesitated to have it read again, in case the news was different! :laugh:

Ok, now I HAVE to get my palm read.

I'm sure the reader would say something like "you are way too obsessed with food and cooking" lol.

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Your background sounds fascinating, and I am looking forward to hearing and seeing more. I do have to say - your avatar has an uncanny resemblance to my former boss, so it freaks me out a little every time I see it (no reflection on you or your appearance, of course :laugh: )

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I'm back! Ok, let's get a few questions answered first. The brewery is no more, sad to say. I don't homebrew anymore, pretty much gave that up when I had 1000s of gallons of beer on hand and when packing/shipping/talking beer all day, the prospect of making it lost its appeal! (Lesson - don't turn a hobby into a business unless you're done enjoying the hobby!) In fact, I rarely drink beer any more - I now prefer a good red wine (a fruit-forward, jammy Zin please!).

Let's get breakfast and lunch out of the way. I'm pretty boring when it comes to these two - I pretty much eat the same breakfast and lunch every day. People don't understand how I can do that, but I think of it as medicine (which the fiber really is).

Breakfast is usually a cup of strong coffee and a peanut butter burrito, made with a low carb high fiber tortilla and extra chunky Skippy:

tortillas.jpg

About 2 tbs of peanut butter:

burrito1.jpg

Rolled up:

burrito2.jpg

Everyone I know thinks these tortillas taste like cardboard, and I tend to agree, but I am used to them and they each have 12 grams of fiber! So I get some protein, fiber and caffeine to get my day started and it keeps me from snacking until lunch!

Weekdays, lunch is another of these burritos, celery and carrot sticks, an apple (Fuji's are my favorites) and a Coke Zero. Sometimes I get really daring and have a Cherry Coke Zero. :hmmm:

lunch.jpg

Weekends vary for lunch, but if I am home it will often be the burrito, coke and apple because I am usually too lazy to cut the celery and carrot sticks!

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I can relate to having the same things for certain meals; especially when times are very busy. It relieves stress to know that there is something you can grab that works for hunger and health. Are the relatively simple and calorie conscious breakfast and lunch your technique to explore and indulge more at dinner?

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So you know what I had for breakfast and lunch today! (Assume it's the same every day unless I tell you.)

Dinner tonight was left-overs! But it was from a great dinner from the night before. (Warning - most of my meals are not this involved - but my son was over for dinner and the matinee we wanted to see was sold out, so I had some extra time to make dessert.)

One of my most requested dishes (from family and friends) is my take on Carbonnade a la Flammande or Belgian Beef Stew. We spent a few weeks in Belgium (with side trips to London/Paris/Koln/Amsterdam/Antwerp and Bruge) in the summer of '09 and I fell in live with this dish. I had to sample it everywhere they had it on the menu. The best versions were made with a fruit flavored lambic - Kriek was my favorite, Framboise second (Cherry and Raspberry). I looked at a lot of recipes here but finally decided on a version from the CI folks - but of course I changed it up a lot and I make it in the slow cooker.

My mother-in-law is a Belgian and she approves of my recipe. Her comment was "I wish I could make it this good!"

It starts with 3 to 3.5 pounds of boneless short ribs:

meat-package.jpg

(We get most of our meat from Costco.)

Cut into chunks about 3/4" wide:

meat-cut.jpg

I brown it on the stove in the pot from the slow cooker - one of the things I love about the All-Clad slow cooker with the aluminum insert. Here's all the meat browned:

meat-browned.jpg

While it's browning I cut up the onions (2 lbs) and carrots (1 lb):

onions1.jpg

carrots.jpg

The onions get sautéd next:

onions2.jpg

Then they get floured and cooked some more. Then the rest of the ingredients get added:

stew-in-pot.jpg

For the beer, I try to use Kriek, but I got a good deal on Pommé (apple) at Costco, so I used that and some chery preserves instead.

lambic.jpg

I served it with "retrograde" mashed potatoes from Modernist Cuisine and steamed broccoli:

stew-plated.jpg

The potatoes were just OK. I wouldn't bother again unless I was making a real pureé which is probably never going to happen! As advertised, they did reheat well tonight.

My son loves bluberries and blueberry pie is his favorite. I was too lazy at this point in the afternoon to make pie crust, so instead I made a crisp (of sorts). Blueberries with sugar, a kiss of allspice and nutmeg, a little lemon juice, and tapioca starch for thickner. Baked in ramekins. After cooling I sprinkled crushed, cinnamon-honey glazed almonds on top. Very tasty.

blueberry1.jpg

blueberry2.jpg

Whew!

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hahaha! what a little blast from the past. i was a teacher at homechef(pasadena), a sf-based chain of cookware stores/cooking schools, which viking bought. i taught that 12-class basics series many, many times! i really think it gave a solid foundation for students, and was a great value. when homechef folded, i opened my own cooking school--that was 11 years ago. i still have students i met at homechef. will be looking forward to your postings, and to seeing some of those basics reflected in your meals!

Thanks Cherie. I was sorry to see the store/school close. (I still had a free class credit too!) I also took the knife skills class. My folks still live in Orange County (where I grew up) and we get down there about 8 times a year. And my son is about to move to Century City. He also loves to cook, and is pretty good, but I'll see if he wants to take any of your classes and maybe I can come too!

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I can relate to having the same things for certain meals; especially when times are very busy. It relieves stress to know that there is something you can grab that works for hunger and health. Are the relatively simple and calorie conscious breakfast and lunch your technique to explore and indulge more at dinner?

Partly for weight management, but I also need the fiber (since I don't normally eat a lot of carbs) and they give me enough protein to keep me from snacking (usually!).

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I too am looking forward to this week with great anticipation. I've also been involved in several diverse hobbies and avocations and have never been "bored" in my life.

The eating out venues are especially interesting as my daughter lives in Livermore and I plan a visit very soon.

One of my dinners out (tomorrow actually) just got cancelled! Let me know when you'll be in town!

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More blogging from NorCal!

Looking forward to it!

Uh oh, Scotty's watching! Can you come over and plate my dishes for me? :rolleyes:

For those that didn't follow Scotty's excellent blog a few weeks back, he does "in your home" meals and we're planning to have him cook for us at some point!

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Your background sounds fascinating, and I am looking forward to hearing and seeing more. I do have to say - your avatar has an uncanny resemblance to my former boss, so it freaks me out a little every time I see it (no reflection on you or your appearance, of course :laugh: )

Maybe I am your old boss!

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Excellent start to the blog! Looking forward to the rest of the week.

I'm on doctor's orders high fiber diet, so I get mine in with a bowl of Kashi GoLean Original with some fruit on top, either berries or a cut up peach or banana. Throw on one of those little cartons of organic vanilla milk and I've got my daily calcium in there too. And it doesn't taste like cardboard, it's actually delicious. Just an alternative thought in case you tire of the peanut butter burritos 2x daily...


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Excellent start to the blog! Looking forward to the rest of the week.

I'm on doctor's orders high fiber diet, so I get mine in with a bowl of Kashi GoLean Original with some fruit on top, either berries or a cut up peach or banana. Throw on one of those little cartons of organic vanilla milk and I've got my daily calcium in there too. And it doesn't taste like cardboard, it's actually delicious. Just an alternative thought in case you tire of the peanut butter burritos 2x daily...

Thanks Katie. I'm lactose intolerant, and the original Kashi has milk in it (but the "crunch" version doesn't). It has 8 grams of fiber, however it has 29 grams of other carbs - to get 12 grams of fiber like in the tortilla I'd be at 43 carbs vs. the 6 carbs in the tortilla. :sad:

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With regards to pureed potatoes - you should look at getting a potato ricer, like a big garlic press which you put the boiled potatoes into and then mix with the butter and a bit of hot milk, they come out perfect everytime...


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Thanks Katie. I'm lactose intolerant, and the original Kashi has milk in it (but the "crunch" version doesn't). It has 8 grams of fiber, however it has 29 grams of other carbs - to get 12 grams of fiber like in the tortilla I'd be at 43 carbs vs. the 6 carbs in the tortilla. :sad:

6 grams in the tortilla? Will have to see if those buggers are available up here. We're on a relatively lo-carb diet but I do miss some of the flexibility carb foods add.

Looking forward to hearing of your culinary adventures.

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