3 Little Words . . . Nobody Wants To Hear!!

I have an friend Melani Robinson who writes a blog 1 Year of Online Dating at 50. She’s an amazing writer and has done much to encourage me with regards to my blog. Melani is openly in search of her next great love, blogging about every up and down she experiences, waiting to hear those 3 little words.

Blossom End Rot. No, these are NOT the words that Melani wants to hear. In fact, nobody wants to hear them. Certainly not me with all the love I’ve put in to my garden. But yesterday they rang in my ear like a bell that can’t be unrung. “I’m sorry to tell you Tom, you have Blossom End Rot.” Thank goodness it was my advice gardener and not any other professional. Blossom End Rot. Really??

Blossom End Rot

It seems I have been taking too good a care of my plants in one respect and not in another. Here, you tell me, don’t my plants look healthy? They look great! In fact that is one of the symptoms. It seems that my plants are overcharged with nitrogen, the stuff that makes them leafy green. But they are sorely lacking in calcium and water. Who knew? Not me. So my first little pushes of fruit have Blossom End Rot. Shucks.


7/1/12 Garden

Luckily I caught them in time and began watering heavily; giving them a really good drink then following up daily with a regular soaking. This may seem contrary to the gardener who says, “Once the tomatoes come cut back on your watering.” I did and I got . . . Blossom End Rot. Also I need to up my soil calcium levels. Since I don’t eat a dozen eggs everyday, eggshells are a great source of calcium, I’m off the the garden supply to pick up a small bag. I am saddened because my first few peppers were destined to become Pepper Jelly. My Jalapenos are doing great and I will harvest this week and set them to dry but it will be another few weeks before I’ll have peppers again.

Patience and learning, isn’t that what parenthood is all about? (I feel like such a failure.)


Eat Well and Smile Often,




p.s. Really??

Some Rise, Some Set: The Falling Fate of the Egg Soufflé

Leek and Goat Cheese SouffleI did it, I did it, I did it!! I made soufflé!

Okay, it really wasn’t that hard. I started off easy with a Leek and Goat cheese that utilizes a roux for structure. Traditional soufflés are just whipped egg yolks and whites folded together and promptly placed into a hot oven where they spring to life. Time and temperature are critical as the goal is not to overcook the outside while the middle rises and sets. The French have a specific culinary term for a soufflé that falls into the overcooked, flat in the middle, category, “Merde!” (The French are so unforgiving.)

I chose to go with 4 smaller ramekins rather than a large soufflé dish. This turned out to be very instructive as the disparate placement in my oven yielded varying results. The ones further most to the rear were browned on top, sides and bottom and completely cooked through. The front most were browned bottom and side but the top was just golden and the inside still had a pocket or raw mixture. Now I had been given this information before, that the front of the oven is cooler than the rear, but had never experienced it’s effect like this before. I will admit to being unsure about the exact timing and opened the oven door a few times during the cooking process to inspect my little charges. Undoubtedly I released some heat altering the cooking times of each portion. Mea culpa.

All in all it was great fun and them little sucka’s were mighty tasty! Total time to prepare . . . about 20 mins.

FYI: These soufflés must be served immediately out of the oven so timing is everything. As the French are want to say, “The soufflé waits for no king!”

Eat Well and Smile Often,


Below is the recipe forwarded to me by Suzanne of Cooking by the Bay.

Goat Cheese and Leek Souffles Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced in half moons
1 ½ cups hot milk
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch cayenne
Pinch each salt and pepper
4 ounces goat cheese
2 eggs separated, yolks lightly beaten
Melted butter for ramekins
¼ cup panko
2 additional egg whites
• Preheat oven to 400°.
• Heat olive oil in a large skillet and sauté leeks until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
• Melt butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour, stirring 1-2 minutes to create a roux.
• Gradually whisk in the hot milk stirring constantly to create a thick sauce, about 2 minutes.
• Season with cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
• Transfer to a large bowl, whisking to cool slightly, and add leeks, goat cheese and egg yolks.
• Brush ramekins with melted butter and coat with panko.
• Whisk the 4 egg whites (or use electric mixer) until soft peaks form.
• Quickly, but gently fold 1/4 of the whites into the base with a rubber spatula.
• Fold in the remaining whites taking care not to overmix.
• Divide the batter among the prepared ramekins, place int he oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350° and bake until golden, puffed, and just set in the center, about 30 minutes.
• Serve immediately in ramekins, or use a knife to cut soufflés out and place on plate.

p.s. May I have some more?

I Like Spam-a-Lot . . . With a Side of Eggs Please!!

Green Eggs and SpamLast night I FINALLY had the opportunity to see Spamalot. (Thank you to my host.) Spamalot came out several years ago and hasn’t made it to the West Coast until now. Being a Monty Python fan from way back ( . . . your father smells of Elderberry) I was ecstatic at the chance to see the live performance. Needless to say, it lived up to my every expectation and even surpassed a few. Favorite musical numbers included: The Finnish Fish Slapping song, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life and He’s Not Dead Yet. LOL funny!! All this inspired me to try something I haven’t had since I was a child: SPAM!!

One of my favorite commercials was the “MORE SPAM PLEASE!” It made me laugh every time but failed to move me to the store. This cannot be said for Spamalot as I stopped into my local grocer at 11 p.m., on the way home from the theater, to make sure I picked up a can to have with my eggs for breakfast. I could hardly sleep being bemused at the idea of Eggs and Spam. To be honest, I was happily surprised with the result.

Spam, you see, is a contraction of Spiced Ham. Hormel first packaged Spam as Hormel’s Spiced Ham. One year later they changed the name and the rest is history. Upon opening the can I couldn’t help but think of the work of previous generations of chefs who tried, failed, and tried again at preserving meats so that they wouldn’t spoil. Until refrigeration became so commonplace in our society, canning was the best and only way to preserve foods mainly to last us throughout the winter months. One of my favorite preserves in Duck Confit. Duck Confit is duck meat poached in duck fat and covered completely in a jar with the same renderings. The perfect seal of fat prevents any bacteria from getting in contact with the meat causing it to spoil. It’s might tasty too! Confit is shortened from the French: Confiture, which is a preserve of fruit.

Spam, while commonplace today, is an example of the pinnacle of the process of food preservation. It utilizes all edible portions of a pig, wasting nothing. It provides protein calories at a very reasonable price and it has a long shelf life. The knowledge and skill needed to accomplish this is beyond most home cooks and chefs alike. My hat is off to Spam in the year of their 75th anniversary, for feeding generations of families and spawning such a fantastic musical farce.

My breakfast today: Fried Spam, whole wheat toast, a glass of low fat milk and 2 eggs sunny side up garnished with both cilantro and jalepeno chutneys. I’m a happy, preserved meat eating kind of guy today.

Eat Well and Smile Often.


Pam Don’t Take My Spam (click it, I dare you)

Can You Woo Like the French??

I have a new pen pal or in this day and age is, email acquaintance a more appropriate term? Melani Robinson, of New York, authors a magnificent, sometimes embarrassingly real, blog about dating at 50. I happened upon an article she had published which led me to her website: 1yearofonlinedatingat50.com Her article on To Groom or Not To Groom for Women Over 50 was so hysterically funny, and age appropriate, that I immediately dashed off a note in support of her bravery. Her blog . . . even funnier. A no holds barred style of writer I hope you will enjoy as much as I do. That being said, what does Dating After 50 have to do with food? Everything!!

Now wooing can go 1 of 2 ways; it either does or it doesn’t. I feel a man of a certain age should have a little something up his sleeve when it finally does. By this I mean breakfast. Now breakfast, the morning after, can say a lot of things. There is the, “How about a cup of coffee before you go?” line which really means “Thanks but could you find your pantyhose and go already.” OR “What say we get cleaned up and go out for breakfast?” meaning, “You were a fun date but I’m not ready to commit just yet and I have to drop by the auto parts store downtown anyway.” BUT, should that rare instance occur when you actually want that special someone to stay a little longer I recommend Wooing Like the French.

French Toast that is. Now what woman doesn’t like French Toast and I don’t mean soggy old milk toast. I mean something with a little thought and a little flair, like you. So this morning . . . I practiced. Having only my faithful hounds as advisers I put together the following.

In a small bowl mix

1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup syrup, maple, real, don’t chintz

Whip in a separate bowl

2 eggs

Using either thick sliced bread (I sliced from the loaf I baked myself . . . eh hem.)
2 slices sandwich bread, preferably wheat

Slice a pocket in the bottom of the thick slice and stuff with cheese mixture or spread one slice with mixture and top with second

Heat a flat pan with 2 tbsp butter

Dipped stuff bread into egg and let sit for 30 seconds
Turn over and wait another 30seconds

When butter begins to bubble in pan place egg bread in and turn heat to medium
About 90 seconds later check to see if egg is browning.
When brown flip and let cook for about 60 seconds

When browned on both sides place on plate and pop in microwave for 30 seconds to warm cheese

Serve and woo!

Remember to Eat Well and Smile Often!


(How do you write so it sounds like your mouth is full?)