Browsing Category: just for fun

Mr. Steak Continental Burger: A Food Flashback!

Because my hemoglobin tested low last week, I’ve been trying to eat as much red meat as possible, but I’ve been wracking my brain for a hamburger dish that isn’t mostly bread or pasta. I was thinking about hamburgers with mushroom sauce, and this prompted a food flashback.

Back in the early 80’s, when we were dating and then newlyweds, my husband and I used to go to the local Mr. Steak once in a while. The menu favorite for both of us was the Continental Burger. I’m not claiming it would be health food, but it is, at least, a fairly low-carb way to eat a burger. For those who have never tried this delicacy, it was a hamburger patty with some juicy/creamy/mushroomy sauce in the middle, served open face on rye toast, with caramelized onions on top. My husband always ordered a side of deep-fried clams and ketchup for dipping, and a baked potato with butter and honey (yes, honey) on top. How’s that for carb overload?! Back then, we could eat that way, though.

Now? Notsza much!

I remember that back then we tried to duplicate the Continental, but never succeeded. Thanks to that modern marvel we call Google, today I was able to track down what sounds like some plausible copycat recipes…

“I was a Senior Grill Chef at Mr. Steak in the early 70’s…. The Continentals came pre-made. They were two thin oval patties of what we now call 80-85% lean ground (need that much fat to stay together) — I think each patty was about a fifth of a pound. The filling was two things only – pasteurized process swiss cheese ONLY and fresh mushrooms. The ‘shrooms and process swiss were diced to about 1/2″ dice. Put about 1 to 2 tablespoons on one patty, cover with second patty and crimp edges gently but completely so there are no holes. Grill till medium, turning as little as possible, and use some kind of cover on top last 2 minutes or so to help cheese melt. That restaurant served them on buttered, then grilled on one side, light rye bread. The burger was served open face…. Everyone ate them with a knife and fork! They were hugely popular!! I love them, make them once a year or so.”

“I worked at Mr. Steak for over 5 years. I have tried and tried to duplicate the Continental and … have come up with a reasonable knock-off recipe. Take your ground beef and press it into two very thin and large patties…. Don’t go crazy with a lot of filling, or it will leak when cooking. Then lay on a piece of ‘processed Swiss cheese’ — not the real stuff! You want the fake processed Swiss cheese slices; they melt easily and are gooey; real Swiss won’t work as well. Next, place about a Tbsp. of Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup on top of the cheese. Place the other patty on top and SEAL WELL. Grill — and make sure while grilling you only turn this once or twice at the most. Flipping too much is taking a risk it will break open or ooze out the good yummy stuff inside…. It’s been so long now, but I still crave them. Try the above and I guarantee you it will be close in taste and looks; not exact but close enough.”

I think the ole’ Continental Burger will be making an appearance in our kitchen some time this week! No fried clams, though.

All recipe info found here

A connection between gluten sensitivity, and a super-clean home?

Oldways sent a reporter to the International Celiac Disease Symposium, a gathering of 1500 scientists, doctors, and dietitians from more than 30 countries, to get the real scoop on the hubbub surrounding gluten. A few of her findings…

While as many as 8-10% of us may need to avoid gluten, 90% or more of us can enjoy a crusty fresh loaf of wheat bread.

Donald Kasarda, a USDA researcher, surveyed data and found that gluten levels in wheat have stayed pretty much the same for more than 100 years. Kasarda does note, however, that the use of vital wheat gluten as a food additive has increased three-fold in the last 15 years. (Like to read medical study reports? Here ya go.)

And here’s the paragraph that contains the news I really love:
Scientists at the conference mentioned several factors that seem to increase our risk for celiac disease: Increased use of antibiotics, which wipe out good bacteria and bad in the gut. The rise in Caesarian deliveries, which bypass the mother’s usual transfer of bacteria to the baby. Introducing gluten into babies’ diets too early or too late (4-7 months seems ideal). The hygiene hypothesis, which theorizes that our immune systems don’t develop properly anymore because our super-clean homes don’t give them enough early exercise.

Hurray! A positive, scientific benefit of not keeping an immaculate house! I’m vindicated at last!  🙂

10 things to do with a bacon-weave

My husband once wove some bacon together and draped it over a pork loin (yes, redundant, I know), but I had no idea that the bacon weave was a “thing.”
But it is. A little googling prooves that it most certainly is!
First, the most obvious {forehead smack} use: ensuring that every single bite of your BLT is bacony!
bacon-weave on a BLT
Food blogger SavoryNotes makes a mean bacon weave and takes a mighty-fine pic, above. (But a BLT on white bread — untoasted?! That ain’t right!) Her method involves whiskey and brown sugar. Hmm.
Lifehacker commenter JaySinn divulges his secret for a simple, single-serving bacon weave:

I find 2 slices and a microwave do the job nicely – cut the slices in half, then do a similar weave, but just three parallel and one perpendicular slice woven in the middle. Paper towel underneath and on top, into the microwave for 3-4 minutes and you get a nice crispy square of bacon, that is all stuck together in one easy to apply slice. The microwave method is much faster and you don’t have to drain the fat off while cooking as the paper towel absorbs the excess.

The Republic of Bacon claims the best BLT ever, featuring a bacon weave and chipotle mayo. They certainly have a brilliant idea on how to efficiently cut your bacon in half:
bacon package
Here are just a few of the other, dare I say, stunning things people have done with their carefully woven bacon…
A grilled bacon-weave turkey from BarbequeMaster:
Here is it topping an Easter ham, studded with cloves and glazed with a pineapple-juice/brown-sugar/7UP concoction, from the appropriately named LifeCandy:
The “baco” – a bacon taco – via This is Why You’re Fat (also appropriately named):
Bacon weave as a stand-in for pizza crust, via FoodBeast:
In the same vein, bacon-weave as a stand-in for bread, via the DailyBacon:
Have you heard of a fatty? AKA, “bacon explosion.” It involves bacon wrapped around sausage and, depending on the recipe, possibly other things. (Ah, America!) Most of the ones I’ve seen are really too grotesque for me to share here, gentle reader, but if you are made of strong enough stuff, you can find detailed instructions at Grilling24x7:
Things get curioser and curioser…
Bacon-weave-topped apple pie – via Is This Thing On?:
A bacon-weave salad bowl, also via FoodBeast:
And last but not least: Turtle burgers:
No, those aren’t actually turtles: the center is hamburger and the legs, heads and tail are hot dogs.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to take some Maalox and lie down…

Snow Ice Cream Recipe

Snow Ice Cream Recipe
Okay, normally I stay away from sugary recipes, but I also believe that there are days you need to just throw caution to the wind, live life, and have fun — i.e, eat the real stuff!
After a 14-ish inch snow here last night — and a very fluffy snow — I’m fondly remembering the days like this when the kids would beg me to make snow ice cream.

One caveat: Snow ice cream is not about creamy, gourmet ice cream. It’s really more like ice milk. But making it is about enjoying the moment, celebrating winter, and making memories with your kids. Or the kid in you!

Second caveat: This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a method. The proportions are flexible; the main thing is to add the milk (or better yet, cream) slowly, a little at a time, so you don’t turn it into slush.
Third caveat: If you live in a city with significant amounts of air pollution, you should not do this. The snow harvests smog as it falls.  🙁

Snow Ice Cream Recipe

A large mixing bowl full (1 gallon or so) of snow

1/2 to 1 cup white sugar
1 T. (or so) vanilla extract
milk, cream, almond milk, etc. — “enough”

Either place a large, clean bowl outside to collect snow while it’s still snowing, or, if you forget this step, place your bowl in the fridge till it’s well-chilled, then go out and scoop up some CLEAN snow.

Stir in sugar and vanilla to taste, then stir in just enough milk/cream for the desired consistency.
Serve right away! This stuff doesn’t keep. Remember: it’s about enjoying the moment!

Homemade Playdough (aka Play-Doh)


I’m thinking about using playdough as an object lesson in an upcoming teaching session, so I was googling it and found a recipe billed as “The Perfect Home Made Play Dough Recipe!” Although the first (and second) time the author tried the recipe, she thought that “cream of tartar” was tartar sauce. Which, as you can imagine, did not have stellar results!
I haven’t tried this, but if I do, I’ll update with the results.

photo credit: qwrrty via photopin cc

Can I put coffee grounds on my plants?


That’s the question I was asking myself this morning. Specifically, my potted basil. A little googling found me a thorough and thoroughly tested answer — not something you can always depend on, on the interwebs. Here’s an excerpt:

Nutrient content? …The kind of coffee grounds a typical homeowner would produce or obtain are around 1.5% Nitrogen. There’s also a lot of Magnesium and Potassium, both of which plants really like; but not a lot of phosphorus (the “fruiting and flowering nutrient”) or calcium, a mineral that many plants crave, and whose lack helps explain that recalcitrant acidity. (“Lime” is essentially calcium carbonate, and wood ashes are also very high in calcium….)  

So mix those coffee grounds in with some lime or wood ash and then into lots of shredded leaves; you’ll make a fine, high-quality compost. The only exception I can think of is our listeners out West cursed with highly alkaline soil; you could try tilling in some grounds alone and see if it moves your nasty soil towards neutral with no ill effects. 

Otherwise, we can’t recommend their raw use; the acidity could be high enough to damage even acid-loving plants.

Read the full article here.

The cookie thief

A few days ago, my dear daughter made a batch of oatmeal cookies, and at my request, put pepitas in them; roasted, salted, dehulled pumpkin seeds. I like the little extra crunch and subtle saltiness they add. (And I love having my DD home, but it does make it harder to kick the sugar monster!)

I had set up a few cookies in my high tech studio (aka, a bench from the kitchen table, pulled up close to the sliding glass door so as to catch some indirect sunlight). I stepped away to get something from the office, but when I came back something wasn’t quite right.

Here’s the before:

And here’s the after:

Hmm… One cookie seems to be missing. Now, who could the culprit be?

Oh, I just can’t get mad at that adorable face!